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Matthew
Series: II. Exposition of the Scriptures
   
Course: Matthew
   
Instructor: Don Stewart
   
Enroll for: Grade Audit

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Description:

The French scholar Ernst Renan said Matthew was “the most important book ever written.” Matthew was indeed the favorite book of the early church. It bridges the gap between the two testaments as it gives the story of the life and ministry of Jesus from the perspective of one of Jesus’ disciples. In this course we will look carefully at his account of Christ’s life, understanding why He came the first time and why He must come again.

   
Introduction:

Preface to Matthew

The literature on the Gospels is endless, because the subject is endless (A.H. McNeile, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, 1915, p. xi.).

The following textbook contains our own translation and commentary on the Book of Matthew. Every verse in Matthew has been translated from Greek into English with the commentary based upon the translation. At the end of each chapter there will be a summary of the contents. In addition, some of the issues raised in the chapter will be explored more fully.

The Greek text used for this translation is generally that of the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament, 4th Edition, Revised. Where there are variant readings in the text—that is, readings in the manuscripts that differ from what this Greek text says—these variants have been translated and placed under the verse. An attempt has been made to be as thorough as possible in listing all the major variants in Matthew. As the reader will see, the variant readings are few and they certainly do not change the meaning of the message of Matthew.

Abbreviations:

The following abbreviations are used in the commentary.

  • KJV—King James Version
  • NASB—New American Standard Bible
  • NKJV—New King James Version
  • NIV—New International Version
  • NRSV—New Revised Standard Version
  • TR—Textus Receptus. This is basically the Greek text that was behind the King James Version of 1611.
  • MT—The Majority Text, or the Byzantine Text. This is the name of the text-type which has the majority of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. The Majority Text differs from the TR in about 1800 places.
  • AlephCodex Sinaiticus This is the oldest complete manuscript of the New Testament (dated about A.D. 350).
  • BCodex VaticanusThis is a near complete manuscript of the New Testament written a little earlier than Codex Sinaiticus.

Sources For Further Study

Matthew is a gospel that deserves to be studied. The following are some excellent resources on Matthew for those who are interested in further study.

  • Alford, H., The Greek New Testament, London, 1849-61.
  • Allen, W.C., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. The International Critical Commentary, T&T Clark, 1910.
  • Blomberg, Craig, Matthew, The New American Commentary, Broadman Press, 1992.
  • Broadus, John, Commentary On The Gospel of Matthew, Philadelphia, American Baptist Publishing Society, 1886.
  • Bruce, A.B., The Synoptic Gospels, The Expositors Bible Commentary, Volume 1, Grand Rapids, No date.
  • Carson, D.A., Matthew, The Expositors Bible Commentary, 2 Volumes, Zondervan, 1996.
  • Davies, W.D., and Allison, Dale, Matthew, The International Critical Commentary, 3 Volumes, T&T Clark, 1991.
  • Fowler Harold, Matthew, Joplin, Missouri, College Press, 4 Volumes, 1972.
  • France, Dick, Matthew, Tyndale New Testament Commentary, Eerdmans, 1985.
  • Green, Michael, Matthew For Today, Word Publishing, 1988.
  • Gundry, Robert, Matthew, Eerdmans, 1994.
  • Hagnar, Donald, Matthew, Word Biblical Commentary, 2 Volumes, Word, 1993.
  • Hendriksen, William, Matthew, Baker Book House, 1973.
  • Hill, David, The Gospel of Matthew, The New Century Bible Commentary, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1972.
  • Keener, Craig, Matthew, Downers Grove, Illinois, Inter Varsity Press, 1997.
  • Lenski, R.C.H. Matthew, St. Louis, Concordia Press, 1972.
  • McNeile, A.H. The Gospel According to St. Matthew, Baker Book House, Reprint, 1980, Originally published in 1915.
  • Morris, Leon, The Gospel According To Matthew, Eerdmans, 1992.
  • Mounce, Robert, Matthew, IVP, 1986.
  • Plummer, Alfred, An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According To St. Matthew, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1953.

Other Sources

  • The following sources have also been used in this course.
  • Edersheim, Alfred, The Life And Times Of Jesus The Messiah, MacDonald Publishing Company, n.d.
  • Keener, Craig, The IVP Bible Background Commentary, Downers Grove, Illinois, Intervarsity Press, 1993.
  • Thiede, Carsten Peter, Jesus: Life of Legend? Second Edition, Oxford England, Lion Publishing, 1997.
  • Wallace, Daniel, Greek Grammar: Beyond The Basics, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1996.

The Right Attitude - Humility

Before we begin our study, we must check out attitude as we interpret the Word of God. We need to come to grips with the realization that we will never come to a place where we understand everything that a passage is able to teach us—we will never exhaust the meaning of the text. Realizing this truth will not only give us the spirit of humility, but it will also keep us from condemning too quickly someone who holds to a different interpretation on a particular passage of Scripture or a non-essential doctrine.

This truth was well-stated at the turn of the twentieth century by W.C. Allen in the preface to his commentary on Matthew. He suggested the following ideal requirements for a commentator on the book of Matthew.

For a commentator upon this book, who is able to do his work efficiently, should have many qualifications. He should be a competent Greek scholar, versed in Hellenistic Greek literature, and acquainted with the bearing of modern archaeological discovery upon the history of language. He should be acquainted with the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Midrashim…The commentator should further be a master of the material for the textual criticism of the Gospel, which is in itself the study of a lifetime. He should have a thorough knowledge of the literature dealing with the so-called Synoptic Problem, and should have formed a judgment based upon independent investigation as to the literary relationship between the Canonical Gospels and the sources which lie behind them…I can lay to no such qualifications as these (Allen, pp. i, ii).

