Listening for God's Voice
Beginning the Journey (for new Christians).
1, 2, and 3 John
1 & 2 Thessalonians
1 & 2 Timothy
2 Peter, Jude
7 Last Words of Christ
Christ Powered Life (Rom 5-8)
David, Life of
Glorious Kingdom, The
Jesus and the Kingdom
Lamb of God
Names of God
Names of Jesus
Rebuild & Renew: Post-Exilic Books
Sermon on the Mount
Appendix 10. Harmony between John and the Synoptic Gospelsby Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Jacob Jordaens, 'The Four Evangelists' (1625--1630), Louvre Museum, Paris.
Anyone who takes time to compare the accounts of Jesus' Passion and Resurrection will notice differences between John's Gospel and the Synoptic Gospels -- Matthew, Mark, and Luke. For most of Jesus' life, John and the Synoptics rarely coincide, because John, for the most part, describes different incidents and teachings. But when we get to the Last Supper, Jesus' arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection we see differences.
Most of these differences can be attributed to John's different style and eyewitness perspective. After all, by the time John's Gospel was written in the 90s AD, the Synoptic Gospels had been circulating throughout the churches for at least twenty years. John felt no need to repeat what had been recorded already. But he did feel a need to paint a picture of Jesus with an evangelistic purpose:
"Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (20:30-31)
To do this John was very selective about the material he chose to include and leave out. If an incident or detail didn't fit his purpose, it wasn't included. So we shouldn't be surprised by the differences.
However, we are surprised that in some cases the details seem to differ, or the order of events varies. Reasons for these differences are several. One important factor is that first century standards of historical accuracy are very different from our own. What was common and expected in the first century is different from what we expect of historians in our own time, so it's important to judge the gospel writers by the standards of their own age rather than ours.
One particular challenge in harmonizing John and the Synoptic Gospels is that day upon which Jesus partook of the Last Supper with his disciples, and was crucified. This is discussed above in Appendix 7. The Chronology of Holy Week in John's Gospel.
Entire study is available in paperback, Kindle, and PDF formats.
The study of the differences between the Gospels, especially between John and the Synoptics, is known as "the Synoptic Problem," and is the subject of many, many books. Much of what has resulted is multiplied speculation. In this volume, my purpose is primarily to develop disciples who will follow Jesus their Master. So I'm not spending a great deal of time on the Synoptic Problem. For more on this topic, consult an introduction to the New Testament.
However, some may find a tentative harmony of John's Gospel and the Synoptic Gospels to be useful. Just realize that this harmony -- and, indeed, any harmony of the Gospels -- is speculative. Devout students of the Bible will disagree about the details. And that's okay. This is a brief harmony I found on the Internet.
|Fri/Sat||Jesus arrives in Bethany||12:1|
|Mary anoints Jesus||12:2--8|
|Crowd comes to see Jesus||12:9--11|
|Sunday||Triumphal entry into Jerusalem||21:1--11||11:1--10||19:28--44||12:12--18|
|Some Greeks seek Jesus||12:20--36|
|Returns to Bethany||21:17||11:11|
|Monday||Jesus curses the fig tree||21:18--19||11:12--14|
|Clears the temple||21:12--13||11:15--17||19:45--46|
|Returns to Bethany with the Twelve||11:19|
|Tuesday||Disciples see the withered fig tree on the return to Jerusalem||21:20--22||11:20--21|
|Temple controversies in Jerusalem||21:23--23:39||11:27--12:44||20:1--21:4|
|Olivet Discourse on the return to Bethany||24:1--25:46||13:1--37||21:5--36|
|Wednesday||Jesus continues daily teaching in the temple||21:37--38|
|Sanhedrin plots to kill Jesus||26:3--5||14:1--2||22:1--2|
|Wed/Thur||Preparations for the Passover||26:17--19||14:12--16||22:7--13|
|Thursday||Passover meal/Last Supper||26:20--35||14:17--26||22:14--30|
|Upper Room Discourse||13:1--17:26|
|Jesus prays in Gethsemane||26:36--46||14:32--42||22:39--46|
|Friday||Betrayal and arrest (after midnight?)||26:47--56||14:43--52||22:47--53||18:2--12|
|--before Caiaphas and part of the Sanhedrin||26:57--75||14:53--72||22:54--65||18:19--24|
|--before full Sanhedrin (after sunrise?)||27:1--2||15:1||22:66--71|
|Crucifixion (approx. 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.)||27:27--54||15:16--39||23:26--49||19:16--37|
In-depth Bible study books
You can purchase one of Dr. Wilson's complete Bible studies in PDF, Kindle, or paperback format.
- Listening for God's Voice
- 1, 2, and 3 John
- 1 Peter
- 2 Peter & Jude
- 1 & 2 Thessalonians
- 1 & 2 Timothy
- 1 Corinthians
- 2 Corinthians
- Abraham, Faith of
- Christ Powered Life (Romans 5-8)
- Christmas Incarnation
- Colossians and Philemon
- David, Life of
- Glorious Kingdom, The
- Great Prayers of the Bible
- Jacob, Life of
- Jesus and the Kingdom of God
- JesusWalk: Beginning the Journey
- John's Gospel
- Lamb of God
- Lord's Supper
- Luke's Gospel
- Moses the Reluctant Leader
- Names and Titles of God
- Names and Titles of Jesus
- Rebuild & Renew: Post-Exilic Books
- Resurrection and Easter Faith
- Sermon on the Mount
- Seven Last Words of Christ