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The Bible is an ancient text of timeless truths for a modern age. Our goal in this podcast (Scriptural Literacy) is to become more familiar with the Bible so that we might read it profitably.
This week’s episode is an extended discussion of last week’s episode about the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The teaching is a little over an hour and is divided into four segments of roughly 15-20 minutes each.
Segment 1 of 4 starts at 00:00 – More on the Gospels
Part of the reason for this additional week on the Gospels is because I did not do a good enough job last week; part is because there is so much in them to cover. They are important!
Here’s how we’re going to cover the structure of the Bible (at the rate of one subject per week): Gospels, Psalms, Acts, Prophets (major), Prophets (minor), Epistles, Pentateuch, History, and Wisdom. These are nine natural divisions into which the Bible’s books can be divided.
The Gospels are the most explicit about Christ: what He said and did. Therefore, they are the cornerstone of the structure of the house that is the Bible.
Know how to dip into the Bible; find safe landing zones; and draw strength.
Segment 2 of 4 starts at 16:08 – Question: Why Don’t the Gospels Tell More of Jesus’ Childhood?
Paul grew up in Tarsus and didn’t know Jesus during earthly ministry – so far as we know. It fell primarily to the original twelve apostles to carry the message about Him to Jews scattered all over the world.
Jesus’ family (Jude and James, his brothers…and, of course, Mary) seemed estranged from Him during His earthly ministry (Luke 8:19-21), but came around by the time He was raised from the dead (Acts 1:14).
What is in secular literature about Jesus is limited (www.jesusoftestimony.com); the primary responsibility for telling His story would fall to men specially chosen by Him.
The apostles were witnesses chosen ahead of time by the Lord Himself. They had the character necessary for the difficult task that would be assigned to them: to tell the truth about what they saw and heard. It was a simple task, but a most difficult one.
The apostles were sent from the Lord on earth, just as the prophets had been sent from the Lord in heaven. Thus the prophets and apostles may be both be considered as the Lord’s spokesmen.
Essentially, the apostles were saying that “this” (i.e. the New Testament) is “that” (i.e. the Old Testament). In other words, the New Testament was testimony of how the Old Testament prophecies about Messiah were fulfilled – how God’s promises were kept.
Segment 3 of 4 starts at 34:36 – More Distinctions Between the Four Gospels
The apostles probably wrote their originals on papyrus. In any case, they have not survived. However, we have more than enough copies to know what they wrote.
Tatian the Assyrian (120-180 AD) produced the Diatessaron (160-175) – a harmony of the four gospels.
Twenty years after Tatian’s harmony, Irenaeus (early 2nd Century to 202 AD; a hearer of Polycarp who was a disciple of John) expressly proclaimed the authoritative character of the four gospels. He compared the four gospels to the four winds.
The work of Papias dated 96-120 by most modern scholars; Papias provides the earliest extant account of who wrote the Gospels. Eusebius preserves two verbatim excerpts from Papias on the origins of the Gospels, one concerning Mark and then another concerning Matthew.
A few more distinctives about the four gospels:
Matthew: Sermon on the Mount, the Golden Rule, the Lord’s Prayer
Mark: Read what Papias said about it being Peter’s unordered recollections
Luke: He’s pulling together various accounts from various people
John: He began before the birth, before creation itself
Harmonies of the Gospels are available today, but they really don’t appeal that much. People usually want to read the Gospels as they were originally written.
Segment 4 of 4 starts at 55:10 – The Meanings of the Word “Gospel”
The “gospel” is good news. Not “I’ve got good news and bad news.” God has solved death. And the cure is not worse than the disease.
Everyone believes. You either believe the Gospels are true; or you believe they are false.
It’s a Jewish Gospel; to the Gentiles, it’s foolishness. Except for the God-fearing ones.
(The notes in this post do not coincide exactly with the audio teaching. There are some points being made in the text here that are not mentioned there, and vice versa. This is not intentional. It’s just a function of my limitations. If this raises questions in your mind, please ask them in the comments below. Thanks.)