Neither can I. Since none of us can meet these requirements, we must adopt a humble attitude with respect to our own understanding of the text. The point is this—there is always more that we can learn! Therefore we need to enter our study of Matthew, as well as with the rest of Scripture, with the view that it will be a lifelong process of discovery.

Be Encouraged, Be Challenged

I trust that the student who reads through Matthew with this commentary will be as encouraged and challenged as I have been in studying this wonderful section of the Word of God. May God give you a special blessing as you examine the life of the Lord Jesus through the writing of Matthew.

Don Stewart
Rainbow Beach Australia
August, 1997

INTRODUCTION TO MATTHEW

1. THE PLACE OF MATTHEW AMONG THE GOSPELS

The most important book ever written.—E. Renan

The present order of our gospels is known as the Augustinian order. Named after St. Augustine, it is the order in which he believed the gospels were composed. Matthew was written first, then Mark, next Luke and then finally John. Matthew is placed first in order among the gospels because it was universally believed by the early church to have been the first gospel written. In all the early lists and texts of the gospels Matthew always comes first. Matthew is the most quoted of all the gospels. All four gospels were universally received by the church as authoritative but Matthew was the favorite. Throughout church history this has also been true.

Modern Lack of Interest

The study of Matthew has been characterized by lack of interest in our present day. Matthew is assumed to have been written after Mark and Matthew is also believed to have used Mark as a source. Mark is studied first, because it is supposedly the closest to the original and consequently gives the most accurate information on the life of Christ. Luke is appreciated because of its beauty and because it contains more information than Mark. John is studied for its intimate stories of Jesus and His disciples. Therefore, Matthew is left out. However, Matthew is extremely important. It is the bridge between the testaments and is one of the four essential books that must be mastered if one is to understand the basic outline of the eternal plan of God (the other books being Genesis, Daniel, and Revelation).

2. CHARACTERISTICS OF MATTHEW’S GOSPEL

  1. Gospel for Jewish Christians

    Matthew is a Jewish Christian and the emphasis of his book is mainly to Jewish Christians. Matthew shows that Jesus ministry is a fulfillment of the Old Testament hopes. He applies Old Testament texts to various aspects of Jesus ministry. These include: His attitude toward the Old Testament law, the traditions of the Jewish scribes, His controversies with the official representatives of Judaism, and the nature of the church versus Judaism. These are issues that would confront Jewish Christians who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah and who need to work out the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. These truths would help them proclaim and defend the gospel among non-Christian Jews. Therefore, it is likely, that the gospel would have been written by a Jewish Christian and a Jewish readership would make up a large portion of his audience.

    The Jewish touch can be seen with the following:

    1. Matthew begins his genealogy with Abraham, the father of the Jewish race (Mat 1:1-2).
    2. His explanation of the name Jesus (Mat 1:21) assumes his readers know the Hebrew meaning since there is a play on words in Hebrew between Jesus and save.
    3. He regularly uses the phrase “Son of David” when referring to Jesus. Matthew also uses the more Jewish phrase kingdom of heaven rather than kingdom of God as Mark and Luke do. Jews did not like to use the name “God” any more than they had too.
    4. Only Matthew tells us about Jesus’ ministry being limited to the Jews (Mat 10:5-6) and the ignoring of the Gentile woman’s request for help (Mat 15:24).
    5. The only mention of the Samaritans in the gospel is when Jesus says don’t go to them (Mat 10:5)
    6. Untranslated Aramaic terms such as raka (Mat 5:22). See also korbanas (Mat 27:6) translated treasury.
    7. Unexplained references to Jewish customs such as hand-washing traditions (Mat 15:2), contrast that to Mark’s explanation to Gentile readers (Mar 7:3-4). The mention of the wearing of phylacteries (Mat 23:5) suggests that Matthew expected his readers to be familiar with Jewish customs.
    8. Many issues would be of interest only to Jewish readers. These include: fasting (Mat 6:16-18); the Sabbath (Mat 12:1-14; Mat 24:20), temple offerings (Mat 5:23-24), and the temple tax (Mat 17:24-27). These indicate that the gospel was primarily directed toward the Jews. Therefore, Matthew, along with Hebrews is the most Jewish book in the New Testament.

  2. Gospel for Gentiles as Well

    The good news according to Matthew finishes with Jesus sending out the eleven to make disciples of all nations (Mat 28:19). The Gospel also gives many hints that this is his ultimate aim. Thus the ministry, for all its Jewishness, and its fulfillment of the hopes and destiny of Israel, shows that the Jewish people do not have the exclusive privileges to be called the people of God. Matthew shows that the message of God has now broken out of the confines of Judaism. God now calls non-Jews to share the privileges of Israel. The true people of God is made up of those who accept Jesus as their Messiah, both Jews and Gentiles (Galatians 3:27-28). Blessing of God has passed from the Jewish nation to Gentiles. The paradox is that the most Jewish gospel contains the harshest language toward the Jewish nation (Mat 8:10-12; Mat 21:43; Mat 23:29-39; Mat 27:24-25). This is because the majority of people failed to respond to Jesus as Israel’s true Messiah. Today what counts for membership as the true people of God is not nationality but individual faith toward Jesus.

    The following passages show evidence of Matthew’s emphasis on the Gentiles.

