Introduction to Matthew

  1. Matthew’s relations to the other gospels.
    • “Though each has a little different perspective, each presents Jesus as the promised one who will forgive sins and reign as king of Israel. John is especially different by presenting Christ as the savior of the world. Though each of the Gospels presents a full picture of all aspects of the person of Christ, a particular emphasis can be observed. The Gospel of Matthew is primarily directed to presenting Christ as the King, the Son of David who will reign over the house of Israel. Hence there is emphasis upon the genealogies, upon the credentials of the King, and extensive teaching on the subject of the kingdom itself in the Sermon on the Mount and the discourse in Matthew 13. The Gospel of Mark is the Gospel of action, presenting Christ and His works as the Servant of Jehovah. Little attention is paid to His background, and the emphasis is on the evidences that He is indeed the promised Deliverer of Israel. The Gospel of Luke emphasizes the human aspect of Christ, dwelling upon the details of His birth, and presents Christ as the perfect Man born of the Virgin Mary. The emphasis of the Gospel of John is on the deity of Christ, and evidence is produced demonstrating that He is indeed the Son of God and that those who believe in Him receive eternal life.
    • “The fact that there is a varied emphasis in the four Gospels does not imply that there is contradiction. It is rather that four different portraits are given of the same person, and, though there is variation, it is not a distorted presentation. The Gospel of Luke, emphasizing the humanity, also presents full evidence that He is the Son of God. Hence, the four different biographies, when combined, give a perfect picture. Real problems are sometimes raised by the comparison of narratives in the four Gospels, but conservative scholarship has been united that there is no contradiction, that each record is authentic and inspired of the Holy Spirit.” (Bibliotheca Sacra: A Quarterly Published by Dallas Theological Seminary. John Walvoord, Dallas TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1996, c1955-1995).
  2. The question of the differences is called the synoptic problem. Synoptic means to see with or to see together with. Matthew, Mark, and Luke present the narrative of Christ’s life and ministry through different eyes, yet they share much in common while at the same time each presents some differences. Critics question the accuracy of the accounts. They claim that editors joined different sources in order to make their gospel say what the church needed to hear. There are various theories, but the critical theories reject the high view of inspiration.
    • Personal contacts with Jesus and the people of his day.
    • Luke says that he used witnesses and written sources (Luke 1.1-4).
    • In answer to the questions, we can confidently conclude:
      • The authors had personal knowledge of the facts. Matthew and John were disciples of Jesus. Marked worked with Peter. Luke spent much time with Paul.
      • Oral tradition is not a bad thing. People remember and pass on that which they experienced or were told (Acts 20.35; 1 Corinthians 7.10).
      • Luke says that he used written documents from personal witnesses (Luke 1.1-4).
    • Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit will bring truth to the disciples’ minds (John 14.26).
  3. Matthew is the most likely choice to be the author.
    • Most of the early church fathers say that Matthew was the author of this gospel (Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Origen). This is external evidence.
    • Words, ideas, and emphases within Matthew also point out that he was the author. This is called internal evidence.
      • For example, Matthew uses 3 terms for money that are not used in any other New Testament book (2-drachma tax in 17.24; 4-drachma tax in Matthew 17.27; talents in Matthew 18.24). Matthew was a tax collector and these terms were very familiar to him.
      • Matthew identifies himself as a tax collector in Matthew 9.9 and Matthew 10.3.
      • The author
      • Tradition indicates that Matthew preached in Judea for about 15 years and then served in foreign missions (Unger).
  4. Matthew wrote his gospel between about AD 40 and 70; probably between AD 50-60.
    • He wrote after the crucifixion and resurrection which was in AD 30 or 33 (27-28).
    • He wrote before the destruction of the temple in AD 70 which is still standing in Matthew 24.1-3, and Matthew makes no comment that it had been destroyed.
    •  Furthermore, Matthew writes that some time had elapsed since the crucifixion and resurrection had taken place. He use the phrase “to this day” (Matthew 27.7-8) and “to this very day” (Matthew 28.15).
  5. Why did Matthew write his gospel?
    • To prove to Jews that Jesus was the Messiah promised by the Old Testament (Genealogy in Matthew 1; You are the Christ, Matthew 16.13-20; Jesus quotes a Messianic Psalm [110] in Matthew 22.41-46; He is identified as King of the Jews in Matthew 27.37).
    • Matthew clearly records the evidence that Jesus is the Messiah. Matthew 1-7 clearly demonstrate who he is, is qualifications, and his message.
      • Jesus royal lineage in chapter 1, his birth and childhood in chapter 2, his baptism in chapter 3, his testing and calling disciples in chapter 4, and his message on kingdom righteousness in chapters 5-7.
    • To instruct his readers (primarily Jews) about the Kingdom of Heaven (33 times) of the Kingdom of God (4 times).
    • To encourage Jewish believers that they had a future even though the Jews and Romans had crucified their Messiah. He was alive. He would return and set up the promised kingdom.
    • To encourage believers to spread the gospel (Matthew 28.19-20).
  6. Characteristics of Matthew.
    • Quotes extensively from the Old Testament. There are about 50 direct quotes and about 75 allusions to the Old Testament.
    • There are at least 5 main discourses and each concludes with a summary statement (5.1-7.27 [7.28]; 10.1-42 [11.1]; 13.1-53 [13.53]; 18.1-35 [19.1]; 24.1-25.46 [26.1]).
    • Matthew emphasizes Christ the Messianic King and the Kingdom of Heaven.
      • King: Matthew 22X, Mark 12X, Luke 11X, John 16X
      • Kingdom of Heaven: New Testament 32X, Gospels 32X (Matthew 32X).
      • Kingdom of God: NT 64X, Gospels 52X (Matthew 4X, Mark 14X, Luke 32X, John 2X, Acts-Revelation 14X).
      • Heaven: Acts-Revelation 112X.
      • Kingdom: Acts-Revelation 36X.