"Reading the Gospels"
A guide to understanding each of the four Gospel authors
By Bible Geek
NOVEMBER 18, 2007 (www.holyspiritinteractive.net) - "I have been trying to read the gospels lately and I read the answer you wrote about why the Resurrection stories don’t agree in the four gospels and it really helped. My question is what are we supposed to take from the different gospels? It seems like they’re trying to get across different things when I read them."
All the books in the Bible are inspired by God and are free of error. That being said, out of all the 73 books in the Bible, the Gospels are uniquely special and supremely important.
It is with the Gospel as your foundation, that you will come to know the love of God, first and foremost, and learn how to share that love with a world desperately in need of it. Everything you yearn to know, everything you wonder about God, every fear and every hope and every pain and every joy collide and find meaning within the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Christ you encounter on the pages of their gospels is not a “nice Jesus” here to make everyone happy, far from it. No, when you encounter Jesus in the Gospels you see four portraits being painted of God, God who became man in Christ Jesus.
Use these brief outlines to help you better understand the differences, but also the likenesses, in the Gospel portraits. Go back to the Gospels repeatedly and you will notice something amazing. While the words and the truths don’t change over time, they will change you over time, and over time you will hunger for them like you do regular food and spiritual food (Eucharist).
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” – Mt. 4:4
An Overview of the Gospels:
One of the original twelve apostles, Matthew (also called “Levi”) was a tax collector working at a customs post when Christ invited him to follow (Mk 2:14).
Key themes for understanding the Gospel of St. Matthew
Jesus was the Messiah they’d been waiting forJesus did not come to abolish the law of Moses, but to fulfill it (Mt 5:17)Jesus came to begin His kingdom, one we are invited to enter by graceJesus institutes a Church on earth to teach His truth and administer His Sacraments
The central theme is that Christ the Messiah and King came to establish a Church.
We know very little about the author of this Gospel writer except that his name was probably birth name was John Mark (John is his Jewish name, Mark is his Roman name) and that he was a traveling companion of both Peter and Paul (2 Tim 4:11, Col. 4:10).
Key themes for understanding the Gospel of St. Mark
Jesus was powerful because He was a servant, not a conqueror.Jesus is our mediator to God, He provides us with authority to teach, preach.It was written to reaffirm to folks the primacy of Jesus Christ within the early Church, as apostles and eyewitnesses began dying off
The central theme is on action and service, more than teaching.
Luke was not a Jew, but a Gentile convert to Christianity. We also know that he was a physician by profession and as such was quite methodical in his approach to writing both the Gospel and Acts of the Apostles. Finally, we know he was a traveling companion to Paul for at least a while (Phil. 1:24, 2 Tim 4:11, Col. 4:14).
Key themes for understanding the Gospel of St. Luke
Emphasizes Jesus’ compassion for the poor, needy, sick, helplessReveals God’s glory, mercy and desire/willingness to healFocuses on the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s grace and our salvationUplifts the dignity of all women, especially the Blessed Virgin MaryEmphasizes prayer and humility
The central theme is liberation and healing.
John is believed to be writer of the final Gospel, as well as of the three letters which bear his name and the Book of Revelation. He was the younger brother of James and the son of Zebedee the fishing partners of Peter. He is also called the “Beloved Disciple” (Jn 13:23, 19:26) who was entrusted with Mary’s care at the Cross. He was most likely the youngest of the apostles, and lived the longest of all the Twelve. The writing of the Gospel has extraordinary detail that had to be from an eyewitness.
Key themes for understanding the Gospel of St. John
John wasn’t writing “another biography” of Jesus to add to the others, he assumes readers are familiar with the other gospelsHe wants to show that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of GodDesires to explain to Christians how to root their religious beliefs and practice in Jesus (Sacraments) and how, by doing so, that faith will lead to eternal lifeExplains why He came, who He is and what He did and how it related to the life of the early church followers
The central theme is the identity of Jesus and what that means to our faith.
I hope these help.
God loves you so, please, for the love of Him…keep reading!