The Gospels: Summary and Theology

Discover the Background, Message, Structure, Content, Original Meaning, and Modern Application of the Gospels

In partnership with Third Millennium Ministries

Course Introduction

About the Course

The first four books of the New Testament — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — are commonly known as “the Gospels.” These books explain the life and ministry of Jesus, and are the basis for most of the distinctive doctrines of Christianity.

Course Goals:

  • Introduce viewers to the background and primary message of the Gospels.
  • Summarize the structure, content, original meaning and modern application of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
About Third Millennium Ministries

The mission of Third Millennium Ministries is to prepare Christian leaders to lead a transformation of the world into God’s Kingdom by providing biblical education, for the world, for free.

Their top priority is to spread the will of God to every corner of the earth through the gospel of Christ. So, Third Millennium Ministries is preparing an in-depth biblical education for Christian leaders around the world in their languages, for their lands, and absolutely free.

This mission is being fulfilled at this very moment using various mediums for distributing learning content: DVD, online streaming, radio, satellite, TV broadcast, smartphone apps, USB flash drives, and SD cards.

To learn more about Third Millennium Ministries, click here.

Introduction to the Gospels

This lesson explores the literary character of the Gospels, their status in the Church, and their unity and variety.

Lecture Video

This companion video to lesson 1 answers the following questions:

  • Why did the gospel writers think it was important to record these facts in such careful literary accounts?
  • Are the Gospels only valuable because they contain facts about Jesus, or is it also important to consider their literary aspects?
  • Why is it important to identify and consider the genre of the Gospels?
  • Can we be certain that Jesus was a real, historical person?
  • How does the Holy Spirit’s inspiration impact the Gospel’s historical reliability?
  • How should Evangelicals respond to the charge that the Gospels are based on faulty oral traditions?
  • Are the opinions of modern historians more reliable than the gospel accounts?
  • Why should the failures and shortcomings of the disciples increase our confidence in the gospel accounts?
  • How can extra-biblical accounts confirm the reliability of the Gospels?
  • How can we discuss the historical reliability of the Gospels with skeptics and unbelievers?
  • Why are the similarities and differences between the Synoptic Gospels considered problematic?
  • What’s the value in having multiple gospels that say essentially the same thing?
  • Why is John’s gospel so different from the Synoptic Gospels?
  • Should the lack of rigorous chronology in the Gospels pose a problem for modern readers?
  • Do the differences between the Gospels indicate that their authors disagreed with each other?
  • What did the Jews in Jesus’ day expect the Messiah to do, and how did Jesus compare to those expectations?
  • Why did the gospel writers find it so remarkable that Peter specifically confessed Jesus to be the Christ?
  • Why did the Messiah have to descend from David?
  • How can we reconcile Jesus’ kingship with his commitment to suffering and dying?
  • Do the Gospels teach that Jesus is fully God?
  • What was the central focus of the gospel that Jesus proclaimed?
  • What are some ways that Jesus taught implicitly about the kingdom of God?
  • How might we summarize Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom of God?
Q & A

The Gospel according to Matthew

Matthew wrote the first gospel to explain that Jesus was the king of Jews that brought the kingdom of heaven, even though Jesus didn’t arrive in the way people expected.

Lecture Video

This companion video to lesson 2 answers the following questions:

  • Why is it important to understand the historical setting in which Matthew and other gospels were written?
  • How confident should we be that the apostle Matthew wrote the Gospel of Matthew?
  • What can the structure and content of Matthew’s gospel reveal about his purpose for writing?
  • How did Matthew see Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament hopes?
  • What does the Transfiguration teach us about Jesus’ role as the Christ?
  • What does the Lord’s Supper signify in Matthew’s gospel?
  • How was Jesus a greater prophet than Moses?
  • Why did Matthew generally use the term “kingdom of heaven” instead of the term “kingdom of God”?
  • Why is it important for Christians to pursue the kingdom of heaven?
  • How did Jesus’ death atone for sin?
  • Why is the resurrection of Jesus an indispensible part of the gospel message?
  • When is Jesus coming back? And what should we be doing in the meantime?
  • In the Sermon on the Mount, was Jesus contradicting the Old Testament?
  • Was Jesus’ emphasis on heartfelt obedience new, or was it already present in the Old Testament?
  • Why did so many people that witnessed Jesus’ miracles still reject him as Messiah or Christ?
  • Why should the church be important to Christians?
  • What practical encouragement can we draw from the fact that we’re part of God’s family?
  • Why does suffering currently exist in the kingdom of heaven on earth?
  • Why did Jesus call his followers to the difficult and dangerous task of evangelizing the entire world?
  • What exactly is repentance, and what does it have to do with God’s kingdom?
Q & A

The Gospel according to Mark

The persecution of Christians was on Mark’s mind as he wrote the second Gospel. Mark told the story of Jesus’ life in ways that strengthened the faith of early Christians and encouraged them to persevere through suffering.

