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Synoptic Gospels.( SYNOPTIC [sĭn ŏpˊtĭk] GOSPELS. A term (from Gk. synoptikós “seeing together”) same eye,” thus “with the same viewpoint.”

Term applied to Matthew, Mark, and Luke because they see the ministry of Jesus from generally the same point of view, which is quite different from that of the Gospel of John.

Three Gospels — Matthew, Mark, and Luke — so called because of the very close relationship they bear to each other, so close that one can usefully place them alongside each other and compare them (Gk. syn, “with” + optikóss, which refers to “looking”).


Matthew tells the whole story of Jesus, from his remarkable birth in Bethlehem to his death and resurrection in Jerusalem. He includes Jesus’ baptism and temptation, his preaching and teaching in Galilee, and many of his parables about the kingdom of God.

Matthew traces the family line of Jesus. He begins with Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, and shows how Jesus comes from the royal line of Judah and King David.


The Gospel of Mark is a vivid account of the life of Jesus. This is the shortest of the four Gospels we have in the New Testament, and many scholars think it was the first to be written.

Mark tells us about the life and death of Jesus—the Messiah who is truly the Son of God.

Mark’s Gospel

Mark may have written his account of Jesus for the Christian church in Rome.

During the reign of Emperor Nero (the AD 60s) Christians were cruelly persecuted for their faith. In particular, they were accused of causing the Great Fire which destroyed a large part of the city. This was the fire during which Nero is said to have played his fiddle — because it suited him to clear the slums of Rome for his rebuilding programme.

In Palestine at this time, the Jews were attempting to overthrow their Roman overlords. This conflict ended in total defeat for the Jews and the tragic destruction of the temple in AD 70. Of course, the first Christians were bound to wonder what the world was coming to! Mark records what Jesus said about suffering — and about the signs of the last days.


Luke is the name of a doctor who travelled with the apostle Paul. He wrote two of the books we have in the New Testament — the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.

In his Gospel, Luke gives us a careful account of the life of Jesus. He has talked to some of the people who knew Jesus, and collected their sayings and stories.

Luke gives us facts — information to help us pinpoint the time and place in which Jesus lived. He describes some of the hopeless cases of disability, disease and demon possession which Jesus was able to cure. He shows how Jesus is indeed the Saviour of the world.

Luke wants us to discover the joy of being welcomed and accepted by God — and to take up the challenge of becoming disciples of Jesus.      


John’s Gospel is sometimes called the Fourth Gospel, and is different from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. While the others take a similar view of Jesus, through stories of his teaching and miracles, John’s Gospel takes only a few episodes and develops them in more detail. As a result we get to know Jesus in greater depth — and especially in his relationship with God his Father.

John is different, with very few miracles (he calls them ‘signs’) and long sections of teaching or reflection.

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