    1. The genealogy (Mat 1:5) has at least two Gentiles (Rahab and Ruth).
    2. The Gentile Magi from the East at Christ’s birth (Mat 2:1-12).
    3. The Roman centurion who exercised great faith (Mat 8:5-13).
    4. The statement “In His name Gentiles have hope” (Mat 12:21).
    5. The field is the world (Mat 13:38).
    6. The faith of the Canaanite woman (Mat 15:21-28).
    7. The Parable of tenants (Mat 21:33-43).
    8. The Parable of the marriage feast (Mat 22:1-10).
    9. The Roman soldier’s confession (Mat 27:54).
    10. The Good news to be preached to the whole world (Mat 28:19). See also Mat 24:14.

  3. Gospel for the Church

    Matthew is the only gospel to mention the word “church” (Mat 16:18, Mat 18:17). Use of the word is seen by some to indicate a formal established organization that existed late in the first century. However, the references in Mat 18:17 is not to a single world-wide body but rather to a local congregation. The reference in Mat 16:18 is to the future. The impression is that the church has not been built yet. There is, however, much in Matthew that would be helpful for the training of church leaders.

    1. Discussion of the correct ethical use of the Old Testament Law (Mat 5:17-48) and the misuse of scribal tradition (Mat 15:1-20).
    2. Divorce (Mat 5:31-32; Mat 19:3-9). Note only in Matthew do we find unchastity as grounds for terminating a marriage.
    3. Warnings against false prophets and pseudo-Messiahs (Mat 7:15-20; Mat 24:4-5; Mat 11:23-26).
    4. Need to discriminate between true and false disciples within the church (Mat 7:613-27; Mat 13:24-3036-4347-50; Mat 22:10-14).
    5. The response to persecution (Mat 10).
    6. Practical issues such as the Sabbath (Mat 12:1-14).
    7. Relationships within the Christian community (Mat 18) with special attention for the procedure of dealing with an offender (18:5-20).
    8. The wrong way to conduct religious leadership (Mat 23).

    This suggests that Matthew would have been a valuable book for church leaders.

  4. Gospel Carefully Written

    Matthew is not a haphazard collection of stories. He frequently omits incidental details which are not essential to his purpose. The same stories that Mark tells in a lively style, Matthew tells in a more concise form, giving only the bare essentials. For example, stories that make up 43 verses in Mark 5 take only 16 verses in Matthew 8:28-34; Mat 9:18-26. Matthew is less the story-teller than the other gospel writers.

  5. Gospel Based upon Scripture

    The formula quotation this was to fulfill is used 10 times in Matthew. He quotes the Old Testament more than any other gospel writer. Matthew draws attention to Jesus fulfilling the Old Testament themes. He does this in both an open and subtle way. Often his quoting of Jesus fulfilling the Old Testament will seem obscure to us.

3. AUTHORSHIP

Unanimous tradition ascribes authorship to Matthew-the disciple whom Jesus called in Mat 9:9. Matthew, who bore the name Levi, was a hated tax collector in charge of a border crossing station. We know that he was a wealthy man (Mat 9:11; Luke 5:29). Frequent references to money in the gospel may point to his authorship. Last mention is in Acts 1 with the rest of the eleven disciples.

The tax collector position would have made him an ideal candidate for writing this gospel for the following reasons:

  1. A tax collector would be fluent in Greek.
  2. He would also be literate.
  3. He would be used to keeping records.
  4. He most likely would be able to write in short-hand. Therefore he could have been a note-taker at Jesus teachings.
  5. If Levi was a tribal name he would have known about scribal tradition and be familiar with temple practices.
  6. He would have been a well educated scribe in the secular sense. Mat 13:52 may have been a self-portrait of a tax collector turned disciple.

Matthew’s Authorship

There are three basic reasons supporting the traditional view that Matthew wrote the first gospel.

  1. Unanimous Tradition

    The first gospel was always associated with Matthew. Every text that names an author names Matthew. There is no other candidate. Could they have forgotten so soon after the life of Christ who wrote the most important account of His life? The same holds true for the authorship of the other three gospels. There are no other candidates.

  2. Unlikely Author

    Matthew was not a prominent disciple. He would not have been an obvious choice among the followers of Jesus to write the gospel. The same holds true for Mark and Luke. Like Matthew neither of these men were prominent characters in the New Testament. Why attribute a book to them if they were not the author? John is the only exception for he is one of the main characters of the New Testament.

  3. The Identification of the Document

    The early preservation of the name of the author is another consideration. It was a common literary practice during the time of Christ to preserve the name of the author of a particular work. Scrolls with written text on both sides had tags glued to them which insured the preservation of the author’s name. They were attached in such a way that a person could see who authored the scroll without unrolling it. It is the same as modern day title printing on the spine of a book. The gospel scrolls would have had such tags. With more than one gospel circulating about the life of Christ the literary tags had to include the name of the person who wrote the scroll. Matthew’s gospel would have a tag to distinguish it from the other gospels.

Possible Internal Evidence of Authorship

Each gospel has a passage where the author may have identified himself.

  1. Matthew may have identified himself in Mat 13:52 as the scribe bringing out things old and new.
  2. Mark 14:51-52 may be a self-identification. The young man who ran away naked was probably a personal reference to Mark. Also John Mark is called a minister by Luke in Acts 13:5 (Greek huparetas). Luke 1:2 says he derived his written information from those who were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word (Greek, huparetas). Is he referring to Mark?
  3. Luke may have been the unnamed second disciple on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13, 18).
  4. John testifies that he was an eyewitness to the events that he recorded (John 19:35; Jhn 20:30-31). In Jhn 21:24 he identifies himself.

Preface to Matthew

The literature on the Gospels is endless, because the subject is endless (A.H. McNeile, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, 1915, p. xi.).

The following textbook contains our own translation and commentary on the Book of Matthew. Every verse in Matthew has been translated from Greek into English with the commentary based upon the translation. At the end of each chapter there will be a summary of the contents. In addition, some of the issues raised in the chapter will be explored more fully.

