Lecture 4: Introduction to the Gospels

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This lesson is an introduction and overview to each of the four Gospels. We’ll look at the term, gospel, and the genre of gospel. Understanding the circumstances surrounding the writing of each Gospel helps us better understand the central themes of each book. We’ll look at the major themes of each book and how to apply them. (42 min.)

Introduction to the Gospels


I. Introduction

A. Definition of Gospel (euangelion)

B. The Gospels as Ancient Biographies

II. The Gospel of Mark

A. Background

1. Author

2. Date

3. Purpose

B. Major Themes

1. Jesus as “Son of God” (Mark 15:39)

2. Jesus as “Christ” (Mark 8:27-30)

3. Jesus as “Suffering Servant” (Isa 53; Mark 10:45)

4. The Disciples’ Inability to Understand (Mark 8:31-33)

C. Application

III. The Gospel of Matthew

A. Background

1. Author

2. Date

3. Purpose

B. Major Themes

1. Jesus as “Teacher“

2. Jesus as “Son of David” (Matt. 9:27; 15:22; 21:9, 15)

3. The Progression of the Gospel Offer (Matt. 28:16-19)

4. Jesus' fulfillment of the Old Testament (Matt. 5:17-48)

C. Application

IV. The Gospel of Luke

A. Background

1. Author

2. Date

3. Purpose

B. Major Themes and Application

1. The Humanity of Jesus (Luke 4:31-41; 5:12-26)

2. Jesus as “Teacher” (Luke 15–16)

3. The Power of Prayer (Luke 18:1-8)

4. The Importance of the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:21-24)

5. The Importance of Stewardship (Luke 16:10; 19:19-26)

V. The Gospel of John

A. The Background of John

1. Author

2. Date

3. Purpose

B. Major Themes

1. Jesus as “Son of God” and “Christ” (John 20:31)

2. The Importance of Evangelism (John 3:16-21)

3. Jesus as “Word of God” (John 1:1)

4. Jesus as “Lamb of God” (John 1:29, 36)

5. Jesus as “God Incarnate” (John 10)

6. The “I am” Sayings (John 6:48; 8:12, 58; 10:9, 11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1)

7. The Presence of Eternal Life (John 3:16; 6:35-71)

8. The Miracles as Key Signs Pointing to Jesus’s Identity (John 9:1-41)

9. Jesus’ Private Teaching of the Disciples (John 13-17)

10. The Eternal Security of the Believer (John 6:39)

C. Application


Name Description
1 Understanding the New Testament - Quiz 4

This quiz covers the material in Understanding the New Testament, Lesson 4 – Introduction to the Gospels.


  • Read Isaiah 53, Mark 8:31 and Mark 9:12. How do these passages help you understand who Jesus was and what he did? How could you use these passages to encourage someone who was enduring persecution or suffering?
  • One of the key themes for the Gospel of Matthew is that Jesus is a teacher. Spend some time looking through the Sermon on the Mount to see what kinds of things Jesus taught about (Matt 5-7). Pick one part of the Sermon and spend some time reflecting on what it would have been like to hear Jesus preach these words to his disciples. What would it be like to hear him preaching these words to your church today? How should you live in light of these words?


  • Read Luke 2:52. What does this verse tell us about the humanity of Christ? Why is the humanity of Christ such an important issue for Luke? Why is it important that we understand the humanity of Christ today? Read Hebrews 2:17-18. How can Christ’s humanity be a source of encouragement for us?
  • Read John 1:1-18. What does it mean to say that the ’Word’ became ’flesh’? What can you do this week to reflect more deeply on what an amazing truth this is? What can you do this week to help someone else understand and appreciate this truth?


42 min

Other resources

Recommended Reading

Jesus and the Gospels, pp. 128-206.

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