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The Gospel of Matthew, also known as the Gospel according to Matthew (Gk. , Kata Matthaion Euangelion or , To Euangelion kata Matthaion) is one of the four Canonical gospels and is the first book of the New Testament. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from his genealogy to his Great Commission.

Matthew is the canonical gospel most closely aligned with first-century Judaism, as it repeatedly stresses how Jesus fulfilled Jewish prophecies. Certain details of Jesus' life, of his infancy in particular, are only related by Matthew. Matthew is also the only Gospel to mention the Church or ecclesia. Matthew also emphasizes obedience to and preservation of biblical law. Since Matthew has rhythmical and often poetical prose, it is well suited for public reading, making it a popular liturgical choice.

The gospel was written in the later part of the first century by an anonymous Jewish Christian. Early Christian writings attribute authorship to Matthew the Apostle. The most common position among scholars today is that "canonical Matt was originally written in Greek by a noneyewitness whose name is unknown to us and who depended on sources like Mark and Q," although others disagree variously on those points. Some commentators organize the Gospel of Matthew into five passages of teachings: the Sermon on the Mount (ch 5-7), the Mission Instructions to the Twelve (ch 10), the Three Parables (ch 13), Instructions for the Community (ch 18), and the Olivet Discourse (ch 24-25). The individual passages may be groups of different messages given at different times or to different audiences.


The traditional view is that the Gospel of Matthew was composed by Matthew, a disciple of Jesus. However, 18th Century scholars increasingly questioned the traditional view of composition, and today most of modern critical scholarship hesitates to say that Matthew wrote this Gospel which bears his name, preferring instead to describe the author as an anonymous Jewish Christian, writing towards the end of the first century. They also believe that the Gospel was originally composed in Greek (see Greek primacy) rather than being a translation from an Aramaic Matthew or Hebrew.

Traditionally, see Augustinian hypothesis, Matthew was seen as the first Gospel written, that Luke then expanded on Matthew, and that Mark is the conflation of both Matthew and Luke. Modern critical scholarship today believes that Matthew used Mark's narrative of Jesus' life and death, and therefore came after Mark, plus the hypothetical Q document's record of Jesus' sayings.

Synoptic Gospels

The Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke (known as Synoptic Gospels) include many of the same episodes, often in the same sequence, and sometimes even in the same wording. The relationship of Matthew to the Gospels of Mark and Luke is an open question known as the synoptic problem.

Matthew contains around 612 verses of the 662 verses of Mark, and mostly in exactly the same order. Matthew however quite frequently removes or modifies from Mark redundant phrases or unusual words and modifies the passages in Mark that might put Jesus in a negative light (e.g. removing the highly critical comment that Jesus "was out of his mind" in Mark 3:21, removing "do you not care" from Mark 4:38 etc)

Although the author of Matthew wrote according to his own plans and aims and from his own point of view, the great amount of overlap in sentence structure and word choice indicates that Matthew copied from other Gospel writers, or they copied from each other, or they all copied from another common source. This synoptic problem increasingly caused 18th Century scholars to question the traditional view of composition.

One solution to the Synoptic problem is the Farrer hypothesis, which theorizes that Matthew borrowed material only from Mark, and that Luke wrote last, using both earlier Synoptics.

The most popular view in modern scholarship is the two-source hypothesis, which speculates that Matthew borrowed from both Mark and a hypothetical sayings collection, called Q (for the German Quelle, meaning "source"). For most scholars, the Q collection accounts for what Matthew and Luke share — sometimes in exactly the same words — but are not found in Mark. Examples of such material are the Devil's three temptations of Jesus, the Beatitudes, the Lord's Prayer and many individual sayings.

A minority of scholars continued to defend the tradition, which asserts Matthean priority, with Mark borrowing from Matthew (see: Augustinian hypothesis and Griesbach hypothesis). Then in 1911, the Pontifical Biblical Commission asserted that Matthew was the first gospel written, that it was written by the evangelist Matthew, and that it was written in Aramaic.

The Four Source Hypothesis

The Streeter's Four Document Hypothesis

In The Four Gospels: A Study of Origins (1924), Burnett Hillman Streeter argued that a third source, referred to as M and also hypothetical , lies behind the material in Matthew that has no parallel in Mark or Luke. This Four Source Hypothesis posits that there were at least four sources to the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke: the Gospel of Mark, and three lost sources: Q, M, and L.

According to this view, the first Gospel is a combination of the traditions of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Rome, while the third Gospel represents Caesarea, Antioch, and Rome.

