The word “gospel” means “good news.” When we use that word to refer to the good news of salvation delivered by Jesus and his apostles, it is singular. There is one gospel (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Phil. 1:27). But “gospel” may also refer to a literary genre: a selective record of historical events in the life of Jesus designed to create and build faith (cf. John 20:30-31; Luke 1:3-4). In this sense, there are four gospels. It is the purpose of this lesson to introduce the first two gospels: Matthew and Mark.
THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW
- Matthew, also called Levi (Mark 2:14), was a tax collector by occupation (Matt. 9:9; Luke 5:27-28). When Jesus selected his 12 apostles from among the larger group of disciples, Matthew was one of them (Matt. 10:2-4).
- We do not know when Matthew wrote his gospel, but most historians believe that it was sometime in the decade leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem (60-70 AD), but before the destruction itself.
- Matthew probably wrote primarily for a Jewish audience.
- Matthew emphasizes that Jesus is the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. The titles “Son of God” (7 times: 4:3, 6; 8:29; 26:63; 27:40, 43, 54), “Christ” (10 times: 1:18; 16:16; 26:63), and “Son of David” (9 times: 1:1; 9:27; 21:9) are used.
- Jesus fulfills Old Testament prophecy. The formula, “This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet…” is used ten times in Matthew (1:22-23; 4:14-16; 21:4-5). Several more times Jesus is said to have fulfilled prophecy, but without the introductory formula (11:2-6; 15:7-9; 21:13).
- The Messiah’s Kingdom is also emphasized (3:2; 4:17; 10:7; 16:19; 18:1-4). It is mentioned over 30 times in the book, eight times in chapter 13 alone.
- Introduction (1-2)
- Preparation for Ministry (3-4)
- Primary Message (5-7)
- Power and Authority (8-10)
- Opposition (11-12)
- Parables (13)
- Death and Resurrection Announcements (14-20)
- Denunciation of Jerusalem (21-24)
- Prepare for Judgment (25)
- Death and Resurrection (26-28)
THE GOSPEL OF MARK
- Mark is also known as John Mark in Scripture (Acts 12:12, 25; 15:37).
- Various dates have been proposed for the time of writing, ranging from the 40s to 70s AD. Most historians place it in the mid-60s.
- No specific recipient is mentioned in the text. Much of the writings of early Christians claim that Mark wrote from Rome for a Roman audience.
- In the first 8 chapters, there are many questions asked about the identity of Jesus (1:27; 2:7, 18, 24; 4:41; 6:2; 7:5; 8:27-29).
- There are 26 of Jesus’s miracles recorded in Mark. All but 4 of them appear in the first 8 chapters. These miracles were the proof of his identity.
- There is a pivot point in 8:27-29. After all the miracles and questions, Jesus engages the apostles in a discussion of his identity – Messiah, and what that means. Another climactic point in the book comes at 15:39, where a Roman centurion exclaims as Jesus dies, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
- So Mark wants Jew and Gentile (represented by Peter and the centurion) to come to know the true Jesus and what it means to follow him (cf. 8:34-38).
- Prologue (1:1-13)
- Galilean Ministry (1:14 – 9:50)
- Judean Ministry (10:1 – 13:37)
- Last Days (14:1 – 16:20)