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New Testament Survey



Let us, then, commence to turn our attention to the actual books of the Bible. The Gospels tell the story of the life of Jesus Christ. The term “gospel” means good news in the Greek and was not directed towards any particular type of writing or event. There could be “good news” about anything. During the first couple of hundred years in the life of the church, the Gospels were simply known as “According to Matthew,” or Mark, or so on. Only after much usage and preaching did the term “gospel” take on the special meaning we associate with it today, the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The four Gospels are a thematic presentation of the life of Christ. While the books are biographical in nature, they are not biographies. Their purpose is to present to certain audiences with the story of Jesus. For this reason, different events, different themes, and different approaches are taken by each writer.


Matthew presents an argument to the Jewish community that Jesus is the Messiah. To accomplish this presentation, Jesus is portrayed as King.


Mark writes to the Romans. His presentation shows Jesus as servant.


Luke’s audience is the “Greeks,” the Gentiles of the land. His arguments are aimed at showing the humanity of Christ, the “Son of man.”


John writes to the Church. His presentation demonstrates the meaning of “Son of God” as he argues for Christ being God.


Note also that the endings of each Gospel shows a unique progression of development in the presentation of God’s Plan.

✞ Matthew ends in the Lord’s Resurrection (Matt 28)

✞ Mark ends in the Lord’s Ascension (Mark 16:19-20)

✞ Luke ends in the blessed promise of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49)

✞ John ends with the promise of the Second Coming (John 21:2-23)

Many see a direct parallel between the structure of the Gospels and the description of the living creatures in Ezekiel 1:10.

As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.

The lion equals strength or kingship. This is Matthew. The ox is the symbol of hard working service. This is Mark. The man is the sign of the highest order of intelligence and creation. This is Luke. The eagle soars into the heavenly bodies, thus, is symbolic of Divinity. This is John. The living creatures are a picture of the structure of the Gospels.

 Gospel            View               Creature          Purpose

 Matthew         King               Lion                Sovereignty

 Mark              Servant           Ox                   Humility

 Luke              Man                Man                Humanity

 John              God                 Eagle              Deity

Each Gospel, then, carries different shades of presentation about Jesus Christ. It is only by combining the teachings of all four that one may commence to understand who Jesus Christ truly is and what His purpose was in coming to earth. Each Gospel is a different color on the canvas of Christ. Only by combining all four may one truly see the full picture. In the end, all answer the question of Matthew 16:15:

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?




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