The Greek text used for this translation is generally that of the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament, 4th Edition, Revised. Where there are variant readings in the text—that is, readings in the manuscripts that differ from what this Greek text says—these variants have been translated and placed under the verse. An attempt has been made to be as thorough as possible in listing all the major variants in Matthew. As the reader will see, the variant readings are few and they certainly do not change the meaning of the message of Matthew.

Abbreviations:

The following abbreviations are used in the commentary.

  • KJV—King James Version
  • NASB—New American Standard Bible
  • NKJV—New King James Version
  • NIV—New International Version
  • NRSV—New Revised Standard Version
  • TR—Textus Receptus. This is basically the Greek text that was behind the King James Version of 1611.
  • MT—The Majority Text, or the Byzantine Text. This is the name of the text-type which has the majority of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. The Majority Text differs from the TR in about 1800 places.
  • AlephCodex Sinaiticus This is the oldest complete manuscript of the New Testament (dated about A.D. 350).
  • BCodex VaticanusThis is a near complete manuscript of the New Testament written a little earlier than Codex Sinaiticus.

Sources For Further Study

Matthew is a gospel that deserves to be studied. The following are some excellent resources on Matthew for those who are interested in further study.

  • Alford, H., The Greek New Testament, London, 1849-61.
  • Allen, W.C., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. The International Critical Commentary, T&T Clark, 1910.
  • Blomberg, Craig, Matthew, The New American Commentary, Broadman Press, 1992.
  • Broadus, John, Commentary On The Gospel of Matthew, Philadelphia, American Baptist Publishing Society, 1886.
  • Bruce, A.B., The Synoptic Gospels, The Expositors Bible Commentary, Volume 1, Grand Rapids, No date.
  • Carson, D.A., Matthew, The Expositors Bible Commentary, 2 Volumes, Zondervan, 1996.
  • Davies, W.D., and Allison, Dale, Matthew, The International Critical Commentary, 3 Volumes, T&T Clark, 1991.
  • Fowler Harold, Matthew, Joplin, Missouri, College Press, 4 Volumes, 1972.
  • France, Dick, Matthew, Tyndale New Testament Commentary, Eerdmans, 1985.
  • Green, Michael, Matthew For Today, Word Publishing, 1988.
  • Gundry, Robert, Matthew, Eerdmans, 1994.
  • Hagnar, Donald, Matthew, Word Biblical Commentary, 2 Volumes, Word, 1993.
  • Hendriksen, William, Matthew, Baker Book House, 1973.
  • Hill, David, The Gospel of Matthew, The New Century Bible Commentary, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1972.
  • Keener, Craig, Matthew, Downers Grove, Illinois, Inter Varsity Press, 1997.
  • Lenski, R.C.H. Matthew, St. Louis, Concordia Press, 1972.
  • McNeile, A.H. The Gospel According to St. Matthew, Baker Book House, Reprint, 1980, Originally published in 1915.
  • Morris, Leon, The Gospel According To Matthew, Eerdmans, 1992.
  • Mounce, Robert, Matthew, IVP, 1986.
  • Plummer, Alfred, An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According To St. Matthew, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1953.

Other Sources

  • The following sources have also been used in this course.
  • Edersheim, Alfred, The Life And Times Of Jesus The Messiah, MacDonald Publishing Company, n.d.
  • Keener, Craig, The IVP Bible Background Commentary, Downers Grove, Illinois, Intervarsity Press, 1993.
  • Thiede, Carsten Peter, Jesus: Life of Legend? Second Edition, Oxford England, Lion Publishing, 1997.
  • Wallace, Daniel, Greek Grammar: Beyond The Basics, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1996.

The Right Attitude - Humility

Before we begin our study, we must check out attitude as we interpret the Word of God. We need to come to grips with the realization that we will never come to a place where we understand everything that a passage is able to teach us—we will never exhaust the meaning of the text. Realizing this truth will not only give us the spirit of humility, but it will also keep us from condemning too quickly someone who holds to a different interpretation on a particular passage of Scripture or a non-essential doctrine.

This truth was well-stated at the turn of the twentieth century by W.C. Allen in the preface to his commentary on Matthew. He suggested the following ideal requirements for a commentator on the book of Matthew.

For a commentator upon this book, who is able to do his work efficiently, should have many qualifications. He should be a competent Greek scholar, versed in Hellenistic Greek literature, and acquainted with the bearing of modern archaeological discovery upon the history of language. He should be acquainted with the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Midrashim…The commentator should further be a master of the material for the textual criticism of the Gospel, which is in itself the study of a lifetime. He should have a thorough knowledge of the literature dealing with the so-called Synoptic Problem, and should have formed a judgment based upon independent investigation as to the literary relationship between the Canonical Gospels and the sources which lie behind them…I can lay to no such qualifications as these (Allen, pp. i, ii).

Neither can I. Since none of us can meet these requirements, we must adopt a humble attitude with respect to our own understanding of the text. The point is this—there is always more that we can learn! Therefore we need to enter our study of Matthew, as well as with the rest of Scripture, with the view that it will be a lifelong process of discovery.

Be Encouraged, Be Challenged

I trust that the student who reads through Matthew with this commentary will be as encouraged and challenged as I have been in studying this wonderful section of the Word of God. May God give you a special blessing as you examine the life of the Lord Jesus through the writing of Matthew.

