Overview Of Matthew's Gospel
What are the origins of the gospel according to
Bible scholars have studied the first three gospels closely and are agreed
that Mark must have been written first and that Matthew and Luke used Mark to
tell of the events in the life of Jesus. The teaching of Jesus is contained in
200 other verses common to Matthew and Luke which must have come from the same
source book but which no longer exists. This lost book was probably the first
text-book of Christianity. Matthew and Luke each contain other material of
Was the apostle Matthew the
Matthew's dependence on Mark for the events in the life of Jesus makes it
unlikely that the writer was an apostle but the Early Church historian Papias
who lived about 130AD tells us "Matthew collected the sayings of Jesus in
the Hebrew tongue." As a tax-gatherer, Matthew the apostle would have some
skill with words and would be able to write and so there is a strong
possibility that the apostle did indeed collect and write down "the
sayings of Jesus" used for teaching in the Early Church. This could
explain why the gospel was given the name Matthew.
What were the writer's special
- It could be said that Matthew was a gospel written for Jews by a Jew
and that his purpose was to convince Jews that Jesus was the Messiah
("What means Messiah" June Magazine 2003). He does this by showing
that the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus
emphasising the conversion of the Jews before other nations. Moreover, Matthew
upholds the Law pointing out that Jesus had come to fulfil the law not to
destroy it. While the writer condemns the Scribes and Pharisees for what he
sees as their hypocrisy he acknowledges their position in the faith of the
Jews. It could be that his Church community was near a Jewish community and
that he wanted to counter Jewish opposition to the Christian claims about Jesus
and their claims to be the New Israel and that the Law when interpreted by
Jesus belonged to the Christians.
- Matthew is the only gospel which refers to the Church which by the
time the gospel was written sometime after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD had
become a fairly widespread organisation. It has been suggested that Matthew was
written for reading in church and therefore became from the first the most
- What Jesus said about his Second Coming, the End of the World
and Judgement are of particular interest to Matthew .
- Matthew is above all a Teaching Gospel and what gives it this
special characteristic are its five great blocks of teaching - chapters 5-7;
10; 13; 18; 24 & 25. They are all about the Kingdom of God and how those
who would be dwellers in that Kingdom should be towards God and their fellow
men and women. Because books in the world of the time had to be hand written
they were few in number and so to help his readers and hearers to remember, the
writer arranges things in groups of threes or sevens e.g. three denials of
Peter; three questions asked by Pilate; seven parables of the kingdom; seven
woes to the Scribes and Pharisees. By these means he did all he could to help
people assimilate and remember the teaching of Jesus.
- The idea of Jesus as King permeates the gospel. The genealogy with
which the book begins is to prove Jesus' descent from the great King David and
the title Son of David is used more often in Matthew than in any other gospel.
The Wise Men look for a king; the Palm Sunday triumphal entry dramatises a
claim to be king; Jesus accepts the name of king from Pilate; the title of king
- even if in mockery is attached to the cross. The final claim of Jesus is
"all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me." He then
gives his subjects his command to tell all nations about him and his kingdom.
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