Matthew — Introduction

The Gospel of Matthew never mentions an author, but it generally accepted that it was written by Matthew the apostle. The earliest existing manuscripts are in Greek. Some people think that Matthew wrote the book in Hebrew or Aramaic and that it was then translated. Most conservative scholars think that Matthew may have written parts of the book in Aramaic, but that he definitely wrote the gospel as we have it in Greek himself.

A unique statement within the book of Matthew provides internal evidence to its authorship. The account of the call of Matthew (ch.9) is followed by that of a meal taken by Jesus in the company of “publicans and sinners.” The best translation of this passage says the meal took place “at home.” The parallel account in Mark 2:15 makes it clear that this feast took place in Levi’s (i.e., Matthew’s) house. The phrase “at home” means “in my (that is, in the author’s) house.” — KJV Commentary, page 1160

Some people have claimed that much of Matthew has been copied from Mark.

While many similarities between the gospels exist, the proof that one is dependent on the other is not convincing, as there are so many variations. The gospel of Matthew has many evidences of being written independently, both in the order of the narrative and in the addition and subtraction of details. However, the inspiration of Matthew would not be affected if he had chosen to use some of Mark’s material, if Mark was written earlier. Matthew probably wrote his gospel in Greek sometime before the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and possibly as early as A.D. 44, during the persecution of Agrippa I. — Walvoord, page 12

 Matthew’s purpose obviously was to demonstrate that Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament, that He fulfilled the requirements of being the promised King who would be a descendant of David, and that His life and ministry fully support the conclusion that He is the prophesied Messiah of Israel. [In addition], it was designed to explain to the Jews, who had expected the Messiah when He came to be a conquering king, why instead Christ suffered and died, and why there was the resulting postponement of His triumph to His second coming. — Walvoord, pages 12-13)

 I noticed in the introductions of several of the commentaries I am using that the authors state that when the Lord spoke of the Church in the latter chapters of Matthew, that He was referring to the Body of Christ as it exists today. Even those authors who believe that Christ is still to return to set up His kingdom in Jerusalem (as I do) think the Lord was prophesying today’s church.

Before my study begins, I have a problem with this. The kingdom wasn’t even offered to Israel until Pentecost, and it seems unlikely that the offer to Israel would come after the Lord talked about the gospel being given to the Gentiles. Stam believes that the “church” in Matthew refers to the small remnant of Israel that did (and in the Tribulation will) trust Christ as their Messiah. This makes sense to me in light of Paul’s frequent claims that his message had been hidden by God until it was given to him.

But I’m making a serious commitment to having an open mind and letting the Holy Spirit teach me the truth through the Word.

The books I am using for this study are:

The Gospel of Matthew, by Arno C. Gaebelein (1961) Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, New Jersey

Expository Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, by H.A. Ironside (1948) Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, New Jersey

The Gospel According to Matthew, by G. Campbell Morgan (1929) Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey

The Words and Works of Jesus Christ, by J. Dwight Pentecost (1981) Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan

The Sermon on the Mount and the Gospel of the Grace of God, by C.R. Stam (1983) Berean Bible Society

Complete Bible Commentary, by George Williams

Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come, by John F. Walvoord (1974) The Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois

King James Bible Commentary (1983) Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tennessee

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