Jesus and the Gospels

Course Outline & Assessment Information


Who is Jesus? This is the central question of good theology and ministry practice.

In this course we look to Jesus as the revelation of the Father and discover the relationship he brings us into through the Spirit. We consider Jesus' life, death, resurrection and ascension. The course encourages reflective consideration of both the method and message of his teachings contained in the four Gospels. With attention to good principles of Bible study and exegesis, we discover Jesus more deeply and personally as "the way, the truth and the life", the One who came in human form to not only show us the Father, but to unite us with the Triune God.

Christian Ministry is founded on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. This subject provides students with an introduction to, and examination of, the person, teachings and work of Jesus.

Material is drawn from the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Students will be expected to display the competencies required to exegete these New Testament books. Students will be expected to exhibit an understanding and application of the teachings of Jesus Christ contained therein, based on an understanding of the meaning of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection – in answer to the central question, “Who is Jesus?”. This class will enable students to address the following elements of exegetical competency:

  • Analyze and describe selected passages of the Gospels
  • Explain the meaning of these passages
  • Postulate contemporary applications of these passages

The object of this class is to help students encounter the Incarnate Word through the Written Word. Knowing God, not just knowing about God, is the object of study. Through the Spirit of the risen Christ, humans are invited into a dynamic, living relationship with their Savior.



  • Basic welcome and orientation to the course

Lesson 1: Who is Jesus?

  • New Testament Context
  • Colossians 1:15-28
  • Hebrews 1:1-4
  • Philippians 2:5-11
  • Ephesians 1:3-14
  • Luke 24:44-49
  • John 1:1-18

Lesson 2: The Four Gospels Background

  • The Gospels
  • Why Four Gospels?
  • Narrative and Teaching
  • Audience
  • New Creation
  • A Note About the Need for Exegesis
  • The Centrality of Jesus Christ

Lesson 3: The Synoptic Gospels

  • 1. Matthew
  • 2. Mark
  • 3. Luke

Lesson 4: The Gospel of John

  • Message
  • Author and Date
  • Structure and Content
  • “I AM ...”
  • Outline
  • Some Key Passages
  • Conclusion

Lesson 5: Historical Context

  • Broader Historical Context
  • The Intertestament Period
  • Judea at the Time of Jesus
  • Pharisees and Sadducees

Lesson 6: The Gospel

  • Gospel
  • Definitions
  • Gospel in the Gospels
  • Gospel in the New Testament

Lesson 7: The Kingdom of God

  • The Kingdom in the Gospels
  • Language and Exegesis
  • Old Testament Background & First Century Expectations
  • The Present Reality of the Kingdom
  • The Future Reality of the Kingdom
  • Some Suggested Definitions
  • "Already'', but ''not yet''
  • "Kingdom” in Jesus’ Teaching
  • Sermon on the Mount
  • Parables

Lesson 8: The Sermon on the Mount

  • The Life of the Kingdom
  • The Sermon
  • The Ethics of the Kingdom

Lesson 9: Parables

  • Jesus The Teacher
  • What is a “Parable”?
  • Parables are not “bed-time stories”

Lesson 10: The Cross of Christ

  • The Gospel Accounts
  • Old Testament Background
  • Access to the Father

Lesson 11: Resurrection and Ascension

  • The Gospel Accounts
  • Response
  • The Great Commission
  • Jesus' Ascension

Texts and Supporting Materials

The essential texts for this class are the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. (We recommend that you use a version of the Bible in modern English, such as the New International Version (NIV), or The New Revised Standard (NRV), or The New King James versions (NKJ). After you have read each gospel this way, you may want to try Eugene H. Peterson’s ''The Message'' paraphrase for an attempt to tell the story in contemporary language.) Please read each Gospel as a complete book - start to finish. (This doesn't have to be in one sitting, of course.)

The other assigned text is: ''How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth'', Fee, Gordon D., and Stuart, Douglas, Zondervan, 1982, (chapters one, two, seven and eight)*.
*Relevant chapters can be found in the Class Resource Library.

Other recommended reading is:

  • ''The Cross of Christ'', John Stott, Intervarsity Press, 1986
  • ''The Method and Message of Jesus’ Teachings'', Revised Edition, Robert H. Stein, Westminster John Knox Press, 1994
  • ''Four Gospels, One Jesus'', Richard A. Burridge, Harper Collins, 1994
  • ''Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels'', Green, McKnight and Marshall, Eds., Intervarsity Press, 1992
  • ''New Testament Introduction'', by Donald Guthrie, Intervarsity Press, 1990
  • ''Why Four Gospels?'', Arthur W Pink; See Class Resources
  • ''The Jesus I Never Knew'', Phillip Yancey, Strand Publishing, 1995
  • ''Invitation to Theology'', Michael Jinkins, Intervarsity Press, 2001
  • ''Jesus and the Victory of God'', N.T.Wright, Fortress, 1997
  • Supporting articles and other material will be supplied during the course.