The fact that the Antiochene and Roman sources were reproduced by both Evangelists Matthew and Luke was due to the importance of the Churches. Streeter thought there is no evidence that the other sources are less authentic.

Throughout the remainder of the 20th century, there were various challenges and refinements of Streeter's hypothesis. For example, in his 1953 book The Gospel Before Mark, Pierson Parker posited an early version of Matthew (Aram. M or proto-Matthew) as the primary source.

Parker argued that it was not possible to separate Streeter's "M" material from the material in Matthew parallel to Mark. [1537]

The consensus view of the contemporary New Testament scholars is that the Gospel of Matthew was originally composed in Greek not Hebrew, and that the apostle Matthew did not write the Gospel that bears his name.

Church Fathers

Matthean authenticity has been seriously challenged by many post-modern Biblical scholars. It was also an issue for the Early Church. Jerome (c. 347-420) believed that the Gospel of the Hebrews was the true Gospel of Matthew (or Matthaei Authenticum). [1538] Epiphanius (c.310-420) in his Panarion, in which he discusses the gospel used by the followers of Cerinthus, Merinthus and the Ebionites, writes: "They too accept Matthew's gospel and like the followers of Cerinthus and Merinthus, they use it alone. They call it the Gospel of the Hebrews, for in truth, Matthew alone of the New Covenant writers expounded and declared the gospel in Hebrew using Hebrew script."

The first reference to the Hebrew text written by the disciple Matthew comes from Papias (bishop of Hierapolis in Asia Minormarker fl. first half of the second century). Papias starts by discussing the origin of the Gospel of Mark, and then further remarks that "Matthew composed the logia in the Hebrew tongue and each one interpreted them as he was able". According to Ehrman this is not a reference to the canonical gospel, since the canonical Gospel of Matthew was originally written in Greek and not Hebrew. The interpretation of the above quote from Papias depends on the meaning of the term logia. The term literally means "oracles", but the intended meaning by Papias has been controversial.

Apart from Papias' comment, we do not hear about the author of the Gospel until Irenaeus around 185 who remarks that Matthew also issued a written Gospel of the Hebrews in their own language while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome and laying the foundations of the Church.

Pantaenus, Origen and other Early Church Fathers also believed Matthew wrote the Gospel of the Hebrews. Finally, not one of the Church Fathers asserted that Matthew wrote the Greek Gospel found in the Bible.

Contemporary scholarship

Modern scholars have made several suggestions as to the identity of the author: a converted rabbi or scribe, a Hellenised Jew, a Gentile convert who was deeply knowledgeable about the Jewish faith, or a member of a "school" of scribes within a Jewish-Christian community. Most scholars hold that the author was a Jewish-Christian, rather than a Gentile.

Of the four canonical gospels, Matthew is most closely aligned with first century Judaism. Matthew repeatedly stresses how Jesus fulfilled Jewish prophecies. The author arranged Jesus' teaching into five sermons: Sermon on the Mount (ch 5-7), the Mission discourse (ch 10), a collection of parables (ch 13), instructions for the community (ch 18) and finally teaching concerning the future (ch 24-25, also probably including the woes against the scribes and Pharisees in ch 23). This reflects Jewish thinking. Also, in Matthew, Jesus talks more about the Kingdom of Heaven than the Kingdom of God as Jewish Christians were more reluctant to speak the name of God.

 tells of Jesus instructing his disciples to treat an offending member of the community as "a Gentile and tax collector." At   Jesus and Peter discuss whether it is right to pay the temple tax. After suggesting that they should not have to pay it, Jesus miraculously provides a coin and instructs Peter to use it to pay the tax for both of them. Since after the Jewish Revolt the Romans redirected the temple tax to themselves, this passage may be a reference to disputes over whether it was appropriate to continue to pay this tax.

Some scholars have suggested that the author, in Matthew 13:52, may be hinting that he is a learned scribe when it says: "every scribe who has become a disciple of the Kingdom of Heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old." Browning considers it possible that the author came from a city whose Church was founded by the disciple Matthew.

Matthew is also the only Gospel to mention the church or ekklesia. The special commission given to Peter, found only in Matthew, has been highly influential. Jesus cites its authority and calls on his disciples to practice forgiveness (ch. 18). With its integration of Mark's narrative with Jesus' teachings and its emphasis on the church, Matthew was the most popular Gospel when they circulated separately. Matthew has a rhythmical and often poetical prose. Of the Synoptics, it is the Gospel best suited for public reading, and it has probably always been the best-known of them. Finally Matthew includes a large amount of material containing teachings of Jesus, such as the Sermon on the Mount.

