Are the four gospels contradictory?
The gospels are the first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each is the author’s personal account of the life of Jesus Christ.
Matthew comes from a strong Jewish perspective. His account contains many references to the Old Testament prophets regarding the coming Messiah as he shows their fulfillment in Christ. Being a tax collector, his account also contains more on Jesus’ teaching and events related to money.
Mark writes in short, to the point statements and often omits details found in other gospels. His is the shortest of the gospel narratives.
Luke was a physician and historian. His gospel is well researched and often reflects a deeper medical knowledge when he describes some of Christ’s miraculous healings and His sufferings. Luke also wrote the book of Acts documenting the immediate early history of the Church, the events immediately following the resurrection and ascension of Christ.
These first three accounts are sometimes referred to as the ‘synoptic’ gospels, for they each provide a ‘synopsis,’ or summary, of Jesus’ life.
John’s gospel is unique. Just read the opening few verses and you will see. Of the twelve, John was perhaps the closest to Christ. He often referred to himself as ‘the beloved disciple.’ His is a crafted gospel, a gospel of love. Each chapter of John portrays Christ in some unique way, e.g. the Word (ch. 1), the Bread of life (ch. 6), the Good Shepherd (ch. 10), the True Vine (ch. 15), etc… John also wrote 1st, 2nd 3rd John, and the book of Revelation.
Each gospel is different in some ways simply because of the authors’ differing perspectives. They are not contradictory, just different. Consider for example the following…
Here is a picture of the Peanuts gang. Look at it, then answer the questions…
1. Is Woodstock above or between Franklin and Lucy?
2. Is Linus carrying Charlie Brown or is Peppermint Patty?
3. Is Linus beside Lucy, or beside Peppermint Patty?
4. Is Snoopy above Lucy or is Lucy below Snoopy?
Well, you get the idea.
Perhaps another function of having four Biblical accounts is to help us learn patience as we live among our brothers and sisters in Christ. Each of us is different. We know and experience Christ in varying ways. As long as our walks agree with the whole counsel of scripture we must learn to harmonize together as the complete Body of Christ. As Paul wrote, “so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” (1 Cor. 12:25).
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