The Synoptic Gospels: Structural Outlines and Unique Materials
by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

Click here for outlines of The Gospel according to John

The Gospel according to Mark

Introduction:  John the Baptist & Jesus  (1:1-15) - incl. the theme of Jesus' preaching (v. 15)
    Early Ministry:  Jesus heals, preaches and teaches, in Galilee and beyond  (1:16 – 6:6)
        Expanded Ministry:  Jesus continues preaching, healing, and encountering opposition  (6:7 – 8:21)
            Central Section:  Jesus and his disciples journey "On the Way" to Jerusalem  (8:22 – 10:52)
            (incl. three passion predictions, framed by two healings of blind men)
        Final Ministry:  Jesus confronts the authorities in Jerusalem; apocalyptic discourse  (11:1 – 13:37)
    Passion Narrative:  Jesus' Last Supper, arrest, trials, crucifixion, death, burial  (14:1 – 15:47)
Conclusion:  the women find Jesus' tomb empty  (16:1-8) - vv. 9-20 are not original, but added later

Material found only in Mark:

  • 1:1 - Introductory Verse
  • 3:19b-21 - Jesus' Family Tries to Restrain Him
  • 4:26-29 - The Parable of the Seed Growing of Itself
  • 7:31-37 - Jesus Heals a Deaf Man in the Decapolis
  • 8:22-26 - Jesus Gives Sight to the Blind Man of Bethsaida
  • 14:51-52 - A Young Man Runs Away Naked after Jesus' Arrest
  • [16:14-18] - [The Commissioning of the Eleven]

Note: Mark's Gospel originally ended at 16:8; vv. 9-20 were appended later. For detailed outlines of the subsections of Mark, click here.


 
The Gospel according to Matthew

     Genealogy & Infancy Narrative: 1–2
         Narrative: 3–4
             First Discourse: "Sermon on Mount": 5–7
         Narrative: 8–9
             Second Discourse: "Missionary Instructions": 10
         Narrative: 11–12
             Third Discourse: "Parables Collection": 13
         Narrative: 14–17
             Fourth Discourse: "Community Instructions": 18
         Narrative: 19–22
             Fifth Discourse: "Eschatological Sermon": 23–25
     Passion & Resurrection Narrative: 26–28

Note: This structure was not invented by modern scholars, but is indicated by Matthew himself, who at the end of each of these five discourses writes, "When Jesus had finished saying these things..." (or something very similar; see 7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; and 26:1).

Material found only in Matthew:

  • 1:1 - Introductory Verse
  • 1:18-2:23 - The Infancy Narrative (incl. Dreams of Joseph, Birth of Jesus, Visit of the Magi, Flight into Egypt, Massacre of the Infants of Bethlehem, Return from Egypt)
  • 5:17-20, 21-24, 27-29, 31, 33-38, 43 - Jesus Teaches about the Law, Anger, Adultery, and Oaths
  • 6:1-8, 16-19 - Teaching about Almsgiving and about Fasting
  • 7:6, 15-17 - Sayings about Pearls before Swine, and False Prophets
  • 7:28-29 - Conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount
  • 9:27-31 - The Healing of the Two Blind Men (cf. 20:29-34)
  • 9:35-38 - A Summary of the Compassion of Jesus
  • 10:22-23 - Part of Jesus' Teaching about Upcoming Persecutions
  • 11:1 - Narrator's Conclusion to Jesus' Missionary Discourse
  • 11:28-30 - The Gentle Mastery of Christ
  • 13:24-30 - The Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat
  • 13:36-43 - The Explanation of the Parable of the Weeds
  • 13:44-52 - Three More Parables and a Concluding Dialogue
  • 14:28-31 - Peter Attempts to Walk on Water
  • 16:17-19 - Jesus' Response to Peter's Confession
  • 17:24-27 - Dialogue about Payment of the Temple Tax
  • 18:15-20, 21-35 - A Brother Who Sins, and The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
  • 19:10-12 - The Disciples React to Jesus' Teaching on Divorce
  • 20:1-16 - The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
  • 21:28-32 - The Parable of the Two Sons
  • Almost all of Ch. 23 - Prohibition of Titles, Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees
  • 25:1-13 - The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids
  • 25:31-46 - The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats
  • 27:3-10 - The Death of Judas
  • 27:24-25 - Pilate Washes His Hands
  • 27:52-53 - Resuscitation of the Saints
  • 27:62-66 - The Guard Posted at the Tomb
  • 28:11-15 - The Report of the Guard
  • 28:16-20 - The Commissioning of the Disciples
Material in other Gospels but significantly different in Matthew:
  • 1:2-17 - The Genealogy of Jesus
  • Most of Ch. 5–7 - The Sermon on the Mount (esp. 5:3-12;  6:9-15;  7:15-20)
  • Most of Ch. 10 - The Missionary Discourse
  • 12:33-37 - The Tree and Its Fruit
  • 16:13-23 - Peter's Confession about Jesus
  • Much of Ch. 18 - The Community Discourse
  • 22:1-14 - The Parable of the Wedding Feast
  • 25:14-30 - The Parable of the Talents

