Formation of the Gospels – Liturgical Influence


The passion narrative is remarkably similar in all four gospels. Beginning with the Last Supper and culminating in the burial and resurrection of Jesus, the passion account is a continuous and detailed narrative similarly structured in the gospels. This fact indicates that the evangelists had already before them some written accounts of the passion story, which probably took shape in the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist in the primitive Church. In the context of the breaking of the bread, the early Church re-called the events of Jesus’ passion as part of the celebration of the Eucharist. This recital of the passion gradually took on a fixed form and came to be written down very early in the apostolic Church. The composition of the passion narrative can thus be attributed to the influence of the early Christian liturgy.

Moreover, there are several other passages which show some liturgical influence for their incorporation into the gospels. For example, one can see the baptismal formula of the early Church in Matthew 28: 18-19; the Eucharistic formula and the Eucharistic symbolism colouring the account of the multiplication of bread (Mk 6: 34-44 & parallels; Cf. Lk 24: 13-35). The anointing of the sick with oil, spoken of in Mark 6: 13, may point to the Sacrament of the Sick in the early Church. Similarly the details of the two healings that Mark reports (Mk 7: 31-37; 8: 22-26) betray certain liturgical and ritual practice of the Church in connection with the Sacrament of Baptism. Thus the early Christian liturgical celebrations have played an important role in the formation of the gospels.


  1. Dear Fr. Jeff,

    Very good post to know there are passages in the bible which gives liturgical influence as well as meaning to the Sacraments .

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