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Why Study the Life of Christ? (Part I)
Bible study on the life of Christ.

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.

Study Aids
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 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

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, so let me know if you need help locating them.

Gospel Writers
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 gospel.

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 mind.

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.