Themes of the Four Gospels

A key to understanding the focus of each of the four gospels is to know the intent with which they are writing.


The following offers a brief glimpse at the overall idea each author presents:


Matthew

  • Jesus is the messianic King

  • Matthew's Gospel presents Jesus as this culminating figure, Israel's promised, eternal king

  • Matthew is going to use more Old Testament than any other gospel, and he is going to connect Jesus to many past Hebrew rulers, including Moses and Solomon

  • This begins immediately in the book as Matthew opens with tracing Jesus' lineage to David and Abraham, key figures in Israel's royal line

Mark

  • Jesus is the faithful Servant of God

  • Mark's Gospel tells of Jesus' obedience to God, faithfully fulfilling his duty

  • Notable in Mark is that the lineage of Jesus is not recorded, because the lineage of a servant does not matter

Luke

  • Jesus is the Perfect Man

  • Luke's Gospel relates Jesus to the ancient Greek pursuit of the "ideal man"

  • The Greeks were obsessed with human perfection, particularly in wisdom and intellect rather than brute strength

  • Since Luke is presenting Jesus as the Perfect Man, Luke traces Jesus' lineage back to the first man, Adam

John

  • Jesus is the Divine

  • John's Gospel presents Jesus as God in the flesh

  • Due to focusing on Jesus' divinity, John traces Jesus' lineage back to the preexistent God and God's Word


This can offer some insight into our readings of one gospel or another.


As it relates to Luke, it is also important to note that our traditional layout of the New Testament sadly separates Luke's Gospel from the book of Acts by the Gospel of John. The Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are truly a consecutive, two-volume series of Luke's inquiry into the historical Jesus and the early church.


Luke and Acts are designed to be read as a complete series, with Acts picking up where the Gospel of Luke ends.