The 'Men's Breakfast' meet on the last Saturday every two months at 9.00am at various local church locations.
Meetings are seasonal through the year so please check below:
30 September 2017 at Calvary Church,
Penybryn Terrace, Penybryn, CF82 7GG
John Funnell (Noddfa Baptist Church, Abersychan)
25 November 2017 at Calvary Church,
Penybryn Terrace, Penybryn, CF82 7GG
Ian Parry (Cardiff)
27 January 2018 at Bethel Church,
Gelligaer Rd, Cefn Hengoed, CF82 7HH
Lee Jones (Gabalfa Baptist, Cardiff)
17 March 2018 at Calvary Church,
Penybryn Terrace, Penybryn, CF82 7GG
Daren Dowey (Ebernezar Evangelical Church, Pontnewydd)
26 May 2018 at Bethel Church,
Gelligaer Rd, Cefn Hengoed, CF82 7HH
Sam Oldridge (Malpas Road Evangelical Church, Newport)
14 July 2018 at Calvary Church,
Penybryn Terrace, Penybryn, CF82 7GG
Trystran Hallam (Bethel Tredegar)
The meetings are open to all men, to join us for a time of Bible Study, fellowship ... and a hearty breakfast!
Why Four Gospels? Study 1, Study 2, Study 3
A series of studies given at our Men's Breakfast Meeting.
Rev Terry Williams.
In surveying the four Gospels we discover a complete picture of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ:
1 His birth and childhood: confirming Him as the promised Messiah.
2 The preparation for His public debut by John the Baptist.
3 His calling of the twelve disciples.
4 His preaching and teaching.
5 His miracles: authenticating Him as the Christ.
6 His prayer life: in private and in the hearing of the disciples.
7 His conflict with the Jewish authorities.
8 His sufferings and death.
9 His resurrection, appearances to chosen witnesses and ascension to God’s right hand.
All of this is given to us through the eyes of four different writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Two of them (Mark and Luke) were not eyewitnesses of the events they relate yet they were contemporaries and close companions of the eyewitnesses.
Of these four accounts of the gospel, the first three are similar and different from the fourth. Matthew, Mark, and Luke have been called the ‘Synoptic Gospels,’ from the Greek word ‘sunopsis’ – ‘a blended view’ because, unlike John, they present a shared view of the facts about Jesus.
The synoptic problem, namely, how to account for the similarities and differences between Matthew, Mark, and Luke, has been addressed many times but no satisfactory explanation has been found which settles the matter. So much so that someone has said, ‘the problem is practically insoluble’ (J. A. Fitzmyer – quoted by Leon Morris - Comm. on Matthew - Preface). As one scholar puts it, ‘Whatever view we decide on, we will find that many competent critics do not agree.’ (Leon Morris - Comm. on Matthew - Preface). However, this does not affect the answer to our question, ‘Why Four Gospels?’
When were the gospels written?
1 John wrote his gospel account last of the four to supplement the three: he concentrated on Jesus’ ministry in Judea where the others concentrated on His ministry in Galilee:
‘The early church father, Irenaeus (AD 130-200) was a disciple of Polycarp (AD 70-160), who was a disciple of the Apostle John, and he testified on Polycarp’s authority that John wrote the gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia Minor when he was advanced in age. Clement of Alexandria (AD 150-215) wrote that John, aware of the facts set forth in the other gospels and being moved by the Holy Spirit, composed a “spiritual gospel”.’
2 Luke was the third account to be written: he acknowledges that many had written before him:
Luke seems to have written his account of Acts with Paul under house arrest in Rome. He records no further facts relating to Paul, which suggests that he finished writing before Paul was released (AD62). His gospel account was written before Acts and so was completed before AD 61.
3 Probably Mark wrote first followed by Matthew:
If Mark had seen Matthew’s or Luke’s account, he would surely never have written his own, as almost all he wrote is included in both their accounts.
‘Papias, bishop of Hieropolis, writing about AD 140 noted this:
And the presbyter [the Apostle John] said this: “Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord’s sayings.”’
4 Each later writer confirmed by his own independent witness the facts recorded in the account preceding his own and each one gave new facts, to add to those already recorded. This would account for the agreements in the gospels and also for the variations.
Chronology of the writing of the Gospels
Mark Matthew Luke John
AD 45-50 AD 50-60 AD 60-61 AD 80-90
We cannot be definite about these dates but they give some idea of what might have been.
There has never been any serious dispute about who wrote the ‘Four Gospels’. Eusebius, an early Christian historian, places the Gospels among the books that were never disputed in the church. By the end of the 2nd century the Gospels, bearing the authors names, were circulated universally throughout the church.
About the middle of the 2nd century, Justin Martyr, born about 100 AD and martyred about 165 AD, referred to “Memoirs of the Apostles,” “which are called Gospels,” “composed by the apostles and those that followed them.” And so from the 2nd half of the 2nd century the title stuck by which, we know these books today – ‘The gospels’.
