Why are there four Gospels instead of one?
Many have asked why there are four Gospels in the New Testament instead of just one. Though many of the same events are recorded in each Gospel, each author wrote to a different audience and emphasized a different aspect of Jesus' life.
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Matthew was written as a Gospel primarily for the Jewish people to prove that Jesus is the long-expected Messiah. Its author, Matthew, began with the family line of Jesus, noting His fulfillment of messianic prophecy as being from the tribe of Judah, family of David, and His birth in the city of Bethlehem. More than any other Gospel, Matthew quotes the Hebrew Old Testament to demonstrate how Jesus fulfilled the words of the prophets.
Mark is the shortest Gospel and likely the first written Gospel produced. It has traditionally been taught to be the summary of the apostle Peter's teachings written by John Mark, a cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:3), who served both Paul and Peter in their ministries.
An associate of the apostle Paul, the author of Luke was also a medical doctor and the author of Acts. Luke was also the only Gentile (non-Jew) who wrote a Gospel, making it of special importance in evangelism and discipleship in the Gentile world. Rather than the account of one person, Luke clearly noted his use of many eyewitness accounts in his work: "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught" (Luke 1:1-4). Luke's Gospel focuses on verifiable historical evidence and demonstrates the rationality of the Christian faith for Gentiles unconcerned with Jewish messianic prophecy.
John was likely the last of the four Gospels to be written and was done so by the apostle John. He included many events not in the other three Gospels as well as left out many events already mentioned in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. John's goal was clearly to write in order to help lead people to faith in Christ: "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so 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).
Taken together, the four perspectives provided in the four Gospels provide a more complete picture of the person, teachings, miracles, and life of Jesus Christ. In addition, the multiple attestations of these accounts from very early sources provide stronger evidence for the truthfulness of their claims. For example, each of these four books was likely written in different locations and at different times, in addition to being authored by four different individuals. While they sometimes record the same events with different details, their message is consistent, indicating a level of truthfulness and accuracy that strengthens their testimony. These four Gospels ultimately provide one clear message that Jesus is the one, true, perfect, divine Son of God.
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