On Twitter

« Linked Together: Doctrine | Main | Heidelberg Catechism »
Tuesday
May202014

Theological Term of the Week

Gospel
A book of the New Testament telling the story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The first four books of the New Testament — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — are Gospels.

  • The dedication of the Gospel According to Luke:

    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 ESV)

  • The purpose statement included in the Gospel According to John:
    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 ESV)
  • From the glossary of the ESV Literary Study Bible:
    Primarily the Gospels inform us about the person and work of Christ. The material is divided approximately evenly between narrative (events) and discourses. The Gospels combine three primary ingredients: Jesus’ teaching and preaching (what Jesus said and taught); Jesus’ actions (what Jesus did); the responses of people to Jesus (what others said and did). Jesus’ conversations and controversies are a hybrid that combine all three ingredients: they are a form of teaching, that are speech acts that have the effect of an action, and they involve people’s responses to Jesus. Numerous subgenres converge in the Gospels—birth stories; stories of calling, recognition, witness/testimony, conflict/controversy, encounter, miracle, pronouncement; saying, parables, and discourses/sermons by Jesus; passion and resurrection stories. The overall aim of the Gospels is persuasive, as the writers seek to give readers adequate reason for believing that Jesus is the Savior of the world and to appeal to them to place their faith in Jesus. The Gospels thus have affinities with biography, but biography tends to be packaged as a straightforward factual account, not as an embodiment of the dialogues, stories, and discourses. 
    The Gospels have a genre parallel in the ancient world that was called the bios. This was ancient biography. Rather than focusing on physical description and tracing psychological thinking and personal development like modern biographies, a bios highlighted the key events that surrounded a person and his teaching. That is very much what the Gospels do. The key characters are Jesus and God, as Jesus carries out the plan of the Father.
    Though the Gospels are historical writings, they are not always presented in a strict chronology, since some of their scenes are organized topically. For example, Mark 2:1–3:6 reports five controversies in a row that Matthew spreads out over chapters 8–12.

Learn more:

  1. ESV Study Bible: Reading the Gospels and Acts
  2. GotQuestions.org: Why did God give us four Gospels?
  3. Daniel Akin: Why Four Gospels? (pdf)
  4. Arthur Pink: Why Four Gospels?
  5. Richard Bauckham: The Four Gospels and the Other Gospels: Is Our Canon Right? (audio)

Related terms:

Filed under Scripture

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on Theological Terms in the navigation bar above will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>