What Are the Gospels?

The Gospels

Mark

  • A.k.a. The Gospel of Mark or The Gospel According to Mark
  • Written anonymously
  • Possibly the first of the four gospels to be written. If you hear someone use the phrase “Marcan priority,” this is what they’re referring to, and it has to do with the idea that the gospel of Mark may have been used as source material for the gospels of Matthew and Luke.
  • May have been written sometime around AD 77, right around the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. If that’s the case, it’s possible it was written to the displaced Christian communities that fled Jerusalem’s destruction.
  • Some major themes in Mark include Jesus’s identity as the Messiah, the struggle and transformation of the disciples as they learn who Jesus is, and the idea that Jesus is Lord and savior over all creation.

Matthew

  • A.k.a. The Gospel of Matthew or The Gospel According to Matthew
  • Written anonymously
  • The second or third of the four gospels to be written, possibly written sometime in the late first century. It may have been written after Mark but before AD 120.
  • May have used the gospel of Mark as a source alongside a second source. This is often referred to as the Two-Source Hypothesis.
  • Matthew may have been written to communities of Jewish Christians who were struggling to understand this new kingdom of God in light of their increasingly Gentile numbers.
  • Some major themes in Matthew include Jesus as a distinctly Jewish Messiah, the kingdom of heaven, and the relationship between Jewish Christians and the law of Moses.

Luke

  • A.k.a. The Gospel of Luke or The Gospel According to Luke
  • Written anonymously
  • The second or third of the four gospels to be written; the gospel of Luke is generally believed to have been written around the same time as Matthew using the same sources: the gospel of Mark and a second unknown source (“Q”).
  • A two-part work written to someone named Theophilus. The second part is what we call the book of Acts (a.k.a. The Acts of the Apostles or simply Acts).
  • Some major themes in Luke include discipleship as a transformed way of living in the world, God’s focus on the poor, Jesus’s identity as a prophet Messiah, and the Holy Spirit.

John

  • A.k.a The Gospel of John or The Gospel According to John
  • Written anonymously; there’s a reference in John 21:24 to the disciple who’s testifying, but it’s not agreed upon who, exactly, that disciple is and whether that disciple is also the one actually writing.
  • Probably the last of the four gospels to be written.
  • John doesn’t appear to use the same sources as any of the other three Gospels.
  • Written in Greek, but Greek may have been the writer’s second language.
  • Some major themes in John include Jesus as God’s logos, Jesus as the light of the world, unity with God, and God’s love for the world.

Anonymous Gospel Writers

Why Are the Gospels Different?

Gospel vs Gospels

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Brice Laughrey

Brice Laughrey

Owner of Breaking Bread Theology and co-founder of 1310 Ministries. Currently living and worshiping in Las Vegas, NV.