Which Gospel Chronology Is Correct? (Y1.T1.D49)
Updated: Feb 9
While the timeline in each Gospel might differ, they are all correct.
Critics call the variations errors, but in a previous post, we read how "Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
Since the author—God—"is perfect and his word has been [proved]" (Psalm 18:30), he must have inspired each writer to emphasize particular events in certain ways to benefit the audience.
Stephen Venable—a senior leader at the Antioch Center for Training and Sending—explains the differences in a post at beholdingJesus.com. He wrote the three points of “common ground” below to help temper conclusions on the subject of “The Gospels and Chronology”:
An exact chronology is impossible with the information the Holy Spirit chose to include in the canonical gospels. We cannot project onto the gospels a modern concept of reporting of events that was foreign to antiquity or pretend there aren’t significant gaps in what has been revealed.
A chronological arrangement is not the only way to view the life of Jesus. The bulk of the gospel of Matthew is clearly not arranged chronologically. Instead, it evidences an oscillating pattern of discourse and narrative. This must be valued and appreciated as a reflection of the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
Chronological does not mean comprehensively chronological. The gospel of John is arguably the most rigidly chronological of the four, and yet it skips vast portions of Jesus’ public ministry.
So which Gospel chronology have I felt inspired to follow for this experience?
After laying the four of them across my living room floor, I found a blend of John and Mark had a nice narrative flow. When they leave out something—like Jesus’ eating with the Pharisee Simon captured only in Luke—I insert the additional information.
Because the Mosaic Bible Experience's primary goal is to help people read the entire Bible, each daily reading is similar in length (an average of 42 verses) and contains something applicable to help people accomplish that goal.
In today’s passages, I have lifted the parable and its explanation from the story due to length. After doing that, I found the chronology wasn’t as important as the message about hearing God’s voice. Mark’s order of events connects those who “have ears to hear” (Matthew 13:16) to those who become the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).
I pray you find something equally powerful. There are multiple applications you might pull from today’s passages.
If you feel the Bible doesn’t care about women, you might be inspired by Luke 8:2–3 which mentions three important female disciples—Mary, Joanna, and Susanna.
If you’ve chosen to follow God over the beliefs of your family, you might find comfort knowing Jesus considers anyone who “does the will of God” (Matthew 12:50) as family.
If you’re new to reading the Bible, you can be assured God wants to reveal what is hidden to you (Mark 4:22).
Each and every one of the Gospels has a purpose. Each is told in the way God wanted it to be told. And all of them contain verses that will change our lives if we are willing to listen.
Please, Open My Ears
1 Soon afterwards, he went about through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of God’s Kingdom. With him were the twelve, 2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out; 3 and Joanna, the wife of Chuzas, Herod’s steward; Susanna; and many others; who served them from their possessions. (Luke 8:1–3)
32a A multitude was sitting around him, (Mark 3:32a)
19b and they [Jesus family] could not come near him for the crowd. (Luke 8:19b)
12 For whoever has, to him will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever doesn’t have, from him will be taken away even that which he has. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, (Matthew 13:12–13a)
14 In them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says,
‘By hearing you will hear,
and will in no way understand;
Seeing you will see,
and will in no way perceive;
15 for this people’s heart has grown callous,
their ears are dull of hearing,
and they have closed their eyes;
or else perhaps they might perceive with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their heart,
and would turn again,
and I would heal them.’
16 “But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. 17 For most certainly I tell you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which you see, and didn’t see them; and to hear the things which you hear, and didn’t hear them. (Matthew 13:14–17)
14 You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden. (Matthew 5:14)
16 Even so, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
23 If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)
Your word is important to me. Please give me ears to hear (Mark 4:23). Open my eyes to a verse I can meditate on for the rest of today (Psalm 1:2). Help me hide it in my heart so that I might not sin against You (Psalm 119:11). I want to let Your message be the fuel in my heart as a light to those around me.
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