THE PREPARATORY PERIOD
What we have called the Preparatory Period includes the Introductions to the Gospel accounts, the Genealogies of Jesus, the Annunciation and Birth of both John the Baptist and of Jesus, the Infancy of Jesus, His childhood until the age of twelve when He visited Jerusalem with His parents, and the silent years at Nazareth until the age of thirty.
- Introductory Statements References: Matt. 1:1-17; Mk. 1:1; 1:1-4; 3:23-38; John 1:1-13
Each of the Gospels presents certain introductory materials.
Matthew begins by tracing the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham through David down to Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born. The genealogy is given in three sections of fourteen generations each: from Abraham to David, from David to Josiah, and from Josiah to Jesus. Actually, there are more than fourteen generations in each, according to the O.T., but for purposes of design, some of the generations were dropped by Matthew. It should be noted that in every case from Abraham to Joseph the expression “begat” is used, but it is not said’ that Joseph begat Jesus, for Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit before Joseph and Mary came together. Joseph is said to have been the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus.
Mark begins very bluntly without any introduction: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” The Servant is the Son of God.
Luke begins by informing us of the source of his information about Jesus. He addresses his Gospel to Theophilus. The name may refer to an individual, or the address may be to any lover of God, for that is the meaning of the name. We learn from Luke that many men had attempted to set in order a narrative of Christ’s life. He was not speaking of either Matthew’s or Mark’s Gospel, but of uninspired, pseudo-gospels. Luke was a man of science and he collected his information in a scientific manner. He interviewed those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning of the life of Jesus. He claims to have had perfect understanding of all things from the very first. The expression “from the very first” is the Greek word anothen, which is translated elsewhere “from above,” five times, and “the top,” three times. If this more usual meaning is applied to this passage, it makes Luke say that he had received perfect knowledge of these things from above, that is, by Divine revelation. This view is adopted in the Scofield Reference Bible.
Luke also gives a genealogy, but it is placed later at the very beginning of the ministry of Jesus, (3:23-38). It begins with Jesus and traces His line all the way back to Adam, the first man. It is instructive to note that Paul goes back to Adam when teaching the subject of reconciliation. Paul comprehends the whole human race under the headship of one or the other of just two men: the first man Adam, and the second man, the Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Cor. 15:22,45-47; Rom. 5:12-19). Matthew traces Christ’s genealogy through David’s son, Solomon; whereas Luke carries it through another son of David, Nathan. Matthew states that Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary; whereas Luke states that Joseph was the son of Heli. Heli was apparently the father of Mary and Joseph was the son-in-law of Heli. Thus, the genealogy is Mary’s line of descent. Thus both Joseph and Mary were descendants of King David. It should be noted that in Joseph’s genealogy there is a king by the name of Jeconiah, or Coniah, as he is called in Jer. 22:28- 30, who was the last of the Davidic line to reign over Judah. In the Jeremiah passage it is stated: “Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah.” Had Joseph been the actual father of Jesus (he was His legal father), this curse would have fallen upon Jesus. But the mother of Jesus was also descended from David through a line ‘that is free from this curse. Thus, it was not an arbitrary choice which God made for the human mother of His Son. She was the only one, married to Joseph, who would have overcome this curse.
John introduces Jesus as the Word or Logos, as having eternally existed with God. The term “Logos” was used by the philosophers of the day to signify impersonal Reason which operated between God and the material creation as the mediating principle. But John shows the true Logos to be personal, the eternal Son of God who communicates God to man. Just as words are the means of communicating one’s thoughts to another, so Christ as the Word is the Revealer of God to man.
When John says that the Word “was” in the beginning, the verb used means “existed,” without any thought of coming into being. This is in contrast to the word used in 1:14,’where the Word “was made” or “became” flesh. The Word as a Person always existed, but as a Man He became or came into being. That the Word is co-existent with God is also seen in the fact that He made everything that has ever been made, which must exclude the Maker from having been made, and in the further fact “that in him was life.” He was not merely alive: He is life, the originator and giver of life. Translate vs. 9: “That was the true Light coming into the world, which enlightens every man …”
It should be noted that John begins where the other Evangelists leave off, for in the very first chapter he announces Israel’s rejection: “He came unto his own and his own received him not, but as many as received him, to them he gave the authority to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” John wrote his Gospel near the end of the first century, well into the present Church Age. For that reason, it seems to be a sort of bridge from the earthly, life of Christ to the present Divine order. John places special emphasis upon the death of Christ and upon belief or faith as the basis of salvation, truths which are especially emphasized by Paul in the gospel of the grace of God.
Thus, we can see that John’s Gospel has a much closer relationship and application to believers in this present Pauline dispensation of the grace of God than do the Synoptics. John wrote to people who were living almost thirty years after the death of the Apostle Paul, which was many years after the new revelation was given through. It is our belief that John was guided by John does not reveal Body of truth, as such, but, as stated earlier, he begins where the Synoptics end, and places special emphasis upon believing, upon the Deity of Jesus Christ, upon the ministry of the Holy Spirit, upon the oneness of believers in Christ, upon the universality of the Gospel. It is for these and similar reasons that the Gospel of John has been distributed so widely as a separate Scripture portion in evangelistic efforts. And it is for this reason we have expressed the belief that John’s Gospel provides a bridge between the former and the present dispensations.
(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)