Don Stewart
Rainbow Beach Australia
August, 1997

INTRODUCTION TO MATTHEW

1. THE PLACE OF MATTHEW AMONG THE GOSPELS

The most important book ever written.—E. Renan

The present order of our gospels is known as the Augustinian order. Named after St. Augustine, it is the order in which he believed the gospels were composed. Matthew was written first, then Mark, next Luke and then finally John. Matthew is placed first in order among the gospels because it was universally believed by the early church to have been the first gospel written. In all the early lists and texts of the gospels Matthew always comes first. Matthew is the most quoted of all the gospels. All four gospels were universally received by the church as authoritative but Matthew was the favorite. Throughout church history this has also been true.

Modern Lack of Interest

The study of Matthew has been characterized by lack of interest in our present day. Matthew is assumed to have been written after Mark and Matthew is also believed to have used Mark as a source. Mark is studied first, because it is supposedly the closest to the original and consequently gives the most accurate information on the life of Christ. Luke is appreciated because of its beauty and because it contains more information than Mark. John is studied for its intimate stories of Jesus and His disciples. Therefore, Matthew is left out. However, Matthew is extremely important. It is the bridge between the testaments and is one of the four essential books that must be mastered if one is to understand the basic outline of the eternal plan of God (the other books being Genesis, Daniel, and Revelation).

2. CHARACTERISTICS OF MATTHEW’S GOSPEL

  1. Gospel for Jewish Christians

    Matthew is a Jewish Christian and the emphasis of his book is mainly to Jewish Christians. Matthew shows that Jesus ministry is a fulfillment of the Old Testament hopes. He applies Old Testament texts to various aspects of Jesus ministry. These include: His attitude toward the Old Testament law, the traditions of the Jewish scribes, His controversies with the official representatives of Judaism, and the nature of the church versus Judaism. These are issues that would confront Jewish Christians who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah and who need to work out the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. These truths would help them proclaim and defend the gospel among non-Christian Jews. Therefore, it is likely, that the gospel would have been written by a Jewish Christian and a Jewish readership would make up a large portion of his audience.

    The Jewish touch can be seen with the following:

    1. Matthew begins his genealogy with Abraham, the father of the Jewish race (Mat 1:1-2).
    2. His explanation of the name Jesus (Mat 1:21) assumes his readers know the Hebrew meaning since there is a play on words in Hebrew between Jesus and save.
    3. He regularly uses the phrase “Son of David” when referring to Jesus. Matthew also uses the more Jewish phrase kingdom of heaven rather than kingdom of God as Mark and Luke do. Jews did not like to use the name “God” any more than they had too.
    4. Only Matthew tells us about Jesus’ ministry being limited to the Jews (Mat 10:5-6) and the ignoring of the Gentile woman’s request for help (Mat 15:24).
    5. The only mention of the Samaritans in the gospel is when Jesus says don’t go to them (Mat 10:5)
    6. Untranslated Aramaic terms such as raka (Mat 5:22). See also korbanas (Mat 27:6) translated treasury.
    7. Unexplained references to Jewish customs such as hand-washing traditions (Mat 15:2), contrast that to Mark’s explanation to Gentile readers (Mar 7:3-4). The mention of the wearing of phylacteries (Mat 23:5) suggests that Matthew expected his readers to be familiar with Jewish customs.
    8. Many issues would be of interest only to Jewish readers. These include: fasting (Mat 6:16-18); the Sabbath (Mat 12:1-14; Mat 24:20), temple offerings (Mat 5:23-24), and the temple tax (Mat 17:24-27). These indicate that the gospel was primarily directed toward the Jews. Therefore, Matthew, along with Hebrews is the most Jewish book in the New Testament.

  2. Gospel for Gentiles as Well

    The good news according to Matthew finishes with Jesus sending out the eleven to make disciples of all nations (Mat 28:19). The Gospel also gives many hints that this is his ultimate aim. Thus the ministry, for all its Jewishness, and its fulfillment of the hopes and destiny of Israel, shows that the Jewish people do not have the exclusive privileges to be called the people of God. Matthew shows that the message of God has now broken out of the confines of Judaism. God now calls non-Jews to share the privileges of Israel. The true people of God is made up of those who accept Jesus as their Messiah, both Jews and Gentiles (Galatians 3:27-28). Blessing of God has passed from the Jewish nation to Gentiles. The paradox is that the most Jewish gospel contains the harshest language toward the Jewish nation (Mat 8:10-12; Mat 21:43; Mat 23:29-39; Mat 27:24-25). This is because the majority of people failed to respond to Jesus as Israel’s true Messiah. Today what counts for membership as the true people of God is not nationality but individual faith toward Jesus.

    The following passages show evidence of Matthew’s emphasis on the Gentiles.

    1. The genealogy (Mat 1:5) has at least two Gentiles (Rahab and Ruth).
    2. The Gentile Magi from the East at Christ’s birth (Mat 2:1-12).
    3. The Roman centurion who exercised great faith (Mat 8:5-13).
    4. The statement “In His name Gentiles have hope” (Mat 12:21).
    5. The field is the world (Mat 13:38).
    6. The faith of the Canaanite woman (Mat 15:21-28).
    7. The Parable of tenants (Mat 21:33-43).
    8. The Parable of the marriage feast (Mat 22:1-10).
    9. The Roman soldier’s confession (Mat 27:54).
    10. The Good news to be preached to the whole world (Mat 28:19). See also Mat 24:14.

  3. Gospel for the Church

    Matthew is the only gospel to mention the word “church” (Mat 16:18, Mat 18:17). Use of the word is seen by some to indicate a formal established organization that existed late in the first century. However, the references in Mat 18:17 is not to a single world-wide body but rather to a local congregation. The reference in Mat 16:18 is to the future. The impression is that the church has not been built yet. There is, however, much in Matthew that would be helpful for the training of church leaders.

