The Gospel Of Matthew

From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Holman Bible Dictionary [1]

 Matthew 28:18-20

 Matthew 28:16-20 is the scene of the resurrected Jesus meeting His disciples on a hill in Galilee. Jesus immediately declared his absolute authority: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (NIV). The disciples would be reminded of many experiences during Jesus' ministry that proved His authority. Now with this knowledge of the resurrection, it was evident to them that He had received His authority from God. Jesus then gave the disciples a Commission to “make disciples of all nations” (Niv). A disciple is (1) one who willingly becomes a learner of the Master's teaching and seeks to follow His example by implementing His teaching, and (2) who passes on to others what one has learned. Hearing Jesus' command, the disciples recalled His teaching and fellowship. Now they were called on to carry forward His mission. Jesus said they would make disciples as they went away from their meeting with Him. Their activities would include baptizing new disciples into the lordship of Jesus. This is the original commitment. The disciples would pass on to others all that Jesus taught them. In telling this story, Matthew emphasized that Jesus (1) has total authority, (2) His teachings must be transmitted, (3) and His message is for all people. If we, the modern readers, will keep these three themes in mind as we read the Gospel from the beginning, we will discover that the author shows us how Jesus demonstrated His authority, the teachings He employed, and His concern for all nations.

The Gospel is easily divided into seven sections: a beginning and an end with five teaching sections between. Because of this, Matthew has been recognized for its emphasis on the teachings of Jesus.

 Matthew 1:1-4:25 opens the Gospel with the royal genealogy and builds to the proclamation of God in   Matthew 3:17 : “This is my beloved Son.” The genealogies confirm Jesus' authoritative, kingly lineage and remind the reader of His relation to all nations by mentioning Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the wife of a Hittite. The wise men (Gentiles) came seeking the King of the Jews ( Matthew 2:2 ). The angel affirmed Jesus' divine nature to Joseph. The child received a messianic name ( Matthew 1:18-23 ). Joseph took the holy family to Gentile territory (Egypt) to escape the threats of Herod. When Jesus came to John for baptism, the voice from heaven proclaimed Him as God's Son. As God's Son, Jesus had the authority and power to confront Satan and overcome. Jesus then went to Galilee of the Gentiles ( Matthew 4:15 ) to begin His public ministry. This opening section makes it obvious that Jesus is designated by God to be the Messiah with authority—for all nations.

 Matthew 5:1-7:29 is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount. It should be called the Teaching from the Mount since that is what the text calls it (  Matthew 5:2 ). While teaching and preaching overlap, teaching emphasizes the essential principles which must be passed on to maintain the discipline or movement at hand. Jesus gave His essential doctrine in this teaching. He stressed the importance of His commandments in  Matthew 5:19; emphasized the authoritative nature of His teachings by declaring: “But I say unto you” ( Matthew 5:22 ,Matthew 5:22, 5:28 ,Matthew 5:28, 5:32 ,Matthew 5:32, 5:39 ,Matthew 5:39, 5:44 ); and was recognized by the crowds as a Teacher with authority ( Matthew 7:28-29 ). Matthew presented Jesus as an authoritative Teacher. When the disciples went out to teach, they knew what to teach. When a believer goes out to teach today, he can refer to Matthew's Gospel.

 Matthew 8:1-10:42 opens with a series of ten miracles demonstrating Jesus' authority over disease, natural catastrophes, demons, and death. What He had demonstrated verbally in the teachings on the Mount, Jesus acted in displays of power. His disciples wondered “that even the winds and sea obey him!” (  Matthew 8:27 ), and the crowds stood amazed that He had the authority to forgive sins ( Matthew 9:8 ). Ministry to a Gentile centurion is in this section also. After demonstrating His power, Jesus gave authority to His disciples to go out and heal and teach as He had done ( Matthew 10:1 ), thus preparing them for their final Commission in  Matthew 28:18-20 . By continuing the emphasis on authority, teaching, and Gentiles, Jesus prepared His immediate disciples for their task after His death. Matthew continues to teach later generations of believers about Jesus' power and concern for all mankind.

 Matthew 11:1-13:52 shows various people reacting to Jesus' authority. Various responses are noted in   Matthew 11:1 , including Jesus' thanksgiving that the “babes” understand ( Matthew 11:25-30 ). When the leaders rejected Jesus' authority in  Matthew 12:1 , Matthew implied that Jesus would go to the Gentiles by quoting Isaiah the prophet ( Matthew 12:18-21 ). Jesus continued His teaching in parables to those who were willing to listen ( Matthew 13:10-13 ). So when Jesus commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and teach, they were aware that he had already begun the movement by His example in His earthly ministry.

 Matthew 13:53-18:35 opens with the story of Jesus' teaching in the synagogue in Nazareth. The people had the same response to Jesus' teaching as the crowds did at the end of the Sermon on the mount. They were astonished (compare   Matthew 13:54;  Matthew 7:28 ). Although Jesus presented His authoritative teaching, His hometown people rejected it ( Matthew 13:57 ). His disciples accepted Him ( Matthew 14:33 ), and so did the Gentile woman ( Matthew 15:22 ). Again, Jesus taught authoritatively and related to Gentiles.