Lecture Video

This companion video to lesson 3 answers the following questions:

  • How reliable is church tradition regarding the authorship of Mark’s gospel?
  • Humanly speaking, how qualified was Mark to write a gospel?
  • How does the structure of Mark’s gospel help us to understand his message?
  • Why was Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ so remarkable?
  • What did the Jews in Jesus’ day expect the Messiah to do?
  • How did Jesus compare to the messianic expectations of his contemporaries?
  • Why did Jesus perform miracles?
  • Why does Mark’s gospel end with the women responding in fear to the news of Jesus’ resurrection?
  • Why did Jesus’ gospel message focus so strongly on the kingdom of God?
  • In what sense did Jesus establish God’s kingdom during his earthly ministry, and in what sense are we still waiting for his kingdom to come?
  • What is the relationship between the kingdom of God and the church?
  • What is the relationship between God’s plan for our lives as individuals and his plan for his kingdom?
  • How can we identify and employ the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives?
  • How can church leaders guard themselves against sin?
  • Do the failures of the disciples undercut the authority and respectability of the church and its leadership?
  • What positive examples can we find among Christ’s followers in Mark’s gospel?
Q & A

The Gospel according to Luke

Luke described Jesus Christ as the one who saves. Humanity is lost and desperate, without help or hope, in need of salvation. The third gospel reminds us that Jesus died to save us.

Lecture Video

A companion video to lesson 4 of the same series that answers the following questions:

  • How do scholars determine the date of early manuscripts?
  • How confident can we be that Luke wrote the third gospel?
  • How do we know Luke’s gospel is true?
  • Are there distinctly Gentile aspects of Luke’s gospel?
  • Was “Theophilus” a real person, or was the name just a symbolic reference to anyone who loved God?
  • What was the relationship between Judaism and Christianity in the first century?
  • Why did Jesus need to be baptized?
  • Why did the Jews hate Jesus so much?
  • Why didn’t the Jews recognize that Jesus was the Messiah?
  • What characterizes the kingdom of God in Luke’s gospel?
  • How should the kingdom of God impact the lives of Christians?
  • Why did Jesus demonstrate mercy during his earthly ministry?
  • Why did Luke pay so much attention to people that lacked influence in Israel in Jesus’ day?
  • How should Christians respond to Luke’s emphasis on socially disenfranchised groups?
  • Why is it important for Christians to pray?
Q & A

The Gospel according to John

John wrote the fourth gospel to assure persecuted Jewish believers that Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s ancient promises to the Jews that Jesus really is the Christ, the Son of God. John wanted to make sure that they would remain faithful to Jesus and enjoy abundant life in him.

Lecture Video

A companion video to lesson 5 of the same series that answers the following questions:

  • Why should we be concerned with the Bible’s human authors?
  • When was the Gospel of John written?
  • How might the place where John wrote his gospel have influenced its shape and content?
  • Who was John’s original audience?
  • Why did John write his gospel?
  • Why is John’s gospel so different from the other three?
  • What did John mean when he called Jesus the “Son of God”?
  • What was so significant about Jesus’ “I am” statements in the Gospel of John?
  • What was the relationship between Jesus and the temple?
  • What might the term “Word of God” have meant to John’s original audience?
  • How might our understanding of Jesus as the Word of God influence our interpretation of John’s gospel?
  • Has the church always affirmed the full divinity of Christ?
  • Why did John refer to Jesus’ miracles as “signs”?
  • In John’s gospel, what is belief?
  • How did John describe eternal life?
  • Why did John connect love for God with obedience to God?
  • Does Jesus’ Farewell Discourse apply to all Christians, or was it only intended for the apostles?
  • What was the main point of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer?
  • Why was Jesus so willing to be crucified?
Q & A