Why are there Four Gospels?* - Download PDF Article
(This article is predominantly taken from 'The Companion Bible' by E. W. Bullinger (See Appendix A)
There are four great records in Yahweh's Word telling of Christ's earthly life and ministry. These four records are commonly known as the "Gospels” since they set forth the good news of Yahshua's life and work while he was on earth. The four are: the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Luke, and the Gospel of John. We do not know who wrote the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John but we know who the Author is. The traditions of men, not Yahweh, have given us the names and writers of these books. We must remember, when Yahweh is silent, we must also be silent. These books are the works of Yahweh and not the recollections of men. Enigmas and puzzles are found throughout these books which require our thoughtful study, meditation and examination. We must prayerfully and humbly petition the Author that he may open the eyes of our understanding to his amazing Word, which he has magnified above his Name.
Among theologians, Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the "synoptic Gospels." They are so called because these Gospels share a common outline of events, in contrast to the Gospel of John. However, in practice this categorization has been used to accentuate alleged discrepancies between John and the other three Gospels. To group the Gospels in this fashion is an unscriptural tool brandished by critics of Yahweh's Word to support their slander.
In truth, the words recorded in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the words of Yahweh given to faithful men to record. They are not the recollections or 'Memoir's of the Apostles,' as is taught by many. Memoir means, "a biography or an account of historical events, especially one written from personal knowledge." The Word of Yahweh never says who the scribes were who wrote these four books because it does not matter. The Author or Generator of the books is what is of the utmost importance and not the vehicles by which they have been transmitted and scribed. The Word of Yahweh comes from the Generator (Yahweh) giving his words to the transmitter, who is the prophet, who then can give the words to the scribe, as is illustrated in Jeremiah 30:2; "Thus, speaketh Yahweh, Elohim of Israel, saying,––Write thee all the words which I have spoken unto thee [Jeremiah], in a scroll;" "So Jeremiah called, Baruch, son of Neriah,––and Baruch wrote, from the mouth of Jeremiah, all the words of Yahweh which he had spoken unto him, upon a scroll" (Jer. 36:4).
For the sake of argument, let us say that these books are the 'Memoir's of the Apostles.' Why then would three of Yahshua's most spectacular demonstrations of power, namely turning water into wine, the healing of the man born blind and the raising of Lazarus from the dead, not be recorded in the books of Matthew, Mark and Luke? Where is Nicodemus in these books? Did Matthew, Mark and Luke forget these events? Absolutely not! Then what is the explanation? Yahweh, who is the Author of all of the books, has a purpose for everything he does. We must take note of what is said and what is not said; how it is said and how it is not said; what words are used and what words are not used etc. etc.. If these books are the recollections of men, they do not belong in the Word of Yahweh however they are not the words of men but the perfect words of Yahweh, as written in the original text. Then why do they appear to be so different?
Yahweh presents enigmas and puzzles throughout his creation, which includes his Word. Little men call these irregularities, discrepancies or contradictions, at which Yahweh laughs, but in reality they are enigmas waiting to be discovered. The duckbilled platypus, an egg laying mammal, is an example of one of Yahweh's enigmas. This wonderful creation breaks the rules of 'wise' men. Some other creations that break the rules of men are birds that can't fly and mammals that can; fish that can fly and fish that breath air (mammals). These same men try to understand why all of the dinosaurs died out, while spiders still live. They wonder where all of the H2O (water) come from that is on planet earth? Enigmas are throughout our Father's world and Word and it is up to us to seek to understand them. Yahshua said, "For this reason, in parables, unto them, do I speak,––because, seeing, they see not, and, hearing, they hear not,––neither do they understand" (Mt. 13:13). We must be those who have ears to hear. We must ask ourselves why an event is left out of one book while recorded in another book; why certain Greek words are used in one book while not in another and why are there four Gospels rather than one? The Word of Yahweh is a 'Masterpiece,' a 'Wonderful Work of Art.' As we examine and meditate on this 'Wonder,' let us subject ourselves to it and not visa versa.
Why Four Gospels?
There are four Gospels because Yahshua is presented in four different embodiments; King, Servant, Man and 'Bud' (Son) of Yahweh. The question arises as to why four Gospels were necessary. Why didn't Yahweh simply have one narrative set forth encompassing the events of Yahshua Christ's earthly life? To appreciate the answer to this question, one should recognize major aspects of Christ's earthly life and ministry, The prophets of old foretold four aspects of the Messiah quite explicitly as they spoke of the 'Bud' (tsemach) in the Old Testament.
Yahshua as the 'King' in the book of Matthew
One quality the coming Bud would have, as prophesied by Jeremiah, would be that of a King descended from David. In order for Yahshua to be the Messiah, he would have to be a descendant of David, inherit the right to the throne, and come as a King to Israel.
