A Closer Look at the Four Gospels in the Bible

The Gospels are an integral part of the New Testament in the Bible, consisting of four books that chronicle the life, teachings, and miracles of Jesus Christ. These four books, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, provide unique perspectives and insights on his life, giving readers a comprehensive understanding of Jesus’ mission and the foundation of Christianity.

A Concise Overview
A Concise Overview

While they share some similarities, each Gospel also presents distinct features and emphases, highlighting different aspects of Jesus’ ministry and message. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are often referred to as the Synoptic Gospels, as they contain many parallel stories and teachings. John, on the other hand, focuses more on Jesus’ divine nature and deeper theological themes. Collectively, the Gospels enable us to grasp the significance of Jesus’ life and teachings and serve as the cornerstone of the Christian faith.

Through a close exploration of the Gospels, we have the opportunity to delve into the historical, narrative, and theological elements that surround the story of Jesus. By appreciating the diversity of these accounts, we gain a more profound understanding of Jesus Christ’s incredible impact and the transformative power of his message.

The Four Canonical Gospels

what are the gospels in the bible
The Four Canonical Gospels

In this section, we will explore the four canonical Gospels in the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These four books provide an account of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Gospel According to Matthew

The Gospel According to Matthew is the first of the four canonical Gospels and a part of the synoptic gospels. This gospel mainly focuses on Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah and the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. The book starts with Jesus’ genealogy, tracing his ancestry back to Abraham. The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most famous teachings of Jesus found in this gospel.

Notable features in Matthew include:

  • Jesus’ genealogy and birth
  • The visit of the Magi
  • The Sermon on the Mount
  • Parables about the Kingdom of Heaven
  • The Great Commission

Gospel According to Mark

The Gospel According to Mark is the shortest of the four gospels and another part of the synoptic gospels. This gospel presents Jesus as the suffering servant who gives his life as a ransom for many. Mark highlights Jesus’ actions and miracles more than his teachings. The disciples’ lack of understanding Jesus’ true identity is a recurring theme.

Key aspects in Mark include:

  • The baptism and temptation of Jesus
  • Jesus’ healing and exorcism miracles
  • Parables, such as the Parable of the Sower
  • The crucifixion and empty tomb

Gospel According to Luke

The Gospel According to Luke, the third canonical gospel, is also a part of the synoptic gospels. Luke portrays Jesus as the Savior of all humanity, emphasizing his compassion towards the poor, the outcast, and sinners. Luke is known for its unique parables and Jesus’ special attention to women. This gospel is the first part of a two-volume work, which includes the Acts of the Apostles.

Major elements in Luke consist of:

  • Jesus’ birth and childhood
  • The Good Samaritan parable
  • The Prodigal Son parable
  • The Last Supper and trials of Jesus
  • The resurrection appearances of Jesus

Gospel According to John

The Gospel According to John stands apart from the synoptic gospels. This gospel focuses on the divine identity of Jesus Christ and emphasizes his miracles as signs that reveal his divine nature. Instead of parables, the Gospel of John contains longer discourses, such as the Farewell Discourse.

Characteristic components in John are:

  • The Word becoming flesh
  • Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus
  • The raising of Lazarus
  • Jesus washing the disciples’ feet
  • Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and post-resurrection appearances

Historical Context and Composition

Historical Context and Composition
Historical Context and Composition

The Authors and Their Audiences

The Gospels were written by different authors addressing various audiences in the first century. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are attributed as the authors, with each of their gospel writings having a unique perspective and purpose. For instance:

  • Matthew targeted the Jewish audience, emphasizing Jesus as the Messiah fulfilling Old Testament prophecies.
  • Mark aimed primarily at the Roman readers, portraying Jesus as the Son of God performing miraculous deeds.
  • Luke addressed his gospel to Theophilus (Greek for “lover of God”), making it accessible to both Jews and Gentiles. Luke’s goal was to provide a chronological account of Jesus’ life.
  • John focused on Jesus as the Word made flesh, directing his message to all believers.

Literary Genre and Structure

The Gospels are a unique literary genre, a blend of biography and history, with elements of sermon and narrative. Despite not being history in the traditional sense, the Gospels convey historical events set in the context of first-century Palestine during the Roman occupation.

