Lecture 8: Gospel of Matthew
Course: New Testament Survey - Gospels
Lecture: Gospel of Matthew
Let us have a word of prayer together. Our Father, we are thankful for these four gospels through which we have come to know your son, Jesus Christ better, his teachings, and what he will for us to do. We rejoice at the grace shown to us in them that we had a savior who died on our behalf, and we come not because we are good but because we come in Jesus' name and we are needy, and we ask for your forgiveness and that you would be with us this day in Jesus' name. Amen.
I need you to look at the gospel of Matthew today, and needless to say, when we look at the gospel in 50 minutes, we do not go to an "in-depth" look at this. So, if you look at your notes on the gospel of Matthew, we notice once again, we start with questions of authorship but on a theological emphasis of the gospel writers. The titles, the Gospel of Matthew and Mark, and so forth, are later additions to them. They were distributed without a name. They are anonymous in that sense. I have no doubt at all that the original readers to whom these were sent, knew who sent them, and so, traditions have been passed on from that. Some of them are more worthy than others to be given full credence.
I. THEOLOGICAL EMPHASES
A. FULFILLMENT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
Now, we talked about the emphasis and when we looked at Matthean redaction criticism on the fulfillment quotations – and we will not look at them this morning but simply to remind you that these M editions to Mark mean that when Mark and the parallel statement has an account, Matthew has – and it is not in Mark, and it is not in Luke if Luke has the same account – a fulfillment quotation. This was done to fulfill what was written by the prophet and that he has added, frequently, these fulfillment quotations. It is very important for him to tie the life of Jesus with the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.
Elsewhere, we have references to "it is written in Matthew." Now, notice M material, the first reference in 2:6, which means it is only in the unique material found. M editions to Q and the material that Matthew and Luke have in common, Matthew has, at that point, a reference to "it is written." Mark has three of those "it is written" references and Matthew copies them, and then Q has three of them, and Matthew copies them as well.
There are numerous additional quotations. Turn for instance, to page 83. Here, we have an account in which, in the call to Levi, you have this reference to scripture, "Go and learn what this means. I desire mercy and not sacrifice, for I came not to call the righteous but sinners." Now, Mark and Luke have that same account of the call of Levi or Matthew, but amid lines 21 and 22, he adds the Old Testament quotation from Hosea 6:6, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice."
Turn with me to page 102. Here we have in Matthew 12:7 in the account of plucking grain on the Sabbath; we have this M edition to the Markan narrative. Matthew adds a quote from the Old Testament, "Or have you not read in the law how on the Sabbath, the priest, and the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless. I tell you someone greater than the temple is here."
Here is not a quotation as much as a reference, but then in Verse 7, "If you had known what this means, I desire mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless."
So, he quotes a reference to the Old Testament in the middle of an account, not found in Mark and Luke. It is an addition to Matthew. It is certainly is not contrary to what Mark and Luke are saying, but it is an emphasis that he wants to bring about the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies as such, and if you look at that, they are some M editions from that that he adds to Mark. Many references to Old Testament quotations in Mark. He carries them over. So, strong emphasis in Matthew about the fulfillment of scripture – stronger than in the other gospels. Although Luke had some Old Testament references or quotations, I should say. Matthew has 93. So, we should not say that Luke is not interested in the Old Testament and quoting the Old Testament. Matthew is more so. Matthew is more so.
B. PARTICULAR/UNIVERSAL IN MATTHEW
There is a particularistic strain in Matthew – a very Jewish dimension. Remember the opening verse which talks about the Book of the Genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham – the opening verse on page one. It is quite clear that we have this strong Jewish emphasis on the fulfillment of the promises that God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the people of Israel and that you should understand from the beginning that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of David, the promised King and also the decedent of Abraham.
Turn to page eight. You find that in the birth stories, strong reference once again. Jesus is born in Bethlehem of Judea (Verse 1). Then Verse 6, "That this is to fulfill what the prophet said, 'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, for from you shall come to a ruler who shall govern my people, Israel.'" See, Jesus comes in fulfillment of the Old Testament promises. He has come to fulfill the law. "Think not that I have come to destroy the law and prophets. I have come not to destroy them but to fulfill them." Matthew is emphasizing that Jesus coming is not the establishment of a new religion of sorts, not a rejection of Israel.