 
The Gospel according to Luke

     Literary Preface & Infancy Narrative:  1:1 – 2:52
         Preparation for Ministry:  3:1 – 4:13
             Galilean Ministry:  4:14 – 9:50
                 Journey to Jerusalem:  9:51 – 19:27
             Jerusalem Ministry:  19:28 – 21:38
         Passion Narrative:  22:1 – 23:56
     Resurrection Appearances & Ascension:  24:1-53

Material found only in Luke:

  • 1:1-4 - The Literary Prologue (Dedication to Theophilus)
  • 1:5 – 2:52 - The Infancy Narrative (incl. Announcement of John's Birth, Announcement of Jesus' Birth, Mary Visits Elizabeth, Canticle of Mary, Birth of John, Canticle of Zechariah, Birth of Jesus, Visit of the Shepherds, Circumcision and Naming of Jesus, Presentation at the Temple, Return to Nazareth, and Boy Jesus in the Temple)
  • 3:10-14 - John the Baptist Replies to Questioners
  • 4:14-30 - Jesus Preaches and is Rejected at Nazareth
  • 5:1-11 - The Call of Simon the Fisherman
  • 6:24-26 - Four "Woes" added after the Beatitudes
  • 7:11-17 - The Raising of the Widow's Son at Nain
  • 8:1-3 - Galilean Women Follow Jesus
  • Much of 9:51 – 18:14 - Jesus and His Disciples Journey to Jerusalem (incl. Rejection by Samaritan Villagers, Mission of the Seventy, Parable of the Good Samaritan, Martha and Mary, Parable of a Friend at Midnight, Warning against Avarice, Parable of the Rich Fool, Parable of the Barren Fig Tree, Healing a Crippled Woman, Healing a Man with Dropsy, Teachings for Guests and Hosts, Cost of Discipleship, Parable of the Lost Coin, Parable of the Lost/Prodigal Son, Parable of the Unjust Steward, Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Unprofitable Servants, Cleansing of Ten Lepers, Parable of the Widow and Judge; Prayers of the Pharisee and Publican)
  • 19:1-11 - Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
  • 19:39-44 - Jesus Laments over Jerusalem
  • 22:15-17, 31-32, 35-38 - Some of Jesus' Words at the Last Supper
  • 23:2-16 - Jesus Appearances before Pilate and before Herod
  • 23:27-31 - On the Way to the Cross, Jesus Speaks to some Weeping Women
  • 23:34, 39-43, 46 - The Repentant Thief, and some Details of the Crucifixion
  • 24:13-35, 36-49 - Jesus Appears to Disciples on the Road to Emmaus, and in Jerusalem
  • 24:50-53 - The Ascension of Jesus
Material in other Gospels but significantly different in Luke:
  • 3:1-2 - The Preaching of John the Baptist
  • 3:23-38 - The Genealogy of Jesus
  • 6:20-26 - The Beatitudes (at the beginning of the Sermon on the Plain)
  • 7:36-50 - The Pardon of the Sinful Woman
  • 9:18-22 - Peter's Confession about Jesus
  • 11:1-8 - The Lord's Prayer and Further Teachings on Prayer
  • 14:16-24 - The Parable of the Great Feast
  • 19:12-27 - The Parable of the Ten Gold Coins
  • 21:34-38 - The Exhortation to be Vigilant
  • 22:15-38 - Jesus' Discourses at the Last Supper (incl. The Betrayal Foretold, The Role of the Disciples, Peter's Denial Foretold, and Instructions for the Time of Crisis)
  • 24:1-12 - The Empty Tomb Story

Luke's Use of Material from Mark's Gospel:

Mark 1:3-4, 7-8, 9-11

Luke 3:2b-4, 16, 21-22

Mark 1:12-13, 14, 21-39

Luke 4:1-2, 14-15, 31-44

Mark 1:40—3:19a

Luke 5:12—6:19

Mark 4:1-25, 35—5:43

Luke 8:4-18, 22-56

Mark 6:7-16, 30-44

Luke 9:1-9, 10-17

Mark 6:45—8:26

[omitted]