The ‘Four Gospels’ are four accounts of the one gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Gospel according to Mark
As the years rolled on some of the apostles were thinking about the future.
They would not always be here to preach and defend the gospel.
They must make provision for the Church in the future centuries.
Certainly Peter thinking in this way as he tells us in his second letter:
2 Peter 1:12-15, “For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.”
Peter was very close to Mark, calling him, “Mark my son.” 1 Peter 5:13
The church fathers believe that Mark was, ‘the interpreter of Peter’ and that his gospel may simply be a record of Peter’s preaching.
Some suggest that this is confirmed by the fact that Mark’s account of the Gospel is very similar to Peter’s sermon in Acts 10:34-43, “The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ – He is Lord of all – that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
Peter began with Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, when the Spirit came upon Him, His ministry of healing and delivering people from the devil’s power and His final ministry in Jerusalem. Peter mentions the eyewitnesses who saw all that Jesus did, including His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, and His command to them to preach the gospel to the people for the forgiveness of sins.
Assuming that Peter’s preaching was the pattern that Mark used in writing his account of the Gospel, and bearing in mind that almost all of Mark can also be found in Matthew and Luke, this suggests that there was a recognised form of gospel words, an aural gospel that was known and used widely by the apostles even before one of the gospels had been written.
Two other features in Mark suggest he got his material from Peter:
i Mark’s account suggests an eyewitness as its source:
· 1:16-20, the details given of Christ calling the fishermen to follow Him.
· 1:29-31, the details of the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law.
· 2:1-12, the account of the man brought on a stretcher and lowered through the roof.
· 3:1-6, the healing of the man with a withered hand.
· 4:35-41 the stilling of the wind and waves.
ii Peter is not given such a high profile in Mark as he is in Matthew and Luke:
Humility would suggest that Peter should not draw attention to himself.
· Matt 14:28-31; Mark 6:49-50
Matthew records Peter walking on the sea with Christ, Mark does not.
· Matt 17:22-18:1; Mark 9:30-34
Mark does not mention Peter being sent to get a coin from a fish’s mouth.
· Mark 14:29-31 Luke 22:32
Mark does not mention that Christ had prayed for Peter when warning of his denials of Christ.
· Matt 16:18; Mark 8:27-33
Mark omits the words of Jesus, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church…”
· Sometimes Peter’s name is omitted: compare Matt 15:15 with Mark 7:17
1 Who was Mark?
i Mark, or John Mark as he is called in Acts, lived in Jerusalem.
Acts 12:12 tells us of his parents house in Jerusalem, “So, when he (Peter) had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.”
So Mark’s home was a centre for prayer in the NT church.
He was the cousin of Barnabas the companion of Paul, “Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him).” Col 4:10
ii Mark may have been eyewitness to some of the facts he wrote.
“Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.” Mark 14:51-52…
Only Mark records this incident, which must refer to Mark himself.
Perhaps he heard the commotion in the city, it was night and he may well have been in bed, so he threw his cloak around him and went out to see what was happening. He doesn’t mention his name just as John refers to himself in his gospel without his name.
iii The possible bond between Mark and Peter
There was possibly a strong bond between Mark and Peter because both of them had failed badly. Peter had denied the Lord Jesus three times and Mark had deserted the mission field leaving Paul and Barnabas and returned home to his family at Jerusalem.
“And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.” Acts 12:25
“Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem.” Mark 13:13
This caused a rift between Barnabas and Paul before their next missionary journey but Paul, later, valued Mark’s fellowship and ministry, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.” 2 Tim 4:11
One can imagine Peter, remembering his own failures, encouraging young Mark and helping bring him back to faithful service for Jesus Christ.
2 Why Mark wrote his gospel account
One of the church fathers, Clement of Alexandria wrote:
‘So charmed were the Romans with the light that shone in upon their minds from the discourses of Peter, that, not content with a single hearing of the proclamation of the truth, they urged with the utmost solicitation on Mark, whose gospel is in circulation, and who was Peter’s attendant, that he would leave them in writing a record of the teaching which they had received by word of mouth. They did not give up until they had prevailed on him; and thus they became the cause of the composition of the so-called Gospel according to Mark.’ Survey of the Bible – William Hendriksen p373
This suggests that Mark wrote his account of the gospel, while at Rome and for the benefit of Roman citizens.
1) A number of things Mark did for the benefit of his readers support this:
i He translated Aramaic words:
· 5:41, Jesus’ raising Jairus’ daughter with the words, “Talitha, cumi, which is translated, ‘little girl.’”
· 7:11, Jesus’ rebuking the Pharisees neglect of their parents, “Corban – (that is, a gift to God).”
· 7:34, Jesus’ healing the deaf mute, “Ephphatha, that is, ‘Be opened.’”