 Matthew 19:1-25:46 makes the transition from Galilee to Jerusalem. Jesus dramatically presented His kingly authority by His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (  Matthew 21:1-9 ) and by cleansing the Temple ( Matthew 21:10-17 ). Then, while He was teaching, the chief priests and elders challenged Him saying, “By what authority doest thou these things?” ( Matthew 21:23 ). Jesus answered with parables and other teachings ( Matthew 21:28-22:46 ). Jesus warned the people about the examples of the Pharisees and Sadducees ( Matthew 23:1-38 ). He then concentrated His teaching only on His disciples ( Matthew 24:1-25:46 ). They could recall this when He commanded them to teach what He taught. The modern believer must also hear what Jesus taught and teach it to others.

 Matthew 26:1-28:20 has no teaching situations, but it tells of the conspiracy ending in Jesus' execution. In the midst of the trial scene Jesus was asked if He was the Messiah. Jesus responded by affirming His authority: “Thou hast said” (  Matthew 26:64 ). by Pilate, a Gentile, recognized, Jesus' kingly authority, placarding over the cross: “This Is Jesus The King Of The Jews” ( Matthew 27:37 ). The Gentile centurion proclaimed: “Truly this was the Son of God” ( Matthew 27:54 ). As in the birth story, so in the end, the author stressed Jesus' divine, kingly authority and emphasized the inclusion of the Gentiles.

When the resurrected Lord declared His authority to His disciples in  Matthew 28:18 , they understood because they had seen His authority displayed as they lived with Jesus. When modern readers come to  Matthew 28:18 , they understand because Matthew has shown us Jesus' authority from the beginning. When Jesus commanded His disciples to make other disciples by teaching all that He taught them, they knew what to teach; and we modern believers know what Jesus intended because we know Matthew's record of His teaching. When Jesus included baptizing, they realized it was the sign of commitment to discipleship, and so do we. When Jesus assured His disciples that He would be with them even to the ends of the earth, the disciples understood because already Jesus had included all people in His ministry.

As we read through the seven sections summarized above, we should also note that Matthew presented Jesus as the “Son of God,” a term that appears twenty-three times in the Gospel of Matthew. While the virgin birth story affirms Jesus' sonship, the quotation from  Hosea 11:1 (  Matthew 2:15 ) confirms it. Twice God proclaimed Jesus' sonship: at His baptism ( Matthew 3:17 ) and at the transfiguration ( Matthew 17:5 ). Peter confessed it ( Matthew 16:16 ). Jesus attested to His sonship in the Lord's prayer ( Matthew 6:9 ), His thanksgiving to God ( Matthew 11:25-26 ), and the Garden of Gethsemane ( Matthew 26:39 ). The author wanted the reader to be aware that Jesus, the Son of God, is the One crucified on the cross; so Jesus called out to “my God” from the cross ( Matthew 27:46 ), and a Gentile centurion confessed that the dying One is “truly the Son of God” ( Matthew 27:54 ).

Matthew wanted the reader to be aware that forgiveness of sins comes through the death of the divine Son of God. The angel had told Joseph that Jesus would “save his people from their sins” ( Matthew 1:21 ). Jesus Himself had assured His disciples that His destiny was “to give his life a ransom for many” ( Matthew 20:28 ). Jesus left behind a continuing reminder of His role in the forgiveness of sins when He instituted the Lord's Supper. “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” ( Matthew 26:28 ).

It is impossible to know the exact date when the Gospel of Matthew was written. Some contemporary writers date it as early as A.D. 60; some, as late as A.D. 95. The place of writing was probably some place along the coast of Phoenicia or Syria such as Antioch. This is because of Matthew's several references to Gentiles, a reference to Phoenicia and Syria, and the terms (in the Greek text) used for coins ( Matthew 17:24 ,Matthew 17:24, 17:27 ). Although the Gospel nowhere identifies the author and many modern Bible students point to a complex history of editing and collecting sources, Matthew, the tax collector, the son of Alphaeus has been identified as the author since the second century. See Matthew .


