The Four Gospels without Getting Lost



The summary charts of the four Gospels below are unique in three ways. The first big difference from those in other guides to the Gospels is that you can see it ALL ON ONE TO-SCALE PAGE. The second and third big differences are that NUMERICAL DATA and COLOR CODING are included so that you can quickly see exactly where in the Gospels Jesus spoke more, where he performed more miracles, where women are mentioned most, etc.

There are seven sets of summary charts on different themes. In addition, further down the page, there are seven study worksheets with questions to be used with these summary charts.


One of the best ways to use the summary charts is to focus on the differences between the four Gospels. Some of the differences are large while others, such as the man with dropsy only being found in Luke chapter 14, are much less so. Regardless of the scope of the differences, it is always good to think about them. Therefore, the summary charts are to be read horizontally, comparing the Gospels rather than just vertically through each Gospel by itself. Each summary chart is like a panoramic photo though it also contains four vertically oriented portraits.

After passing out a summary charts and explaining its basic design and content, a teacher may wish to ask those in his group to read the chart horizontally looking for differences and make their own "I wonder why..." statements. These should then be discussed and answered as much as possible.
     For instance, one might wonder why there is much more about the end times in Matthews chapters 24 and 25 than there is in Mark chapter 13 and Luke chapter 21. The main reason is probably because Matthew was aimed at a Jewish audience.


Be sure to check out the set of games at the bottom of this page which show various fun ways to use the summary charts.


These first charts are focused on the LENGTH of each Gospel as a whole, by section, and by chapter. Like the various other charts below, they are designed to help compare the the four Gospels in various ways.

Although Luke is longer than Matthew as a whole, the portion from Jesus' entry into Jerusalem onward to the end is considerably shorter in Luke than the parallel portion in Matthew. Why? The main reason is because there is much more teaching about the end times in Matthew than in Luke. (Compare Matthew chapters 24 and 25 with Luke chapter 21.)


These charts are focused on JESUS' SPEAKING.
For instance, notice that the percentage of verses with Jesus speaking is much higher in Matthew than in Mark.


These charts are focused on JESUS' MIRACLES.
For instance, notice that the percentage of verses concerning miracles is much higher in Mark than in Matthew.


These charts are focused on WOMEN in the Gospels.
For instance, although Luke is well known for passages with women, the percentage of such in Luke is only slightly higher than in Mark who is not nearly as famous for such. The lowest percentage of verses concerning women is in John.


These charts are focused on BELIEF and UNBELIEF in the Gospels.
Compared to the others, John is well known for focusing on belief, but he also stressed unbelief. One of John's main purposes was to show why "the Jews" did not believe in Jesus. Moreover, belief and unbelief are also stressed here and there in the other Gospels, including in Matthew chapter nine, Mark chapter 11, and Mark chapter 16.


These charts are focused on QUESTIONS and QUESTIONING in the Gospels.
Although many questions were asked in all four, the overall frequency is somewhat higher in John. In chapters seven and nine, this reflects the intense debate about Jesus among the Jews. In the final chapter, the questioning was mostly during personal interaction between the risen Lord and Peter. In contrast to this, there was little or no questioning in the final chapters of Matthew and Mark.


These charts are focused on JESUS' AUTHORITY OVER EVIL SPIRTS as seen in the Gospels.
There is much about this in Mark's Gospel since Jesus' greatness and power are important themes in Mark, but evil spirits or demons are hardly mentioned at all in John. Why not? Perhaps it is because such would distract from the deity of Jesus theme in John. For instance, when Jesus walked on the lake in John chapter six, John does not mention that the disciples at first thought that they were seeing a ghost.


The seven sets of worksheets below are to be used for studies with the corresponding seven summary charts of the four Gospels above.


These first worksheets are to be used for studies concerning THE FOUR GOSPELS IN GENERAL, along with summary chart #1 above which is focused on length. They may be used for an introductory study and / or for a concluding one.


These worksheets are to be used for studies concerning JESUS' SPEAKING and PREACHING, along with summary chart #2 above which has the same focus.


These worksheets are to be used for studies concerning JESUS' MIRACLES, along with summary chart #3 above which has the same focus.


These worksheets are to be used in studies concerning WOMEN IN THE GOSPELS, along with summary chart #4 above which has the same focus.


These worksheets are to be used in studies concerning BELIEF and UNBELIEF in the Gospels, along with summary chart #5 above which has the same focus.


These worksheets are to be used in studies concerning QUESTIONS and QUESTIONING in the Gospels, along with summary chart #6 above which has the same focus.


These worksheets are to be used in studies concerning JESUS' AUTHORITY and POWER OVER EVIL SPIRITS, along with summary chart #7 above which has the same focus.


