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WHY FOUR GOSPELS?
It concerns the Hebrew word 'tsemach', also spelled zemach, which means branch. The word appears twelve times in the O.T. We look at the first usage to get a definition by context:
Genesis 19:25 King James Version (KJV)
25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
Those five words, "which grew upon the ground", are the Hebrew word 'tsemach'. The next six occurrences confirm this definition: a tsemach is an offspring of the Earth.
The reason there are four gospels is there were four prophecies of the savior. Five verses, but one is a repetition.
Isaiah 4:2: "In that day shall the branch [tsemach] of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel."
Jeremiah 23:5: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch [tsemach], and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth."
Jeremiah 33:15: "In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch [tsemach] of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land."
Zechariah 3:8: "Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch [tsemach]."
Zechariah 6:12: "And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch [tsemach]; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:"
Relax now, that is the last of the verses. Now we can put it all together. Now we can see the reason for four gospels: the savior was prophesied as a servant, a king, a man, and the son of God. There are five prophecies, but the reference to a king is repeated in Jeremiah, so there are four different aspects of his life to be documented. Each gospel treats one of these four aspects.
Matthew is the story of a king. The genealogy in Matthew is the royal line, in ascending order because a king traces his ascent to the throne. It is in Matthew that we are told of wise men bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh: the traditional gifts to a king. It is in Matthew that another king tries to murder the infant Jesus to protect his own status. It is in Matthew that Jesus declares most of the new, stricter interpretations of the law of Moses, acting on his kingly authority. In Matthew we see the pageantry of an angel rolling the stone away from the tomb and sitting upon it. The other gospels just say the tomb was open.
Mark is the story of a servant. It begins, with only a slight preamble, where Jesus's ministry begins. Very little of what Jesus said is recorded, since a servant's opinions and pronouncements are important only insofar as they come from his master. His last words are not recorded, he just "cried with a loud voice." Mark is a short, terse record of where Jesus went and what he did. There is no genealogy because a servant has none.
Luke is the story of a man. As such it has a man's genealogy, recorded in descending order because a man traces his descent from an ancestor. The genealogy in Luke is the legal line, beginning with "as was supposed", which is a legal term meaning "determined by law". The genealogy in Matthew is the kingly line, recorded in ascending order because a king traces his ascent to the throne. The genealogy in Luke says so-and-so "son of" so-and-so, and some of the names were in fact adopted sons. But in Matthew it says so-and-so "begat" so-and-so, a purely human genealogy. Mark has no genealogy because a servant has none.
John has a very short genealogy: he is the son of God. His last words on the cross, "It is finished", recall his first recorded words, "Wist ye not that I must be about my father's business?"
Material from E. W. Bullinger and other sources.