Teaching the Gospels as a Harmony

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


We recommend that you use this manual as it is written and teach the four Gospels sequentially. However, you may choose to teach the New Testament Gospels as a “harmony,” which means teaching the events of the Savior’s life chronologically, combining the material from each Gospel. For information and resources on teaching the Gospels as a harmony, refer to the appendix in the digital versions of this manual on LDS.org and in the Gospel Library for mobile devices.

We recommend that you use this manual as it is written and teach the four Gospels sequentially. However, you may choose to teach the New Testament Gospels as a “harmony,” which means teaching the events of the Savior’s life chronologically, combining the material from each Gospel. This could be done in several ways. For example, you could primarily teach the Gospels sequentially but choose to teach some portions—such as the events surrounding the Savior’s birth or Atonement—as a harmony. Or you could teach all of the content of the Gospels as a harmony.

If you have never taught the Gospels sequentially, you may be hesitant to try this approach. This manual has been prepared to help you effectively teach each Gospel individually. If you choose to teach the Gospels using a harmony approach, you should make this decision in consultation with your coordinator or seminary principal, taking into account students’ needs and using the Spirit’s guidance.

Teaching the Gospels as a harmony can allow you to treat the teachings and events from the Savior’s life more thoroughly and minimize the redundancy that is sometimes felt when teaching the Gospels sequentially. However, it is important to note that the lessons in this manual were designed to reduce redundancy in the sequential teaching method by focusing on the distinctive content in each of the Gospels and by summarizing content that was previously taught.

Before choosing to teach this course using a harmony approach, it is important to consider the following:

  • Teaching the Gospels as a harmony can make it difficult to understand the sequence and context of scripture passages as they were recorded within the four Gospels. You will need to help students understand the textual and historical context of each passage as they move from one account to another.

  • Teaching the Gospels as a harmony tends to obscure the distinct intentions, themes, and focuses of each individual Gospel writer. You should give careful attention to these themes so you can help your students identify and appreciate them. The introductions to the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John provided in this manual can help you recognize these themes.

  • As currently written, the teaching ideas in this manual are designed to flow smoothly from one part of the lesson to the next and transition statements are provided to facilitate moving from one teaching idea to the next. When these teaching ideas are rearranged into a harmony approach using the accompanying chart, you will need to include your own transitions between the suggested ideas.

If you choose to use a harmony approach, you can find valuable help in the “Harmony of the Gospels” tables found in the Bible appendix and on LDS.org. In addition, the accompanying chart provides a suggested order of the ideas found in this manual to support a harmony approach. Except for a few small adjustments to facilitate ease in teaching, this chart aligns with the “Harmony of the Gospels” tables in the 2013 edition of the LDS scriptures. The left column of the chart provides a pacing guide that divides the semester into 16 weeks. Each week (with the exception of week 1) lists events and teachings from the Savior’s life and ministry in chronological segments that can be taught over the course of five days. This pacing guide provides for 80 lessons on the four Gospels, which is the same amount provided in the sequential scripture teaching method in this manual.

Regardless of whether you teach the Gospels sequentially or as a harmony, we recommend that you begin the course by teaching the first five introductory lessons found in week 1 of this manual: “Introduction to the New Testament”; “The Plan of Salvation”; “The Role of the Learner”; “Studying the Scriptures”; and “Context and Overview of the New Testament.”

Pacing Guide

Events and Teachings

Teacher Resources

Week 1

Days 1–5

 

Lessons 1–5

Week 2

Day 1

Premortal existence of Jesus Christ

Lesson 60: John 1:1–18

  

Jesus Christ’s mortal genealogy

Lesson 6: Matthew 1:1–17

 

Day 2

The angel Gabriel’s annunciation to Zacharias; annunciation to Mary; Mary’s visit to Elisabeth; birth of John the Baptist

Lesson 43: Luke 1

 

Day 3

Annunciation to Joseph

Lesson 6: Matthew 1:18–25

  

Birth of Jesus Christ; annunciation to the shepherds; presentation of Jesus in the temple

Lesson 44: Luke 2:1–39

  

Visit of the Wise Men; flight to Egypt

Lesson 6: Matthew 2

  

Visit to the temple (age 12)

Lesson 44: Luke 2:40–52

 

Day 4

Ministry and testimony of John the Baptist

Lesson 7: Matthew 3:1–12; Lesson 45: Luke 3:1–22; Lesson 60: John 1:1–18

 

Day 5

Baptism of Jesus

Lesson 7: Matthew 3:13–17; Lesson 60: John 1:19–34

Week 3

Day 1

Temptation of Jesus

Lesson 8: Matthew 4:1–11

 

Day 2

John the Baptist’s disciples follow Jesus

Lesson 60: John 1:35–51

  

Marriage at Cana; first cleansing of the temple

Lesson 61: John 2

 

Day 3

Visit of Nicodemus; John the Baptist’s testimony

Lesson 62: John 3

 

