In the Four Gospels the Ministry of our Lord is divided, not into "years", but by subjects, which are of far greater importance than time.  The "years" are mainly conjectural, but the subjects are Divinely recorded facts.

The subjects are two in number :  the Kingdom and the King; and, since these are repeated in the form of Introversion, it brings the Person of the Lord into the Structure of the Gospel as the one great central subject of each, for all four Gospels are similarly constructed.  See pages 1305, 1381, 1427, and 1510.  As, however, the index-letters are not the same in each Gospel, we set them out in their order :--

The Four Subjects.

Their Proclamation.
  • The First is The Kingdom.
  • The Second is The King.
Their Rejection.
  • The Third is The King.
  • The Fourth is The Kingdom.

These Subjects begin and end respectively in the Four Gospels as follows :--

1st. 4:21-7:29
(125 verses)
1st. 1:14-20
(7 verses)
1st 4:14-5:11
(42 verses)
1st. 1:35-4:54
(132 verses)
2nd. 8:1-16:20
(347 verses)
2nd. 1:21-8:30
(295 verses)
2nd. 5:12-9:21
(204 verses)
2nd. 5:1-6:71
(118 verses)
3rd. 16:21-20:34 
(134 verses)
3rd 8:31-10:52
(110 verses)
3rd. 9:22-18:43
(409 verses)
3rd. 7:1-11:53
(248 verses)
4th. 21:1-26:35
(263 verses)
4th 11:1-14:25
(139 verses)
4th. 19:1-22:38
(171 verses)
4th. 11:54-17:26
(209 verses)

From the above it will be seen that, including all the Four Gospels,
  • The First Subject (the Proclamation of the Kingdom) occupies in all 306 verses.

  • The Second Subject (the Proclamation of the King) occupies in all 964 verses.

  • The Third Subject (the Rejection of the King) occupies in all 901 verses.

  • The Fourth Subject (the Rejection of the Kingdom) occupies in all 782 verses.

Thus, the Subject that occupies the greatest of verses is the KING :  viz. 1865 verses in all (964 concerning the proclamation, and 901 concerning His rejection).

The Subject of the KINGDOM occupies 1088 verses in all (306 verses concerning its proclamation, and 782 concerning its rejection).

  • The Gospel which has most to say about the First Subject (the Proclamation of the Kingdom) is JOHN, having 132 verses; while MARK has the least, having only 7 verses on this subject.

  • The Gospel which has most to say about the Second Subject (the Proclamation of the King) is MATTHEW, having 347 verses; while JOHN (strange to say) has the least, 118 verses; the reason being that in Matthew, the Lord is presented in His human relationship as King; whereas in John, He is presented as God manifest in the flesh.

  • The Gospel which has most to say on the Third Subject (the Rejection of the King) is LUKE, having 409 verses; while MARK again has the least, 110 verses.

  • The Gospel which has most to say about the Fourth Subject (the Rejection of the Kingdom) is MATTHEW, having 263; while Mark again has the least, 139 verses.

These particulars, when compared with the interrelation of the four Gospels as set forth in their respective Structures, are full of interest, and help to determine more specifically the great design of each Gospel.

Taking the Gospel of Matthew as an example, we find :--

  • The first subject is marked by the beginning and ending being both noted (4:17 and 7:28).  All between these verses referred to the Kingdom which had drawn near in the Person of the King, but which, owing to His rejection, and the rejection of the "other servants" (22:4) in the Acts of the Apostles, was postponed, and is now in abeyance (Heb. 2:8, "not yet").

  • The commencement of the Second Subject is noted by the ending of the First Subject (7:28).  In ch. 8:2, 6, 8 the Lord is immediately addressed as "Lord"; and in v. 20 He gives His other title, "the Son of man" (*1).  The great miracles manifesting His Divine and Human perfections are recorded in this section, which ends with His question focussing the whole Subject :  "Who do men say that I, the Son of man, am?" and Peter's answer :  "Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living God" (16:13-16).

  • The Third Subject is marked in 16:21 :  "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples how He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things", &c.  Thus there was a moment at which He introduced the Subject of His rejection, of which He had never before given even a hint.  When once He had begun, He repeated it four times (in each Gospel), each time adding fresh details.  See 16:21; 17:22; 20:18; 20:28.

  • The Fourth Subject (the Rejection of the Kingdom) begins at 21:1 and continues down to 26:35, when He goes forth from the Upper Room to Gethsemane.  In this section comes the second series (*2) of Parables which deals with the Rejection and Postponement of the Kingdom, which was to be henceforth in abeyance.  The approaching end of this period is marked off in 26:1, closing with the last Supper at 26:26-29.

The same four subjects may be traced in like manner in the other Gospels.

(*1)  Its first occurrence in the N.T., the last being in Rev. 14:14.  It is the title connected with dominion in the earth.  See Ap. 98. XVI.

(*2)  The first series being recorded in Matt. 13 (see Ap. 145); the second series beginning with Matt. 21:28, being specially marked by the word "again" in Matt. 22:1.

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