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The Four Gospels of Christ and the Four Living Creatures

The word “Christ” is mentioned 573 times in the New Testament (KJV). The Greek word is Χριστός (Christos). The equivalent word for Christ in Hebrew is “Messiah” or מָשִׁ֫יחַ (Mashiach), and is only found twice in the Old Testament (Daniel 9:25-26). Messiah is also found twice in the New Testament and is spelled “Messias” (NKJV of John 1:41; John 4:25). 1 Corinthians mentions Christ the most with 69 usages (17 times in the first chapter) and Romans comes in second with 68 mentions.

Messiah and/or Christ is a title and means anointed or the anointed one, a consecrated person for service to God such as a priest, prophet, or king; prophetically in relation to the Jewish ruler to come who will rule the world during the end times.

In the New Testament, “Christ” is often used by itself, but usually, Jesus’ name is added to the title. Some of these combinations of titles and names include Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus, Christ the Lord, Christ the Son of God, Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ our Lord, Jesus Christ the son of David, Christ the Savior of the world, and Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

The word “Christ” literally means anointed with oil. Priests (Exodus 28:41; 40:15; Numbers 3:3), prophets (1 Kings 19:16), and kings (1 Samuel 9:16; 16:3; 2 Samuel 12:7) were anointed with oil and thus consecrated to their respective offices. The ultimate Messiah/Christ, Jesus, is anointed “above his fellows”(Psalm 45:7) as he fulfills all three offices of priest, prophet, and king.

The Gospels are the teachings or revelations of Jesus Christ. The four Gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These disciples and followers of Jesus wrote their Books under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. According to God’s design, each Gospel writer presented Jesus in a different way.

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW

Matthew presents Jesus as the promised Messiah/Christ, in the very first verse of his Book (Matthew 1:1), and as the coming king of Israel in Matthew 2:2. Matthew 1:1-17 presents Jesus as the legal heir to the throne of David and gives the genealogy from Abraham to Joseph (Jesus’ stepfather).

Matthew compresses his genealogy (known as telescoping) into 3 sets of 14 generations. The number 3 represents divine perfection in the Bible, and 14 (7 X 2) represents spiritual perfection and completion doubled., i.e., Jesus through David through Abraham. Coincidentally (or not), 14 is the gematria of David’s name in Hebrew. The number 14 is a well-known number throughout Israel’s religion and history. The Feast of the Lord known as Passover occurred on the 14th day of the first month of Nisan, according to Leviticus 23:5.


Most Bible students are aware of the significance of this Feast and how Jesus fulfilled it (as the Lamb of God) with his death on this day. On the 7 days of the Feast of the Lord, known as Tabernacles, the Jews were to offer 14 lambs without blemish (Numbers 29:15,32) as a sacrifice to the Lord.

It appears Matthew is emphasizing the number 14 to such a degree that he intentionally leaves out multiple generations of the line of David. Matthew lists only 42 (7 X 6) generations from Abraham to Jesus, whereas Luke lists 56 (7 X 8) generations. Actually, Matthew only lists 41 names, as David is listed twice. Matthew wanted to showcase Jesus’ genealogy in such a way as to leave no doubt that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) and eternal King of the Jews as the prophets of the Old Testament wrote about. David was a king (and a good one), but Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.


Matthew’s first set of 14 generations is complete (if you include Abraham). His second set is missing 3 Kings of Judah (Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah) that should be listed between Joram and Uzziah. Matthew’s third set is missing King Jehoiachin (Jehoiakim or Eliakim). There are probably many more names/ generations that aren’t listed from the time of the Babylonian exile until the time of Jesus, but Matthew definitely made his point (with his genealogy and Gospel book) that Jesus is the true King and Messiah of the Jews. Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament expectation that a son of David would reign on the throne of David forever (Psalm 132:11-18 and others), as Gabriel had announced to Mary (Luke 1:32-33).


The Gospel of Matthew is very Jewish in its message, revealing Jesus as the Star that would come out of Jacob, the Scepter that would rise out of Israel (Num 24:17-19 and Genesis 49:10), and the One who would sit on David’s throne (Isa 9:7). Matthew 2:1-2 describes the birth of Christ whereas wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” Throughout Matthew’s gospel account, Jesus is portrayed as King of a heavenly kingdom (Matthew 16:28; 21:5; 28:18).

