(1) THE STORY OF JESUS
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John rearranged by Subject & in Date order
Parts 1-7 bring together all the relevant verses from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - in that order.
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Part 1 - PROLOGUE
(Mark 1:1, Luke 1:1-4, John 1:1-5)
These three Gospels start with very different prologues:
Mark 1:1 - The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God .....
Luke 1:1-4 - Dear Theophilus, Many people have already written an account of the events which have happened among us, basing their work on the evidence of those whom we know were eye-witnesses as well as teachers of the message. I have therefore decided, since I have traced the course of these happenings carefully from the beginning, to set them down for you myself in their proper order, so that you may have reliable information about the matters in which you have already had instruction.
John 1:1-5 - At the beginning God expressed himself. That personal expression, that word, was with God, and was God, and he existed with God from the beginning. All creation took place through him, and none took place without him. In him appeared life and this life was the light of mankind. The light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out.
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Part 2 - THE COMING BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST IS ANNOUNCED
Luke 1:5-25 - The story begins in the days when Herod was king of Judea with a priest called Zacharias, whose wife Elisabeth was, like him, a descendant of Aaron. They were both truly religious people, blamelessly observing all God's commandments and requirements. They were childless through Elisabeth's infertility, and both of them were getting on in years. One day, while Zacharias was performing his priestly functions (it was the turn of his division to be on duty), it fell to him to go into the sanctuary and burn the incense. The crowded congregation outside was praying at the actual time of the incense-burning, when an angel of the Lord appeared on the right side of the incense-altar. When Zacharias saw him, he was terribly agitated and a sense of awe swept over him. But the angel spoke to him,
"Do not be afraid, Zacharias; your prayers have been heard. Elisabeth your wife will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. This will be joy and delight to you and many more will be glad because he is born. He will be one of God's great men; he will touch neither wine nor strong drink and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment of his birth. He will turn many of Israel's children to the Lord their God. He will go out before God in the spirit and power of Elijah - to reconcile fathers and children, and bring back the disobedient to the wisdom of good men - and he will make a people fully ready for their Lord."
But Zacharias replied to the angel, "How can I know that this is true? I am an old man myself and my wife is getting on in years ..."
"I am Gabriel," the angel answered. "I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. Because you do not believe what I have said, you shall live in silence, and you shall be unable to speak a word until the day that it happens. But be sure that everything that I have told you will come true at the proper time."
Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zacharias, wondering why he stayed so long in the sanctuary. But when he came out and was unable to speak a word to them - for although he kept making signs, not a sound came from his lips - they realised that he had seen a vision in the Temple. Later, when his days of duty were over, he went back home, and soon afterwards his wife Elisabeth became pregnant and kept herself secluded for five months.
"How good the Lord is to me," she would say, "now that he has taken away the shame that I have suffered."
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Part 3 - THE COMING BIRTH OF JESUS IS ANNOUNCED
(Matthew 1:18-24a, Luke 1:26-56)
Matthew 1:18-24a - The birth of Jesus Christ happened like this. When Mary was engaged to Joseph, just before their marriage, she was discovered to be pregnant - by the Holy Spirit. Whereupon Joseph, her future husband, who was a good man and did not want to see her disgraced, planned to break off the engagement quietly. But while he was turning the matter over in his mind an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife! What she has conceived is conceived through the Holy Spirit, and she will give birth to a son, whom you will call Jesus ('the Saviour') for it is he who will save his people from their sins."
All this happened to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet - 'Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel'. ("Immanuel" means "God with us.")
When Joseph woke up he did what the angel had told him.
Luke 1:26-56 - Then, six months after Zacharias' vision (in which he was told of the coming birth of his son John), the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a Galilean town, Nazareth by name, to a young woman who was engaged to a man called Joseph. The girl's name was Mary. The angel entered her room and said, "Greetings to you, Mary. O favoured one! - the Lord be with you!"
Mary was deeply perturbed at these words and wondered what such a greeting could possibly mean. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; God loves you dearly. You are going to be the mother of a son, and you will call him Jesus. He will be great and will be known as the Son of the most high. The Lord God will give him the throne of his forefather, David, and he will be king over the people of Jacob for ever. His reign shall never end."
