Why Do We Need the Gospels?

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Often times people think about the Gospels as Sunday School stories about Jesus. Rightly, many read them to find out about Jesus but when it comes to actual doctrine and theology people turn to the epistles.

As I’ve learned over the course of my academic career the Gospels are rich theological narrative that not only point one to the Messiah but also guide us how to live. They do this through both positive and negative examples. When you read, place yourself in the characters shoes, especially that of the disciples and Pharisees. The Gospels are inviting us to take part in the story of Jesus.

Jonathan Pennington, in his book Reading the Gospels Wisely, helpfully provides 9 reasons why we should read and study the Gospels. I’ve summarized them below:

  1. They have been central to the church throughout its history.
  2. Paul and the other NT writers presuppose and build on the story and teachings of Jesus.
  3. The traditions behind the Gospel writings are the earliest access we have to the life of Christ.
  4. We get a more direct sense of the Bible’s storyline.
  5. They offer a concentrated exposure to the biblical emphasis on the coming kingdom of God.
  6. They show different languages or discourses of truth.
  7. They are in many ways a more comprehensive and paradigmatic type of map. Story communicates truth most comprehensively and transformatively.
  8. Encountering Jesus in narrative helps us grow in experiential knowledge.
  9. In the Gospels alone we have a personal, up-front encounter with Jesus.

Taken from Reading the Gospels Wisely pp. 38–49.

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