Matthew 3 describes John’s ministry as preparing the people for the kingdom of heaven. Evidently, the kingdom of heaven would actually begin with the ministry and subsequent baptism of Jesus the Christ. John said, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Matthew 3:2-3). Matthew’s Gospel gives great revelation of the Kingdom to come and Jesus spoke often of it. The “kingdom of heaven” is mentioned 33 times in the Book of Matthew. 33 is a number that is associated with King David and also King Jesus.

The symbol of the Gospel of Matthew is the lion, the king of the jungle. Jesus is the lion of the tribe of Judah. The Book of Matthew begins with the genealogy and birth of Jesus and ends with the resurrection.

THE GOSPEL OF MARK

Mark presents Jesus as the Suffering Servant, prophesied in Isaiah 53. The NKJV subtitles this chapter as The Sin-Bearing Messiah. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he has poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:11-12).

Jesus taught his disciple that greatness doesn’t come from ruling over others but from serving others. His best lesson on this subject is found in Mark 10, where Jesus said, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45).

There is no genealogy in the Book of Mark, as a servant doesn’t have one or doesn’t know his genealogy. A servant’s genealogy was insignificant and not worthy of being recorded. The symbol of the Gospel of Mark is the ox, a beast of burden and service, representing the burden of sin Jesus took upon Himself and his role as a servant to mankind. The Book of Mark begins with the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth and ends with the ascension of Jesus into heaven, where He then sat down at the right hand of God.

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE

Luke presents Jesus as the Son of Man, a messianic title from the prophecy of Daniel (Daniel 7:13), “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven!” Just as the Lord liked to call Ezekiel the son of Man, so did he refer to himself as the Son of Man in the Book of Mark and other Gospels. Jesus told his disciples, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 6:5). He also told them, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” (Luke 5:24). As the Son of Man (and the kinsman redeemer) and the Son of God, Jesus Christ had the right and the authority to forgive sins.

Luke focuses on Jesus’ humanity and details the announcement of His incarnation and His birth (Luke 1,2). Luke is the only Gospel that gives a glimpse into Jesus’ childhood years (Luke 2:40, 42-43).


Luke’s genealogy count of generations is much more historically reliable than Matthew’s because it is not omitting any names or generations to emphasize Jesus’ Kingship or Divinity. Luke affirms Jesus’ divinity, but the real emphasis of his book is on his humanity. Jesus, the Son of God, is also the Son of man and the kinsman-redeemer of all mankind.


Luke’s descending genealogy traces back to Adam (actually God), showing Jesus is related to all human beings, Jews as well as Gentiles. This is consistent with Luke’s picture of Jesus as the Savior of the whole world. Luke’s account is actually the genealogy of Mary’s ancestors (through Nathan, a son of David), which he probably received from Mary herself. The Jews were meticulously good record keepers of generations, especially when it came to the Davidic lineage, through the kings of Judah.


There are 77 generations in Luke’s genealogy, which begins with Jesus and ends with God instead of Adam. I believe Luke did this intentionally to prove that just as Adam was a son (albeit created) of God, so was Jesus. Jesus was the only begotten Son of the Father God. Luke begins his genealogy in Luke 3:23 with these words, “Jesus Himself began his ministry at about 30 years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph.” Luke wants to be clear on the fact that Joseph is not the biological father of Jesus. Joseph is merely the adoptive father of Jesus and his legal guardian/father; therefore, Jesus inherits Joseph’s ancestry as well.


Unlike Matthew’s ascending genealogy, Luke’s descending genealogy starts with Jesus and works back to Adam and God. There is one (human) name in Luke’s New Testament genealogy that is not in the 1 Chronicles (1:24) Old Testament genealogy. It is number 64 on the list, and his name is Cainan. Ironically, it is number 14 on the list if you start in the reverse order from God to Jesus. He is listed between Sala (Shelah) and Arphaxad. Luke was following the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) text and not the Masoretic text. This Cainan (not the Antediluvian one) is not included in the Masoretic text.

As a result of Luke listing Cainan (#64 on the list) and God (#77 on the list), there are 77 names on the list and not 75 (by omitting Cainan and God). The 77 names are apparently arranged in 11 groups of 7, although he never calls attention to this. Once again, we see the significance of the number 7 and its multiples in the history and lineage of the Jewish people. The 77 generations to the appearance of the Messiah also agree with the 70 generations from Enoch, which is recorded in the non-canonical book of Enoch, which Luke probably knew. For more information on Jesus’ genealogy, see https://www.raptureready.com/2022/06/11/jesus-family-tree-by-randy-nettles/.

