Themes of the Four Gospels

Themes of the Four Gospels
Photo by Lauren Kan / Unsplash

A key to understanding the focus of each of the four gospels is to know the intent with which they are writing.

The following offers a brief glimpse at the overall idea each author presents:


  • Jesus is the messianic King

  • Matthew's Gospel presents Jesus as this culminating figure, Israel's promised, eternal king

  • Matthew is going to use more Old Testament than any other gospel, and he is going to connect Jesus to many past Hebrew rulers, including Moses and Solomon

  • This begins immediately in the book as Matthew opens with tracing Jesus' lineage to David and Abraham, key figures in Israel's royal line


  • Jesus is the faithful Servant of God

  • Mark's Gospel tells of Jesus' obedience to God, faithfully fulfilling his duty

  • Notably, Mark disregards the lineage of Jesus, because it is not relevant to a servant.


  • Jesus is the Perfect Man

  • Luke's Gospel relates Jesus to the ancient Greek pursuit of the "ideal man"

  • The Greeks were obsessed with human perfection, particularly in wisdom and intellect rather than brute strength

  • Since Luke is presenting Jesus as the Perfect Man, Luke traces Jesus' lineage back to the first man, Adam


  • Jesus is the Divine

  • John's Gospel presents Jesus as God in the flesh

  • Due to focusing on Jesus' divinity, John traces Jesus' lineage back to the preexistent God and God's Word

Knowing these distinctions between the gospels can add clarity and depth to our reading and study.

As it relates to Luke, it is also important to note that our traditional layout of the New Testament sadly separates Luke's Gospel from the book of Acts by the Gospel of John. The Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are truly a consecutive, two-volume series of Luke's inquiry into the historical Jesus and the early church.

Luke and Acts are intended as a complete series, with Acts picking up where the Gospel of Luke ends.