· 15:22, the place of Jesus’ crucifixion, “Golgotha, which is translated, ‘Place of a skull.’ ”
· 15:34, Christ’s cry of dereliction on the cross, “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’”
ii He explained Jewish customs unfamiliar to Romans
· 7:1-4, washing of hands: “Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.”
· 14:12, Passover: “Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, ‘Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?’”
· 15:42, Preparation Day: “Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath.”
iii When referring to time, Mark used the Roman system of watches
· 13:35-37, “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming – in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning – lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
· 6:48, “Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.”
iv He omitted Jewish elements such as the genealogies included by Matthew Luke,
‘Mark refers less to the Old Testament and includes less material that would be of particular interest to Jewish readers – such as that which is critical of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Sadducees only mentioned once in 12:28). When mentioning Simon the Cyrene, 15:21, Mark identifies him as the father of Rufus, a prominent member of the church at Rome, (Rom 16:13).’
All these things support the idea that Mark wrote for the benefit of Romans citizens.
2) Mark’s account would have appealed to the Roman mind.
Mark’s writing is full of action: “Immediately” is a key word and appears almost forty times.
He does not go into the birth of Jesus but gets straight to the action.
He does not show as much interest in teaching as Matthew and Luke.
He is more interested in the actions of Jesus than in His teachings
Some have said that Mark’s is the most vivid account of Christ’s ministry.
‘The Gospel of Mark is terse, clear, and pointed, a style which would have appealed to the Roman mind that was impatient of abstractions and of literary inbreeding. There are many Latinisms in Mark, such as ‘modius’ for ‘bushel’, (4:21), ‘census’ for ‘tribute’ (12:14), ‘speculator’ for ‘executioner’ (6:27, AV), ‘centurio’ for ‘centurion’ (15:39, 44, 45) and others. For most of these there were Greek equivalents. Mark apparently used the Latin terms because they were more common or more familiar. The Gospel contains little emphasis on Jewish law and customs. When they are mentioned they are explained more fully than in the other Scriptures. The internal evidence of the Gospel fits fairly well the external tradition that the place of publication may have been Rome. At any rate, Mark was intended for the un-evangelised layman of practical Roman mentality.” New Testament Survey – Merrill C. Tenney p157
‘Mark is a Gospel of deeds. Jesus is a worker. His life is one of strenuous activity. He hastens from one task to another with energy and decision. The word euthus, i.e. ‘straightway,’ [immediately] is used 42 times as against Matthew's 7 and Luke’s 1. In 14 of these, as compared with 2 in Matthew and none in Luke, the word is used of the personal activity of Jesus. It is not strange therefore that the uneventful early years should be passed over. Nor is it strange that miracles should be more numerous than parables. According to Westcott’s classification (Introduction to Study of the Gospel, 480-86), Mark has 19 miracles and only 4 parables, whereas the corresponding figures for Matthew are 21 to 15 and for Luke 20 to 19. Of the miracles 2 are peculiar to Mark, of the parables only 1. The evangelist clearly records the deeds rather than the words of Jesus.’
International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia
3 The Message of mark.
1) In his opening verse Mark tells us what his book is about:
Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Mark, writing for Romans, set out to show that Jesus is the Son of God.
He sees to it that this theme, ‘who Jesus is,’ is raised several times in the book.
· 8:27-29, in Jesus’ question, “Who do men say that I am?” and Peter’s answer, “You are the Christ.”
· 14:61-62, in the high priest’s question, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” and Jesus’ answer, “I am.”
i Mark shows that Jesus is the Son of God by emphasising His authority.
“Authority” is the key word that Mark brings out in the early chapters:
· 1:22-23, “He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”
· 1:27, “With authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”
· 2:10, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins.”
ii Christ’s authority comes out in other ways as well:
· 2:28, “Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”
· 3:11, “And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, ‘You are the Son of God.’”
· 3:27, In rebuking the Jewish leaders, “No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.”
· 5:1-20, delivering a demon possessed man: authority over evil spirits.
· 4:35-41, the stilling of the storm: authority over creation.
· 5:22-43, raising Jairus’ daughter to life: authority over death.
2) Christ the King:
As in all the gospel accounts, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the climax of the book. Mark records Jesus warning His disciples that He must die and rise again the third day.
8:31-32, “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”
9:31-32, “He taught His disciples and said to them, ‘The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.’ But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him.”
10:33-34, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”
Mark shows in his account that these things turned out exactly as Jesus had predicted.
In chapter 15, at His trial and crucifixion, Jesus is referred to as the King of the Jews six times. The King is being rejected and eliminated. However, Mark’s final chapter records how the King, on the third day, rose triumphantly from the dead, appeared to His disciples and after commissioning them to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,” ascended to heaven and sat at God’s right hand from where He is still triumphing in the world. 16:14-20
‘To the Roman mind, familiar with the idea of mighty men who had conquered mighty nations, Jesus, the Son of God, the Conqueror and King would have its appeal. Mark writes his gospel for the Romans and pictures the Messiah as the miracle worker, the mighty one, the great king and conqueror. That was language which Rome could understand.’