    1. Discussion of the correct ethical use of the Old Testament Law (Mat 5:17-48) and the misuse of scribal tradition (Mat 15:1-20).
    2. Divorce (Mat 5:31-32; Mat 19:3-9). Note only in Matthew do we find unchastity as grounds for terminating a marriage.
    3. Warnings against false prophets and pseudo-Messiahs (Mat 7:15-20; Mat 24:4-5; Mat 11:23-26).
    4. Need to discriminate between true and false disciples within the church (Mat 7:613-27; Mat 13:24-3036-4347-50; Mat 22:10-14).
    5. The response to persecution (Mat 10).
    6. Practical issues such as the Sabbath (Mat 12:1-14).
    7. Relationships within the Christian community (Mat 18) with special attention for the procedure of dealing with an offender (18:5-20).
    8. The wrong way to conduct religious leadership (Mat 23).

    This suggests that Matthew would have been a valuable book for church leaders.

  4. Gospel Carefully Written

    Matthew is not a haphazard collection of stories. He frequently omits incidental details which are not essential to his purpose. The same stories that Mark tells in a lively style, Matthew tells in a more concise form, giving only the bare essentials. For example, stories that make up 43 verses in Mark 5 take only 16 verses in Matthew 8:28-34; Mat 9:18-26. Matthew is less the story-teller than the other gospel writers.

  5. Gospel Based upon Scripture

    The formula quotation this was to fulfill is used 10 times in Matthew. He quotes the Old Testament more than any other gospel writer. Matthew draws attention to Jesus fulfilling the Old Testament themes. He does this in both an open and subtle way. Often his quoting of Jesus fulfilling the Old Testament will seem obscure to us.

3. AUTHORSHIP

Unanimous tradition ascribes authorship to Matthew-the disciple whom Jesus called in Mat 9:9. Matthew, who bore the name Levi, was a hated tax collector in charge of a border crossing station. We know that he was a wealthy man (Mat 9:11; Luke 5:29). Frequent references to money in the gospel may point to his authorship. Last mention is in Acts 1 with the rest of the eleven disciples.

The tax collector position would have made him an ideal candidate for writing this gospel for the following reasons:

  1. A tax collector would be fluent in Greek.
  2. He would also be literate.
  3. He would be used to keeping records.
  4. He most likely would be able to write in short-hand. Therefore he could have been a note-taker at Jesus teachings.
  5. If Levi was a tribal name he would have known about scribal tradition and be familiar with temple practices.
  6. He would have been a well educated scribe in the secular sense. Mat 13:52 may have been a self-portrait of a tax collector turned disciple.

Matthew’s Authorship

There are three basic reasons supporting the traditional view that Matthew wrote the first gospel.

  1. Unanimous Tradition

    The first gospel was always associated with Matthew. Every text that names an author names Matthew. There is no other candidate. Could they have forgotten so soon after the life of Christ who wrote the most important account of His life? The same holds true for the authorship of the other three gospels. There are no other candidates.

  2. Unlikely Author

    Matthew was not a prominent disciple. He would not have been an obvious choice among the followers of Jesus to write the gospel. The same holds true for Mark and Luke. Like Matthew neither of these men were prominent characters in the New Testament. Why attribute a book to them if they were not the author? John is the only exception for he is one of the main characters of the New Testament.

  3. The Identification of the Document

    The early preservation of the name of the author is another consideration. It was a common literary practice during the time of Christ to preserve the name of the author of a particular work. Scrolls with written text on both sides had tags glued to them which insured the preservation of the author’s name. They were attached in such a way that a person could see who authored the scroll without unrolling it. It is the same as modern day title printing on the spine of a book. The gospel scrolls would have had such tags. With more than one gospel circulating about the life of Christ the literary tags had to include the name of the person who wrote the scroll. Matthew’s gospel would have a tag to distinguish it from the other gospels.

Possible Internal Evidence of Authorship

Each gospel has a passage where the author may have identified himself.

  1. Matthew may have identified himself in Mat 13:52 as the scribe bringing out things old and new.
  2. Mark 14:51-52 may be a self-identification. The young man who ran away naked was probably a personal reference to Mark. Also John Mark is called a minister by Luke in Acts 13:5 (Greek huparetas). Luke 1:2 says he derived his written information from those who were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word (Greek, huparetas). Is he referring to Mark?
  3. Luke may have been the unnamed second disciple on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13, 18).
  4. John testifies that he was an eyewitness to the events that he recorded (John 19:35; Jhn 20:30-31). In Jhn 21:24 he identifies himself.

4. DATE

Most modern scholars date Matthew in the last 20 years of the first century A.D. (80-100) for the following reasons:

  1. It is generally supposed that Mark’s gospel was not written earlier than A.D. 65 and that Matthew used Mark’s gospel to compose his work.
  2. The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 is believed to have influenced the language in such passages as Mat 22:7; Mat 23:38;and various parts of Mat 24.
  3. The anti-Jewish tone suits the period around A.D. 85 when Christians were effectively excluded from the synagogue worship by the insertion of a curse on Nazarenes and Heretics into the synagogue liturgy.
  4. The gospel is said to reflect too developed theological and church structure to have been written earlier. Matthew is the only gospel writer to use the term church.
  5. The phrases until now until today (Mat 11:12; Mat 27:8; Mat 28:15) presuppose something that happened many years before.
  6. The warning against false prophets supposedly indicates a late date.
  7. The apostles were revered by the people. This happened later in the history of the church after they all had died.