Date of gospel

The date of the gospel is not precisely known. The majority of scholars date the gospel between the years 70 and 100. The writings of Ignatius show "a strong case ... for [his] knowledge of four Pauline epistles and the Gospel of Matthew", which gives a terminus ad quem of c. 110. The author of the Didache (c 100) probably knew it as well. Some scholars see the prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem (e.g. in Matthew 22:7) as suggesting a date of authorship after the siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD: however Bishop John A. T. Robinson argues that the lack of a passage indicating the fulfilment of the prophecy suggest a date before that. Matthew does not mention the death of James in 62 AD. It also lacks any narrative on the persecutions of the early Christians by Nero.

Some significant conservative scholars argue for a pre-70 date, generally considering the gospel to be written by the apostle Matthew. In December 1994, Carsten Peter Thiede redated the Magdalen papyrus, which bears a fragment in Greek of the Gospel of Matthew, to the late 1st century on palaeographical grounds, although Thiede's re-dating has generally been viewed with skepticism by established Biblical scholars In recent times, John Wenham, one of the biggest supporters of the Augustinian hypothesis, is among the more notable defenders of an early date for the Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew the Evangelist

Since the second century, the Christian tradition has attributed the Gospel to the disciple Matthew. Arguments made to discount Matthew's authorship include the contention that the text was originally composed in Greek, not Aramaic, the Gospel's apparent heavy reliance on Mark (nearly universally agreed among scholars), and the lack of characteristics usually attributed to an eyewitness account. Bart D. Ehrman argues that the original manuscripts did not have names attached to them. Had Matthew written the gospel, he would have called it by a title of the type "The Gospel of Jesus Christ" whereas the choice of the title “Gospel according to Matthew” indicates someone else trying to explain, at the outset, whose version of the story this one is. Furthermore, the Gospel always talks in third person and lacks phrases like "I and Jesus”, etc. It furthermore talks about the disciple Matthew in Matthew 9:9, but there is no indication that he is the person writing the account: (Matthew 9:9 reads: "as Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him") Comparing the latter verse with Mark 2:13-14 that calls the tax collector by the name Levi, W. E. Mills et al. argue that this might be a conscious change on the part of the author, in turn indicating that the author belonged to a community whose foundation was indebted to the disciple Matthew.

Some support Matthew's authorship by noting that the gospel reflects his occupation as a tax collector; the gospel attributed to him refers to money more often than any other, and does so using specific monetary terms . A Roman tax collector such as Matthew would have been highly capable of writing accurate and detailed records. If Matthew did write the gospel bearing his name, then his humility is evident, as he refers to his feast for Jesus as a dinner (Matthew 9:9-10), while Luke calls it as a great banquet (Luke 5:29). Instead of attempting to conceal Matthew's identity, which would be a sign of untrustworthiness, the author admits that Matthew was a tax collector, which was a highly unpopular job among first-century Jews, who often considered them as traitors and cronies of the Roman Empire.


According to W. R. F. Browning (who adopts the more common view that the author of Matthew was a Jewish-Christian), due to author's rabbinical background, he avoids using the holy word God in the expression "Kingdom of God", and instead prefers the term "Kingdom of Heaven". He also divides his work into great blocks each ending with the phrase: "When Jesus had finished these sayings ..." This narrative framework echoes that of the Hexateuch: "the birth narratives/Genesis; the baptism in the Jordon and Jesus' temptations/Exodus; healing of a leper and an untouchable woman/Leviticus; callings of disciples/Numbers; the Passion and Death of Jesus/Deuteronomy; the Resurrection/Joshua (the entry into promised land)". Graham N. Stanton discounts the suggestion that the "five" discourses are an imitation of the first five books of the Old Testament arguing that many Jewish and Greco-Roman writings have five divisions or section.


For convenience, the book can be divided into its four structurally distinct sections: Two introductory sections; the main section, which can be further broken into five sections, each with a narrative component followed by a long discourse of Jesus; and finally, the Passion and Resurrection section.

  1. Containing the genealogy, the birth, and the infancy of Jesus ( ; ).
  2. The discourses and actions of John the Baptist preparatory to Christ's public ministry ( ; ).
  3. The discourses (and actions) of Christ (4:12–26:1).
    1. The Sermon on the Mount, concerning morality (Ch. 5–7)
    2. The Missionary Discourse, concerning the mission Jesus gave his Twelve Apostles. (10–11:1)
    3. The Parable Discourse, stories that teach about the Kingdom of Heaven (13).
    4. The "Church Order" Discourse, concerning relationships among disciples (18–19:1).
    5. The Olivet Discourse on the Last Things: his Second Coming, Judgement of the Nations, and the end of the age (24–25).
  4. The sufferings, death and Resurrection of Jesus, the Great Commission (26-28).

