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Words from GOD – Words to GOD

Nt intoduction, part 2-The gospels, via Archbishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz

The Gospel of Matthew



The Gospel of Matthew may be divided into five parts:
I. The Advent of the Messiah, 1:1–4:11. Matthew proves by the legal genealogy that Christ was the Son of David, the child of the promise; that, in harmony with the prophecies, He was born of a virgin at Bethlehem and his way was prepared by John the Baptist; and records his baptism and temptation.
II. The Public proclamation of Messiah’s Kingdom, 4:12–16:12. Here we find Jesus, after John is taken captive, choosing his first disciples and beginning his work in Galilee, 4:12–4:25. Then follows a splendid example of Christ’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, in which the law of the New Kingdom is promulgated, and its righteousness and life are contrasted with those of Pharisees and Scribes, 5–7. This is followed by the description of a series of miracles, interspersed with brief teachings of the Lord and the calling of Matthew, giving clear evidence of the power and mercy of Jesus and establishing his authority to set up the New Kingdom and to proclaim its laws, 8:1–9:38. Next we have a catalogue of the twelve apostles and their commission to announce the coming Kingdom to the house of Israel, 10. It is brought out that the teachings and miracles of Jesus lead to serious questionings on the part of John the Baptist, to open opposition from the side of Pharisees and Scribes, and to the interference of his relatives, 11:1–12:50; that as a result Christ substitutes parabolic for plain teaching, 13:1–53; and that the opposition finally culminates in his rejection by the synagogue of Nazareth, by Herod and by the spiritual leaders of the people, both of Jerusalem and of Galilee, leading in every instance to the withdrawal of his gracious works and also to an exposition and condemnation of the hypocracy and wickedness of the leaders of the nation. 13:54–16:12.
III. The Distinct and Public Claim of Messiahship, 16:13–23:39. In this section the evangelist shows, how Christ instructs his disciples regarding the Messiahship. The Lord calls forth their explicit confession of him as Messiah, 16:13–20; and teaches them in a threefold form that He must suffer and die, but will rise again. In connection with these announcements we have the narrative of the transfiguration and the healing of the epileptic demoniac, and instruction regarding the civil and religious relations and duties of the disciples, such as the payment of the temple tribute, the self-denying, humble, loving and forgiving spirit of true discipleship, divorce, the proper attitude toward children, the danger of earthly possessions, the gracious character of the reward in God’s Kingdom, and the ministering spirit demanded in his followers, 16:21–20:28. At Jerusalem also He now makes his claim, entering the city as the Son of David and assuming Messianic authority in the temple. He brings out clearly the future rejection of Israel, answers the test questions of his enemies and pronounces a sevenfold woe on Pharisees and Scribes, 20:29–23:39.
IV. The Sacrifice of Messiah the Priest, 24:1–27:66. Matthew demonstrates that Christ, now that He is rejected by the Jews, prepares his disciples for his sacrificial death by unfolding the doctrine of his future coming in glory and by teaching them the true posture of his followers in waiting for the day of his coming, 24:1–25:46. He then describes how Christ brought his sacrifice, after eating the Paschal lamb, being betrayed by Judas, condemned by the Sanhedrin and Pilate, and dying on the cross, 26:1–27:66.
V. The Truimph of Messiah the Saviour and King. The author brings out that Jesus by rising again from the dead fully established his claim to the Messiahship. Abundant evidence of the resurrection is furnished and it is clearly shown that in the end Christ is clothed with Messianic authority.

1. As to form we find, in the first place, a characteristically Jewish numerical arrangement of things in this Gospel. The genealogy in ch. 1 consists of three groups of generations of fourteen each. There are seven beatitudes ch. 5; seven petitions in the Lord’s prayer ch. 6; a group of seven parables ch. 13; and seven woes on Pharisees and Scribes ch. 23. As to the style of Matthew, in the second place, may be said that it is smoother than that of Mark, though not so vivid. But it is tinged with Hebraisms, less indeed than the language of Luke, but more than that of Mark. It is rather impersonal, lacking in individuality. Its individualism of language consists mostly in the frequent use of certain words and phrases. The Hebraistic formulae of transition καὶ ἐγένετο and καὶ ἰδόυ occur repeatedly, and the simple τότε is constantly used, especially with a historical tense. Further the following characteristic expressions are found: ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν instead of the more common ἡ β. τοῦ θεοῦ; ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπό κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφητοῦ, or an abbreviated form of this expression; and ὅπως instead of ἵνα.
2. The arrangement of the material in this Gospel also differs considerably from that in the other Synoptics. The narrative is not continuous, but is interrupted by five great discourses, such as are not found in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, viz. the Sermon on the Mount, chs. 5–7; the charge to the apostles, ch. 10; the parables of the Kingdom, ch. 13; the discourse on the church, ch. 18; and the final eschatological discourses of Christ on the last judgment, chs. 23–25. After every one of these discourses we find the words: “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended (made an end of, finished) these sayings, etc.
3. As to contents the following peculiarities deserve our attention: In the first place the Gospel of Matthew has a more Jewish aspect than the other Synoptics. Its predominant subject is, the Messiah and his Kingdom. The discourses of which we spoke all have reference to this Kingdom, and it is clearly brought out that the mission of Christ is to the Jews only and that the establishment of His rule will be a restoration of the fallen throne of David. Cf. the genealogy ch. 1 and also 2:2; 10:5, 6; 15:24; 19:28, etc. Yet we must not think that it positively excludes the idea of salvation for the gentiles; it clearly holds out a hope to them and even announces that the Kingdom will be taken from Israel on account of its unfaithfulness. Cf. 2:1–13; 8:10–12; 15:28; 21:43; 22:1–14. In the second place the first Gospel alludes to the Old Testament more frequently than any other. It emphasizes the fact that the New Testament reveals the fulfilment of Old Testament promises; that Christ was born, revealed himself and labored as the prophets of old had foretold. Matthew contains more than 40 quotations, while Mark has 21 and Luke, 22. The characteristic use of ἵνα (ὅπως) πληρωθῇ in quotations proves that Matthew had an eye for the divine teleology in history.—And in the third place Matthew looks at things in their grand general aspect and pays less attention to the minor details on which Mark so much loves to dwell.

The superscription ascribes the first Gospel to Matthew. That this embodies the opinion of the early Church is evident from the testimony of Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius and several others, who all point to Matthew as the author. The Gospel itself shows unmistakably, by its Jewish physiognomy, that its author was a Jew, yea even that he was a Palestinian Jew, for he quotes from the Hebrew and not from the Septuagint. It contains no direct evidence, however to the authorship of Matthew, though there are a couple points of difference between it and the other Synoptics that are best explained on the assumption that Matthew wrote it. When we compare the lists of the twelve apostles in Mt. 10:2–4; Mk. 3:16–19; and Luke 6:14–16, we notice that only in the first Gospel the name Matthew is followed by the less honorable qualification “the publican;” and that it has the order, “Thomas and Matthew” instead of, “Matthew and Thomas.’
The apostolic authorship of this gospel is denied by several rationalistic critics, such as Davidson; Jülicher and Baljon. Their reasons for rejecting it are the following:
(1). Legend, misunderstanding and irrelevancy are very prominent in this Gospel, which would not be the case if the writer had been an eye and ear witness of Jesus. The reference is to such narratives as the story of the wise men, the flight into Egypt, and the slaughter of the innocents, ch. 2; the doublet of the miraculous feeding, 14:16–21; 15:32–38; the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on two animals, 21:2, 7; the opening of the graves at the resurrection of Christ, 27:52; the setting of a watch at the sepulchre and the bribing of them, etc. (2). The Gospel of Matthew is too closely dependent on Mark, not merely in choice of matter and arrangement but in verbal detail, to be the work of an apostle. (3). The author never indicates by the use of the pronouns I or we that he was an eye witness of the things which he narrates.
In answer to these objections it may be said that one’s disbelief in miracles does not prove them false, and that the seeming difficulties to which reference is made easily yield to good exegesis. The dependence of Matthew on Mark (instead of the reverse as the Tübingen school believed) is indeed accepted by a great number of scholars today, but is not absolutely proven. And even if it were, it would be no disparagement for Matthew. The impersonal objective style is the prevailing one in the historical books of the Bible and is irrelevant as an objection to the authorship of the apostle.
Our information regarding Matthew is very scanty. We read of him first in connection with the call to follow Jesus, Mt. 9:9, 10; Mk. 2:14, 15; Lk. 5:27–29. There is no reason to doubt that the Matthew of the first Gospel is the Levi of the second and third. Possibly his name was changed by the Lord after his call to the discipleship, just as those of Peter and Paul. In Mark he is said to be the son of Alphaeus, whom some identify with Alphaeus the father of the apostle James. But this identification does not commend itself to us, since we may assume that, if James and Matthew had indeed been brothers, this would have been stated in their case as well as it is in those of Andrew and Peter and John and James. He belonged to the despised class of publicans and hence cannot have been a very strict Jew. When Jesus called him, he made a great feast for the Lord, to which he also invited many publicans and sinners. Clement of Alexandria describes him as a rigorous ascetic, living “on seeds and herbs and without flesh.” It is not impossible that by a very natural reaction his sinful life changed into one of great austerity. A veil of obscurity is cast over the apostolic career of Matthew. Tradition has it that he remained at Jerusalem with the other apostles for about twelve years after the death of the Lord, laboring among his fellow-countrymen. When the work was done, it is said, he preached the Gospel to others, according to the popular opinion in Ethiopia. He probably died a natural death.

