Could you explain to someone in a few minutes what the differences are between the four Gospels? Why do we even have four? What is unique about Matthew? What primary audience was Luke written for? What stories are in John that are not in the others?
We often spend time in Bible study moving through a particular book of the Bible during a quarter or even a year. The four gospel studies offered by the Thoughtful Christian are 14 sessions in all. Consider moving through all four gospels this spring or summer and learning the similarities and differences between them.
Introduction to Matthew (4 sessions). Mark stands at the beginning of the New Testament canon. Judging from the attention it has received since ancient times, it has often been considered the first Gospel in importance as well. In this four-session study, participants will learn about the structure of the book, the original audience, and the major themes the author wished to convey to us in the way he tells the story of Jesus' life and ministry.
Introduction to the Gospel of Mark (4 sessions). The first session explores some basic questions readers have of this book. The second session discusses the question of what Mark means when he says Jesus is the Son of God. Session 3 examines Mark's understanding of a life of discipleship. Finally, the fourth session compares the different ending of Mark with that of the other Gospels and discusses the importance of the events of the passion and resurrection, which take up almost half the book.
Introduction to Luke (3 sessions). In this study, we'll be looking at three areas of special interest: (1) who Jesus is, (2) salvation to the outcast and marginalized in first-century society, and (3) questions of wealth and poverty.
Introduction to John (3 sessions). The Gospel of John has often been handed out to new converts to Christianity, or even to nonbelievers, as an evangelizing tool because it insists so forcefully on Jesus' identity as the divine Son of God and on the need for faith in him. Yet a case can be made that John is really more useful for those who already have some experience of Christian faith and are ready for some advanced reading about Jesus. Either way, there is no denying the central role of this Gospel in shaping both the church's faith and the beliefs of many individual Christians.