THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW – ALEXANDER SCOURBY


The heading of the first book of the New Testament is in most manuscripts “Gospel according to Matthew”. There is only one good news of the great work that God had accomplished by His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, but in His wisdom it needed four different men to make this news of salvation known to the world in written form.

As in most books of the Bible, the name of the author is not mentioned in Matthew’s gospel. But right from the beginning the Christian tradition confirms that the apostle Matthew is the author of this gospel. But this tradition also says that Matthew’s gospel was originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic.

Papias (ca 65 – 150 AD) writes: “Matthew has written these words (Greek logia) in the Hebrew language, but everybody translated them as best they could.” The interpretation of this is not easy, and there have been various explanations.

The view of the more recent scholars is that the gospel was neither written by Matthew nor in Hebrew or Aramaic. They believe that the writer was no apostle, that he wrote the gospel in Greek and based it on two sources: the gospel of Mark and a so-called “Logia Source Q”, which only exists in theory.

The reason for the assumption that the apostle Matthew could not have been the author of this gospel is that an eye witness could not have written like this, and that it is unthinkable that an apostle would have based his writings on the work of a non-apostle like Mark.

But both arguments miss out that the Holy Scriptures have been written by men, who were under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Who led them in their writings with regard to contents as well as form (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:13-14, 2 Peter 1:21).

On the other hand it is possible that at the beginning there was a collection of the words of Jesus in Aramaic, but this remains a theory if not confirmed by text findings. The text of Matthew’s gospel is now generally viewed as Greek original, and not as a translation.

The gospel according to Matthew is the most detailed and, in its format, clearest of all four gospels. This however is not the only reason for it to be rightly listed in the first place, but also because it forms a link between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

The gospel of Matthew contains some sixty quotes from the Old Testament. But some of these are only a few words (for example Matthew 5:21; Matthew 5:27; Matthew 5:38; Matthew 5:43; Matthew 24:15)

A total of thirty quotes from the Old Testament are actually mentioned as such (for example Matthew 2:5-6; Matthew 3:3; Matthew 4:4; Matthew 4:7; Matthew 4:10).

Things that happened in the life of the Lord Jesus are on fourteen occasions explicitly described as fulfilments of prophecies of the Old Testament (Matthew 1:22-23; Matthew 2:5-6; Matthew 2:15; Matthew 2:17-18; Matthew 2:23; Matthew 4:14-16; Matthew 8:17; Matthew 11:10; Matthew 12:17-21; Matthew 13:35; Matthew 21:4-5; Matthew 21:42; Matthew 26:31; Matthew 27:9-10).

The aim of the Holy Spirit in this gospel is made clear already in the first verse: Jesus Christ is the Son of David and the Son of Abraham, and therefore the Messiah, the rightful, promised King of Israel, the fulfiller of all prophecies of the Old Testament.

Altogether eight times the Lord Jesus is called the “Son of David” (Matthew 1:1; Matthew 9:27; Matthew 12:23; Matthew 15:22; Matthew 20:31; Matthew 20:31; Matthew 21:9; Matthew 21:15).

In close connection with this is a further important mark of the gospel of Matthew: the frequent mention of the messianic kingdom, which is mentioned fifty times. Whereas it is in other places mostly called the “kingdom of God”, Matthew calls it thirty two times “kingdom of the heavens”; only five times the expression “kingdom of God” is used.

The kingdom of God describes the rule of God over the world by the man appointed by Him for this purpose, Christ Jesus. The Jews were awaiting this kingdom as liberation from the yoke of the Romans.

Therefore Matthew’s gospel uses the name “kingdom of the heavens” thirty two times, in order to emphasise that the origin of the ruling power of this kingdom is in heaven and not on the earth. The kingdom of the heavens describes in principle the same as the kingdom of God, but it emphasises the heavenly character of this kingdom.

The kingdom of the heavens is also always viewed in Matthew’s gospel as something future, i.e. beginning after the Lord’s ascension to heaven, whereas the kingdom of God, also in Matthew, is seen as being present already now (Matthew 12:28). Many parables which are used by Mark and Luke to explain the kingdom of God bear the “heading” kingdom of the heavens in Matthew.

Matthew mentions in total ten parables of the kingdom of the heavens:

  • the weeds and the tares (Matthew 13:24-30; Matthew 13:36-43)
  • the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32)
  • the leaven (Matthew 13:33)
  • the treasure in the field (Matthew 13:44)
  • the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46)
  • the fishing net (Matthew 13:47-50)
  • the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:23-35)
  • the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16)
  • the marriage supper of the king (Matthew 22:1-14)
  • the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13).

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW READ BY ALEXANDER SCOURBY

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When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Matthew 2:10‭-‬11 RSV

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