Genealogy and Infancy narrative

Matthew (like Luke) provides a genealogy and an infancy narrative of Jesus. Although the two accounts differ, both agree on Jesus being both Son of David, and Son of God, and on his virgin birth, and according to Howard W. Clarke, that Jesus' status as the long-awaited Messiah and as the Son of God was assured before his birth rather than being conferred later in his ministry or acquired after his death.


After giving a genealogy from Abraham to Jesus, Matthew gives the number of generations from Abraham to David, from David to the deportation to Babylon, and from the deportation to Jesus as fourteen each. (In fact, the total number of men in the list, including both Abraham and Jesus, is only 41.) Matthew traces the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph, not Mary. Matthew puts Joseph a descendant of David's son Solomon while in Luke he is descended from another son of David, Nathan. After David, the lists coincide again at Shealtiel and Zerubbabel (founder of the second temple) but then again part company until they reach Joseph through his father (Jacob according to Matthew; Heli in Luke).

These and other differences between Matthew's and Luke's genealogy have presented a problem for both ancient and modern readers of the Gospels. An early explanation given by Julius Africanus, was that supposedly on the authority of Jesus family, involving levirate marriage, Joseph's official father was not his biological father (see Genealogy of Jesus). Some have suggested that Matthew wants to underscore the birth of a messianic child of royal lineage (mentioning Solomon) whereas Luke's genealogy is priestly (mentioning Levi, but note that the Levi in question is not the ancestor of the Levites but rather the grandfather of Heli). According to Scott Gregory Brown, the reason for the difference between the two genealogies is that it was not included in the written accounts that the writers of the two Gospels shared (i.e. Gospel of Mark and Q). Two other common reasons are (1) Luke presents Mary’s genealogy, while Matthew relates Joseph’s; (2) Luke has Jesus’ actual human ancestry through Joseph, while Matthew gives his legal ancestry by which he was the legitimate successor to the throne of David. According to Howard W. Clarke, the two accounts cannot be harmonized and today the genealogy accounts are generally taken to be "theological" constructs.

Taken this way, writes Stanton, the genealogy foreshadows acceptance of Gentiles into the Kingdom of God: in reference to Jesus as "the Son of Abraham", the author has in mind the promise given to Abraham in Gen 22:18. Matthew holds that due to Israel's failure to produce the "fruits of the kingdom" and her rejection of Jesus, God's kingdom is now taken away from Israel and given to Gentiles. Another foreshadowing of the acceptance of Gentiles is the inclusion of four women in the genealogy (three of whom were Gentiles), something unexpected to a first century reader. According to Stanton, women are probably representing non-Jews to a first century reader. According to Markus Bockmuehl et al., Matthew is mentioning this to prepare his reader for the apparent scandal surrounding Jesus' birth by emphasizing the point that God's purpose is sometimes worked out in unorthodox and surprising ways.

Infancy narrative

Mary becomes pregnant "of the Holy Spirit", and so Joseph decides to break his relationship with her quietly. He however has a dream with the promise of the birth of Jesus. The gospel proceeds with visit of the Magi who acknowledge the infant Jesus as king. This is followed by Herod's massacre of the innocents and the flight into Egypt, and an eventual journey to Nazareth.

According to Mary Clayton, the chief aim of the infancy narrative is to convince readers of the divine nature of Jesus through his conception through the Holy Spirit and his virgin birth; the visit of Magi and flight into Egypt intended to show that Jesus' kingship is not restricted to Jews but is rather universal.

Baptism and Temptation

John baptizes Jesus, and the Holy Spirit descends upon him. The evangelist addresses the puzzling scene of Jesus, reputedly born sinless, being baptized. He omits reference to baptism being for forgiveness of sins and depicts John emphasizing his inferiority to Jesus. The descent of the Holy Spirit tells the reader that Jesus has become God's anointed (Messiah or Christ).

Jesus prays and meditates in the wilderness for forty days, and then is tempted by the Devil. Jesus refutes the Devil with quotations from Jewish Law.

