Mary Magdalene

John the Apostle




Three Gospels

The New Testament starts with the three Gospel books of Matthew, Mark and Luke. These three are known as the Synoptic Gospels. Gospel means “Good News”, and Synoptic refers to the fact that all three give an account of the same general events from the same point of view. The fourth book, John, is distinctly different from the three Synoptic Gospels, and includes much information not in the other three Gospels.

The four gospel books differ in what stories they include and how the stories are told. None of the four Gospels are meant to be a complete, detailed life of Jesus. Rather, as John wrote, “Jesus truly did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God; and that by believing you might have life through his name.” “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which, if they should all be written, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”

Together, the four Gospels comprise the vast majority of the direct information we have about the life and teachings of Jesus.

Gospel of Matthew

About 80% of the material in Matthew is also found in Mark and Luke. Since the episodes in the Luke Series contain much of what is in Matthew, the purpose of this episode is to emphasize how much Matthew uses the Old Testament to add validity to his account.

Matthew’s main audience is his fellow Jews. They were very familiar with what we now call the Old Testament and valued those Scriptures as sacred and true, with some passages pointing to a coming Messiah—someone who would essentially reestablish King David’s kingdom. After the Messiah’s arrival, the Jews would be rulers of their physical land, independent of Rome.

Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Matthew took passage after passage out of the Old Testament and showed how they predicted Jesus to be the Messiah…but a totally different Messiah than was expected. Jesus came to give them spiritual freedom, not physical freedom.

In addition to that, Matthew showed God to consist of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This three-fold nature of God seemed to be different from the most basic Hebrew teaching, found in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

These two major differences caused the Pharisees to turn from curiosity to hatred. The more Jesus taught about love, the more they hated him. The more he showed them about the true nature of God, the harder their hearts turned.

As you read through the assigned chapters, notice that Matthew seems to put his material in a more chronological order than Luke did. This is likely because Matthew accompanied Jesus through most of his ministry while Luke gathered his information about the ministry of Jesus from various sources.

Only Matthew and Luke record events around the birth of Jesus, though they provide different genealogies, which has led some scholars to believe that one is of Joseph and the other is of Mary. They both agree that Jesus was a descendant of King David.

Primary Scriptures:
Matthew 1-4, 8-12
Story Summary:
Various passages in Matthew to demonstrate Old Testament use
Kingdom of Judea (Israel)
Circa 30 AD