The Gospel of Matthew was written anonymously. Early church elders believed that Matthew of the twelve disciples was the author, but the apparent dependence on the Gospel of Mark has caused modern day scholars to abandon that theory. This gospel represents a testimony to Peter. It is believed to have been written between AD 50 and AD 80. There are many things that lead historians to believe that Matthew was writing to a Jewish or Jewish Christian audience.
The nature of Matthew’s writing suggests that it was written in the Holy Land, but some believe that it could have originated in Syrian Antioch. The church in Antioch had a large Greek speaking Jewish population at the forefront of the mission to the Gentiles, Matthew writes about how the concerns of the Old Testament were being fulfilled. He traces the descent of Jesus from Abraham.
Matthew doesn’t explain Jewish customs and uses Jewish language. Matthew also appears to have a reluctance to use the name God and emphasizes Jesus’ role as “Son of David. The intended purpose of Matthew’s Gospel was to confirm that Jesus is the Messiah. Matthew shows how Jesus life and ministry fulfilled Old Testament Scriptures, using text unique to his gospel to prove Old Testament predictions of the Messiah such as Isaiah, “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf be unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the dessert” (Isaiah 35:5-6, NIV). Which was fulfilled in Matthew 11, Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me” (Matthew 11:4-6, NIV). The Gospel of Mark has no direct proof of authorship. The early church believed it was written by John Mark who was an associate of Peter. John Mark’s mother owned a house in Jerusalem that was a meeting place for believers.
Mark accompanied Paul and Peter to Jerusalem after the famine visit. It is recorded that Mark was a helper to Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, but he deserted them and returned to Jerusalem. Barnabus wanted to take him out again, but Paul refused to let Mark go on a second journey which caused him and Barnabus to end their working relationship. Barnabus took Mark to Cypress with him. Paul later writes about Mark in letters to Colossians, proving that Mark was slowly gaining Paul’s trust.
This gospel is believed to be written between AD 50 and 60, which is in keeping in line with the belief that Mark was a major source for the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, but early church fathers indicate that it was written around AD 70, just before the destruction of Jerusalem. It is thought that Peter told him traditions that were said and done by the Lord. These traditions did not come to him in the sequence of Jesus’ life, but as Peter was preaching to the needs of the Christian communities. Mark preserved this material.
The general consensus was that the Gospel of Mark consists of the preaching’s of Peter and was arranged and shaped by Mark. The Gospel of Mark is believed to have been written in Rome Italy to the Gentile readers at the church in Rome. Mark explains Jewish customs and translates Aramaic words. There is special interest in persecution and martyrdom that was of special concern to Roman believers. If Mark was written in Rome, it explains why the early church accepted this Gospel quickly. Mark puts an emphasis on Jesus as a teacher, but his Gospel has fewer examples of the teachings of Jesus than the other Gospel writers recorded.
Mark’s gospel is the only one that discloses the Messianic secret. This gospel emphasizes that Jesus had humility but did not forget his deity. Mark’s Gospel is a vivid account of the ministry of Jesus, emphasizing the actions of Jesus. The Gospel of Luke also does not have an author’s name on it, but evidence points to Luke. The Gospel of Luke is written with similar language and structure as Acts which points historians to believe it is the same author. Both Acts and the Gospel of Luke are addressed to Theophilus.
Sections of Luke indicate that the author was with Paul, making it likely his “dear friend Luke, the doctor and “fellow worker” a likely candidate. Luke was likely born a Gentle. He was well educated in Greek culture, a physician. Luke was a companion of Paul in a missionary journey to Rome. Luke was loyal to Paul and stayed with him during his imprisonment, even after all the others had left. The Gospel of Luke was written between AD 59 to AD 63 or AD 70 to 80. It is thought that Luke was somewhere in Rome when he wrote this Gospel, he intended it for readers who were unfamiliar with the land.
Luke specifically wrote to Theophilus or the “one who loves God”. Theophilus was likely a Roman official or a person of high position and wealth. Some believe that Theophilus was a patron of Luke and a person who would be responsible to copy and distribute the writings, but Theophilus was more than just a patron. Luke intended this Gospel for Theophilus’ instruction as well as others that would see the book. Writing directly to Theophilus did not limit Luke’s purpose, this Gospel was written to strengthen the faith of believes and answer the attacks of unbelievers.
