Can Christians Believe in a True Chronological Harmony of the Gospels?

Why understand the chronological order of the Gospels? The events of Jesus’s resurrection or what happened in the course of Jesus’s trials puzzle many. Some unbelievers have asserted contradictions, and some believers have agreed laying aside Jesus’s words for a more mystical approach to faith in Christ. However, the Scriptures harmonize easily. There is a true chronological harmony of the Gospels, and the reader can see these in the purposes of each Gospel. For such an example, select this link a chronology of the Gospels.

Why are there four gospels? All four Gospels of Matthew, John, Mark with Peter, and the witnesses testified of what they saw and heard via Luke (Luke 1:1–3, cf. 1 John 1:1–4). Matthew wrote emphasizing the five main teachings of Jesus Christ in Galilee along with His fulfilling of predictive scripture. Mark concisely presented the vast influence of Christ’s ministry and Jesus’s personal character. Luke wrote emphasizing the last year of Jesus’s life traveling throughout the Israel unto Jerusalem. John wrote testifying of Jesus’s defense as the Christ in Judea. Each gospel is one of a kind supplementing each other with specific events contained in each individual account.

How do the Gospels affirm the Christian faith? The harmony of the Gospels prove that the Gospels are facts. The Gospels supplement each other agreeing on much more than multiple points of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. While some people assert allegations of contradictions in these records, there is not one gospel account that opposes the other. All of the Gospels are the records of primary witnesses and serve as authentic testimonies for honest examination. Thoroughly examining and finding agreeing accounts of two or three witnesses has been the standard of evidence for jurisprudence from ancient law until modern law (cf. “The Standard of Evidence”). This legal maxim appears in ancient histories, and the Law of Moses presents this wisdom as originating from God (Deut 17:6–7; 19:15–20). In John’s gospel, Jesus affirmed this standard evidence in proving that He was the predicted Messiah (John 5:33–47; 8:17), and this is why John wrote his gospel to testify of the truth (John 19:35; 20:30–31; 21:24; cf. 1 John 1:1–4, 5:6–13).

The Apostles testified in court in facing in possible charges of perjury, and yet their testimonies held strong and true. See, the word “perjury” literally means “false witness” according to its etymology of “par” meaning false and “jury” meaning witness. The Apostles did not bear false witness and they proved that Jesus is the predicted Messiah. Appearing before the Jewish court, the Apostles declared, “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20), and “we are His witnesses to these things” (Acts 5:32). Likewise, when some unbelieving Jews rose against the apostle Paul in Jerusalem, he took the testimony of the Gospel through trials from Caesarea to Rome (Acts 22:15; 23:11; 28:17–23). By this evidence, many believed the Gospel of Christ throughout the world.

All of the Gospels are chronologically accurate. The greatest difficulty involves comparing Matthew’s gospel to the gospels of Mark and Luke. While the Gospel of Matthew’s chronology is in order, Matthew’s gospel uniquely records his memoirs in overlapping portions from chapters 9–11. Matthew’s account does not appear as an exact order of events like Luke set to write an orderly account. Matthew’s record presents overlapping events in different periods of time for the end of Jesus’s first year of ministry through His second year. Otherwise, Matthew is in perfect agreement with Mark, Luke, and John. Matthew’s record overlaps in two places showing that Matthew wrote his gospel in segments. Starting from chapter 8 and verse 4, Matthew recorded specific events consisting of chapters 9–11 that overlap past events started in chapter 12. By comparing Matthew to Luke and Mark, Matthew presents events in chapter 9:1–17 that occurred before those events previously mentioned in Matthew 8:19–56. Matthew 12 also starts at a previous point before the occurrence of events in Matthew 9:18–38. This is the extent of any chronological difficulties. However, these are easily accepted when allowing Matthew to not need to present an exact chronology.

While some people are skeptical of the events of the Jesus’s life, trials, and resurrection, the Gospels stand true to examination. Each Gospel records eyewitness testimonies. The Gospels harmonize in unity and stand unique in supplementing each other. The honest student cannot disregard the value of each gospel. Reading one or two Gospels cannot stand for the reading of the others. There is harmony of the Gospels and a unity for all readers to admire the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

See for yourself: A Chronological Harmony of the Events of the Gospels.

About Scott J Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
This entry was posted in Christianity, Church of Christ and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Can Christians Believe in a True Chronological Harmony of the Gospels?

  1. Pingback: A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels | Seeing God's Breath

  2. Phil says:

    I wonder why the Gospel of Thomas was omitted from the Bible.

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  3. Scott says:

    Scott – This is great! Have you seen The Chronological Gospels? It compiles all 4 Gospels and rearranges them event by event according to what each author said about it. It actually helps strip away contradiction and confusion about duplicated/missing events in Jesus’ life. Check it out: http://thechronologicalgospels.com/

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    • I was pointed toward this on Twitter too. Interesting – but I am not convinced yet of the 70 weeks over the 3 1/2 years, because of John 6.4. Yet, I think either way we are blessed to make the gospels a greater part of our study in drawing closer to Christ.

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      • Scott says:

        Fair enough. But judge John 6:4 for yourself; everything before John 6:4 is talking about events in the late summer, and the very next chapter of John talks about preparations for the Feast of Tabernacles (autumn).

        Why on earth would there be a verse that says “Passover (spring) was nigh” when it was 6 months away? It doesn’t make sense.

        Even if John 6:4 “does” belong in the biblical record, it’s still a mistranslation. In either case, the verse, as it currently appears in modern Bibles, would mean that 6 months pass between John 6 and 7 without a single mention of anything Jesus did.