William Hendriksen – Survey of the Bible
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Matthew Why Four Gospels?
1 Who was Matthew?
9:9-13, “As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ So he arose and followed Him.’”
Matthew was a tax collector, who was called by Jesus Christ to be an apostle.
He makes no reference to himself as being the author of this book. Only the title of the book itself tells us that Matthew wrote it. However, there has never been any dispute about who wrote this book. Eusebius, an early Christian historian, places the Gospels among the books that were never disputed in the church. By the end of the 2nd century this Gospel, bearing the authors name, was circulated universally throughout the church.
As one of the twelve apostles, Matthew was an eyewitness of the things he wrote. The early church father, Irenaeus (AD 130-200) was a disciple of Polycarp (AD 70-160), who was a disciple of the Apostle John, wrote, ‘Matthew also issued a written Gospel… while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church.’
The Gospel of Matthew must have been written before AD 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed, as Matthew makes no mention of its destruction apart from Jesus prophesying it in Matt 24:2. And since Irenaeus tells us that Paul was at Rome when Matthew wrote, then this gospel must have been written before AD 66-68 when Paul was executed. This means that Matthew wrote this book about 20 or more years after Jesus ascended. This does not undermine the accuracy of what he wrote, however, because, “All Scripture is God breathed.” Matthew was enabled by the Holy Spirit to recall the things he had witnessed accurately just as Jesus had promised: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26
2 The roots of Matthew’s Gospel
Matthew’s unique opening verses are completely different to Mark, Luke and John.
In the first seventeen verses of Matthew’s account, he gives us the family tree of Jesus: “The book of the genesis [origins] of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.”
Here, in a nutshell, is the entire history of the Old Testament: the history of redemption. This is why Matthew’s account was placed first in the New Testament.
There is continuity here between Old and New Testaments.
At the same time here is the beginning of the New Testament.
The Old Testament begins with the book of Genesis – ‘origins’, from the Greek Old Testament.
The New Testament begins with “The book of the genesis [origins] of Jesus Christ.”
This record of Jesus’ descent would have been of great interest to the Jews.
In this way Matthew states his case in his opening chapter.
Jesus is the Christ promised in the Old Testament.
“Son of David” and “Son of Abraham” are Messianic titles.
The Christ who was promised to Abraham and David has now arrived.
This is a pointer to Matthew’s goal in writing this account.
3 Why did Matthew write his account of the gospel?
Mark’s aim in writing, as we have seen, was to provide a gospel account for Roman citizens.
What was Matthew’s goal in writing?
1) Matthew wrote his account particularly for the Jews
Matthew was aware of the fierce hostility from the Jewish leaders against Jesus.
He was aware of the genuine problems that many Jews had in believing that Jesus is the Christ.
Matthew provided evidence for the Jewish mind, full, as it was of Old Testament Scripture, that Jesus is the Christ promised in the Old Testament.
There are several clues in Matthew that he had the Jews in mind as he wrote:
1] He refers to Jewish customs without explaining them
Compare Matt 15:1-9, with Mark 7:1-7, “Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, ‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.’”
Mark 7:1-7, “Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders.”
2] The subjects he wrote of were of particular interest to Jews
The Kingdom of heaven: 3:2, 5:3, 10, 19, 20, 13:11, 24, 31, 33, 44, 45, 47, 52, 18:1, 3, 4, 23.
The Ten Commandments: 5:17-19, 21-26, 27-32, 33-37, 38-42, 43-48, 19:17, 22:40.
The Sabbath Day: 12:1-13.
The Temple tax: 17:24-27.
Israel’s unique place as a nation: of the four gospel writers, only Matthew writes, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” 15:24-25.
3] He exposes the blatant hypocrisy and blindness of the Pharisees and Scribes
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” 23:13, 14, 15, 16, 23, 25, 27 and 29.
Seven times in Matthew, once in Luke and not in Mark or John.
2) Matthew proves from the Old Testament that Jesus is the Christ.
In his opening words, Matthew arrests the Jewish mind.
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.”
This was an electrifying statement for Jews.
He refers to two key figures from the Old Testament, Abraham and David to whom promises were given concerning the coming of the Christ and so he highlights the continuity between the Old and New Testaments.
1] Abraham the Patriarch
In Genesis 3:15, God promised, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel”
God preserved a particular line of descendents in order to fulfil the promise – Seth, Enosh, Cainan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah and Abraham. 1 Chronicles 1:1
Every Jew knew that Abraham held a key place in the purposes of God for the world.
Gen 12:3, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Gen 22:18-19, “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.”
The seed is the One promised in Gen 3:15, through whom, the world would be blessed.
Matthew identifies Jesus as this seed by calling Him, “the Son of Abraham.”
2] David the King
Like Abraham, David also held a key place in the purposes of God.