When one scrutinizes the four Gospels, it is the Gospel of Matthew which stands out as the revelation emphasizing Yahshua as the King. Only in Matthew do we find the phrase "Kingdom of Heaven," and there it is used thirty-two times. There are ten parables unique to Matthew, of which relate to a King. The genealogy given in Matthew 1 includes a royal genealogy showing Yahshua's descent from David and Solomon. The phrase "son of David" occurs more in Matthew than in any other Gospel. Thus, in the Gospel of Matthew, the emphasis is on Yahshua as the King, the Messiah who fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. However, the promised Bud would be more than a 'King.' Look at Zechariah.
Yahshua as the 'Servant' in the book of Mark
Zechariah 3:8 ,
As the promised Bud, a major aspect of Yahshua's ministry would be the role of a Servant. The Gospel which clearly emphasizes Yahshua as the Servant is Mark. Mark records no genealogy, as a Servant does not gain his position by descent. Mark begins with Yahshua's ministry, The word translated "lord" or "sir" (kurios) is used seventy-three times of Yahshua in the other three Gospels but only three times in Mark, for a Servant is not called a lord. Mark puts great stress on Yahshua's actions in the service of Yahweh to his fellowman. Thus the Gospel of Mark emphasizes Yahshua as a Servant willing to accept responsibility in serving and helping others.
Yahshua as the 'Man' in the book of Luke
Another major characteristic of the promised Bud is his humanity; in other words, the Bud would be a 'Man.'
The Gospel which clearly emphasizes Yahshua as a Man is the Gospel of Luke. In Luke 3:23-38 is a genealogy tracing Yahshua's legal ancestry (through Joseph who had adopted him) back to Adam, the first man. There are eleven parables peculiar to Luke which emphasize the human aspect of his walk. He is depicted as a friend of publicans and sinners. The entire Gospel emphasizes his relationship with the common man. Thus, in the Gospel of Luke, Yahshua is shown to be a perfect Man, full of human tenderness and compassion.
Yahshua as the 'Bud of Yahweh' in the book of John
The fourth major characteristic of the promised Bud is that he would be the Bud (Son) of Yahweh.
Yahshua was the tsemach, the offspring, of Yahweh. He came as Yahweh's Son. The Gospel which plainly emphasizes Yahshua as the Son of Yahweh is the Gospel of John. Several verses in John will demonstrate this emphasis.
For more information on the Gospel of John, see Appendix B: 'The Gospel of John is a Enigma.'
In summary, Yahweh had promised a coming Bud (tsemach) who would have four major characteristics. He would be (1) a King, (2) a Servant, (3) a Man, and (4) the Bud (Son) of Yahweh. While every Gospel encompasses all of these characteristics of Yahshua, each Gospel specifically emphasizes one of them. This is a major reason four Gospels were necessary to fully reveal the greatness of Yahshua's earthly life and ministry. No one Gospel could comprehensively state Yahshua's multifaceted ministry with the full illumination it deserves. By having four Gospels written, Yahweh set forth Yahshua's life from every essential viewpoint for man's full appreciation and knowledge.
No one historical record, Biblical or otherwise, covers every detail regarding a given time period, event, or person. Volumes have been written on the American revolution in the late eighteenth century. Even when these writings are accurate, they may cover the period of the revolution from different viewpoints with different details. This does not necessarily mean they are contradictory; rather, these works often corroborate, augment, supplement, and elucidate one another. The same is true of the four Gospels. In John 10:35 Yahshua stated that "the scripture cannot be broken." In other words, no scripture is contradictory to another scripture. With this as a guiding principle, one can study the four Gospels to see how accurately they fit with one another. When Yahweh's Word is rightly divided, there will be no contradiction even though there are many enigmas and puzzles. If there ever is an apparent discrepancy between two passages of scripture, the problem must lie in our understanding, transmission or in translation. Since "the scripture cannot be broken," no one passage may be interpreted so that it is contradictory to another. Therefore, it is important to read accurately what is written without assuming or reading into it.
In studying Yahshua's earthly life and ministry, one Gospel may give details regarding an event not recorded in another Gospel. Too often readers will assume that each Gospel must record all the details, not realizing Yahweh had a divine purpose in having four Gospels written, which together give the fullness of His revelation concerning Yahshua's life and ministry. If certain details are included in one Gospel but not in another, it is by Yahweh's own design and revelation that they were written in that fashion. In studying the Gospels, one must use great discipline in order that similar events are not misconstrued to be identical and vice versa. Particular attention must be paid to subject, time, place, persons, etc. The approach must be to study Yahweh's Word from the inside out, bringing out the Biblical usage of terms and expressions. The recorded events are distributed among the Gospels so as to express the special design and character of each Gospel, and this is in perfect order and accuracy. The Gospels are four distinct presentations of the Messiah, which together form one perfect whole. It is our responsibility as students of Yahweh's Word to so study each Gospel in relation to the other three so that we can see their divine accuracy and revelation. Then we can fully understand and appreciate the all-important events of our savior's earthly life.
(See PDF version for appendix's and footnote's)
When quoting scriptures, from the Rotherham Emphasized Bible New Testament, I will substitute the Hebrew words Yahshua for Yahshua, Yahweh and Elohim for Yahweh and the LORD and ruah for pneuma (spirit).)
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