What are the synoptic gospels?

BibleAsk Team

The Synoptic Gospels

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are referred to specifically as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in a similar sequence and in similar wording.  The synoptic Gospels stand in contrast to the gospel of John, whose content is comparatively distinct. The term synoptic comes from the Greek syn, meaning “together”, and optic, meaning “seen.”

Though each gospel includes some unique content, the majority of Mark and about half of Matthew and Luke occur in content, in much the same order, often nearly verbatim. This common material is termed the triple tradition. This strong parallelism among the three gospels in content, arrangement, and specific language is widely attributed to literary interdependence.

The question of the precise nature of their literary relationship — the “synoptic problem” — has been a topic of lively debate for ages and has been described as “the most fascinating literary enigma of all time.” The majority favors Marcan priority, in which both Matthew and Luke have made direct use of the Gospel of Mark as a source, and also holds that Matthew and Luke drew from an additional hypothetical document, called Q.

However, there is no evidence to a “Q” document. No part or fragment of a “Q” document has ever been found. And none of the early church fathers ever mentioned a Gospel “source” in their books. Sadly “Q” is the invention of liberal “scholars” who oppose the inspiration of the Bible.

The Synoptic Gospels are so similar simply because they are all inspired by the same Divine Spirit, and are all written by people who witnessed, or were told about, the same events. “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). True prophecy is given by God. The Lord decides what shall be revealed. Unless the Holy Spirit impresses the mind, man is incapable of speaking forth for God.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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