Jesus in the First Three Gospels

by Millar Burrows

Millar Burrows was for many years Professor of Biblical Theology at Yale University Divinity School. He received his M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary, New York, and a PhD. in biblical languages, literature and history from Yale University. He is widely known as the author of The Dead Sea Scrolls and More Light on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and is a contributor to The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, published by Abingdon.

Jesus in the First Three Gospels was published in 1977 by Abingdon. This book was prepared for Religion Online by Harry W. and Grace C. Adams.


(ENTIRE BOOK) A clear, detailed, and accurate account of the real life of Jesus, presenting facts from Jesus’ birth through his resurrection in such a manner as to make studying his life and the Gospels easier, more rewarding, and very enlightening.


  • Preface
  • Introduction: Subject, Problems, and Approach

    Burrows states clearly the “synoptic problem” (why the three first gospels do not always agree), and points to the direction that his research has led.

  • Chapter 1: Jesus’ Ancestry, Birth and Early Life

    The Messiah, Son of David. The promises to Elizabeth and Mary. Mary visits Elizabeth. Birth of John the Baptist and Jesus. Shepherds. Wise men. Flight to Egypt and return. Trip to Jerusalem at age twelve. Jesus’ childhood and youth. (Mt 1:18-25; 2:1-23; Lk 1:1-80; 2:1-52).

  • Chapter 2: John the Baptist: The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus

    John appears at the Jordan, preaching and baptizing; imprisoned by Herod Antipas. Baptism of Jesus. His threefold temptation. (Mt 3:1-17; 4:1-11; Mk 1:1-13; Lk 3:1-22; 4:1-13)

  • Chapter 3: The First Part of the Galilean Ministry

    Jesus returns to Galilee, proclaiming the kingdom of God. The first four disciples called; the miraculous catch of fish. Teaching and healing in the synagogue at Capernaum. The miraculous element in the Gospels: nature miracles and healing miracles. Peter’s mother-in-law. Healings at evening. The Messianic secret. Preaching and healing throughout Galilee. (Mt 4:12-25; Mk 1:14-39; Lk 4:14-44; 5:1-11)

  • Chapter 4: The Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain

    Beatitudes and woes. Salt and light. Fulfillment of prophecy and the law; exceeding the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. Murder, adultery, the offending eye or hand, divorce, oaths. Nonresistance. Love of neighbor and enemy, being sons of God, perfection. Ostentatious piety: charity, prayers. The Lord’s Prayer. Fasting. Treasure in heaven. Light within. God versus Mammon. Anxiety. Seeking God s kingdom and righteousness. Judging others. Respect for what is holy. Confident prayer. The Golden Rule. The narrow gate. False prophets. Profession versus performance; the two builders. (Mt 5:1-48; 6:1-34; 7:1-29 Lk 6:20-49)

  • Chapter 5: The Second Part of the Galilean Ministry

    A leper healed. The centurion’s slave. Foxes and birds and the homeless Son of man. Leaving the dead to bury their dead. A paralytic healed; opposition begins. Matthew (Levi) called; more opposition. A discussion of fasting. New patches and new wine. The mission of the twelve and their instructions. (Mt 8:1-22; 9:1-17, 35-38; 10:1-42; 11:1; Mk 1:40-45; 2:1-22; 6:6-13; Lk 5:12-39; 7:1-10 9:1-6)

  • Chapter 6: The Third Part of the Galilean Ministry

    John’s question and Jesus’ tribute to John. Woes on Galilean cities. Thanksgiving for revelation to babes. Jesus’ easy yoke. Plucking grain on the Sabbath. The man with a withered hand. Multitudes healed. Appointment of the twelve. The widow’s son at Nain. The women who provided for Jesus and the disciples. Jesus’ friends try to restrain him. The Beelzebub controversy; blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The sign of Jonah. The demon’s return. Jesus’ relatives. (Mt 11:2-30; 12:1-50; Mk 2:2328 3:1-35; Lk 6:1-19; 7:11-50; 8:1-3, 19-21)

