The Structural Difference between Matthew and Mark

T. Desmond Alexander, Discovering Jesus: Why Four Gospels to Portray One Person? (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 20–21 (cf. 61–63):

While Matthew has much in common with Mark, there are two important structural differences. First, Matthew adds new material to the beginning and the end of Mark’s account.

Chart 1.3

. . . Second, Matthew adds into Mark’s mainly action-packed story five blocks of teaching by Jesus.

Chart 1.4

Although Matthew takes over almost all of Mark’s material, he is not constrained by Mark’s order. Matthew adopts a more topical arrangement and sometimes significantly changes the order in which Mark describes things.

Related: See my interview with Desi Alexander on biblical theology.


  1. Michael Burchfield says

    I like your diagram. It’s a very helpful comparison. I do wonder though~did Matthew add to Mark or did Mark condense Matthew?

    I was under the impression that Matthew was written first~though some modern scholars say other wise.

  2. says

    Desi Alexander answers your question in chapter 11 of the book (he thinks—along with most biblical scholars today—that Mark was written prior to Matthew). But that relatively minor issue is not the point of this post, and I’d rather not chase that rabbit here.

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