Why Are There Four Gospels About Jesus?

In our year-long study of John’s gospel, you may have wondered why the Bible has four accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)?

The simplest answer is that God loves all nations and people groups. For this reason, missionaries are sent around the world to share the loving message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A missionary seeks to faithfully tell the story of Jesus in a way that the people can understand it in their language and culture.

Each of the gospel writers is basically a missionary. Each writer is trying to tell the Jesus story in a way that is faithful to the truth but also helpful to the readers.

Matthew writes mainly to Jewish people. Because they care so much about Jesus being the fulfilment of the Old Testament, he begins with Jesus’ ancestry traced to Abraham and focuses on Jesus as the Messiah.

Mark writes mainly to Roman people. The Roman empire was comprised of a diverse number of kinds of people and they did not much care if Jesus was Hebrew or not. All they cared about was whether or not Jesus got the job of salvation accomplished. For this reason, Mark is all about action and is a short book with lots of Jesus’ activities.

Luke writes mainly to non-Jewish Gentiles. He focuses on the humanity of Jesus, tracing His ancestry back to Adam as the father of all nations. Luke also writes as a historian with the only Gospel in chronological order, providing people with no understanding of Jesus a clear story of His life.

Matthew, Mark, and John share roughly 60% of their material in common. The next time you watch the local news in your town remember that the first three gospels are a lot like the nightly local news on ABC, NBC, and CBS. Most of the stories are the same with different angles, witnesses, and details. And, there are unique stories on each broadcast as well.

John writes mainly to Greeks. He focuses on Jesus as the fulfilment of the longing of Greek philosophy as the Word of God. Upwards of 90% of John’s gospel is unique to John. Likely because he wrote his gospel after the other three, John fills in aspects of Jesus’ ministry that had not yet been reported. In this way, John’s gospel would be more like watching the nightly news on BBC than the local news from your town with mainly unique stories not covered elsewhere.

Do you have a favorite gospel? Why?

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