The Four Accounts of the Gospel

Loving God's WordTITLE: The Four Accounts of the Gospel

SUBJECT: The Bible

PROPOSITION: This lesson will review the four accounts of the gospel: 1) Matthew 2) Mark, 3) Luke, and 4) John.

OBJECTIVE: Each person will become more familiar with the four accounts of the gospel.

AIM: To help new Christians learn more about the gospel accounts.


1. Read: Mark 1:1

2. About the Text:

1) There is one gospel, not four.

2) There are four accounts of the gospel.

3) The word gospel means “good news.”

4) It is the story of God’s bringing Jesus the Messiah into the world for mankind’s salvation.

5) “And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus…” (Acts 13:32-33).

6) Why four accounts?

7) How are they different?

8) How much do we know?

9) Can we grow?

3. Inspired by the Holy Spirit

1) “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matthew 10:24-25).

2) “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).

4. Ref. to S, T, P, O, and A.


I.   Matthew

1. Who?

1) Matthew was an apostle of Jesus (Mark 3:18).

2) He was a tax collector commissioned by Jesus in Matthew 9:9.

3) He was numbered among the apostles after Jesus death (Acts 1:13).

4) While there is no direct claim of authorship in the book, many early sources say that Matthew was the author.

5) “Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia” (Against Heresies, Irenaeus of Lyons, c.180 A.D.).

2. What?

1) Matthew has 18,346 words.

2) Matthew records 15 parables.

3) Matthew records 22 miracles.

4) The gospel of Matthew is an account written for the Jews.

5) It contains more references to prophecies than any other account.

6) Its design is to show that Jesus is the Messiah.

7) The lineage in Matthew 1 demonstrates that Jesus came from the line of David.

8) “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Messiah), the Son of David, the Son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).

3. When?

1) Some suggest sometime in the 50s A.D.

2) Others suggest sometime around 65 A.D.

3) Jesus gives prophecy specifically for those in Jerusalem in Matthew 24 to avoid destruction in 70 A.D.

4. Where?

1) Some have suggested it was originally written in Hebrew in Jerusalem.

2) We do not know for sure.

5. Why

1) Matthew wrote to show that Jesus was the Messiah.

2) Matthew starts with showing Jesus’ genealogy: Matthew 1:1.

3) He discusses the wise men who came proclaiming him King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2).

4) Herod inquired where the Messiah was to be born (Matthew 2:4).

5) Matthew records the preaching of John the baptizer and Isaiah 40:3 fulfillment.

6) Uses term “Son of Man” 32 times.

7) Significance related to Daniel 7:13-14 – “?I was watching in the night visions, ??And behold, One like the Son of Man, ??Coming with the clouds of heaven! ??He came to the Ancient of Days, ??And they brought Him near before Him. ??Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, ??That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. ??His dominion is an everlasting dominion, ??Which shall not pass away, ??And His kingdom the one ??Which shall not be destroyed.”

8) Matthew also shows that Jesus is testified by God to be God’s son.

a. Matthew 3:17.

b. Matthew 17:5

9) He also records Peter’s good confession (Matthew 16:16).

10) Finally, Matthew records Jesus Himself making that claim to the high priest (Matthew 26:63-64).

II.  Mark

1. Who?

1) Also known as John-Mark (Acts 12:12,25).

2) Cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10).

3) Mark was either a close personal friend or related to Peter.

4) Peter calls him “my son” in 1 Peter 5:13.

5) Paul said he was useful for ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).

6) Mark was not an apostle, but very close to the apostles Peter and Paul.

7) Mark may have been an eyewitness to the crucifixion (Mark 14:51-52).

2. What?

1) The gospel of Mark is an account written for gentiles associated with Rome.

2) Mark does not discuss genealogy.

3) His account is shorter than the others, 11,304 words.

4) Mark records 5 parables.

5) He records 20 miracles.

6) He uses the term “immediately” 35 times emphasizing that Jesus was a man of action.

7) The term “Son of God” (used 4 times) is important in Mark (Mark 1:1).

8) Son of Man, 13 times.

3. When?

1) Some think Mark was the earliest, written in the 40s.

2) Some have hypothesized it was earliest because shortest.

