The Student’s Desk

That we may know Christ

A Virtual Tour Around Corinth: Understanding Paul’s Correspondence as a Whole and its Application

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in the city of Corinth – a busy metropolitan cross road in the Roman Empire on the modern-day Greek peninsula. In his correspondence, he gave all sorts of encouragements, exhortations, rebukes and corrections. But the verse I find most amazing in all of Paul’s correspondence with the believers at Corinth is 1 Cor 1:10. Actually, it’s really only one word I find amazing – “brothers” (inclusive of women, please remember). This is not a mere formality, as a title may be used at the start of a letter. Paul refers to this group of believers as “brothers” another 20 times in his correspondence.[1] Paul is identifying himself with the believers in Corinth as sharing the same faith. By referring to the Corinthians as “brothers”, Paul is effectively saying, “Hey, I’m one of you guys!”. To understand why this was so amazing for Paul to refer to these believers in Corinth as brothers, we need to take a “virtual tour” of Corinth, and survey all that’s going on according to Paul’s correspondence. Perhaps you’ve seen some of these things before. But it also could be that you haven’t seen all of these scenes in one go before. So, buckle up. This is going to be quite a ride! 

At our first stop, we can see the vigorous competition of the popularity contest where various Christian leaders would be pitched against each other by their followers in a bid for social supremacy (1 Cor 3:4). The problem here is these divisions gave the impression that messages about the Gospel were distinct and there was no commonality between them.

At our next stop, we find sexual immorality going on. In fact, one man is said to be having sex with his father’s wife (5:1). The exact issue isn’t clear – whether it’s his mother or his father has remarried due to divorce or death. In any event, such relations were forbidden in both Jewish and Pagan traditions. Others had trouble controlling their sexual urges (7:9), while at the other end of the spectrum some took an ascetic approach and were avoiding sex (vv. 2–6).

At our next stop, we find believers suing the pants off each other in law courts (6:1–8). This was little more than one-upmanship. A way of gaining social status just as following different leaders was. The problem was, this hardly reflected the sanctification and justification they had received from Jesus (v. 11).

At our next stop, a non-believer has been inviting believers around for a BBQ (8:1–13). This was fine, until it was discovered that the BBQ meat had been part of a pagan sacrifice. Some believers were uncomfortable about this (v. 7). They didn’t want to give any validation to pagan beliefs, so from their own conscious, they refrained from eating the meat. Other believers were quite happy to eat the meat. They knew that pagan deities were nothing more than a fairytale (v. 5). What was the harm (v.8)? But for these people, their knowledge was more important than the impact that the actions had on others. So, they were actually causing the others to go against their conscious and stumble. In fact, some were even partaking in the sacrifice itself (10:14–22). This kind of thing just confuses God with demons (vv. 19–22) rather seeing him glorified in all things (v. 31).

At our next stop, there is some issue around the length of hair and head coverings (11:2–16). It’s not quite clear, but the best suggestions would seem to revolve around the flouting of conventional distinctions between men and women in terms of dress. While Paul teaches against conforming to the world (Romans 12:2), he is not interested in causing unnecessary offence by departing from social conventions.

At our next stop, there’s a celebration of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:17–33). That sacramental meal that calls to remembrance and proclaims the death and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin, and on that basis a new community of grace would be formed. I need to tell you that this is what they are celebrating because you would never know from their behaviour. You see, some are stuffing their face with bread while others go hungry, and others are getting plastered on the wine while others go without. I know it’s hard for us moderns to imagine how someone can stuff their face with a solitary crouton and become drunk on a thimble of grape juice. But we need to remember that this was a full meal with real alcoholic wine. It would seem they were clambering over each other as the more “spiritual” members helped themselves to the bread and wine leaving the “not so spiritual” members in their wake. So much for being a community of grace! No wonder Paul said, “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat.” (v. 20). What a mess! 

At our next stop, we come to the main event – the “Spiritual Olympics” (12:1–30)! Well, that’s what we might as well call it. All of them are trying to outdo each other in the spiritual gifts department. The disturbing thing is their exercising of spiritual gifts is more akin to non-believers than anything reflecting the gospel (v. 2). It would appear that some are identifying with their gift more than the giver. That they are deriving their worth from their giftedness rather than the love of God vividly expressed in Jesus’ blood. It’s all fun and games until someone is left out. That’s right, the highly gifted believers thought they could actually do without some of the less gifted believers. For these highly gifted believers, exercising their gifts is never about service or helping those who were less gifted. It’s all about showing off and climbing the “spiritual ladder”. It’s just a shame no one realises that first place is also a booby prize.

At our final stop, we find that some people were denying the resurrection of the dead. I know, it’s difficult for us modern believers to know how anyone can deny the resurrection. It’s so foundational to our hope. But with the manifestations of the spirit: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, great works, prophecy, speaking other languages – even angelic languages – it’s understandable why some of them begun to think that they had already arrived! In fact, Paul taunts them earlier in his letter, “Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!” (4:8). The reality is that the Christian hope is far bigger, and far more glorious than the here and now in this life.

So, let’s have a recap of our virtual tour of Corinth. In the church at Corinth, we have factions around church leaders in a popularity contest, sexual immorality, the flexing of legal muscle, disregard for the conscious of other believers, the flouting of cultural norms, the disregard for other believers at the Lord’s Supper, the misuse and abuse of spiritual gifts, and finally the denial of the resurrection of the dead. If there was a church today that did half of these things, I’d steer clear of it. I’d be telling all my friends to do the same, and anyone in that church to leave. I would completely write them off as a church. I would conclude that they were on about something else other than the gospel. This is why I find Paul’s reference to them as “brothers” to be so amazing. That in all the mess, in all the chaos, in all the anti-gospel behaviour, he recognises that the grace of God given to the church at Corinth is the same grace that has been given to him. Instead of writing them off, he identifies with them as a subject of God’s grace.

That Paul identifies with them does not mean that Paul is indifferent to their conduct. These are big issues that need big resolutions. One by one, Paul addresses each issue, and grounds his response in the person of Jesus.

