Note 5.3 - A Brief Overview of the Four Gospels

Of the four Gospel accounts of that open the New Testament, only two have traditionally been claimed to have been written by men that Jesus Christ Himself had called to be His apostles; Matthew Levi, a tax collector from Capernaum in Galilee, and John Zebeddee, the fisherman and younger brother of James ("The Elder"), also from Capernaum. For more information about the authorship of the Gospel of John, see Article 3 - Why Include The Gospel of John on page 178.

Whoever the authors of any of these four Gospel accounts of the sayings and events of the life and ministry of Jesus were, each writer was a unique person, who had his own individual personality, ancestral lineage, cultural heritage, education, occupation, beliefs and point of view on God, the world, Judaism, and the mission of The Messiah. Therefore, each author had a different reason as to why he chose to add his version of the events from the life of Jesus Christ to the other accounts that already existed. Each Gospel account was written to satisfy the needs and interest of a different group of people, and each Gospel narrative has a slightly different focus and emphasis; whether to prove to the Jewish peoples that Jesus is their long promised Messiah, or to show the Gentiles of the Greek and Roman worlds that He is also the Savior sent by God for the salvation of all of humanity.

It is likely that all four of the Gospel accounts were originally written in Greek, the language of trade and commerce in that region of the world at that time, although some believe that there may have been a proto-Matthew source document that was originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic, although no such manuscript has yet been found.

While all four of the New Testament Gospels show the humanity and the Divinity of Jesus as the Messiah - the Christ - the Anointed One - the emphasis that is listed for each Gospel is the one that has traditionally been ascribed to them by the church, which list the stations or offices of Jesus as King, Prophet, and Priest, and also as a human manifestation of the Divine Son and Word (Logos) of God.

As the unity between the four Gospels is seen when they are read together, as they have been since before the Diatessaron of 160 CE, and since at least 405 CE as the opening of the New Testament of the Vulgate Bible of the Catholic Church, it is of interest to note some of the ways in which the four Gospel accounts differ from each other, as detailed in the comparative chart that begins on the following page.

In the comparison chart, the Greek word count listed for each Gospel is based on the Nestle manuscript upon which the English NASB (New American Standard Bible) version of The Bible is based. This word count will differ slightly from every other English translation of the Gospels (KJV, NKJV, NIV, RSV, etc.) even if they are also based on the same edition of the same Greek manuscript.

For more information about the history and the formation of the four Gospels of the New Testament, watch Part 3 of the Overview of the Gospels series at: synopticgospel.com/overview-of-the-gospels-series