Then Mary spoke to the angel, "How can this be," she said, "I am not married!"
But the angel made this reply to her - "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the most high will overshadow you. Your child will therefore be called holy - the Son of God. Your cousin Elisabeth has also conceived a son, old as she is. Indeed, this is the sixth month for her, a woman who was called barren. For no promise of God can fail to be fulfilled."
"I belong to the Lord, body and soul," replied Mary, "let it happen as you say." And at this the angel left her.
With little delay Mary got ready and hurried off to the hillside town in Judea where Zacharias and Elisabeth lived. She went into their house and greeted her cousin. When Elisabeth heard her greeting, the unborn child stirred inside her and she herself was filled with the Holy Spirit, and cried out, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is your child! What an honour it is to have the mother of my Lord come to see me! Why, as soon as your greeting reached my ears, the child within me jumped for joy! Oh, how happy is the woman who believes in God, for he does make his promises to her come true."
Then Mary said, "My heart is overflowing with praise of my Lord, my soul is full of joy in God my Saviour. For he has deigned to notice me, his humble servant and, after this, all the people who ever shall be will call me the happiest of women! The one who can do all things has done great things for me - oh, holy is his Name! Truly, his mercy rests on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has swept away the high and mighty. He has set kings down from their thrones and lifted up the humble. He has satisfied the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away with empty hands. Yes, he has helped Israel, his child: he has remembered the mercy that he promised to our forefathers, to Abraham and his sons for evermore!"
So Mary stayed with Elisabeth about three months, and then went back to her own home.
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Part 4 - BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
Luke 1:57-80 - Then came the time for Elisabeth's child to be born, and she gave birth to a son. Her neighbours and relations heard of the great mercy the Lord had shown her and shared her joy.
When the eighth day came, they were going to circumcise the child and call him Zacharias, after his father, but his mother said, "Oh, no! He must be called John."
"But none of your relations is called John," they replied. And they made signs to his father to see what name he wanted the child to have. He beckoned for a writing-tablet and wrote the words, "His name is John", which greatly surprised everybody. Then his power of speech suddenly came back, and his first words were to thank God. The neighbours were awe-struck at this, and all these incidents were reported in the hill-country of Jude People turned the whole matter over in their hearts, and said, "What is this child's future going to be?" For the Lord's blessing was plainly upon him.
Then Zacharias, his father, filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking like a prophet, said, "Blessings on the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has turned his face towards his people and has set them free! And he has raised up for us a standard of salvation in his servant David's house! Long, long ago, through the words of his holy prophets, he promised to do this for us, so that we should be safe from our enemies and secure from all who hate us. So does he continue the mercy he showed to our forefathers. So does he remember the holy agreement he made with them and the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, to make us this gift: that we should be saved from the hands of our enemies, and in his presence should serve him unafraid in holiness and righteousness all our lives.
"And you (John), little child, will be called the prophet of the most high, for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way for his coming. It will be for you to give his people knowledge of their salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. Because the heart of our God is full of mercy towards us, the first light of Heaven shall come to visit us - to shine on those who lie in darkness and under the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the path of peace."
The little child grew up and became strong in spirit. He lived in lonely places until the day came for him to show himself to Israel.
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Part 5 - BIRTH OF JESUS
(Matthew 1:24b-25, Luke 2:1-38)
Matthew 1:24b-25 - He (Joseph) married Mary, but had no intercourse with her until she had given birth to a son. Then he gave him the name Jesus.
Luke 2:1-38 - At that time (of the birth of John the Baptist) a proclamation was made by Caesar Augustus that all the inhabited world should be registered. This was the first census, undertaken while Cyrenius was governor of Syria and everybody went to the town of his birth to be registered. Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to David's town, Bethlehem, in Judea, because he was a direct descendant of David, to be registered with his future wife, Mary, now in the later stages of her pregnancy. So it happened that it was while they were there in Bethlehem that she came to the end of her time. She gave birth to her first child, a son. And as there was no place for them inside the inn, she wrapped him up and laid him in a manger.
