Clinton church of Christ

Why are there four gospel books?

July 21, 2009

John Allan

Have you ever wondered why there are four gospel accounts instead of just one? In this brief article, let us investigate the makeup of each gospel account, determining why each account is necessary.

Matthew’s Account

Being a Galilean Jew (Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:13-14; Luke 5:27,29), Matthew wrote primarily to Jews. He quotes many Old Testament prophecies Jesus fulfilled which declare Him King. Jesus is not only the Messiah of Old Testament prophecy, but He is the King who came through the royal line of David to sit upon his throne forever (2 Samuel 7:12-17; Psalm 132:11; cf. Luke 1:31-32; Acts 2:22-36) The terms “king” and “kingdom” appear more in this account than the other accounts. In Matthew’s account, Jesus is beautifully portrayed as King (Matthew 16:13-20; Matthew 28:17-18 ; cf. Isaiah 9:6-7).

Mark’s Account

He wrote considering Gentiles (primarily the Romans), because he explained Jewish cultural considerations (cf. Mark 7:1-8). Mark emphasizes Jesus’ actions and servant spirit. Mark records more about what Jesus did than what He said. One of the key words in Mark’s account is the word, “immediately” or “straightway” (used some 19 times), which emphasizes action, moving swiftly from one event to another. Jesus was not just King, but he was also a Man of the people. He demonstrated the servant spirit all true disciples will display (Mark 10:43-45).

Luke’s Account

Luke wrote with the Greek community in mind. Luke emphasizes Jesus as the perfect Son of man (Luke 19:10). For example, while other gospel writers speak of Jesus’ prayer life, Luke shows us more of Jesus’ teaching regarding the frequency of our praying (cf. Luke 18:1; Luke 21:36; Luke 22:40,46). Jesus relied on His Father in prayer and models how we should rely on God (Luke 11:1-4). Luke also emphasizes Jesus’ teachings. While he records many miracles, there is more emphasis on what Jesus said than did. Here we see Jesus as the Master Teacher.

John’s Account

The primary scope of John’s account is to declare to all men that Jesus is the Son of God (John 3:16-17). Not only does John declare Christ as having human attributes, but declares Him having divine attributes as well (John 1:1,14; cf. Hebrews 4:14-15). Jesus is the Son of God by nature; that is, the Father and the Son both possess the qualities of being God (Philippians 2:5-6) His miracles, recorded by John, is evidence of this (John 20:30-31).

Conclusion

Without all four gospel accounts, we would not be able to see the complete portrait of our Savior; His words, His life, and His mission. The Jews needed to know that Jesus fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies of Messiah and King (cf. Luke 24:44). The Gentiles needed some Jewish cultural concepts explained (cf. Mark 7:3-4). We must see Jesus as King (Matthew), the perfect Man of action (Mark), the Master Teacher (Luke), and God (John).

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 21st, 2009 at 6:30 pm and is filed under Bible.

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