Four Gospels

Four Gospels – The Various Authors
Gospel is an old English word meaning “good news.” It’s a translation of a Greek word, euanggelion, from which later came the Arabic word Injil. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the four Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus. They are collected together at the beginning of the New Testament, itself the second and final volume which concludes a single Bible.

The apostles Matthew and John witnessed Jesus’ ministry from its inception through His death and resurrection. Mark, a younger man present at least during the later events of Jesus’ life, was taught by the apostle and eyewitness Peter. The Gospel according to Luke is a report by a meticulous historian who claimed to have “carefully investigated everything from the beginning” (Luke 1:3). Luke no doubt learned from many of the other original eyewitnesses, among them Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Four Gospels – The Importance
Why, we might ask, are four Gospel accounts necessary? Furthermore, given differences among them, doesn’t their very multiplicity imply that they negate one another?

The following is an important truth given to us by the prophet Moses. It was quoted or referred to numerous times in both the Old and New Testaments, and even by Jesus Himself (Matthew 18:16).

A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15).

The four different Gospel accounts first of all show us how God keeps His own word. When it comes to His most important revelation—that about Jesus the Messiah—God didn’t give us one account from an isolated individual. Instead, God teaches us about the vast richness of Jesus’ life through multiple prophet-witnesses. Furthermore, God works through well-documented and verifiable history, not through private revelations to a single person. The prophetic witnesses of the Gospels uphold the truth that God himself is speaking. Each Gospel confirms and supports the others. As we learned in the discussion about the death of Jesus, additional people who lived during his life and soon thereafter also wrote about Him. Statements by individuals born centuries later cannot negate established testimony concerning what these earlier people saw, learned and passed on. For those reasons, the four Gospels should be seen as a strong confirmation from God. Given the instructions above by Moses, they make the “matter” about Jesus thoroughly “established.”

Four Gospels – Contradictions?
Second, the four Gospels in no way contradict each other. They simply tell from different perspectives the facts about the world’s most incredible person. In a courtroom, if the testimonies of two or more people are identical, a good judge will accuse the speakers of collusion and throw them all out. A strong case is established only when two or more clearly independent witnesses swear to the truth of their distinct, non-contradictory, but parallel statements. Remember the blind men describing an elephant? “A rope!” said one feeling the tail. “A tree trunk!” said another of the leg. “Spears!” said yet another about the tusks. The Gospels go beyond that, for they describe numerous parts of Jesus’ life, and each from different vantage points. Believers in Jesus do not shrink from four Gospel accounts; they rejoice in them. Through the four we see Jesus more clearly.

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Compliments of Scott Munger, PhD, Biblica, All rights reserved in the original.

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