Sermon on the Mount

Matthew's principal addition to Mark's narrative is five collections of teaching material, and the first is the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus, presented as a greater Moses, completes and transcends Mosaic law. The Beatitudes bless the poor in spirit and the meek. In six expositions or antitheses (depending on how the sermon is interpreted, see Expounding of the Law), Jesus reinterprets the Law. He offers the Lord's prayer as a simple alternative to ostentatious prayer. The Lord's prayer contains parallels to First Chronicles 29:10-18. Critical scholars see the historical Jesus in his startling congratulations to the unfortunate and his call to return violence with forgiveness ("turn the other cheek", see also Evangelical counsels). Matthew's beatitudes differ from those found in Luke. The paradoxical blessings in Luke to the poor and hungry are here blessings to the poor in spirit and those who hunger for justice. In addition, Matthew has more blessings than Luke, the extras apparently derived from Psalms and from numerous precedents for virtues being rewarded.

Instructions to the Twelve Disciples

Matthew names the Twelve Disciples. Jesus sends them to preach to the Jews, perform miracles, and prophesy the imminent coming of the Kingdom. Jesus commands them to travel lightly, without even a staff or sandals. He tells them they will face persecution. Scholars are divided over whether the rules originated with Jesus or with apostolic practice.

Parables on the Kingdom

Jesus tells the parable of the sower, paralleling Mark. Like Mark and Luke, Matthew portrays Jesus as using parables in order to prevent the unworthy from receiving his message. The parables of the wheat and the tares and of the net, unique to Matthew, portray God's sure judgment as indefinitely delayed. The parables of the mustard seed and of the pearl "of very special value" emphasize the secret nature and incomprehensible worth of the Kingdom.

Instructions to the Church

Matthew is the only Gospel to discuss the ecclesia (Greek: assembly), or church. In Matthew, Jesus establishes his church on Peter, giving Peter and the Church the power to bind and loose (or forbid and allow). The instructions for the church emphasize ecclesiastical responsibility and humility. He calls on his disciples to practice forgiveness, but he also gives them the authority to excommunicate the unrepentant. Peter's special commission has been highly influential (see Saint Peter).

Fifth discourse

Jesus heaps the "seven woes" on the scribes and Pharisees. This hostility is thought to represent the attitude of the first-century church.

Signs of the Times

Matthew expands Marks' account of the Parousia, or Second Coming. Matthew mentions such things as false Messiahs, earthquakes, and persecution of his disciples, but states that these are not signs of the end times. After the tribulation, the sun, moon, and stars will fail. The declaration that his generation would not pass away before all the prophecies are fulfilled indicates that the author thought himself to be living in the last days. This discourse might incorporate two different Parousia traditions, one with typical apocalyptic signs and the other emphasizing that the Master will return without warning.

Parables and vision of the Second Coming

The parables of the foolish virgins and of the talents emphasize constant readiness and Jesus' unexpected return. In a prophetic vision, Jesus judges the world. The godly ("sheep") are those who helped those in need, while the wicked ("goats") are those who did not.

Final Days and Resurrection

Matthew generally follows Mark's sequence of events. Jesus triumphantly enters Jerusalem and drives the money changers from the temple. He identifies Judas Iscariot as his traitor. Jesus prays to be spared the coming agony, and a mob takes him by force to the Sanhedrin. To the trial, Matthew adds the detail that Pilate's wife, tormented by a dream, tells him to have nothing to do with "that righteous man", and Pilate washes his hands of him. To Mark's account of Jesus' death, Matthew adds the occurrence of an earthquake, and saints arising from their tombs and appearing to many people in Jerusalem ( ). He also provides two stories of the Jewish leaders conspiring to undermine belief in the resurrection ( ), and he describes Mark's "young man" at Jesus' tomb as being a radiant angel ( ). Matthew does not relate any of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances to the disciples in Judeamarker, nor his Ascension. He appears to the Eleven in Galilee and commissions them to preach to the world: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name (singular) of the Father of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"... and that name is Jesus ( ).

Themes in Matthew

Kingdom of Heaven

Of note is the phrase "Kingdom of Heaven" (ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν) used often in the gospel of Matthew, as opposed to the phrase "Kingdom of God" used in other synoptic gospels such as Luke. The phrase "Kingdom of Heaven" is used 32 times in 31 verses in the Gospel of Matthew. It is speculated that this indicates that this particular Gospel was written to a primarily Jewish audience, such as the Jewish Christians, as many Jewish people of the time felt the name of God was too holy to be written. Matthew's abundance of Old Testament references also supports this theory.