Concerning the rivalry and factions in the church, Paul reminds the Corinthians that Jesus is the foundation of the Christian community upon which everyone else must build (3:10–11). In other words, it is Jesus who gives the church its existence, coherence and identity.[2] To derive these from any other foundation – whether it be theological tradition, experience, praxis or rationality – is to build on a foundation that will not last (v. 14). This is not to deny a variety of denominations who are characterised by different theological traditions, experiences, praxes and rationalities. Indeed, there are different churches with their particular characteristics and their own issues in the New Testament. John writes to the seven churches giving each one a different evaluation (Revelation 1:4, 2:1–3:22). The Church (universal) is large enough to have disagreements (Acts 15:36–41), and to have different traditions (Romans 2:12–14; 14:1–2; 13–14 – the Jew with the Old Testament law and the Gentiles without the Old Testament law). However, should any of these characteristics be considered foundational, the defining factor of a church, including what church leader one follows, then that characteristic becomes a distraction from the church’s true foundation which is Jesus. Such a church forfeits its glory in being the temple of God by the indwelling of God’s Spirit (v. 16). So, Jesus remains foundational to the church, and no theological tradition, experience, praxis or rationality can substitute this (vv. 18–22). 

Concerning sexual immorality, Paul’s point is to say that Jesus’ death and resurrection has given believers a new beginning. This is referred to as Christ, our Passover Lamb, who has been sacrificed (5:7). To reach back into the past and bring old habits and practices into the new way of life is simply inappropriate. The idea being built upon here is one of leavened bread (vv. 6–7). Leavened bread consisted of using reserved dough which was made the previous week in the current batch of dough. This was done as a substitute for yeast. The week-old dough would then be fermenting. When the week-old dough was introduced to the new dough, it would cause the new dough to become fermented and rise in the heat. As useful as this practice was, it wasn’t hygienic as dirt and disease could be passed on from week to week.[3] This was possibly one of the reasons for God commanding his people to throw out any leaven from their homes once a year and to observe the feast of unleavened bread (Exo 12:14–20). By introducing the old ways of sexual immorality to the new life in Christ, this too would become an unhealthy mix. Therefore, Paul picks up this image of leaven again, and tells the Corinthians to throw out (or purge) the evil person from among them so as to avoid an unhealthy mix (1 Cor 5:13). 

The same point is made concerning suing the pants off each other. Paul reminds them of their status before God – that they have been washed, sanctified and justified (6:11). This means that they have made a clean break with their former way of life and had now been set aside for God’s purposes. This was made possible by what was revealed in Jesus – namely, the forgiveness of sins through his death and resurrection which is applied to the believer through the work of God’s Spirit. It simply does not make sense to flex one’s legal muscle against your adversaries and go up a few runs on the social pecking order when you have been set aside for God’s purposes. 

Concerning eating meat that’s been sacrificed to idols, in a sense, Paul seems to agree with those who take such liberties (8:4, 8). But the question is not what’s wrong or right. The question is what is helpful? For some at Corinth, seeing their fellow believers eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols was a real point of contention. It caused these believers to stumble and have their faith destroyed. This was the real issue. Paul recognised that those believers had a weak conscious, and these were people for whom Christ died (v. 11). So, to insist on rights over responsibility, to consider eating more important than the spiritual well-being of a fellow believer, is actually sin. It’s sinning against your fellow believer, and it’s sinning against Jesus who died for the fellow believer (v. 12).

Concerning the Lord’s Supper, Paul has to remind them, incredibly, what they are celebrating – Jesus’ death (12:26). As has been seen, Jesus’ death has been central to Paul’s correspondence with the Corinthians. Using the Lord’s Supper to celebrate anything else was actually to eat and drink judgement on themselves. Instead, Jesus’ death for the forgiveness of sins was best reflected by how they treated the apparently lesser members of their church community and not turning the event into an opportunity to gorge themselves.

Concerning spiritual gifts, rather than seeing them as a sign that they are a cut above the “average Christian” (as though there could be anything average about being a Christian!), Paul tells the Corinthians something shocking. Spiritual gifts are temporal (13:8)! They don’t belong to the eschatological age – the time when Jesus will return and God will establish his kingdom. Spiritual gifts are for this present life, and this present life only. As spectacular and impressive as spiritual gifts are, they are of limited use. Instead, Paul tells them of a more superior way of showing their spiritual credentials, and it has nothing to do with doing (12:29). But it has everything to do with being – their character. If they want to show off their spiritual credentials, they need to show who they are in Jesus. Paul writes to them and says, “And I will show you a still more excellent way.” Then he goes on to talk about the priority of love – agapē love, familial love, describing it as patient and kind, not being envious or boastful, not arrogant or rude, not or insistent or irritable, not rejoicing in wrongdoing. Instead, love rejoices with the truth, and it bears, believes, hopes, and endures everything, and it never fails (13:8–12). Love is the cure-all for every issue that Paul has raised with the Corinthians. Little wonder Paul refers to love as the superior way.

But, Paul’s description of love is even more radical than this. Paul writes, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (13:13). Where spiritual gifts will cease, love, along with faith and hope will remain. Faith, hope and love will continue to exist. Whereas spiritual gifts are the stuff of this present life, love is the stuff of the eschaton. Love is a defining feature of the Kingdom of God. Love is the future Kingdom of God brought forward into the present. Paul grounds this in the reality of the resurrection of Jesus (ch. 15), which some of them were denying. He says, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (v. 19). In other words, if your greatest hope as a Christian is to speak in tongues, or prophesy, or acquire knowledge, or become detached from physical desires, or climb up the social pecking order, or to stuff your face and get drunk at the Lord’s Supper, then you have missed the point and should be pitied more than anyone else. We may add some of modern trappings. If our greatest hope as Christians is to have a comfortable life, to become rich, acquire possessions, never get sick, then we really have missed the point, and we are to be pitied more than anyone else. But… the resurrection of Jesus changes all that. For Paul, the resurrection of Jesus is never far from his mind since this is what his apostleship is based on (vv. 3–9). It’s also the basis for the forgiveness of sins which leads to a new life (v. 17). As glorious as this life is along with our bodies, as much as we may rejoice in the temporal things of this present life, this is not the same glory that will be in the resurrection. Paul explains what is now perishable, dishonoured, weak, and natural will be raised is imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual (vv. 42–44). In other words, the resurrected life will be so much more than the joys and glories of this present life.