Response

  1. The assumption that Matthew used Mark is not universally accepted, nor is the dating of Mark at A.D. 65. In addition, all patristic writers assumed Matthew wrote before Mark. Patristic evidence is likewise unanimous that Matthew wrote his gospel before the early 60’s.
  2. This argument assumes Jesus could not have foreseen the events in A.D. 70. Furthermore, nothing in the wording of Matthew points to the events as already past and the words of Mat 22:7 do not directly reflect what occurred at the destruction of Jerusalem. The Jewish writer Flavius Josephus writes that the Romans did not burn the city of Jerusalem. The real reason for the late dating is unbelief in Bible prophecy.
  3. It is quite possible that the relationship with the Jews as reflected in Matthew’s gospel could have come from an earlier time. We know so little about that era.
  4. Another subjective argument. Assumes Matthew teaches a formal church structure which is not required by the text (Mat 16:17-19; Mat 18:15-20).
  5. Expressions like until this day do not necessarily mean 50 or 60 years after the event. Could have been 20 years or less.
  6. Paul shows that the false prophets appeared quite early in the history of the church (2 Corinthians 11).
  7. Apostles are not so highly revered that Matthew omits or softens derogatory references.

Internal Evidence for an Early Date

Within the gospel itself there are evidences for an early date.

  1. Practices connected with the temple (Mat 5:23-24; Mat 23:16-22) would hardly be worth including after the temple ceased to exist in A.D. 70.
  2. The discussion of the temple tax in Mat 17:24-27 would have been positively misleading after A.D. 70 when the tax was diverted to the upkeep of the temple of Jupiter in Rome.
  3. The respectful attitude toward the office of the scribes in Mat 23:2-3 would hardly have been included if the church and synagogue were totally opposed to each other.
  4. Clearly the predictions given by Jesus of the destruction of the temple assume the temple is still standing. No reference is made to the fulfillment of His predictions. All references to Jerusalem’s destruction are forward looking.
  5. Matthew was the favorite gospel of the early church although not written by a prominent apostle. It was immediately accepted as authoritative though no outstanding figure was behind it (e.g. Peter and Mark).
  6. Matthew does not seem to show any awareness of the letters of Paul (e.g. resurrection appearances in 1Co 15).
  7. Matthew refers to the Sadducees 7 times’ more than all the other gospel writers put together. After A.D. 70 little is heard of the Sadducees.
  8. Warnings about not fleeing on the Sabbath would make little sense if temple had been destroyed and nation was in exile (Mat 24:20).

5. MAJOR EMPHASES IN MATTHEW

A. Fulfillment

  1. In Jesus, all God’s purposes come to fulfillment, everything is related to Him. There are 61 quotations from the Old Testament in Matthew compared to 31 in Mark, 26 in Luke, and 16 in John. Matthew emphasizes that the Old Testament looks forward to Jesus’ coming and the Law is fulfilled in His teaching. Jesus, therefore, is the true Israel through whom God’s plan for His people now goes forward. History revolves around Him. His coming is the turning point from the age of preparation to the age of fulfillment. With Jesus a new age has dawned.
  2. Jesus told the religious leaders that the entire Old Testament was about Him (John 5:39, 46). Actually the entire Bible is about Him.
  3. The Old Testament is the Preparation for the Christ (Isaiah 40:3)
  4. The Gospels are the Manifestation of the Christ (John 1:29)
  5. The Book of Acts is the Propagation of Christ’s Message (Acts 1:8)
  6. The Letters of Paul are the Explanation of the two comings of Christ (Colossians 1:27)
  7. The Book of Revelation is the Consummation of all things in Christ (Revelation 1:7)

B. Typology

  1. One of the ways the New Testament is understood is through typology, the study of types. A type can be defined as a shadow cast on the pages of Old Testament history by a truth that is fully revealed in the New Testament. Many Old Testament events have a far-reaching significance, for they speak of something to be fulfilled in the future.
  2. In Matthew, Jesus is the One who fulfills all Scriptural revelation. Many of these fulfillments are typical. Fulfillments are not only concerned about predictions but also about history and religion. These include events that would have no specific reference to the future. For example, the law points to Jesus whose coming fulfilled it (5:17). In Matthew chapter 2 Jesus is seen as the new Moses and the True Israel. In chapter Matthew chapter 4 the idea of Jesus testing is related to Israel’s testing in the wilderness. Chapter 12 offers a series of Old Testament events that set a precedent for Jesus being Lord of the Sabbath. Then we are given the comparison to Jonah and Solomon. The idea is that God is working the same way as He did in the Old Testament times, yet something greater is happening in the ministry of Jesus.

6. CHRISTOLOGY

Who is Jesus according to Matthew?

  1. Jesus Is the Christ

    The Messiah was to be the coming King in the line of David. He was the one who would fulfill God’s purposes. The Messiah would restore the people to national independence and pre-eminence among the nations. There were different expectations of the Messiah in the first century. The death of Jesus was a puzzle and a total disappointment to those who were looking for a political Messiah who would rule. The angel told Joseph when he announced Jesus’ birth that His purpose was to save His people from their sins. This was away from the political idea. Jesus was to liberate people from their sins, not from Roman rule (which was the popular expectation). Hence, Messiah was a loaded term in the first century and a crucified Messiah was a stumbling block to the Jews.

  2. Son of David

    The term Son of David was a Messianic title. It links Jesus with God’s fulfillment of His plans for Israel. Matthew places emphasis on David in his beginning section (Mat 1:1, 20).