I. Original Language. A hotly debated question is that regarding the language in which Matthew originally wrote his Gospel. The difficulty of the problem arises from the fact that external testimony and internal evidence seem to disagree. As a result the camp is very much divided, some scholars ardently defending a Hebrew, others with equal zeal a Greek original. The earliest testimony in regard to this matter is that of Papias and runs as follows: “Matthew composed the oracles (λόγια) in the Hebrew dialect, and everyone interpreted them as he was able.” It is clear from the original that in these words the emphasis falls on the phrase “in the Hebrew language.” But Papias does not stand alone in this assertion; a similar statement is found in Irenaeus: “Matthew among the Hebrews did also publish a Gospel in writing in their own language.” Pantaenus is said to have gone to India, where he found “the writing of Matthew in Hebrew letters.” Origen quoted by Eusebius also says that “the first Gospel was written by Matthew … who delivered it to the Jewish believers, composed in the Hebrew language.” Eusebius himself makes the following statement: “For Matthew, having first preached to the Hebrews, when he was about to go to other people, delivered to them in their own language the Gospel written by himself.” Jerome also states that “Matthew wrote a Gospel of Jesus Christ in Judea in the Hebrew language and letters for the benefit of those of the circumcision who believed. Who afterwards translated it into Greek, is uncertain.” To these testimonies might be added those of Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Epiphanius, Ebedjesu and Chrysostom.
On the other hand it is pointed out that the present Greek Gospel does not impress one as a translation, but has all the appearance of an original work, since: (1.) The hypothesis of a translation fails to account for the identity seen in certain parts of the Synoptic Gospels. (2.) While the author himself indeed quotes from the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, the quotations of our Lord are almost uniformly taken from the Septuagint. Is it conceivable that this would be the case in a Hebrew Gospel? (3.) The Gospel contains translations of Hebrew words, as: “They shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us,” 1:23;—“A place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,” 27:33. (4.) There are certain explanations of Palestinian customs and habitual occurrences that would have been altogether superfluous in a Hebrew Gospel, naturally intended only for the natives of Palestine, f. i. in 22:23; 27:8, 15; 28:15.
The conclusion to which this evidence leads is corroborated by the following facts: (1.) In all probability no one has ever seen the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, and no trace of it can now be found. (2.) All the quotations from Matthew in the early Church fathers are taken from the present Greek Gospel. (3.) The Gospel of Matthew always stood on an equal footing with the other Gospels and is cited just as much as they are.
This evidence both external and internal has given rise to several theories, which we can briefly state in the following manner: (1.) Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew and someone else translated it into Greek. This position was held by the Church in general until the time of the Reformation. Since then several Protestant scholars took another view, because Rome defended the ultimate authority of the Vulgate by pointing out that the Greek Matthew was also merely a translation. The attacks of Rationalism on the so-called second-hand Matthew, and the dubious character of a part of the ancient testimony, also served to bring this theory into discredit. Notwithstanding this, however, some of the ablest scholars have defended it up to the present. The prevailing idea among them is that the Greek Matthew is not so much in all parts a literal translation as a new redaction. According to Westcott it gives in writing the Greek counterpart of the Hebrew Gospel, that had taken shape in oral tradition from the beginning. Zahn regards it as the ripe fruit of the interpretation of the Hebrew original in the congregations to which Papias refers.
(2.) There never was a Hebrew original, but Matthew wrote his Gospel in the Greek language. The present gospel is not a translation, but an original work. They who hold this view are of the opinion that the testimony of Papias and of those following him was a sheer mistake, due partly to ignorance and partly to a confounding of the Gospel of Matthew with the Ebionite Gospel according to the Hebrews.
(3.) Matthew wrote neither a Hebrew nor a Greek Gospel, but, if anything, a work called the λόγια by Papias, which must have been a collection of the sayings or discourses of the Lord. According to some these λόγια are lost, but must probably be identified with one of the supposed sources (Q) of our present Gospels. Others as Godet and Holdsworth believe that the work contained the discourses that we find in the Gospel of Matthew and was therefore incorporated bodily in our present Gospel.
(4.) The evangelist after writing his Gospel in Hebrew with a view to his countrymen, possibly when he had left Palestine to labor elsewhere, translated or rather furnished a new recension of his Gospel in the Greek language with a view to the Jews of the Diaspora. The former was soon lost and altogether replaced by the latter.
In formulating our opinion in regard to this question, we desire to state first of all that we have no sufficient reason to discredit the testimony of the early Church. It is true that Eusebius says of Papias that he was “a credulous, weak-minded, though pious man,” but in connection with this we must bear in mind: (1) that Eusebius says this in connection with the chiliastic opinions of Papias that were odious to the historian; (2) that he himself elsewhere testifies that Papias was a man “in the highest degree eloquent and learned and above all skilled in the Scriptures,” and (3) that the peculiar views of Papias did not necessarily impair his veracity, nor invalidate his testimony to a historical fact. Let us remember also that it is inconsistent to believe Papias, when he says that Matthew wrote the Gospel, and to discredit his further testimony that the apostle wrote in Hebrew, as some scholars do. It is indeed almost certain that Pantaenus was mistaken, when he thought that he had found the Hebrew Gospel in India; and that Jerome labored under a delusion, when he imagined that he had translated it at Cesarea. What they saw was probably a corruption of the Hebrew original, known as, “the Gospel according to the Hebrews.” But this possible mistake does not invalidate the other independent testimony of Jerome and that of all the early fathers to the effect that Matthew wrote the Gospel in Hebrew.
In the second place we desire to point out that Papias in speaking of the λόγια of Matthew undoubtedly referred to his Gospel. The word λόγια does not mean speeches or sayings, as is now often asserted. It is found four times in the New Testament, viz. in Acts 7:38; Rom. 3:2; Heb. 5:12; 1 peter 4:11, and in every one of these places it has its classical meaning of oracles. It is applied to the divine utterances of God in his Word. In later writers the word is generally employed to indicate inspired writings. There is no reason to think that Papias used the word in the sense of λόγοι. If in addition to this we take in consideration that in all probability the testimony of Irenaeus is based on that of Papias and that he takes the word as referring to the Gospel of Matthew, the presumption is that Papias had the Gospel in mind. The meaning of his testimony is therefore, that the first Gospel was written in Hebrew. The so-called Logia-source is a creature of the imagination.
In the third place the internal evidence of our present Gospel proves conclusively that this is not a mere translation of a Hebrew original. The evidence adduced seems quite sufficient. The Greek Matthew may be and most likely is in substance a translation of the original Hebrew; yet it must be regarded as in many respects a new recension of the Gospel. The loss of the Hebrew original and the general substitution for it of the Greek version is readily explained by the scattering of the Jews after the destruction of Jerusalem, and by the early corruption of the Hebrew Gospel in the circles of the Ebionites and the Nazarenes.
In the fourth place it seems most plausible that Matthew himself, shortly after he had written the Hebrew Gospel, translated it, adjusting it in several respects to the needs of the Jews that were dispersed in different lands. True, early tradition does not speak of this, and Jerome even says that it was not known in his time who translated it into Greek. This favors the idea that it was done very early. Moreover our Greek Gospel was known from the beginning as the Gospel κατἁ Ματθᾶιον, just as the second and third as the Gospel κατὰ Μάρκον and κατὰ Λουκᾶν. As such it is also universally quoted by those fathers that are accustomed to mention their authors. The case of Matthew would thus be analogous to that of Josephus.
II. Readers and Purpose. The Gospel of Matthew was undoubtedly destined for the Jews. This is expressly stated by Irenaeus, Origen, Eusebius, Gregory Nazianzen, e. a. This testimony is corroborated by internal evidence. The genealogy of Jesus goes back only to Abraham, the father of the Hebrew race; and in harmony with the tenets of the Jews the Messiahship of Christ is proved from the prophets. The whole Gospel impresses one as being occasioned by the exigencies of the Jews both in Palestine and without. In none of the other Gospels is the false position of Pharisees and Scribes so clearly exposed.
It was Matthew’s purpose to convince the Jews that Jesus was the Christ, the great Davidic King promised by the prophets. He knew that, if this could be shown clearly, they would be won for the Saviour. This purpose is very evident from the Gospel. The legal genealogy of Christ is traced back to Abraham; and it is clearly brought out that prophecy was fulfilled in the manner of Christ’s birth 1:23; the place of his nativity 2:6; his flight into Egypt 2:15; the murder of the innocents 2:18; his residence at Nazareth 2:23; the ministry of his forerunner 3:3; 11:10, his removal to Capernaum 4:15, 16; his healing the sick 8:17; his meek and retiring disposition 12:18–21; his teaching by parables 13:34, 35; his entry into Jerusalem 21:4, 5; his rejection by the builders 21:42; his being David’s Son and Lord 22:44; his desertion by his disciples 26:31; the price of his betrayal 27:9; the division of his raiment 27:35; and his cry of agony 27:46. It is Matthew only that records the sayings of the Lord: “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill,” 5:17; and: “I was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” 15:24. To him Jerusalem is “the Holy City,” “the Holy Place,” and “the City of the great King.” On seven different occasions he calls the Lord “the Son of David.” In harmony with the prophets Christ the King is most prominent in his Gospel, though of course the prophetic and priestly character of the Lord are also clearly revealed.
III. Time and Place. Little can be said as to the time, when Matthew wrote his Gospel; and what few indications we have of the time are rather uncertain, because we do not know, whether they bear on the origin of the Hebrew original or of the present Greek Gospel. Tradition generally points to Matthew’s Gospel as being the first. Irenaeus makes a very definite statement, viz.: “Matthew among the Hebrews published a Gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were preaching the Gospel at Rome and founding a church there.” This must have been somewhere between 63–67 A. D.
Something may be gathered in this respect from the contents of the Gospel. We cannot, as some do, infer from 22:7 that it was composed after the destruction of Jerusalem, for then we would have to assume that our Lord could not have predicted this event. Moreover this argument impugns the veracity of the evangelist. A proof for the contrary, viz. that this Gospel was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, is found in 24:15, where we find in a discourse of the Saviour this parenthetic clause of the writer: “let him that readeth understand,” in connection with the Lord’s admonition to the inhabitants of Judea to flee to the mountains, when they shall see the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place. The same inference is drawn by some from the eschatological discourse of Christ in chs. 24–25, where the beginning of sorrows, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the Lord’s return in glory are placed alongside of each other, without any distinction of time; and the writer does not by a single word betray any knowledge of the fact that the destruction of Jerusalem would be separated in time from the Lord’s return. But this, being an argument from silence, is rather precarious. The dates assigned to this Gospel by rationalistic critics range from about 70 to 125 A. D.
As to the place, where the Gospel was written, Athanasius says that it was published at Jerusalem; Ebedjesu, in Palestine; and Jerome, in Judea for the sake of those in Judea who believed. There is nothing in the Gospel itself that contradicts this. It is very likely, however, that the Greek Gospel was written elsewhere.
IV. Method. The question arises, whether Matthew used sources in the composition of his Gospel. The prevalent opinion at present is that the writer of this Gospel, whoever he may have been, drew in the main on two sources, viz. on the λόγια of Matthew for the discourses of the Lord, and on the Gospel of Mark for the narrative portion of his work. It is found necessary, however, to assume several other minor sources. Thus Weiss, Jülicher, Baljon, Peake, Buckley, Bartlet (in Hastings D. B.) e. a. Against these see Davidson and Salmon. Zahn’s opinion is that Mark employed the Hebrew Matthew in the composition of his Gospel, and that the writer of our Greek Matthew in turn used the Gospel of Mark. The great diversity of opinion among New Testament scholars in this respect shows clearly that it is quite impossible to determine with any degree of certainty what sources Matthew employed. All we can say is (1) that in all probability the Hebrew Matthew depended on oral tradition only; (2) that our Greek Matthew is based on the Hebrew; and (3) that it is not impossible that Matthew had read the Gospel of Mark before he composed the present Greek Gospel.

The Gospel of Matthew has been accepted as canonical from the earliest times. There are many traces of its use, especially of the Sermon on the Mount in the Didache. Next we find it clearly quoted in the Epistle of Barnabas, who cites ten passages with the significant formula “it is written.” This proves that the Gospel was used and recognized as canonical in the early part of the second century. Further it is abundantly testified to until the beginning of the third century, when all controversy ceases, there being up to that time altogether 21 witnesses, so that this Gospel is one of the best attested books in the New Testament. Among these witnesses are the old Latin and Syriac Versions that contain this Gospel; early church fathers that refer to it as authoritative or quote it; and heretics who, even while attacking the truth, tacitly admit the canonical character of the Gospel.
This book is properly placed at the very beginning of the New Testament. It forms part of the foundation on which the New Testament structure was to be reared. And among the Gospels, which together constitute this foundation, it is rightly put in the first place. It is, as it were, a connecting link between the Old Testament and the New. As the Old Testament had reference to the Jews only, so the Gospel of Matthew is written for the old covenant people. And it is clearly linked to the Old Testament by its continual reference to the prophets. The permanent spiritual value of this Gospel is that it sets forth in clear outline Christ as the One promised of old; and, in harmony with the prophetic literature, especially as the great divine King, before whom the Church of all ages must bow down in adoration.