I. Jesus' Birth Fulfilled Prophecy ( Matthew 1:1-2:23 ).

A. Jesus was born of the line of David ( Matthew 1:1-17 ).

B. God directed the circumstances of Jesus' birth ( Matthew 1:18-25 ).

C. Even Gentile foreigners worshiped the newborn Jewish king ( Matthew 2:1-12 ).

D. God provided for His Son's survival ( Matthew 2:13-23 ).

II. The Obedient Jesus Invites People to Kingdom Service ( Matthew 3:1-4:25 ).

A. Jesus carried out God's will by being baptized by John the Baptist ( Matthew 3:1-15 ).

B. God approved His Son ( Matthew 3:16-17 ).

C. Jesus obeyed God's Word and defeated Satan ( Matthew 4:1-11 ).

D. Jesus called people to God's kingdom through repentance ( Matthew 4:12-22 ).

E. Jesus demonstrated the power of the kingdom ( Matthew 4:23-25 ).

III. Jesus Taught God's Way to Live ( Matthew 5:1-7:29 ).

A. Real happiness comes from a right relationship to God ( Matthew 5:1-12 ).

B. Christians must be like salt and light ( Matthew 5:13-16 ).

C. Love, not legalism, is the rule of the kingdom ( Matthew 5:17-48 ).

D. The desire to be seen by others is the wrong motive for good works ( Matthew 6:1-4 ).

E. Prayer is private seeking of forgiveness, not public search for praise ( Matthew 6:5-15 ).

F. Fasting is of value only if the motive behind it is right ( Matthew 6:16-18 ).

G. Only spiritual wealth really lasts ( Matthew 6:19-21 ).

H. Each person must choose whether to give God first place ( Matthew 6:22-34 ).

I. To judge others is wrong; to show discernment is necessary ( Matthew 7:1-6 ).

J. The kingdom requires persistence in prayer and faith in God's goodness ( Matthew 7:7-11 ).

K. The Golden Rule summarizes the law and the prophets ( Matthew 7:12 ).

L. Only the narrow path of submission to God's will leads to life in His kingdom ( Matthew 7:13-23 ).

M. Jesus and His teachings form the only lasting foundation for life ( Matthew 7:24-29 ).

IV. Jesus' Power and Call Reveal His Authority ( Matthew 8:1-10:42 )

A. Jesus' healing power is available to all persons of faith ( Matthew 8:1-17 ).

B. Discipleship is first priority ( Matthew 8:18-22 ).

C. Jesus has authority over nature, demons, and sin ( Matthew 8:23-9:8 ).

D. Jesus calls sinners to share His authority ( Matthew 9:9-13 ).

E. Jesus' gospel requires new forms of piety ( Matthew 9:14-17 ).

F. Jesus' authority responds to faith, conquers demons, and does not come from Satan ( Matthew 9:18-34 ).

G. The compassionate Lord prays for compassionate helpers ( Matthew 9:35-38 ).

H. Jesus entrusts His disciples with His authority in word and deed ( Matthew 10:1-20 ).

I. To exercise His authority, disciples must face the dangers Jesus faced ( Matthew 10:21-25 ).

J. Jesus' authority removes cause for fear ( Matthew 10:26-31 ).

K. Disciples confess Jesus in all situations ( Matthew 10:32-39 ).

L. Those who welcome Christian messengers will receive rewards ( Matthew 10:40-42 ).

V. Jesus' Work Led to Controversy ( Matthew 11:1-12:50 ).

A. Jesus fulfilled messianic prophecy ( Matthew 11:1-6 ).

B. John marked the end of the prophetic era ( Matthew 11:7-15 ).

C. Blind religion seeks controversy rather than truth ( Matthew 11:16-19 ).

D. Repentance is the proper response to Jesus ( Matthew 11:20-24 ).

E. Discipleship requires faith in God's Son, not great human wisdom or works ( Matthew 11:25-30 ).

F. Mercy, not legalism, is the key to interpreting God's Word ( Matthew 12:1-14 ).

G. Jesus fulfilled Isaiah's servant prophecies ( Matthew 12:15-21 ).

H. Faith sees Jesus as Messiah, but blindness calls Him satanic ( Matthew 12:22-37 ).

I. Resurrection faith is the criterion for eternal judgment ( Matthew 12:38-45 ).

J. Obedient believers form Cod's family ( Matthew 12:46-50 ).

VI. Jesus Taught About the Kingdom ( Matthew 13:1-52 ).

A. Response to the kingdom depends on the “soil” ( Matthew 13:1-23 ).

B. God delays separating the true from the false ( Matthew 13:24-30 ).

C. God's kingdom, small at first, will finally transform the world ( Matthew 13:31-33 ).

D. Jesus' use of parables fulfills Scripture ( Matthew 13:34-35 ).

E. The Son of Man controls final judgment and will send those who reject Him to eternal punishment ( Matthew 13:36-43 ).

F. The kingdom is worth any sacrifice ( Matthew 13:44-46 ).

G. The kingdom involves both traditional and new understandings of Scripture ( Matthew 13:47-52 ).

VII. Jesus Confronts Conflict and Critical Events ( Matthew 13:53-17:27 ).

A. Jesus faced rejection and sorrow ( Matthew 13:53-14:12 ).

B. Jesus placed compassion for others over personal needs ( Matthew 14:13-21 ).