Luke wanted to show that the place for a Gentile Christian in God’s kingdom is based on Jesus’ teachings. Luke had an outstanding command of the Greek language, using an extensive and rich vocabulary. The works and teachings here are important to understand the way of salvation. Luke’s Gospel is a complete story of Jesus from birth to ascension with orderly arrangement which makes it appeal to Jews and Gentiles. The NIV Study Bible states that Luke has “literary excellence, historical detail and warm, sensitive understanding of Jesus and those around him” (2011, p1696).
The themes in Luke include recognition of both Gentile and Jew in God’s plan, showing an emphasis of prayer like Jesus praying before important occasions, joy for the announcement of the “good news”, special attention to the role of women, interest in the poor and social justice, concern for sinner, stressing the importance of the entire family, emphasizing the Holy Spirit and has more parables than any other Gospel. This indicates that Luke did not rely on the many others who had already written about Jesus. Instead he used personal investigation and arrangement.
He relied on testimony from “eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (Luke 1:2, NIV) including preaching and oral stories from the disciples. Language and distinctive material indicate independent work from the other synoptic Gospels but that they used some of the same sources. The Gospel of John was written by the apostle John, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, NIV). John was prominent in the early church, but not specifically mentioned by name in this gospel making it natural to assume that he wrote it, and difficult to explain if he did not write it.
John knew Jewish life well; references to Messianic speculations, noting the hostility between the Jews and Samaritans, noting Jewish customs including circumcision on the eighth day even if it is the Sabbath. John had a knowledge of the Holy Land. It is believed John was written any place between AD 50 and Ad 85. Some say that John must have been written later because of his more developed theology but others believe that the more developed theology does not mean anything.
John used present tense in his writings often. There is continued debate about John knowing the other Gospel writers, but his “witness to Jesus goes its own way” (NIV Study Bible, 2011, P1757) because it highlights things the other Gospels leave underdeveloped. The Gospel of John has a unique literary style which focuses on the signs of Jesus’ identity and mission. Some say this can be divided into two books, the Book of Signs, and the Book of Glory. There are many similarities and differences in the four Gospels.
All four Gospels were written Greek, ranging from Mark’s grammatically poor Greek to Luke’s elegant Greek. The Major opponents in Mark, Matthew and John included the Pharisees while Luke just talks about unjust authorities or rich, corrupt people. Mark wrote mostly to Gentiles being persecuted by their faith, Matthew wrote to educated Jews that were believers but argued over the Laws, Luke wrote to Gentile Christians, and John wrote to Jews, Gentiles, and Samaritans alike. The Synoptic Problem or Synoptic Gospels; Matthew, Mark, and Luke, are very similar to each other.
It appears that they tell the story of Jesus from the same point of view while the Gospel of John is written in a different manor. They Synoptic Gospels often have long stretches of identical text making it difficult to explain away by oral traditions. It is assumed that there is some literary dependence or someone copied someone else. There are several theories regarding which one came first. The theories that assume three main sources include Matthew or Mark being first and vary between Luke copying one or both of them.
There is a four-source theory that involves a hypothetical source or “quelle” that have Mark and “Q” as both being sources for Matthew and Luke. I believe that Mark’s gospel was first (AD 60). Second was Luke (AD 75-80) who used Mark’s gospel as a source. Followed by Matthew (AD 90) who used both Mark and Luke as sources. The Gospel of Mark starts with the beginnings of Jesus’ ministry. Chapter One introduces John the Baptist and his announcement and preparation for the coming Messiah, the baptism of Jesus n the river, temptation in the desert by Satan, followed by the message and ministry of Jesus.
Chapters Two through Ten show the ministry of Jesus from Galilee to Judea. It begins with Jesus choosing his disciples then shows Jesus teaching, healing, performing miracles, blessing, feeding, showing compassion or challenging authority. Chapters Eleven through Sixteen show the passion and resurrection of Jesus. The death and resurrection of Jesus was declared. Jesus was betrayed, had a trial, was beaten, humiliated, and crucified to save sinners then his body was resurrected and ascended into the Kingdom of God.