The Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

The Gospels

The first three Gospels are called the synoptic Gospels because they are chronological and cover the same activities and events. John is unique. It begins differently and is mostly long discourses.

Matthew – written to the Jews
Name means gift of God
Writer – tax collector; also called Levi
Purpose – to answer Jewish questions about Jesus’ being the Messiah
Quotes extensively from the Old Testament
Theme – Christ as King
Emphasis – power of Christ
Key phrase – that it might be fulfilled; it it written
Important sections: Sermon on the Mount (5-7); Lord’s Prayer (6:9-13); kingdom parables (13); Olivet Discourse (24-25)
Style – didactic (teaching)
Words to look for – It is written

Mark – written to the Romans
Name means hammer
Writer – John Mark, cousin of Barnabas, traveled with Paul but left, later Paul called for Mark, gained his information from Peter
Purpose to present what Jesus did
Theme – Christ as the Servant
Emphasis – service of Christ
Key phrases – immediately, it came to pass
Divided into 2 sections: Chapter 1-10 service of the Servant and Chapters 11-16 sacrifice of the Servant
Style – narrative full of action
Words to look for – immediately, straightaway, amazed

Luke – written to the Greek
Name means illuminate
Writer – physician who traveled with Paul, was Greek, also wrote Acts which he researched book thoroughly
Contains the most references to Jesus’ miracles
Emphasis on individuals, women in particular
Has 4 hymns – Mary’s Magnificat (1:46-55),Benedictus of Zacharias (1:67-79)
Gloris in Excelsis (2:14),Nunc Dimittis of Simeon (2:29- 32)
Prayer is emphasized
Purpose – to present a historically reliable account of Jesus
Emphasis – compassion of Christ
Theme – Christ as the Perfect Man
Key phrases – Son of Man
Important sections also include – birth of Jesus and childhood (1-3), Good Samaritan (10), Penitent thief (23:39-43)
Style – Greek style, carefully documented

John – written to Christians
Name means grace
Writer – the disciple whom Jesus loved, one of the disciples who were often with Jesus, son of Zebedee and brother of James (not the writer of James), also wrote the Epistles of John and Revelation
Uses many names for Jesus, particularly the “I am” statements
Has no parables
Has only 7 miracles – 5 of which are only recorded in John
Has many personal interviews
Purpose – demonstrate that Jesus is God
Emphasis – Wisdom of Christ
Theme – Christ as God
Key phrases – believe, Son of God
Important sections – teachings at the Lord’s Supper (13-16), prayer (17)
Style – spiritual Gospel


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