Mark, Matthew, Luke and John  
Christianity is based on the teachings within the New Testament Bible; the gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John
Many people believe that the gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, John contain the actual words and deeds of Jesus.

  • Historical stories and third-party accounts of a version of events
  • Written by anonymous authors 40-60 years after Jesus died
  • Authors who did not know or meet Jesus in their lifetime
  • Authors who lived in countries different to Jesus
  • Authors who wrote and and spoke languages different to Jesus
  • Gospels circulated many years after Jesus' death
  • After the Council of Nicaea (325 AD), Emperor Constantine selects the four gospels to include in the Bible Canon
  • Emperor Constantine orders 100's of gospels, writings and text be destroyed
  • The comparison grid below compares the gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John.






    Date Written 40-65 AD
    Possibly the 1st gospel
    37-68 AD 59-61 AD 80-98 AD
    The last gospel written about 60-years after Jesus
    View Mark Matthew Luke John
    Synoptic Gospel
    'Sharing a common view'

    John is not a Synoptic gospel as it is considerably different to earlier gospels
    Introduction Mark is a fast-paced gospel that portrays Jesus as the powerful, suffering servant of God.

    Mark shows that Jesus taught with authority, as affirmed by the miracles He performed.
    Matthew presents Jesus as the promised Messiah, the King of the Jews.

    Matthew writes on the teachings of Jesus and explains the Kingdom of Heaven: the law, mission, mysteries, greatness and future
    Luke presents Jesus to the Gentiles as the savior of all mankind.

    Luke contains numerous references to the activity of the Holy Spirit.

    Women are given special attention in Luke.
    John is the gospel of belief, and was written to show the world that Jesus was Christ, the "Son of God" and he was sent by the Father to give eternal life to believers.

    John differs significantly from the synoptic gospels in theme, content, time duration, order of events and style.

    Only ca. 8% of John is parallel with the other gospels, and even then, no word-for-word parallelism occurs as is found among the synoptic gospels
    Emphasis Horrible suffering; tragic death Authorities' plots and treachery Jesus' innocence; forgiveness Jesus' exaltation and glorification
    Key Verse For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

    Mark 10:45

    And set up over his head his accusation written, This is Jesus The King of the Jews

    Matthew 27:37

    For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost

    Luke 19:10

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    John 3:16

    Gospel of Choice Liberal Christians Liberal Christians Liberal Christians Gnostic/Conservative Christians
    Writing Style Storyteller Teacher Historian Theologian
    Preaching Style A sage style; Brief one-liners; Parables; Kingdom of God A sage style; Brief one-liners; Parables; Kingdom of God A sage; Brief one-liners; Parables; Kingdom of God A philosopher and mystic style; Essay format; Jesus himself. Kingdom of God is a background theme
    Author - Actual Unknown Unknown Unknown 2 or more unknown authors
    Author - Assumed Mark of Jerusalem; co-workers of Paul; bilingual (Aramaic & Greek) Christian of the 2nd generation Matthew, tax collector and apostle; co-workers of Paul; multi-lingual (Aramaic & Greek) early Jewish Christian; trained "scribe" Luke a Greek doctor; co-worker of Paul; physician and companion of Paul; Gentile Christian convert; well educated Greek "historian" John, son of Zebedee; one of 12 apostles; the "beloved disciple" and his Jewish Christian followers
    Author - Integrity Mark travelled with his cousin Barnabus and with Paul.

    Peter and Paul favorably mentioned Mark. He was known as Mark (Latin) and John (Hebrew)
    Matthew was a Jew, hired by Rome to collect taxes in Capernaum.

    He was also known as Levi. Jesus called him to be an apostle
    Luke was an educated physician and an inspired historian.

    Luke is often considered to have the best literary writing style of all New Testament authors.

    His account was compiled from eyewitnesses to the ministry of Jesus
    John’s purpose for writing this gospel: "These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name."
    (John 20:31)

    John's views were in direct opposition to the preceeding gospels and put John in conflict with the Early Christian community.

    Whilst the teachings of Jesus in the synoptics came primarily in the form of sermons and parables; John presented His teachings in the context of conversations Jesus had with others.

    John was rejected as heretical by many individuals and groups in the early Christian movement
    Target Audience Mark was probably written for Gentiles/Romans.

    Mark often explained Jewish words, customs, and places.

    He used Roman time rather than Hebrew time; and he translated some words into Latin.
    Matthew was written for Jews who were familiar with Old Testament prophecy.

    He often mentions the Law of Moses and opens the gospel with a genealogy to prove Jesus was heir to King David.

    Matthew was written to convince Jews that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
    Luke wrote the third gospel and the Book of Acts.

    Both were addressed to a man whose name meant "one who loves God"

    Jewish customs and places in Palestine are often explained in Luke.
    John's gospel was directed towards the mass Gentile Christian audience.

    John's gospel has often been criticised, with questions surrounding the theology, historicity and its relationship with the synoptic Gospels.

