There is confusion among some in the church about the difference between the Gospels of the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and the Pauline epistles of the Bible. Some say that Jesus and Paul had completely different focuses and a different idea of what Christianity looks like. (I am not one of those people!) There are many reasons for the differences between the Gospels and the Epistles (for example: difference in genre, different focus/purpose, etc.). Even though there are differences, the Gospels are still extremely relevant today.
The following 9 Reasons we need the Gospels were presented in Reading the Gospels Wisely by Jonathan Pennington pages 38-49:
1. The Gospels have been central to the church throughout its history
2. Paul and other NT writers presuppose and build on the story and teachings of Jesus.
3. Although the written form of the gospels is subsequent to most of the epistles, the traditions behind them are not; they go back to the time of Jesus himself and the immediately following years, passed down through oral and eventually written) repetition.
4. In the Gospels we get a more direct sense of the Bible’s great story line.
5. They offer a concentrated exposure to the biblical emphasis on the coming kingdom of God.
6. There are different languages or discourses of truth. Story/narrative is a valid way of presenting and approaching truth. Geographic/historical/political maps show same land but different aspects
7. They are in many ways a more comprehensive and paradigmatic type of map.
8. Encountering Jesus in narrative helps us grow in experiential knowledge and realize that reality does not always fit into neat little boxes of “truth.”
9. In the Gospels alone we have a personal, up-front encounter with Jesus Christ.
Other good insights from Pennington:
”The most important and determinative aspect of reading Holy Scripture is not our method or theory, but rather our posture and our goal.” pg137
“The ultimate goal of reading the gospels can’t be divorced in our reading of them: we are to learn to live differently as followers of Christ.” pg144
“Personal spiritual devotion is essential to good exegesis because it is the pure in heart that will see God (Matthew 5:8).” pg156
Bonus Video from the Gospel Coalition: Did Jesus Preach the Gospel?