Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | June 5, 2007

Why is John Different than the other Three Gospels? (Lesson 1: Question 1 Answer)

Lesson 1:  Answers to Study Questions

1.  What is different about this Gospel from the other three (Matthew, Mark, and Luke)?

The other three Gospels are known as the synoptics (seeing together), because they are highly similar.  The other three Gospels contain more stories about the life of Jesus.  Many of the same stories are contained within all three Gospels only with a slightly different slant.  Matthew’s Gospel seems to be more intended for a Jewish audience with his emphasis on the numerous prophecies that Jesus fulfilled and emphasizing Him as a descendant of Abraham and David.  Mark’s Gospel seems to be more geared towards a Gentile audience omitting the lineage of Christ and emphasizing Christ’s authentication through the performance of miracles.  Luke’s Gospel is written from the perspective of a historian concerned about eye witness testimony and the chronology of the events.  Of course, all of these statements are generalizations that are helpful in some sense, but also can overlook the richness that is contained in these books.  Moreover, there is a general unity and harmony among all four of the Gospel’s.

John’s Gospel does not have as many stories, however includes much more content about what occurred in the events recorded.  For example, all four Gospel’s include the story of the feeding of the five thousand, however it is clear that John’s account of this event is much more thorough and includes details about the event that are silent in the others.  Moreover, John’s Gospel dedicates much more space to the last week of Christ’s life on earth and gives us a much more thorough account of His last words on earth.  It is also believed that this Gospel was written much later than the others near the end of John’s life.  He had at that point much more time to reflect upon his involvement in the life and ministry of Jesus and fills in the details that were absent from the other Gospel’s.

John has much higher percentage of unique content that is not included in any of the other Gospel’s.  In addition to an emphasis of the end of Jesus’ life, it also provides more information on the early ministry of Jesus (the wedding at Cana, encounter with Nicodemus and the woman at the well).  Interestingly there are no exorcisms, nor any parables in this Gospel. 1

1 The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary edited by Allen C. Meyers (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans Publishing 1987), 589

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