  • Chapter 7: Teaching by Parables

    Parables and interpretations: the sower, seed growing of itself, weeds, mustard seed and leaven, treasure and pearl, dragnet, the householder’s treasure. The purpose of parables. (Mt 13:1-52; Mk 4:1-34; Lk 8:4-18)

  • Chapter 8: The Fourth Part of the Galilean Ministry

    Jesus calms a storm on the Sea of Galilee. The demoniac. Jairus’ daughter raised and a woman with a hemorrhage healed. Two blind men healed. Jesus rejected at Nazareth. Herod Antipas hears that John the Baptist has risen from the dead; the death of John. The twelve return from their mission. Five thousand people fed. Jesus walks on the water; Peter fails. Healing miracles at Gennesaret. Clean and unclean. In the region of Tyre and Sidon Jesus heals Syrophoenician woman’s daughter. Return to Galilee; a deaf mute healed. Four thousand people fed. Demand for a sign from heaven refused. The leaven of the Pharisees. A blind man healed at Bethsaida. (Mt 8:23-34; 9:18-34; 13:53-58; 14:1-36; 15:1-39; 16:1-12;Mk4:35-41;5:1-43;6:1-6, 7:1-37; 8:1-26; Lk 8:22-56; 4:16-30; 9:7-17)

  • Chapter 9: Peter’s Confession and the End of the Galilean Ministry

    Peter’s declaration at Caesarea Philippi; Jesus predicts rejection, death, and resurrection; demands self-denying dedication, and proclaims the kingdom’s coming within that generation. The meaning of the kingdom of God. The transfiguration. Elijah’s coming interpreted. An epileptic boy healed. Second prediction of the cross and resurrection. The half-shekel in the fish’s mouth. An argument about greatness; the child as a model. The unauthorized exorcist. Various sayings. The lost sheep. Forgiving a repentant brother. The unmerciful servant. (Mt 16:13-28; 17:1-27; 18:1-35; Mk 8:27-39; 9:1-50; Lk 9:18-50)

  • Chapter 10: The Journey to Jerusalem: Luke’s Special Section

    Jesus’ route to Jerusalem. Pharisees question him about divorce. Eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. Luke’s account of the journey. A Samaritan village will not receive Jesus. The expedition and return of the seventy; Jesus rejoices. A lawyer asks how to gain eternal life. The good Samaritan. Mary and Martha. The friend at midnight. A woman blesses Mary. Jesus refuses to adjudicate a dispute. The rich fool. Three metaphors for God. Jesus must cast fire on the earth and undergo a baptism. Galileans massacred; the tower in Siloam. A crippled woman healed. (Mt 19:1-12; Mk 10:1-12;Lk 9:51-62; 10:1-42; 11:1-54; 12:1-59; 13:1-30)

  • Chapter 11: Luke’s Special Section Continued

    Jesus warned that Herod wants to kill him. His lament over Jerusalem. A Sabbath dinner at a Pharisee’s house; a man with dropsy healed. Humility recommended. The great banquet. Counting the cost of discipleship. The lost sheep and coin and the prodigal son. The dishonest steward. Pharisees condemned as men-pleasers. The rich man and Lazarus. The unprofitable servant. Ten lepers healed. The kingdom in the midst (or within). The days of the Son of man. The corrupt judge. The Pharisee and the tax collector. (Mt 22:1-14; Lk 13:31-35; chapters 14-17; 18:1-14)

  • Chapter 12: The Conclusion of the Journey to Jerusalem

    Jesus blesses children. The unsatisfied rich man. The disciples reassured. Thrones promised to the twelve in the Son of man’s kingdom. Renunciation and following. The laborers hired at different hours. Jesus’ third prediction of his death and resurrection. The ambitious sons of Zebedee. The disciples’ lack of understanding. The Son of man’s death a ransom. Jesus reaches Jericho. Blind Bartimaeus healed. The conversion of Zacchaeus. The pounds (or talents). (Mt 19:13-30; 20:1-34; Mk 10:13-52; Lk 18:15-43; 19:1-27)

