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>> Chapter Seven - The GospelsHigher Praise Bible School - Chapter Seven - The Gospels - Page: 7

Lesson One THE FOUR GOSPELS The first question that confronts us before commencing the study of the Gospels is, "Why four Gospels?" Why not two, or just one? This can best be answered by stating the fact that, in apostolic times, there were four representative classes of the people--the Jews, the Romans, the Greeks, and that body taken from all three classes--the Church. Each one of the evangelists wrote for these respective classes, and adapted himself to their character, needs, and ideals. Matthew, knowing that the Jews were eagerly looking forward to the coming of the Messiah promised in the Old Testament, presents Jesus as that Messiah. Luke, writing to a cultured people--the Greeks, whose ideal was the perfect Man, makes his Gospel center around Christ as the expression of that ideal. Mark writes to the Romans, a people whose ideal was power and service, so he pictures Christ to them as the Mighty Conqueror. John has in mind the needs of all nations, so he presents the deeper truths of the Gospel, among which we may mention the teachings concerning the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit. The principle of adaption referred to here was mentioned by Paul in 1 Cor. 9:19-21, and was illustrated in his ministry among Jew and Gentile. (Compare his message to the Jews in Acts 13:14-41, and that to the Greeks in 17:22-31.) The foregoing facts reveal another reason for the writing of four Gospels; namely, that one gospel would not have been sufficient to present the manysidedness of Christ's person. Each of the evangelists views Him from a different aspect. Matthew presents Him as King, Mark as Conqueror, Luke as Son of Man, and John as Son of God. This viewing of Christ is like the viewing of a huge building--only one side can be taken in at one time. The fact that the evangelists wrote their records from different viewpoints will explain the differences between them, their omissions and additions, the occasional seeming contradiction, and their lack of chronological order. The writers did not attempt to produce a complete biography of Christ, but taking into consideration the needs and character of the people to whom they were writing, they selected just those incidents and discourses which would emphasize their particular message. For example, Matthew writing for the Jew, makes everything in his Gospel--the selection of discourses and incidents, the omissions and additions, the grouping of events--serve to stress the fact of Jesus' messiah- ship.
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