Jesus and the Gospels

Course Outline & Assessment Information


Who is Jesus? This course explores the revelation of the Father in Jesus Christ. We consider Jesus' life, death, resurrection and ascension, and reflect on both the method and message of his teachings contained in the 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 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, as well as an understanding of the meaning of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. 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.

Brief Description

The four Gospels are used as sources to examine and analyze the major events in the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The class places the story of the Gospels in its historical context. Emphasis is placed on careful exegesis of the texts.

The class describes and analyzes the key themes of Jesus’ teachings, including his emphasis on “The Kingdom of God.” There will be a particular focus on his ethical instructions in the Sermon on the Mount. The method of his teaching, including his use of parables, is also examined.

The class will explore the implications of his atoning death and resurrection to life. Throughout, an emphasis will be placed on the need to read and think contextually – historically, linguistically and in terms of each (whole) book (Gospel). Applications to current Christian life and ministry will be considered and encouraged. Ultimately, the life and teachings of Jesus Christ reveal the Father, and invite us into a close relationship of fellowship with the Father through the Son by the Spirit. Jesus is Teacher, Savior, Brother and Friend, who offers us eternal life in relationship with him.



  • 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).

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.

To purchase these books, select the "Bookstore" option from the Student Services dropdown menu. Ambassador College of Christian Ministry partners with Amazon Books to provide fast, efficient service and delivery of your textbook needs worldwide.


There are several items of assessment for this class. Student’s written work will be required to evidence the particular competencies addressed in Objectives (above), namely: Analyze and describe selected passages from the Gospels, explain the meaning of these passages, and postulate contemporary applications of the content of these passages.

The Assessment Items are:

Assessment 1

In two pages (about 1,000 words), present an exegesis of ONE of the following passages:

  1. John 1:14 -OR-
  2. Matt 22:34-40 -OR-
  3. Mark 8:14-21 -OR-
  4. Mark 1:15 -OR-
  5. John 14:6

In presenting your exegesis, you will need to 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?

Assessment 2

Utilizing your exegetical skills, in about three pages (about 1500 words), prepare a Bible study for adults that answers ONE of the following questions:

  1. Who is Jesus? - OR-
  2. What is the Gospel? -OR-
  3. What is meant by the "Already/Not Yet" tension in Jesus' teachings about the Kingdom of God?

Please focus your study on no more than three or four main passages of scripture. You will need to pay attention to the same exegetical skills as in Assessment (1) above. (Clearly whole books could and have been written on these themes. You will need to focus your attention on the interpretation of just a few key passages.)

Assessment 3

Utilizing your exegetical skills, in two pages (about 1000 words) prepare a Bible study for adults on ONE of the following:

  1. A parable of your own choosing (some suggestions: Luke 7:36-50; Luke 5:36-39; Matthew 20:1-16; Luke 18:9-14)-OR-
  2. The resurrection of Jesus (John 20) -OR-
  3. The Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36) -OR-
  4. The Cleansing of the Temple (John 2:12-25)

Once again, you will need to pay attention to the same exegetical skills as in (1), above. Assessment Items (2) and (3) should result in a practically usable Bible study for adults. Consequently, if you would prefer to present the studies as outlines with supporting notes, that is fine. (That is, you do not have to write grammatically perfect essays.)

Assessment Submission

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Please note: file sizes must be less than 512kb and of acceptable file type or the system will not accept them. Acceptable file types include only:

  • PDF (Adobe Reader format documents)
  • TXT (standard text file format documents)
  • DOC (MS Word documents) and
  • RTF (Rich Text Format documents)

Dates for Assessment

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More about the Lecturer, John McLean, and the course Assessor, Phillip Hopwood.

Grading System

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Class Notes - Conventions

As you work through the class notes, you'll have opportunities to complete exercises, reflect on particular points and take special note. These are clearly indicated, with relevant instructions alongside.

How long do I have to complete the class?

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