Day 4

Woman at the well

Lesson 63: John 4:1–42

 

Day 5

Jesus returns to Galilee

Lesson 8: Matthew 4:12–17

  

Jesus heals the nobleman’s son

Lesson 63: John 4:43–54

  

The Savior is rejected at Nazareth

Lesson 45: Luke 4:14–30

Week 4

Day 1

Fishermen called

Lesson 46: Luke 5:1–11; Lesson 8: Matthew 4:18–22

 

Day 2

Jesus teaches in Capernaum and casts out an unclean spirit

Lesson 34: Mark 1:21–39

  

Jesus preaches the gospel in Galilee

Lesson 8: Matthew 4:23–25

  

Jesus heals a leper and a paralytic

Lesson 34: Mark 1:40–45; Lesson 35: Mark 2:1–12; Lesson 46: Luke 5:12–26

 

Day 3

Feasts with publicans and sinners

Lesson 35: Mark 2:13–22

  

John’s disciples ask about fasting: Old and new

Lesson 46: Luke 5:27–39

 

Day 4

Jesus attends a feast; heals on the Sabbath; discourse: Witness of the Father

Lesson 64: John 5

 

Day 5

Sabbath controversies

Lesson 35: Mark 2:23–3:6

  

Twelve called and ordained

Lesson 13: Matthew 9:35–10:8

Week 5

Day 1

The Sermon on the Mount

Lesson 9: Matthew 5:1–16

 

Day 2

The Sermon on the Mount

Lesson 10: Matthew 5:17–48; Lesson 47: Luke 6

 

Day 3

The Sermon on the Mount

Lesson 11: Matthew 6; Lesson 51: Luke 12

 

Day 4

The Sermon on the Mount

Lesson 12: Matthew 7

 

Day 5

Jesus heals the centurion’s servant; raises the son of the widow of Nain

Lesson 47: Luke 7:1–18

  

John the Baptist sends disciples to Jesus

Lesson 14: Matthew 11; Lesson 48: Luke 7:18–35

Week 6

Day 1

Woman anoints Jesus

Lesson 48: Luke 7:36–50

  

Beelzebub, blasphemy; discourses on signs; parable: The empty house; Jesus’s mother and brethren

Lesson 14: Matthew 12:1–50

 

Day 2

Parable of the sower

Lesson 15: Matthew 13:1–23

 

Day 3

Additional parables about the future of the kingdom

Lesson 16: Matthew 13:24–58

 

Day 4

Jesus calms a storm; casts out a legion of evil spirits; heals woman with issue of blood; raises Jairus’s daughter from the dead

Lesson 36: Mark 4–5

 

Day 5

Need for more laborers; charge to the Twelve

Lesson 13: Matthew 9:35–10:42

  

John the Baptist’s death

Lesson 37: Mark 6:1–29

Week 7

Day 1

Jesus feeds the five thousand

Lesson 37: Mark 6:30–44; Lesson 17: Matthew 14:1–21

 

Day 2

Jesus walks on the water

Lesson 17: Matthew 14:22–36

  

Healings

Lesson 37: Mark 6:45–56

 

Day 3

Discourse: Bread of Life

Lesson 65: John 6:22–59

 

Day 4

Discourses on cleanliness; Jesus heals Canaanite daughter and others

Lesson 18: Matthew 15

 

Day 5

Jesus heals deaf man in Decapolis; feeds four thousand; blind man healed by stages

Lesson 38: Mark 7:1–8:26

Week 8

Day 1

Pharisees and Sadducees ask for a sign; testimony of Peter; sealing keys of the kingdom promised; take up a cross

Lesson 19: Matthew 16:1–28

 

Day 2

Transfiguration: sealing keys committed; tribute coin from a fish

Lesson 20: Matthew 17

 

Day 3

Jesus heals boy possessed by unclean spirit

Lesson 39: Mark 9:14–29

 

Day 4

Who is greatest in the kingdom; offenses

Lesson 40: Mark 9:30–50

 

Day 5

Forgiveness; parable: The unmerciful servant

Lesson 21: Matthew 18:1–35

Week 9

Day 1

Sacrifice required to follow Jesus; Jesus sent to save, not destroy

Lesson 49: Luke 8–9

 

Day 2

Seventy appointed and sent forth; Jesus attends the Feast of Tabernacles

Lesson 50: Luke 10:1–24; Lesson 66: John 7

 

Day 3

The adulterous woman; the Light of the World

Lesson 67: John 8:1–30

 

Day 4

Jesus teaches about freedom from sin and testifies of His divinity

Lesson 68: John 8:31–59

 

Day 5

Jesus heals a blind man on the Sabbath

Lesson 69: John 9

Week 10

Day 1

Parable: The Good Shepherd; Jesus’s promise of rest

Lesson 70: John 10; Lesson 14: Matthew 11

 

Day 2

Parable: The good Samaritan

Lesson 50: Luke 10:25–37

 