Still, it is the coming of the true Israel and the people who are truly Abraham, Isaac's, and Jacob's children, not just by physical descent but by faith descent as well, they come and welcome the Messiah. You have a couple of references, page 91, which are not found in the other gospels, but they are references that particularly single out Jesus coming for the people of Israel. On page 91, lines 40, 44, and following, "These 12 Jesus sent our charging them," and you do not find this in Mark or Luke because this is no longer of concern for them. Those days are over, and the gospel is spread to the Gentile world, but in the ministry of Jesus, Matthew wants to point out to his readers that Jesus said, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles. Enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Jesus' ministry is limited to the Jewish people. One Forty-four, you have another such reference – page 144 – in 15:24, line 12, Jesus says to the woman of Syrophoenician, line 12: "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but she knelt before him. This is my coming. I came for this purpose."
Now, that would be very important if your audience is a Jewish Christian audience to show that look, there is no sense thinking of going back to Israel and to the faith of Israel that ended with the -– that is the wrong way wording it. It is no longer enough to go back to the Old Testament and stay there. Jesus came for the people of Israel. He is the fulfillment of the promises. We are the true Israel of God.
There is also no gospel in which there is a stronger condemnation of many of the people of Israel – other Jewish leadership, in particular, it is dealt with harshly. Let us look at a couple of examples of them. 5:20 on page fifty-two, Jesus says, "I tell you unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven," and then that righteousness is further described in the rest of chapter five. "You have heard it said, but I say," because my understanding of that is that the religion of the scribes and Pharisees and the righteousness that they are talking about is external righteousness. Jesus says, "Yours must exceed that. It must be internal righteousness, not just the outside of the cup that's a little clean but the inside," and so, if you say you do not commit adultery, do you look and lust? You need to clean that up in the inside. "You say you do not kill, but do you hate," and so the righteousness Jesus is teaching exceeds the external righteousness that the Pharisees inscribed were primarily concerned about.
Turn with me to page 243. Here in 21:43, after the parable of the wicked husband and the story of the vineyard let out the tenants, Matthew alone has on line 46, "Therefore, I tell you the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it." Only Matthew has that statement, and then you have when you start getting to page 245 and turn rather to 250. That is 250. Here you have woes to the scribes and Pharisees. let us start looking at Verse 12, line 36, on 250. "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites." Line 50, "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites." Line 54, "Woe to you blind guides," – religious teachers – "who say."
Next page, line 66, "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites." Line 72, "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites." Seventy-eight, "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites." Eighty-four, "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. Fill up then the measure of your Father. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you escaping a sentence to hell?" My goodness, that is a harsh, harsh rebuke. Now, it is coming from a Jew to other Jews. Just always remember that. There is much talk about anti-Semitism in the New Testament. There are not harsh things that are said like here to various Jewish leaders, but this in an intra-Jewish rebuke. Jews are saying this to other Jewish Christians to other Jews. It is not Gentiles pronouncing a kind of judgment like that.
Also, if you were to look at intra-Jewish squabbles outside of Christians and non-Christian Jews, it is even more heated. If you look at what Qumran says about the Pharisees, those seekers of smooth things and the way it castigates them, and the way Sadducees and Pharisees talk to one another, you would say, "This is anti-Semitic," but it is an intra-Jewish squabble. It is a sect of the Jews, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees or the Qumran group and the Pharisees. Well, this is an intra-Jewish squabble. It is between a sect of the Jews called Christians and Jews that had not come to believe in Jesus. So, there is a harsh condemnation by Matthew of fellow Jews. They are hypocritical and think if people say that it was undeserved, the Jewish faith in Jesus today would be the only religion in the world that never had hypocrites. I mean, they had to have some.
Now, not all the Pharisees are like this. There are some good Pharisees. Some Pharisees would become Christians. Some Pharisees in Jesus' ministry that warn him that Herod is out to get him. A Pharisees by the name of Nicodemus. So, we should not castigate the Pharisees universally. Some of the finest piety in Israel came out of the Pharisees. You know hypocrisy can only grow as a parasite off of true piety. You know you do not have a lot of religious hypocrites in Hugh Heppner's group.
You have piety and hypocrisy among them in churches, and so many of the Pharisees were very devout people. Still, there were also those, and particularly the ones that seem to be confronting Jesus, who are hypocritical. If you look at the Talmudic literature, they criticize other Pharisees and the like, but remember, again, as a Gentile, I cannot say things like that, but this is a Jew criticizing other Jews. It is an intra-family squabble.