None of this means that spiritual gifts are not without value in the meantime. Paul obviously thought that spiritual gifts, and in particular tongues and prophecy, were of value for the church at Corinth, and he spent a considerable time explaining their proper use (ch. 14). What, precisely, these spiritual gifts were and how these practices apply to the church today are the subject of considerable discussion. However, two things remain quite clear: firstly, spiritual gifts, in whatever form,[4] are for the building up of the church – they are for the benefit of the community (12:7;14:6, 12). Secondly, spiritual gifts can be abused, and be counterproductive for the task they are given (13:1–3). Spiritual gifts can only be fully appreciated when they are grounded in the reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus where they are understood as part of a temporal glory which will pass away with the coming of the resurrection. 

As can be seen, the Gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus remains central to Paul’s thinking, and foundational to addressing the issues among the believers at Corinth. Paul does not look to “special knowledge” or “ecstatic experiences” or “gifts” as a solution to the issues. As has been seen throughout the letter, time and time again, Paul returns to the gospel. All the believers needed was a better acquaintance with what they have been taught. To understand how the Gospel applied to their situation.

So, what does all this mean for us?

Firstly, it means that the practices that were in place at Corinth are not necessarily to be replicated in the modern church. A lot of what was being practiced at Corinth was being practiced in error. If there was a church today that denied the resurrection, seldom would its practices be upheld as a model for other churches to follow. Yet when it comes to the church at Corinth, a resurrection-denying, little guy crushing, social status obsessed church, there are those who desire to replicate the practices of Corinth in the name of intimacy with the Spirit. To those who want to replicate these practices, I implore you, do not become obsessed with the Corinthian experience and practice. Instead, understand why Paul was raising these issues and why he responded the way he did. Understand that, without diminishing them as fellow-believers, Paul was pointing the believers at Corinth to a fuller, richer, deeper, higher, more profound spirituality than the one they professed. This was a spirituality based on love and expressed in relationships with each other.

Secondly, to those who profess to have knowledge, or experiences, or gifts: these are not without value. However, these are not markers of your salvation, or your maturity in Christ. It is easy for those with knowledge, or experiences, or gifts to look down at those who lack them. To even condemn them. This was precisely the Corinthian error! It was precisely for this reason that Paul had to defend his apostleship against the believers at Corinth (2 Cor 3) – the same one who brought the gospel to them in the first place (1 Cor 4:15)! It was inconceivable to the believers at Corinth that anyone who had been given the Spirit, anyone who had truly arrived, should suffer. That they should be beaten and struck, going about hungry, naked, and in danger. Yet, it wasn’t as though Paul was without the manifestations of the Spirit that believers at Corinth would recognise. Paul claimed that he spoke in tongues more than any of them, and he thanked God for it (14:18)! He also claimed to have had heavenly visions (2 Cor in 9:12). But he doesn’t use these gifts and experiences to certify his apostleship. If anything, he’s playing them down. Concerning his ability to speak in tongues Paul says, “I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Cor 14:19). Concerning his visions, he refers to himself in the third person so as not to draw attention to himself (2 Cor 12:2). When he does draw attention to himself, it is in reference to his weakness – his low social status (2 Cor 12:5). Instead, Paul’s certification as an Apostle is the believers in Corinth themselves in the way they responded to the gospel (3:2). As to suffering and weakness, rather than being antithetical to the spiritual life, Paul argues that they are integral to the spiritual life (2 Cor 1:3–11), and they are the means by which God’s grace is manifest (2 Cor 12:9). This is something that needs to be emphasised: Instead of celebrating his ability to speak in tongues and the experience he’s had, Paul celebrates weakness. Paul celebrates insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities (v. 10). In contrast to what the Corinthians believed, these are the means by which God’s grace is manifest.

What is to be replicated is the fuller, richer, deeper, higher, more profound spirituality that Paul was encouraging the believers toward. A spirituality that Paul calls the “superior way” (1 Cor 12:31). A way that is founded on love which expresses itself in patience and kindness; is absent in envy, boastfulness, arrogance, self-importance, irritability, resentfulness. Love that does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth, and that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things (1 Cor 13:4–7). It should be observed that all these attributes relate to a person’s character. Therefore, the manifestation of the Spirit is not found primarily in what a person can do. Rather, the primary manifestation of the Spirit is found in who a person is. Particularly in relation to other people – hence fellowship is vitally important for all believers, even the for the ones who are “seemingly weaker”. Of such believers Paul says that they are “indispensable” (1 Cor 12:22).

This emphasis on character is entirely consistent with Paul’s theology, and is not limited to his correspondence with the church at Corinth. To the church at Galatia he writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Gal 5:22). Again, all related to a person’s character. To the church at Colossae, Paul instructs them to put on the new self which is being renewed in the knowledge of the image of God. This putting on of the new self is then paralleled and equated with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness (or gentleness), patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and above all, love (Col 3:10, 12–14). Again, all related to a person’s character. To the church at Ephesus, Paul tells them to walk in a manner worthy of their calling by being humble, gentle, patient, forbearing, and unified in the Spirit (Eph 4:1-3). A person’s character features more predominantly in Paul’s teaching much more than spiritual gifts or abilities.

Therefore, while spiritual gifts, experiences, knowledge and theological traditions are of some importance, a person’s character and how they relate to others, even those of whom they have strong disagreement with – is of all surpassing importance. Character which is being generated by the work of the Holy Spirit that was availed through the death and resurrection of Jesus. For this is how God manifests his presence, his Spirit, and his grace. It is out of this character that’s being renewed that believers exercise their gifts to build God’s church on the foundation that Jesus laid. This is the lesson that believers at Corinth needed to learn. This is the lesson that believers today need to learn.

[1] 1 Corinthians 1:26; 2:1; 3:1; 7:24, 29; 10:1; 11:33; 12:1; 14:6, 20, 26, 39; 15:1, 50, 58, 16:15; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 8:1; 13:11.

[2] Thiselton, 310.

[3] Thiselton, 400. Fee, 216.

[4] Note that spiritual gifts are listed in Paul’s correspondence to the church at Rome (Rom 12:6–8). Within the Corinthian correspondence, the list of spiritual gifts also varies slightly (1 Cor 12:7–10. Cf. v. 28). This suggests that the list of spiritual gifts are not exhaustive.

