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Question and Answer

Why are parables concentrated in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but we do not find any in John?

There are several parables in the Gospel of John, though they are not recognizable by the introductory words one finds in the three Synoptic Gospels, such as, “He taught them many things by parable” (Matt. 18:23) or “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like . . .” (Mark 4:2). Instead, the parables in the Gospel of John are identified by their distinctive style of making a comparable common analogy or proverbial saying within one of Jesus’ discourses so as to give clarification or reinforcement of what Jesus is teaching.

Throughout church history, many have recognized John 10:1–16 and 15:1–7 as extended parables about the Good Shepherd and the True Vine. Other examples may be found in John 4:35–37; 9:4; 12:24; and 16:21. All of the Gospel writers convey Jesus’ teaching through the use of parables, though they choose to emphasize different stories and techniques. By studying all four Gospels, we have a fuller understanding of our Master Teacher.

BY Eric C. Redmond

Eric C. Redmond serves as a professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and as associate pastor of adult ministries at Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Ill. He is married to Pam and they have five children. He is the author of Say It!  Celebrating Expository Preaching in the African American Tradition (Moody Publishers), Where Are All the Brothers? Straight Answers to Men's’ Questions about the Church (Crossway), a commentary on Jonah in the Christ-Centered Exposition Series (B&H Publishers), and a study guide on Ephesians in the Knowing the Bible series (Crossway).

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