There is also, in Matthew, a universal concern. So, that here is this gospel that emphasized Jesus comes for the Jewish people, yet from the very beginning of the gospel, we read that there are concerns broader than this. For instance, turn with me to page eight. Isn't it interesting that it is not in the writing of gospel by a Gentile like Luke but in this very Jewish gospel, which is about Jesus, the son of Abraham, the son of David, the Messiah, that we read of Gentile Wiseman coming from the east to be present at the birth of Jesus? So, that the very beginning, this universal understanding that Jesus is not just limited to a particular ethnic group or the Jews, it is for the Gentiles as well. At the very birth of Jesus, you have present here, Gentiles.
Turn to page 30. At the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, you have a reference that Matthew adds, which summarized the ministry of Jesus. Look at line 14 and following. "And leaving Nazareth, he went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea and the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be filled." The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, well, that is Jewish scribes. "Toward the sea across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles – the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sit in the region in the shadow of death, light has come." So, you have this beginning of Jesus' ministry that the Gentile, Galilee, is also going to see the light in that regard.
Turn with me to page 104. In 12:18, after this summary, Matthew adds one of his fulfillment quotations. "This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah. Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well-pleased, I will put my spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will any hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick, till he brings justice to victory, and in his name will the Gentiles hope." The prophets in the Old Testament already saw that, and they saw that the promises and the covenant God made with Abraham and his descendants were to reach out to the Gentile world. Matthew continues that and makes that perhaps even more explicit and clear.
All right, a couple more – page 243. Matthew 21:43, here we looked at this already about the kingdom of God being taken away and given to a nation the Gentiles, of course, is implied in that, but perhaps the clearest of them all is the very concluding verses of the gospel. How does this gospel end? Matthew 28:9, page 335, the ending of the gospel of Matthew shows this universal understanding. "And Jesus came and said to him, 'All authority in heaven and earth is given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you and, lo, I am with you always to the close of the age.'" In the ministry of Jesus, the disciples were not, during that limited time, to go the Gentile world, but now with the death of Jesus, the purpose of the gospel is to be given to the entire world, so there is a very strong universalistic concern in the gospel of Matthew, more so than, I think, even in Luke.
C. CONCERN FOR THE CHURCH
Matthew also has a great concern for the church. It is the only gospel in which the word church ecclesia occurs. He is concerned about church discipline, especially chapter 18, and he has organized the material. Why was Matthew the most used gospel in the church? Well, because it is organized so well. It is a good gospel to teach and catechize from.
We looked already at the alternation between narrative and teaching materials, all of which end in a very distinct way. Chapter 23 is arranged so that there are seven woes. The genealogy is arranged so that there are three sets of 14 in each. In chapters 8 and 8, there are ten miracles. In chapter 13, 7 parables and so forth and so on. So it is a very useful gospel for teaching in that way, more so than Mark or Luke, in fact, and that is why it was so much more popular.
D. CHRISTOLOGICAL EMPHASIS
The Christological emphasis, I think we talked already about looking at various references to the son of David and noticed that that is a redactional emphasis. We do not have to do that. Jesus is superior to the law and the temple. That he is the Christ emphasized more heavily than in Matthew than in Mark and Luke.
E. ESCHATOLOGICAL EMPHASIS
There is also, in Matthew, a strong eschatological emphasis. If you look at the verses devoted to the end times, Mark has 37, and Luke has 31. Matthew has 97. A strong emphasis on the number of parables not found elsewhere. The emphasis of the ending of history, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, not found often – only once in Matthew and Luke – references to the parousia or the coming of the Lord and the rebirth – very, very strong emphasis on eschatology and Matthew.
II. AUDIENCE OF MATTHEW
A. MUST HAVE BEEN GREEK-SPEAKING
Now, if you thought I would say, "Well, exactly then whom did he write to?" Excuse me. Well, it is evident that the people he wrote to understood Greek because he wrote in Greek, all right? He intended to be understood. So, it is a Greek audience.
B. EXPECTS HIS READERS TO BE FAMILIAR WITH JEWISH CUSTOMS
Now, it seems rather clear that he also wrote to an audience whom he expected to understand Jewish customs. Remember the exercise on Mark 7:1 to 23? In Verses 3 and 4, you have this explanation by Mark, which he inserts for his readers, explaining Jewish customs. Matthew does not have it. Why? He does not need to. He does not need to. In that same passage, you have two Old Testament quotations. In Mark, they appear, a quotation from Isaiah following by a quotation from Moses on the law. In Matthew, they do not occur in that order. They are reversed. The first quotation comes from the law and then from the prophets. That is the way Jews argue. First, the law and then the prophets. So he arranges that according to Jewish understanding other aspects in which he expects Jewish customs.
