The Four Gospels: A Comparison

Matthew – one of the 12 apostles

Date: before 70 AD (temple in Jerusalem had not yet been destroyed when written)
Genealogy:  Yes
Broad Division:  The humanity of Jesus from an earthly perspective; evangelistic messages for lost humanity; His public life is in focus.
Primary Area of Ministry:  Capernaum in Galilee
Prominent Concept:  Law
Emphasis: Words of Jesus; numerous discourses
Style & Outlook: Prophetic; Jesus as Teacher; a teaching manual for converts
Themes/Special Focus:  Power; Jesus as Messiah-King; Son of Abraham
Arrangement of Material:  Topical
Unique Material:  42% found only in Matthew
Original Culture Addressed:  Jews
Era Associated With:  past and present
Percent of Words Spoken By Jesus:  60%
Outstanding Sections: Sermons
Key Words:  Fulfilled; Kingdom; “repent” (4:17)
Key Verse:  21:5
Quotations from the Old Testament:  53
Allusions to the Old Testament:  76
Fascinating Features:  Stress is on “The Kingdom of Heaven – term used 33 times; many Old Testament quotations affirming His deity; many allusions to prophecy; topic of money often addressed; contains The Sermon on the Mount

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Mark – not an eyewitness of the ministry of Jesus; nephew of Barnabas; friend of Peter and Paul

Date:  before 70 AD
Genealogy:  None
Broad Division:  Stress is on the humanity of Jesus, from the earthly perspective; evangelistic messages for lost humanity; public life of Jesus is in focus.
Primary Area of Ministry:  Capernaum in Galilee is central
Prominent Concept:  Power and Service (10:45)
Emphasis:  the deeds of Jesus
Style & Outlook:  practical; simple narration of facts; miracles; discourse; few parables
Themes/Special Focus:  Jesus as the Mighty Conqueror & Preacher
Arrangement of Material:  chronological
Unique Material:  only 7% is not found in the other three Gospels
Original Culture Addressed:  Romans
Era Associated With:  past and present
Percent of Words Spoken By Jesus:  42%
Outstanding Sections:  miracles
Key Words: straightway; immediately
Key Verse:  10:45
Quotations from the Old Testament:  36
Allusions to the Old Testament:  27
Fascinating Features:  Stress is on miracles; no nativity/childhood; much movement: emphasizes the actions of Christ

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Luke – not an eyewitness of Jesus’ ministry; a physician and friend of Paul; a Greek from Troas

Date: before 70 AD
Genealogy:  Yes
Broad Division:  stress on humanity of Jesus; from an earthly perspective; evangelistic messages for lost humanity; public life Christ in focus
Primary Area of Ministry:  Capernaum in Galilee
Prominent Concept:  Grace for lost humanity
Emphasis:  emotions and feelings
Style & Outlook:  humanity of Jesus; historical style; well organized; excellent Greek
Themes/Special Focus:  the historical Jesus; Jesus as the Perfect man – son of Adam
Arrangement of Material:  chronological
Unique Material:  59% is unique to Luke
Original Culture Addressed: Greeks
Era Associated With: past and present
Percent of Words Spoken By Jesus:  50%
Outstanding Sections:  parables
Key Concepts/Words:  Son of man – came to save the lost
Key Verse: 19:10
Quotations from the Old Testament:  25
Allusions to the Old Testament:  42
Fascinating Features: the empathy of Jesus; only Gospel writer to tell of the Perean ministry, which would be of particular interest to Greek readers; women and children’s interaction with Jesus are more prominent.

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John – an eyewitness – “the beloved disciple,” a fisherman and one of the 12 apostles

Date:  85-90 AD
Genealogy:  None
Broad Division:  Stress is on the deity of Jesus – from the heavenly perspective
Primary Area of Ministry:  Jerusalem in Judea
Prominent Concept: the Glory of God
Emphasis:  the thoughts of Jesus and the Father
Style & Outlook:  theological treatise from the spiritual/doctrinal perspective
Themes/Special Focus:  the wisdom of God; Jesus as Savior and Son of God
Arrangement of Material: Topical
Unique Material:  92% is material unique to John’s Gospel
Original Culture Addressed:  all of humanity; the world
Era Associated With: present and future
Percent of Words Spoken By Jesus:  50%
Outstanding Sections: doctrinal and theological teachings
Key Words:  believe; sign; witness; life
Key Verse:  20:31
Quotations from the Old Testament:  20
Allusions to the Old Testament:    105
Fascinating Features: Emphasizes the early Judean ministry of Jesus, whereas Synoptic writers tend to emphasize His ministry in Galilee; no parables are recorded; unique discourses and teachings; written to strengthen faith

Maxim of the Moment

If you risk nothing, you risk everything. - Geena Davis