St. Edmund's Church, Crickhowell

Introducing the Book -

New Testament: the Gospels

The word "gospel" is a direct translation of a Greek word meaning "Good News". Have you had any good news lately? Please share it with the group if you are able to.

The Writers
The Greek word that gave us "gospel" is "evangel" and so the four writers are known as the evangelists. Christian tradition has assigned a symbol to each of them.

a.k.a. Levi son of Alphaeus
Previous job: Tax Collector (see Mark 2:14)
Symbol: Man
Focus: Jesus the Messiah

Previous job: Dropout (see Acts 12:25 & 13:13)
Symbol: Lion
Focus: Jesus the servant
Mark's is thought to have been the first gospel to be written.

Previous job: Doctor (see Col. 4:14)
Symbol: Ox
Focus: Jesus the man
Also wrote the Acts of the Apostles.

Previous job: Fisherman (see Mat. 4:21&22)
Symbol: Eagle
Focus: Jesus the Son of God

  1. How were the gospels writtten?
    Read Luke 1:1-4
    1. What does this tell us about the motives of the gospel writers?
    2. What does it tell us about their methods?
  2. What aspects of Jesus' life and teaching do the Gospels cover?
    1. Narrative
      The stories of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. As an example read Luke 2:41-51.
      1. Does this story seem to you to be about real people?
      2. How do you react to Jesus' response to his parents' concern?
      3. In what way does this story form a bridge between the Nativity stories and Jesus' adult ministry?
    2. Miracles
      Read the stories of the miracles in Matthew 8:2-4 (cleansing a leper), Mark 4:35-41 (stilling the storm) and John 2:1-11 (turning the water into wine)
      1. What did they mean to the people who witnessed them ?
      2. What do they tell us about the nature and the power of Jesus ?
      3. Why do you think there are so many stories about miracles?
      4. Do you think that Jesus still performs miracles?
    3. Parables
      In Luke 15 Jesus tells three parables about lost things. Just cast your eye over them - they are very well-known.
      1. Why are there three of them?
      2. What does each of them contribute that is unique?
    4. Teaching
      The most famous piece of teaching is the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew but there is another equally rich piece of teaching which Jesus gave to the disciples in the Upper Room. Read John 17:1-5 and 13-26. What does it tell us about the relationship between:
      1. Jesus and God the Father?
      2. Jesus and the disciples?
      3. Jesus and us?
      4. The disciples (and now us) and "the world"?
      5. Ourselves?
  3. Why are there differences between the four gospels ?
    They were written at different times, for different audiences, with different styles and each of the writers had some specific aspect of the character of Jesus that he wanted to emphasise (see the "Focus" entries).
    Read the accounts of the healing of Jairus' daughter in Matthew 9:8-26 and Mark 5:21-43.
    1. Why is there so much detail in Mark and so little in Matthew?
    2. Who do you think the two accounts were written for?

This is the way John explains his purpose in writing his gospel:
Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
[John 20:30 & 31]

Give thanks for what you have come to believe and for the eternal life that you have in Jesus.

Last updated 4/1/2004