C. Jesus' power over nature and disease shows He is God's Son ( Matthew 14:22-36 ).

D. Thoughts and motives, not ritual acts, determine spiritual purity ( Matthew 15:1-20 ).

E. Faith overcomes all obstacles that would separate us from Jesus ( Matthew 15:21-28 ).

F. Jesus' compassionate ministry leads people to raise God ( Matthew 15:29-39 ).

G. Unbelieving authorities demand a sign but cannot interpret ones they have ( Matthew 16:1-12 ).

H. Confession of Jesus as Messiah and Son of God is the church's foundation ( Matthew 16:13-20 ).

I. Willingness to suffer with Jesus is as important as proper confessions of faith ( Matthew 16:21-28 ).

J. God revealed Jesus as His Son, whom people should obey ( Matthew 17:1-13 ).

K. Faith in God overcomes obstacles ( Matthew 17:14-21 ).

L. Jesus expected His coming death and resurrection ( Matthew 17:22-23 ).

M. Concern for others may mean forfeiting one's own rights ( Matthew 17:24-27 ).

VIII. Jesus Gives Insight into Life in His Kingdom ( Matthew 18:1-20:34 ).

A. Entrance into the kingdom requires a childlike trust in God ( Matthew 18:1-5 ).

B. Christians must be careful not to lead others into sin ( Matthew 18:6-7 ).

C. Radical self-discipline prevents sin ( Matthew 18:8-9 ).

D. God takes the initiative in finding the lost ( Matthew 18:10-14 ).

E. Reconciliation must be the Christian's aim ( Matthew 18:15-17 ).

F. Jesus promises power and authority to His church ( Matthew 18:18-20 ).

G. God requires that we forgive if He is to forgive us ( Matthew 18:21-35 ).

H. Lifelong marriage is God's plan for most people, but some can accept single devotion to Him ( Matthew 19:1-12 ).

I. Children have an important place in God's kingdom ( Matthew 19:13-15 ).

J. One must give up any obstacle to discipleship, knowing reward will come ( Matthew 19:16-30 ).

K. God's rewards may be different from human expectations ( Matthew 20:1-16 ).

L. Jesus taught the necessity of His coming death and resurrection ( Matthew 20:17-19 ).

M. The truly great person serves others as Jesus did ( Matthew 20:20-28 ).

N. Those who are healed by His mercy become His followers ( Matthew 20:29-34 ).

IX. Religious Authorities Reject Jesus as Messiah ( Matthew 21:1-23:36 ).

A. Jesus fulfilled messianic prophecy by entering Jerusalem and cleansing the Temple ( Matthew 21:1-17 ).

B. God punishes fruitlessness but rewards faith ( Matthew 21:18-22 ).

C. Answerless authorities question Jesus' authority ( Matthew 21:23-27 ).

D. Authorities must answer the call to repentance to be part of God's kingdom ( Matthew 21:28-46 ).

E. God invites even sinners and outcasts to new life in His kingdom ( Matthew 22:1-4 ).

F. Taxes belong to the state; we belong to God ( Matthew 22:15-22 ).

G. Authorities do not understand Scripture and so do not believe in resurrection ( Matthew 22:23-33 ).

H. Authorities must learn love for God and love for neighbor are the greatest commandments ( Matthew 22:34-40 ).

I. Authorities must learn the nature of God's Messiah ( Matthew 22:41-46 ).

J. Jesus the Authority calls for religious leaders' lives to agree with their teachings ( Matthew 23:1-36 ).

X. Jesus Has the Authoritative Word About the Future ( Matthew 23:37-25:46 ).

A. Jerusalem faces destruction for rejecting Jesus ( Matthew 23:37-39 ).

B. The world will hear the gospel before the end of the age ( Matthew 24:1-14 ).

C. Jesus' disciples must flee Jerusalem when a sign appears ( Matthew 24:15-28 ).

D. Spectacles in nature will mark Jesus' assured return ( Matthew 24:29-35 ).

E. People must prepare for Jesus' return or face judgment ( Matthew 24:36-25:30 ).

F. Jesus will judge us by our service to those in need ( Matthew 25:31-46 ).

XI. Jesus Prepared for Death, Obeying God and Fulfilling Scripture ( Matthew 26:1-56 ).

A. Authorities plotted Jesus' death, as He had foretold ( Matthew 26:1-5 ).

B. Jesus' anointing symbolized His messiahship and coming death ( Matthew 26:6-13 ).

C. A disciple cooperated in crucifying Jesus ( Matthew 26:14-16 ).

D. Jesus transformed Passover to His memorial supper, establishing His covenant ( Matthew 26:17-30 ).

E. Jesus prepared His disciples for their time of falling and restoration ( Matthew 26:31-35 ).

F. Jesus dedicated Himself to the Father's will ( Matthew 26:36-46 ).

G. Jesus' arrest represented fulfillment of God's plan, not evidence of His weakness or God's forsaking Jesus ( Matthew 26:47-56 ).

XII. Jesus Conquered Death ( Matthew 26:57-28:20 ).

A. The innocent Jesus was convicted on His testimony to His messiahship and to His role as Judge in the last days ( Matthew 26:57-68 ).