  • Chapter 13: The First Days at Jerusalem

    Jesus reaches Jerusalem; his approach to the city; he predicts its destruction. He enters and goes to the temple; blind and lame people healed. Children acclaim Jesus, and he defends them. A fig tree, cursed by Jesus, withers. The cleansing of the temple. Controversies: first, Jesus’ authority challenged. The two sons. The rebellious tenants. Second controversy: paying taxes to Rome. Third, the resurrection of the dead; fourth, the greatest commandment; fifth, David’s son. (Mt 21:1-46; 22:15-46; Mk 11:1-33; 12:1-37; Lk 19:28-48; 20:1-44)

  • Chapter 14: Last Public Teaching and the Apocalyptic Discourse

    Denunciation of scribes and Pharisees. The poor widow’s offering. Leaving the temple, Jesus foretells its destruction. The apocalyptic discourse on the Mount of Olives, Matthew’s fifth discourse. The Messianic woes: false Messiahs, wars and rumors, persecution, false prophets, treachery, the worldwide preaching of the gospel, the desolating sacrilege, flight from the city. The times of the Gentiles. The unmistakable coming of the Son of man. The elect gathered by angels. The sign of the budding fig tree. The certainty of Jesus’ words. The absent householder. The watchful householder, and the faithful and wise servant. The ten bridesmaids. The judgment by the Son of man. (Mt 23:1-39; 24:1-51; 25:1-46; Mk 12:37-44; 13:1-37; Lk 20:45-47; 2 1:1-38)

  • Chapter 15: The Last Supper

    A plot against Jesus. A woman anoints Jesus’ feet at a Pharisee’s house; the two debtors. At a leper’s house in Bethany a woman anoints Jesus’ head; he defends her extravagance. Judas goes to the chief priests to betray Jesus. Preparations for the Passover; Jesus foretells his betrayal and indicates the traitor. The Last Supper. The covenanted kingdom and the twelve thrones. Jesus predicts that Peter will deny him. The two swords. Going out to the Mount of Olives, Jesus foretells the desertion of the disciples. (Mt 26:1-35; Mk 14:1-31; Lk 22:1-39)

  • Chapter 16: Gethsemane: Arrest, Trial, and Condemnation

    The agony in Gethsemane. Jesus betrayed, arrested, and arraigned before the chief priests, elders, and scribes at the high priest’s house. The question of Jesus’ understanding of himself as Messiah. The exaltation, coming, and kingdom of the Son of man. Peter denies knowing Jesus. The death of Judas. Jesus brought before Pilate; the trial. Pilate sends him to Herod, who mocks him and sends him back. The crowd demands the release of Barabbas. The dream of Pilate’s wife. Pilate washes his hands. The question of responsibility for Jesus’ death. Barabbas released; Jesus flogged and delivered to the soldiers. The Praetorium and the Pavement. Jesus mocked by the soldiers. (Mt 26:36-75; 27:1-31; Mk 14:32-72; 15:1-20; Lk 22:40-71; 23:1-25)

  • Chapter 17: Jesus’ Death and Burial

    Jesus led out to be crucified. The Via Dolorosa. Golgotha (Calvary). The Seven Words from the Cross; incidents connected with the crucifixion; Jesus’ death. Joseph of Arimathea; Jesus’ burial; the tomb. The guard. The reality of Jesus death. (Mt 27:31-66; Mk 15:20-47; Lk 23:26-56; Jn 19:17-42)

  • Chapter 18: The Resurrection

    Predictions of the resurrection. The empty tomb. Post-resurrection appearances of Jesus; his ascension. Emphases in the accounts: the disciples’ incredulity; the reality of Jesus’ resurrection body; the difference between the risen Lord and the Master the disciples had known. The historical facts. The meaning of the resurrection. (Mt 28:1-20; Mk 16:1-20; Lk 24:1-53; Jn 20:1-31; 21:1-25; Acts 1:1-11)

  • Chapter 19: The Man Jesus

    The possibility of recovering a true picture of Jesus’ personality and character. Outstanding characteristics: devotion to the will of God, sincerity, patient endurance, love for the Father and consciousness of sonship, authority, insight into human nature, keenness of intellect, sense of proportion, rejection of asceticism, friendship with outcasts, relations with women, love of children, love of nature, humor, tolerance, anger, grief, compassion, mysticism, prayer.