The theme "Kingdom of Heaven" as discussed in Matthew seems to be at odds with what was a circulating Jewish expectation—that the Messiah would overthrow Roman rulership and establish a new reign as the new King of the Jews. Christian scholars, including N. T. Wright (The Challenge of Jesus) have long discussed the ways in which certain 1st-century Jews (including Zealots) misunderstood the sayings of Jesus—that while Jesus had been discussing a spiritual kingdom, certain Jews expected a physical kingdom. See also Jewish Messiah.

Jewish elements

While Paul's epistles and the other Gospels emphasize Jesus' international scope, Matthew addresses the concerns of a Jewish audience. The cast of thought and the forms of expression employed by the writer show that this Gospel was written by a Jewish Christian of Iudaea Provincemarker. The one aim pervading the book is to show that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah — he "of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write" — and that in him the ancient prophecies had their fulfillment. This book is full of allusions to passages of the Old Testament which the book interprets as predicting and foreshadowing Jesus' life and mission. This Gospel contains no fewer than sixty-five references to the Old Testament, forty-three of these being direct verbal citations, thus greatly outnumbering those found in the other Gospels. Matthew uses Old Testament quotations out of context (as is common in Jewish writings such as the Talmud), as individual lines or even letters of Scripture were said to have inspired meanings different from the original ones. The main feature of this Gospel may be expressed in the motto "I am not come to destroy [the Law and the Prophets], but to fulfill" ( ). See also Expounding of the Law. It was the contention of Marcion that Christ had come to destroy the law. See Biblical law in Christianity for the modern debate.

This Gospel sets forth a view of Jesus as Messiah and portrays him as an heir to King David's throne, the rightful King of the Jews. Matthew's genealogy, the wise men of the east, the massacre of the innocents, and the flight into Egypt affirm Jesus' kingship and liken him to Moses. Matthew regards Jesus as a greater Moses. He arranges Jesus' sermons into five discourses, probably parallel to the five Books of Moses, the Torah. Matthew affirms Jesus' authority to give the eternal law of Moses a new meaning.

While addressing Jewish concerns, Matthew also addresses the universal nature of the church in the Great Commission (which is directed at "all nations"). See Interpretations of the Sermon on the Mount and Christian view of the Law.

Comparison with other canonical Gospels

According to Amy-Jill Levine, in Matthew (and the two other synoptic Gospels), Jesus talks more about the Kingdom of God than about himself, unlike John in which Jesus identifies himself as the true vine; the bread of life; the way, the truth and the life. Another difference is that while in Matthew and the two other synoptic gospels, Jesus teaches primarily using short parables or short sayings, in John he teaches using extended speeches. Levine states that each of the three synoptic gospels offer a distinct portraits of Jesus. For example, "Matthew has Jesus' earthly mission restricted to the 'lost sheep of the house of Israel' (Matt 15:24, see also 10:5-6) and emphasizing obedience to and preservation of biblical law. Mark however opens this mission to Gentiles and suggests abrogation of the dietary regulations mandated by the Torah."

In terms of chronology Matthew agrees with the other gospels that Jesus' public ministry began with an encounter with John the Baptist. Then Matthew (and the two other synoptic Gospels) mention teaching and healing activities of Jesus in Galilee. This is followed by a trip to Jerusalem marked by an incident in the Temple. Jesus is crucified on the day of the Passover holiday. John by contrast puts the Temple incident very early in Jesus' ministry and depicts several trips to Jerusalem. The crucifixion is also placed the day before the Passover holiday, when the lambs for the Passover meal were being sacrificed in Temple.

Details related only by Matthew

Certain details of Jesus's life, of his infancy in particular, are only related by Matthew. For example, only Matthew mentions "Joseph’s perplexity on learning that Mary is pregnant, the homage of the Wise Men, the flight into Egypt to escape Herod’s soldiers, the massacre of the innocents, and the return of the holy family from Egypt, the description of Pilate washing his hand, or Jesus' permission of divorce in case of unchastity and/or unlawful marriage.

Matthew and the Didache

In modern scholarship a new consensus is emerging which dates the Didache (part of the Apostolic Fathers collection), at about the turn of the 1st century. At the same time, significant similarities between the Didache and the Gospel of Matthew have been found as these writings share words, phrases, and motifs. There is also an increasing reluctance of modern scholars to support the thesis that the Didache used Matthew. This close relationship between these two writings might suggest that both documents were created in the same historical and geographical setting. One argument that suggests a common environment is that the community of both the Didache and the Gospel of Matthew was probably composed of Judaeo-Christians from the beginning, though each writing shows indications of a congregation which appears to have alienated itself from its Jewish background (see also List of events marking the split between early Christianity and Judaism). Also, the Two Ways teaching (Did. 1-6) may have served as a pre-baptismal instruction within the community of the Didache and Matthew. Furthermore, the correspondence of the Trinitarian baptismal formula in the Didache and Matthew (Did. 7 and Matt 28:19) as well as the similar shape of the Lord's Prayer (Did. 8 and Matt 6:5-13) apparently reflect the use of resembling oral forms of church traditions. Finally, both the community of the Didache (Did. 11-13) and Matthew (Matt 7:15-23; 10:5-15, 40-42; 24:11,24) were visited by itinerant apostles and prophets, some of whom were illegitimate.

In art

In Insular Gospel Books (copies of the Gospels produced in Ireland and Britain under Celtic Christianity), the first verse of Matthew's genealogy of Christ was often treated in a decorative manner, as it began not only a new book of the Bible, but was the first verse in the Gospels.

See also


  1. Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
  2. Graham N. Stanton (1989), p.59
  3. "Matthew, Gospel acc. to St." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  4. Papias, bishop of Hierapolis in Asia Minor records, "Matthew collected the oracles in the Hebrew language, and each interpreted them as best he could."
  5. Brown 1997, pp.210-211
  6. D. R. W. Wood, New Bible Dictionary (InterVarsity Press, 1996), 739.
  7. Graham N. Stanton (1989), p.63-64
  8. Graham N. Stanton (1989), p.36
  9. Bart Erhman (2004), p. 92
  10. Amy-Jill Levine (2001), p.372-373
  11. Howard Clark Kee (1997), p. 448
  12. Bart Erhman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, Oxford University Press, p.80-81
  13. Commissio Pontificia de re biblicâ, established 1902
  14. Synoptics entry in Catholic Encyclopedia.
  15. Streeter, Burnett H. The Four Gospels. A Study of Origins Treating the Manuscript Tradition, Sources, Authorship, & Dates. London: MacMillian and Co., Ltd., 1924.
  16. Pierson Parker. The Gospel Before Mark. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953.
  17. The Synoptic Problem: a Critical Analysis, by William R. Farmer. New York: Macmillan, 1981 Page 196
  18. Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 2
  19. Epiphanius, Panarion, XXX 3 7
  20. Bart Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, Oxford University Press, p.43
  21. Geoffrey William Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Publisher, p.281
  22. Eusebius, Church History III 39 16
  23. Bart Erhman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, Oxford University Press, p.44
  24. Irenaeus Against Heresies III 1 1
  25. Eusebius, Church History V 10 3
  26. Eusebius, Church History 6.25.4.
  27. Bernhard Pick, The Gospel According to the Hebrews Publisher Kessinger Publishing, 2005, pp. 1-29
  28. Donald Harman Akenson, Surpassing Wonder: The Invention of the Bible and the Talmuds, 2001, University of Chicago Press, p.260
  29. For a review of the debate see: Paul Foster, Why Did Matthew Get the Shema Wrong? A Study of Matthew 22:37, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 122, No. 2 (Summer, 2003), pp. 309-333
  30. White, p. 246
  31. Anthony J. Saldarini (2003), p.1000
  32. W. R. F. Browning, Gospel of Matthew, A dictionary of the Bible, Oxford University Press, p.245-246
  33. Brown 1997, p. 172
  34. Ehrman 2004, p. 110 and Harris 1985 both specify a range c. 80-85; However, Gundry 1982, Hagner 1993, and Blomberg 1992 argue for a date before 70AD.
  35. Foster, P. "The Epistles of Ignatius of Antioch and the Writings that later formed the NT," in Gregory & Tuckett, (2005), The Reception of the NT in the Apostolic Fathers OUP, p.186 ISBN 978-0199267828
  36. D. Moody Smith, Matthew the evangelist, Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 9, p.5780
  37. Brown 1997, pp. 216-7; Also Carson 1992, p.66
  38. Thiede 1995
  39. i.e. Philip Comfort and David Barret (2001) Text of the Earliest NT Greek Manuscripts.
  40. Watson E. Mills, Richard F. Wilson, Roger Aubrey Bullard(2003), p.942
  41. Howard Clark Kee (1997), p. 447
  42. Ridderbos, Herman N. Matthew: Bible student's commentary. Zondervan, 1987. p. 7; from
  43. Bart Erhman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, Oxford University Press, p.42, 248-249
  44. Werner G. Marx, "Money Matters in Matthew," Bibliotheca Sacra 136:542 (April-June 1979):148- 57
  45. Thomas L. Constable, "Notes on Matthew" 3 - 5
  46. Graham N. Stanton (1989), p.60
  47. Howard W. Clarke (2003), p. 1: According to Clarke, this is because some Pauline epistles give the impression that Jesus' divinity was confirmed only by his death, resurrection and ascension.
  48. Bart D. Ehrman (2004), p.121
  49. Howard W. Clarke (2003), p. 1
  50. David D. Kupp (1996), p.170
  51. Scott Gregory Brown (2005), p.87
  52. Craig Blomberg, vol. 22, Matthew, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1992), p.53.
  53. Graham N. Stanton (1989), p.67
  54. Markus Bockmuehl, Donald A. Hagner (2005), p. 191
  55. Mary Clayton (1998), p.6-7
  56. See "The Gospels" (p. 266-269) and "Matthew" (p. 272-285) in Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
  57. Clontz, T.E. and J., "The Comprehensive New Testament with complete textual variant mapping and references for the Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo, Josephus, Nag Hammadi Library, Pseudepigrapha, Apocrypha, Plato, Egyptian Book of the Dead, Talmud, Old Testament, Patristic Writings, Dhammapada, Tacitus, Epic of Gilgamesh", Cornerstone Publications, 2008, p. 451, ISBN 978-0-977873-71-5
  58. Funk, Robert W., Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar. The five gospels. HarperSanFrancisco. 1993.
  59. Epiphanius:Panarion: No.42
  60. Amy-Jill Levine (2001), p.373
  61. H. van de Sandt (ed), Matthew and the Didache, ( Assen: Royal van Gorcum; Philadelphia: Fortress Press , 2005).
  62. Matthew 1:18


  • Blomberg, Craig L., Matthew, The New American Commentary 22. Broadman, 1992.
  • Bockmuehl, Markus and Donald A. Hagner, The Written Gospel, Cambridge University Press, 2005, ISBN 0521832853.
  • Brown, Raymond E., Introduction to the New Testament, Anchor Bible, 1997, ISBN 0-385-24767-2.
  • Brown, Scott Gregory, Mark's Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith's Controversial Discovery, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2005, ISBN 0889204616.
  • Carson, D.A., Douglas J. Moo, and Leon Morris: An introduction to the New Testament Apollos, 1992, ISBN 085111766X.
  • Clarke, Howard W., [1539], The Gospel of Matthew and Its Readers, Indiana University Press, 2003.
  • Clayton, Mary, The Apocryphal Gospels of Mary in Anglo-Saxon England, Cambridge University Press, 1998, ISBN 0521581680.
  • Davies, W. D., and Dale C. Allison: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Continuum International Publishing Group, 1997 ISBN 056708518X.
  • Ehrman, Bart D.,[1540], The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. New York: Oxford, (2004), ISBN 0-19-515462-2.
  • Green, Michael, The Message of Matthew. The Kingdom of Heaven. Bible Speaks Today. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove 2001 ISBN 0-8308-1243-1.
  • Gundry, Robert Horton: Matthew, a Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art, W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1982, ISBN 080283549X.
  • Hagner, Donald Alfred, Matthew 1-13 Word Biblical Commentary, Word Books, 1993.
  • Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible, Palo Alto: Mayfield, 1985.
  • Howard Clark Kee, part 3, The Cambridge Companion to the Bible, Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • Kupp, David D., Matthew's Emmanuel: Divine Presence and God's People in the First, Cambridge University Press, 1996, ISBN 0521570077.
  • Amy-Jill Levine, chapter 10, The Oxford History of the Biblical World, Oxford University Press, 2001.
  • Mills, Watson E., Richard F. Wilson and Roger Aubrey Bullard, Mercer Commentary on the *New Testament, Mercer University Press, 2003.
  • Pick, Bernhard The Gospel According to the Hebrews, Publisher Kessinger Publishing, 2005.
  • Saldarini, Anthony J., Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, Editors: James D. G. Dunn, John William Rogerson, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003, ISBN 0802837115
  • Stanton, Graham N., The Gospels and Jesus, Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • Thiede, Carsten Peter, Papyrus Magdalen Greek 17 (Gregory–Aland P64) 1995. A Reappraisal" (PDF). Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 105: 13–20. Retrieved 2006-12-13.
  • Thiede, Carsten Peter (EngTrans. D'Ancona), Eyewitness to Jesus: amazing new manuscript evidence about the origin of the Gospels, Doubleday, 1996, ISBN 0385480512

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