This is an introduction to my own attempt to discover the similarities and distinctions of the presentation of the Olivet Discourse (first post) as given in the synoptic gospels. The Synoptic Gospels are Matthew, Mark and Luke, as they present themselves similar in the things they record of Jesus’ ministry on Earth.
The first thing to keep in mind is the distinctiveness of the authors as different people with differing mindsets. Each also had a distinct audience in mind. So, it can be said that each Gospel has a distinct purpose for a distinct audience. One sees this intent recorded by the selective events each author chooses to include, and how they are related to the audience.
Matthew’s Gospel is intended to speak to the Israeli, a person who is familiar with the Old Testament. Matthew details the prophecies recorded in the Old Testament that characterize Israel’s Messiah, and how these are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Therefore, Jesus is portrayed as that Messiah, the King of the Israelis. This is evidenced from the outset, as his gospel opens with the genealogy of Jesus, which would be of utmost importance to an Israeli. Especially as it relates to the Messiah, the Son of David.
Matthew 1:1 (MEV) The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham:
Herein, one sees that Jesus is rightful heir to the kingdom to David. It is the opening of the book that establishes the credentials of Jesus as that heir. The promises of the Messiah from the Old Testament are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, beginning with His family tree.
Sum it up this way, Matthew is written to Israelis and is for Israelis.
Mark is not written to the Israeli or even to those familiar with the Old Testament. Instead, his audience is to those people who understand power and authority. That is, those citizens and leaders in the Roman Empire. These folks would be unfamiliar with Judaism and the promises of the Messiah. Mark does not start with the birth of Jesus. He doesn’t start with Jesus’ credentials.
Mark 1:1–3 (MEV) The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets:
“Look, I am sending My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.”
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.'”
He starts with action for people who understand action. Here is Jesus, the servant of the Lord sent by God to do what God has sent Him to do. With the emphasis on doing, Jesus did what was asked of Him. Because this book records the actions of Jesus, it records more of Jesus’ miracles than does Matthew, Luke, or John.
Mark is summed up as written to the Roman and the authorities in Rome.
Luke wanted to appeal intellectuality. The Greeks of Luke’s day were of the intellectual mindset, loving art, philosophy and literature. It is with that intent that the humanity of Jesus is emphasized. He is like any other human. Yet, He is not, as He is the perfection of humanity. And Luke would give an orderly account.
Luke 1:1–4 (MEV) Whereas many have undertaken to write a narrative of those things which are most surely believed among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having accurately investigated all things from the very beginning, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you might know the certainty of the things which you have been told.
One can trust that what Luke wrote is an orderly account. It is not the writings of an eyewitness, but as an investigator who has collected and recorded others’ eyewitness testimonies. The humanity of Jesus is emphasized by the focus of events that demonstrate that. Luke’s gospel relates to the reader a very human Jesus.
Luke is summed up as written to the Greek.
John was an eyewitness to the life of Jesus. The things recorded are for the purpose of establishing Jesus as the eternal God who became a man.
John 1:1–3 (MEV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were created through Him, and without Him nothing was created that was created.
From the very opening words, Jesus is presented as the Creator – God. John intends the reader to believe. The book is written with that purpose.
John 20:31–32 (MEV) Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
John stated he is selective in what he has recorded. His goal is personal, it is for the reader to believe.
John writes to believers.
A Point to Consider
With these things in mind, the first point I would like to ponder is that the gospel of John has no recording of the Olivet Discourse. Of course, I understand that the Bible is given to us with a framework of design. Therefore, we must also consider certain points of silence. It is this one that I want to consider and challenge my own thinking.
Maybe, John didn’t record the Olivet Discourse because it wasn’t intended for believers, specifically church-age believers. Let me explain. We have it recorded by three folks who were not eyewitnesses. It is recorded in differing ways, with different ideas emphasized. Given the inherent audiences of the gospels, perhaps the ideas written in the discourse in the synoptics would be for the unbelieving Israeli, those who love action and authority, and the intellectual. All of which would be unbelievers, given that John’s gospel is written for believers. John’s gospel would exclude such ideas as the church-age believers wouldn’t be present.
Could that hint to church-age believers being removed before these things happen?