Biblical Theological Seminary

1985 Summer Institute: "Our Great God"

Robert C. Newman

 

THE DOCTRINE OF GOD IN

THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS

 

A Creed Derived from the Synoptics:

 

I believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob [1], creator of the world and mankind [2], who feeds the birds and clothes the plants [3].  He is the one and only God, the Mighty One, the Sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, with whom nothing is impossible [4].  He is the just One, who knows our hearts and will judge us as we judge others on that day when he will destroy

body and soul of the unrighteous in hell and welcome the blessed into his eternal kingdom [5].  He alone is good, able to forgive sin and by his mercy to give salvation to men [6].  He may be

known only through his Son, Jesus Christ [7].  As his servant, I am to worship him only [8]; to love him with all my heart, soul & mind [9]; to trust him rather than test him [10]; to pray to him

[11]; to fear & obey him [12]; to praise him [13]; and to tell others what he has done for me [14].

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1. Mt 22.32; Mk 12.26; Lk 20.37

2. Mt 19.4; Mk 10.6; 13.19

3. Mt 6.26,30; Lk 12.24,28

4. Mk 12.29,32; Lk 1.49;2.29; Mt 11.25;19.26; Mk 10.27; Lk 1.37

5. Mt 5.21‑26; 7.1‑5; 10.28; 11.22‑24; Lk 16.15; Mt 25.31‑46

6. Mt 19.17; Mk 10.18; 2.7; Lk 5.21; 1.77

7. Mt 11.27

8. Mt 4.10; Lk 4.8;Mt 6.24; Lk 16.13

9. Mt 22.37; Mt 12.30; Lk 10.27

10. Mk 11.22; Mt 4.7; Lk 4.12

11. Mt 6.5‑13

12. Lk 23.40; Mt 5.17‑20; 15.3‑6

13. Mt 9.8; Mk 2.12; Lk 17.15,17; 24.53

14. Lk 8.39

 

Some Figures by which God is Pictured:

 

Farmer: indirect thru parables; mostly Matthew

 

Father: title & parables; in all 3, but most in Matthew; ideas of Christ as son, believers as sons, in all 3

Judge: by parables or judicial terms; Matt/Luke

 

King: parables in Matthew; kingdom frequent in all 3

 

Lord: so common as to be "dead" metaphor

 

Some Distinctives within the Synoptics:

 

Matthew: tends to avoid naming God by using passive voice & circumlocutions; uses "Lord, Master, King" interchangeably between Christ and God; distinguishes via "Father/Son" and "Son of Man"

 

Mark: also some use of passive voice & circumlocutions "heaven, power, blessed"; less frequent use of "Father"; doesn't have farmer, judge, king materials

 

Luke: shows less avoidance of name of God than Mt, Mk; less freq use of "Father" than Mt; much emphasis on praise of God; some emphasis on word of God

 

 

Some Distinctive Synoptic Presentations of God:

 

Basically parabolic pictures of God as given by Jesus; distinction from "allegories" of John

 

Judge/King:

 

            The Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1‑8)

                        argument by contrast

                        what does our non‑persistence in prayer show about how we think of God?

            The Unmerciful Servant (Matt 18:21‑35)

                        note differences in size of debts (10,000 talents vs 100 denarii)

                        if we demand justice, we will get it!

            Marriage of King's Son (Matt 22:1‑14)

                        do we really want to go to heaven?

                        do we presume upon God's mercy?

 

Father:

            Son Asking Bread (Matt 7:9‑11; Lk 11:11‑13)

                        argument from lesser to greater

                        similar to Unjust Judge, above

            Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11‑32)

                        Father lets him go, won't learn w/o experience

                        waits his return

                        runs to meet him!

                        reinstated as son

                        wants others to have same attitude