Gospels At A Glance

by Andy Pierson

People often struggle with the differences between the Gospels. I have created a quick-and-easy tool for characterizing and distinguishing between the Gospels. Below I have outline the main characteristics for each.

-The Gospel of Matthew-

Key Verses:

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to
abolish them but to fulfill them.

Matthew 20:28 “…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a
ransom for many.”

Look for these while reading Matthew:

Strong Jewish orientation: Jesus is the Jewish Messiah.
Equally strong denunciation of the Jewish religious leaders.
Emphasis on the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.
Shows Old Testament law & relationship to the followers of Jesus.
Five long discourses of teaching material.
Alternating discourses and narrative.
Topical arrangement; related material grouped together.
Emphasis on Jesus’ as Messiah.
The messianic titles Son of God, Christ, and Son of David.
Emphasis on Jesus as the presence of God -“God with us.”
Jesus portrayed as the new Israel and the new Moses.
Jesus portrayed as Wisdom incarnate.
Greater role for Peter than in other Gospels.
Emphasis on the mission to the Gentiles.

-The Gospel of Mark-

Key Verse:

Mark 10:45: For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Fast narrative; use of immediately (euthys) & historical present tense.

Vivid descriptions of persons and events.
Prominence of Galilee as the locus of Jesus’ early ministry.
Strong emphasis on Jesus’ authority in teaching and in miracles.
Amazed reaction by others to Jesus’ authority.
Challenges to Jesus by the forces of Satan & His defeat of them.
Jesus portrayed as the authoritative Messiah and Son of God.
Jesus: Suffering Son of Man, death as sacrifice for the sins of his people.
Outsiders become insiders by faith; hints of Gentile salvation.
Negative portrait of the disciples; shows how not to follow Jesus.
Lengthy passion narrative; emphasis on Jesus’ death.
Brief and enigmatic resurrection narrative.


Gospels At A Glance | Souljournaler

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RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:  Four Portraits, One Jesus: A Introduction to Jesus and the Gospels / Why Four Gospels? / More apologetics resources >>>