 These texts can be purchased from most online bookstores (we recommend Book Depository which offers free shipping) or from select Christian book retailers. 


The components of assessment for this class are all listed below. You are encouraged to work through the class notes and readings before launching into the assessments. Assessments must be submitted before the due dates outlined in the course syllabus you received upon registration. Do not submit more than one assessment before receiving feedback from your teacher.

As of the 12th of July, 2020, the Assessment Items are:


Assessment 1:

Short answer. (Word limit in brackets) Download Assessment 1 Template Here.

  1. In John 14:6 Jesus says he is “the way, the truth, and the life”. In this context, what does he mean by:
    • The way
    • The truth
    • The life? (300 words)
  2. What do we mean by “exegesis”? Why is it important? (100 words)
  3. What is meant by “Jesus is the lens through which we read and understand the Scriptures”? (100 words)
  4. For each of the four gospels:
    1. Who was the author
    2. What was the broad purpose of the gospel, and
    3. What are some different and distinguishing features of each gospel?
    (No more than 200 words for each gospel (all three questions), total no more than 800 words)
  5. What is meant by the term “incarnation”? (50-100 words)

Assessment 2:

Short answer. (Word limit in brackets)Download Assessment 2 Template Here.

  1. List the “I am” statements from the book of John. Taken together, what do they tell us about who Jesus is? (200 words)
  2. What is the meaning and significance of Jesus' term "Paraclete"? (John 14:16, 25-26; 15:26) (200 words)
  3. One of the tasks of exegesis is to have “an awareness of the historical context” (Fee and Stuart). What does this mean? (100 words)
  4. Who were the Pharisees? (200 words)
  5. What does the term 'Gospel" mean? In your own words, briefly explain the central message of the gospel. (100 words)
  6. Give a working definition from the gospels of the term “Kingdom”. What is meant by the "Already/Not Yet" tension of the Kingdom? (100 words)
  7. What is a parable? How are they designed to work? (100 words)
  8. What is the significance of the ascension of Jesus? (150 words)
  9. “The prime purpose of the incarnation … is to lift us up into a life of communion, of participation in the very triune life of God” (J.B. Torrance). Explain. (100 words)
  10. How does the Christian calendar keep us focused on keeping Jesus as the Center of the Center? (150 words)
  11. Choose ONE verse from any of the four gospels, and tell us why you chose it (50 words).

Assessment 3:

In two pages (about 1,000 - 1,200 words), present an exegesis suitable for an adult Bible Study or similar of ONE of the following passages:

  1. John 1:14 -OR-
  2. Matt 11:28-30 -OR-
  3. Luke 5:36-18 - OR -
  4. Mark 1:15 -OR-
  5. John 14:6 - OR -
  6. Luke 9:28-36

Remember that an exegesis means to draw out the meaning of the text, not read our own ideas into the text, or "use" the text to support what we already want to say, or as a springboard for other Scriptures that come to mind. It is not a stream of consciousness, but a prayerful submission to what the text says. 

Please consult the relevant material on exegesis in the coursework before you start and refresh your memory of how to approach this assignment.

Exegesis, again, is to draw the meaning out of the text, not to read our ideas into the text. It involves genre (what type of literature we are reading - in this course Gospels), author, audience, purpose of book if known, context (Testament, Covenant, book. chapter, paragraph), including historical and linguistic context (figures of speech and so on). It deeply enriches our study, and is an essential competency for pastors and ministry leaders in GCI. Rather than "using" the text to support our own ideas, we listen carefully and allow the text to speak. We don't just use the text to randomly bounce around to other texts (often from different authors, genres, and so on). We learn to prayerfully and thoughtfully stay in (really under) the text. This can be challenging to start with if we haven't seen exegesis practiced or modelled before. You get a chance to put this into practice with this assessment.

In presenting your exegesis, therefore, you will need to demonstrate an application of your understanding of exegesis as you prepare your submission: describe and analyze the passage – i.e., who wrote it, to whom, in what context; explain the meaning of the passage – i.e., what did the author mean when he wrote the passage, noting key words and/or phrases; and postulate contemporary applications of the passage. Are there issues of context (historical, linguistic) that help explain the meaning of the passage? Ultimately, all our exegesis should be done through the person and work (the lens) of Jesus. What is this passage revealing about who Jesus is? 

If you need help with this important exercise, please ask. 



More about the Lecturer, John McLean

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Class Notes - Conventions

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