July 3, 2021 Posted by | Bible, Bible Exposition, Religious | , , | Leave a comment

Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom of God

Synopsis: The time and place of Jesus was on of political stability and religious zeal as the restoration of Israel was anticipated. Jesus teachings were radically different from his contemporaries. The following essay provides a brief summery of the expectations and political alliances so contrasts and comparisons may be developed between these and Jesus’ teaching. While this essay does recognise that Jesus’ teachings on the kingdom of God, it focuses on the parables given in Matthew 13 maintaining their prominence in the ‘kingdom of God’ theme. It concludes that Jesus’ teaching on the teaching of God does not ally him with any of the political or religious movements of his time and stands unique.


The Roman province of Judah in the first century was a place of political instability which eventually led to the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.. Many held hopes for an uprising of a Messiah to restore the kingdom of Israel, while others saw the Roman Empire as providing a future for Israel. It is within this mix of political and religious movements that Jesus emerges and teaches about the kingdom of God in a manner that was radically different from contemporary views, and yet at the same remained entirely consistent with Scripture.

Messianic expectations within Judaism leading up to the first century A.D. were not unique. These had been part of Israel’s heritage. At the centre of Jewish expectations concerning the kingdom is the office of Messiah. While the Greek equivalent of this title, “Christ” would be applied to Jesus (Luke 2:11; John 1:41, 4:25), it was also used of others in the Old Testament. The term ‘messiah’ most often meant ‘anointed’ and referred to kings (1 Sam 12:3, 5; 16:6; 24:6, 10 for example). It was through the office of King that an everlasting kingdom was promised as part of the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:13). It was this promise of an everlasting kingdom that formed the basis of hope for the restoration of Israel (Psalm 89; 132; Isaiah 9:5-7). The political situation in Israel leading up to the first century A.D. intensified expectations of the Messiah and the establishment of the kingdom of God.

Though Israel had indeed returned to the land after exile (Nehemiah), they did not regain their sovereignty. As such, by the end of the millennium, they were a Roman province in a strongly Hellenised region. For the most part Jews resented this foreign occupier, and the Hellenistic culture that had also come. However, the expression of this expectation differed between several movements. Metzger helpfully categorises four of these groups into two different categories with two different responses. He identifies religious movements as including Pharisees as extremists and Sadducees as moderates; and political movements as including Zealots as extremists and Herodians as moderates.[1] It is helpful to understand these movements as background of Jesus teaching concerning the kingdom.

•1)    Pharisees

The term ‘Pharisee’ has been taken to mean “the separated ones” and first appeared under the rule of John Hycanus (135-105 B.C.). The Pharisees had their origins in the Hasidim movement who were allied with the Maccabeans in their struggle against the Seleucids (early second century B.C.). However, this group was not interest in the contest for political supremacy after the struggle. The Pharisees turned their attention to strict observance of the law, prophets, writings, and oral traditions. They were zealous to apply the old law to contemporary situations and keeping the Sabbath. They also believed in the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection.

•2)    Sadducees

The Sadducees had their origins in the Zadok, the priest of King David’s time (2 Samuel 8:17). They held the Torah as being canonical, and had no place for oral traditions. They were also anti-supernatural, and did not believe in angels, or the resurrection. Politically, they did not resist Rome. They were more open to Helenisation than other groups, and were willing to ally themselves to the dominant political power.


•3)    Essenes

The Essenes were a Jewish community that resembled monastic communities in early Christianity. They held property in common, led simple lives, and like the Pharisees strictly observed the law, and were even stricter with the Sabbath. They lived apart from the rest of the community and did not partake in temple sacrifice believing the religious establishment to be corrupt, and with good reason. Herod, a foreigner, had rebuilt the temple,[2] and was served by priestly class, the Sadducees, concerned to keep the Roman authorities pleased since theologically and politically they were in agreement with the Herodians.[3] They also believed the promises of God were fulfilled in the history of there community.

•4)    Zealots

While not a religious group, Zealots opposed tributes being paid to a pagan emperor, and used violence as a means of liberating Israel from Rome. Hence their actions were extremist and disruptive.

•5)    Herodians

The title ‘Herodian’ was used in reference to Jewish supporters of the Herodian dynasty. It is likely that most Herodians were Sadducees, though the title could have also applied to other groups and individuals. Apart from being allied to the dominant political power, there were other reasons for embracing Herodian Rule. Herod had complied to the Jewish expectations of the Messiah by claiming his ancestors were exiles of David’s house in Babylon, ruled an area that equalled the kingdom of David, built splendid buildings, established a palace for himself in Jerusalem, and rebuilt the temple. Hence, there was good reason for supporting the Herodian dynasty.

It is also known a number of other individuals rose up claiming to be the Messiah. In Pilate’s time, a Samaritan prophet had led his followers to Mount Gerizim in search of the holy vessels. Theudas, mentioned by Gamaliel (Acts 5:36), ventured to split the Jordan River providing his followers a safe passage alluding to the time of Moses.  A Jew from Egypt anticipated the collapse of the walls of Jerusalem at his command allowing free access into the city. It may have been this individual for whom Paul was mistaken (Acts 21:38). Jesus himself also anticipated many false Christ’s and prophets (Matthew 24:5, 11, 23-26).[4]

It is against these expectations, politics and theologies of the fore mentioned groups that Jesus teachings about the kingdom of God must be considered. It is important to recognise that Jesus teaching on the kingdom of God is not reduced to one section of any one of the four gospels, Luke informs his readers that Jesus mission was to teach about the kingdom of God (Luke 4:43). Hence, all of Jesus’ teaching can be traced back to the kingdom of God theme. However, there does seem to be a concentrated section of Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom of God in Matthew.. These teachings are given as parables. The phrase “the kingdom of God (or ‘the kingdom of heaven’ in Matthew) is like”, or a phrase simular, occurs fifteen times as an introduction to a parable throughout the synoptic gospels (Matthew 13:24, 31, 33, 43, 44, 45, 47, 52; 18:23; 20:1; 22:2; 25:1; Mark 4:26, 30; Luke 13:18). The meaning of the term ‘parable’ is broad, though in the gospels it generally refers to a contrast (Luke 18:1-8), or a comparison (Matthew 13:33).[5] The purpose of the parable was to provoke a response by the hearer.[6] The fact Jesus used parables to teach the kingdom of God must say something about the kingdom itself and the ministry of Jesus. The rise of Jesus as Messiah could not be ignored as in the examples of those who assumed this office previously. Jesus and his teaching on the kingdom of God demanded a response. For this reasons, Matthew 13, contains several such parables, will be closely examined, and the manner in which Jesus interacts with Jewish expectations of the kingdom will be noted.

