FACTS ON MATTHEW

Author

The gospel is anonymous, but from a very early period the author has been identified as Matthew
(Levi) the Galilean tax collector who became one of Jesus' disciples.  

Readers

Matthew appears to have been written primarily for Jews who had not yet accepted Jesus as Israel's
Messiah.

Date of Writing

Scholars are divided as to whether Matthew or Mark wrote first.  Early tradition, however, indicates that
Matthew's gospel was the first gospel.  Matthew was probably written around A.D. 70 to meet the
needs of the Jewish people in Judea and those dispersed around the Roman Empire.

Historical Setting

Matthew begins his gospel with an account of Jesus birth in the winter of 5/4 B.C.  He reports on the
life and ministry of Jesus, including His crucifixion, April 3, A.D. 33, and events of his forty-day post
resurrection ministry.    

Purpose

The purpose of Matthew is to demonstrate and convince Jews everywhere that Jesus of Nazareth is
the promised Messiah of Old Testament prophecy.  

Theme

The theme of Matthew is found in the inscription on Jesus' cross, "This is Jesus the King of the Jews"
(27:37).  

Outline  

I.  The Introduction of the King  1:1-4:11
II.  The Proclamation of the King  4:12-7:29
III.  The Authentication of the King  8-10
IV.  The Controversy over the King  11:11-14:12        
V.  The Instruction by the King  14:13-20:34
VI.  The Presentation of the King  21-23
VII.  The Predictions of the King  24-25
VIII.  The Rejection of the King  26-27
IX.  The Resurrection of the King  28



FACTS ON MARK     

Author

Mark's gospel is anonymous, but the testimony of the early Church Fathers--including Irenaeus,
Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Jerome--indicates that John Mark wrote the book. John Mark was
the son of a certain Mary in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12) and the cousin of Barnabas (Col. 4:10).

Readers

Both internal and external evidence suggests that Mark addressed his gospel to Roman readers.
According to Clement of Alexandria, Mark recorded Peter's words for the benefit of Roman inquirers
(Eusebius Historia Ecclesiastica 2:15).

Date of Writing

There is no explicit statement in Mark as to the date of writing. Many scholars believe that Mark was
written around A.D. 50 and was used by Matthew and Luke in writing their gospels. However, it was the
view of the early church that the gospels with the genealogies were written first (Eusebius H.E. 6:14).
Mark would have been written after Matthew (A.D. 50) and Luke (A.D. 60), probably between A.D. 65
and 70.

Historical Setting

Mark's record begins with the commencement of Christ's public ministry at His baptism (summer or
autumn of A.D. 29) and concludes with the account of his death (April 3, A.D. 33) and resurrection.
Mark records the ministry of Christ in Galilee (1:14-9:50), Perea (10:1-52), and Judea (11:1-13:37).

Purpose

The abundance of miracles in Mark provide insight into the purpose. Mark writes to present the
Person and work of Christ as God's Servant attested by His mighty works. These miracles
authenticate Christ's Person as Servant and God's Son. Mark's purpose is ultimately evangelistic. He
presents the dynamic Son of God, eliciting faith in Him.

Theme        

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for
many" (Mark 10:45).

Outline        

I.     The Introduction of the Servant  1:1-13
II.    The Proclamation of the Servant  1:14-20
III.    The Authentication of the Servant  1:21-3:5
IV.   The Controversy Over the Servant  3:6-6:29
V.    The Instruction of the Servant  6:30-10:52
VI.   The Presentation of the Servant  11-12
VII.   The Predictions of the Servant  13
VIII.  The Rejection of the Servant  14-15
IX.    TThe Resurrection of the Servant  16


FACTS ON LUKE

Author

Although the Gospel of Luke is anonymous, both internal and external evidence point to Luke, the
Gentile physician (Col. 4:14) and companion of the Apostle Paul as the author. Internal confirmation of
Lukan authorship is seen by the close relationship between the Gospel and Acts. Both books were
addressed to the same man, Theophilus (Lk. 1:3, Acts 1:1) and both use medical terminology. The
writings of the early church fathers (Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement, Origen, Jerome, and Eusebius)
confirm that Luke wrote the Third Gospel.

Luke  was a Gentile convert (Col. 4:10-14), possibly from Syrian Antioch, as stated by Jerome and
Eusebius. Luke joined Paul at Troas (Acts 16:10) during his second missionary journey and
accompanied him to Philippi. Luke later traveled with Paul to Jerusalem (Acts 20:5-21:15) and finally to
Rome (Acts 27:1-28:15). Luke was affectionately  referred to by Paul as “the beloved physician” (Col.
4:14, Philemon 24), and was Paul’s last friend to remain with him during his second imprisonment (2
Tim. 4:11). Luke was an able historian, physician, writer and missionary.