It’s interesting that when Gabriel gave Mary the news that she would be the mother of the Son of God that he would be called the son of David. “You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:31-32). It’s also interesting that in verse 33, Gabriel calls Jesus a king over Israel and His kingdom will be everlasting. “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:33). The “kingdom of God” is mentioned 33 times in the Book of Luke (NKJV). Once again, we see the comparison of Jesus to David and the number 33 as representing the two kings.

The symbol of the Gospel of Luke is a man, representing Jesus’ incarnation in human form. The Book of Luke begins with the parents of John the Baptist, Zacharias and Elizabeth, and ends with the promise of the Father to send His Spirit and the subsequent ascension of Jesus into heaven.

THE GOSPEL OF JOHN

John presents Jesus as the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit. John’s record is amazing in revealing Jesus’ divinity and recording the pre-incarnate life of Jesus as the Word and his part in the creation as described in Genesis 1.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it”(John 1:1-5). John then tells how the Word became flesh in human form and that His name is Jesus.

As the Son of God, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus accomplished many miracles. John records 7 major miracles.

  1. Turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11)

  2. Healing an official’s son at Capernaum (John 4:46-54)

  3. Healing a man at Bethesda (John 5:1-15)

  4. Feeding 5,000 plus women and children with five loaves and two fish (John 6:1-15)

  5. Walking on water (John 6:16-21)

  6. Healing a man born blind (John 9:1-41)

  7. Raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44)

Near the end of his gospel account, John said, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).


This tells us he selected these seven miracles specifically for their ability to help us believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be and that by believing we might have eternal life. So what do these particular miracles show us that would help us believe? According to the late Jack Kelley in one of his articles entitled “The Seven Miracles in John” The Seven Miracles In John – Grace thru faith) the reasons for these miracles are:

  1. Miracle 1 shows He came to take us from the stone-cold and empty way of man’s religion into a living and joyful relationship with Him.

  2. Miracle 2 shows we are saved by grace through faith.

  3. Miracle 3 shows our own futile works are insufficient to save ourselves. We need Him to save us.

  4. Miracle 4 is a demonstration of His supernatural care and provision for those who seek Him.

  5. Miracle 5 shows that because of His miraculous power, we can easily accomplish things through Him that would be all but impossible on our own.

  6. Miracle 6 reveals that if we’ll allow it, He can cause even the lowliest person born spiritually blind to see and believe, and

  7. Miracle 7 is a promise that all who believe in Him will live even though they die, and those who live and believe will never die.

I believe the main reason the trumpet that is sounded at the Rapture is called the last trumpet is that it occurs on the last day of the Church. The Church began on the day of Pentecost (known as Shavuot to the Jews) and will end on the day of the Rapture. It will be the last day for Christians on the earth in our earthly bodies and the last day for Christians in heaven without a body. It will be such a magnificent and joyous event that even Jesus and the archangel will give a great shout of victory.


“The last day” (not last days) is mentioned 7 times in the New Testament, all of them in John. I believe John is referring to the Rapture (in most of these verses) and not Jesus’ 2nd Coming. John wrote the book of John in approximately 95 AD. He was familiar with the teachings of Paul and his writings and letters, such as 1 Corinthians, which was written in 56 AD, so he would have also been familiar with the concept of the Rapture. John’s audience was not limited to one nation or people (Israel and the Jews); rather, he presents Jesus as the Christ and Lord over all nations and peoples. The 7 references to “the last day” are found in John 6:39,40,44,54; 7:37; 11:24; and 12:48.


There are two main Scriptures in John that record Jesus’ words in regard to the Rapture, which Jesus hinted at but didn’t teach about extensively. The first one is a conversation between Martha and Jesus during the time before Lazarus’ resurrection. “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:And whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).


Paul expounded upon these words of Jesus in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, regarding the Rapture to come, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.


The second Scripture in which Jesus talks about the Rapture is found in the 14th chapter of John. “Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3).


The genealogy in the Book of John is short but complete. Jesus is the only begotten son of God, the Father, the first Person of the Trinity. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

The symbol of the Gospel of John is an eagle, representing the majesty that is above our earth. The eagle is the king of the heavens. The Book of John begins with the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ, the Word, and ends with the promise of Jesus’ return, which is prophesied in John’s later writing of the Book of Revelation.

THE FOUR GOSPELS AND THE FOUR LIVING CREATURES


Therefore, for all the reasons given in the four Gospels, in all of God’s earthly created beings, the ones that best represent Jesus Christ are an ox, an eagle, a lion, and a man. Ezekiel, the Old Testament prophet, had visions of God and of four heavenly beings called “living creatures.” In Ezekiel 10, they are called Cherubs or Cherubim.