The parable that is of most likely importance is the so-titled ‘Parable of the Soils’ (Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:4-15), for in Mark’s account, the importance of this parable is stressed (v13). In Matthew account, the importance of this parable and the parables following is also stressed by Jesus asking his disciples, “Have you understood all these things?” (v51). Understanding this parable is prerequisite to understanding the other teachings of Jesus and his works. In explaining the Parable of the Soils to his disciples, Jesus quotes Isaiah to indicate that his words are preparing people for judgment – a theme that will occur twice in the chapter (vv30, 48-50). This is so the judgement is not on the account of God. The fact that Jesus’ hearers did in fact understand something of what Jesus said on other occasions when he spoke in parables is evidenced by their actions (Mark 12:12; Luke 20:19), though they did not accept his message. Hence, the fulfilment of Isaiah does not rest on Jesus. Rather, it rests on those who do not accept Jesus message (Matthew 13:14).

It is not co-incidental that Jesus is using the image of planting. In the Davidic Covenant, the image of planting is used in reference to Israel being established so they would no longer suffer their enemies as part of an everlasting kingdom. While Luke understands the seed that is sown as the ‘word of God’ (Luke 8:11), Mark simply understands the seed that is sown simply as the ‘word’ (Mark 4:14). However, Matthew understands the seed that is sown as the ‘word of the kingdom’. Hence, not only do Jesus’ words bring about judgement, they also inaugurate the kingdom of God as Israel is replanted in the person of Jesus in the people’s accepting of his word. There is nothing unusual about the imagery Jesus uses in the parable. Jesus’ listeners would have often seen seed being scattered by hand, or be allowed to trickle from holes in a sack. Neither is there anything unusual about the yield. Though tenfold was average for much of Palestine, returns of up to one-hundred fold were possible and considered to be a tremendously good harvest.[7] Jesus expectation is always for a good yield from those who respond to his teaching as the lowest figure nominated is thirty-fold – still very much above what would be expected. In relation to the religious and political movements of Jesus day, it is clear at this point that the kingdom of God would not be established by such programs. Rather, the kingdom of God would be inaugurated in the person of Jesus. Matthew’s record of Jesus discourse continues on to consider the nature of the kingdom over several parables.

In the so-titled ‘Parable of the Weeds’ (vv24-40), Jesus demonstrates his kingdom is not what his contemporaries would have expected. Jesus uses a normal scene of a sower planting his wheat crop (v24). There is nothing unusual about weeds growing up with the crop. What is unusual in this parable is the weeds on this occasion were as a result of sabotage (v25). So much so, the volume of weeds prompted the servants to enquire to their master (v26). For this reason it is unusual scenario, one that would have shocked those listening to Jesus. The particular weed is known as ‘tare’. Hendrikson notes in the early stages of development, the tare closely resembled the wheat crop, and hosted a fungus poisonous to both animals and humans if eaten.[8] When interpreting the parable for his disciples (vv37-43), Jesus identifies the wheat seed as being ‘the children of the kingdom’ sown by the Son of Man (v38), and the tares as being ‘the sons of the evil one’ sown by the Devil (v39). The fact that Jesus closely identifies the children of the kingdom with the sons of the devil in the points of reference of wheat and tares is a strong indication that he does not have in mind the contemporary political views of the Kingdom of Israel verses the Roman occupation – two entities easily distinguishable from the other. Instead, the seed of the enemy to which Jesus is referring to, though does not identify at this stage, has close resemblance to the seed of the children of the kingdom and has grown up with them. Hence, the enemy is not an external entity to Israel. Rather the enemy is already part of Israel to be removed at a later time of final judgement. To discuss judgement would imply resurrection which would place Jesus’ teachings on the kingdom as being very different from those of the Sadducees.

Another aspect to this parable is the removal of the weeds. Keener notes “…fields were normally weeded in the spring, but if the weeds were discovered too late … harvesters could cut the wheat just below the head, leaving the shorter tares to be cut separately.”[9] The offer of the servants to pull the weeds out perhaps suggests that the normal time for removing weeds had not yet past, hence the response of the sower to permit the weeds to grow would have come as a surprise (vv28, 29). This suggests that the kingdom that Jesus had in mind would be a mix of the children of God and the sons of the devil until the final judgement at the close of the age (vv30, 40-42). Such a teaching would have been contrary to the religious programs of the Pharisees who were intent on avoiding unclean people, and the Essences who separated themselves from the broader community.[10]

The so-titled ‘Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast’ continue to demonstrate the kingdom of God as being different from people’s expectations (vv 31-33). Keener recognises that the mustard seed is not the smallest seed known in Palestine.[11] Nonetheless, it was a small seed capable of growing into a large shrub, normally only four feet, it could grow as much as fifteen feet. The unexpected element to the parable is not its size, rather its function. While birds could normally perch in a mustard tree, they were not able to nest in it as portrayed in the parable. In simular fashion, Jesus likens the kingdom to yeast in three measures of flour. As insignificant as the yeast may appear in such a large quantity of flower, it is nonetheless able to raise enough bread to feed one-hundred people.[12] By telling these parables, Jesus is identifying his kingdom as something small and insignificant, not a political or religious movement to be concerned about. Even still, the influences of this kingdom would gradually be recognised.

Despite the seemingly insignificance of the kingdom, Jesus asserts its worth. In privacy with his disciples, he tells three more parables. Two expressing the worth of the kingdom, so-titled ‘The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl’ (vv44-46), and one reiterating the mixed nature of the kingdom, so-titled ‘The Parable of the Net’ (vv47-50), as Jesus had just taught in ‘The Parable of the Weeds’ (vv24-30, 37-43). In the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl, both scenarios were possible within the culture. Keener remarks that “Treasures were often buried for safekeeping”, and consistent with Keener, Hendricksen perceives that this would have been most likely done during times of strife. It was possible that the owner of the treasure had died before telling anyone of its location, leaving a peasant or worker to discover it by chance.[13] The surprise in this parable is the one who discovers the treasure actually has the resources to enable the purchase of the land on which the treasure is hidden, and they are prepared to part with those resources to gain the land that they may have rightful claim to the hidden treasure. Similarly, the same method of thinking is applied with the following parable with a pearl. If indeed the initial three parables are given in contrast to the contemporary kingdom expectations, than it would follow that these two parables are a continuation of that contrast. The possessions forfeited serve as a point of reference for contemporary kingdom expectations, and the hidden treasure and the pearl serve as a point of reference for the Kingdom of God. By telling the disciples these parables, Jesus is clearly teaching his disciples their need to forfeit their Jewish expectations kingdom of God and embrace what he has been teaching.