A vision comes to shepherds on the hill-side
There were some shepherds living in the same part of the country, keeping guard throughout the night over their flocks in the open fields. Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood by their side, the splendour of the Lord blazed around them, and they were terror-stricken. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid! Listen, I bring you glorious news of great joy which is for all the people. This very day, in David's town, a Saviour has been born for you. He is Christ, the Lord. Let this prove it to you: you will find a baby, wrapped up and lying in a manger."
And in a flash there appeared with the angel a vast host of the armies of Heaven, praising God, saying, "Glory to God in the highest Heaven! Peace upon earth among men of goodwill!"
When the angels left them and went back into Heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Now let us go straight to Bethlehem and see this thing which the Lord has made known to us."
So they came as fast as they could and they found Mary and Joseph - and the baby lying in the manger. And when they had seen this sight, they told everybody what had been said to them about the little child. And those who heard them were amazed at what the shepherds said. But Mary treasured all these things and turned them over in her mind. The shepherds went back to work, glorifying and praising God for everything that they had heard and seen, which had happened just as they had been told.
Mary and Joseph bring their newly-born son to the Temple
At the end of the eight days, the time came for circumcising the child and he was called Jesus, the name given to him by the angel before his conception.
When the "purification" time, stipulated by the Law of Moses, was completed, they brought Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. This was to fulfil a requirement of the Law - 'Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord' .
They also offered the sacrifice prescribed by the Law - 'A pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons'.
In Jerusalem was a man by the name of Simeon. He was an upright man, devoted to the service of God, living in expectation of the "salvation of Israel". His heart was open to the Holy Spirit, and it had been revealed to him that he would not die before he saw the Lord's Christ. He had been led by the Spirit to go into the Temple, and when Jesus' parents brought the child in to have done to him what the Law required, he took him up in his arms, blessed God, and said - "At last, Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace, as you promised! For with my own eyes I have seen your salvation which you have made ready for every people - a light to show truth to the Gentiles and bring glory to your people Israel."
The child's father and mother were still amazed at what was said about him, when Simeon gave them his blessing. He said to Mary, the child's mother, "This child is destined to make many fall and many rise in Israel and to set up a standard which many will attack - for he will expose the secret thoughts of many hearts. And for you ... your very soul will be pierced by a sword."
There was also present, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher, who was a prophetess. She was a very old woman, having had seven years' married life and was now a widow of eighty-four. She spent her whole life in the Temple and worshipped God night and day with fastings and prayers. She came up at this very moment, praised God and spoke about Jesus to all those in Jerusalem who were expecting redemption.
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Part 6 - TWO ACCOUNTS OF THE ANCESTRY OF JESUS
(Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23b-38)
Matthew 1:1-17 - In Matthew, the line starts with Abraham and goes Up through King David and his son Solomon to Jesus, to emphasise his royal descent:
This is the record of the ancestry of Jesus Christ who was the descendant of both David and Abraham:
Abraham (c 1,800BC, originally "Abram", a man of great faith, and father of nations, Genesis chapters 11-25) was the father of
Isaac (Genesis 17-35), who was the father of
Jacob (later "Israel" and father of the 12 tribes, Genesis 25-50), who was the father of
Judah (father of the royal tribe of Israel, Genesis 29-50) and his brothers, who was the father of Perez (Genesis 38:29) and Zerah (Genesis 38:30) (whose mother was Tamar - Genesis 38). ....
Perez to David (Ruth 4:18-22):
Perez was the father of
Hezron, who was the father of
Ram, who was the father of
Amminadab, who was the father of
Nahshon, who was the father of
Salmon, who was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab - Joshua chapters 2 and 6).
Boaz (Book of Ruth) was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth - also the Book of Ruth), and
Obed was the father of
Jesse (1 Samuel 16-17), who was the father of ....
Kings of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah c 1,000BC:
.... King David (1 Samuel 16-31; 2 Samuel 1-24; 1 Kings 1-2), who was the father of Solomon (whose mother was Uriah's wife - 2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Kings 1-2).
