The first three Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke have a different Jesus and a different Salvation theology than the Gospel of John does. This logically indicates that the Salvation concept we have today, central to Christianity, evolved long after Jesus time on earth.
The first three Gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke are termed the Synoptic Gospels and are regarded by Biblical scholars, both Christian and secular, to be older than John. The exact dating of the Gospels is not known, and estimates vary among scholars, with Christian scholars posing earlier estimates than secular scholars, not surprisingly. Secular scholars tend to place the dating of the Gospels after 70 AD though. See Dating of the Synoptics) Mark is regarded as the oldest, followed by Matthew and Luke, then by John.
John Is The Source of Salvation Theology
The central theology doctrine of Christianity today teaches a salvation by faith through grace, by believing that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose from the grave. This doctrine is central and fundamental to the Christian Gospel. However, this form of salvation is NOT taught in Matthew, Mark and Luke, which are the oldest of the Gospels! The basis for the Christian Gospel of salvation by faith and the atonement comes from the book of John, which is the newest of the Gospels!
Matthew Has No Concept of Salvation
Matthew’s main purpose is to prove to his Jewish readers that Jesus is their Messiah. He does this primarily by showing how Jesus in his life and ministry fulfilled the OT Scriptures. Although all the Gospel writers quote the OT, Matthew includes nine proof texts unique to his Gospel (1:22-23; 2:15; 2:17-18; 2:23; 4:14-16; 8:17; 12:17-21; 13:35; 27:9-10) to drive home his basic theme: Jesus is the fulfillment of the OT predictions of the Messiah
In the Gospel of Matthew, there is NOT ONE WORD about having to believe on Jesus in order to go to heaven. In fact, there is not one word about having to “believe” in anything at all to get to heaven! There is no mention of the atonement or of salvation by faith. In fact, Jesus says that all you have to do for God to forgive your sins is this:
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:” (Matthew 6:14)
Later in that Gospel, when someone asked Jesus directly what he had to do to be saved and have eternal life, Matthew clearly records a salvation by works:
(Matt. 19:16-21) “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”
Jesus in this account never said here that you have to believe that he would die on the cross for your sins for God to forgive you! In the same Gospel of Matthew, Jesus also preached the famous beatitudes which emphasize that those with good hearts, attitudes and character will inherit the kingdom of God, which is another way of saying that they will go to heaven!
Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
He didn’t say that you had to believe that he would for your sins in order for you to be forgiven! The verses that say that are in the book of John, which came about 50 years after Matthew!
Mark Has No Concept of Salvation
Now take a look at the book of Mark. He doesn’t mention that you have to believe in Jesus to be saved either, except for a verse in the last chapter of Mark: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16). No secular scholar believes that that verse to be from Mark’s hand. It is identified as interpolation, or a forgery. Many of the earliest manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark do not contain that verse, and it does not fit into Mark since none of the rest of Mark says a word about salvation by faith. Therefore, Mark never wrote anything about having to believe that Jesus died for you, in a salvation by faith, or the atonement concept.
Luke Has No Concept of Salvation
Likewise, the Gospel of Luke, like Matthew and Mark , has no mention of atonement or salvation by faith.
Given that the gospels that preceded John never ever even mention the concept of salvation by faith in the resurrection, it is likely that Jesus, never preached such a doctrine.
John, The Source of the Salvation Doctrine
Next comes the Gospel of John, and we have verses such as:
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
John 3:18 “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
John 3:36 “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
John 8:24 “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”
John 11:25 “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:”
The KEY POINT here is that IF Jesus actually said that you had to believe that he died for you in order for you to be saved, THEN Matthew, Mark and Luke would have at least mentioned SOMETHING about that SOMEWHERE!
ASTOUNDING NEW REVELATION!
Look at John 3:16 again:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The antecedent of “he” and “him” is God, not Jesus!
That this astounding new revelation is true is proven to be true by Jesus’ own words found a little later in John.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24
“Believeth on him that sent me”, again, “believeth on him that sent me”; again “believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life”. Doesn’t that put new meaning into what “him” means? Yes it does. Jesus does not say, believeth in me, he says believeth on him that sent me.
The whole Christian world view is based on a grammatical error; “Him” in John 3:16 does not mean Jesus, it means God. Jesus himself confirms this in John 5:24.
Jesus NEVER Taught Resurrection By Faith In Himself
IF it was central to Jesus’ teachings that you have to have salvation by faith, then why wasn’t it even mentioned in the first three Gospels? The logical reason is that they never heard of nor supported that idea, because it didn’t evolve until later when the early Christians decided to add that doctrine in, thus the Gospel of John. So if Matthew, Mark and Luke were with Jesus when he was on earth (assuming they are even eyewitnesses which isn’t even claimed), then Christ probably never said anything about faith, belief, or the atonement either!
From Jesus To Christ
Since the atonement and salvation by faith concept isn’t taught until the Gospel of John, it is logical to conclude the following.
About 20-50 years after the first three Gospels, the Church decided that a Gospel based on simple good works and kindness was not enough. They needed more power over people. And they needed a way for people to feel totally powerless in their own works so that they could be completely dependent on the church and its salvation sacraments. And they needed the belief from their followers that they alone were the only way and religion. So they added the salvation by atonement doctrine to Christianity, in order to justify the church’s sacraments that were required for the salvation of souls, which in turn gave them power over people.
That’s why the newest Gospel, John came into play. The Gospel of John was a result of the developing theology of the Church at that time. That book is where the verses about salvation by faith, being “born again”, the atonement, and having to believe that Jesus died for your sins came from. On many pages in it, you will find Jesus saying something about having to believe in him. When Christians cite Gospel verses about being saved, they always refer to John. (No wonder many Christians say the book of John is their favorite book.) Just take a look at a Christian pamphlet or tract, and you’ll see that the verses they mention about faith and believing on Jesus are from the book of John, such as John 3:16 and John 14:6. When they quote Jesus, they usually refer to this book. Yet this book did not come for at least 20-50 years after the first three Gospels. Therefore, logically whatever Jesus actually said would have been recorded more accurately in the earlier Gospels, which emphasize good works and charity instead.
From this it is apparent as to how the Salvation theology evolved in the Church while the New Testament books and letters were still being written. Another fact that indicates this as well is that according to Mark, Christ was a man. But according to Matthew and Luke, he was a demigod, while John insists that he was God himself. That also shows an evolution of the concept of Jesus from a man gradually to a deity status. This is common with religious founders throughout history, because no matter what they claim themselves, their followers eventually try to deify them and make them into a God to worship.
Of course, Christians also quote verses to support their Salvation by atonement theology from the epistles of Paul too. However, man Paul never even met Jesus Christ (at least not physically)! He never wrote anything about what Jesus did either. And since he was not with the historical Christ, he obviously doesn’t know nor is he qualified to tell us what the historical Christ had taught when he was on earth.
Nothing Paul says should be given any credence. See Paul Is So Wrong About So Much for evidence that supports the previous sentence. In fact, there are many discrepancies between Paul’s idea of Salvation and John’s Jesus. For examples and details of this, see Paul vs. Jesus by David D. Danizier.