B. Peter's denial showed Jesus' prophetic powers ( Matthew 26:69-75 ).

C. Judas' guilt drove him to suicide and fulfilled Scripture ( Matthew 27:1-10 ).

D. Government authority found no guilt in Jesus, but religious authorities accepted full responsibility for His death ( Matthew 27:11-26 ).

E. Roman mocking pointed to the truth of Jesus' divine kingship ( Matthew 27:27-44 ).

F. Spectacular events pointed to the saving significance of Jesus' death as God's Son ( Matthew 27:45-56 ). G. Jesus' dead body was entombed and could not be stolen ( Matthew 27:57-66 ).

H. Jesus was raised from the dead ( Matthew 28:1-10 ).

I. Religious leaders bribed people to disprove the resurrection ( Matthew 28:11-15 ).

J. The authoritative Jesus gives His disciples a worldwide evangelistic mission ( Matthew 28:16-20 ).

Oscar Brooks

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [2]

( εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Μαθθαῖον , euaggélion katá Maththaı́on (or Ματθαῖον , Matthaı́on )):

1. Name of Gospel - U nity and Integrity

2. Canonicity and Authorship

3. Relation of Greek and Aramaic Gospels

4. Contents, Character, and Purpose

5. Problems of Literary Relation

6. Date of Gospel


1. Name of Gospel - U nity and Integrity:

The "Gospel according to Matthew," i.e. the Gospel according to the account of Matthew, stands, according to traditional, but not entirely universal, arrangement, first among the canonical Gospels. The Gospel, as will be seen below, was unanimously ascribed by the testimony of the ancient church to the apostle Matthew, though the title does not of itself necessarily imply immediate authorship. The unity and integrity of the Gospel were never in ancient times called in question.  Matthew 1;  2 , particularly - the story of the virgin birth and childhood of Jesus - are proved by the consentient testimony of manuscripts, Vss , and patristic references, to have been an integral part of the Gospel from the beginning (see Virgin Birth ). The omission of this section from the heretical Gospel of the Ebionites, which appears to have had some relation to our Gospel, is without significance.

The theory of successive redactions of Mt, starting with an Aramaic Gospel, elaborated by Eichhorn and Marsh (1801), and the related theories of successive editions of the Gospel put forth by the Tubingen school (Baur, Hilgenfeld, Kostlin, etc.), and by Ewald (Bleek supposes a primitive Greek Gospel), lack historical foundation, and are refuted by the fact that manuscripts and versions know only the ultimate redaction. Is it credible that the churches should quietly accept redaction after redaction, and not a word be said, or a vestige remain, of any of them?

2. Canonicity and Authorship:

(1) Canonicity.

The apostolic origin and canonical rank of the Gospel of Matthew were accepted without a doubt by the early church. Origen, in the beginning of the 3century could speak of it as the first of "the four Gospels, which alone are received without dispute by the church of God under heaven" (in Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica , VI, 25). The use of the Gospel can be traced in the apostolic Fathers; most distinctly in Barnabas, who quotes   Matthew 22:14 with the formula, "It is written" (5). Though not mentioned by name, it was a chief source from which Justin took his data for the life and words of Jesus (compare Westcott, Canon , 91 ff), and apostolic origin is implied in its forming part of "the Memoirs of the Apostles," "which are called Gospels," read weekly in the assemblies of the Christians ( Ap . i. 66, etc.). Its identity with our Matthew is confirmed by the undoubted presence of that Gospel in the Diatessaron of Tatian, Justin's disciple. The testimony of Papias is considered below. The unhesitating acceptance of the Gospel is further decisively shown by the testimonies and use made of it in the works of Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and by its inclusion in the Muratorian Canon, the Itala, Peshitta, etc. See Canon Of The New Testament; Gospels .

(2) Authorship.

The questions that cluster around the First Gospel have largely to do with the much-discussed and variously disputed statement concerning it found in Eusebius ( Historia Ecclesiastica , III, 39), cited from the much older work of Papias, entitled Interpretation of the Words of the Lord . Papias is the first who mentions Matthew by name as the author of the Gospel. His words are: "Matthew composed the Logia ( λόγια , lógia , "words," "oracles") in the Hebrew (Aramaic) tongue, and everyone interpreted them as he was able." Papias cannot here be referring to a book of Matthew in which only the discourses or sayings of Jesus had been preserved, but which had not any, or only meager accounts of His deeds, which imaginary document is in so many critical circles regarded as the basis of the present Gospel, for Papias himself uses the expression τὰ λόγια , lógia , as embracing the story, as he himself says, in speaking of Mark, "of the things said or done by Christ" (Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica , III, 24; compare particularly T. Zahn, Introduction to New Testament , section 54, and Lightfoot, Supernatural Religion , 170 ff). Eusebius further reports that after Matthew had first labored among his Jewish compatriots, he went to other nations, and as a substitute for his oral preaching, left to the former a Gospel written in their own dialect (III, 24). The testimony of Papias to Matthew as the author of the First Gospel is confirmed by Irenaeus (iii. 3,1) and by Origen (in Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica , V, 10), and may be accepted as representing a uniform 2nd-century tradition. Always, however, it is coupled with the statement that the Gospel was originally written in the Hebrew dialect. Hence, arises the difficult question of the relation of the canonical Greek Gospel, with which alone, apparently, the fathers were acquainted, to this alleged original apostolic work.