Solomon (2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Kings 1-11; 1 Chronicles 22-23, 28-29; 2 Chronicles 1-9) was the father of ....
Kings of Judah - good and bad:
.... Rehoboam, who was the father of
Abijah, who was the father of
Asa, who was the father of
Jehoshaphat, who was the father of
Joram (or Jehoram), who was the father (or great-great grandfather, through Kings Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah) of
Uzziah (or Azariah), who was the father of
Jotham, who was the father of
Ahaz, who was the father of
Hezekiah, who was the father of
Manasseh, who was the father of
Amon, who was the father of
Josiah, who was the father (or grandfather, through King Jehoiakim) of
Jechoniah (or Jehoiachin) and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon (c 587BC).
- The lives of the Kings of Judah - and of Israel, can be found in 1 Kings 12-22, 2 Kings 1-25, and 2 Chronicles 10-36;
- When Jechoniah was taken captive to Babylon, his uncle, Zedekiah, was appointed last King of Judah -
After the Babylonian exile Jechoniah (or Jehoiachin) was the father of
Shealtiel (or Salathiel, 1 Chronicles 3:17), who was the father (or grandfather, through Pedaiah, 1 Chronicles 3:19) of
Zerubbabel (a leader of the exiles who returned to Jerusalem, Ezra 2-5), who was the father of
Abiud, who was the father of
Eliakim, who was the father of
Azor, who was the father of
Sadoc, who was the father of
Achim, who was the father of
Eliud, who was the father of
Eleazar, who was the father of
Matthan, who was the father of
Jacob, who was the father of
Joseph (the carpenter), who was the husband of Mary, the mother of
The genealogy of Jesus Christ may thus be traced for fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the deportation to Babylon, and fourteen from the deportation to Christ himself.
Luke 3:23b-38 - Luke's genealogy is traced Down through King David's son Nathan all the way to Adam, the first man, to emphasise both Jesus' royal descent and his descent from God:
People assumed that ....
Jesus to King David:
.... Jesus was the son of
Joseph (the carpenter), who was the son of
Heli, who was the son of
Matthat, who was the son of
Levi, who was the son of
Melchi, who was the son of
Jannai, who was the son of
Joseph, who was the son of
Mattathias, who was the son of
Amos, who was the son of
Nahum, who was the son of
Esli, who was the son of
Naggai, who was the son of
Maath, who was the son of
Mattathias, who was the son of
Semein, who was the son of
Josech, who was the son of
Joda, who was the son of
Joanan, who was the son of
Rhesa, who was the son of
Zerubbabel, who was the son of
Shealtiel, who was the son of
Neri, who was the son of
Melch, who was the son of
Addi, who was the son of
Cosam, who was the son of
Elmadam, who was the son of
Er, who was the son of
Jesus, who was the son of
Eliezer, who was the son of
Jorim, who was the son of
Matthat, who was the son of
Levi, who was the son of
Symeon, who was the son of
Judas, who was the son of
Joseph, who was the son of
Jonam, who was the son of
Eliakim, who was the son of
Melea, who was the son of
Menna, who was the son of
Mattatha, who was the son of
Nathan (brother of Solomon - 2 Samuel 5:14, and both sons of Bathsheba - 1 Chronicles 3:5), who was the son of ....
David to Abraham:
.... David, who was the son of
Jesse, who was the son of
Obed, who was the son of
Boaz, who was the son of
Salmon, who was the son of
Nahshon, who was the son of
Amminadab, who was the son of
Arni (or Ram in some manuscripts), who was the son of
Hezron, who was the son of
Perez, who was the son of
Judah, who was the son of
Jacob, who was the son of
Isaac, who was the son of
Abraham, who was the son of ....
Terah to Shem:
.... Terah, who was the son of
Nahor, who was the son of
Serug, who was the son of
Reu, who was the son of
Peleg, who was the son of
Eber, who was the son of
Shelah, who was the son of
Cainan (who only appears in the Greek Septuagint Old Testament, and not in the original Hebrew Bible), who was the son of
Arphaxad, who was the son of
Shem, who was the son of ....