Simple Roll & Share

The six numbers on an ordinary die can represent the four Gospels: Matthew as one, Mark as two, Luke as three, and John as four. In addition, five can represent the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), and six can represent all four Gospels.
    The simplest game is for players to take turns rolling a die and sharing from the appropriate Gospel(s) using the summary charts to find passages to share. For instance, if someone were to roll a five, he or she would earn five points and be required to speak briefly about something in one or perhaps in all three of the Synoptics (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). If the group members are all adults, scoring is, of course, optional.

For a more advance version of this roll and share game, players drop two or more dice on top of a Four Gospel Summary prints placed flat on a table. Points are earned when an appropriate die number rests on top of one of the Gospels on the print. For Matthew, appropriate values would be 1 (for the first Gospel), 5 (for Matthew being one of the Synoptic Gospels), or 6 (which points to any of the Gospels). For Mark, points would be earned for 2, 5, or 6. For Luke the numbers should be 3, 5, or 6. For John, only 4 or 6 would be winning numbers.
    Again sharing is to be included, with players perhaps saying, "I like Matthew / Mark / Luke / John because..."

High Scoring Roll & Share

In addition, a die with 28 or 30 sides can be purchased and used. These can point to chapter numbers in the four Gospels. So if a player were to roll a TWO with an ordinary die and a TEN on the larger special die, this would point to Mark (the second Gospel) chapter ten and could be worth ten points. If the ordinary die roll had resulted in a six, however, chapter ten of all four Gospels would be in play, and the total score for that turn would be 40 (4X10). Of course, if a 30 were rolled, there would be no chapter indicated, since the highest chapter count is Matthew chapter 28. Thus the score for that turn would be zero. The awarding of points, again, is optional since learning to use the summary charts and sharing is more important.

Which chapter is this (in)?

Individual players try to guess which chapter contains a verse that is read by the game leader. For instance, if Luke 15:17 -- which is about the prodigal son's repentance -- is read many will immediately recognize the story, but they may not know where it is located in the Gospels. Three points are awarded for the correct answer (Luke chapter 15) on the first reading, before a Summary Charts may be used. Two points are earned for getting the chapter correct on the second reading when the summary charts is used, and one point is awarded for the correct answer on the third reading when additional hints are given.

Rather than loudly shouting out the chapter and quickly ending the game for everyone, each participant is to write down his or her answer after each reading. At the end of each round, after the third reading and various hints have been given, the leader: 1.) allows participants to share their answers and thoughts and then 2.) teaches some key biblical truths based on the verse that was read and its context.

In an alternative form of this game, individual players take turns choosing a chapter in the four Gospels and others try to guess which chapter it is. Rather than the individual giving hints, however, the other players ask Yes / No questions to narrow down the possibilities. One point is earned for each question asked. This is somewhat like Four Gospels Golf below.

Four Gospels Golf

Participants are divided up into teams and everyone has one of the Gospel summary charts. In each round one member of the team is given a chapter in one of the Gospels that the other member or members of his or her team are to guess. As in golf, the winning team will be the one with the smallest number of strokes, hints given and wrong guesses made. After each hint, at least one guess must be made.

For instance, the leader may give a team's hint giver Luke chapter 21. A good first hint for this chapter would be, "I'm about the end times." A team member then might wrongly guess Matthew chapter 24. Next the hint giver probably should say, "I'm in Luke's Gospel." Then team members could easily guess that the right answer is Luke chapter 21. This round would resulted in four points, much like four golf strokes.

The game leaders should pick chapters about which he or she is prepared to speak after the right answer is given. Also, usually the chapters that are to be guessed should not be too easy. For instance, John chapter 15 is easy to guess since it is the only one which is about Jesus as the True Vine. It would be like a par two hole in golf. Mark chapter six is more difficult, however, since Jesus' walking on water is in three different Gospels and chapters. So it would be like a par four hole.

Each hint is like a single stroke in golf and may not contain two pieces of information. For instance the following sentence --"This chapter is about a great catch and the call of Matthew." -- contains two bits of information which would make guessing Luke chapter five too easy. It would be like hitting the ball twice rather than just once.

Find and Read

Each participant is given a copy of a summary chart and after the leader explains some basics about the Gospels the game might begin with the leader shouting out, "the raising of Lazarus." The first member to stand and begin reading a fitting verse from John chapter 11 would earn three points.

If there is a great diversity of Bible knowledge in the group, the leader can even things up with hints such as by saying, "It's in John's Gospel." So beginners would have a good chance of winning or coming in second or third and earning points.

CAUTION: A wise leader will be careful to not spend more than five to ten minutes lecturing about the content of the Gospels before beginning the game. He or she should instead be prepared to teach about the Gospels while the game is being played, here a little, there a little. Also rules regarding the use of smart phones and tablets must be established before the game begins!