The first four books of the New Testament are known as the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each tells us about the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The Gospels are where we find all the famous Bible stories about Jesus, including his miracles and teachings, as well as his death and resurrection.

   Four people found it necessary to tell the story of Jesus from four different perspectives. Each gospel was written for a different group of people, by a different author, who was trying to accomplish a different purpose.

    The word 'gospel' derives from the Anglo-Saxon for 'good news', and the writers are deemed 'evangelists' from the Greek 'euangelistes' (bringer of good news). The 'good news' is of course the message about the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth that the kingdom of God foretold by the prophets of Israel was imminent. The good news also includes the message that we can be saved by believing in Jesus' death and resurrection.

    Mark's gospel was probably written first, and used and edited by the other three. The gospels were produced from somewhere around 70 AD to perhaps 100 AD.

   Written by the apostle of the same name, Matthew's gospel was written for people familiar with the Old Testament, both the Law of Moses and the prophets. Matthew makes more references to the Old Testament than any other gospel. Matthew carefully shows how Jesus fulfills the prophecies made about him earlier in the Bible, especially focusing on Jesus' role as the Messiah, the promised king descended from David.

Matthew is the perfect book to bridge the gap between the Old Testament and the New. In the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).

The Gospel According to Matthew was written for a Jewish audience, because Matthew’s gospel quotes many Old Testament passages for the purpose of showing their fulfillment, with the coming of Jesus as the predicted Messiah. A significant word found throughout Matthew is “fulfill” or “fulfilled.” After narrating an event in Jesus’ life, Matthew often connects it to the Old Testament. For example, “This has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled” (Matthew 26:56). “Fulfill” or “fulfilled” is used sixteen times in the book of Matthew.

Matthew also tells us about the visit of the three wise men to the baby Jesus after following a star in the sky, and how they ignored Herod's instructions to report back, and went home instead.

   This is the shortest gospel. It has been suggested that this gospel was written so that it could be easily memorized and told aloud to others. According to early church tradition, this gospel was written by John Mark, the same Mark who backed out of his missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:37–39). Mark supposedly aided the apostle Peter later in life, and this gospel is an arranged collection of Peter’s memories of Jesus.

Mark was written for a wide audience. While the other gospels contain long discourses and sermons of Jesus, Mark is all about action. This is where we see Jesus doing things, and of the four gospels, Mark reads most like a story.

The Gospel According to Mark was written for a mostly Gentile audience. Mark describes Jewish customs (Mark 7:1–5) and phrases as though his audience was unfamiliar with these things.

The gospel encourages Christians to take up service to others as modelled by Jesus, when he explains: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant ... for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many

Mark’s Gospel also concerns itself with the coming of the kingdom of God. While Matthew mixes in Jesus’ miracles with sermons, Mark focuses more on Jesus’ miracles in a 'fast-paced narrative' that spends the last third of the book on Jesus’ final week in Jerusalem before his resurrection.

   This is the longest of the four gospels, and the longest book of the New Testament. Luke is a historical and journalistic gospel; a detailed account of the episodes in Jesus’ life arranged in chronological order. Church tradition recognizes the first-century physician Luke as the author and editor of this book. This gospel presents Jesus as the savior of all nations (Luke 2:30–32). It is a rich story of Jesus’ life and ministry for both those who don’t know much about Jesus, as well as those who are very familiar with the Old Testament.

The Gospel According to Luke was written to a Roman official named Theophilus. It was an investigated account, in which Luke carefully and accurately researched the testimony of witnesses. Through a meticulous process of documenting historical detail, Luke provides a detailed sketch of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. His stated purpose was that Theophilus would know the 'certainty' of the gospel (Luke 1:4)

The gospel of Luke emphasizes Jesus’ mission to all of humanity, from hopeless sinners to outcasts. This isn't surprising, since Luke may have been the only Gentile author in the New Testament.

In Luke we can read some of the parables unique to his gospel, such as the parable of the prodigal son, the parable of the good Samaritan, and the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector. Luke, a close friend of the apostle Paul, wrote his gospel as the first in a two-part series ending with the book of Acts.

Luke's gospel is where we find the well-known and much loved Christmas story.

   John is the persuasive Gospel. It’s written to show the miracles of Jesus, so that those who read his story will believe in him and have everlasting life (John 20:30–31). John’s account of Jesus’ teachings and miracles emphasizes the divine nature of Jesus. To John, Jesus is the Son of God, come to destroy evil. The whole book is arranged to present Jesus this way.

The gospel of John reads very differently than the other three. Mark begins with Jesus’ baptism, Luke begins with the happenings surrounding Jesus’ birth, and Matthew begins with Abraham, and traces the generations down to Jesus. But John takes us all the way back to the very first words of the Bible: “In the beginning”. John is telling the story of 'the divine being who became flesh, dwelt among us, and died so that we might have everlasting life'.

The Gospel According to John is considered the last of the four Gospels to be written. Written by Jesus’ disciple John in his old age, the gospel combines a simple style with reflections on the events that happened when John was a young man.

The Gospel of John makes Jesus’ divinity the most important thing. John’s opening highlights the theological truth that God became flesh: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”, and, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”. The Gospel of John also includes seven “I am” statements by Jesus that match God’s way of referring to himself. In Exodus 3:14, God told Moses, “I am who I am”. Similarly, Jesus uses language that describes his divinity so the reader can clearly see his uniqueness. For example, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), and “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

John also gives us the most well known verse in the New Testament: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life". (John 3:16)

   The Gospels give us a very thorough portrait of Jesus, allowing us to see his importance for our redemption. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus are the culmination of each Gospel, each having described his life and teachings in unique ways.

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