Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Gospels

For the next few posts (unless there is “late breaking news…) I am going to share from an overview I wrote on the Gospels. I’ve used this as an introduction to Bible Studies when they were taken from the Gospels.


The Gospels

History is filled with men who would be god
but only one God who would be man.

There are not really four different Gospels, but rather, one fourfold Gospel of Jesus Christ from the Holy Spirit who inspired four intelligent writers to present Him from a fourfold point of view, forming one complete whole. For many of us, our knowledge of “Bible History” confirms that by blending all the stories into one seamless narrative. For instance, when we think of the Christmas story, we picture the journey to Bethlehem, the arrival of the shepherds, followed by the wisemen. In actuality, it takes both the gospel of Luke and Matthew to paint that picture.

To fulfill our “Passion Week” experience, we need all four gospels to complete the story, as some share facts that others do not. This does not show inconsistencies, but indeed confirms truths. Sameness in all four would make them mere copies. It shows that the witnesses were independent, with some recalling things that others did not.

Throughout the Gospels, variations in the order of events also show that following a strict “timeline” was not always the aim either. However, the spiritual connection is just as true in those that do not adhere to the chronological order as in those that do.

Each gospel has its purpose, as each will touch someone that another will not. Much like the differences in each individual witness. There is someone that only “you” can reach.

Written by the apostle Matthew to the Jews, his theme being “the Kingdom of Heaven” (in Mark and Luke, it is called “the Kingdom of God”) as opposed to the earthly kingdom, which the Jews were expecting. Matthew is also known as Levi the publican or tax collector. He gave a great feast for Jesus who attended it regardless of the fact that the publicans belonged to a despised class of people.

Matthew, as one who dealt with money, gives us many of the “money incidents” that the other gospels do not; the very expensive gifts of the Magi, the miracle of the tribute money, the parables of the hidden treasure, the goodly pearl, and the talents. And Matthew alone gives the incident involving the “blood money” that Judas received for betraying Jesus. 30 pieces of silver received, 30 pieces of silver returned, but nary a word seeking repentance - remorse, yes, but repentance, no. Matthew also relates the bribing of the soldiers at the tomb.

He places great emphasis on Christ’s Kingly and Priestly Nature. He lists more prophesies fulfilled (about 60), and more direct quotes (about 40) from the Old Testament than any of the other gospels. Christ’s mission to the Jews is especially emphasized. As a King, Matthew traces Jesus’ genealogy back to Abraham the father of the Jewish nation, and “in whom all families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Many believe that the four creatures with the four faces mentioned in Ezekiel 1, Isaiah 6, and Revelation 4, with heads of a man, an eagle, an ox (or a calf) and a lion, represent the four gospels. There are some differences of opinions as to which face represents which Gospel (except John’s) but most agree that the lion represents the Gospel of Matthew. As the lion is the “king of the beasts” so Christ is the “King of the Jews.”

J. Vernon McGee does an analogy of the gospels as if they were a newspaper. In this scenario, Matthew is the “Announcement” section, as he announces The King.

Next - Mark.


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