God also gave him promises about the coming Christ:
In 2 Sam 7:11-16, David wanted to build God a house. God’s response to this was, “The LORD tells you that He will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever… and your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.”
By the beginning of the New Testament none of David’s descendents were reigning.
But Matthew lists the legal descendents of King David, those who would have reigned, had the kingdom continued, right down to Joseph, the legal father of Jesus.
He also highlights Jesus’ royalty several times in his account by referring to “Son of David”:
9:27, 12:221-23, 21:9, 22:41-46…
In addition to this, Matthew shows us that Jesus Himself was aware that He was the King by recording for us the many times Jesus referred to the kingdom of heaven, Matt 4:17, 12:28.
Only Matthew uses this title, “the kingdom of heaven,” and he does so 33 times, referring only five times to “the Kingdom of God,” while Mark uses “Kingdom of God,” about 15 times and Luke over 30 times and John only twice.
Seven times in Ch 13, Jesus says, “the kingdom of heaven is like…”
Matthew also includes several other pointers to the Kingship of Jesus:
2:2, The Wise men came enquiring, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?”
27:11, “‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ So Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you say.’”
27:37, At His crucifixion a notice on the cross: “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
The King of the Jews crucified by the Romans would have been anathema to the Jews but Matthew shows that the King is always in control, predicting His death and resurrection several times: 16:21, 17:12, 21:33-46, 26:6-13…
Three days after His death, the King arose triumphantly from the dead.
3] Matthew presented the Jews with evidence that Jesus is the Christ
He majors on this in his account of the gospel: it is his unique contribution among the four gospel writers, to prove that Jesus is the One promised throughout the Old Testament Scriptures.
His method is stated in 1:22-23, “So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying…’”
“Fulfilled” becomes the key word that Mathew uses in proving Jesus is the Christ.
Eleven times he uses, “fulfilled” – 1:22, 2:15, 17, 23, 4:14, 8:17, 12:17, 13:35, 21:4, 27:9, 35.
He also quotes Jesus referring to Scripture being fulfilled in things pertaining to Himself.
e.g. 5:18, 13:14, 26:54 & 56.
He uses the phrase, “it is written,” several times, 2:5, 11:10, 26:24, 26:31…
Each of these shows, sometimes in amazing detail, the realising of all that God had promised in the Old Testament concerning the Messiah:
In fact, ‘this gospel quotes more than 60 times from Old Testament prophetic passages, emphasising how Christ is the fulfilment of all those promises.’ J. MacArthur
‘Matthew shows us the fulfilment of centuries of rich Old Testament expectation.’ J. Stott
In his book, ‘Evidence that Demands a Verdict’, Josh McDowell, in a chapter on ‘The Messianic Prophecies of the Old Testament fulfilled in Christ,’ tells us that the Old Testament contains over 300 references to the Messiah that were fulfilled in Jesus. Considering that the Old Testament was completed about 450 BC, this provides a powerful argument for proving that Jesus is the Christ.
Proving from the Old Testament Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ was a major part of the strategy of the New Testament Church.
This was Peter’s aim on the Day of Pentecost: “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.” Acts 2:29-32
It was Paul’s method at Corinth and elsewhere: “And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ.” Acts 18:4-5
Apollos also was mighty in persuading the Jews in this matter: “He greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.” Acts 18:27-28
This also provides us with helpful material for witnessing. It is a powerful argument the apostles used for convincing the Jews and we may use it also for proving to people the value of the Bible. Not only do these fulfilments prove that Jesus is the Christ but they also show that God has planned history and that everything is unfolding exactly as He planned it.
4] Moses the Law Giver
Moses also features indirectly in Matthew’s Gospel.
Moses was a key figure in Jewish history as the deliverer of Israel from Egypt and the one who received the law from God. Moses also prophesied the coming of the Christ: “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear…” Deut 18:15.
Although these words of Moses refer to the prophets in a general way, they also go beyond them and refer to Christ in His office as Prophet. Every Jew knew this and so in the New Testament the Jews were expecting “the prophet.” John 1:21
Matthew does not single Moses out to identify him with Jesus but he records similarities between Jesus and Moses. Moses was the Law Giver of the Old Covenant: Jesus, the Law Giver of the New Covenant. Moses gave the Law to Israel on Mount Sinai: Jesus explained the Law in His Sermon on the Mount.
Repeatedly Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said… but I say to you…” He was not giving a new law nor changing the law given to Moses but He was correcting the abuses of the law by the Pharisees and Scribes of His day.
The “I say to you…” was a return to what the law was originally intended to mean.
Jesus summed up His approach to the Law of Moses in His words, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil,” Matt 5:17-18. In other words, Jesus teaches us the spiritual meaning of the Law of Moses and shows that the Law is fulfilled in Him. He alone has kept the Law perfectly and He did so for us so that we may be accepted by the Father.
3) Matthew shows that the gospel is not only for the Jews
Matthew gives several pointers that Gentiles are included in God’s plans of salvation.
