Gospel of John and the Synoptic Gospels

Gospel of John
John & The Synoptic Gospels

Matthew, Mark, Luke, when compared to John, share a common point of view. Because of that, they are known as the synoptic (from a Greek word meaning “to see together”, or “to share a common point of view”) Gospels.

The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) presents similar views of the career and teachings of Christ and resembles each other closely in contents and phraseology.

They record the ministry of John the Baptist, the baptism and temptation of JesusHis ministries in Galilee and in JudeaHis final week in JerusalemHis death and resurrection. In the Synoptic record Jesus characteristically refers to Himself as the Son of Man, and He proclaims the kingdom of God .

John’s teachings emerges mainly through Jesus’ intimate encounters with diverse people. John’s style is different from Matthew, Mark, Luke. Unlike them, John assumes readers know the basic facts of Jesus. Instead of focusing on facts, he mulled over the profound meaning of what Jesus has said and done.

As noted, each Gospel writer wrote from a unique perspective, for a different audience. As a result, each Gospel contains distinctive elements. Taken together, the 4 Gospels form a complete testimony about Jesus Christ.

Taken together, the 4 Gospels weave a complete portrait of the God-Man, Jesus of Nazareth. In him were blended perfect humanity and diety, making Him the only sacrifice for the sins of the world, and the worthy Lord of those who believe.

The synoptics are written from a third person point of view, describing the events as if the authors had personally observed all of them and were reporting what they saw at the time. Thus they are basically descriptive in their approach.

John’s Gospel, on the other hand, although also written from a third person point of view, is more reflective, clearly later than the events he describes. John very carefully separates himself from the events he describes. When we see the events through his eyes, we are carefully guided to see the events of Jesus’ life not as John saw them when they happened but as he now see them.

We understand more of the significance of the events described from the position the writer now holds than an eyewitness could have understood at the time the events took place. In this sense John’s Gospel is much more reflective.

John’s Gospel omits many of the events recorded in Mark, most of the long public speeches of Matthew and all the parables of Luke.

Omission by John of material found in the synoptics

•  Jesus’ genealogy

•  An account of our Lord’s birth

•  Events in our Lord’s childhood

•  Our Lord’s baptism

•  Our Lord’s temptation

•  Casting out of demons

•  Healing of lepers

•  Parables of our Lord

•  An account of our Lord’s transfiguration

•  The selection and sending out of the 12,or of the 70

•  Any eschatological (prophetic) address

•  A pronouncement of woes on the religious leaders (e.g. Matthew 23)

•  The institution of the Lord’s Supper

•  An account of our Lord’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane

•  The giving of the Great Commission

•  An account of our Lord’s ascension

•  The Lord’s Prayer

Inclusion by John of material not found in the synoptics

•  Jesus as the Creator (Jn 1)

•  Jesus as the “only begotten” of the Father (Jn 1)

•  Jesus as the promised “Lamb of God” (Jn 1)

•  Jesus revealed as the great “I am 

•  Jesus turning the water into wine (Jn 2)

•  Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus (Jn 3)

•  Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well (Jn 4)

•  The woman caught in adultery (Jn 8)

•  The raising of Lazarus (Jn 11)

•  Washing of the disciples’ feet (Jn 13)

•  The Upper Room Discourse of our Lord (Jn 14-17)

•  Jesus’ teachings of the Holy Spirit (Jn 14-16)

•  Jesus’ priestly prayer (Jn 17)

Key
Differences


MATTHEW


MARK


LUKE


JOHN

Portrait of Christ

King & Lionlike

Servant & Oxlike

Perfect Man & Manlike

Mighty God & Eaglelike

Style of Writer

Teacher

Preacher

Historian

Theologian

Emphasis by Writer

His Sermons

His Miracles

His Parables

His Doctrines

Culture of Original Readers

Jews

Romans

Greeks

The World

Genealogical Record

YES: Matthew 1:1-17

NO

YES: Luke 3:23-28

NO


Main Feature

Synoptic Gospels – stress the humanity of Christ

Stresses the deity of Christ

In the above table, we see some of the key differences between Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.


Portrait of Christ

Matthew portrays Jesus as the Son of David, the Heir of Israel’s throne, Israel’s long-awaited Messiah and rightful King.

In Mark, Christ is seen as the Servant of Jehovah, the perfect Workman of God.

Luke presents Him as the perfect Man, contrasting Him from the sinful sons of men.

John view Him as the Heavenly One came down to earth, the eternal Son of the Father made flesh and came among men.

Style and
Emphasis


MATTHEW


MARK


LUKE


JOHN

Style of Writer
Teacher
Preacher
Historian
Theologian
Emphasis by Writer
His Sermons
His Miracles
His Parables
His Doctrines


Audience

Matthew wrote primarily to a Jewish audience. Mark targeted a Gentile audience, especially a Roman one. Luke addressed a broader Gentile audience. John’s Gospel was directed to the world at large – note chapter 3:16 .


Genealogical record

There is no genealogy in John.

We learn that our Lord Jesus Christ is eternal. John tells us that “in the beginning was the Lord”. He did not begin to exist when the heavens and earth were made. He had glory with the Father “before the world was” (John 17:5). He was existing when matter was first created and before time began. He was “before all things” (Col 1:17). He was from all eternity.


Main Feature

The synoptic Gospels stresses the humanity of Christ, from the outward, earthly side. John’s Gospel stresses the diety of Christ.


John’s main emphasis – Jesus’ deity

•  He is God, the Creator of the Universe, without beginning (1:1-3)

•  He is God come in human flesh (1:14) – Incarnation

•  He is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (1:29-36)

•  He is the Son of God, the Messiah (Saviour), the King of Israel (1: 40-51)