The structure of the Gospels typically includes the following elements:

  1. Introduction: The Gospels open with the birth of Jesus or the beginning of his ministry.
  2. Teachings and Miracles: Each Gospel contains parables, sermons, and descriptions of Jesus’ miracles, revealing his divine power.
  3. Conflict and Opposition: The Gospels describe Jesus’ conflicts with religious leaders and his growing opposition.
  4. The Passion Narrative: The climactic section covers Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection.

The Gospels employ a rich Greek language to convey their message, and each author used distinct literary techniques to tell the story. For example, repetition was used for emphasis, parables for conveying deeper meanings, and symbolism to highlight spiritual truths.

Understanding the historical context and composition of the Gospels allows us to better appreciate their message and significance in the Bible.

Central Themes and Messages

what are the gospels in the bible
Central Themes and Messages

The Gospels in the Bible are centered around the life, teachings, and works of Jesus Christ. As we explore these central themes and messages, we can gain a deeper understanding of the purpose and meaning behind these sacred texts.

Teachings and Miracles of Jesus

One of the most significant aspects of the Gospels is the focus on the teachings and miracles of Jesus. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus shares his wisdom and insights about the Kingdom of God. Some key teachings include the Sermon on the Mount, the Parables, and the Great Commandment. These teachings emphasize the importance of righteousness, faith, and love.

In addition to sharing his teachings, Jesus performs numerous miracles that demonstrate his divine authority and power. Here are some prominent miracles mentioned in the Gospels:

  • Turning water into wine
  • Feeding the multitudes
  • Healing the sick and disabled
  • Calming the storm
  • Walking on water
  • Raising the dead

These miracles illustrate Jesus’ ability to override natural laws and provide tangible evidence of his identity as the Son of God.

Death and Resurrection

The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are central to the message of the Gospels. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross is portrayed as the ultimate act of love and redemption. By willingly giving his life, Jesus atones for the sins of humanity and paves the way for reconciliation with God. The cross symbolizes both the cost of our sins and the love that God has for his creation.

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the climax of the Gospels and the ultimate proof of his divinity. It validates his teachings, fulfills the prophecies, and demonstrates God’s power over life and death. The resurrection also provides hope for all who believe in Jesus, as they can trust in the promise of eternal life and resurrection.

Both the teachings and miracles of Jesus and his death and resurrection reflect the core themes of the Gospels. They reveal the message of repentance and faith in the good news of Jesus Christ, showing us the path to the Kingdom of God.

Gospels’ Role in Christianity

Gospels' Role in Christianity
Gospels’ Role in Christianity

Theological Significance

In Christianity, the Gospels play an essential role as they provide the foundation for our faith and understanding of Jesus Christ’s life, teachings, death, and resurrection. These four texts, namely Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, give us insight into His divine nature as the Son of God and His role in fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies1. They allow us to comprehend the essential teachings of Jesus and His message of forgiveness, love, and redemption.

Additionally, the Gospels reveal the promise of the Holy Spirit, a significant aspect of Christian belief. The Holy Spirit is described as a helper and guide for believers, empowering them to live according to Christ’s teachings2.

Influence on Christian Practice

From the early church to present day, the Gospels have been the central source for Christian practice. As the primary accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings, they profoundly shaped the doctrines, worship, and moral principles of the church.

For example, the teachings of Jesus found in the Gospels form the basis of our moral code, guiding Christians to love one another, forgive, and care for the less fortunate3.

Moreover, the Gospels influenced Christian worship practices. The Lord’s Prayer, for instance, originates from the Gospel of Matthew and is recited by many Christians in their regular prayers4. The Gospels also recount the Last Supper, which we celebrate through the sacrament of the Eucharist in many denominations5.

While there are other texts, such as the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, that did not make it into the Bible, the four canonical Gospels continue to hold the highest authority in Christianity and remain the core of our faith6. As evangelists and Christians, we preserve the Gospels’ central role in both our individual spiritual growth and our shared community of believers.