He singles out the Roman centurion at Capernaum whose servant was sick and to whom Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 8:10-13
Similarly He highlights the Canaanite woman whose daughter was possessed by an evil spirit as a woman of great faith: “O woman, great is your faith,” Matt 15:28.
Finally, it is in Christ’s great commission that Matthew shows that the gospel is for the world: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”
Matthew is a remarkable book, bridging the Old and New Testaments, showing the continuity from one to the other, revealing a developing kingdom and the glory of the King. A kingdom that will, at Christ’s return, fill the earth just as God had promised it would many times through His prophets. Belonging to this kingdom gives stability in an age where there is no stability, and hope for men and women who are without hope because they are without God in the world.
In the person and work of Jesus Christ, centuries of prophecies were fulfilled.
This confirms the certainty of the gospel of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus, the Christ.
Luke - Why Four Gospels?
The year was somewhere about AD 55-60.
Imagine a group of Christian women talking together.
They were Mary the mother of Jesus, Joanna, Susanna, Mary Magdalene, Martha and Mary.
Martha says, ‘A brother from the Church at Antioch visited me last week. He was with me for quite a time asking many questions about the Lord and His visits to our home. He has also been talking to the Apostles and elders at the Church. He is writing a book about the Saviour and he is interviewing lots of believers. Everything I told him he wrote down.’
Mary, the mother of Jesus responds, ‘He came to see me too. He wanted to know every detail about the conception and birth of Jesus and I told him everything exactly as it happened – the visit of the angel Gabriel, the things he said about the baby I was to bear, the birth, the shepherds and also about Simeon and Anna at the Temple and what they said about Him. I must say that I am excited about this book and look forward to reading it.’
The man who did all this research was, of course Luke: he is the only one of the ‘Four’ who tells us in his introduction who he wrote to and why he wrote:
“Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” 1:1-4
In his gospel Luke makes no mention of himself as the author so how do we know that he wrote it?
As we have said before in Mark and Matthew’s accounts, there has never been any serious dispute about who wrote the ‘Four Gospels’. Eusebius, an early Christian historian, places the Gospels among the books that were never disputed in the church. By the end of the 2nd century the Gospels, bearing the authors names, were circulated universally throughout the church.
1 Who was Luke?
While Luke gives us no personal details about himself in his Gospel or the Acts of the Apostles there are three references to him in Paul’s letters:
· During Paul’s first imprisonment at Rome
Colossians 4:11 & 14, after listing several of his helpers, Paul writes, “…these are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me… Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.”
Philemon 23-24, “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow labourers.”
· During Paul’s second imprisonment at Rome
2 Timothy 4:9-11, “Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica – Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me.
From these references we glean three facts:
1) Luke was a Gentile
In Colossians 4 Paul mentions Luke after listing all the Jews who were his helpers at that time.
Luke is the only Gentile author in the entire Bible.
Early historians like Eusebius and Jerome identified Luke as a native of Antioch.
This may explain why Antioch features so much in the Book of Acts.
Does Acts 11:19-21 give us a hint as to Luke’s conversion? “Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.”
If this was the occasion of Luke’s conversion it would mean that he became a Christian without first becoming a Jewish proselyte and therefore his background was pagan. This would be a major factor that would influence his aims in writing his gospel account.
2) Luke was a close associate of the apostle Paul
He must have joined Paul’s team at Troas, where Paul had the vision that led him into Macedonia and Philippi because from Acts 16:10 on, instead of writing “they” as he records Paul’s journey, he writes “we”. He remained at Philippi when Paul left because he returns to writing “they” again: “And when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed,” Acts 16:40. Was he left there to supervise the young church? On Paul’s return journey via Philippi, Luke joined them again: “But we sailed away from Philippi,” Acts 20:6. Luke remained with Paul right up to his execution at Rome which Paul refers to in 2 Timothy 4:6, where he also tells us that only Luke was with him, 2 Timothy 4:11.
3) Luke was a physician
Paul refers to him as, “Luke the beloved physician,” Colossians 4:14
As a physician Luke would have been a well-educated and well-travelled man.
His interest in medical phenomena prompted him to give a lot of space to Jesus’ miracles.
Luke was not an eyewitness of the facts of the gospel
He tells us so in his prologue: “…just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us.” 1:2
2 When did Luke write his account of the Gospel?
Luke’s Gospel was written before his Book of Acts, as is clear from Acts 1:1-3, where he refers to his first book. The fall of Jerusalem, which Jesus predicted and which took place in AD 70, was not recorded by Luke in Acts, which must mean that he wrote Acts before AD 70. Early historians tell us that James, the Lord’s brother and the leading elder at the Church of Jerusalem, was martyred about AD 62-63. Again, Luke does not record this and so he possibly completed Acts before it took place. Luke seems to have written his account of Acts with Paul under house arrest at Rome. He records no further facts relating to Paul, which suggests that he finished writing Acts before Paul was released about AD 62. This must mean that he had written his gospel account by AD 61-62.