In his final parable, Jesus reiterates the mixed nature of the kingdom of God, and according to Hendricksen, that is all he does.[14] While all the points of reference are simular, Hendricksen has overlooked the change in the listening audience which can drastically affect the manner in which a parable is understood. It is not until verse 36 that Matthew tells his readers that Jesus had left the crowd. Therefore, ‘The Parable of the Weeds’ is given to the crowds, including the disciples, while ‘The Parable of the Net’ is given to the disciples only. There is also a shift in the point of reference for the Kingdom of God. In the former, the Kingdom of God is portrayed as having to compete with the enveloping circumstances which have been going for some time. However, this is about to change as the Kingdom of God is inaugurated by Jesus will be a mixture of all kinds (v47), and this is the type of kingdom which the work that the disciples will be partaking in. The thrust of this parable would not have been lost on some of the disciples whom Jesus had told will be fishers of men (Matthew 4:18-19). This would drive home the point that the work that the disciples were to be involved with was not to be a separatist movement as they may have imagined. Separation would be at the initiative of angels only (v49). Again, this teaching would have been contrary to that of the Pharisees.

Jesus radical teaching on the kingdom of God places him outside the main schools of thought in first century Judaism, and thereby stands unique. Through the gospels, opposition to Jesus can be detected from all these groups, with the exception of the Essenes who are not mentioned in Scripture. Clearly Herod, the Pharisees, and Sadducees all conspired against Jesus (Matthew 2:13, 16; 16:1; 26:3-4), and the Roman guard had no respect for him either (Matthew 27:27-31). Though there is not any know opposition from the Essenes, it is known that Jesus considered his disciples to be in the world, not separated from it (John 17:14, 16). Jesus teachings concerning the kingdom of God stood apart from contemporary expectations for one very good reason as Jesus explicitly told Pilate “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36). According to Jesus’ teaching the kingdom of God demanded repentance from contemporary views, and would not be consummated by political or religious movements, or by any other human initiative. Rather, it would be consummated at the time of judgement by the initiative of God.



Betz, Otto.              ‘Messianic expectations in the context of first century Judaism’, in Christology in dialogue, ed. Robert F. Berkley and Sarah A. Edwards, Cleveland, Ohio: The Pilgrim Press, 1993.

Caragounis, Chrys C.,     ‘Kingdom of God / Kingdom of Heaven’ in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. J. B. Green & Scot McKnight. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992.

Hendriksen, William.       New Testament commentary: Matthew. Edinburgh, United Kingdom: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1973.

Hoehner, Harold W.        ‘Herodians’, in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. J. B. Green & Scot McKnight. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992.

Metzger, Bruce M.  The New Testament, its background, growth, and content. Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1965.

Snodgrass, Klyne R.       ‘Parable’, in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. J. B. Green & Scot McKnight. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992.

Tenney, Merrill C.   New Testament Survey. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing co., 1961.

© The Student’s Desk, 2007.



[1] Bruce M. Metzger, The New Testament, its background, growth, and content (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1965), 46.

[2] Otto Betz, ‘Messianic expectations in the context of first century Judaism’, in Christology in dialogue, ed. Robert F. Berkley and Sarah A. Edwards (Cleveland, Ohio: The Pilgrim Press, 1993), 35

[3] Harold W. Hoehner, ‘Herodians’, in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. J. B. Green & Scot McKnight. (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 325

[4] Otto Betz, ‘Messianic expectations in the context of first century Judaism’, 37

[5] Klyne R. Snodgrass, ‘Parable’, in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. J. B. Green & Scot McKnight. (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 593

[6] Klyne R. Snodgrass, ‘Parable’, 597

[7] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament on CD-ROM (Downers Grove, Illinios: InterVasity Press, 1993).

[8] William Hendriksen, New Testament commentary: Matthew (Edinburgh, United Kingdom: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1973), 563

[9] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament on CD-ROM.

[10] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament on CD-ROM.

[11] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament on CD-ROM.

[12] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament on CD-ROM

[13] William Hendriksen, New Testament commentary: Matthew, 575

[14] William Hendriksen, New Testament commentary: Matthew, 578

October 24, 2007 Posted by | Essays, Gospels, New Testament, Religious | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A comparison of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke

Synopsis:The four accounts of Jesus life and ministry vary in their content. Some of their content can be found in all four while other parts are unique to that particular gospel. Even the content which is shared can vary in detail. The following essay examines the gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke as an example of two gospels sharing information, though differing in there theological emphasis. The essay assumes the integrity of both accounts, and regards them both as legitimate accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus. Overarching themes of both gospels are identified and substantiate by the content of each gospel. It is within the context of these overarching themes which the similarities and difference between the two accounts need to be considered.


A brief reading of the gospels reveals that they all address one issue – the person and ministry of Jesus. In this, a great amount of overlap can be found among the gospels, more so among the synoptics. If all four gospels are about the ministry of Jesus, the question may be posed, why have four gospels been written? Yet within the similarities of overlap, numerous differences can be found in the gospels in the way of variations in the text of individual passages, additional or abbreviated material, and reordering of events. The gospels of Matthew and Luke will be surveyed in order to observe the similarities and differences in these texts. These two gospels have been chosen due to the similarities they share.

