To List of Books
- THE TITLE
This gospel bears the name of its penman, Matthew, which means "Gift of God."
- THE WRITER
Matthew's original name was Levi. He was the son of Alphaeus (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27), and was called Levi until Jesus chose him to be an apostle. He was by birth a Jew, by calling a publican. His business was the collection of customs from persons and goods crossing the Sea of Galilee, or passing along the shore between Bethsaida and Capernaum, his home. Apparently, he was a man of wealth (Matthew 9:9,10). Matthew refers to himself as "The Publican," perhaps to indicate his sense of humility, felt in having been exalted from the estate of a publican to that of an apostle. We know little of his life and work as an apostle. He is mentioned by name, after the resurrection of Christ, only in Acts 1:13. Tradition says that he remained in Jerusalem 15 years after the ascension and then became a missionary to the Persians, Parthians and Medes. A legend says that he died a martyr in Ethiopia. The New Testament confirms none of these traditions.
- THE DATE
The date of Matthew's gospel is variously placed from 45 to 70 A.D. The post-apostolic church makes Matthew the first among the gospel records. Irenaeus says Matthew wrote while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, after A.D. 61. Alford says it was published before the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70. Tidwell places it about A.D. 60, but thinks it was written after Mark.
- CANONIZATION AND LANGUAGE
Seventeen independent witnesses of the first centuries attest the genuineness of Matthew's gospel. Post-apostolic church leaders testify that it was written originally in the Hebrew language, and later translated into Greek. However, no traces of the Hebrew original survive. It is possible that Matthew wrote in both languages.
The purpose of the Gospel according to Matthew is to prove that Jesus is the King and Messiah foretold by Old Testament prophets.
- SUBJECT AND ANALYSIS
The subject is the kingdom of God or of heaven. It is discussed under four headings as follows:
- Preparation of the kingdom (1:1-4:16).
- Preaching of the kingdom (4:17-16:20).
- Passion of the kingdom (16:21-27:66).
- Perfecting of the kingdom (Ch. 28).
- It is not a chronological but a systematic and topical gospel. Materials are treated in groups-miracles, parables, sermons, etc.
- It is a teaching gospel. It contains a number of discourses -- Sermon on the Mount, denunciation of the Pharisees, etc.
- It has been called a gospel of gloom and despondency in that it contains no songs of joy like those of Luke.
- It is a kingly gospel. It gives the royal descent, speaks of Jesus as a King and of His institution as a kingdom. The Keys of the kingdom are mentioned.
- It is an official gospel. Official persons are name. The official capacity of Jesus is given.
- It is a Jewish gospel. Matthew wrote primarily for the Jews. The genealogy is traced to Abraham. Jewish symbols and terms are used.
- It is a gospel of Jewish antagonism. The Jews antagonize and reject Jesus. Jesus exposes the Jews and rejects their hypocrisy.
- EXERCISES FOR STUDENT ACTIVITY
- Draw a map of Palestine during the time of Christ and place on it the names of all the places mentioned in Matthew.
- List all the places in Matthew where the term kingdom is used, and from a study of these passages, give the nature, purpose and characteristics of the kingdom of God.
- Make a list of the places where each of the following terms is used and from a study of the passages, give the significance of each term: Son of Abraham, Son of man, Son of David, Son of God, Jesus, Christ, Lord.
- Study all the parables in Matthew for the light they give on the kingdom.
Published in The Old Paths Archive