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What Are The Four Gospels In The Bible

Introduction

The four Gospels of the Bible contain the life, ministry and teachings of Jesus Christ, regarded as the Redeemer of Mankind. These Gospel books have continued to faithfully serve as transformational touchpoints for the life and faith journeys of many Christians throughout history. The four Gospels in the Bible are the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

These four books are placed prominently at the beginning of the Christian Bible. Despite being contained in the New Testament, these narratives focus on Jesus’ life and teachings during His public ministry while He was on Earth. These four Gospels provide a vivid and detailed picture of the person and work of Jesus, who is God and Saviour according to Christian tradition.

The Synoptic Gospels

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are known as the ‘Synoptic Gospels’ due to their similar content, which makes it possible to compare parallel passages side-by-side. These three narratives often take the same account and adapt it uniquely to their audiences. Their large and shared narrative blocks, along with their separate presentations of Jesus’ life, have led to scholarly theories of source utilization, cross-referencing and literary exchange.

Laurence W. Wood has noted that these Gospels often contain “several wordings of similar stories, which indicate that the writers had access to a source used by all three writers”, one example being the story of Jesus’ visit to the home of Mary and Martha.[1]

At the same time, the Synoptic Gospels will have different emphases and themes to one another. These Gospel writers were coming at the stories from slightly different angles, reaching different audiences and presenting the stories differently in order to meet the particular needs of their target readers.

The Gospel of John

The Gospel of John is unique in comparison to the other three Gospels, and is focused mainly on the emotional relationship between Jesus and His disciples. The writer of John’s Gospel is the last Gospel writer; it is thought to have been written later than the other three.

Often referred to as the ‘spiritual’ Gospel,John’s account contains much ‘theology’ and closely examines the central purpose of Jesus’ life from a spiritual and personal point of view.[2]It has been widely thought that this Gospel was written not to confirm previous Gospels, but to challenge its readers to the truth of Jesus’ identity as the Son of God.

John’s Gospel contains many stories and activities of Jesus that are not included in the other three Gospels, such as the raising of Lazarus from the dead. It stresses theologically important words, such as ‘believe’, and often offers reflections and interpretations on the stories more than factual detail.

Common Threads

The four Gospels, although distinct in their angle and presentation, are united in the common threads of Christian faith. All four Gospels serve to tell the overarching narrative of Jesus’ life, purpose and mission that continues to resound through Western Culture today.

The Gospels offer different and varied perspectives, thus giving us a rounded and full picture of Jesus, from His life and teachings to His death and resurrection on the Cross. They also help us to regain our understanding of and relationship with God, in whose image we are created.

Furthermore, these four Gospels enable us to live our lives in a manner befitting such a profound faith. We can turn to these Gospels, soaked as they are in irrefutable wisdom, to help and guide us through whatever season of life we find ourselves in.

Truth and Power Behind the Gospels

The power and beauty behind the Gospels lies in their amazing ability to lead us nearer to Jesus and to the God that He reveals. There is a power of transformation and redemption at the very core of Christianity, which the truth of these four Gospels helps to reveal.

The power and truth of these texts is magnified by the fact that the truth we read in these passages is a timeless truth. The advice, comfort, hope and love contained within these pages is applicable regardless of the year it is read in, although the contextual relevance may be very different.

Another uniting factor between the four Gospels is that all four are devoted to accurately representing and presenting the Lord Jesus and the God described in the Old Testament to those who continue to seek salvation. This consistency and certainty offers foundational, Scriptural basis for the Christian faith and helps shape our experience of the Christian life.

Appropriating the Gospels

We may make different use of the four Gospels according to the season and period of our faith walk. At times, we may appreciate the insights of the Synoptic Gospels, while at other times the power of the individual witness of John’s account may bring truth to some aspect of our lives.

The power of the Gospels does not rest in their antiquity but in the age-transcending Truth that they represent. By urging us to think and reflect deeply on the substance of each account, the Gospels continue to challenge us to spend time and energy on the essentials of our faith, rather than the less meaningful.

In doing so, we can approach each Gospel as an opportunity for growth, allowing the timeless truth of each account to speak deeply and personally into our lives.

The Relevance of the Gospels

The relevance of the four Gospels of the Bible can be summed up in terms of the ancient but pertinent question they seek to answer: who is Jesus Christ? The Gospels, each in their own unique way, answer this question by lovingly and faithfully sketching the person and activity of Jesus Christ. They provide us with a more solid grounding and understanding of who we believe Jesus to be.

This understanding of Jesus Christ is key to our experience and practice as Christians, for it is through the truth that we can experience life in its fullness. The Gospels offer us a way of understanding and responding to reality in meaningful and transforming ways that resonate with us both intellectually and emotionally.

The Authority of the Gospels

The Gospels have also provided us with an indispensable tradition from which we can glean lessons, insights and ample guidance. Over the ages, many generations have found instruction and comfort in the Gospels, and continue to do so even in our present day.

Lastly, the Gospels hold massive authority by virtue of the figures that wrote them. We are largely in agreement that the four Gospels were written by the individuals whom they are attributed to: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. By extension, we reflect the trust that Jesus Christ bestowed on the writers whom He invited to come follow Him, and trust the accounts they gave of His life and mission.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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