Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the first four books of the New Testament. These are also called the “Gospels,” and they contain a detailed story of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. However, upon reading the four books, one will notice that there are significant differences between the books’ contents. While Matthew, Mark, and Luke agree on many details, the Gospel of John differs from them. The first three books are the Synoptic Gospels. They are called such because they have many things in common, such as events or details, language, and paragraph structures.
However, these are not the only things which make them similar. According to researchers, the possibility exists that one or all of the Gospel writers used other Synoptics for their source material. The Gospel of John, on the other hand, is different from the three. Thus, it is not a Synoptic gospel. The reason behind the differences in John’s accounts from the Synoptics is because he he wants to provide another point of view to the events surrounding Jesus Christ (Conte).
In addition, these differences lie in the fact that some materials appear in the Gospel of John but not in the Synoptics and vice versa.
Noticeably, the Gospel of John contains a prologue but not in the Synoptics. It also contains a narrative of Jesus Christ’s childhood, whereas the Synoptics do not include infancy narrative. “Signs” have also been discussed in John 2, and these started with the wedding at Cana (Just). These “signs” encouraged the people to follow Jesus, according to John (Neyrey 117).
Another material missing from Synoptics but is included in the Gospel of John is the dialogue with Nicodemus, which can be found from selected verses of Chapters 2 and 3 of John (Just).
Differences can also be seen from the accounts of baptism. From the Gospel of John, it says that Jesus and his disciples baptized people. However, from the Synoptics, there are no accounts testifying that Jesus was baptized. In addition, there are events that occurred in the Gospel of John but are not recorded in the Synoptics. In the same way, there are events only found in the Synoptics. For instance, the Gospel of John contains details of the Samaritan woman that Jesus met. He also healed a sick man near the pool of Bethesda.
Other events include the feeding of the 5,000 people, healing a blind man, raising Lazarus from the dead, and the washing of the feet of the disciples (Just). These events did not appear in the Synoptics. There are also other materials that do not appear in the Synoptics. For instance, they lack the childhood episodes that are present in the Gospel of John. In addition, the Synoptics do not have details about the temptation in the desert, or details about the sermon on the Mount. The Synoptics further lack the Lord’s prayer, or the list of the names of the disciples.
Another obvious details missing from the Synoptics are the parables and the ethical teachings. The Synoptics further lack the predictions about Jesus’ return and the details about his ascension (Just). Furthermore, the events that John recorded took place during the Passover, or the feast of bread (Neyrey 117), and the ministry of Jesus covers three Passovers. However, the Synoptics acknowledge that Jesus’ ministry lasts for a year (Just). The differences can also be seen at John’s accounts of the feeding of a large crowd. His accounts tell that “Jesus asks the disciples about feeding the crowds.
” In the Synoptics, it says that the disciples approach Jesus and “ask Him to send the crowds away. ” In addition, the Synoptics claim that Jesus orders his disciples to give the people food to eat, which they did. On the other hand, John claims that it is Jesus who distributed the bread to the people. Also, the Synoptics do not mention names of the disciples. The Gospel of John, however, mentions Philip and Andrew (Neyrey 117). Other prominent differences are seen on other details. Whereas the Synoptics discuss the tenet “Love your neighbors/enemies,” the Gospel of John emphasizes the importance of loving one another.
The Synoptics also believe that the future eschatology, or the destiny of the humanity, is the coming of God’s kingdom. On the other hand, the Gospel of John believes that the eternal life is already upon humankind. Jesus also visits Jerusalem in many occasions, as told in the Gospel of John, but the Synoptics only acknowledge one journey (Just). Aside from these, the differences are obvious from smaller details, such as the claim of the Synoptics that John is “Elijah” who preaches about repentance. The Gospel of John claims John to be the baptizer and also a witness to Jesus Christ.
It is also obvious from the Synoptics that the ministry of Jesus started after John the Baptist is arrested. The Gospel of John shows that the ministry of Jesus overlaps with that of John’s. Furthermore, there is a difference in the accounts of the first disciples of Jesus. The first three books claim that the first disciples of Jesus are Simon Andrew, James and John. However, John’s accounts claim that there are five persons who became Jesus’ first disciples, namely Andrew, an unnamed person, Simon Peter, Philip, and Nathanael (Just).
There are still other differences from details. For instance, the Synoptics tell of an anonymous woman anointing Jesus at Bethany, and this is objected by anonymous people. The Gospel of John claims that Jesus is anointed at Bethany by Mary, Lazarus’ siste, which was objected by Judas Iscariot. There are also differences from accounts near Jesus’ death. The Synoptics tell about Jesus being in Gethsemane to pray where he was betrayed by Judas with a kiss. The Gospel of John tells that Jesus is in a garden in Cedron, and He identifies himself to the men who arrived to arrest Him.
It is also interesting to note that the time of the crucifixion from the Synoptics’ accounts is at nine in the morning during the Day of Passover. By three in the afternoon He dies. But John claims that Jesus is condemned to die before the Passover; and when He is crucified, He dies quickly (Just). Upon closer reading of the Synoptics and the Gospel of John, one will notice other differences between their accounts that are not listed in this paper. Perhaps these differences would be dependent on the understanding of each reader. But these differences are meant to provide people with other angles and point of view of all the events that took place during Jesus’ time.