3 Why did Luke write his account of the Gospel?
Luke wrote to a man named Theophilus.
He is the only one of the ‘Four’ who tells us at the start why he wrote his book.
He wrote to Theophilus about whom very little is known.
Luke addresses him as “most excellent Theophilus,” 1:3
This must mean that Theophilus was a man of high rank and possibly a, Roman official.
It may also suggest that Theophilus was not a Christian when Luke first wrote to him.
In the New Testament Christians are not usually addressed in a formal way like this.
Theophilus, therefore, was probably a Gentile aristocrat who had heard the gospel.
While Mark wrote for Roman citizens and Matthew for Jews, Luke’s gospel was written for the benefit of a Gentile, Theophilus, and no doubt with a wider Gentile audience in view. This is confirmed by the fact that Luke explains things that every Jew was familiar with:
· 1:26, that Nazareth was in Galilee
· 4:31, that Capernaum was in Galilee
· 8:26, that the country of the Gadarenes is opposite Galilee
· 21:37, that Olivet was a mountain
· 22:1, that the Feast of Unleavened Bread is called Passover
· 24:13, that Emmaus was about seven miles from Jerusalem
2) Luke wrote knowing that others had written before him
v1-2, “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us.”
Luke’s opening verses suggest he must have been familiar with Mark’s and Matthew’s accounts and others also – “many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative”.
Luke’s account is different from Matthew’s and Mark’s:
It includes much more material: this extra material amounts to over 50 percent of its content.
Unique to Luke are the following:
· The history of Zacharias and Elizabeth
· The angel’s message to Zacharias regarding the conception/birth of John the Baptist
· The angel’s message to the virgin, Mary
· Elizabeth’s salutation of Mary
· Mary’s song: the Magnificat
· Zacharias’ song: the Benedictus
· The angels’ message to the shepherds and then the Gloria in Excelsis of the angelic host
· Simeon’s prayer at the dedication of the baby Jesus: Nunc Dimittis – ‘now let me depart.’
· Anna’s testimony
· Jesus’ questioning of the Jewish teachers at twelve years of age
· The parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin and Prodigal Son.
· The salvation of the dying thief
· The experience of the two on the Emmaus road
3) Luke wrote as one who had researched his subject thoroughly
1:3-4, “…it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of [having followed up so as to attain to the knowledge of it] all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus…”
He had the opportunity to meet with the Apostles and other eyewitnesses.
He was well acquainted with Paul and through him, must have known Peter.
Some details point to Luke’s close relationship with the apostle Paul:
In the instituting of the Lord’s Supper, Luke follows Paul’s words:
Luke: “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” 22:20-21
Paul: “This cup is the new covenant in My blood.” 1 Corinthians 11:25
This is slightly different from Matthew and Mark:
Matthew: “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” 26:28
Mark: “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.” 14:24
Luke also follows Paul with:
Luke: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” 22:19 – 1 Corinthians 11:243
When Paul writes about Christ’s resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, he refers to Peter:
“He was seen by Cephas.” 1 Corinthians 15:5
Neither Matthew nor Mark mention this: Luke only, of the four gospels, records that Jesus appeared to Peter: “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Luke 24:34
It was natural that Luke, writing to a Gentile, would be influenced greatly by the man he spent so much time with, who was the Apostle to the Gentiles.
Luke spoke to others also who furnished him with the “things that have been fulfilled among us.”
The detailed account of the conception and birth of Jesus must have come from Mary herself.
‘Luke mentions Joanna and Susanna so they must have been personal acquaintances of his.
Joanna was the wife of Herod’s steward, which may be where Luke got his facts about Herod’s dealings with Christ which are not in the other gospels.’ John MacArthur.
4) Luke wrote with the aim of confirming the facts of the oral gospel
Theophilus had heard by word of mouth the facts of the gospel.
Luke wrote to confirm those facts, as he tells us in his prologue, 1:3-4…
This reminds us that the facts of the gospel could be verified by anyone wanting to examine into them.
There were eyewitnesses who could be searched out.
4 What was the Message of Luke?
1) Luke wrote as a historian
1] His book is a history of the rise and progress of Christ and His kingdom
He locates events clearly in history:
1:5, “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias…”
2:1-3, “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.”
3:1-2, “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.”
2] Of the four Gospels Luke gives us the most complete sketch of Christ
He begins with the conception of Jesus and ends with His ascension.
He gives us the most details about Christ’s childhood.
He gives us the most intimate view of Christ’s sufferings in the Garden of Gethsemane.
More than the others writers, he shows us Christ’s heart of compassion towards sinners.
He gives us the fullest Synoptic account of Christ’s resurrection.
2) Luke wrote as a theologian
1] The deity and humanity of Christ are brought out clearly
1:35-36, “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’”
9:35, “And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!’”
