This site exists to provide insights from the Christian perspective through teaching theology and biblical exegesis. Does God exist? How reliable is the biblical text? How should the Christian faith be understood? These questions are not simply academic, but affect all groups of people. The Apostle Paul imparted this godly wisdom to us, "...that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another" (1 Corinthians 4:6).
Sunday, September 3, 2017
Interaction With The Synoptic Problem
Why Do The Four Gospels Contain Differences?:
-The reasons for the differences between the gospel accounts is not that they disapproved of each other's content. Rather, they were writing with a slightly different theological emphasis or intended audience. Matthew, for example, wrote mostly to Jews. Luke is more accessible to Gentiles. There were differences in reporting, which is only natural for reporters as they have biases and different perspectives. There were different points of emphasis. There is nothing wrong with choosing not to include certain content. John himself wrote, "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). The point is that Jesus Christ did many things and all the gospel writers chose to include certain details and not others. That point in no way harms inerrancy or even the general reliability of the gospels. If the material of the four gospels was fabrication, then we should expect very few dissimilarities at all.
The Gospel According To Matthew:
-The Gospel of Matthew was written for the purpose of convincing the Jews that Jesus Christ is their promised Messiah and legitimate King. Matthew's narrative contains more quotations from the Old Testament demonstrating how Jesus fulfilled Old Covenant prophecies than any of the other three gospel accounts. It also traces His ancestral lineage from King David. In addition, Matthew utilizes language from the Old Testament that the Jewish people would have been more comfortable with hearing. For example, he describes God as the "living God" in Matthew 16:18.
The Gospel According To Mark:
-The Gospel of Mark was originally directed to Gentile Christians, most particularly those who were thriving in the midst of persecution under the Roman Empire. Terms such as "census" (Mark 12:14) and "denarius" (Mark 12:15) are consistent with such an audience. This short biographical narrative of our Lord Jesus Christ was written for the purposes of building up the faith of fellow brethren and teaching what it really means to be a a disciple. In this narrative, Christ seemingly keeps His true identity hidden and reveals Himself as the Son of Man. His character is a point of consideration. Peter's confession of faith was also emphasized (Mark 8:27-9:1). Tradition has it that Mark was a companion of the Apostle Peter and wrote a narrative based on his eyewitness testimony. He was reputed by Paul to be of benefit in ministry (Colossians 4:10).
The Gospel According To Luke:
-The Gospel of Luke strives to bring into light "all that Jesus began to do and teach" (Acts 1:1-2). It was intended to be an accurate, organized narrative that gives readers certainty regarding the teachings of and events concerning our Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 1:1-4). The composition is concise and the Greek is of superior quality. Moreover, this book oftentimes records details that were omitted in the other gospel narratives. Consider, for example, the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). This chronicle which was authored by a Gentile physician and historian named Luke presents Christ as showing compassion to all people of different societal classes. This gospel places a special emphasis on woman that is unique for its time. It has been reputed by some to be the most beautiful work ever written. "The ancient opinion, that Luke wrote his Gospel under the influence of Paul, rests on the authority of Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius. The two first assert that we have in Luke the Gospel preached by Paul ; Origen calls it " the Gospel quoted by Paul," alluding to Rom. ii.16; and Eusebius refers Paul's words, "according to my Gospel" (2 Tim. ii. 8), to that of Luke, in which Jerome concurs. The language of the preface is against the notion of any exclusive influence of St. Paul. The four verses could not have been put at the head of a history composed under the exclusive guidance of Paul or of any one apostle, and as little could they have introduced a gospel simply communicated by another." (William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 492)
The Gospel According To John:
-Rather than providing us with a chronological listing of the major events that took place during the earthly life of Jesus Christ, the purpose of the Gospel of John is to reinforce His divinity. It speaks of Christ as the eternal Logos who took on flesh and dwelt among us (John 1). Moreover, this particular narrative was written to build up faith through the recording of His miracles (John 20:30-31). The Gospel according to John occupies metaphors such as "bread of life," "born again," and "living water," none of which can be found in the other three gospels. In summary, this book has been reputed by many to be the "evangelistic gospel." It is very much distinct from the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke)