It’s called the “Synoptic Problem”, the perceived contradiction of various events in the four gospels.  Typically this perceived contradiction is chronological.  However, novice readers fail to understand the nuances of ancient writers and their works.  In the ancient Near East, historical events were often grouped by themes or geography and not necessarily presented in chronological order.  Thus, although the stories in the gospels match, they differ in order.  Below is a proposed chronological outline of events in the New Testament gospels as they likely occurred.  However, please note that this is only a proposed ordering of events – most events in the New Testament are not given specific dates/times in the scriptures and thus the table presented below is theoretical only.

 

Date Description of Event Matthew Mark Luke John
Prologue to the gospel 01.01-4 1.1-18
6 BC Birth of John the Baptist foretold 01.05-25
5 BC Mary visits Elizabeth 01.26-56
5 BC The birth of Jesus; the shepherds 1.18-25 02.01-20
4 BC Circumcision of Jesus 02.21-40
4 BC Wise men visit 2.1-12
Herod slays babies of
Bethlehem
2.13-23
4 BC Death of Herod, return from Egypt
AD 9 Jesus at twelve years of age 02.41-52
AD 29 John the Baptist begins his ministry 3.1-12 1.1-8 03.01-18 1.19-34
AD 29 The baptism of Jesus 3.13-17 1.9-11 03.21-22
The genealogy of Jesus 1.1-17 03.23-38
AD 29 The temptation of Jesus 4.1-11 1.12-13 04.01-13
Jesus’s first recorded miracle (water made wine) 2.1-12
AD 30 First Passover of Jesus’ Ministry
AD 30 Jesus cleanses the temple 2.13-25
Nicodemus visits Jesus 3.1-21
Jesus baptizes 3.22-4.3
Jesus converses with the woman of Samaria 4.4-42
Jesus arrives in Galilee and begins his ministry 4.12-17 1.14-15 04.14-15 4.43-45
Jesus’ first rejection at Nazareth 04.16-30
Jesus in the synagogue at Capernaum 7.28-29 1.21-28 04.31-37 7.46
Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law 8.14-17 1.29-34 04.38-41
Jesus departs from Capernaum 1.35-38 04.42-43
Jesus journey in Galilee 4.23-25 1.39 4.44
First disciples called 4.18-22 1.16-20 05.01-11 1.35-41
Leper healed 8.1-4 1.40-45 05.12-16
Jesus heals a paralyzed man 9.1-8 2.1-12 05.17-26 5.8-9
Levi (Matthew) is called 9.9-13 2.13-17 05.27-32
The question about fasting 9.14-17 2.18-22 05.33-39
AD 31 Jesus heals man at Bethesda 5.1-47
Two blind men healed 9.27-31
Plucking grain on the sabbath 12.1-8 2.23-28 06.01-5 5.1
The healing of the man with a withered hand 12.9-14 3.1-6 06.06-11
The call of the twelve 10.1-4 3.13-19 06.12-16 1.42
Jesus heals the multitudes 12.15-21 3.7-12 06.17-19
Sermon on the Mount 5.1-2 6.2
The Beatitudes 5.3-12 06.20-23
The Woes 06.24-26
Loving one’s enemies 5.43-48 06.27-28, 32-36
Jesus teaches prayer 6.1-8
On swearing; on retaliation 5.33-42 06.29-30
The Golden Rule 7.12 6.31
On judging 7.1-5 06.37-42
On profaning the holy 7.6
The test of a good man 7.15-20 06.43-45
Warning against self-deception 7.21-23 06.46; 13.26-27
Hearers and doers of the Word 7.24-27 06.47-49
Sermon on the Mount ends 7.28-29 7.46
Healing the centurion’s servant 8.5-13 07.01-10 4.46-54
Healing the widow’s son at Naim 07.11-17
John’s imprisonment (comments on) 03.19-20
John’s question to Jesus 11.2-6 07.18-23
Jesus’ words about John 11.7-19 07.24-35
The woman with the ointment 26.6-13 14.3-9 07.36-50 12.1-8
The anointing at Bethany 26.6-13 14.3-9 07.36-50 12.1-11
The ministering women 08.01-3
Jesus teaches 13.1-52 4.1-34 08.04-18; 10.23-24; 13.18-21 12.4
Jesus’ relatives 12.46-50 3.31-35 08.19-21 15.14
The calming of the storm 8.23-27 4.35-51 08.22-25
The Gadarene demoniac 8.28-34 5.1-20 08.26-39
Jairus’ daughter healed 9.18-26 5.21-43 08.40-56
Jesus is rejected at Nazareth 13.53-58 6.1-6 08.40-56 4.44; 6.42; 7.5, 15
The sending out of the twelve 9.35; 10.1-11, 14 6.6-13 09.01-6
The death of John 14.3-12 6.17-29
Herod thinks Jesus is John 14.1-2 6.14-16 09.07-9
The feeding of the
5,000
14.13-21 6.30-44 09.10-17 6.1-14
Jesus walks on water 14.22-33 6.45-52 6.15-21
Jesus’ discourse on the bread of life 6.22-71
Healings at Gennesaret 14.34-36 6.53-56
What defiles a man 15.1-20 7.1-23
The Syrophenician woman 15.21-28 7.24-30
Healing of the deaf mute 15.29-31 7.31-37
The feeding of the 4,000 15.32-39 8.1-10
Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi 16.13-23 8.27-33 09.18-22 6.68-69; 20.21-23
The conditions of discipleship 16.24-28 8.34-9.1 09.23-27 12.25
The transfiguration 17.1-8 9.2-8 09.28-36 1.14
The coming of Elijah 17.9-13 9.9-13
The epileptic boy healed 17.14-21 9.14-29 09.37-43a 14.9
The second prediction of the Passion 17.22-23 9.30-32 09.43b-45 7.1
The temple tax 17.24-27
The dispute about greatness 18.1-5 9.33-37 09.46-48 3.3, 5; 12.44-45; 13.20
The strange exorcist 9.38-41 09.49-50
The Samaritan villagers 09.51-56
The nature of discipleship 8.18-22 09.57-62
The nature of discipleship 8.18-22 09.57-62
The twelve disciples sent 9.35-10.6 10.01-16 1.42; 4.35
The sending out of the seventy 9.35-10.16 10.01-16 4:35; 5.23
Woes on the cities of Galilee 11.20-24 10.13-15
End of discourse to disciples 10.40-11.1 10.16 5.23; 12.44-45
The return of the seventy 10.17-20 12.31
Jesus’ thanksgiving to the Father 11.25-27 10.21-22 3.35; 7.29; 10.14-15; 17.2
Comfort for the heavy laden 11.28-30
Jesus gratitude to the Father 11.25-27 10.21-22 10.15; 17.2
The blessedness of the disciples 13.16-17 10.23-24
The lawyer’s question 22.34-40 12.28-31 10.25-28
The great commandment 22.34-40 12.28-34 10.25-28
The good Samaritan parable 10.29-37
Mary and Martha 10.38-42 11.1-3
The Lord’s Prayer 6.9-15 11.01-4
The friend at midnight 11.05-8
God’s answering of prayer 7.7-11 11.09-13
The answer to prayer 7.7-11 11.09-13
The healing of a dumb demoniac 9.32-34 3.22-27 11.14-23
Accusations against Jesus 12.22-37 3.20-30 11.14-23 7.20; 8.48; 52
Beelzebub controversy 9.32-34; 12.22-30 11.14-23
Return of the evil spirit 12.43-45 11.24-26
The blessedness of Jesus’ mother 11.27-28
Against seeking signs 12.38-42 8.11-12 11.29-32
The sign for this generation 12.38-42; 16.1-4 8.11-12 11.29-32
The Pharisees seek a sign 16.1-4 8.11-13 11.29-32; 12.54-56 6.3
Concerning light 5.14-16;6.22-23 11.33-36
Salt and of light parables 5.13-16 9.5 11.33-36; 14.34-35
The sound eye 6.22-23 11.34-36
Discourse against the Pharisees 23.1-36 12.37-40 11.37-12.1
A discourse 16.5-12 8.14-21 12.01
The blind man at Bethsaida 8.22-26 9.1-7
Exhortation to fearless confession 10.19-20, 20-33; 12.32 4.22; 8.38 12.02-12 14.26
Rich fool parable 12.13-21
Exhortation to confession 10.26-33 12.2-12 14.26
On anxiety 6.25-34 12.22-31
Cares about earthly things 6.16-21, 25-34 12.22-34
On fasting and treasures 6.16-21 12.33-34
Watchfulness and faithfulness 24.43-51 13.32-33 12.35-46 13.4-5
Watchfulness and faithfulness 24.42-51 12.39-46
Ten maidens parable 25.1-13
The servant’s wages 12.47-48
Division in households 10.34-36 12.49-56
Interpreting present time 10.34-36; 16.1-4 12.49-56 12.27
On murder 5.21-26 12.57-59
On adultery and lust 5.27-30
Agreement with one’s accuser 5.25-26
Repentance or destruction 13.01-9
Healing of the woman with a spirit of infirmity 13.10-17
Parables of the mustard seed 13.31-33 4.30-32 13.18-21
Exclusion from the kingdom 7.13-14; 25.10-12; 7.22-23 13.22-30
The narrow gate 7.13-14 13.23-24
Departure from Galilee 13.31-33
Lament over Jerusalem 22.37-39 13.34-35
Lament over Jerusalem 23.37-39 13.34-35
The healing of a man with dropsy 14.01-6
Teaching on humility 14.07-14
The parable of the marriage feast (Great Supper) 22.1-14 14.16-24
Conditions of discipleship 10.37-39 14.25-33 12.25
The cost of discipleship 10.26-33, 37-39 14.25-35
Concerning salt 5.13 9.49-50 14.34-35
The lost sheep 18.10-14 15.01-10
The lost sheep and the lost coin 18.12-14 15.01-10
The prodigal son 15.11-32
The unjust steward 6.24 16.01-13
On serving two masters 6.24 16.13
The hypocrisy of the Pharisees 16.14-15
On the law 5.17-20 16.16-17
About the law and about divorce 5.17-20, 31-32; 11.12-13 16.16-18
On divorce 5.31-32 16.18
The rich man and Lazarus 16.19-31
On temptations 18.6-9 9.42-48 17.01-2
On causing sin 18.6-9 9.42-48 17.01-2
On reproving one’s brother 18.15-20 17.03 20.23
On reconciliation 18.21-22 17.03-4
Parable of the unmerciful servant 18.23-35
Jesus goes to Jerusalem at the feast of Tabernacles 7.1-53
A woman taken in adultery is brought before
Jesus
8.1-11
Jesus declares himself the light of the world 8.12-59
Jesus heals a blind beggar 9.1-41
The Good Shephard 10.1-21
On forgiveness 18.15, 21-22
On faith 17.2 17.05-6
The servant’s wages 17.07-10
The healing of ten lepers 17.11-19
On the kingdom of God 24.23-25 13.21-23 17.20-21
Culmination of the troubles 24.23-25 13.21-23 17.20-23
The day of the Son of man 24.26-28, 37-41 17.22-37
The day of the Son of man 24.26-28 17.23-24, 37
The need for watchfulness 24.37-41 17.26-27,34-35
The parable of the unjust judge 18.01-8
Pharisee and the
publican parable
18.09-14
Marriage and divorce 19.1-12 10.1-12
Jesus blesses the children 19.13-15 10.13-16 18.15-17 3.3,5
The rich young man 19.16-30 10.17-31 18.18-30
Laborers in the
vineyard parable
20.1-10
The third prediction of the Passion 20.17-19 10.32-34 18.31-34
The healing of Bartimeus 20.29-34 10.46-52 18.35-43
Zaccheus 19.01-10
The parable of the pounds 25.14-30 19.11-27
The parable of the talents 25.14-30 19.12-27
The last judgement 25.31-46 5.28-29
Entry into Jerusalem 21.1-17 11.1-11 19.28-46 12.21-50; 2.13-15
