Have you ever wondered why there are four Gospels? Sometimes the information is identical, similar, or totally new. Only two of the gospels have a genealogy, but they are not the same. Did the Gospel writers write from experience? Did they compare notes and validate stories before finalizing their writings? I will attempt to address these questions and more.
First thing to keep in mind is that no verse of scripture is available to inject our opinions according to 2 Peter chapter 1,
20 But, above all, remember that no prophecy in Scripture will be found to have come from the prophet’s own prompting;
21 for never did any prophecy come by human will, but men sent by God spoke as they were impelled by the Holy Spirit
This means that 1) we don’t get to guess what scripture means and 2) Holy men of spoke while being inspired by the Holy Spirit. A third principle to consider is 2 Timothy 3
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
“Given by inspiration of God” means God-breathed. In Genesis, God breathed into Adam and he became a living soul. When God breathed into scripture it became the living Word. We need to keep these three principles (1- no verse is to be privately interpreted, 2- the writers were inspired by God, 3- all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable) in mind when evaluating the source of any of the books of the Bible including the Gospels. God provided them the story, idea, and context, but they wrote with their own vocabularies and styles. God is the author of the Bible, but there are many writers.
The key to understanding the Gospels is the word branch which is translated from the Hebrew word tsemach. Tsemach means shoot, growth or branch. The life of the fruits, leafs, twigs, and limbs are dependent on their connection to the trunk/roots via the branch. Tsemach is only used 5 times in the Old Testament and always in reference to Jesus Christ. We will examine the usage of tsemach as they relate to the Gospels.
In the Gospel of Matthew, the focus is on Jesus Christ as God’s King.
5 Behold, the days come, said the LORD, that I will raise to David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up to David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.
Righteous branch is in reference to his Kingly position. In these two verses, David is mentioned. David was considered God’s first King and Jesus Christ is God’s last King.
The genealogy in chapter 1 traces Christ’s royal bloodline back to King David. Kings are required to trace their bloodlines to validate their kingship.
The phrase “kingdom of heaven” is used 32 times in the bible and only in the book of Matthew.
8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you, and your fellows that sit before you: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.
This Gospel represents Jesus Christ as God’s servant. The genealogy is absent because servants do no trace their ancestry.
12 And speak to him, saying, Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:
This gospel represents God’s perfect man. The genealogy traces back to Adam to provide the link to Jesus as the second Adam. His birth is included in great detail in this gospel.
The phrase “kingdom of God” is used 32 times in the book of Luke out of the 54 occurrences in the Gospels. It’s used 8 times in the church letters.
2 In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.
This gospel represents Jesus as God’s son. There is no genealogy since there is only Jesus Christ the son and God the father. The word “father”, in reference to God, is used 111 of the 224 total occurrences in the Gospels (111 of the 224; 62 in the church letters).The purpose of John’s gospel is summarized in John 20
30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
31 But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name.
The precision of the Word of God is astounding. Jesus is represented as God’s King, God’s man, God’s servant, and God’s son in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John respectively. Consider these perspectives when reading the Gospels.