3) Others suggest a later view sometime in the 60s.”

4) Church fathers suggest that Matthew was written first.

5) Before 70 A.D. (Mark 13:1ff).

4. Where?

1) Tradition says he was with Peter in Rome when he wrote the account.

2) There is nothing in the text that indicates this.

5. Why?

1) To demonstrate the power and authority of Jesus as the Son of God.

2) Mark focuses more on the miracles in his account, recording 20.

3) Begins with saying Jesus is the Son of God (Mark 1:1).

4) Ends with the centurion who crucified Jesus also declaring this (Mark 15:39).

III. Luke

1. Who?

1) Was not an eyewitness, but a historian.

2) Luke was a Greek gentile (Hellenist), not a Jew.

3) Was a faithful associate and travelling companion of the apostle Paul.

4) Called “the beloved physician” in Colossians 4:14.

5) Uses more detail to refer to medical conditions.

a. Luke 22:44 – Jesus sweat like great drops of blood.

b. Luke 22:50-51 – Heals servant’s ear after cutting off.

c. Luke 7:11-17 – Includes raising of widow’s son in Nain.

6) With Paul when he wrote Philemon (1:25).

7) Was the only one with Paul when he wrote 2 Timothy (4:11).

2. What?

1) The gospel of Luke was written for gentiles associated with Greeks (Hellenists).

2) Lineage of Jesus goes back to Adam.

3) Refers to bodies of freshwater as lakes, not seas.

4) There are 19,482 words in Luke, the most in all the gospel accounts.

5) He records 18 parables.

6) He records 21 miracles.

7) Expression Son of Man used 25 times in book.

8) “Son of God” used 8 times.

9) Has six additional miracles that Matthew, Mark, and John do not have.

3. When?

1) During Paul’s travels, possibly while in Rome.

2) This seems to be when he finished Acts.

3) So written early 60s A.D.

4) This would be before 70 A.D. (Luke 21:5ff).

4. Where?

1) Probably when he was in Rome with Paul.

2) Acts 28:16 – “Now when we came to Rome…”

5. Why?

1) Explains the purpose of his writing – Luke 1:1-4.

2) Written to Theophilus – friend of God, a Greek name.

3) By extension, written by a Greek for gentiles associated with Greeks.

4) There is an emphasis on the humanity and suffering of Jesus.

5) Shows Jesus to be a man of much prayer.

6) Jesus shows compassion to the poor and afflicted.

7) Special emphasis upon concern for women.

8) Relationships with individuals is emphasized.

IV.  John

1. Who

1) The apostle John.

2) Apostle whom Jesus loved (John 13:23, 20:2, 21:7, 21:20).

3) Was probably younger than Peter as he outran him (John 20:4).

4) Listed with the twelve apostles in Acts 1:13.

5) Was one of the inner circle of Jesus disciples, Peter, James, and John (Mark 14:33).

2. What

1) There are 15,635 words in John.

2) He records 8 miracles or signs as he calls them (John 20:30-31).

3) John does not record any of Jesus’ parables.

4) Jesus referred to as the Son of God 15 times.

5) Jesus referred to as the Son of Man 11 times.

6) Character of the book of John is much different than Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

7) More emphasis upon the last conversations with disciples in John.

8) Half the book is dedicated to the last week of Jesus’ life.

9) There is an emphasis in John upon Jesus relationship with the Holy Spirit.

10) Jesus is presented as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

3. When

1) Probably in the 90s A.D. along with 1, 2, 3 John and Revelation.

2) Some argue for a pre-70 A.D. authorship.

3) Good reason to believe it was written after the temple was destroyed.

4. Where

1) Probably from Ephesus where John was in later life.

2) Wrote book of Revelation from island of Patmos, near Ephesus.

5. Why

1) Wrote to convince everyone that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.

2) Records his purpose in John 20:30-31 – “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

3) Secondary purpose was to demonstrate that Jesus was a real human being and God also in opposition to the gnostic teachings.

4) John makes claim that Jesus is God early on (John 1:1-2).


1. We have reviewed the four accounts of the gospel…

1) Matthew

2) Mark

3) Luke

4) John

2. Invitation