The Gospels? What are they? Devotional Commentary

by Practical Christianity Foundation (PCF)

The word Gospel comes from the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον meaning "Good News or glad tidings." The first four books of the New Testament are known as the Gospels. These are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Together, these provide the most comprehensive source of information about the life and work of Jesus Christ. While the Gospels are basically eyewitness narratives of the life and work of Jesus Christ, and while their content and essential message are identical, they vary in the presentation of their narrative.

The first three Gospels written by Matthew, Mark, and Luke are synoptic, meaning an overview of the life and work of Jesus Christ through the lens of eyewitnesses, while the narrative compiled by John is an indepth record of the nature and identity of Jesus Christ. Each author addresses a specific audience, presenting his narrative of the same life and work of the same Jesus Christ. The narratives focus on the different roles and purposes of the Son of God Who is the Word of God made flesh and came to earth in human form. Thus, each of these Gospels make it somewhat easier to follow the narratives on the life and work of Jesus Christ and answer specific questions about His service and teachings.

Below is a brief explanation on these different Gospels and what you can expect to discover within each narrative:
  • Matthew: The Gospel according to Matthew is chronicled by one who personally journeyed with Jesus during His earthly ministry. Matthew, also known as Levi, a Jewish tax-collector for the Roman Empire who became a disciple of Jesus Christ by obediently responding to the call to follow the Lord, offers a unique account to his narrative because he compiled his record with a Jewish audience in mind.
    As such, Matthew takes great care in providing details that substantiate Jesus as the Christ, the promised Messiah. Matthew also focuses on the divine aspects of Jesus Christ as the King and His Kingdom. He also affirms Jesus' royal lineage from His earthly father David and depicts Him as the son of David. Matthew's Gospel describes Jesus' teachings in great detail and highlights profound precepts of the Christian faith through the Sermon on the Mount, Beatitudes, parables, and miracles throughout his Gospel. Matthew's Gospel also draws the reader's attention to the record of Jesus' genealogy, conception, birth, the visit by the Maji, exile to Egypt from Herod's pursuit, His baptism, temptation in the wilderness by Satan and His victory. Jesus' crucifixion, death, and resurrection as well as His Great Commission conclude Matthew's Gospel. Matthew draws a firm conclusion that Jesus Christ the Messiah is the fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecies.
  • Mark: Mark offers a narrative which presents Jesus Christ as One Who expresses Love in Action. Unlike the other three Gospels, the Gospel of Mark, portrays the Messiah as an energetic and tireless Teacher and Healer as He proceeds from event to event, constantly revealing physical evidence of His position as both the Son of Man and the Son of God. Mark relates fewer of Christ’s many sermons and discourses than the other Gospels and instead focuses on the Lord’s actions as He heals the sick, casts out demons, and confronts His opponents. Like Matthew, Mark also concludes his Gospel by compiling the events regarding the arrest, crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • Luke: Luke presents a detailed investigative narrative depicting Jesus Christ as the Savior for the nations. As the only non-Jewish writer of the New Testament, Luke describes Jesus as the Light of salvation for all the nations. Luke's Gospel effectively affirms that Jesus Christ is the Light that will reveal salvation to the nations well beyond the borders of the Jewish people to the utmost limits of the world.
    Like Matthew, Luke traces Jesus' genealogy but takes it back all the way to Adam and then to God confirming Jesus' lineage from God through the human line as well. Luke reports most of the teachings and activities of Jesus Christ mentioned in Matthew's Gospel, giving special attention to prayer and to Jesus' revelation as the Son of Man. Luke also affirms the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy in Jesus Christ which said: "Arise! Shine! Your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has dawned. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn." In clearly described themes, Luke takes his readers on a journey of discovery, finding in Jesus Christ, not only the light for Israel, but for people of all nations of the world. Luke too concludes his narrative with the events of Jesus' arrest, crucifixion, death, and resurrection. However, he adds a one-of-a-kind account in which the risen Lord in person helps His distraught disciples in understanding His finished work by referring to the Old Testament prophecies about Him and the plan and purpose of the Father through Him.
  • John: Focusing predominantly on the final weeks of the life and work of Jesus Christ here on earth, John concentrates on the identity of Jesus Christ and introducing Him to his readers as The Word Made Flesh, as God the Son, as the Creator and Sustainer of all of creation. John's narrative clearly depicts Jesus Christ as being "one with the Father" and "the way, the truth, and the life." John affirms that Jesus Christ is, the bread of life, the living water, the good shepherd, the only true door, the true vine, and the resurrection. In John's Gospel, we learn that Jesus Christ is the Messiah sent by God the Father to accomplish the Father's Will. The vibrant, glowing descriptions of Jesus' life and ministry among the human race have endeared this Gospel to hearts of Christians for centuries. Indeed, it is the Gospel that is generally recommended as the new convert's first assignment. Within its pages are unparalleled revelations of an eternal God Who entered human history in the person of Jesus Christ to reconcile the world of lost humanity to fellowship with Him. Nowhere else in the New Testament is the Good News made so simple and clear.

The Practical Christianity Foundation would be happy to help you understand these Gospels and the ways you can incorporate them into your own Bible studies. We invite you to contact us with your questions. When you do, we will be happy to provide you with helpful material.

Here at Practical Christianity Foundation we believe that God has mercifully extended His Grace toward us and has given us His living and Holy Word to guide us in our journey in this world. We count it privilege to come alongside you and minister to you through prayer and the sharing of God's living and holy Word. Please contact us if you have any questions concerning your faith and journey as a Christian.

We encourage you to frequently visit our website where you can find weekly devotional readings and helpful blogs.

The Gospels? What are they?
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