The Person of Christ Part IV: The Earthly Life of the Incarnate Christ -- By: John F. Walvoord
BSac 117:468 (Oct 60) p. 291
The Person of Christ
The Earthly Life of the Incarnate Christ
[Editor’s Note: This article is the fourth in a series on “The Person of Christ.”]
The historical study of the life of Christ provides much of the material contained in the New Testament on the person and work of Christ. Though a study of the Gospels is not the primary concern of systematic theology, the general facts as presented of the life of Christ on earth necessarily form a background for the important doctrines which relate to His person and work. No other period of history is given more minute revelation than the few years of Christ’s public ministry.
Though each of the Gospels presents a full picture of all aspects of the person of Christ, a particular emphasis can be observed. The Gospel of Matthew is primarily directed to presenting Christ as the King, the Son of David who will reign over the house of Israel. Hence there is emphasis upon the genealogies, upon the credentials of the King, and extensive teaching on the subject of the kingdom itself in the Sermon on the Mount and the discourse in Matthew 13. The Gospel of Mark is the Gospel of action, presenting Christ and His works as the Servant of Jehovah. Little attention is paid to His background, and the emphasis is on the evidences that He is indeed the promised Deliverer of Israel. The Gospel of Luke emphasizes the human aspect of Christ, dwelling upon the details of His birth, and presents Christ as the perfect Man born of the Virgin Mary. The emphasis of the Gospel of John is on the deity of Christ, and evidence is produced demonstrating that He is indeed the Son of God and that those who believe in Him receive eternal life.
The fact that there is a varied emphasis in the four Gospels does not imply that there is contradiction. It is rather that four different portraits are given of the same person, and, though there is variation, it is not a distorted presentation. The Gospel of Luke, emphasizing the humanity, also presents full evidence that He is the Son of God. Hence, the four different biographies, when combined, give a perfect picture. Real problems are sometimes raised by the comparison of
BSac 117:468 (Oct 60) p. 292
narratives in the four Gospels, but conservative scholarship has been united that there is no contradiction, that each record is authentic and inspired of the Holy Spirit.
Different principles have been used to analyze the life of Christ. The most common and beneficial is the combination of the chronological and geographical divisions which are related to His life. Using this method, an eightfold division is possible.
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