Symbols of the 4 Gospel writers

Today at  St Mark’s Deloraine I preached on the Gospel reading for the day, Mark 1:1-8 (Advent 2, Year B), and I mentioned the symbols which traditionally depict the writers of the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry.

Over a very generous lunch in the parish hall I was asked if I would write the explanation for the symbols on my blog. As all good bishops obey parishioners in all things, here is the explanation of the symbols 🙂

The symbols for the four gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are traditionally related to the four living creatures in Ezekiel 1:10 and which reappear in Revelation 4:7.

ST MATTHEW is symbolised by the FACE OF A HUMAN BEING because Matthew writes of Jesus Christ with emphasis on his human activities.

ST MARK is symbolised by a LION because this account of Jesus’ life and ministry begins with the ‘roar’ of John the Baptist to repentance and announcing the coming Messiah as promised in the prophets Isaiah and Malachi.

ST LUKE is symbolised by an OX because he commences his account of Jesus’ life and ministry with the priestly ministry of Zacharias and his role in the sacrificial rituals at the temple in Jerusalem.

ST JOHN is symbolised by an EAGLE because his account begins with the soaring prologue announcing, “In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God.” John’s account speaks very strongly and clearly of the divinity of Christ, eg. the seven “I AM” sayings of Jesus, and thus takes the reader to heights of heaven.

More detail including links to art work of the symbols at,

Christian art nurtures my faith in Jesus Christ. See Tasmanian Anglican magazine, Art & Gospel of Christ.

Sainte Chapelle in Paris is the ‘art work’ that simply held my bride and I awe struck as we sat in the chapel, held hands and worshipped God. It was just awe inspiring. See a brief introduction here.


Symbols of the 4 Gospel writers — 2 Comments

  1. Where did you come up with this information? Matthew represents the lion (lion of Judah), Mark represents the ox, (servant), Luke represents a man (he wrote in detail about the humanity of Jesus Christ), and of course John represents the eagle ( deity of Jesus incarnate as the Mighty God in Christ)

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