From the seventeen parables found in Matthew and nineteen in Luke, six are held in common. From the twenty miracles found in both Matthew and Luke, thirteen are held in common.[1] Both Matthew and Luke give details on Jesus’ infancy (Matthew 1:18 – 2:23; Luke 1:5 – 2:52); the preparatory ministry of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-12; Luke 3:1-20); the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (Matthew 3:13 – 4:1-11; Luke 3:21 – 4:15); Jesus’ ministry in Galilee (Matthew 4:13 – 19:1; Luke 4:16 – 9:62); and Jesus’ final week in Jerusalem, passion and ascension (Matthew 21-26; Luke 19-24). In these accounts difference can be observed in the particulars. Generally, Luke gives more details in these accounts. The greatest difference between the gospels is Luke’s coverage of Jesus’ Judean ministry which is unique to his gospel (10:1 – 18:14). To understand the reasons for these similarities and differences in Matthew and Luke and the way they have been structured, the theology and purpose of both gospels will be considered.

Gospel of Matthew

The main concern of the gospel of Matthew is to demonstrate how Jesus and his ministry are a continuation and a fulfilment of the Old Covenant. Several features of the gospel and their contribution to the main concern will be briefly considered.

1) Jesus’ Identification with David

The gospel of Matthew begins with a genealogy of Jesus mentioning two key figures in Israel’s heritage (1:1). The first of these figures is David. The mention of David connects Jesus to the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7:1-16) as the one whom through David’s throne would be established forever. Matthew shows that the kingship of Jesus is recognised from his birth by foreigners (2:1-2, 11), and that Jesus claim to the throne is asserted by Jesus himself (12:42; 22:44), especially by his provoking actions during his final entry into Jerusalem (21:1-11). This aspect of Jesus identity is recognised and accepted several times throughout the gospel by social outcasts and general public (9:27; 12:22-23; 15:22; 20:30-31; 21:9, 15). Jesus’ kingship was also recognised by Roman authorities who regarded it to be such a threat, infanticide was employed to prevent the rise of a rival king (2:16). Despite the responses from Rome and the general public, the religious establishment rejected Jesus’ kingship outright (27:41-42, this could be the issue behind the lack of repentance as Jesus compares himself to Solomon 12:38-42).

2) The identification with Abraham and fulfilling the Covenant as Israel

The second key figure Matthew mentions is Abraham. The identification of Abraham links the ministry of Jesus to the Abrahamic covenant, and the promises of land, nation, and blessing (Genesis 12:1-3). Though Israel received something of the promise, what they received was lost at the time of exile, and (they) never received the fulfilment of that promise. Jesus’ inaugurates the fulfilment of the promise by becoming Israel for Israel. This is a strong theme in the gospel as Jesus and his family is forced to flee from the infanticide of Herod to return to Israel at a later time. Matthew makes the comment that this was to fulfil the Scriptures thus identifying Jesus as a second Israel (2:15, Cf. Hosea 11:1). This identification with Israel is important as consideration is given to the reconstitution of the law.

3) The Miracles of Jesus

Jesus’ identity as the ‘Son of David’ also has implications for the Kingdom of God. The Son of David was to be sent “…by God specifically to the people of Israel to bring them salvation and deliverance by healing them of their diseases.”[2] Hence four out of the nine references to the ‘Son of David’ are given in the context of healing to support this theme (Matthew 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30, 31).

The idea of Jesus being sent specifically to Israel is also stressed. As Jesus sent out his twelve disciples on mission he instructs them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5-6). However, though Jesus was indeed sent to Israel, as he personifies and reconstitutes Israel, he would also become a blessing to the nations fulfilling the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4). This appears to be the case in Jesus’ healing of the daughter of a Canaanite woman (15:21-28). Though Jesus was sent to Israel, the blessings of theocratic rule would extend beyond Israel and to the nations.

Not only does Jesus’ healing ministry have implications of Jesus’ identity, it also has implications for the Kingdom of God. Matthew understands Jesus miracles as the inauguration of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 11:2-6; 12:28). McKnight also suggests the healing ministry is also connected to atoning sacrifice. Matthew understands Jesus’ healing ministry as a fulfilment of the image of the suffering servant (Isaiah 53. Cf. Matt 8:16-17

).  However, Matthew does not apply this passage to explain Jesus’ death. Instead, there is a clear foretelling of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice as the Son of Man (20:28). It may be in this instance Matthew is using the title ‘Son of Man’ to refer to one who is authorised by God.[3] Again, these assertions add to the identity of Jesus, and his importance in salvation history.

4) Identification with Moses and Israel

          The identification with Moses implies the reconstituting of Israel by Jesus. Matthew’s account of Jesus’ temptation (4:1-11) contains explicit allusions to the accounts of Moses. Just as Moses spent forty days and nights with God (Exodus 9:18), so Jesus now spends the same time being tempted. Unlike the original Israel that failed, Jesus does not fail thereby creating faithful Israel. The allusion continues as Jesus constitutes a new community (4:18-22) and reconstitutes the law (5-7). The reconstitution of the law, commonly known as the ‘Sermon on the Mount’, is fundamental to Matthew as Jesus dismisses Jewish tradition (5:21, 27, 33, 38, 43), restoring the standard of righteousness which he will fulfil as the new Israel for Israel.

5) Rejection of the religious establishment

The gospel of Matthew stresses the uniqueness of Jesus from Roman, and the Jewish religious establishment. As already has been noted, there was enmity between the Roman authority and Jesus shortly after his birth. The recording of Jesus coming from Nazareth and beginning his ministry in Galilee (4:12-13) would not have been viewed favourably by the religious establishment as inhabitants of Jeruselem despised the region – a sentiment echoed in John’s gospel (1:46).[4] Other examples of where the religious establishment would find Matthew offensive is in the instance of Jesus’ commendation of the faith of a Roman Centurion (8:10-11), and Gentiles being counted among his followers (4:24-25). Mathew also contains teaching which is explicitly against the religious establishment (5:20; 23:13-36).

All this demonstrates that though Jesus was not part of the religious establishment or Roman authority, he was nonetheless the fulfilment of Scripture and the continuity of the Old Covenant. Nine times in the gospel the life and ministry of Jesus are said to fulfil Scripture (Matthew 1:22; 2:15; 3:15; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; 26:54). These are included in the one-hundred and thirty plus references in the Old Testament – more than the other gospels.

