The purpose of this brief document is
to give Christians a brief, yet, comprehensive background for each of
the four Evangelists. Such information will, without doubt, enrich the
reading of each Gospel.
These summaries were prepared in Spanish by Msgr. John
Straubinger [1883 - 1956] - Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of
Müenster, Germany. Msgr. Straubinger was Professor of Holy
Scriptures in the St. Joseph Major Seminary in the Archdiocese of La
Plata, Argentina, and the author of what we consider the best
translation of the New Testament.
The original texts by Msgr. Straubinger were translated by The M+G+R Foundation.
We know very little about the life of St. Matthew, formerly called
Levi. He was a tax collector in Capernaum, until one day Jesus called
him to the apostolate, simply saying: "Follow me"; and Levi "rose and
followed him" (Matt. 9:9).
His apostolic life was first developed in Palestine, next to the other
Apostles; later he probably preached in Ethiopia (Africa), where it
seems he also suffered martyrdom. His body is venerated in the
Cathedral of Salermo (Italy); his feast day is celebrated on September
St. Matthew was the first to write the Good News in book form between
the years 40-50 of the Christian era. He composed it in Aramaic or
Syriac for the Jews of Palestine who used that language. Later this
Gospel, whose Aramaic text has been lost, was translated into Greek.
Matt. 9:9 - As Jesus
went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax
collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and
Mark, formerly called John, was the son of that Mary in whose house the
disciples of the Lord used to gather (Acts 12:12). It is very probable
that the same house served as a stage for other sacred events, such as
the Last Supper and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
With his cousin Barnabas, Mark accompanied St. Paul on the first
apostolic journey to the city of Perge in Pamphylia (Acts 13:13).
Later, between the years 61-63, we find him again at the side of the
Apostle of the Gentiles when he was imprisoned in Rome.
St. Peter called Mark his "son" (I Pet. 5:13), which suggests that he
was baptized by the Prince of the Apostles. The oldest tradition
unanimously confirms that Mark in Rome transmitted to the people the
teachings of his spiritual father, writing there, in the 50s and 60s,
his Gospel, which is therefore that of St. Peter.
The purpose of the second Evangelist is to demonstrate that Jesus
Christ is the Son of God and that all things in nature and even demons
are subject to him. For this reason he mainly relates the miracles and
the expulsion of unclean spirits.
The Gospel of St. Mark, the shortest of the four, presents in synthetic
form, many passages of the synoptic Gospels, however, which is of
particular interest because it narrates some episodes that are
exclusive to him and also because of the many nuances themselves, which
allow a better understanding of the other Gospels.
St. Mark died in Alexandria, Egypt, whose church he was the head of.
The city of Venice, which has him as its patron, venerated his body in
Acts 12:12 -
When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of
John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.
Acts 13:13 -
From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia,
where John left them to return to Jerusalem.
I Pet. 5:13 -
She who is in Babylon, chosen together with
you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark.
The author of the third Gospel, "Luke the Physician" (Col. 4:14), was a
Syrian born in Antioch, of pagan family. He had the good fortune to
convert to the faith of Jesus Christ and to meet St. Paul, whose
faithful companion and disciple he was for many years, sharing with him
even the prison in Rome.
According to his own testimony (1,3) Luke was informed "of everything
exactly from its first origin" and wrote to record the oral tradition
(1,4). There is no doubt that one of his main sources of information
was Paul himself and it is very likely that he also received reports
from the Blessed Mother of Jesus, especially about the Lord's
childhood, which Luke is the only one to refer to in some detail.
Because of his news about the Child and his Mother, he was called the
Evangelist of the Virgin. Legend has it that he painted the first
portrait of Mary.
Luke is also called the Evangelist of Mercy, because he is the only one
who brings us the parables of the Prodigal Son, of the Lost Drachma, of
the Good Samaritan, etc.
This third Gospel was written in Rome at the end of the first captivity
of St. Paul, that is, between the years 62 and 63. Its recipients are
the Christians of the churches established by the Apostle of the
Gentiles, just as Matthew dedicated himself more especially to showing
the Jews the fulfillment of the prophecies realized in Christ. That is
why St. Luke's Gospel contains an account of the life of Jesus that we
can consider the most complete of all and purposely made for us
Col. 4:14 -
Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.
Luke 1:3 - With this in mind,
since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the
beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most
Luke 1:4 - ...so that you may
know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
St. John, a native of Bethsaida in Galilee, was the brother of James
the Elder, both sons of Zebedee, and of Salome, sister of the Most Holy
Virgin. Being first a disciple of St. John the Baptist and seeking with
all his heart the kingdom of God, he then followed Jesus, and soon
became his favorite disciple. From the Cross, the Lord entrusted to him
his Most Holy Mother, which John, henceforth, took care of as his own.
John was the disciple "whom Jesus loved" and who at the Last Supper was
"lying on Jesus' breast" (John 13:23), as a friend of his heart and an
intimate witness of his love and sorrows.
After the Resurrection, John remained in Jerusalem as one of the
"pillars of the Church" (Gal. 2:9), and later he moved to Ephesus in
Asia Minor. Exiled by Emperor Domitian (81-95) to the island of Patmos,
he wrote the Apocalypse there. At the death of the tyrant he was able
to return to Ephesus. The date and every detail of his death are not
known (cf. John 21:22- 23).
In addition to the Apocalypse and three Epistles, at the end of the
first century, that is, about 30 years after the Synoptic Gospels and
the fall of the Temple, he composed this Gospel, which aims to
strengthen faith in the messianity and divinity of Jesus Christ, at the
same time as it serves to complete the previous Gospels, mainly from
the spiritual point of view, since he has been called the Evangelist of
His language is of the highest order that the Sacred Scripture has
bequeathed to us, as the prologue shows, which, due to the supernatural
sublimity of its subject, has no similarity in the literature of
John 13:23 -
One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.
Gal. 2:9 - James,
Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the
right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me.
They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the
John 21:22-23 -
Jesus answered (to Peter), “If I want him to remain alive until I
return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of
this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not
die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I
want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
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