Noah to Adam:
.... Noah, who was the son of
Lamech, who was the son of
Methuselah, who was the son of
Enoch, who was the son of
Jared, who was the son of
Mahalaleel, who was the son of
Cainan (or Kenan), who was the son of
Enos (or Enosh), who was the son of
Seth, who was the son of
Adam, who was the son of
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Part 7 - INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD OF JESUS
(Matthew 2:1-23; Luke 2:39-52)
Matthew 2:1-23 - Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in Judea, in the days when Herod was king of the province. Not long after his birth there arrived from the east a party of astrologers making for Jerusalem and enquiring as they went, "Where is the child born to be king of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east and we have come here to pay homage to him."
When King Herod heard about this he was deeply perturbed, as indeed were all the other people living in Jerusalem. So he summoned all the Jewish scribes and chief priests together and asked where "Christ" should be born. Their reply was: "In Bethlehem, in Judea, for this is what the prophet (Micah) wrote about the matter - 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel'."
Then Herod invited the wise men to meet him privately and found out from them the exact time when the star appeared. Then he sent them off to Bethlehem saying, "When you get there, search for this little child with the utmost care. And when you have found him come back and tell me - so that I may go and worship him too."
The wise men listened to the king and then went on their way to Bethlehem. And now the star, which they had seen in the east, went in front of them as they travelled until at last it shone immediately above the place where the little child lay. The sight of the star filled them with indescribable joy.
So they went into the house and saw the little child with his mother Mary. And they fell on their knees and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts - gold, incense and myrrh.
Then, since they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by a different route.
But after they had gone, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up now, take the little child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you. For Herod means to seek out the child and kill him."
So Joseph got up, and taking the child and his mother with him in the middle of the night, set off for Egypt, where he remained until Herod's death.
This again is a fulfilment of the Lord's word spoken through the prophet - 'Out of Egypt I called my son'.
When Herod saw that he had been fooled by the wise men he was furiously angry. He issued orders, and killed all the male children of two years and under in Bethlehem and the surrounding district - basing his calculation on his careful questioning of the wise men.
Then Jeremiah's prophecy was fulfilled: 'A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they were no more'.
Jesus is brought to Nazareth
But after Herod's death an angel of the Lord again appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Now get up and take the infant and his mother with you and go into the land of Israel. For those who sought the child's life are dead."
So Joseph got up and took the little child and his mother with him and journeyed towards the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was now reigning as king of Judea in the place of his father Herod, he was afraid to enter the country. Then he received warning in a dream to turn aside into the district of Galilee (now ruled by Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Perea) and came to live in a small town called Nazareth - thus fulfilling the old prophecy, that he should be called a Nazarene.
Luke 2:39-52 - When they (Mary and Joseph) had completed all the requirements of the Law of the Lord (in the Temple at Jerusalem), they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew up and became strong and full of wisdom. And God's blessing was upon him.
Twelve years later: the boy Jesus goes with his parents to Jerusalem
Every year at the Passover festival Jesus' parents used to go to Jerusalem. When he was twelve years old they went up to the city as usual for the festival. When it was over they started back home, but the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, without his parents' knowledge. They went a day's journey assuming that he was somewhere in their company, and then they began to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. They failed to find him, however, and turned back to the city, looking for him as they went. Three days later, they found him - in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. All those who heard him were astonished at his powers of comprehension and at the answers that he gave. When Joseph and Mary saw him, they could hardly believe their eyes, and his mother said to him, "Why have you treated us like this, my son? Here have your father and I been very worried, looking for you everywhere!"
And Jesus replied, "But why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"
But they did not understand his reply. Then he went home with them to Nazareth and was obedient to them. And his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And as Jesus continued to grow in body and mind, he grew also in the love of God and of those who knew him.
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Some 20 years later .....
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J.B.Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition, published by HarperCollins, is presented here with the kind permission of Mrs Vera Phillips and the J.B.Phillips estate