The Gospel of Mark



We may divide the contents of Mark’s Gospel, that treats of Christ as the mighty Worker, into five parts:
I. The Advent of the mighty Worker, 1:1–2:12. Jesus is heralded as the mighty One by John the Baptist, and proclaimed as the Son of God by the Father, 1:1–13. After calling some of his disciples, He taught the Galilean multitudes as one having authority, worked mighty miracles among them, as the casting out of demons, the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, the cleansing of a leper, etc., and showed His authority to forgive sins, 1:14–2:12.
II. The Conflict of the mighty Worker, 2:12–8:26. In connection with the feast of Levi, the fact that the apostles did not fast, and that they plucked ears of corn on the sabbath, Jesus gives the Pharisees instruction regarding the purpose of his coming, and the moral character of the requirements of his Kingdom, 2:13–3:8. The healing of the man with the withered hand leads to the enmity of Pharisees and Herodians, which caused the withdrawal of Jesus. The Lord now chose twelve apostles and continued his mighty works, so that even his friends and relatives sought to restrain him, and his enemies claimed that He did them through the power of the devil, 3:9–35. Next we find him teaching the people regarding the origin, the quiet growth, independent of man’s efforts, and the future strength of the Kingdom of God, 4:1–34. His divine power shines forth in his calming the sea, his curing the demoniacs in the land of the Gadarenes and the woman that had the issue of blood, and his raising the daughter of Jairus, 4:36–5:43. He finds no faith at Nazareth, and now sends out the twelve into the cities of Galilee, 6:1–13. Herod, hearing of Christ, stands in awe of him, believing him to be John the Baptist, whom he beheaded, 6:14–29. Withdrawing with the twelve to a desert place, He feeds the five thousand, and after that shows his power over nature by walking on the sea, 6:30–56. The Pharisees accost him, because his disciples eat bread with unclean hands, 7:1–23. He now cures the daughter of the Syro-Phœnician woman and the deaf and dumb man at Decapolis, where He also feeds the four thousand, 7:24–8:9. Once more the Pharisees ask him for a sign. Leaving them, He restores the sight of the blind man at Bethsaida, 8:10–26.
III. The Claim of the mighty Worker, 8:27–13:37. The Lord shows the necessity of his suffering, leads his disciples to confess him as Messiah, and points out what is required of them, 8:27–38. His power and glory are seen in the transfiguration and in the miracle following this, 9:1–29. Then follows a second revelation of his future suffering, followed by teachings regarding humility and offenses, 9:30–50. In Perea Christ, tempted by the Pharisees, gives his opinion on the question of divorce; then He blesses little children and points out the way of life to the young ruler, 10:1–31. For the third time He reveals his future suffering, and prepares his disciples for a life of service, 10:32–45. At Jericho He restores the sight of Bar-timeus. Next he enters Jerusalem amid loud hosannas, curses the fig-tree and cleanses the temple, 10:46–11:26. In the temple He reveals his superiority by answering the questions of Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians, and points to himself as Davids Lord, 11:27–12:44. Then he speaks of his coming in glory, 13.
IV. The Sacrifice of the mighty Worker, 14:1–15:47. Preparation is made for Jesus’ death by the Sanhedrin and Judas on the one hand, and by Mary of Bethany on the other, 14:1–11. The passover is eaten and the Lord’s supper instituted, 14:12–25: In Gethsemane follows bitter agony and captivity, 14:26–52. Then the Lord is tried and condemned by the Sanhedrin and by Pilate, and finally He is crucified, 14:53–15:47.
V. The mighty Worker as Conqueror of Death, 16:1–20. Women go to the grave on the first day of the week and are directed by the angels to go to Galilee, 16:1–8. The Lord appears several times, gives blessed promises, and at last ascends to heaven, 14:9–20.

There are certain characteristics by which the Gospel of Mark is distinguished from the other Gospels:
1. The most striking peculiarity of the second Gospel is its descriptive character. It is Mark’s constant aim to picture the scenes of which he speaks in lively colours. There are many minute observations in his work that are not found in the other Synoptics, some of which point to its autoptic character. He mentions the look of anger that Christ cast on the hypocrites about him, 3:5; relates the miracles, performed immediately after the transfiguration, with greater circumstantiality than the other Gospels, 9:9–29; tells of Jesus taking little children in his arms and blessing them, 9:36; 10:16; remarks that Jesus, looking at the young ruler, loved him, 10:21, etc.
2. This Gospel contains comparatively little of the teaching of Jesus; it rather brings out the greatness of our Lord by pointing to his mighty works, and in doing this does not follow the exact chronological order. Teaching is subordinate to action, though we cannot maintain that it is ignored altogether. Mark, though considerably smaller than Matthew, contains all the miracles narrated by the latter except five, and besides has three that are not found in Matthew. Of the eighteen miracles in Luke, Mark has twelve and four others above this number.
3. In the Gospel of Mark several words of Christ that were directed against the Jews are left out, such as we find in Mt. 3:7–10; 8:5–13; 15:24, etc. On the other hand more Jewish customs and Aramaic words are explained than in the first Gospel, f. i. 2:18; 7:3; 14:12; 15:6, 42; 3:17; 5:41; 7:11, 34; 14:36. The argument from prophecy has not the large place here that it has in Matthew.
4. The style of Mark is more lively than that of Matthew, though not as smooth. He delights in using words like εὐθύς or εὐθέως and πολύς, prefers the use of the present and the imperfect to that of the aorist, and often uses the periphrastic εἶναι with a participle instead of the finite verb. There are several Latinisms found in his Gospel, as κεντυρίων κορδάντης, κράββατος, πραιτώριον, σπεκουλάτωρ and φραγελλοῦν.

Just as in the case of Matthew we are entirely dependent on external testimony for the name of the author of the second Gospel. And the voice of antiquity is unanimous in ascribing it to Mark. The most ancient testimony to this effect is that of Papias, who says: “Mark, the interpreter of Peter, wrote down carefully all that he recollected, though he did not [record] in order that which was either said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him; but subsequently, as I have said, [attached himself to] Peter, who used to frame his teaching to meet the [immediate] wants [of his hearers]; and not as making a connected narrative of the Lord’s discourses. So Mark committed no error, as he wrote down some particulars just as he called them to mind. For he took heed to one thing—to omit none of the facts that he heard, and to state nothing falsely in [his narrative] of them.” Several other church fathers, such as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Jerome, Eusebius, e. a., follow in his wake; there is not a dissentient voice.
We cannot glean a single hint from the Gospel itself as to the identity of the author. It may be that the obscure young man who followed Jesus in the night of his betrayal. 14:51, 52, and who, stripped of his garment fled naked in the darkness of night, was the author himself. The house of Mark’s mother was at least in later time a rendezvous for the disciples of the Lord, Acts 12:12; so that it is not improbable that Jesus and his disciples ate the Paschal supper there, and that Mark, hearing them depart, left his bed and stole after them. This would immediately explain the acquaintance of the author with this interesting fact.
Some scholars have expressed doubt as to the identity of Mark, the evangelist, and John Mark, the companion of Barnabas and Paul. The general consensus of opinion, however, favors this. Proceeding on the assumption that this view is correct, we find Mark mentioned first in connection with Peter’s deliverance from prison in 44 A. D. After leaving the prison walls the apostle went to “the house of Mary, the mother of John, whose surname was Mark,” Acts 12:12. From the way in which Luke introduces his mother we gather that Mark was a well known person, when the Acts were written. The fact that Peter calls him his son, 1 Peter 5:13 naturally leads to the supposition that in his early years he had frequent intercourse with the apostle and was through the instrumentality of Peter led to a saving knowledge of the truth. He was a cousin of Barnabas and hence a Jew, probably even of a priestly family, Acts 4:36. When Barnabas and Paul set out on their first missionary journey, Mark accompanied them until they came to Pamphylia, when for some unknown, but as it seems reprehensible reason, he turned back. At the beginning of the second missionary journey he was minded to accompany the apostles again, but Paul positively refused to accept his services. He now accompanied his uncle to Cyprus. When we next hear of Mark, about ten years later, he is spoken of by Paul as one of those few “fellow-laborers that have been a consolation to him,” Col. 4:10; Philem. 24. In his last letter the apostle speaks of Mark once more, and in such a laudatory manner as to prove that Mark has fully regained his confidence, 2 Tim. 4:11. The last we hear of Mark in Scripture is, when Peter sends the greetings of Mark, his son, to the Christians in Asia Minor, 1 Peter 5:13. These four passages lead us to the following construction of his later history: He was with Paul during the apostle’s first imprisonment at Rome and then intended to visit the congregation of Colossæ. We have no reason to doubt that he carried out this purpose. After Paul’s release Mark was at Rome with Peter, who in writing to the Christians of Asia Minor assumes that they know Mark. Apparently he made another visit to Asia Minor, since Paul requests Timothy, 2 Tim. 4:11 to take Mark with him, when he comes to Rome. After the death of Peter he is said to have visited Alexandria, where he was the first to found Christian churches, and finally died a martyr’s death. This tradition, though old, is not without suspicion.
It seems that Mark was “like Peter more a man of action than of deep and abiding principle, a man of fervor and enthusiasm rather than of persevering effort; but he was transfused by the power of the same Christ who transfused Peter into the man of rapid, continued and effective effort in the missionary work of the Church.” Gregory, Why Four Gospels, p. 163.
The relation of Mark to Peter deserves special attention. Scripture speaks of this in the two places already mentioned, and tradition abundantly testifies to it. Papias says that “Mark was Peter’s interpreter and wrote down carefully all that he recollected.” Clement of Alexandria also says that he wrote down the discourses of Peter, as he remembered them. Irenaeus, Tertullian and Jerome all style Mark “the interpreter of Peter.” Tertullian even says that “the Gospel published by Mark may be reckoned Peter’s, whose interpreter he was.” And Origen still stronger: “Mark wrote his Gospel according to the dictates of Peter.” Similarly Athanasius. All these testimonies agree in asserting that Mark was dependent on Peter in writing his Gospel; they disagree, however, as to the degree of dependence, some claiming merely that Mark recorded what he remembered of Peter’s preaching, and others, that he wrote what Peter dictated. Which representation is the true one?
The title of the Gospel is against the dictation theory, for if Peter had dictated the Gospel, it would in all probability have been called by his name, just as the Epistles dictated by Paul are universally ascribed to him. On the other hand the autoptic touches in the Gospel make it probable that in some parts of his work Mark employed the very words of Peter; they also suggest a possible basis for the later tradition that Peter dictated to Mark. However, it is not impossible that some of the Church fathers accentuated the dependence of Mark on Peter unduly, merely to enhance the authority of his work. The true relation of the evangelist to the apostle is expressed in the words: “Mark was the interpreter (ἑρμηνευτής) of Peter.” This does not mean that he accompanied Peter on his missionary journeys as dragoman, translating Aramaeic discourses into Greek (Davidson), or Greek into Latin (Bleek); but that he was Peter’s scholar and in his Gospel interprets i. e. sets forth the doctrine of Peter for those who have not heard the apostle.
The Gospel itself incidentally testifies to the relation in which it stands to Peter. There are many touches that indicate first-hand knowledge, as in 1:16–20; 1:29; 9:5; 14:54, 72; 16:7. Some things found in the other Synoptics are unexpectedly omitted by Mark, as Peter’s walking on the water, Mt. 14:29; his appearance in the incident of the tribute money, Mt. 17:24–27; the statement of Christ that He prayed for Peter individually, Lk. 22:32; the significant word spoken to him as the Rock, Mt. 16:18. In other cases his name is suppressed, where it is used by Matthew or Luke, as 7:17 cf. Mt. 15:15; 14:13 cf. Lk. 22:8.
The authorship of Mark is quite generally admitted; yet there are some, such as Beischlag and Davidson e. a. who deny it. They maintain that our present Gospel does not tally with the description of Papias, where he says that Mark wrote down the things he heard of Peter “not in order.” Wendt supposes that Papias had in mind a series of narratives that are embodied in our present Gospel, a sort of Urmarkus. But when Papias said that the evangelist wrote “not in order,” he did not say anything that is not true of our Mark, for in it we do not find things in the order of their occurrence. And in ancient literature there is not a single trace of an Urmarkus.

