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Don Stewart :: Were the Writers of the Four Gospels Qualified to Write about Jesus?

Don Stewart

The four gospel writers also had excellent credentials to be in a position to know the facts about Jesus' ministry and to record them correctly.

Matthew

The writer of the first gospel originally bore the name Levi but was also named, or possibly renamed, Matthew (gift of God). We know that he was the son of Alphaeus

After that he went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me" (Luke 5:27).

His job was that of a tax collector. This position would have made him an ideal candidate for writing this gospel for the following reasons:

  1. A tax collector would be fluent in Greek.
  2. He would also be literate.
  3. He would be used to keeping records.
  4. He most likely would be able to write in short-hand. Therefore he could have been a note-taker at Jesus teachings.
  5. If Levi was a tribal name he would have known about scribal tradition and be familiar with temple practices.
  6. He would have been a well-educated scribe in the secular sense.
  7. There is something else about the tax collector position that would make Matthew a particularly good candidate to be a writer of one of the accounts of the life of Jesus. Being a tax collector he would be familiar with all types of fraud and deceit. He would be more distrustful than most people. This would make him very cautious about trusting the word of someone. Therefore his eyewitness testimony to the words and deeds of Jesus carries considerable weight.

Mark

Mark was also in a unique position to write about Jesus. His gospel contained the preaching of Simon Peter - one of the Jesus' twelve disciples. Therefore we have Mark relating to us the things Simon Peter said about the life and ministry of Jesus. There is hardly any incident related in Mark's gospel where Simon Peter was not present and the recording of minute detail shows that we have the testimony of an eyewitness.

Luke

Luke, the writer of the third gospel, stated the purpose of his account in the preface:

Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which are most surely believed among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed (Luke 1:1-4).

This statement of Luke tells us, at least, the following:

  1. Luke may not have been an eyewitness to the events he recorded.
  2. But he, like those before him, made careful use of the eyewitness accounts.
  3. Luke had access to other narratives, possibly written documents like his own.
  4. Luke felt the need for a further account.
  5. His account is orderly.
  6. He had full knowledge of the events he recorded.
  7. His ultimate aim is truth.

John

The author of the fourth gospel, John, was one of the twelve - an eyewitness to the events in the life of Christ. At the end of the Gospel of John we find these words.

This is the disciple who bears witness of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his witness is true (John 21:24).

As an eyewitness he would certainly be in a position to correctly state the facts about the life and ministry of Jesus.

Summary

The four gospels writers were each in a position to write a historically accurate account of the life of Christ. Each had excellent credentials to write about the life and ministry of Jesus. Matthew was a disciple of Jesus as was John - they were both eyewitnesses. Mark recorded the story of Simon Peter who himself was an eyewitness. Luke wrote his account after exhaustive historical investigation with the firsthand sources. Consequently we have four excellent, independent sources to the life and ministry of Jesus.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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