The term gospel comes from a translation of the Greek noun euangelion – meaning “good tidings” or “good news”. This means that when people are speaking of the four gospels in the bible, they are talking about the four recounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Written by evangelists between 70 and 100 AD, the four gospels contain almost everything we know today about Jesus, his life, his teachings, and his sacrifice.
The gospel are in fact, a set of specific historical text, that convey a deeper, more profound understanding of Jesus, who he is, his acts, and his teachings, from four different perspectives.
Why are There Four Gospels?
Each of the gospels contain information that is either absent from or contradictive to the three other gospels. This has lead to people making claims of the text being fictional, and others that they are eye witness accounts. Neither claim is wrong, nor are they true.
Each of the gospels were written to convey the message of the lord with different demographics, cultures, and educations in mind. The way an impoverished person living on the streets, would speak and think was different to those of an upper class from the same time period, which also meant that they would see and understanding things differently from one another. This made it rather difficult trying to get the people to connect with the same message, as the way their view of things was heavily influenced by their own means, needs and comforts.
As time is not kind to human memory, there is no way for us to know exactly what was said and done, word for word, and we must instead rely on the word of witnesses recounting what they saw and heard long after the event. Personal bias could also effect how these witnesses perceived the events, and as Jesus most likely spoke Aramaic there are bound to be a few mistranslated words or phrases here and there.
Gospel of Mark
Mark, the first of the gospels, portrays Jesus as the Son of God, who was sacrificed for our sins. This particular gospel was written some 40 years following Jesus’ first preaching. Mark was written in Greek for a gentile audience (Gentile – none Jewish Individuals or nations) with deep explanations of Jewish customs and traditions.
It also portrays Jesus as a heroic man of action, an exorcist, healer, miracle worker, and the suffering Son of God, who sacrificed himself for our sins. In the original version, there is no mention of Jesus’ appearances post resurrection, and ends with the discovery of the empty tomb, and instructions to spread word of the resurrection to all who would hear.
Gospel of Matthew
Matthew was the second book to be written, between 75 and 90 AD. It also portrays Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and Son of God, fulfilling the Old Testament messianic prophecies. Matthew is believed to have been written for the Jews, as there is little to no explanation of Jewish traditions.
Gospel of Luke
Luke, the third book of the the gospels, the last of the three synoptic gospels, and the longest of all four gospels, was written somewhere between 80 and 95 AD. Luke. This particular gospel was written to be both understood by and appealing to Greek Jews and Gentiles alike, from various socio-economic backgrounds.
Luke, also depicts Jesus as the savior of all, and the bringer of salvation, for all nations, demographics, and people regardless of race, creed, and culture.
Gospel of John
John, the last of the gospels that was written in 95 Ad or later. Of the four gospels, John reads the most unique and deliberately paints Jesus in a different light. Simply put, John was written to be appealing to the more educated reader, who is of a different socio-economic background from the previous three gospels targeted audiences.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.(John 1:1-4)
The gospel of John makes it clear that not only was Jesus the Son of God sent to be sacrificed for our sins, he was also God became flesh, He who controls and rules the Universe He created.
The differences and contradictions that can be found in the statements made by each individual gospel, is due to translation and misinterpretations. As we stated earlier, each gospel was written with a specific audience in mind, this meant that different langue, descriptions and explanations were needed to be able to clearly convey the same meaning and intent, to people of different backgrounds, cultures and varying educational standards.
Without taking the text literally, and word for word as slang and terminology can be lost when translating the text into new languages, the gospels can be seen to be telling the same story of Jesus Christ, his ministry, his life and sacrifice, from differing points of view.
This is why the church included the four gospels in their entirety. Not only do we learn about Jesus from all four gospels, with Matthew, Luke, and John being the most heavily relied upon for an accurate description. Their inclusion in their entirety, allows for you to truly understand and get to know Jesus for yourself. By presenting you with options you are able to find the gospel that best resonates with yourself.