1. Readers and Purpose. External testimony enlightens us respecting the circle for which the Gospel of Mark was intended; it points to Rome and the Romans. Clement of Alexandria says that many of the converts of Rome desired of Mark that he should write down the discourses of Peter. Jerome also speaks of this “request of the brethren at Rome”; and Gregory Nazianzen says: “Mark wrote his Gospel for the Italians.” If we now turn to the Gospel itself, we find that it was peculiarly adapted to the Romans. They were a strenuous, a very active people; Mark’s Gospel is pre-eminently the Gospel of action, and is written in a brisk lively style. The fact that the argument from prophecy holds an inferior place in it, and that so many Jewish customs and Aramæic words are explained, points away from the Jews; while the Latin words contained in the gospel, the reference to the Roman manner of divorce, 10:12, the reduction of a coin to the Roman quadrans, 12:42, the knowledge of Pilate presupposed in 15:1 (cf. Mt. 27:1 and Lk. 3:1), and the introduction of Simon of Cyrene as the father of Alexander and Rufus, 15:21 (cf. Rom. 16:13),—all point to Rome.
It stands to reason that the purpose of Mark in writing stood in the closest relation to the circle of readers for whom he intended his Gospel. It is certainly true, as Zahn asserts, that his intention was to record the beginning (ἀρχή) of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, i. e. the beginning of its preaching and of its course; but he has this in common with the other Synoptics; it is nothing distinctive (cf. p. 58 above). The theory of Hilgenfeld and Davidson, following Baur, that the Gospel of Mark was written to conciliate the two opposing parties of the apostolic age, the Petrine and the Pauline, and therefore carefully avoids the exclusivism of Matthew as well as the universalism of Luke can only be sustained by the most forced and artificial interpretations. Neither does the gospel support the view of Weiss, that it was written at a time, when the hope of Christ’s second coming was on the decline, and intended to show that the Messianic character of Jesus, mission was sufficiently attested by His earthly life. Mark’s aim was simply to record the gospel narrative without any special dogmatic aim, but to do this in such a manner as would be most suitable for the Romans, the busy Romans, the people of action. Hence he places special emphasis on the acts of Christ. For those who loved conquest and admired heroism he desired to picture Christ as the mighty Conqueror that overcame sin and all its consequences, yea even death itself.
2. Time and Place. As to the time when Mark wrote his Gospel the witness of the early Church is not unanimous. Irenaeus says that after the death of Peter and Paul Mark wrote down what he had heard Peter preach. Clement of Alexandria places the composition of the Gospel before the death of Peter, stating that, when Peter heard of it, “he neither obstructed nor encouraged the work.” Jerome informs us that Peter “approved and published it in our churches, commanding the reading of it by his own authority.” Others say that Peter dictated to Mark. The question to be decided is therefore, whether Mark wrote before or after the death of Peter. It is generally assumed that the testimony of Irenaeus is the most trustworthy. It is possible that some of the later Church fathers insisted on Mark’s having written the Gospel during the life of Peter, in order to clothe it with apostolic authority. Zahn would harmonize the testimony of the fathers by assuming that Mark began his work before and finished it after the death of the apostle; and that Peter on hearing of Mark’s venture at first said nothing regarding it; then, seeing a part of the work, rejoiced in it; and still later, when it had almost reached its perfect form, sanctioned it, Einl. II p. 203.
Turning to the Gospel itself, we find that it contains no positive evidence as to the time of its composition. Some inferred from 13:24 as compared with Mt. 24:29 that it was written after the destruction of Jerusalem, the evangelist being conscious of the lapse of a certain period between that catastrophe and the day of Christ’s return. But the foundation is too slender for the conclusion. With greater probability others infer from 13:14, “let him that readeth understand,” that the destruction of the city was still a matter of expectation. This seems to follow also from Mark’s utter silence regarding that calamity. The probable conclusion is therefore that the year 70 A. D. is the terminus ad quem for the composition of this Gospel. From Col. 4:10 we may infer that it was written after 62 A. D., for if Paul had known Mark as an evangelist, he would most likely have introduced him as such. A place of still greater importance is 2 Peter 1:15. “Yea I will give diligence that at every time ye may be able after my decease to call these things to remembrance.” Here Peter seems to promise that there will be a record of his preaching after his demise. We would therefore date the Gospel between 67 and 70 A. D. Davidson without good reasons places it in the beginning of the second century, about 125 A. D. Regarding the grounds for his position, (1) that in this Gospel belief in the divinity of Christ is more pronounced than in the first century; and (2) that the word εὐαγγέλιον is used in a sense foreign to the apostolic age, we merely remark that they are both unproved assumptions.
The testimony of the fathers points, almost without a dissenting voice, to Rome as the place, where Mark composed his gospel. Chrysostom, however, testifies that “Mark wrote in Egypt at the request of the believers there. But in another statement he admits that he really knows nothing about it.
3. Method. Augustine called Mark “the abridger of Matthew,” assuming that the second Gospel was an abbreviated compilation from the first. This theory has since been defended by several scholars of the Tübingen school, but is now abandoned. The general features of the Gospel do not bear out that view. Zahn finds that Mark based his Gospel both on the oral communications of Peter and on the Hebrew Matthew, Einl. II p. 322. Davidson denies the originality and priority of the Gospel by making it depend to a great extent on Matthew and Luke, Introd. I p. 478. Salmon finds throughout the Gospel many evidences of the priority and independence of Mark, but believes that in other places he is, with Matthew and Luke, dependent on a common source, Introd. p. 155. The prevalent opinion at present is that Mark’s Gospel was prior to the other two, though, at least according to some, he may have employed the λογια of Matthew. But in order to maintain this priority its defenders have resorted to such artificial and unlikely theories that they in part defeated their own purpose. The theory of an Urmarkus has been broached, but found little acceptance. The opinion of Dr. Arthur Wright that we must distinguish between a proto-, a deutero- and a trito Mark, a distinction applied to oral tradition by him, is now by others applied to written documents. Cf. Holdsworth, Gospel Origins p. 108.
Here again the great difference of opinion proves that it is quite impossible to trace in all details the origin of the material found in this Gospel. The great objection to several of the theories propounded is that they seek to account for the origin of Mark in a too mechanical way. We may be certain of two things: (1) that Mark derived the greatest part of his material from the preaching of Peter that had gradually assumed a definite shape in his mind; and (2) that he has recorded partly the ipsissima verba of Peter (except for the occasional change of we into they), and partly merely the substance of the apostles κήρυγμα in a form and with interpretations of his own. For the rest of his material he probably depended on the Hebrew original of Matthew.

The integrity of the Gospel of Mark is generally maintained, with the exception, however, of the last twelve verses, regarding which there is a great difference of opinion. The critical camp of the past century is just about equally divided, although at present the tide is somewhat against these verses. The reasons for rejecting them are both external and internal. These verses are wanting in the two oldest and most valuable manuscripts, viz. the Sinaitic and the Vatican. Eusebius and Jerome and a few others state that they were wanting in almost all the Greek copies of the gospels of their time. It is possible, however, that the testimony of Jerome and the rest resolves itself into that of Eusebius. This is all but certain with respect to that of Jerome, as even Davidson admits. They are wanting also in the important MS. k, representing the African text of the old Latin Version, which has another and shorter conclusion, like that in MS. L. They are also absent from some of the best MSS. of the Armenian Version. Then the style of this section is abrupt and sententious, not graphic like that of the rest of the Gospel. It makes the impression of a collection of brief notices, extracted from larger accounts and loosely combined. Its phraseology is also peculiar. Thus πρώτῃ σαββάτου, verse 9 is used instead of ἡ μία τῶν σαββάτωυ, as in 16:2. The verb πορεύεσθαι, which occurs three times in this section, is not found in the body of the Gospel. Neither is the word θεᾶσθαι, 16:11, 14. Another unique feature is the use of ὁ κύριος as a designation of Christ, verses 19, 20.
These verses have also found ardent defenders, however, among whom especially Dean Burgon must be named, though he is perhaps a little too positive. In his work on, “The last Twelve Verses of the Gospel according to Mark,” he put up an able defense. The authenticity of this section is favored by the following considerations: It is found in most of the uncial MSS. and in all the cursives, though some of these mark it with an asterisk, or indicate that it was absent in older copies. Moreover its absence from Aleph and B looks somewhat suspicious. It is also incorporated in most of the ancient Versions, of which the Itala, the Curatorian and Peshito Syriac, and the Coptic are older than any of our Greek codices. All the existing Greek and Syriac lectionaries, as far as they have now been examined, contain these verses. Irenaeus quotes the 19th verse as a part of the Gospel of Mark. Justin Martyr too in all probability testifies to the authenticity of these verses. And several of the later fathers, such as Epiphanius, Ambrose and Augustine certainly quote from them. And as far as internal evidence is concerned, it seems very unlikely that Mark would end his Gospel with the words ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ, without recording a single appearance of the Lord. Moreover these verses contain too many peculiarities to be a forgery.
We cannot delay to discuss the causes for the variation of the MSS, nor to review the different conclusions to which scholars have come as to the extent of Mark’s Gospel. They who wish to study the subject can do so in the work of Burgon, in the Introductions of Guericke and Salmon and in Urquhart’s New Biblical Guide VII, where this section is defended; and in the work of Westcott and Hort, “The New Testament in Greek,” and in the Introductions of Reuss, Weiss, Davidson and Zahn, who reject it.
It seems to us that the ground offered for the rejection of these verses by external testimony is rather slender and uncertain, while the internal evidence is weighty indeed. In view of it we are inclined to accept one of two possible conclusions: either that Mark himself added these verses some time after he had written his Gospel, possibly culling his material from Matthew and Luke; or that someone else wrote them to complete the work. The latter is favored by the Armenian Gospel that was written in 986 and was discovered by F. C. Conybeare in 1891, and which has the superscription above this section: “Of the Presbyter Ariston.” In either case we see no reason, however, to doubt the canonicity of this part of Mark’s Gospel, though some have attempted to make this suspicious especially by pointing to the unlikely (?) miracles of verses 17, 18. Cf. Luke 10:19.

Though the external testimony to the canonicity of Mark’s Gospel is not so abundant as that for the Gospel of Matthew, yet it is sufficient to establish this beyond a shadow of doubt. It is quoted by at least two of the apostolic fathers, by Justin Martyr and by the three great witnesses of the end of the second century, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian, and is referred to as a part of the Word of God by several others. We find no expressions of doubt in the early Church.
The special purpose of this Gospel in the canon is to show us Christ in his divine power, destroying the works of satan, and conquering sin and death. More than other Gospels it places prominently before us the work of Christ in behalf of those that are bound by the shackles of satan and are suffering the consequences of sin. We here see the Lion out of the tribe of Juda, conquering and ever to conquer. Mark is the only one of the evangelists that speaks of the future Kingdom of God as coming with power, 9:1. In that way this Gospel has special significance for the Church of all ages. It gives her the blessed assurance that her future is entrusted to One who has shown himself a mighty Conqueror, and who is abundantly able to save to the uttermost all who believe in Him.

The Gospel of Luke



Like the contents of the previous Gospels we may also divide those of Luke’s into five parts:
I. The Advent of the Divine Man, 1–4:13. After stating his aim the evangelist describes the announcement from heaven of the forerunner, John the Baptist, and of Christ himself, and their birth with the attendant circumstances, 1:1–2:20. Then he shows that Christ was made subject to the law in circumcision, in the presentation in the temple, and in his journey to Jerusalem, 2:21–52. He traces the descent of the Son of Man to Adam, and points out that He was prepared for his work by baptism and temptation, 3:1–4:13.
II. The Work of the Divine Man for the Jewish World, 4:14–9:50. In this part we first see Christ preaching in the synagogues of Nazareth, Capernaum and all Galilee; performing many miracles in Capernaum and by the sea of Galilee, such as the curing of Peter’s mother-in-law, the wonderful draught of fishes, the cleansing of the leper, and the healing of the palsied man; calling Levi to follow him; and instructing his enemies regarding his authority, his purpose, and the moral character of his demands, as a result of which many were amazed and Pharisees and Scribes were filled with hatred, 4:14–6:11. After a night of prayer the Lord now chooses his twelve disciples and proclaims the constitution of his Kingdom, 6:12–49. He cures the centurion’s servant, raises the widow’s son, and gives instruction by word and example regarding the nature of his work and the character of the subjects of his Kingdom, 7:1–49. The origin of the Kingdom is now illustrated in the parable of the sower, and the divine power of Christ over both the natural and the spiritual world is shown in the stilling of the storm, in the deliverance of the Gadarene demoniac, in his curing the woman with the issue of blood and raising the daughter of Jairus, 8:1–56. The twelve are sent out and on their return Christ retires with them to a desert place, where He miraculously feeds the five thousand, after which He once and again announced his future suffering and was transfigured on the Mount, 9:1–50.
III. The Work of the Divine Man for the Gentiles, 9:51–18:30. Jesus in traveling towards Jerusalem sends messengers before him, but these are rejected by the Samaritans; then He sends out the seventy, who return with a good report, teaches that neighborly love is not to be restricted to the Jews (good Samaritan), and gives his disciples instruction regarding prayer, 9:51–11:13. The Pharisees now claim that Christ casts out the devils through Beelzebub, in answer to which He pictures their condition, and when they tempt him in various ways, pronounces his woe upon them and warns his disciples against them, 11:14–12:12. In connection with the parable of the rich fool the Lord warns against covetousness and anxious care, and bids his disciples to be prepared for the day of his coming, 12:13–53. Sitting at meat in the house of a Pharisee, He teaches those present true mercy, true humility, true hospitality, and the fact that they, having refused the supper of the Lord, will be rejected, 14:1–24. Next the necessity of self-denial is impressed on those that would follow Jesus, and in three parables the Pharisees are made acquainted with the real purpose of his coming, 14:25–15:32. The disciples are instructed in the careful use of their earthly possessions, and to the Pharisees the law of retribution is explained, 16:1–31. In various ways the Lord impresses on his followers the necessity of a forgiving spirit, of humility, of faith and gratitude, of constant prayer with a view to the unexpected character of his coming, of trusting in God and of self-denial,—all ending in everlasting salvation, 17:1–18:30.
IV. The Sacrifice of the Divine Man for all Mankind, 18:31–23:49. Jesus announces once more his future suffering and death, at Jericho restores the sight of a blind man and calls Zaccheus, and points out to his followers that his Kingdom would not immediately come, 18:32–19:27. Triumphantly He enters Jerusalem, where He cleanses the temple, answers the questions of the Chief Priests, the Scribes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and instructs his followers regarding his future coming, 19:28–21:38. After eating the passover with his disciples He was betrayed, condemned and crucified, 22:1–23:56.
V. The Divine Man Saviour of all Nations, 24. On the morning of the first day Christ arose; women seek him in the grave; He appears to two of his disciples on the way to Emmaus, to the eleven, and finally departs from them with the promise of the Spirit.

The following are the most important characteristics of the third Gospel:
1. In point of completeness it surpasses the other Synoptics, beginning, as it does, with a detailed narrative of the birth of John the Baptist and of Christ himself, and ending with a record of the ascension from the Mount of Olives. In distinction from Matthew and Mark this Gospel even contains an allusion to the promise of the Father, 24:29, and thus points beyond the old dispensation to the new that would be ushered in by the coming of the Holy Spirit. The detailed narrative of Christ’s going to Jerusalem in 9:51–18:14 is also peculiar to this gospel.
2. Christ is set before us in this Gospel as the perfect Man with wide sympathies. The genealogy of Jesus is trace back through David and Abraham to Adam, our common progenitor, thus presenting him as one of our race. We are told of the truly human development both in body and spirit of Jesus in 2:40–52, and of his dependence on prayer in the most important crises of His life, 3:21; 9:29. Those features of the Lord s miracles of healing are clearly brought out that show his great sympathy. “Peter’s mother-in-law suffers from a great fever; and the leper is full of leprosy. The hand restored on the sabbath is the right hand, the centurion’s servant is one dear to him, the son of the widow of Nain, is an only son, the daughter of Jairus an only daughter, the epileptic boy at the hill of transfiguration is an only child.” Bruce, The Expositor’s Greek Testament I p. 47.
3. Another feature of this Gospel is its universality. It comes nearer than other Gospels to the Pauline doctrine of salvation for all the world, and of salvation by faith, without the works of the law. In the synagogue at Nazareth Christ points out that God might again deal with the Jews as He had done in the days of Elijah and Elishah, 4:25–27; He declares that the faith of the centurion was greater than any He had found in Israel, 7:2–10; sends messengers before his face into Samaria, 9:52–56; demands love of Israel even for the Samaritans, 10:30–37; heals the Samaritan leper as well as the others, 17:11–19; and speaks the significant word: “Blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it, 11:28.
4. More than the other evangelists Luke relates his narrative to contemporaneous history and indicates the time of the occurrences. It was in the days of king Herod that the birth of John the Baptist and Christ was announced, 1:1, 26; during the reign of Caesar Augustus, that Christ was born, 2:1; while Cyrenius was governor of Syria, that the taxation took place, 2:2; in the fifteenth year of Tiberias, etc., that Christ was baptized and began his public ministry, 3:1, 2. Notice also the following chronological indications: 1:36, 56, 59; 2:42; 3:23; 9:28, 37, 51; 22:1, 7. We should not infer from the foregoing, however, that Luke furnishes us with a chronological record of the Lord’s public ministry. Very indefinite expressions of time are found throughout the Gospel, as: “and it came to pass, when he was in a certain city,” 5:12; “and it came to pass on a certain day,” 5:17; “and it came to pass also on another sabbath,” 6:6, etc.
5. Luke writes a purer Greek than any of the other evangelists, but this is evident only, where he does not closely follow his sources. The Greek of the preface is of remarkable purity, but aside from this the first and second chapters are full of Hebraisms. Of the rest of the Gospel some parts approach very closely to classical Greek, while others are tinged with Hebrew expressions. Plummer says: “The author of the Third Gospel and of the Acts is the most versatile of all the New Testament writers. He can be as Hebraistic as the LXX, and as free from Hebraisms as Plutarch.” Comm. on Luke in International Crit. Comm. p. XLIX. His style is also very picturesque; he tries to make us see things, just as the eyewitnesses saw them. Moreover his Gospel contains 312 words that are peculiar to him. Several of these are ἅπαξ λεγόμενα. There are also five Latin words, viz. δηνάριον, λεγεών, σουδάριον, ἀσσάριον and μόδιος. Cf. lists in Plummer’s Comm. and Davidson’s Introd.

Though the author speaks of himself explicitly in the preface of his Gospel, we are dependent on tradition for his name. And here again the testimony of the fathers is unanimous. Irenaeus asserts that “Luke, the companion of Paul, put down in a book the Gospel preached by him.” With this agrees the testimony of Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, Gregory, Nazianze, Jerome, e. a.
The Gospel itself offers us no direct collateral testimony. Yet there are certain features that strengthen our belief in the authorship of Luke. In the first place the writer evidently looks at things with the eye of a physician. In 1882 Dr. Hobart published a work on, The Medical Language of St. Luke, showing that in many instances the evangelist uses the technical language that was also used by Greek medical writers, as παραλελυμἐνος, 5:18, 24 (the other Gospels have παραλύτικος); συνεχομένη πυρετῷ μεγάλῳ, 4:38; ἔστη ἡ ῥύσις τοῦ ἅιματος, 8:44 (cf. Mt. 5:29); ἀνεκάθισεν, 7:14, Luke carefully distinguishes demoniacal possession from disease, 4:18; 13:32; states exactly the age of the dying person, 8:42; and the duration of the affliction in 13:11. He only relates the miracle of the healing of Malchus’ ear. All these things point to Luke, “the beloved physician.”
In the second place there is what has been called the Paulinism of Luke. This has sometimes been emphasized unduly, no doubt, but it certainly is a characteristic feature of the third Gospel, and is just what we would expect in a writing of Paul’s companion.
In the third place we find great similarity between this Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. If Luke wrote the latter, he also composed the former. The general opinion is expressed by Knowling in his introduction to the book of Acts, in the Expositor’s Greek Testament II p. 3: “Whoever wrote the Acts wrote also the Gospel which bears the name of Luke.” It is true that there are more Hebraisms in the Gospel than in Acts, but this is due to the fact that the writer in composing the former was more dependent on written sources than he was in writing the latter.
The only certain knowledge we have of Luke is derived from the Acts of the Apostles and from a few passages in the Epistles of Paul. From Col. 4:11, 14 it appears that he was not a Jew and that his wordly calling was that of a physician. Eusebius and Jerome state that he was originally from Antioch in Syria, which may be true; but it is also possible that their statement is due to a mistaken derivation of the name Luke from Lucius (cf. Acts 13:1) instead of from Lucanus. The testimony of Origen makes us suspect this. Theophylact and Euthymius had the mistaken opinion that he was one of the Seventy sent out by our Lord. This is refuted by the preface of the Gospel, where Luke clearly distinguishes himself from those that saw and heard the Lord. Apparently the evangelist joined the company of Paul and his co-laborers on the second missionary journey at Troas. This may be inferred from the beginning of the we-sections in Acts 16:10. The first one of these sections ends at 16:17, so that Luke probably remained at Philippi. He stayed there, so it seems, until Paul returned from Greece on his third missionary journey, for in Acts 20:5 we suddenly come upon the plural pronoun of the first person again. Then he evidently accompanied the apostle to Jerusalem, 20:6, 13, 14, 15; 21:1–17. In all probability he was with Paul at Cæsarea, 27:1, from where he accompanied the apostle to Rome, 27:1–28:16. He remained at Rome during the first imprisonment, Col. 4:14; Philem. 24, and was according to these passages a beloved friend and fellow-laborer of the apostle. And when the great missionary of the gentiles was imprisoned for the second time, Luke was the only one with him, 2 Tim. 4:11, and thus gave evidence of his great attachment to Paul. The last part of Luke’s life is involved in obscurity. Nothing certain can be gathered from the conflicting testimony of the fathers. Some claim that he gained a martyr’s crown; others, that he died a natural death.
The question must be asked, whether Paul was in any way connected with the composition of the third Gospel. The testimony of the early Church is very uncertain on this point. Tertullian says: “Luke’s digest is often ascribed to Paul. And indeed it is easy to take that for the master’s which is published by the disciples.” According to Eusebius, “Luke hath delivered in his Gospel a certain amount of such things as he had been assured of by his intimate acquaintance and familiarity with Paul, and his connection with the other apostles.” With this the testimony of Jerome agrees. Athanasius states that the Gospel of Luke was dictated by the apostle Paul. In view of the preface of the gospel we may be sure that the Church fathers exaggerate the influence of Paul in the composition of this Gospel, possibly to give it apostolic authority. Paul’s relation to the third Gospel differs from that of Peter to the second; it is not so close. Luke did not simply write what he remembered of the preaching of Paul, much less did he write according to the dictation of the apostle, for he himself says that he traced everything from the beginning and speaks of both oral and written sources that were at his command. Among these oral sources we must, of course, also reckon the preaching of Paul. That the great apostle did influence Luke’s representation of “the beginning of the Gospel,” is very evident. There are 175 words and expressions in the gospel that are peculiar to Luke and Paul. Cf. Plummer p. LIV. Besides, as we have already seen, some of the leading ideas of Paul are found in the third gospel, such as the universality of the Gospel, the necessity of faith, and the use of the word διακαιόω in a forensic sense, 7:29; 10:29; 16:15; 18:14. A striking resemblance exists also between Luke’s account of the institution of the Lord s supper, 22:19–20. and Paul’s memoir of this in 1 Cor. 11:23–25, but this may be due to the use of a common source.
The Lukan authorship of the Gospel was generally accepted up to the time, when Rationalism began its attacks on the books of the Bible. The Tübingen school, notably F. C. Baur, maintained that the Gospel of Marcion, who began to teach at Rome in 140 A. D., was the original of our Gospel. Others followed where Baur led. In later years, however, critical opinion wheeled about completely and the opinion is generally held that Marcion’s Gospel is a mutilation of Luke’s, though in some parts it may represent another and even an older text. This, of course, made it possible again to maintain the authorship of Luke. But even now there are several German scholars who doubt that Luke wrote the Gospel, and Harnack’s protest against their contention seems ineffective. Their objections to the Lukan authorship are based on the Acts of the Apostles rather than on the Gospel, but, as has been intimated, the two stand or fall together. We shall consider these objections, when we treat of Acts.

