Monday, November 18, 2013

The Four Gospels Breakdown

I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved…
1 Corinthians 15:1-2

Note: As I was researching, I found I really couldn’t say most of this better than how put it. Please be aware most of the gospel contrasting is directly copied from and is not my own work.

Why four gospels? Each gospel was written for a specific audience, each emphasizing different aspects of Christ’s life. Why not just one big gospel? Early law stated the necessity of more than one witness to verify a testimony, and all four accounts match up.

“Well, they don’t match up exactly,” you might say (I thought the same thing). Tell me, if all four gospels written by four different people matched up word for word, would you find that more credible?

Which gospel is best? Yes. They all have distinct purposes and styles, and all are inspired by the Holy Spirit. For your reading and studying pleasure, I have a small comparison and contrast of each gospel with its respective author, audience, and characteristics.

Audience: Matthew was writing to a Hebrew audience.
Objective: One of his purposes was to show from Jesus' genealogy and fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies that He was the long-expected Messiah, and thus should be believed in. Matthew's emphasis is that Jesus is the promised King, the “Son of David.” The phrase “This was to fulfill the prophesy…” appears repeatedly in Matthew.
Characteristic: Matthew was a tax collector, number-oriented, and often records the number of people at events.

Audience: Mark wrote for a Gentile audience.
Objective: His Gentile focus is brought out by his not including things important to Jewish readers (genealogies, Christ's controversies with Jewish leaders, frequent Old Testament references). Mark emphasizes Christ as the suffering Servant, the One who came not to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many.
Additional note: This is a faster-paced, action-packed gospel, highlighting Christ’s miracles and works here on earth.

Audience: Because Luke specifically wrote for the benefit of Theophilus, a Gentile, his gospel was composed with a Gentile audience in mind.
Objective: His intent is to show that a Christian's faith is based upon historically reliable and verifiable events. Luke often refers to Christ as the “Son of Man,” emphasizing His humanity. Characteristic: He was a detail-oriented doctor and diligent historian and shares many details that are not found in the other gospel accounts. 
Additional notes: Luke also wrote Acts.

Audience: Mixed
Objective: John emphasizes the deity of Christ, as is seen in his use of such phrases as “the Word was God,” “the Savior of the World,” “Son of God” (used repeatedly) and several “I Am” statements by Jesus. John also emphasizes the fact of Jesus' humanity, desiring to show the error of a religious sect of his day who did not believe Christ’s humanity. John 20: 30-31 reveals his overall purpose: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Additional note: John writes in a differently layout than the first three “Synoptic Gospels.”

Although all four gospels differ from each other in style and audience, each accurately accounts Christ’s life for us to appreciate who He is and what He has done for us so that we may have life through faith in Him.




  1. There are four gospels because there were four different unknowns that had differing opinions. How can you possibly ignore all pagan parallels and obvious parallel of human sacrifice to cleanse sin? It's all ancient lies. Jesus preached that the kingdom of heaven had arrived, not that he would die for sins. He was asked in the Temple, how it is we gain eternal life. Jesus then told the man that he wasn't God (why call me good, there is none good but God) and then said, keep the commandments. Seems like a good time to add "oh yeah, and believe in me too", that's kind of a big deal. Oh, and you might want to check out Buddha and Mara, which was ripped off completely for "Jesus and Satan." Jesus was a practicing Jew. Now none of us practice the old laws because of the murderer who 'saw Jesus' in an ecstatic vision, having never met the man. Kind of reminds me of Joseph Smith. Good luck with your 'work.' It's all the same as anybody. Come up with something new. I've got nothing against Jesus or HIS teachings, I do however know that the murderer is a flat out liar. "You owe ME your very souls"---The murderer (Philemon 1:19). Sound like something a Christian who gives God all credit would say? You have been blinded. It's called emotional indoctrination. It generally sets in at a very very young age. Once the psychological God is constructed, you're set for life; well, not I. If God 'inspired' the gospels, then God is an idiot. God is the ultimate king, not an idiot. How do you know that they are 'inspired.' Did God tell you? No. Why are Joseph Smith and Muhammad not your buddies too? By what standard do you measure 'inspired' writings? Do you think you hold your 'scriptures' to the standard of scrutiny you hold theirs? No. Ever considered this might not be true and there's is? No. Explain to me why the murderer is any different than either one of them. I'd love to hear it. It's impossible.

    M. Wesley Kirkland, CG Kuklinski and the Spiritual Einstein.

    1. You bring up a number of interesting points in your comment, and even pull in some Bible references. However, the main issue is context; one has to look at the verses or chapters before and after a single verse (and maybe even look up some cultural context) to understand what is really meant.

      For instance, the example you used in Mark 10, where a man asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life,” Jesus responds with, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God,” not to deny His deity, but to cause the man to consider what he means by “good” and how he measures up to this standard. Jesus then gets to the issue of total devotion and loving God with one’s whole heart.

      Also, I know God inspired the gospel because He says they’re inspired in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16). And the Bible is true and reliable, supported by archaeological evidence, many consistent manuscripts, numerous fulfilled specific prophesies over 1000 years old (which Joseph Smith or Muhammad can’t claim, but Jesus can), and the test of time. ( for more on this.)

      I’d also like to remind you this article’s focus is on the styles and context of each gospel, not Buddhism or Paul’s ministry. I encourage you to check out—it addresses more of your points.