Understanding Genre's - Gospels

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE - Understanding the Genre's

Let's say I came to you and asked you to write a short story about your boss and your job. I wanted you to write it to your mother and explain what your boss is like and the purpose of your job. Let's say I came to your co-worker and asked them to write on the same subject; but, I want them to write it to their best friend. Then, I go to another co-worker of yours and tell them to write the same subject; but, I want them to write it to a complete stranger. Chances are, all three short stories will have much of the same content; yet, all three stories would consist of things the other stories don't have and they could be arranged in different orders. Now you have a picture of the Gospels.

If you've read through the Gospels you probably noticed that there are differences. Some Gospels contain stories others don't contain and some may be in a slightly different order. The thing we need to understand is that each author was not determined to write a detailed biography of the life of Christ. Instead, each author was selectively picking stories and arranging them so as to paint a specific picture of Christ to a specific targeted audience. John said it himself, "And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." John 21:25.

Speaking of John, he is the only author who actually told us who he was writing to: "...these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." John 20:31. John purposed his book to go to unbelievers.

While John was the only Gospel author to tell us who he wrote to, we can get clues for the purposes of the other Gospels. Even if we don't know exactly to who they were writing, we can determine the portrait they were painting of Christ. The way they portray Christ is evident by the way they start their Gospel.

MATTHEW starts with a genealogy to show Christ as rightful heir and sovereign King. This is also why you see Matthew using the title "Son of David".
MARK portrays Yahshua as the suffering servant and how that suffering will be attached to all who follow
LUKE also starts with the genealogy but it’s different from Matthews. He tracks the lineage to Adam which emphasizes Messiah Yahshua as "the Son of Man"; a title that Luke specifically employes.
JOHN points to the divinity of Christ to show Jesus as the Son of God

There are two ways to understand the Gospels.
1. KEEP THE STORY IN ITS IMMEDIATE CONTEXT. The author arranged the stories to paint a picture of further understanding of meaning. For example, in Matthew 18:12-14 we are told a story of leaving the ninety-nine to look for one lost sheep. This story is located in a different spot than Luke records. Matthew arranged the story surrounded by warnings of offenses to spiritually young Christians and that of church discipline. He did so to show us a picture of how WE, the church, are the hands and feet of Christ who go after those who were offended or who have sinned and are straying from the flock.

2. EXAMINE THE STORY AGAINST OTHER GOSPELS FOR A MORE DEFINED PICTURE. Since each author told different aspects of a story we can examine those stories against each other and get a better picture of what was going on. If the author records something that Jesus said but has differences from other Gospels don't let that bother you; refer back to step one.

As an example of step two, after the recording of Jesus teaching of the parable of the sewer, Matthew records Jesus telling His parables to the lost were purposed to confuse the crowd (Matt 13:11-13). That statement confuses most who read it, yet the explanation is within the context of this story as a whole. Messiah Yahshua tells the disciples that it's for THEM to know the "mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them (the crowd), it has not been given." By merely looking at Matthew we could come to the determination that "it's for THEM to know" because they are the twelve disciples chosen by Christ (Matthew 13:10). Yet, when we look at this story in Mark we see that there were others around Christ that were with the twelve (Mark 4:10). When we start to understand that Christ said this to more than the twelve who followed we start to see a picture that the ones who will know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, even in the twenty-first century, will be those who seek Christ and follow up behind to find out what those mysteries are. This makes Bible study very important because the point being made here is that man, not even Christ, can explain the mysteries unless you are personally seeking after Him for that understanding.