Gospel of Luke

It is quite clear that Luke (the author of both the third gospel and Acts) is aware of other accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry (1:1), and he is not about to repeat the same emphasis. While Matthew’s main concern to show continuity from the Old Covenant to the person and ministry of Jesus, Luke’s main concern is to demonstrate the break away from traditional Israel, to a new covenant in Jesus and its applicability to the entirety of humanity. This is not to say Luke perceived the person and ministry of Jesus as having no connection with the Old Covenant. Though the gospel presents Jesus as distinct from the Old Covenant, it is still concerned to demonstrate the person and ministry of Jesus as a fulfilment of Scripture (2:23; 3:4; 21:22; 24:44), and in the recording of events which resemble events contained in the Old Testament. In this, Luke provides a universal presentation of the ministry of Jesus in the sense that it is not restricted to national Israel – this same theme prevails throughout Acts. The manner that Luke achieves this will be briefly considered.

1) The break from traditional Israel

The ministry of John the Baptist is contained in all four gospels, though Luke provides much more detail including the prophecies and circumstances surrounding his birth. It is the events surrounding John’s birth that are mentioned first, before the events that surround Jesus’ birth. The reasons for this are apparent when the circumstances of John’s birth are considered.

          Several key points concerning John and his parents, provide powerful allusions to several Old Testament identities through whom God performed extraordinary works which had a profound impact on the history of Israel. Luke informs his readers that Zechariah and Elizabeth were advanced in years, and Elizabeth herself was barren (1:6). John, their promised son, was “…not to drink wine or strong drink.” (1:15). It was in these and similar circumstances that Isaac (Genesis 17:15-19), Joseph (Genesis 29:31; 30:25); Samson (Judges 13:2-5, 24), and Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1, 20) were born. Hence Luke gives clues that God is about to do something different in the history of Israel. To be sure, John does not claim to be the Christ. Instead, the ministry of John was to testify to the one who was Christ (3:15). Similarly, Jesus was born of a childless woman, though not due to barrenness (1:34). Jesus confirms John’s ministry by recognising him as the last of the Law and the Prophets (16:16; 7:6-28). Hence John’s ministry serves as a transition between New and Old Covenants.

2) The universality of the Gospel

As Luke intends to demonstrate the universality of the gospels, he records a number of events not contained in the other gospels. These events involve people who would not be considered worthy.

          Luke records the people to receive the angelic proclamation of Jesus birth were shepherds (2:8-20). Shepherds were a despised class as Hendriksen remarks, “…because of the very nature of their occupation, to observe all the regulations of the Mosaic law-and especially all the man-made rules superim­posed on that law!”[5] Nonetheless, these were among the first people to learn of God’s actions and respond to them.

          Other reordering of social expectations can be found throughout the gospel such as chapter 18. In verses 9-14, Jesus tells a parable of a Pharisee and a tax collector, exemplary of a just and unjust person, and reverses the expected outcome (v14). In verses 15-17, Jesus welcomes children who have no social status, and exemplifies them for those who would follow him (v17).[6] In verses 18-30, Jesus dialogue with a rich young ruler reveals that entry into the kingdom can not be gained by human effort,[7] and those riches, often associated with observant Jewish leaders, hampered people from entering the kingdom. Similarly, Jesus tells of a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus, and again, the expected outcomes are reversed (16:8-31). Jesus also warns against the entrapments of riches and comfort (6:24-26). To be sure, Luke is not asserting that the poor and oppressed enter the kingdom while the rich people are condemned. Following shortly after Jesus dialogue with the rich young ruler is the occurrence of a tax collector who is inherently rich, and is declared to be a ‘son of Abraham’ due to his repentance. Hence Luke is merely demonstrating those who would not be considered as being in the kingdom in fact are.

          Consistent with this theme is Luke’s treatment of the religious establishment. Though Luke records sayings of Jesus critical of attributes which may be true of religious authorities, there is no direct public criticism as there is in Matthew. Luke’s ‘Sermon on the Plain’ (6:17-49), which appears as an abbreviated form of Matthew’s ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (Matthew 5-7) does not contain any comparisons to the teaching of religious authorities, or ‘you’ve hear said’ statements (Matthew 5:17, 21, 27, 33, 38, 43). Luke also records Jesus as receiving hospitality from Pharisees and being able to gently teach (7:36-50), though later invitations would not be so hospitable (11:37-52). Hence Luke provides little basis to dismiss the possibility of the religious authorities from entering the kingdom of God.

All these theological themes of Luke serve to introduce Jesus’ final commission to the Disciples (24:48); which Luke will espouse in his second volume.

Both Matthew and Luke share much of the material. However, they use their material differently to establish their own purposes. It is important to consider these purposes for understanding the individual accounts and events which form each gospel.


Bauer, David R.      ‘Son of David’ in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. J. B. Green & Scot McKnight. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992.

Bock, Darrell L.      ‘Gospel of Luke’ in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. J. B. Green & Scot McKnight. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992.

Hendriksen, William        Luke. Banner of truth New Testament commentary. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1978.

Hendriksen, William        Matthew. Banner of truth New Testament commentary. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1973.

House, Wayne H.    Chronological and background charts of the New Testament, Academic Books, 1981.

Howard, Marshall, I.        ‘Son of Man’ in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. J. B. Green & Scot McKnight. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992.

Keeber, Craig S.      The IVP Bible background commentary, New Testament on CD-ROM. ((Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992.

McKnight, Scot.      ‘Gospel of Matthew’ in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. J. B. Green & Scot McKnight. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992.

Riesner, Rainer, D.  ‘Galilee’ in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. J. B. Green & Scot McKnight. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992.

© The Student’s Desk, 2007.

[1] Wayne H. House, Chronological and background charts of the New Testament, (Academic Books, 1981), 109-115. Totals my differ pending the definitions of ‘parable’ and ‘miracle’.[2] David R. Bauer, ‘Son of David’ in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. J. B. Green & Scot McKnight. (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 769.[3] Howard, Marshall, I. ‘Son of Man’ in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. J. B. Green & Scot McKnight. (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 776.[4] Rainer, D. Riesner, ‘Galilee’ in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. J. B. Green & Scot McKnight. (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 253.

[5] William Hendriksen, Luke. Banner of truth New Testament commentary. (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1978), 149.

[6] Craig S. Keeber, The IVP Bible background commentary, New Testament on CD-ROM. ((Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992).

[7] William Hendriksen, Luke. 831.

October 24, 2007 Posted by | Essays, Gospels, New Testament, Religious | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment