Exd & Cnq


κατα μαθθαιον
The Gospel According to Matthew


  • Authorship
  • Traditionally, Mt "the tax collector,"
    • Acc. to Eusebius, wrote a list of Jesus' sayings in Aramaic,
    • mentioned in GMt in 9:9-13:
      • but this is copied from Mk, where the tax collector is named 'Levi'- a tribal designation?
    • If author was an apostle, why did he copy from Mk?
  • Date
  • After Mk (Mt copied from him), 
    • still expecting Jesus' immediate return, 
    • still associating Day of the Lord w/ destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. 
    • 80-90 AD.
  • Location
  • conservative understanding of Jewish law,
  • seems to be arguing w/ a rival Jewish community,
    • possibly Palestine?
    • more likely a Jewish Christian community outside Palestine:
      • historical and geographical inaccuracies in the text, 
      • Mt's community was at least partially Gentile
      • Nearby Antioch, in region of Syria, is possible.
  • Purpose
  • written to Jewish Christians living in tension w/ rival Jewish community
    • that rejected Jesus as Messiah,
    • possibly expelled Mt and his followers. 
  • encourages faith in face of doubt and persecution. 
    • diff. between Mt and opponents is philosophical,
      • related to interpretations of the Mosaic Law.

In General

  • Mt was most used and revered by the early church, therefore placed first in the canon.
  • considered the gospel that most successfully
    • connected Jesus to the OT,
    • portrayed Christianity as continuation of Judaism,
    • suited early Christian apologetic purposes.
  • regarded as the 1st gospel written by patristic writers (church fathers).


  • main storyline from Mk is relatively unchanged in Mt.
    • The Q & M material adds mostly teachings/sayings of Jesus.
    • Much (but not all) of the Q & M material occurs in five "blocks" in Mt:
      • Chapters 5-7:        'The Sermon on the Mount'
      • Chapter 10:             'The Missionary Discourse'
      • Chapter 13:              'The Parables of the Kingdom'
      • Chapter 18:              'The Community Discourse'
      • Chapters 24-25:   'The Eschatological Discourse'
    • incl. some of the best-known verses of the NT (Lord's Prayer, Beatitudes, Golden Rule).

How does Mt use/change Mk?

  • [1] groups together stories acc to theme
    • Ex: Mt moves 5 of Mk's miracle stories to chs. 8-9, where other miracles occur.

  • [2] edits out irrelevant (redundancies, refs to crowds) or inaccurate details
    • no roof for the paralytic (9:1-8).
    • The woman with a hemorrhage is alone; no crowd (9:18-22).
    • No reference to the priest Abiathar (12:1-8)

  • [3] makes stories relevant to his community.
    • omits refs to Jewish customs in Mk.
    • changes "Kingdom of God" to "Kingdom of Heaven,"
      • considered this more reverent (no direct mention of God).
    • more "urban" (Is Mk's community rural? Doubtful).
      • changes "village" in Mk to "city" (polis).

  • [4] "Idealized" image of Jesus.

    • Mt has higher Christology than Mk.

    • All questions implying lack of knowledge on Jesus' part are omitted (9:18-31).
    • Statements that imply a lack of ability are changed (13:58).
    • # of refs to emotions is reduced.
    • Jesus' followers 'worship' him or 'pay homage' to him.
    • prefers 'lord' for Jesus (opposed to 'rabbi' in Mk).

  • [5] Image of the disciples is improved.
    • In Mk, there are things about Jesus the disciples seem to never understand.
      • In Mt, they do understand- after Jesus explains.
    • Negative stories about disciples are changed (Mt 20:20-27).
    • References to disciples 'worshipping' Jesus and calling him 'Lord' or 'Son of God' are added (Mt 14:22-33)- they understood who he was well before his death.
    • Mk saw the disciples as w/o faith, Mt prefers 'little faith.'
      • Jesus addresses disciples as people of little faith 4x in Mt.
      • [2 people have 'great faith'-
        • centurion (8:10) and Canaanite woman (15:28).
          • Both are Gentiles.
          • Neither is 'called' to follow Jesus. ]
      • 2x Mt describes disciples as 'doubting'- in same 2 passages they also worship him (14:32 & 28:17).
  • [6] Mt's portrait of Jewish leadership worsens:
    • Jairus and Joseph of Arimathea are no longer mentioned as Jewish leaders (Mk 5:22; 15:43 & Mt 9:18; 27:57).
    • [The scholar of the law who asks Jesus which commandment is greatest is 'testing' him in MT,
      • and Jesus does not tell him he is 'not far from the kingdom.']
    • Jesus speaks negatively of the title 'rabbi.'
    • John and Jesus both chastise the Jewish leadership as a 'brood of vipers.'
    • The woes are directed at Jewish leaders (scribes and Pharisees).

Characteristics of Mt:

  • [7] only gospel to use the word e0kklhsia or 'church.'
    • used twice: 16:17-20 & 18:15-18.
    • not  a building; a group.
    • [similar in meaning but distinct from the Greek work for 'synagogue,' or 'assembly.']
  • [8] uses numerology; numbers w/ symbolic religious significance:
    • 5 discourses, like five books of Torah  
    • 12 fulfillment citations
    • Genealogy symbolism:
      • 3 sets of 14 generations
        • Hebrew letters for David ("DVD"; no vowels in Hebrew) add up to 14 (4+6+4).
    • [Other numbers:
      • 3= God or divinity;
      • 4= the entire earth;
      • 6= imperfection or evil;
      • 7= completeness or creation; 
      • 40= new covenant, or new relationship with God.]
  • [9] doubles # of characters in a story,
    • insures proper # of witnesses, acc to Jewish law.
    • Compare MK and MT on the following:
      • Gerasene Demoniac:  Mk 5:1-14 // Mt 8:28-33
      • Blind Man:   Mk 10:46-52 // Mt 20:29-34  
      • [See also 18:20- 'Where two or three are gathered...' ]
  • [10] Peter receives special attention, w/ stories unique to Mt.  
    • Only in MT's version of 'Peter's Confession' (16:13-20) does Peter receive
      • 'keys to the kingdom'
      • 'powers of binding and loosing'
        • [-rabbinic terms for the authority to determine
          • who is allowed into the kingdom,
          • and what interpretation of the law is binding.]
    • Also unique to MT:
      • Peter walks on water (14:22-33)
      • Jesus sends Peter to pay the temple tax (17:24-27)
      • Jesus' saying on forgiveness is directed to Peter (18:21-22)
    • was Peter held in high esteem by Mt's  community?
      • was Mt's church (Antioch) founded by Peter?
  • [11] Conflicting attitude towards Judaism.
    • In some passages, MT holds Judaism in high esteem,
    • [again, it is clear that his own community is Jewish Christian.]
    • portrays Jesus' mission as directed exclusively to Jews:
      • 10:5- 'Go nowhere among the nations'
      • 15:24- 'Go only to the lost sheep'
      • 17:24-27- paying the temple tax
      • 23:2-3- 'Do whatever they teach, not what they do'
    • but, at end of the gospel, Jesus' 'great commission' expands the mission to include gentiles (28:18-20).
  • Mt holds the Mosaic law in high esteem,
    • portrays Jesus as demanding a radically strict adherence to it:
      • [5:17- 'Do not think I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.']
    • In other passages, Mt's attitude is anti-Jewish.
      • Esp. when dealing with the Jewish authorities, whose interpretation of the law competes with his own:
        • [12:34 & 23:33- Jesus and John refer to the Jewish leaders as a 'Brood of vipers'
        • 9:4; 12:34; 16:4- The Jewish authorities described as 'evil and unfaithful'
        • 21:43- Jesus claims the 'kingdom of God will be taken away' from the chief priests and the Pharisees.]
    • 27:25 is esp. harsh:
      • Pilate 'washes his hands' of responsibility for Jesus' death, and the crowds exclaim,
        • "His blood be upon us and upon our children."
    • Mt's anti-Judaism is apocalyptic:
    • Jewish leaders represent the power of evil in the world that Christ was sent to defeat.
      • 15:13- Jesus suggests that the Pharisees are not from God, they are 'plants that my heavenly Father has not planted.'
  • [12] Jesus as fulfillment of prophecy.
    • Mt sees fulfillment of prophecy in each stage of Jesus' life.
      • 12 fulfillment citations from prophets; Mt states that an event in Jesus' life fulfilled prophecy.
      • over 200 quotes/allusions to the OT.