  3. Son of Man

    Jesus exclusively uses this title of Himself. None of the gospel writers ever use it of Him. We do not find this title in narrative sections or in any commentary about Jesus. It is Jesus’ own title. In Mat 26:24, He substitutes the term Christ with the Son of Man. The phrase simply means a human being. In Ezekiel the term means man contrasted with God, almost the idea of little man. There is no clear evidence that the term was used as a title in any Jewish literature. The title is derived from Daniel 7:13-14 which speaks of the future glory and triumph of the Son of Man who is a human figure. Jesus used this term with respect to His own rejection, suffering, and humiliation (Mat 8:20). Therefore, the term is wide-ranging and the meaning is fixed by Jesus’ own understanding of His unique mission.

  4. King

    Matthew shows that Jesus is the true King of the Jews. Jesus fulfills the role of King as the son of David the greater than Solomon (Mat 12:3-4, 42). Matthew starts with the royal ancestry of the King (Mat 1:1-17). Jesus is contrasted with Herod (Mat 2:2) as the real King of the Jews. In Mat 20:21 the disciples look forward to Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem fulfills Zechariah’s prophecy of the coming of your King (Mat 21:4-5). Matthew refers to Jesus as having His own kingship (Mat 13:41; Mat 6:28; Mat 19:28; Mat 25:31, 34). In Mat 25:31ff, His kingship is described in terms used in the Old Testament for that of God Himself. The climax of the gospel is the declaration of Jesus’ universal rule (28:18).

  5. Son of God

    The language that Jesus uses about Himself as God’s Son is more prominent in John’s gospel than in Matthew. Generally the language used of Jesus as the Son of God occurs in the words of others rather than His own (Mat 3:17; Mat 17:5). Both Satan (Mat 4:3, 6) and his demons (Mat 8:29) testify to Jesus being the Son of God. As the understanding of Jesus’ disciples began to increase they also used this title of Him (Mat 14:33; Mat 16:16-17). The full significance of the title comes at the end of the gospel when Jesus is linked with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The coming of Jesus was more than the coming of a man, it was the coming of God (Mat 3:3). He is the one who need not repent of sin (Mat 3:15-16). Jesus has the armies of heaven at His command (Mat 26:53-54). Supernatural things happen at His death and resurrection (Mat 27:51-54; Mat 28:2-4). Even during His earthly time He is worshipped as Lord (Mat 2:2; Mat 7:21; Mat 8:2).

W.C. Allen concisely sums up the Christology of Matthew:

Jesus was the Messiah of the Old Testament (Mat 1:1), and was therefore descended from David and from Abraham (Mat 1:1). His ancestral line rose to monarchical power in the person of David (Mat 1:6), lost the royal dignity at the time of the captivity (Mat 1:11), but recovered it in the person of Jesus, the anointed Messiah (Mat 1:16). Jesus was therefore born as King of the Jews (Mat 2:2), entered Jerusalem as its king (Mat 21:4-5), and died as a claimant to royal power (Mat 27:11, 29, 37, 42). He was born of a virgin, as the Prophet Isaiah had foretold (Mat 1:22), by the conception of the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:20), so that He could be called God-with-us (Mat 1:23), or Son of God (Mat 2:15; Mat 3:17; Mat 4:3, 6; Mat 8:29; Mat 14:33; Mat 17:5; Mat 26:63; Mat 27:40, 43, 54). At His baptism the Spirit of God came down upon Him; and here, as at the Transfiguration, He was proclaimed by God to be His Son, the Beloved, divinely elected (Mat 3:17; Mat 17:5). He therefore spoke of Himself as Son, and God as Father in a unique sense (Mat 11:27;¡ Mat 24:26). As Messiah He fulfilled prophecies of the Old Testament. His supernatural birth (Mat 1:22), several incidents of His early years (Mat 2:5, 15, 17, 23), His public ministry in Galilee (Mat 4:14), His ministry of healing (Mat 8:17), His avoidance of publicity (Mat 12:17), the misunderstanding of His hearers (Mat 13:14), His use of parables (Mat 13:35), the manner of His entry into Jerusalem (Mat 21:4), His betrayal (Mat 26:24), His desertion (Mat 26:31), His arrest (Mat 26:54, 56), and the use to which the money for His betrayal was put (Mat 27:9), had all been foretold in the Old Testament. As Son of God, He cast out demons by the Spirit of God (Mat 12:28). He preached the near advent of the kingdom of heaven. He performed miracles, chiefly of healing, but He also cast out demons, raised dead persons to life, walked on the water on one occasion, and twice fed the multitudes with a few loaves and fishes. He foretold His death and resurrection, and promised that He would come again…to inaugurate the kingdom. He spoke of Himself as the Son of Man. As such He had His angels at His command (Mat 13:41; Mat 24:31), and would come again in glory with angels (Mat 16:27; Mat 24:30) and sit upon the throne of His glory (Allen, pp. lxvi, lxvii).

With these thoughts in mind, let us begin to study the good news according to Matthew…

   
Outline:
    1. Matthew Chapter 1
    2. Matthew Chapter 2
    3. Matthew Chapter 3
    4. Matthew Chapter 4
    5. Matthew Chapter 5
    6. Matthew Chapter 6
    7. Matthew Chapter 7
    8. Matthew Chapter 8
    9. Matthew Chapter 9
    10. Matthew Chapter 10
    11. Matthew Chapter 11
    12. Matthew Chapter 12
    13. Matthew Chapter 13
    14. Matthew Chapter 14
    15. Matthew Chapter 15
    16. Matthew Chapter 16
    17. Matthew Chapter 17
    18. Matthew Chapter 18
    19. Matthew Chapter 19
    20. Matthew Chapter 20
    21. Matthew Chapter 21
    22. Matthew Chapter 22
    23. Matthew Chapter 23
    24. Matthew Chapter 24
    25. Matthew Chapter 25
    26. Matthew Chapter 26
    27. Matthew Chapter 27
    28. Matthew Chapter 28
   

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