C. USES JEWISH PHRASEOLOGY
Turn with me to page 251 thereabouts. In this section of woes, in Verses 16 and following. Let us see. That would be page 251. Here you have line 54, "Woe to you blind guides who say if anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by an oath. For which is greater, you fools, the gold of the temple that has made the gold sacred – the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred?" Now, notice he talks about the swearing of oaths, and he does not explain it to his readers. What is this matter of swearing oath, a temple, or gold or things like that? Well, Jewish readers understood that. You do not have to explain it to them.
When you get to the page l, line 66 and following on the next page, "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you tithe mint and dill and cumin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law justice and mercy and," what is this tithing of mint dill and cumin? What is all of that about? He does not bother explaining that.
Verse 25, "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you cleansed the outside of the cup and the plate." What did he mean by that? What are these ceremonial washings and things of this nature? Does he assume his audience knows? He does not have to explain that to them. Why explain it to people who already know that material? He uses other kinds of devices. For instance, the word David – the name – if you add up the consonants, D, V, D – not – the vowels are not counted, you come up the number 14. Well, the genealogy has three groups of 14, so that, again, is that it would be very common use of what we call Gematria in Exegesis.
D. SUBSTITUTION FOR THE NAME OF GOD
Expressions such as the kingdom of heaven versus the kingdom of God. Why, in all but four instances, are all the kingdom of Gods in Mark changed to the kingdom of heaven? You only can understand that by Jewish practice, and that is to avoid God's name. "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain," or if you do not take it in vain, maybe the best way of doing it is to avoid it altogether. Substitute something else. So he substitutes – heaven – Jesus practiced that. A Jew today never will mention the name of Yahweh. Yahweh is the way that the word LORD with capital letters, L-O-R-D, translates the Hebrew word, Yahweh. "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD" – L-O-R-D – capital letters – "Yahweh, your God [inaudible] in vain. To protect against doing that, devout Jews, way back before Jesus' day, simply would not pronounce the sacred name Yahweh. They would substitute something, and in the Septuagint, they substitute a – a different name for that.
I remember having a professor who, after her graduation, became a pastor for a while and to learn Hebrew and already work on his Hebrew. He knew Hebrew well, but he wanted to perfect it. Every Monday morning, he would study in the home of a Jewish rabbi – an orthodox – rabbi – and they would read the Old Testament together. He said one day he was tired, and he was not paying attention, and he came upon the sacred name, and he read it out loud. The rabbi exploded, "No, no, we never utter the sacred name because you do not know if you utter it, whether you are using that name reverently enough, and, therefore, you substitute something," and what they would do in a normal reading was substitute the Hebrew word Lord Adonai in its place. Jesus did that.
He made up a parable once called the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and when the son comes back to his Father in repentance, what does he say? "Father, I have sinned against heaven and you." So, even Jesus practices that piety of avoiding the name of God, and here, this is what we have, by the way, in the kingdom of heaven, which Matthew uses instead of Kingdom of God.
By the way, I think, on that I think we are very flippant in our use of the name God, very flippantly. And there are people who do not know the Lord God as we do, but they are reverent towards the name in a way that we are not. Maybe we ought to be more reverent. Maybe we ought to be careful. Maybe be careful about jokes about God or something like God will get you for that. No, you will never hear an orthodox Jew talk that way. You would not hear Jesus talk that way. So, I think Matthew knows that, and he practices that.
Also, the expression Kingdom of God the Father in the heavens – plural usually – very Jewish because the word heaven in the Old Testament is the plural, Shalom. He emphasizes the Jewish belief in the need for righteousness before God. Your righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. He was a righteous man and things of that nature.
We talked about the fulfillment of the Old Testament, the privileged position of the Jew, and Jesus' role as the son of David. With all that, it seems rather clear that the author of Matthew is a Christian, of course. His native language is Greek, and he is Jewish, and he is writing to a Jewish audience. There have been some attempts to say that he was a Gentile, but I mean there is always somebody who will take the opposite side of anything that most people think and believe, so, he has to be Jewish Christian writing in that way.
Now, the next stage is, well, what was the situation to which he was writing? Why did he emphasize these things? Was it a Jewish community that was beginning to falter in its faith, maybe relapsing back to their original Jewish faith, and he argues this way, and -– yeah, your guess is as good as mine if that – but we do not know for sure. We know what he is saying and what he is emphasizing. That is far more important than to try to reconstruct, well, why did he say this, and what is going on here, which would be very hypothetical, but that he writing to a Jewish Christian audience seems quite clear, and the reason we know that is from the evidence of the gossip – the gospel itself. It is quite clear.