Day 3

Mary and Martha; prayer; beware of the Pharisees; parable: The rich fool

Lesson 51: Luke 10:38–12:59

 

Day 4

Healings on the Sabbath; parable: The great supper

Lesson 52: Luke 13–14

 

Day 5

Parables: Lost sheep, Lost coin, Prodigal son

Lesson 53: Luke 15

Week 11

Day 1

Parables: The unjust steward, Lazarus and the rich man

Lesson 54: Luke 16

 

Day 2

Discourses on offenses and faith; Jesus heals ten lepers

Lesson 55: Luke 17

 

Day 3

Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead

Lesson 71: John 11:1–46

 

Day 4

Pharisees ask about divorce

Lesson 22: Matthew 19:1–12

 

Day 5

Suffer little children; rich young ruler

Lesson 41: Mark 10:1–34

Week 12

Day 1

Reward for forsaking all; parable: Laborers in the vineyard

Lesson 22: Matthew 19:13–30; 20:1–16

  

The greatest is to minister

Lesson 41: Mark 10:35–52

 

Day 2

Parables: The unjust judge, The Pharisee and the publican; Jesus heals Bartimaeus; visits Zacchaeus

Lesson 56: Luke 18–21

 

Day 3

Mary anoints Jesus

Lesson 42: Mark 14:1–9; Lesson 72: John 12:1–19

  

Triumphal entry; second cleansing of the temple

Lesson 23: Matthew 21:1–16

 

Day 4

Fig tree cursed; parables: Two sons, Wicked husbandmen, Wedding of a king’s son

Lesson 24: Matthew 21:17–22:14

 

Day 5

Question about tribute; marriage and the Resurrection; the great commandment

Lesson 25: Matthew 22:15–40

Week 13

Day 1

Denunciation of hypocrisy

Lesson 26: Matthew 23:1–36

  

Widow’s mite

Lesson 42: Mark 11–13

  

Jesus’s lament over Jerusalem

Lesson 26: Matthew 23:37–39

 

Day 2

Conspiracy against Lazarus; discourse: Jesus sent by the Father, a light to those who believe

Lesson 72: John 12

 

Day 3

Destruction of Jerusalem; signs of the Second Coming

Lesson 27: Joseph Smith—Matthew; Matthew 24

 

Day 4

Parable: Ten virgins

Lesson 28: Matthew 25:1–13

 

Day 5

Parables: Talents, Sheep and goats

Lesson 29: Matthew 25:14–46

Week 14

Day 1

Judas’s conspiracy to betray Jesus; the Last Supper begins

Lesson 30: Matthew 26:1–16

  

Jesus washes disciples’ feet

Lesson 73: John 13:1–17

  

“Lord, Is It I?”

Lesson 30: Matthew 26:17–25

 

Day 2

A new commandment

Lesson 73: John 13:31–38

  

Sacrament instituted

Lesson 30: Matthew 26:26–30

 

Day 3

Discourse on the Comforter

Lesson 74: John 14

 

Day 4

Peter’s denial foretold

Lesson 57: Luke 22:1–38

  

The True Vine; love one another; the Spirit of truth testifies

Lesson 75: John 15

 

Day 5

Warnings to the Apostles; the Comforter; opposition: Joy and sorrow

Lesson 76: John 16

Week 15

Day 1

Jesus’s intercessory prayer

Lesson 77: John 17

 

Day 2

Jesus’s suffering and prayers in Gethsemane

Lesson 31: Matthew 26:31–46; Lesson 42: Mark 14:10–16:20; Lesson 57: Luke 22:39–53

 

Day 3

Jesus arrested; Peter’s denial; Jesus’s hearing before Caiaphas

Lesson 31: Matthew 26:47–75; Lesson 57: Luke 22:39–71

 

Day 4

Hearing before Pilate and Herod; Barabbas released

Lesson 58: Luke 23:1–25; Lesson 78: John 18:1–19:16

  

Second hearing before Pilate

Lesson 78: John 18:33–19:16

  

Jesus scourged and mocked

Lesson 32: Matthew 27:1–50

 

Day 5

The Crucifixion

Lesson 32: Matthew 27:26–50; Lesson 58: Luke 23:26–56; Lesson 78: John 19:17–42

Week 16

Day 1

Death of Jesus Christ; Jesus’s burial; chief priests and Pharisees seal the tomb

Lesson 33: Matthew 27:51–66

 

Day 2

The Resurrection

Lesson 33: Matthew 28:1–20; Lesson 79: John 20

 

Day 3

Jesus appears to two disciples on the road to Emmaus

Lesson 59: Luke 24:13–32

 

Day 4

Evening: Jesus appears to disciples, Thomas

Lesson 79: John 20:11–31

 

Day 5

Peter: “I go a fishing,” Jesus: “Feed my sheep”

Lesson 80: John 21; Lesson 33: Matthew 28:1–20

  

The great commission to the Twelve; Ascension

Lesson 59: Luke 24