Here is part of their description: “They had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the color of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and the four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, the four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle” (Ezekiel 1:5-10).


It is thought that there are only four Cherubim. There might have been five originally, as Lucifer was created as an anointed Cherub who covers (protects or guards), according to Ezekiel 28:15.

Four is the number for creation. The fourth day saw the material creation finished as God created the sun, moon, and stars. The fifth and sixth days saw only the furnishing and populating of the earth with living creatures, including man. In Genesis 3:24, the Cherubim are first mentioned. They are seen here keeping and guarding the Tree of Life, and thus preserving the blessed hope of immortality for all of creation.


John, the apostle, saw these same living creatures when he was raptured/transported to heaven in Revelation 4. John saw God on the throne and surrounding him were 24 elders (representing the raptured Church) with crowns of gold sitting on seats. There were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. There were also four “beasts” full of eyes in front and behind that were round about the throne. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle“ (Revelation 4:7).


The four Cherubim (called beasts) announce the Coming One and sing of creation and of Him who created all things, and for whose pleasure they were created. Whenever they speak, it is in connection with the earth. In Revelation 5:5 (5 is the number for grace), Jesus Christ is introduced as the Lion, of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, who is found worthy to “open the book, and to loosen the seven seals thereof.” So now you have the Lamb of God with seven horns and seven eyes (which are the Seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth) about to open the book with the seven seals. Yes, God loves His sevens!


You also have 30 beings around the immediate vicinity of the throne of God. You have the Father, the Lamb of God, 24 elders, and 4 cherubim. The number 30 is 3 x 10, with 3 being the number of divine perfection and 10 being the number of ordinal perfection. All the living created beings fell down and worshipped the Lamb that lives forever and ever. In Revelation 6, the four Cherubim announce the first four seal judgments when they tell John to “Come and see.”


In Revelation 15:7, one of the four Cherubim gave unto seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God. The angels then, one at a time, poured out the vials full of the wrath of God upon the earth. The four righteous Cherubim of God are taking an active role against Satan, the first “anointed Cherub” who became corrupt. They are helping God to preserve His creation while Satan is trying to destroy it. The last we see of the four Cherubim is in Revelation 19 where once again they are worshipping with the 24 elders when Babylon is destroyed once and for all, and the marriage of the Lamb is about to take place in heaven.


E.W. Bullinger says the Cherubim mark the purpose of God from the moment the curse was pronounced, and are the pledge that it will one day be removed. “The fact, therefore, of the living creatures being four, marks them as connected with Creation and as a symbolical representation that its hope of deliverance from the curse is bound up with the blood-shedding of the coming Redeemer.” {1}


The four faces of the Cherubim reflect the attributes of Jesus Christ as portrayed by the four Gospels of the New Testament. He is the suffering servant (the ox). He is the king of the earth (the lion). He is the king of the heavens (the eagle). And He is God who became a man so he could become our kinsman redeemer to set us free from sin and death.

Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.


Randy Nettles


Endnotes:

{1} Number In Scripture by E.W. Bullinger – pg. 125

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TraciPsalm91
TraciPsalm91
Sep 15, 2023

This was excellent Randy. You’ve helped me and I am sure others to understand something beyond reading the Word. We study but some of us just don’t always understand how simply the Word all ties together. We know that in its entirety, the Bible all points to Yeshua- Jesus. But when it is actually explained as you’ve done here, it just leaps out and explodes into such a great revelation of knowledge. Thank you for teaching us as you do. Blessings..

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jimxrunr
jimxrunr
Jul 15, 2023

Thank you Randy, this is good! The Gospels show us who The Christ is. The God-man on a mission no one else can accomplish. He is multifaceted as they illustrate so well. They are serious documents dealing with man’s fallen status, man’s only hope, and The One who answers all the questions that matter. They do not waste our time with silly distractions. The prophets that came so long before The Lord, with God’s inspiration, wrote of the details we find in them. They are meaningful without compare. They are amazing. Thank you again.

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You are taking me to the deep waters, unexplored. I feel like Columbus exploring uncharted waters By Faith and the help of the Holy Spirit I will ride these waves, not of storming sea, but enjoyment of your high waves of study. Carry on captain, thanks for the journey- it’s refreshing and exciting.

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CJ333
CJ333
Jul 14, 2023

I did a study of Jesus lineage a few years ago myself. It’s rather long. But very interesting. 🔥🔥🔥


Mary/virgin birth


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Wow! This article beautifully answered questions I have been asked and was unable to answer. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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