The four inspired accounts of the gospel are gathered in our Bibles in the order in which the early church believed them to have been written: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Most modern scholars insist that Mark was written first and that both Matthew and Luke copied much of their material from Mark’s writing. That is how those scholars explain the similarity, and some of the differences, between the first three accounts. The writer of this article gives more credence to the views of the early church than to that of scholars who came along two thousand years later.

At any rate, so far as I know, all students of the Scriptures agree that John wrote last. His account of the gospel was probably written at least as late as 78 A.D., and perhaps closer to the end of the century. It seems clear that he intentionally omitted from his account many of the things that were already common knowledge as a result of the writings of the other three, and he included in his account many things the others did not tell us.

Matthew and Luke begin their accounts of Jesus’ life with His birth. Mark begins his account with Jesus as an adult, ready to begin His earthly ministry. John, on the other hand, goes back to the time before the creation of this universe and shows that Jesus existed in heaven with God the Father before this world ever came into existence.

“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 made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:1-5). John goes on in verse 14 to identify the individual he has referred to as “the Word”: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John’s first epistle begins similarly: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us…” (1 John 1:1-2).

Note that Jesus (1) was already in existence at the beginning of creation; (2) that He was with God (the Father); (3) that He Himself was Deity; and (4) that He came to earth in fleshly form where He was seen, heard, and touched by eye witnesses who left for future generations a testimony of what they had seen and heard.

Near the end of John’s account of the gospel, he tells us specifically why he put his testimony into writing. For those of us who were not there and who did not see His mighty miracles nor hear His marvelous lessons, John wrote: “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

By –Clarence R. Johnson
via the Susquehanna Sentinel 5/1/2005

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