3. Relation of Greek and Aramaic Gospels:

One thing which seems certain is that whatever this Hebrew (Aramaic) document may have been, it was not an original form from which the present Greek Gospel of Matthew was translated, either by the apostle himself, or by somebody else, as was maintained by Bengel, Thiersch, and other scholars. Indeed, the Greek Matthew throughout bears the impress of being not a translation at all, but as having been originally written in Greek, and as being less Hebraistic in the form of thought than some other New Testament writings, e.g. the Apocalypse. It is generally not difficult to discover when a Greek book of this period is a translation from the Hebrew or Aramaic. That our Matthew was written originally in Greek appears, among other things, from the way in which it makes use of the Old Testament, sometimes following the Septuagint, sometimes going back to the Hebrew. Particularly instructive passages in this regard are  Matthew 12:18-21 and   Matthew 13:14 ,  Matthew 13:15 , in which the rendering of the Alexandrian translation would have served the purposes of the evangelist, but he yet follows more closely the original text, although he adopts the Septuagint wherever this seemed to suit better than the Hebrew (compare Keil's Commentary on Matthew , loc. cit.).

The external evidences to which appeal is made in favor of the use of an original Hebrew or Aramaic. Matthew in the primitive church are more than elusive. Eusebius ( Historia Ecclesiastica , V, 10) mentions as a report ( λέγεται , légetai ) that Pantaenus, about the year 170 AD, found among the Jewish Christians, probably of South Arabia, a Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew, left there by Bartholomew; and Jerome, while in the Syrian Berea, had occasion to examine such a work, which he found in use among the Nazarenes, and which at first he regarded as a composition of the apostle Matthew, but afterward declared not to be such, and then identified with the Gospel according to the Hebrews ( Evangelium secundum or juxta Hebraeos ) also called the Gospel of the Twelve Apostles, or of the Nazarenes, current among the Nazarenes and Ebionites ( De Vir . Illustr ., iii; Contra Pelag ., iii. 2; Commentary on   Matthew 12:13 , etc.; see Gospel According To The Hebrews ). For this reason the references by Irenaeus, Origen, Eusebius to the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew are by many scholars regarded as referring to this Hebrew Gospel which the Jewish Christians employed, and which they thought to be the work of the evangelist (compare for fuller details See Hauck-Herzog, Realencyklopadie fur protestantische Theologie und Kirche , Xii , article "Matthaeus der Apostel"). Just what the original Hebrew. Mathew was to which Papias refers (assuming it to have had a real existence) must, with our present available means, remain an unsolved riddle, as also the possible connection between the Greek and Hebrew texts. Attempts like those of Zahn, in his Kommentar on Matthew, to explain readings of the Greek text through an inaccurate understanding of the imaginary Hebrew original are arbitrary and unreliable. There remains, of course, the possibility that the apostle himself, or someone under his care (thus Godet), produced a Greek recension of an earlier Aramaic work.

The prevailing theory at present is that the Hebrew Matthean document of Papias was a collection mainly of the discourses of Jesus (called by recent critics Q), which, in variant Greek translations, was used both by the author of the Greek Matthew and by the evangelist Luke, thus explaining the common features in these two gospels (W.C. Allen, however, in his Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Matthew , disputes Luke's use of this supposed common source, Intro, 46 ff). The use of this supposed Matthean source is thought to explain how the Greek Gospel came to be named after the apostle. It has already been remarked, however, that there is no good reason for supposing that the "Logia" of Papias was confined to discourses. See further on "sources" below.

4. Contents, Character and Purpose:

(1) Contents and Character.

