June 25, 2011

Gospels At A Glance

People often struggle with the differences between the Gospels. I have created a quick-and-easy tool for characterizing and distinguishing between the Gospels. Below I have outlined the main characteristics for each.

-The Gospel of Matthew-

Key Verses:

Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to
abolish them but to fulfill them.

Matthew 20:28 "...even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a
ransom for many."

Look for these while reading Matthew:        
Strong Jewish orientation: Jesus is the Jewish Messiah.
Equally strong denunciation of the Jewish religious leaders.
Emphasis on the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.
Shows Old Testament law & relationship to the followers of Jesus.
Five long discourses of teaching material.
Alternating discourses and narrative.
Topical arrangement; related material grouped together.
Emphasis on Jesus' as Messiah.
The messianic titles Son of God, Christ, and Son of David.
Emphasis on Jesus as the presence of God -"God with us."
Jesus portrayed as the new Israel and the new Moses.
Jesus portrayed as Wisdom incarnate.
Greater role for Peter than in other Gospels.
Emphasis on the mission to the Gentiles.

-The Gospel of Mark-

Key Verse:

Mark 10:45: For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Fast narrative; use of immediately (euthys) & historical present tense.
Vivid descriptions of persons and events.
Prominence of Galilee as the locus of Jesus' early ministry.
Strong emphasis on Jesus' authority in teaching and in miracles.
Amazed reaction by others to Jesus' authority.
Challenges to Jesus by the forces of Satan & His defeat of them.
Jesus portrayed as the authoritative Messiah and Son of God.
Jesus: Suffering Son of Man, death as sacrifice for the sins of his people.
Outsiders become insiders by faith; hints of Gentile salvation.
Negative portrait of the disciples; shows how not to follow Jesus.
Lengthy passion narrative; emphasis on Jesus' death.
Brief and enigmatic resurrection narrative.

-The Gospel of Luke-

Key Verse: Luke 19:10 "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."

Historical notes & dating w/reference to secular & religious leaders.
The universality of the Gospel message: it is for all people.
References to Jesus as Savior, Christ, Lord, and Prophet.
Old Testament allusions to Isaiah & promise of salvation for all people.
Emphasis on promise and fulfillment.
The presence, or "today," of salvation in the words and deeds of Jesus.
Jesus' special concern for outsiders: the poor, sinners (Acts: Gentiles)
The theme of reversal of fortunes: The rich to poor and vice versa.
Special emphasis placed on women & their needs & concerns
The coming of the Holy Spirit as a sign of the new age.
References to Jesus' prayer life and his teaching on prayer.
Praise, joy, and celebration at the arrival of God's salvation.
The importance of Jerusalem and Jesus' extended journey there.
Emphasis on the present reign of Christ following his ascension.

-The Gospel of John-

Key Verse: John 20:31 "...but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."

Simple vocabulary but deep theological significance.
Key thematic terms: Life, believe, abide, light.
Strong dualistic perspective: People are either "of God" or "of the world."
Miracles identified as "signs" revealing Jesus' identity.
Symbols and metaphors: Water, light, bread, shepherd, gate.
Jesus' "I AM" or “εγω ειμι” statements.
The motif of misunderstanding; people misconstrue Jesus' words.
Irony, especially concerning misperceptions of Jesus. 
Personal interviews (Nicodemus; the Samaritan woman).
Dialogues and debates between Jesus and the religious leaders.
Chronology based on Jewish festivals, especially Passover.
The "disciple whom Jesus loved," a key but enigmatic character.
Clear statement of purpose: a call to faith in Jesus, the Son of God.
Teachings concerning the Holy Spirit as counselor or advocate (paraclete) who will mediate Jesus' presence.

Strauss, Mark L.. Four Portraits, One Jesus: An Introduction to Jesus and the Gospels. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2007. Print. 

1 comment:

sewa mobil said...

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