Luke provides a different family tree to Matthew’s. ‘Luke’s genealogy moves backward, from Jesus to Adam; Matthew’s moves forward from Abraham to Joseph. Luke’s entire section from Joseph to David differs starkly from that given by Matthew. The two genealogies are easily reconciled if Luke’s is seen as Mary’s genealogy, and Matthew’s version represents Joseph’s. Thus the royal line is passed through Jesus’ legal father, and His physical descent from David is established by Mary’s lineage.’ J. MacArthur
The question then is, why is a different name given to Joseph’s father in Matthew and in Luke – Jacob and Heli?
J. C. Ryle tells us, ‘The Rabbinical writers, quoted by Lightfoot, speaking of Mary in very reproachful terms, distinctly call her, “the daughter of Heli”’.
Therefore, Heli was father of Joseph either as his son-in-law, or as his adopted son, since Heli had no sons of his own.
Now Luke, unlike Matthew, included no women in his family tree of Jesus.
Heli is therefore mentioned here as the representative of Mary’s generation.
2] Christ’s mission is clearly defined:
19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
15:1-31, the parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son, each convey the message that Christ came into the world to save sinners.
3] Luke quotes Jesus using the word ‘justified’ when referring to standing before God.
His long acquaintance with Paul may have influenced him in this:
18:14, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
4] Luke had a keen interest in Jesus at prayer
Particularly before important events, Jesus was engaged in prayer:
· *3:21, at His baptism.
· *5:16, when great multitudes came to hear Him and be healed by Him.
· *6:12, all night in prayer before choosing His twelve disciples.
· *9:18, before He began to teach His disciples about His sufferings and death at Jerusalem.
· *9:29, at the Transfiguration.
· *11:1, before teaching the disciples the Lord’s Prayer.
· *22:32, He had prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail.
· 22:40-46, His prayer in Gethsemane.
* Only Luke mentions that Jesus prayed on these occasions.
3) Luke wrote as an evangelist
1] He wrote not only for Theophilus but also wrote for the Gentile world
· Only Luke records for us the message of the angels to the shepherds in 2:10-11,
“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.’”
· Luke alone records the words of Simeon, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant
depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32
· Luke’s account of the great commission is this:
“Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’” Luke 24:46-47
2] He wrote with a particular interest in the outcasts of the world.
Key verse 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
a) Luke has several incidents not found in the other gospels, to show Jesus saves outcasts:
7:36-50, the forgiving of a sinful woman, probably a prostitute.
15:20-24, the receiving of the prodigal Son, the waster.
19:1-9, the salvation of Zacchaeus, the fraudster.
18:10-14, the justification of the tax collector, a sinner.
23:39-43, the salvation of the dying thief, a criminal.
b) Women were a group that were despised and regarded as nothing in society.
The Rabbis when praying thanked God that they had not been born a woman.
A woman’s testimony was of no value in a court of law.
A man should not speak to a woman on the street.
Luke gives women a more prominent place in his Gospel than the other gospel writers.
As well as those women commonly mentioned he adds these:
· Elizabeth and Mary: prominent in his opening chapter – both of them speaking in a significant way concerning the coming Christ.
· Anna, a prophetess: “she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” 2:38
· “A woman in the city who was a sinner,” which probably means she was a prostitute: Jesus allowed her “to wash His feet with her tears, and wipe them with the hair of her head; and… kiss His feet and anoint them with the fragrant oil.” The Pharisee, in whose house Jesus was a guest, would not have allowed such a woman to touch him, but Jesus said to her, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” 7:36-50
· “A woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up,” whom Jesus healed. 13:11-13
· The widow of Nain, whose son Jesus raised to life. 7:11-14
At the same time Luke did not ignore the salvation of those of higher rank, Luke 23:50-51
“Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God.”
3] Luke’s focus on Christ’s death and resurrection
While Matthew and Mark mention Christ’s cry of dereliction on the cross: 27:46, 15:34, Luke records three of Christ’s sayings from the cross not recorded elsewhere:
23:34, “Father forgive them…”
23:43, “Today you will be with Me in paradise”
23:46, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”
Only Luke gives us the account of the salvation of the dying thief, 23:40-43.
After a life of crime, condemned by his conscience, condemned by his nation and under the curse of God, (“cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” Gal 3:13) he asks for mercy and receives it. His sins are forgiven and he is promised a place in paradise. This is the glory of Luke’s message.
Luke’s account of Christ’s resurrection is the longest of the Synoptic accounts: Matthew gives 12 verses, Mark, 14 verses while Luke gives 43 verses: 20 of these verses are given to the account of the two on the Emmaus road, their meeting with Christ and the effect of that meeting on them.
Luke paints a portrait of Jesus as a caring, compassionate Saviour, particularly interested in the rejects of society, the underdog and the outsider, touching the lives of those regarded as untouchables, dying that common criminals might find a home in heaven, rising from the dead and sending out His apostles with the message of forgiveness of sins.
It is Luke who writes the words of Jesus, “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” 15:7