III. AUTHORSHIP OF MATTHEW
Now, concerning authorship, it has to be Matthew, of course, because that is the way it reads in my Bible. Now, all of that is tradition some traditions better than other traditions. I argued about the tradition concerning Mark that it was a very good tradition. Early, it goes against the views that normally you would associate an apostle with the gospel. This is a non-apostle who wrote it, and the anti-Marcionite prologue around 150 is he is described as being stump-fingered. Why would you say something like that? You would not make that up. That must be a good tradition and so forth.
A. TRADITION IS CONSISTENT AND UNANIMOUS
Now, we have tradition also. Here, Papias, this tradition is about 120. Here he is quoted in Eusebius by saying, "Matthew collected the oracles Teologia in the Hebrew language and each translated them as best as he could. Irenaeus about 180 – Matthew also issued a written gospel among the Hebrews in their dialect. Origin 200 – "The first of the gospels was written according to Matthew, who was a tax collector but afterward, an apostle of Jesus Christ who published it for those who from Judaism came to believe composed in the Hebrew language." Eusebius, "Matthew had first preached to the Hebrews. When he was on the point of going to others, he transmitted in writing, in his native language, the gospel according to himself." Augustine, "Of these 400, it is true only Matthew is reckoned to have written in the Hebrew language; the others in Greek."
B. WAS IT ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN HEBREW OR GREEK?
All right, you have a pre-universal tradition. Now, the last people, may be building on the tradition of the people before that said these things, they may not have direct independent contact with that tradition, but what you have is, Matthew wrote it. He wrote it in Hebrew. Now, our Matthew, the one we have in front of us, was not written in Hebrew. It was written in Greek, and if what we said earlier in the semester is true, he used Mark for part of that. Mark was written in Greek, and that is why they look so much alike in Greek. By people who are good at languages, I am told that Matthew is not easily translated simply back into Hebrew. Now, if you get – you can translate that, especially the law, easily back into Hebrew because there is a translation from Hebrew. Matthew does not function quite like that.
Furthermore, the Logia, the oracles, is not a reference to the gospel necessarily. He doesn't. The earliest tradition about Papias is not that he wrote the Evangelion, the gospel in the Hebrew language, but he wrote the oracles, and each interpreted them as best as he could. So, there are lots and lots of suggestions for this. Some say that the Logia that Papias is referring to is the quote "the Q materials." He wrote Q documents, and later, it was translated into Greek. Others say, "Well, no, what he wrote was the first draft – a proto-Matthew, which may be a disciple took, and he translated it into Greek using Mark or something like that.
Others that the Logia refers to a collection of Old Testament prophesies, "Thus, was fulfilled what was written by the prophet," that that is what he wrote. He made a collection of the Old Testament prophesies in that regard – a kind of testimonies.
Others say that he wrote a gospel to the Hebrews, which was an apocryphal gospel. Boy, it is really hard. Of all the authorship of the gospels, this is the one with which you have a tradition. Matthews associated with it, but if you say, "Well, that means Matthew had to write it." However, yet part of that tradition makes you kind of waiver because they said this gospel was written in Hebrew, and it does not look like it was written in this gospel was written in Greek, and if you use Mark like we have been arguing, it was in Greek for sure. Um, so, what do you do? Somehow, I think Matthew is connected with what we have in this first gospel. It is about as much as I can say. I think he is somehow connected with it, but I do not know where. I do not think the final product, which would b – been written after Mark probably AD 90 – there are some thoughts, for instance, there are some sayings in and illusions in the gospel that looks like it is written on the other side of AD 70, after the destruction of Jerusalem.
For instance, in one of the parables in the parable in which of the Great Supper, a man goes out and invites people to come and he is a King. He invites people to come. They do not come to the banquet, and then the king becomes angry and says, "Go out and bring others in," but then you have the statement, "And the king will destroy that city." Boy, no, if you are looking on the other side of AD 70, you probably know what that means. It means the destruction of Jerusalem. He is adding an illusion to it, and some of the prophecies about the city look like some of the dots – and the T's are crossed and dotted – some of the I's and T's are crossed and dotted because they seem to be described in more detail than in Mark. So, if it is written after that time, the final product of Matthew was not written by Matthew. Somewhere before that, he is connected with something that eventually becomes our Matthew, but the final product is not, quote, "written by Matthew," unquote. Less difficulty with Mark in authorship, with Johannine authorship, and Luke in authorship, but Matthew's something of a problem here.
Let me comment. Does it affect the meaning of the gospel of Matthew, who wrote it? No, it means the same. That is why we emphasize that.