1. Readers and Purpose. The Gospel of Luke was first of all intended for Theophilus, who is addressed as “most excellent Theophilus” in 1:3, and is also mentioned in Acts 1:1. We have no means of determining who this Theophilus was. It has been supposed by some that the name was a general one, applied to every Christian, as a beloved one or a friend of God. But the general opinion now is, and rightly so, that it is the name of an individual, probably a Greek. The fact that he is addressed by Luke in the same manner as Felix, 23:26, 24:3, and Festus, 26:25 are addressed, led to the conclusion that he was a person of high station. Baljon thinks he was undoubtedly a Gentile Christian, while Zahn regards him as a Gentile who had not yet accepted Christ, since Luke would have addressed a brother differently. It is generally agreed, however, that the Gospel was not intended for Theophilus only, but was simply addressed to him as the representative of a large circle of readers. Who were these first readers of the gospel? Origen says that the third gospel was composed “for the sake of the Gentile converts;” Gregory Nazianze, more definitely: “Luke wrote for the Greeks.” Now it is quite evident from the gospel itself that the evangelist is not writing for the Jews. He never gives the words of Jesus in the Aramaeic language; instead of ἀμὴν λέγω he has ἀληθώς λέγω, 9:27; 12:44; 21:3; for γραμματεῖς he uses νομικόι, διδάσκαλος, 2:46; 7:30; 10:25; 11:45; and of many places in Palestine he gives a nearer definition. It is very probable that that Gospel of Luke was intended for the Greeks, because Paul labored primarily among them, Theophilus was in all probability a Greek, the preface of the gospel is in many respects like those found in Greek historians, and the whole Gospel is remarkably adjusted to the needs of the Greeks. Cf. for this last point especially Gregory, Why Four Gospels p. 207 ff.
The purpose of Luke is clearly stated in the preface, viz. that Theophilus and the Gentile readers in general might know the certainty of those things, wherein they had been instructed, 1:4. It is his desire to present clearly the truth of all Gospel facts. In order to do this, he aims at fulness of treatment; traces all things from the beginning; writes an orderly account of all that has happened, recording the sayings of the Lord in their original setting more than the other evangelists do, thus promoting definiteness and strengthening his representation of the reality of things; mentions the names not only of the principal actors in the Gospel history, but also those of others that were in any way connected with it, 2:1, 2; 3:1, 2; 7:40; 8:3; brings the Gospel facts in relation with secular history, 2:1, 2; 3:1, 2; and describes carefully the impression which the teachings of Christ made, 4:15, 22, 36; 5:8, 25; 6:11; 7:29; 8:37; 18:43; 19:37. From the contents of the Gospel we may further gather that it was the author’s nearer purpose to present Christ in a very acceptable way to the Greeks, viz. as the perfect man (cf. p. 91 above), as the sympathetic friend of the afflicted and the poor, 1:52; 2:7; 4:18; 6:20; 12:15 ff. 16:19, etc., and as the Saviour of the world, seeking those that are lost, 7:36–50; 15:1–32; 18:9–14; 19:1–10; 23:43.
2. Time and Place. Tradition tells us very little regarding the time, when Luke wrote his Gospel. According to Eusebius Clement of Alexandria received a tradition from presbyters of more ancient times “that the Gospels containing the genealogies were written first.” Theophylact says: “Luke wrote fifteen years after Christ’s ascension.” The testimony of Euthymius is to the same effect, while Eutichius states that Luke wrote his Gospel in the time of Nero. According to these testimonies the evangelist composed his Gospel possibly as early as 54, and certainly not later than 68 A. D.
Internal evidence is even more uncertain. Some infer from 21:24 that Luke realized that a certain time was to elapse between the destruction of Jerusalem and the final judgment, and therefore wrote after the destruction of the Holy City, a very inconclusive argument indeed, since this is a prophetic word of Christ. We might argue in favor of a date after the destruction of Jerusalem from the absence of the warning note that is found in both Matthew and Mark, but being an argument from silence even that does not prove the point. Several scholars, especially of the Tübingen school, date the Gospel near the end of the first or in the beginning of the second century. The main argument for this date is the supposed fact that Luke is in some parts of his Gospel dependent on the Antiquities of Josephus, a rather chimerical idea. Both Zahn and Weiss are of the opinion that Luke wrote after the destruction of Jerusalem, but not later than the year 80 A. D. Zahn settled on this terminus ad quem, because he considers it likely that Luke was a member of the Antiochian congregation as early as the year 40 A. D., and would therefore be very old in the year 80 A. D.; Weiss, since the evangelist evidently expected the second coming of Christ in his time, which was characteristic of the first generation after Christ. The great majority of conservative scholars place the composition of this Gospel somewhere between 58 and 63 A. D. The main arguments for this date are: (1) it is in harmony with ancient tradition; (2) it best explains the total silence of Luke regarding the destruction of Jerusalem; and (3) it is most in harmony with the dating of Acts in 63 A. D., which offers a good explanation of Luke’s silence with respect to the death of Paul.
As to the place, where the Gospel of Luke was written tradition points to Achaia and Boeotia. We have no means of controlling this testimony, however, so that it really leaves us in ignorance. Some of the modern guesses are, Rome, Cæsarea, Asia Minor, Ephesus, and Corinth.
3. Method. In view of the preface of Luke’s Gospel we have reason to believe that in the composition of it the evangelist depended on both oral tradition and written sources. In present day theories the emphasis is mainly placed on written sources, and the most prevalent hypothesis is that he employed the Gospel of Mark, either in the present form or in an earlier recension; the apostolic source Q or some διήγησις, containing this (from which two sources he derived mainly the matter that he has in common with Matthew and Mark); and a third main source of unknown character and authorship, from which he drew the narrative of the nativity, chs. 1, 2, and the account of the last journey to Jerusalem, contained in 9:51–18:14. Zahn also believes that Luke employed Mark as one of his sources, but does not attempt to give a nearer definition of the other sources used. The opinion that he drew part of his material from Josephus deserves but a passing notice. It seems to us that it is impossible to determine exactly what sources Luke used; all we can say is: (1) Having been an associate of Paul for several years, part of which he spent in Palestine, where he had abundant opportunity to meet other apostles and eyewitnesses of the Lord’s works, he must have gathered a large store of knowledge from oral tradition, which he utilized in the composition of his gospel. This accounts for a great deal of the matter which he has in common with Matthew and Mark. (2) During the time of his research in Palestine he also became acquainted with a goodly number of διηγήσεις, narratives of the Gospel facts, of which we can no more determine the exact nature, and drew on them for a part of his material. One of these probably contained the matter found in chs. 1 and 2, and in 9:51–18:14. (3) It does not seem likely that Luke read either the Gospel of Matthew or that of Mark, and classed them or either one of them with the previous attempts, on which he desired to improve. Oral tradition in connection with the guidance of the Holy Spirit is quite sufficient to explain the resemblance between these Gospels and that of Luke.

The canonicity of this Gospel is well attested. Says Alexander in his work on the Canon p. 177: “The same arguments by which the canonical authority of the Gospels of Matthew and Mark was established, apply with their full force to the Gospel of Luke. It was universally received as canonical by the whole primitive Church—has a place in every catalogue of the books of the New Testament, which was ever published—is constantly referred to and cited by the Fathers as a part of sacred Scripture—and was one of the books constantly read in the churches, as a part of the rule of faith and practice for all believers.” There are in all 16 witnesses before the end of the second century that testify to its use and general acceptance in the Church.
The gospel of Luke presents to us Christ especially as one of the human race, the Seed of the woman, in his saving work not only for Israel, but also for the Gentiles. Hence it pictures him as the friend of the poor and as seeking sinners, emphasizes the universality of the Gospel blessings, and distinctly bespeaks a friendly relation to the Samaritans. Its permanent spiritual value is that it reminds the Church of all ages that in every nation he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him; and that we have a great High Priest that was touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and was in all parts tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