As respects contents, the Gospel of Mt can be divided into 3 chief parts: (1) preliminary, including the birth and early youth of the Lord ( Matthew 1;  2 ); (2) the activity of Jesus in Galilee ( Matthew 3 through 18); (3) the activity of Jesus in Judea and Jerusalem, followed by His passion, death, and resurrection (  Matthew 19 through 28). In character, the Gospel, like those of the other evangelists, is only a chrestomathy, a selection from the great mass of oral tradition concerning the doings and sayings of Christ current in apostolic and early Christian circles, chosen for the special purpose which the evangelist had in view. Accordingly, there is a great deal of material in Matthew in common with Mark and Lk, although not a little of this material, too, is individualistic in character, and of a nature to vex and perplex the harmonist, as e.g. Matthew's accounts of the temptation, of the demoniacs at Gadara, of the blind man at Jericho (  Matthew 4:1-11;  Matthew 8:28-34;  Matthew 20:20-34 ); yet there is much also in this Gospel that is peculiar to it. Such are the following pericopes: Matthew 1; 2;  Matthew 9:27-36;  Matthew 10:15 ,  Matthew 10:37-40;  Matthew 11:28-30;  Matthew 12:11 ,  Matthew 12:12 ,  Matthew 12:15-21 ,  Matthew 12:33-38;  Matthew 13:24-30 , 36-52;  Matthew 14:28-31;  Matthew 16:17-19;  Matthew 17:24-27; 18:15-35;  Matthew 19:10-12; 20:1-16;  Matthew 21:10 f, 14-16, 28-32;   Matthew 22:1-14;  Matthew 23:8-22; 24:42 through 25:46;  Matthew 27:3-10 ,  Matthew 27:62-66;  Matthew 28:11 ff. The principle of arrangement of the material is not chronological, but rather that of similarity of material. The addresses and parables of Jesus are reported consecutively, although they may have been spoken at different times, and material scattered in the other evangelists - especially in Luke - is found combined in Matthew. Instances are seen in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 through 7), the "mission address" (Matthew 10), the seven parables of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 13), the discourses and parables (Matthew 18), the woes against the Pharisees (Matthew 23), and the grand eschatological discourses (Matthew 24; 25) (compare with parallel in the other gospels, on the relation to which, see below).

(2) Purpose.

The special purpose which the writer had in view in his Gospel is nowhere expressly stated, as is done, e.g., by the writer of the Fourth Gospel in  John 20:30 ,  John 20:31 , concerning his book, but it can readily be gleaned from the general contents of the book, as also from specific passages. The traditional view that Matthew wrote primarily to prove that in Jesus of Nazareth is to be found the fulfillment and realization of the Messianic predictions of the Old Testament prophets and seers is beyond a doubt correct. The mere fact that there are about 40 proof passages in Matthew from the Old Testament, in connection even with the minor details of Christ's career, such as His return from Egypt ( Matthew 2:15 ), is ample evidence of this fact, although the proof manner and proof value of some of these passages are exegetical cruces , as indeed is the whole way in which the Old Testament is cited in the New Testament. See Quotations , New Testament .

The question as to whether the Gospel was written for Jewish Christians, or for Jews not yet converted, is less important, as this book, as was the case probably with the Epistle of James, was written at that transition period when the Jewish and the Christian communions were not yet fully separated, and still worshipped together.

Particular indications as to this purpose of the Gospel are met with at the beginning and throughout the whole work; e.g. it is obvious in  Matthew 1:1 , where the proof is furnished that Jesus was the son of Abraham, in whom all families of the earth were to be blessed ( Genesis 12:3 ), and of David, who was to establish the kingdom of God forever (2 Sam 7). The genealogy of Luke, on the other hand ( Luke 3:23 ff), with its cosmopolitan character and purpose, aiming to show that Jesus was the Redeemer of the whole world, leads back this line to Adam, the common ancestor of all mankind. Further, as the genealogy of Matthew is evidently that of Joseph the foster and legal father of Jesus, and not that of Mary, as is the case in Luke, the purpose to meet the demands of the Jewish reader is transparent. The full account in Matthew of the Sermon on the Mount, which does not, as is sometimes said, contain a "new program of the kingdom of God" - indeed does not contain the fundamental principles of the Gospel at all - but is the deeper and truly Biblical interpretation of the Law over against the superficial interpretation of the current Pharisaism, which led the advocates of the latter in all honesty to declare, "What lack I yet?" given with the design of driving the auditors to the gospel of grace and faith proclaimed by Christ (compare   Galatians 3:24 ) - all this is only intelligible when we remember that the book was written for Jewish readers. Again the γέγραπται , gégraptai - i.e. the fulfillment of Old Testament Scripture, a matter which for the Jew was everything, but for the Gentile was of little concern - appears in Matthew on all hands. We have it e.g. in connection with the birth of Jesus from a virgin, His protection from Herod, His coming to Nazareth ( Matthew 1:22 f;   Matthew 2:5 ,  Matthew 2:6 ,  Matthew 2:15 ,  Matthew 2:17 f, 23), the activity of John the Baptist (  Matthew 3:3; compare  Matthew 11:10 ), the selection of Galilee as the scene of Jesus' operations ( Matthew 4:14 ff), the work of Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets (  Matthew 5:17 ), His quiet, undemonstrative methods ( Matthew 12:17 ff), His teaching by parables (  Matthew 13:35 ), His entrance into Jerusalem ( Matthew 21:4 f, 16), His being arrested (  Matthew 26:54 ), the betrayal of Judas ( Matthew 27:9 ), the distribution of His garments ( Matthew 27:35 ). Throughout, as Professor Kubel says, the Gospel of Mt shows a "diametrical contrast between Christ and Pharisaism." Over against the false Messianic ideas and ideals of contemporary teachings among the Jews, Mt selects those facts from the teachings and deeds of Christ which show the true Messiah and the correct principles of the kingdom of God. In this respect the Gospel can be regarded as both apologetic and polemical in its aim, in harmony with which also is its vivid portraiture to the growing hostility of the Jews to Christ and to His teachings which, in the latter part of Matthew, appears as intense as it does in John. Nowhere else do we find such pronounced denunciations of the Pharisees and their system from the lips of Jesus (compare  Matthew 9:11 ff;   Matthew 12:1 ff;   Matthew 15:1 ff;   Matthew 16:1 ff; and on particular points   Matthew 5:20 ff;   Matthew 9:13;  Matthew 23:23; see also  Matthew 8:12;  Matthew 9:34;  Matthew 12:24;  Matthew 21:43 ). It is from this point of view, as representing the antithesis to the narrow Pharisaic views, that we are to understand the writer's emphasis on the universality of the kingdom of Jesus Christ (compare   Matthew 3:1-12;  Matthew 8:10-12;  Matthew 21:33-44;  Matthew 28:18-20 ) - passages in which some have thought they discerned a contradiction to the prevailing Jewish strain of the Gospel.