    The criticism of John persuaded a large number of scholars that what we have in John is not a historical account of Jesus of Nazareth, but a 'theological portrait' reflecting the convictions held by Christians who lived many years after Jesus and in a very different environment.
    Status Servant of God Promised King; King of the Jews Son of Man; Perfect Savior of Man Son of God; Equal to God
    Title Christ; Messiah;; Suffering Son of Man; Eschatological Judge Son of David; Son of Abraham; King of the Jews; New Lawgiver; Great Teacher (like Moses); Emmanuel ("God with us") Great Prophet (in word & deed); Lord (of Israel, and of all nations); Savior (of all, in particular the poor) Eternal Logos; Divine Word made Flesh; Only Begotten Son; Sent from Father; Passover Lamb; "I Am" / "Equal to God"
    Miracles by Jesus Many "nature miracles," healings, and exorcisms Many "nature miracles," healings, and exorcisms Many "nature miracles," healings, and exorcisms Few; all "nature miracles"
    Involved with Poor Yes, focus of his ministry Yes, focus of his ministry Yes, focus of his ministry Rarely mentioned
    Jesus references to himself Rare Rare Rare Focus of the gospel, including many "I AM" sayings
    Exorcism A ministry function A ministry function A ministry function None performed
    God became a human being No mention No mention No mention Yes
    John 1:1-18

    Jesus claims to be God's Son No mention No mention No mention Yes
    John 5:16-30

    Jesus is the way to the Father No mention No mention No mention Yes
    John 14:1-14

    John the Baptist proclaims Jesus as the Messiah No mention No mention No mention Yes
    John 1:29-34

    Jesus turns water into wine No mention No mention No mention Yes
    John 2:1-12

    Jesus is the true Bread from Heaven No mention No mention No mention Yes
    John 6:22-40

    The Jews disagree that Jesus is from Heaven No mention No mention No mention Yes
    John 6:41-59

    Many disciples desert Jesus No mention No mention No mention Yes
    John 6:60-71

    Jesus explains why he must die No mention No mention No mention Yes
    John 12:20-36

    Jesus promises the Holy Spirit No mention No mention No mention Yes
    John 14:15-31

    Jesus teaches about using His name in prayer No mention No mention No mention Yes
    John 16:17-33

    Jesus Baptism Described Described Described Not mentioned
    Duration of ministry 1 year 1 year 1 year 3 years
    Location of Ministry Galilee Galilee Galilee Judea, near Jerusalem
    Involvement with Scribes (Jewish teachers) 26 references to scribes, who are puzzled and angered by Jesus' teachings 26 references to scribes, who are puzzled and angered by Jesus' teachings 26 references to scribes, who are puzzled and angered by Jesus' teachings No references at all.
    Aggravated assault in Temple courtyard End of his ministry End of his ministry End of his ministry Start of his ministry
    Last Supper Date Passover eve Passover eve Passover eve Night before Passover eve
    Last Supper Ceremony Communal meal Communal meal Communal meal Foot washing
    Who carried the cross? Simon Simon Simon Jesus
    Theology Similar beliefs to 1st century liberal Judaism taught by Hillel Similar beliefs to 1st century liberal Judaism taught by Hillel Similar beliefs to 1st century liberal Judaism taught by Hillel Different, independent beliefs in opposition to Judaism
    Major Actions Miracles; Overcoming evil powers; Arguing with religious authorities Teaching his disciples; Decrying religious hypocrisy Healing sick & impaired people; Forgiving sinners & debtors Speaking God's words; Doing God's works; Revealing his intimate relationship with God
    Discipleship Persevere in faith despite suffering; Follow Jesus "on the way" to the cross; Be ready for his return Be righteous; Forgive always; Live ethically; Fulfill God's commands; Do charitable deeds Leave everything to follow Jesus; Share with poor; Accept everyone (outcasts, enemies) See, believe, know; Remain in Jesus and God, despite hostility; Love one another; Be in unity; Serve humbly
    Holy Ghost and other spiritual beings
    Spirit descends at Jesus' Baptism; Conflict with unclean/demonic spirits Mary with child from Holy Spirit; God's Spirit in Jesus' actions and speech Holy Spirit active in infancy narrative; Jesus receives prophetic anointing Holy Spirit as Spirit of Truth; Paraclete/Advocate/Comforter
    Final events: Death, Judgment, Heaven/Hell
    Imminent and suddenly, but no one knows when; So "Keep awake!"

    Mark 13:1-37

    False prophets will arise; Many will fall away; Gospel must be preached to all

    Matthew 24:10-14

    After Jerusalem is destroyed and Gentiles' time is fulfilled; Not so soon; Pray

    Luke 21:20-24

    Realized eschatology; All who hear and believe have eternal life, are not judged

    John 5:21-25

    Chapters 16 28 24 21
    Verses 678 1071 1151 879
    Words 15,000 23,000 25,000 18,000
    Rank (New Testament, largest) 5th 3rd 1st
    (Acts is 2nd)
    Miracles 23 29 23 10
    Parables 13 31 37 3
    Sermons 5 10 13 8
    Old Testament quoted 23 45 23 14

    Did you know?
    The British Pound Sterling is valued currency because King James of England used the country's wealth to print the King James Version Bible (KJV) to reach the masses around 1611 AD.

    Source: Religious Tolerance
    21 hrs ago | 1936 views   •   Author: Guest   •   Updated: 18 Dec 2017

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