Readers

The Gospel of Luke was written for a certain prominent individual named “Theophilus” (1:3). This
reference is really a dedication to Theophilus who may have financed the publication and distribution
of the Luke’s book. The work was clearly written for the benefit of Gentiles in general and for Greeks
in particular.  

As a result of Paul’s travels, the good news about Jesus spread through the Greek world. Soon there
arose a need for a record of the life and teachings of Jesus that would speak to the Greek mind. The
Greek nature of the book is seen in the fact that the genealogy is traced to Adam, the father of the
human race, rather than Abraham, the father of the Hebrew nation.  Luke also avoids the use of
Jewish terminology like “rabbi” and instead uses “master” or “teacher.” Luke places less emphasis on
the fulfillment of prophecy and substitutes Greek names for Hebrew names (Mark 3:18/Luke 6:16, and
Luke 23:33). This evidence suggests that Luke had  Greek Gentiles in mind as he wrote his gospel.

Date of Writing

The Gospel was written before Acts (see Acts 1:1) and after Christianity had developed to the point
where it would attract the attention of a Gentile inquirer like Theophilus. The abrupt ending of Acts
indicates that Luke concluded his writing at the end of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome in A.D. 62. The
Gospel was composed prior to that, probably about A.D. 60.  

Historical Setting

The historical setting of the Gospel is the period of the life of Christ, winter 5/4 B.C. to April 3, A.D. 33,
and the period of His resurrection ministry.


Purpose

The purpose of the Gospel is clearly stated by the author (Lk. 1:1-4). Luke intends to present an
accurate record of the events of the life of Christ in order that Theophilus and other Greek Gentiles
might receive careful instruction.  In his gospel Luke presents Christ as the perfect Son of Man who
came to save lost humanity.


Theme

The doctrine of salvation is central to Luke.  He uses the word “to save” 18 times, more than any other
gospel writer. The theme of the Gospel is captured in Luke 19:10, “for the Son of Man came to seek
and to save that which was lost.”


Outline

I.  The Arrival of the Son of Man   1-2
II.  The Introduction of the Son of Man   3:1-4:13
III.  The Ministry of the Son of Man   4:14-9:50
IV.  The Mission of the Son of Man   9:51-19:27
V.  The Presentation of the Son of Man   19:28-21:4
VI.  The Predictions of the Son of Man    21:5-38
VII.  The Rejection of the Son of Man    22-23
VIII.  The Resurrection of the Son of Man   24



FACTS ON JOHN

Author

Although the Fourth Gospel is anonymous, both internal and external evidence point to John the
apostle, the son of Zebedee, as the author.

Date of Writing

Most conservatives argue for a date of around A.D. 85-90.  But based on evidence from John 5:2 and
18:1, some scholars believe that the gospel should be dated before A.D. 70.  

Historical Setting

According to Irenaeus (Against Heresies 3.1.1), the gospel was written at Ephesus, John's residence
and place of burial.  He had been ministering in Ephesus for 20-25 years, and the elders of the Asian
churches may have requested a written record of his teaching before he died.  Ephesus was ranked
with Alexandria and Syrian Antioch as one of the three greatest cities of the east.  It was the political
center for Roman administration of the province of Asia and the guardian of the temple of Artemis and
her sacred image.  

John emphasizes the Judean ministry of Jesus while the Synoptics present more about His Galilean
ministry.  John records Jesus' ministry in Galilee (2, 4:3, 6, 21), Samaria (4) and Judea and Jerusalem
(5, 7-20).  

Purpose

The purpose of John's Gospel is set forth in 20:30-31.  John has presented a record of the miraculous
signs performed by Jesus in order to inspire faith and life in Him.  The Fourth Gospel supplements the
Synoptics, presenting the truth of the Person and work of Christ.  

Theme        

The theme is "belief in Jesus, the Messiah and Son of God."  

Theology        

John's Gospel is known as the "Gospel of Belief." The word "believe" (
pisteuo) is used 98 times and
essentially means "to trust."  It never means mere intellectual assent to a proposition, but involves a
personal response and commitment.   Belief is equated with "receiving" Jesus (1:12), "obeying" the
Son (3:36), and "abiding" in Him (15:1-10).

Outline and Argument

I.  THE PROLOGUE  1:1-18
II.  THE BEGINNINGS OF BELIEF  1:19-4:54
III.  THE DEVELOPMENT OF UNBELIEF  5-12
IV.  STRENGTHENING OF BELIEF  13-17
V.  CONSUMMATION OF UNBELIEF  18-19
VI. CULMINATION OF BELIEF  20
VII.  THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF BELIEF  21
The Gospels
Matthew  - John
For further study on John's gospel, be sure and consult my commentary on John
published by Moody Press. This commentary focuses on the historical and cultural
background of the 4th Gospel and includes suggestions on themes for teaching and
preaching John.
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