The Gospel of John



The contents of the Gospel of John is also divided into five parts:
I. The Advent and Incarnation of the Word, 1:1–13. John takes his point of departure in the pre-existence and divine origin of Christ, and points out that He was heralded by John the Baptist, was the light of the world and gave believers the power to become the children of God.
II. The Incarnate Word the only Life of the World, 1:14–6:71. The evangelist records the testimony to the grace and truth of the incarnate Word given by John the Baptist and by Christ himself in word and deed, 1:14–2:11; and the self-revelation of Christ in the cleansing of the temple, 2:12–32; in the conversation with Nicodemus, 3:1–21; followed by the public testimony of John 3:22–36; in the conversation with the Samaritan woman, 4:1–42; and in the healing of the nobleman’s son, 4:43–54. More particularly he shows, how Christ reveals himself as the author and sustainer of life in the healing of the impotent man and its vindication, 5:1–47; and in the miracle of the loaves with the following discourse, leading to desertion on the one and to confession on the other hand, 6:1–71.
III. The Incarnate Word, the Life and Light, in Conflict with Spiritual Darkness, 7:1–11:54. On the feast of tabernacles Christ reminds the Jews of the fact that He is the life of the world, and presents himself to them as the water of life, wherefore officers were sent to take him, 7:1–52. The following day He brings out the spiritual darkness of the Jews in connection with the adulterous woman, and declares that He is the light of the world, the only light that can truly enlighten them; and that He only could liberate them from their spiritual bondage; which leads to an attempt to stone him, 8:1–59. On a subsequent occasion He proves himself to be the light of the world by healing the blind man and speaks of himself as the good Shepherd that lays down his life for his sheep; thereby provoking unbelief and rage, 9:1–10:21. At the feast of the dedication He declares that He and the Father are one, which again leads to an attempt to stone him, 10:22–42. In raising Lazarus Jesus presents himself as the resurrection and the life, thus leading some of the people to believe in him, but his enemies to the settled purpose to kill him, 11:1–54.
IV. The Incarnate Word saving the Life of the World through his Sacrificial Death, 11:55–19:42. The enemies plan to kill Jesus, but Mary of Bethany anoints him and the people meet him with glad hosannas; the Greeks seek him at Jerusalem, but the multitude turns from him in unbelief, 11:55–12:50. He sits at the Paschal supper with his disciples, gives them a lesson in humble service, exposes the traitor and announces that the time has now come to leave his disciples, 13:1–38. He discourses on the significance of his departure and on the new life in communion with the Father, 14:1–16:33; and offers the intercessory prayer committing his followers to the Father, 17:1–26. In Gethsemane He is taken captive, and after a preliminary hearing before the high priest is brought before Pilate who, though finding no guilt in Jesus, yet delivers him into the hands of the Jews to be crucified, 18:1–16. After his crucifixion He is buried by Joseph and Nicodemus, 19:17–42.
V. The Incarnate Word, risen from the Dead, the Saviour and Lord of all Believers, 20:1–21:25. Having risen from the dead, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalena and on two successive Lord’s days to his disciples, 20:1–31. Later He is seen by some of his disciples at the sea of Tiberias, where He restores Peter and points significantly to the career of John, the writer of the Gospel, 21:1–25.

Of the characteristics that mark the fourth Gospel the following especially are to be noted:
1. The gospel of John emphasizes more than any of the others the Divinity of Christ. It has no historical starting-point, like the Synoptics, but recedes back into the depths of eternity, and starts out with the statement sublime in its simplicity: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Positively, the Logos-doctrine is peculiar to this Gospel; negatively, every indication of Christ’s human development and of his gradually awakening self-consciousness is strikingly absent from it. We find no genealogy here, no description of Christ’s birth with it’s attendant circumstances, and no narrative of his baptism and temptation. John the Baptist testifies to his Divinity, as soon as He enters on the scene, and He himself publicly claims this prerogative almost from the beginning of his public ministry, cf. 3:13; 5:17 ff; 6:32, 40 ff., etc. The miracles of the Lord, narrated in this Gospel, are of such a character that they give great prominence to his divine power. The nobleman’s son was cured from a distance, 4:46 ff.; the man at Bethesda had been infirm thirty-eight years, 5:5; the blind man at Jerusalem had been born blind, 9:1; and Lazarus had already lain in the grave four days, 11:17.
2. The teaching of Christ greatly predominates in john’s Gospel, but this is quite different from that contained in the Synoptics. We find no parables here but elaborate discourses, which also contain a couple of allegories. The all-absorbing topic is not the Kingdom of God but the Person of the Messiah. The simple rudimentary teaching regarding the Kingdom is here replaced by a more penetrating (though not developed) instruction in the deeper realities of faith. In connection with his miracles or other historical facts Christ presents himself as the source of life, 4:46–5:47; the spiritual nourishment of the soul, 6:22–65; the water of life, 4:7–16; 7:37, 38; the true liberator, 8:31–58; the light of the world, 9:5, 35–41; and the living principle of the resurrection, 11:25, 26. The farewell discourses of the Saviour, besides containing many profound truths respecting his personal relation to believers, are also significant on account of their clear references to the coming Paraclete.
3. The scene of action in this Gospel is quite different from that in the Synoptics. In the latter the work of Christ in Galilee is narrated at length, while He is seen at Jerusalem only during the last week of His life. In the Gospel of John, on the other hand, the long ministry of Christ in Galilee is presupposed rather than narrated, while his work and teaching in Judea and particularly at Jerusalem is made very prominent. The great feasts afforded the occasion for this work and are therefore distinctly mentioned. John speaks of three, possibly four, Passovers, 2:13; 5:1; 6:4; 13:1; of the feast of Tabernacles, 7:2; and of the feast of the Dedication, 10:22.
4. The Gospel of John is far more definite than the Synoptics in pointing out the time and place of the occurrences that are narrated; it is in a certain sense more chronological than the other Gospels. We are generally informed as to the place of Christ’s operation. Definite mention is made of Bethany, 1:28; Cana, 2:1; Capernaum, 2:12; Jerusalem, 2:13; Sychar, 4:5; Bethesda, 5:2, etc. The designations of time are equally distinct, sometimes the hour of the day being given. The chronological framework of the gospel is found in its reference to the great feasts. John the Baptist sees Christ coming to him the day after he had met the delegation from Jerusalem, 1:29; and again on the following day, 1:35. A day later Christ called Philip and Nathanael, 1:43–51; on the third day there was a marriage in Cana, 2:1; it was at the sixth hour that Christ sat down at the well, 4:6; at the seventh, that the nobleman’s son was cured, 4:52; in the midst of the feast that Jesus went into the temple, 7:14; and again on the last great day, 7:37; and about the sixth hour that Christ was delivered unto the Jews by Pilate, 19:14.
5. The style of the fourth Gospel is not like that of the other three. It is peculiar in that “it contains, on the one hand, except in the prologue and χαρᾷ χαίρει in 3:29, hardly any downright Hebraisms,” Simcox, The Writers of the New Testament p. 73, while, on the other hand, it approaches the style of Old Testament writers more than the style of any other New Testament writing does. John evidently commanded a fairly good Greek vocabulary, but does not attempt any elaborate sentences. Rather than do this, he will repeat part of a previous statement and then add a new element to it. His sentences are generally connected in the most simple way by καί, δέ or οὖν, and his descriptions are often elaborate and repetitious. He exhibits a special fondness for contrasts and for the use of the parallelismus membrorum. A very characteristic expression of his is ζωὴ αἰώνος, which occurs 17 times in the Gospel. For other phrases and expressions see Simcox. He also employs several Aramaean words, as ῥαββί, ῥαββουνὶ, κηφᾶς, μεσσίας, Γαββαθά, Γολγοθά ἀμὴν ἀνήν.

The voice of antiquity is all but unanimous in ascribing the fourth Gospel to John. The Monarchian sect, called by Epiphanius, “the Alogi,” forms the only exception. Little is known of this sect, except that it rejected the doctrine of the Logos. Salmon says: “In fact I now believe that “the Alogi” consisted of Caius and, as far as I can learn, of nobody else.” Introd. p. 229. The internal evidence for the authorship of the Gospel is now generally arranged under the following heads:
1. The author was a Jew. He evidently had an intimate acquaintance with the Old Testament, had, as it were, imbibed the spirit of the prophetical writings. He knew them not only in the translation of the LXX, but in their original language, as is evident from several Old Testament quotations. Moreover the style of the author clearly reveals his Jewish nationality. He wrote Greek, it is true, but his construction, his circumstantiality and his use of parallelism, are all Hebraic. “There is a Hebrew soul living in the language of the evangelist.” Luthardt, St. John the Author of the Fourth Gospel, p. 166. Ewald comes to the conclusion, “that the Greek language of the author bears in itself still the clearest and strongest mark of a genuine Hebrew, who born among the Jews in the Holy Land, and grown up in this society without speaking Greek, carries in himself the whole spirit and breath of his mother-tongue even in the midst of the Greek raiment that he afterwards learnt to cast about him, and has no hesitation to let himself be led by that spirit.” Quoted by Luthardt, p. 167.
2. The author was a Palestinian Jew. He clearly shows that he is well at home in the Jewish world. He is intimately acquainted with Jewish customs and religious observances and with the requirements of the law, and moves about with ease in the Jewish world of thought. He knows that, according to the strict Jewish conception, it was unlawful to heal on the sabbath, 5:1 ff.; 9:14 ff.; and also that circumcision was allowed, 7:22 ff. He is aware of the Jewish expectation of Elijah, 1:21; and of the ill-feeling between the Jews and the Samaritans, 4:9. He understood that the Jews regarded a misfortune as the result of some particular sin, 9:2; and that they considered one unclean who had entered the house of a Gentile, 18:28. He is thoroughly acquainted with Jerusalem, 5:2; with the valley of Sichem and mount Gerezim, 4:5 ff.; with the temple, 8:20; and with Capernaum and other places around the sea of Galilee, 7.
3. The writer was an eyewitness of the events he relates. He claims this explicitly, if not already in 1:14, “we beheld his glory” (Cf. 1 John 1:1–3), certainly in 19:35. “And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true; and he knoweth that he saith true that ye might believe.” This claim is corroborated by the lively and yet simple manner in which he pictures the events; by the many definite chronological data and naming of localities, to which we have already referred; and by the great prominence given to certain individuals with whom Jesus came in contact.
4. The author was the apostle John. He often makes mention in his Gospel of a disciple whom he never names, but to whom he constantly refers as “the (an) other disciple,” or as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Cf. 13:23; 18:15; 19:26; 20:2, 3, 4, 8; 21:7. At the close of his Gospel he says of him: “This is the disciple which testifieth these things; and we know that his testimony is true,” 21:24. Who was this disciple? The evangelist names only seven of the disciples of the Lord, the five that are not named being John and his brother James, Matthew, Simon the Canaanite and James the son of Alpheus. Now it is evident from 1:35–41 that said disciple was one of the first ones called by the Lord, and these according to Mark 1:16–19 were Peter, Andrew, John and James. The first two are explicitly named in John 1:41–43, so that the one whose name is suppressed must have been either John or James. But we cannot think of James as the author of this Gospel, since he died a martyr’s death as early as A. D. 44. Therefore John must have been the writer.
According to Mt. 27:56 and Mk. 1:20; 15:40, John was the son of Zebedee and Salome who probably belonged to the middle class of society. His mother was among the faithful followers of the Saviour, Mt. 27:56; Mk. 16:1. He was one of the very first followers of Jesus and soon appears as one of the innermost circle of the disciples, one of the three that always accompany the Saviour. With the Lord he enters the dwelling of Jairus, ascends the mount of transfiguration and penetrates into the dark recesses of Gethsemane. As he stands by the cross, the mother of Jesus is entrusted to his care. On the morning of the resurrection he is one of the first to visit the grave of the Saviour. In the first part of the Acts of the Apostles he appears as one of the faithful witnesses of the resurrection of the Lord. After that we lose sight of John in Scripture, but tradition tells us that he spent the last part of his life in Asia Minor, especially at Ephesus, where he died in venerable age.
There is an apparent contradiction between the synoptical data regarding the character of John and the conception of it derived from his own writings, but this is easily explained. The very first indication of his character we glean from the statement in Mk. 3:17, that the Lord named him and his brother James “Boanerges, which is, the sons of thunder.” This conveys the idea of an ardent temper, of great strength and vehemence of character. And on two occasions we find that they reveal just such traits, viz. when they peremptorily forbade one who was casting out devils in the name of Jesus to continue this, Mk. 9:38; Lk. 9:49; and when they desired permission to command fire to come down from heaven to devour the Samaritans, Lk. 9:54. In both cases the Lord reproves their show of temper. Another trait of their character is revealed in their request to sit in the places of honor in the future Kingdom of Jesus, Mt. 20:20–24; Mk. 10:35–41. Their ambition was such as to offend the other disciples and to call forth a severe rebuke from the Lord. John was, no doubt, zealous for the Lord, but his zeal was mistaken; he had a passionate desire to be near his Master, but he showed this in a manner that was not free from selfishness and pride. The Lord directed his zeal and ambition into other channels by pointing out their unspiritual character and by teaching him that one can be great in the Kingdom of God only by being the servant of one’s brethren. This undoubtedly made a profound impression on the sensitive John and begot within him the habit of introspection, of self-examination. He became more quiet, more reserved with an inclination to ponder on the mysteries that he encountered in his daily association with the Lord, and penetrated farther than the other disciples into the hidden depths of the mysterious life of Christ. As a result John, as he reveals himself in his writings, is quite different from the John of the Synoptics. From his Gospel and Epistles we learn to know him as a man of deep religious feeling, beloved of Christ; a man that lived in close communion with his Lord, a communion more spiritual, however, than he desired in his youthful years. His exclusivism has made place for a love that would embrace all; his zeal is still operative, but it has been sanctified and led into proper channels; his strength has become a tower of defense for spiritual truth.
Not until the last part of the eighteenth century was the authorship of John attacked on critical grounds, and even then the attacks were of small significance. Bretschneider in 1820 was the first to assail it in a systematic way. But he was soon followed by others, such as Baur, Strauss, Schwegler, Zeller, Scholten, Davidson, Wrede e. a. It has been their persistent endeavor to show that the Gospel of John is a product of the second century. Some would ascribe it to that shadowy person, the presbyter John, whose existence Eusebius infers from a rather ambiguous passage of Papias, but who, in all probability, is to be identified with John the apostle. Others positively reject this theory. Wrede, after arguing that the authorship of John cannot be established, says: “Far less can the recent hypothesis be regarded as proven which purports to find the author of the Gospel in John the presbyter.” The Origin of the New Testament p. 89.
The most important considerations that led many rationalistic critics to the conclusion that the fourth Gospel was written in the second century, are the following: (1) The theology of the Gospel, especially its representation of Christ, is developed to such a degree that it points beyond the first and reflects the consciousness of the Church of the second century. (2) The Gospel was evidently written under the influence of the philosophic and religious tendencies that were prevalent in the second century, such as Montanism, Docetism and Gnosticism. (3) The great difference between the fourth Gospel and the Synoptics appears to be the result of second century cavilling respecting the nature of Christ, and of the Paschal controversy.
But the idea that the Gospel of John is a second century product goes counter to both the internal evidence to which we already referred, and to the external testimony, which is exceptionally strong and which can be traced back to the very beginning of the second century. Some of the Epistles of Ignatius show the influence of John’s Christology, and the writings of both Papias and Polycarp contain allusions to the first Epistle of John, which was evidently written at the same time as the Gospel. The latter was in existence, therefore, in the beginning of the second century. The theology of the Gospel of John is no more developed than that of Paul’s Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians, that were written between A. D. 61 and 63. Critics generally ceased to place any reliance on the so-called Montanistic features of the Gospel, and although they still maintain that some passages contain traces of a Docetic Gnosticism, these are purely imaginary and readily vanish, when the light of exegesis is turned on. The connection of the Gospel with the Paschal controversy is now admitted to be very dubious. And the difference between it and the Synoptics can be satisfactorily explained without regarding it as a work of the second century. Cf. above p. 19 ff.
Critics of the Tübingen school, who accepted the Johannine authorship of the Apocalypse, were wont to deny that John had written the Gospel, because it differed in so many respects from the former work. At present this argument is not insisted on, because scholars are not so sure as they once were, that John wrote the book of Revelation. Reuss, who still argues in that fashion, says: “It must be admitted that even in the most recent times the decision of the question as to the apostolic genuineness of the Apocalypse has by both sides been made to depend upon a previously formed judgment as to the fourth Gospel.” History of the N. T., I p. 161.

