Matthew, Mark, Luke & John
Who were the men who wrote the four gospels? Were they in fact written by four individuals, or by a community speaking with the voice or from the perspective of one person? These four books of the Bible were written so long ago that we forget that actual people wrote them, mostly years after the events they were talking about. In that sense, they cannot be considered direct eyewitness accounts or even recounts.
Biblical scholars still have discussions about who wrote the gospels and when they were written. These four authors or groups of people tell us about the life of Jesus – four accounts with differing emphases and concerns. They present four differing but complementary portraits of Jesus. Here is a little background about each author, together with a list of other websites that will give you more information:
The Gospel of Matthew was written from Matthew’s point of view. Matthew was believed to be a former tax collector. Tax collectors earned lots of money, but the people hated them. Jesus called Matthew to be one of the twelve disciples or apostles, showing that social class and position were not important to Jesus. Matthew’s gospel is a link to the Old Testament (the first section of the Bible), giving prophecies or predictions in the Old Testament that Jesus fulfilled – in other words, he really was the Son of God the Jews had been waiting for.
Mark was a follower of the apostle Peter, who was in prison when this book was written. So, it’s possible that Mark was writing this book on behalf of Peter, and often speaking from his point of view, as he had been right beside him.
Luke was believed to be a doctor. He, or his community, wrote the Book of Acts, and was a close friend of Paul of Tarsus. Luke often traveled with Paul and he wrote about the things they did together. Greek by birth, Luke looked through the eyes of an historian, noticing details, dates, and places.
John is known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23). We can tell a lot about John by the theme of love that runs through his writing – how by being both God and man, Jesus gave his life to give us eternal life. The writer known as John also wrote the Book of Revelation.