  1. What Are the Four Gospels in The New Testament?
  2. What Are Gospels In The Bible
  3. Why Are The Gospels Called The Gospels
  4. Jesus’ Teachings in the Gospels
  5. Importance of the Eucharist in the Church
  6. What Are The Four Gospels and Why Are They Important?

Interconnections and Differences

what are the gospels in the bible
Interconnections and Differences

Synoptic Gospels vs. Gospel of John

The first three Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—are often referred to as the Synoptic Gospels due to their similarities and the fact that they share many parallel stories and events. In contrast, the Gospel of John stands apart, offering a more spiritual and mystical account of Jesus’ life.

The Synoptic Gospels contain many common elements such as:

  • The parables of Jesus
  • Exorcisms and healings
  • The Sermon on the Mount
  • The feeding of the 5000

On the other hand, the Gospel of John emphasizes Jesus’ divinity by portraying him as the Word of God and the light of the world. Many exclusive teachings and signs, such as the raising of Lazarus and the washing of the disciples’ feet, are unique to this Gospel.

Canonical and Non-Canonical Texts

In addition to the four Gospels included in the canonical scripture or canon, several non-canonical Gospels exist, such as the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Peter. These texts are not considered part of the official canon of the Christian faith and have been excluded from the Bible.

During the early years of Christianity, there was considerable debate over which Gospels should be included in the official canon. The Church Father Irenaeus played a significant role in endorsing the four canonical Gospels and rejecting others like the Gospel of Thomas.

The Diatessaron is another interesting document that combines elements from all four canonical Gospels into a single, unified Gospel text.

Infancy Gospels, such as the Gospel of James and the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, are non-canonical texts that focus on the childhood of Jesus. While they contain some intriguing stories, they are regarded as apocryphal and not part of the official scripture.

By understanding the interconnections and differences among the Gospels as well as the distinction between canonical and non-canonical texts, we can gain a clearer and more comprehensive picture of the rich landscape of early Christian literature.

Frequently Asked Questions

what are the gospels in the bible
Frequently Asked Questions

Can you list the Gospels in the order they appear in the Bible?

Sure! The Gospels appear in the New Testament in the following order: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

What is a simple explanation of the gospel message?

The gospel message, in its simplest form, is the “good news” concerning Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. It highlights His teachings, miracles, and the salvation He offers to humanity. The term “gospel” comes from the Greek word “euaggelion,” which means good news.

Why are the four accounts of Jesus’ life called ‘Gospels’?

The four accounts of Jesus’ life – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – are called Gospels because they are the primary sources we have regarding the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ. These books primarily focus on the “good news” of Jesus, His ministry, His message, and His relevance to our lives. Each Gospel provides a unique perspective on His life and teachings.

What are the central themes of each of the four Gospels?

Each Gospel carries a unique focus and emphasizes different aspects of Jesus’ life:

  • Matthew highlights Jesus as the Messiah, the promised King from the line of David, and portrays Him as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.
  • Mark emphasizes Jesus as the suffering servant, demonstrating His authority through His actions and miracles, and His ultimate sacrifice for humanity.
  • Luke presents Jesus as the Son of Man, with a focus on His compassion, love, and mercy, particularly towards the marginalized in society.
  • John showcases Jesus as the divine Son of God, emphasizing His deity and His deep, personal relationship with the Father.

Is there a Gospel in the Old Testament?

While there isn’t a specific Gospel book in the Old Testament, it does contain many prophecies and foreshadowing of the coming Messiah. The Old Testament lays the foundation for Jesus’ life and ministry, providing context for the New Testament’s message of salvation and grace through Him.

How do the themes of the Kingdom of God differ across the Gospels?

The theme of the Kingdom of God appears in all four Gospels, but it is expounded differently in each:

  • In Matthew, the Kingdom is portrayed as the fulfillment of Old Testament promises to Israel, emphasizing its prophetic and Davidic aspects.
  • Mark presents the Kingdom as a mystery, gradually revealed through Jesus’ parables, healings, and exorcisms.
  • Luke focuses on the social aspects of the Kingdom, highlighting Jesus’ compassion for the marginalized and outcasts of society.
  • John explores the spiritual nature of the Kingdom, emphasizing the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as a prerequisite to enter the Kingdom.

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