Jesus keeps the feast of Dedication at Jerusalem 10.22-39
Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead 10.40-11.44
Meeting of the Chief priests and Pharisees 11.45-53
Jesus at Ephraim 11.54-57
The cursing of the fig tree 21.18-19 11.12-14
The cleansing of the temple 21.12-13 11.15-19 19.45-48 2.13-17
The meaning of the withered fig tree 21.20-22 11.20-26 14.13-14
The question about authority 21.23-27 11.27-33 20.01-8 2.18
The parable of the two sons 21.28-32
The parable of the wicked tenants 21.33-46 12.1-12 20.09-19
Question on the tribute to Caesar 22.15-22 12.13-17 20.20-26 3.2
Question on the resurrection 22.23-33 12.18-27 20.27-40
About David’s son 22.41-46 12.35-37 20.41-44
Woes against the Pharisees 23.1-36 12.37-40 20.45-47; 11.37-52
The widow’s gift 12.41-44 21.01-4
Prediction fo the destruction of the
temple
24.1-3 13.1-4 21.05-7
The signs of the parousia 24.4-8 13.5-8 21.08-11
The fate of the disciples 10.17-25 13.9-13 21.12-17 13.16; 14.26; 15.20
The beginning of the troubles 24.9-14 13.9-13 21.12-19 14.26; 15.21; 16.2
The desolating sacrilege 24.15-22 13.14-20 21.20-24
The parousia of the Son of man 24.29-31 13.24-27 21.25-28
The parable of the fig tree 24.32-33 13.28-29 21.29-31
The time of the parousia 24.34-36 13.30-32 21.32-33
Mark’s ending to the discourse 13.33-37
Luke’s ending to the discourse 21.34-36
A summary of the days spent in Jerusalem 21.37-38
The conspiracy against Jesus 26.1-5 14.1-2 22.01-2 11.47-53
The traitor 26.20-25 14.17-21 22.14, 21.23 13.21-30
Passover Institution of the Lord’s Supper 26.26-29 14.22-25 22.15-20
Last words 19.28; 20.25-28 10.42-45 22.21-38 13.4-5, 12-14, 36-38
Jesus’ farewell discourse 13.31-17.26
Jesus and the sons of Zebedee 20.20-28 10.35-45 22.24-27
Betrayal by Judas 26.14-16 14.10-11 22.3-6 18.2-5
The way to Gethsemane; Peter’s denial prophesied 26.30-35 14.26-31 22.39; 22.31-34 18.1; 13.36-38; 16.32
Jesus in Gethsemane 26.36-46 14.32-42 22.40-46 18.1; 12.27; 14.3; 18.11
Jesus taken captive 26.47-56 14.43-52 22.47-53 18.2-12, 20
Peter’s denial 26.57-75 14.53-72 22.54-71 18.13-27
Preparation for the Passover 26.17-19 14.12-16 22.7-13
Jesus washes his disciple’s feet 13.1-20
Jesus delivered to Pilate 27.1-2 15.1 23.01 18.28-32
Death of Judas 27.3-10
Trial before Pilate 27.11-14 15.2-5 23.02-5 18.33-37; 19.6, 9-10
Jesus before Herod 23.06-16
The sentence of death 27.15-26 15.6-15 23.17-25 18.38-40; 19.4-16
The mocking by the soldiers 27.27-31 15.16-20 19.1-3
The Crucifixion 27.32-44 15.21-32 23.26-43 19.17-24
Death on the cross and burial of Jesus 27.45-61 15.33-47 23.44-56 19.24-42
The guard at the tomb 27.62-66
The empty tomb 28.1-10 16.1-11 24.01-12 20.1-18
Bribing the Roman soldiers 28.11-15
Jesus appears to the two men 16.12-13 24.13-35
Jesus appears in Jerusalem 24.36-49
Jesus appears to the disciples 20.19-29
Jesus appears at the sea of Tiberias 21.1-24
Jesus’ appearance on the mountain in Galilee 28.16-20 16.14-16
Signs to accompany believers 16.17-18
The Ascension 16.19 24.50-53
The disciples go out into the world to preach 16.2
John’s conclusion to the gospel 20.30-31; 21.25
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