About half of the New Testament is about the
life of Christ, so studying about Jesus' life
has to be important. But, why is it important?
In this brief series of articles, I want to answer
this question in a number of ways.
Bible Classes 2011
During the first six months of 2011, we'll study
the life of Christ in our Sunday and Wednesday
Bible classes. We'll be focusing on Luke's gospel,
which is written from a Gentile perspective and
more historical in nature, but we'll also be studying
from all four gospels.
This means we'll study fifty lessons (taking
into account our Spring gospel meeting) on the
life of Christ.
So it's important for us to understand the importance
of our study, and what we can get out of the classes.
Then we can be as productive as possible with
our time, as we study individually and together.
Besides Bible translations, there are helpful
study aids concerning the four gospels and the
life of Christ.
- Note: remember that man-made study aids are
neither perfect nor authoritative, so use them
carefully (Acts 17:11; 1 Th. 5:21).
McGarvey's Four Fold Gospel is the single
best resource for studying the gospels, because
it reconciles the gospels together to present
Jesus' life chronologically. McGarvey combines
the text of the four gospels, thus speeding up
our research. And he comments on the Scriptures,
explaining difficult passages and giving good
information about first century culture. McGarvey's
commentary is on BibleStudyGuide.org in a single
PDF, and individual web pages.
Bible class books on the harmonized gospels
and the life of Christ are very valuable. Some
of them help us get a quick overview of Jesus'
life, and some go into more detail. For example,
the Bible class book by Carey Dillinger titled
The Harmonized Gospel has a lot of information,
and a great chart harmonizing all the gospel Scriptures.
Maps are very helpful in understanding
the historical narrative more fully by letting
us see where Jesus traveled during His life. They
also help us acquire information when observing
distances and terrain over which Jesus traveled,
and His environs.
Dictionaries and Encyclopedias are also
helpful when studying the life of Christ, aiding
us in understanding cultures and places. One of
the best dictionaries is the International Standard
Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE), which is also available
online at BibleStudyGuide.org.
Antiquities of the Jews by Favius Josephus
is the best history of the Jewish people during
the ministry of Christ. It gives us insight into
Jewish life before, during, and after Jesus' ministry.
All of these resources are available on BibleStudyGude.org,
so let me know if you need help locating them.
Matthew was an apostle who had been a tax
collector. He writes from a Jewish perspective,
emphasizing Jesus' fulfillment of prophecy while
focusing on His relationship with mankind, but
especially with the Jews. Understanding Jewish
history and customs, with Old Testament prophesy,
is essential to fully understanding Matthew's
Mark was not one of the twelve apostles,
but a young man who was an eyewitness of Christ.
He served as an evangelist with Paul and Barnabas.
And he wrote in a journalistic style which appeals
to Roman pragmatists, while stressing the suffering
of Christ and His disciples.
Luke was not one of the twelve apostles,
but a physician who became a disciple of Christ.
He wrote from a Greek idealist perspective, stressing
salvation brought by Jesus Christ, emphasizing
Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy,
and showing God's love for everyone. His gospel
is more scientific, while giving a chronological
outline of Jesus' life. And since he wrote from
a Greek perspective, he often explains things
from the perspective of someone who is unfamiliar
with Old Testament prophesy or Jewish history.
John was an apostle and gives us a great
deal of information that is not found in any other
gospel. He stresses God's love and the deity of
Christ, while showing that Jesus is the Savior
of the world. Thus, he writes a great deal about
Jesus' miracles, and the benefits of believing
in His name.
Prepare to Study
Though our Bible classes on the life of Christ
won't start for three weeks, it's not too early
to start preparing.
You can begin reading Luke and the other gospels.
And it would help to go through a quick overview
of the gospels, so your study during the next
six months is with the whole story of Christ in
Also, be thinking about what you would like
to get out of the study, so you can make the best
use of your time and be as productive as possible,
as we study together.
To be continued.