5. Problems of Literary Relation:

The special importance of the Gospel of Matthew for the synoptic problem can be fully discussed only in the article on this subject (see Gospels , The Synoptic ), and in connection with Mark and Luke. The synoptic problem deals primarily with the literary relations existing between the first 3 Gospels. The contents of these are in many cases so similar, even in verbal details, that they must have some sources in common, or some dependence or interdependence must exist between them; on the other hand, each of the 3 Gospels shows so many differences and dissimilarities from the other two, that in their composition some independent source or sources - oral or written - must have been employed. In general it may be said that the problem itself is of little more than literary importance, having by no means the historical significance for the development of the religion of the New Testament which the Pentateuchal problem has for that of the Old Testament. Nor has the synoptic problem any historical background that promises a solution as the Pentateuchal problem has in the history of Israel. Nothing save an analysis of the contents of these Gospels, and a comparison of the contents of the three, offers the scholar any material for the study of the problem, and as subjective taste and impressions are prime factors in dealing with materials of this sort, it is more than improbable, in the absence of any objective evidence, that the synoptic problem in general, or the question of the sources of Matthew in particular, will ever be solved to the satisfaction of the majority of scholars. The hypothesis which at present has widest acceptance is the "two-source" theory, according to which Mark, in its existing or some earlier form, and the problematical original Matthew (Q), constitute the basis of our canonical Gospel.

In proof of this, it is pointed out that nearly the whole of the narrative-matter of Mark is taken up into Matthew, as also into Luke, while the large sections, chiefly discourses, common to Matthew and Luke are held, as already said, to point to a source of that character which both used. The difficulties arise when the comparison is pursued into details, and explanation is sought of the variations in phraseology, order, sometimes in conception, in the respective gospels.

Despite the prestige which this theory has attained, the true solution is probably a simpler one. Matthew no doubt secured the bulk of his data from his own experience and from oral tradition, and as the former existed in fixed forms, due to catechetical instruction, in the early church, it is possible to explain the similarities of Matthew with the other two synoptics on this ground alone, without resorting to any literary dependence, either of Matthew on the other two, or of these, or either of them, on Matthew. The whole problem is purely speculative and subjective and under present conditions justifies a cui bono? as far as the vast literature which it has called into existence is concerned.

6. Date of Gospel:

According to early and practically universal tradition Mt wrote his Gospel before the other three, and the place assigned to it in New Testament literature favors the acceptance of this tradition. Irenaeus reports that it was written when Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome (ill.1), and Eusebius states that this was done when Matthew left Palestine and went to preach to others ( Historia Ecclesiastica , III, 24). Clement of Alexandria is responsible for the statement that the presbyters who succeeded each other from the beginning declared that "the gospels containing the genealogies (Matthew and Luke) were written first" (Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica , VI, 14). This is, of course, fatal to the current theory of dependence on Mark, and is in consequence rejected. At any rate, there is the best reason for holding that the book must have been written before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 Ad (compare 2415). The most likely date for the Greek Gospel is in the 7th Christian decade. Zahn claims that Matthew wrote his Aramaic Gospel in Palestine in 62 AD, while the Greek Matthew dates from 85 AD, but this latter date is not probable.


Introduction to the Commentary on Matthew (Meyer, Alford, Allen ( Icc ), Broadus (Philadelphia, 1887), Morison, Plummer, Schaeffer in Lutheran Commentary (New York, 1895), etc.); works on Introduction to the New Testament (Salmon, Weiss, Zahn, etc.); articles in Bible Dictionaries and Encyclopedia may be consulted. See also F.C. Burkitt, The Gospel History and Its Transmission  ; Wellhausen, Das Evangelium Matthaei and Einleitung in die drei ersten Evangelien  ; Sir J.C. Hawkins, Horae Synopticae  ; Westcott, Introduction to the Study of the Gospels  ; Lightfoot, Essays on Supernatural Religion , V, "Papias of Hierapolis" (this last specially on the sense of Logia ). See also the works cited in Mark , Gospel Of .