Skip links

Differences in the Synoptic Gospels

Differences in the Synoptic gospels

Tonight as I got home from a ballistic praise service to face the midnight deadline of my mid-week academic discussion post looming upon me, I felt a preach come on me, and I decided; ‘Sure, I can grind out an academic discussion and regurgitate the academic commentary from this week’s required reading, OR…Do I dare? Let the real Me outta the cage and ROAR!

While most theologians and Biblical scholars recognize the similarities between the three synoptic gospels: Mathew, Mark, and Luke, there are some wonderful differences between them, that reflect each author individual personality and viewpoint.

“Another literary consideration that helps account for differences among the Gospels is how the authors chose to group Jesus’ teachings. Matthew is organized around alternating blocks of Stories of Jesus and Teachings of Jesus. Here is the arrangement: chapters 1-4 (S); 5-7 (T); 8-9 (S); 10 (T); 11-12 (S); 13 (T); 14-17 (S); 18 (T); 19-22 (S); 23-25 (T); 26-28 (S). Luke, on the other hand, places the teachings of Jesus in two large sections: 6:20-8:3; and 9:51-18:14. Different approaches such as this explain why the Gospel authors often place sayings of Jesus in different contexts, as for instance when Matthew records the Lord’s Prayer early in Jesus’ ministry (6:9-13) while Luke places it later (11:1-4).

The Gospel writers arranged much of their material on topical and logical grounds rather than chronological. The earliest reference to any Gospel was made by Papias, a church father who in the first decade of the second century stated that Mark wrote accurately but not in chronological order the traditions he learned from Peter. Thus, early readers noticed the differences between the Gospels, understood some of the basic causes of the differences, and did not regard them as problematic.”[1]

Though each of these writers teach us the power that true faith in God can produce, each of them describes impossible slightly differently:

Hear Matthew: Matthew 17:20[2]

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Or again: Matthew 19:26

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Reminds me of the line in the worship song they sang at church tonight “Rattle”. It goes “Since when has impossible ever stopped You”[3].

Then we read the revolutionary promise echoed again by Mark’s gospel:

Mark 10:27

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.

Mark continues to make the impossibilities of life, attractive and attainable in this passage;

Mark 11: 22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly[f] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Luke adds his own particular flavor to this precious promise:

Luke 18:27

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

These words leap off the page at me tonight, for, in the natural, I’m a dead-beat dad, having been unemployed now for over five months, yet spending my days immersed in the word of God and our course textbooks, and daily watching the hand of God make this master’s program possible.

I am supposed to end this discussion post with an inquiry, and here is the question I pose: “what clear supernatural things has God done in your personal life to make your life possible?”

[1] Stetzer Bio, Ed, Ed Stetzer, Josh Laxton, and Ed Stetzer and Andrew MacDonald. “Differences in the Gospels, A Closer Look.” The Exchange | A Blog by Ed Stetzer, March 21, 2012. https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2012/march/differences-in-gospels-closer-look.html.

 

[2] Stetzer Bio, Ed, Ed Stetzer, Josh Laxton, and Ed Stetzer and Andrew MacDonald. “Differences in the Gospels, A Closer Look.” The Exchange | A Blog by Ed Stetzer, March 21, 2012. https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2012/march/differences-in-gospels-closer-look.html.

 

[3] Song by Elevation Worship. Source: LyricFind (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzHx9OnhEdM)

Songwriters: Steven Furtick / Chris Brown / Brandon Lake

RATTLE! lyrics © Essential Music Publishing

 

Return to top of page
X