Significant Doctrinal Differences Between John and the Synoptic Gospels

Most Christians treat Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as definitive of the life of Jesus.

The Truth Is…

 

Matthew, Mark and Luke Are Incompatible with John:

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are the “synoptic” gospels, “synoptic”  meaning “having a common view.” John differs significantly from the synoptic gospels in theme, content, time duration, order of events, and style.

The Gospel of John reflects a Christian tradition that is different from that of the other gospels. It was rejected as heretical by many individuals and groups within the early Christian movement. It was used extensively by the Gnostic Christians. But it was ultimately accepted into the official canon, over many objections. It is now the favorite gospel of many conservative Christians, and the gospel least referred to by many liberal Christians.

The table below highlights the differences between the synoptic gospels and John. While many of the entries in the table are merely reporting on different aspects of the life of Jesus, a few of them represent critical differences in the fact of an event central to Christian theology. These events are highlighted in red. Since the Bible is supposed to be “the word of God”, there should not be multiple versions of the truth. In fact, as highlighted below, there are multiple versions of foundational stories.

Item Matthew, Mark, Luke John
First event mentioned Jesus’ birth (baptism in Mark) Creation of the world
Authors: according to conservative Christians Apostle Matthew; Mark and Luke, co-workers of Paul Apostle John
Authors: according to liberal Christians Unknown authors 2 or more unknown authors
Virgin birth Mentioned in Matt, Luke Some interpret John 1:45 as denying the virgin birth
Jesus as Son of God… From the time of his birth or baptism From the time that the universe was created
Description of Jesus Jesus’ humanity emphasized Jesus’ deity emphasized
Jesus baptism Described Not mentioned
Preaching style Brief one-liners; parables Essay format
Jesus teaches as: A sage A philosopher and mystic
Exorcism A main function of his ministry None performed
True parables Many None
Theme of his teaching: Kingdom of God Jesus himself. Kingdom of God is a background theme.
Jesus’ theology Deviated little from 1st century CE liberal Judaism. Similar
to beliefs taught by Hillel.
Largely independent of Judaism and in opposition to much of its
teaching.
Response expected from the reader  Respond to God’s will as expressed in the Mosaic law Respond to Jesus as the definitive expression of God’s will
or revelation
Exorcism of demons Many None
Involvement with the poor and suffering Focus of his ministry Rarely mentioned
Involvement with Scribes (Jewish teachers) 26 references to scribes, who are puzzled and angered by
Jesus’ teachings
No references at all.
Miracles performed by Jesus Many “nature miracles,” healings, and exorcisms Few; all “nature miracles”
Jesus references to himself Rare Focus of the gospel, including the many “I am” sayings
****** BASIS OF PERSONAL SALVATION  ******
Good works, helping the poor, sick, imprisoned, and needy Belief in Jesus as the Son of God
*** DURATION OF MINISTRY ***
1 year 3 years
*** LOCATION OF MINISTRY *** Mainly Galilee Mainly Judea, near Jerusalem
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT COMMITTED IN THE TEMPLE COURTYARD
Near the end of his ministry Near the start of his ministry
*** DATE OF THE LAST SUPPER ***
Passover eve Night before Passover eve
Ceremonial event at the Last Supper: Communal meal  Foot washing
Who carried the cross? Simon Jesus
Visitors to the tomb on Sunday with Mary Magdalene? One or more additional women None; Mary Magdalene went alone
Who was present in the tomb? One angel or two men Two angels
Burial shroud A single piece of cloth Multiple pieces of cloth, as was the Jewish practice at the
time. (John 20:5-7)
Jesus’ first appearance to disciples At Emmaus or Galilee Jerusalem

How is it possible for the inerrant, infallible word of God to have two different values for the same event when there is only one possible value?  The events listed below have definite answers. There is no room for interpretation. There can be only one true answer, yet the Bible gives two or more; hence at least one answer is wrong, false.

  • Duration of Ministry: One year or Three years?
  • Location of Ministry: Galilee or Judea?
  • Date of last Supper: Passover eve or Night before Passover eve?
  • Who Carried Cross: Simon or Jesus?
  • Who was  Present at The Tomb? two men or two angels?
  • Additional visitors to Tomb?  None, One, more than one?
  • How many pieces of the Burial Shroud? One or multiple?
  • Jesus First Appearance:  Emmaus, Galilee, or Jerusalem?

If the Bible is in error on these most crucial, foundational precepts, how can we trust anything the bible says? These contradictions in the foundational events prove that the bible is errant. Many of the errors (creation, Noah, Moses, Exodus, Jesus Divinity, etc)  have been addressed in our doctrine.

For an even more complete comparison of the discrepancies in Mark, Matthew, Luke and John,
see this Wikipedia article

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