1. Readers and Purpose. The Gospel of John was in all probability written primarily for the Christians of Asia Minor, among whom especially the heresy of Cerinthus had arisen. Early tradition has it that John wrote it at the request of the bishops of Asia to combat that heresy. Internal evidence certainly favors the hypothesis that it was composed for Greek readers. The author carefully interprets Hebrew and Aramaeic words, as in 1:38, 41, 42; 9:7; 11:16; 19:13, 17; 20:16. He makes it a point to explain Jewish customs and geographical designations, 1:28; 2:1; 4:4, 5; 11:54, … 7:37; 19:31, 40, 42. Moreover, notwithstanding his characteristically Hebrew style, he usually quotes from the Septuagint.
It was not John’s purpose to furnish a supplement to the Synoptics, though his Gospel certainly contains a good deal of supplemental matter; neither did he mean to produce a direct polemic against the Cerinthian heresy, even if this did to a certain degree determine his special way of stating the truth. He did not aim at conciliating the discordant parties of the second century by leading them up to a higher unity, as the Tübingen school asserted; nor at refuting “Jewish objections and invectives,” and at providing “his fellow-Christians with weapons ready to hand;” a hypothesis of which Wrede asserts: “This view is on the whole a recent one, but it is making victorious progress among scholars.” The Origin of the New Testament, p. 84.
The apostle himself gives expression to his purpose, when he says: “These things are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life in his name,” 20:31. His aim is twofold, therefore, theoretical and practical. He desires to prove that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and to lead believers to a life of blessed communion with him. The means he employs to that end are: (1) The miracles of the Lord, on which special emphasis is placed, cf. 20:30; 21:25; and which are contemplated as σημεῖα, as signs of the divine glory of Christ. (2) The long discourses of the Saviour, which serve to interpret his signs and to describe the unique relation in which He stands to the Father. And (3) the narratives touching Jesus’ dealing with individuals, such as Nathanael, Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, Philip, Mary Magdalena and Thomas, showing, how He led them to faith, a faith culminating in the confession of Thomas: “My Lord and my God.”
2. Time and Place. Since John was undoubtedly the writer of the fourth Gospel, we have a terminus ad quem in A. D. 98, for Irenaeus says that John lived to the time of Trajan, who began his reign in that year. The testimony of Jerome is to the same effect: “The apostle John lived in Asia to the time of Trajan, and dying at a great age in the sixty-eighth year of our Lord’s passion, was buried near the city of Ephesus.” The same writer places the death of John in A. D. 100. In all probability, however, John wrote his Gospel several years before his death, since its style is, as Alford remarks, “that of a matured, but not of an aged writer.” Prolegomena to the Gospels Ch. V., Sec. VI, 10. It is not an easy matter to find a terminus a quo. We may be sure that the apostle did not compose the Gospel until after the death of Paul in A. D. 68. The congregations of Asia Minor were the special charge of the great apostle of the Gentiles, and he never makes any mention in his Epistles of john’s being in their midst, nor does he send him a single salutation; and when he parted from the Ephesian elders, he evidently did not anticipate the coming of an apostle among them. Moreover we infer from 21:19 that John knew of the manner in which Peter died, and presupposes this knowledge in his readers. Therefore it is unlikely that the Gospel was written before A. D. 70. Bengel in his Gnomon infers from the use of the present tense in 5:2 that Jerusalem was still intact. But this argument is not conclusive, since the city was not completely demolished by the Romans, and because we can with equal propriety conclude from 11:18 that both Jerusalem and Bethany had been swept off the face of the earth. John’s utter silence regarding the destruction of the city favors the idea that he wrote the Gospel several years after that calamity. Zahn would date the Gospel after A. D. 80, his terminus ad quem for the composition of Luke’s Gospel, since tradition teaches that John wrote later than the Synoptics. Among rationalistic critics the most divergent dates are suggested. Baur held that the Gospel was composed between A. D. 160 and 170. At present the tendency is to revert to some date nearer the limits indicated above. Thus Pfleiderer dates it A. D. 140; Hilgenfeld believes that it originated between A. D. 130 and 140. Harnack and Jülicher are not inclined to place it later than A. D. 110, and the former even admits that it may have been written as early as A. D. 80.
Tradition points to Ephesus as the place of composition. Origen testifies “that John, having lived long in Asia, was buried at Ephesus.” This is confirmed by Polycrates, a bishop of Ephesus. Jerome says: “John wrote a Gospel at the desire of the bishops of Asia.” And Cosmas of Alexandria informs us definitely that John composed his Gospel, while dwelling at Ephesus. There is no reason to doubt this testimony.
3. Method. John’s Gospel is evidently of an autoptic character. He may have read the Synoptics before he composed his work, but he did not use them as sources from which he drew a part of his material. In several places the author indicates that he related what he had seen and heard, cf. 1:14; 13:23; 18:15; 19:26, 35; 20:2. Compare what he says in his first Epistle 1:1–3. While the Synoptic Gospels were in all probability based to a great extent on oral tradition and written sources, neither of these played an appreciable part in the composition of the fourth Gospel. John, who had carefully stored in memory the profound discourses of the Lord regarding his own Person, discourses that made a deep and lasting impression on the beloved disciple, drew on that fountain of knowledge and, guided by the Holy Spirit in all the truth, supplied us with an exact record of the signs and words of the Saviour.
It has often been remarked that there is a great difference between the style of Christ’s discourses in the Synoptics and that of those contained in the fourth Gospel; and that in this gospel there is so much similarity between the narrative of the evangelist and the discourses of the Saviour that it seems as if John clothed these in his own language. But the Synoptics and John have so little such matter in common that we cannot safely build a conclusion on it, and in the discourses of Christ which they do have in common no great difference of style in observable. And as far as the second point is concerned, it may be, as Alford thinks probable, that the Lord influenced John so profoundly that the latter’s style became very similar to that of the Master. But even if John did reproduce the discourses of the Saviour in his own style and language, we may rest assured that he gives us the exact teaching of the Lord.

The Gospel of John was accepted as canonical in all parts of the Church from the earliest time, the only exceptions being the Alogi and Marcion. It is true, the apostolic fathers do not quote it, but the writings of three of them show traces either of it or of the first Epistle. Among the Church fathers Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Justin Martyr, Jerome e. a. either freely quote it, or refer to it as an integral part of the Word of God. Moreover it is included in Tatian’s Diatessaron, the Muratori canon, and the Syriac and old Latin Versions. In all at least nineteen witnesses testify to the use and recognition of the Gospel before the end of the second century.
The great significance of this Gospel in Holy Writ is that it places prominently before us the Son of Man as the Son of God, as the eternal Word that became flesh. According to this Gospel Christ is the Son of God, who descended from the Father, stood in a unique relation to the Father, had come to do the Father’s will on earth, and would return to the glory that He had eternally possessed with the Father, that He might send the Holy Spirit from the Father to abide with his Church throughout all ages. In that Spirit He himself returns to his followers to dwell in them forever. He is the highest revelation of God, and our relation to him, either of faith or of unbelief, determines our eternal destiny. Before this Christ the Church bows down in adoration with Thomas and calls out: “My Lord and my God.”
Berkhof, L. (1915). New Testament Introduction (S. 61–116). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans-Sevensma Co.


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