In the Bible, there are four gospels recorded and commence in the New Testament. Although the authorship is not entirely evident, the writings are in accordance to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These authors spent time with Jesus and are likely to target different groups of people due to their upbringing. The authors give an overview of Jesus’ life from birth, ministry, death, and resurrection, as well as a short period of time following his ascension to heaven. It has been estimated that Jesus lived approximately 33 years and the books cover key moments in Jesus’ life.
When we seek to answer who wrote the gospels, we are given a little bit of a background to each. Commencing with Matthew, who was also referred to as Levi, was a publican/tax collector, which was a hated job role due to the unjust culture/criminal reputation associated with tax collectors, but the Lord Jesus saw potential in Matthew. In the Bible, tax collectors are described in lists that include prostitutes, Gentiles, and sinners (Matthew 9:10,18:17,21:31, Luke 5:30). Matthew was likely to target the Jews by his writings.
Little is known about Mark, but it appears he was associated with Peter (Acts 12:12) and Paul (Acts 15:37) in the preaching effort. Mark was likely to target the Romans with his writings and focuses more on Jesus’ actions than the genealogies.
Luke was a Greek (Gentile) and a physician. The writings appear to be a summary in an orderly account of the events of Jesus’ life as set out in the opening of the book (Luke 1:1-4). Luke was likely targeting Greeks with his writings.
John was known as the beloved disciple and was given the surname Boanerges meaning ‘son of thunder’ by Jesus (Mark 3:17) due to his fiery temper (Luke 9:54). John was a fisherman and appears to be one of Jesus’ closest 3 friends, along with Peter and James. John also wrote John I, John II, John III and Revelation. John wrote to everyone.
But even with the variety of who each author was targeting from their writing style, there was a key focus for the time after the books… Looking at the word “gospel,” which when it is translated from the Greek means “good message,” we read that the good message or good news is in relation to the Kingdom of God (Luke 8:1). This is so that those who believe the Good news must then believe and be baptised, as it is written in Mark 16:15-16:
"And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."
Although the kingdom is a whole topic itself; it is truly a time to look forward to as unlike the world today, God will no longer allow pain, crying or suffering but everlasting life as death, famines and pestilences will be no more (Revelation 21:1-4). This is what Jesus will do when He returns and the message is reinforced in 1 Corinthians 15:50-53:
"I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality."
This is for the purpose that we will be able to overcome the sting and power of sin, which results in death by the grace of God who gives us this victory through his Son the Lord Jesus.
This time to come is one of the key reasons that the Lord Jesus came to earth but also the reason for the preaching message that is continued by believers. Everyone has an option for the hope of a better future that is a gift freely given, so during this festive holiday season, hopefully we can use this time to reflect on the hope of this amazing time to come.