        Even from a logical perspective, a 3-1/2 year ministry doesn’t make sense: If Jesus was really creating the raucous that He was, would the Pharisees let it go for 3 years before trying to kill him? All I ask is that you think about it.

        None of this changes the fact that Jesus is the Messiah and that He will return; it (a 70-week ministry) DOES however help to improve one’s understanding of biblical prophecy and events. Everything becomes much clearer and mysteries of the Gospel simply melt away, amplifying the truth of our Messiah! :)

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        • Thank you for the reply and the challenge to reconsider. I make this study of John 6 apart of my personal study. I will reread in Greek, but I find no textual variants while I do prefer the Byzantine text-type. I wish I could see the 70-week perspective as a list.

          Though I do not see the gap in John 6 to 7 as peculiar since John’s Gospel is already so unique excluding much detail that should appear between John 2 and John 5, and John 5 and 6 would contain a whole year from the 3-year perspective. I just see that John like Luke focuses more on the last days of Jesus’ life and ministry.

          May I ask how the 70-week ministry would help clarify mysteries and prophecies.

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          • Scott says:

            Hi Scott – Sure, thanks for asking. Here is a direct excerpt from the introduction section of The Chronological Gospels should shed some light on the subject:
            Daniel’s Seventy Sevens Messianic Prophecy
            The timing and duration of Yeshua’s ministry is a direct fulfillment of the second of three layers of Daniel’s seventy shavuim (sevens) prophecy. Understanding that Yeshua fulfilled his role as the Passover lamb in exactly seventy weeks is prerequisite to understanding the other two layers of Daniel’s prophecy, which must and will be fulfilled before the Messiah returns. We will now address this prophecy.

            21While I (Daniel) was speaking in prayer and growing weary with fatigue, about the time of the evening oblation I saw a vision that began with the man Gavriel, who touched me 22and spoke with me, saying, “O Daniel, I have been sent to give you wisdom and understanding. 23At the beginning of your supplications I received word that I was to come to you and proclaim that you are greatly beloved. Therefore, understand this communication and vision: 24Seventy sevens are determined upon thy people and upon the holy city: to restrain the transgression, and to complete the sin offering, and to atone for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to authenticate the vision and the Prophet, and to anoint the Most Holy. 25Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build
            Jerusalem, until the Messiah the Prince there shall be seven sevens, and sixty two sevens. (The Temple courtyard and the city wall shall be built again in troubled times.) 26And after sixty two sevens shall Messiah be cut off – but not for himself. Then the people (of the prince that shall come) shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end will come like a flood, and at the end of the battle horrors are decreed. 27But he [Messiah the Prince] shall confirm the covenant with many for one seven. And in the midst of the seven he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and because of the overspreading abominations he [the prince that shall come] shall make it desolate until the end. Then that which is decreed shall be poured out upon the desolators.” (Daniel 9:21- 27 CKJV)

            Seventy-sevens, seven-sevens, sixty-two-sevens, after sixty-two-sevens, one-seven, in-the-midst-of-seven –the angel Gavriel gave Daniel a prophetic code which was so mathematically complex, it could not be deciphered until the generation in which “knowledge is increased and men run to and fro,” as the angel phrased it (Daniel 12:4). Now, in just the first decade of the 21st century, the composite knowledge base of humankind has doubled in just one year, and men are actually running to and fro at speeds measured in nanoseconds. The scientific knowledge gleaned from NASA’s space program has allowed mankind to calculate the celestial and historic events of antiquity to within one-millionth of a day. We can now decipher the Creator’s celestial and terrestrial time clock with heretofore incalculable accuracy.

            Astrophysics finally allows us to ascertain that which was penned thousands of years ago in Genesis 1:14, that the Creator put the heavenly bodies in their courses to determine the passage of days and years, for signs in the heavens, and to set the moedim, i.e. the appointed times of our Creator, also called the Feasts of the LORD.

            The modern Jewish calendar, invented in 359 CE by Hillel II, was based on mathematical astronomy rather than on the original method of observed astronomy combined with agricultural considerations in the land of Israel. The last act of the Sanhedrin, which had been exiled to the city of Tiberius, was to change the Creator’s reckoning of time and the eternal laws that govern when we are to keep the Feasts of the LORD (Daniel 7:25). At that time, the hands were broken from the face of the Creator’s clock, and a calculated calendar of convenience was offered in its place. Initially the calculated calendar allowed the Jews in the Diaspora to celebrate the Feasts in unison around the globe, but subsequently, both the
            Creator’s original reckoning of time and the accuracy of the prophetic shadow pictures of good things to come that are embedded in the Feasts of the LORD, were lost to antiquity. The calendar that was in use during the time of Yeshua, as well as the Gospel chronology, became shrouded in the mists of forgotten time. The restoration of the Creator’s original calendar in the land of Israel during the past two decades has proven to be the lost master key that has unlocked the chronological mysteries in the Gospels. With unimagined clarity, we can now decipher significant events in the life and ministry of Yeshua, as well as contemplate the ramifications of each compelling layer of Daniel’s seventy sevens prophecy.

            The Chronological Gospels: The Life and Seventy Week Ministry of the Messiah will uncover the prophetic realities that were buried in antiquity, yet are being revealed in the last days as promised to Daniel while he languished in exile. The second layer of Daniel’s prophecy, the seventy week ministry of Messiah, has now been revealed in the chronology of the first four Gospel records, beckoning us to explore the third layer now knocking at our door. This final layer will be fulfilled in the fifth Gospel, the book of the Revelation of Yeshua Messiah.

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