Mark 8:27—9:10, 14-40

Luke 9:18-36, 37-50

Mark 10:13-34, 46-52

Luke 18:15-34, 35-43

Mark 11:1-10, 15-19, 27-33

Luke 19:28-38, 45-48; 20:1-8

Mark 12:1-27, 35-40, 41-44

Luke 20:9-40, 41-47; 21:1-4

Mark 13:1-20, 24-32

Luke 21:5-24, 25-33

Mark 14:1-72 [mostly]

Luke 22:1-71 [mostly]

Mark 15:1-47 [mostly]

Luke 23:1-56 [mostly]

Mark 16:1-8

Luke 24:1-11

Click here for more detail on Luke's Adaptations of Mark's Material


 
The "Q" Source or "Q" Document  (probably used by both Matthew and Luke)

Material normally thought to belong to the "Sayings Source" or "Reden-Quelle":
 

Preaching of John the Baptist Luke 3:7-9, 16-17 Matt 3:7b-12
Temptations of Jesus Luke 4:1-13a Matt 4:1-11a
Beatitudes Luke 6:20b-23 Matt 5:3, 6, 4, 11-12
Love of Enemies Luke 6:27-33, 35b-36 Matt 5:44, 39b-40, 42; 7:12; 5:46-47, 45, 48
On Judging Others Luke 6:37a, 38c, 39-42 Matt 7:1-2; 15:14; 10:24-25a; 7:3-5
On Bearing Fruit Luke 6:43-45 Matt 7:16-20 & 12:33-35
House Built on Rock Luke 6:46-49 Matt 7:21, 24-27
Healing a Centurion's Servant Luke 7:1-2, 6b-10 Matt 8:5-10, 13
John the Baptist's Questions Luke 7:18-23 Matt 11:2-6
Jesus Speaks about John Luke 7:24-28, 31-35 Matt 11:7-11, 16-19
On Following Jesus Luke 9:57-60 Matt 8:19-22
Missionary Instructions Luke 10:2-12 Matt 9:37-38; 10:7-16
Woes against Galilean Cities Luke 10:13-16 Matt 11:21-23; 10:40
Thanksgiving to the Father Luke 10:21-24 Matt 11:25-27; 13:16-17
Lord's Prayer Luke 11:2-4 Matt 6:9-13
Asking and Receiving Luke 11:9-13 Matt 7:7-11
Beelzebul Controversy Luke 11:14-15, 17-23 Matt 12:22-30
Return of the Evil Spirit Luke 11:24-26 Matt 12:43-45
Sign of Jonah Luke 11:29-32 Matt 12:38-42
On Light and Seeing Luke 11:33-35 Matt 5:15; 6:22-23
Woes against Pharisees Luke 11:39-44, 46-52 Matt 23:25-26, 23, 6-7a, 27, 4, 29-31, 34-36, 13
Fearing Humans and God Luke 12:2-9 Matt 10:26-33; 12:32
Role of the Holy Spirit Luke 12:10-12 Matt 12:32; 10:19
Anxiety; Treasure in Heaven Luke 12:22-31, 33-34 Matt 6:25-33, 19-21
Watch and Be Ready Luke 12:39-40, 42-46 Matt 24:43-51
Divisions in Families Luke 12:51-53 Matt 10:34-36
Signs of the Times Luke 12:54-56 Matt 16:2-3
Settling out of Court Luke 12:58-59 Matt 5:25-26
Mustard Seed and Leaven Luke 13:18-21 Matt 13:31-33
Exclusion from the Kingdom Luke 12:23-30 Matt 7:13-14, 22-23; 8:11-12; 20:16
Lament over Jerusalem Luke 13:34-35 Matt 23:37-39
Parable of the Banquet Luke 14:16-24 Matt 22:1-10
Carrying the Cross Luke 14:26-27 Matt 10:37-38
Parable of Salt Luke 14:34-35 Matt 5:13
Parable of the Lost Sheep Luke 15:4-7 Matt 18:12-14
On Serving Two Masters Luke 16:13 Matt 6:24
On the Law and Divorce Luke 16:16-18 Matt 11:12-13; 5:18, 32
On Sin and Forgiveness Luke 17:1, 3b-4 Matt 18:7, 15, 21-22
Faith Like a Mustard Seed Luke 17:6 Matt 17:20
Coming of the Son of Man Luke 17:23-24, 26-27, 30, 33-35, 37 Matt 24:26-27, 37-39; 10:39; 24:40-41, 28
Parable of the Talents Luke 19:12-27 Matt 25:14-30
Disciples Will Judge Israel Luke 22:30 Matt 19:28


More Information on the Four Gospels:

Electronic New Testament Educational Resources

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