The Gospel According to Matthew

The Gospel according to Matthew

Matthew - also known as Levi - was a tax collector and one of the original 12 disciples of Jesus. Financial details within the Gospel of Matthew suggest the author was very familiar with economics - he mentions the drachma, stater, talent, gold and silver… just like a tax collector would.

Although Matthew’s Gospel does not specify that Matthew the disciple was the author, it can be implied from the text. Further, the authorship of Matthew is first stated only a few decades after its composition by the church father, Papias, at the beginning of the 2nd century AD.

As a native of Judea in the employment of the Romans, Matthew was undoubtedly fluent in Aramaic and Greek, and probably also Hebrew and Latin. While all of the oldest copies of the Gospel of Matthew are written in Greek, a few scholars have suggested it was originally written in Hebrew, based on comments by two early church fathers - Papias and Irenaeus.

The Greek used in Matthew’s Gospel reflects a writer proficient in Koine Greek - the common language of the first century. This Gospel also frequently quotes the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament, which was translated from the Hebrew in about 250 BC. Since we only have ancient Greek manuscripts of Matthew, not Hebrew, on the basis of this evidence and linguistic study, it appears that Matthew collected many of the things Jesus said in Hebrew or Aramaic and then translated them into Greek when he wrote the Gospel.

The Gospel according to Matthew assumes its readers were familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures, Temple rituals, Israelite genealogy, and interpretations of the Pharisees. Matthew also assumes a general knowledge of the geography of Judea and Galilee during the early 1st century AD. Because of this, Matthew’s primary audience is seen as the Jewish people living in 1st century Judaea and the surrounding region.

Chronologically, Matthew is placed first in the synoptic Gospels and likely first overall by ancient sources and most scholars.  Only recently, some critical scholars have suggested Mark as the earliest Gospel in an attempt to claim that all of the Gospels are merely copies of one document - the “Q” source - rather than independent accounts of the same events. However, Matthew, the tax collector, was an eyewitness to the events, a disciple of Jesus, and later an Apostle. It wouldn’t be logical for a person such as this to base his account on a much shorter version written by Mark who was not an eyewitness or a disciple, but instead probably the recorder of Peter.

Until very recently, the consensus was that Matthew was composed prior to 70 AD and likely earlier. Like the other Gospels, Matthew makes no mention of the destruction of the Jewish Temple and Jerusalem - a massively significant event that would not be left out of the narrative. In fact, multiple references in the Gospel itself demonstrate that the Temple was still standing at the time of writing. This alone suggests a date prior to 70 AD.

Furthermore, after 64 AD, conditions in the city of Antioch do not match those in Matthew, pushing the date back towards 60 AD. Matthew also seems completely unaware of Paul’s letters, a “Gentile” church, and Peter’s departure from Jerusalem - especially the episode with Cornelius in Caesarea about 41 AD. This further suggests an early date.

While revisionist scholars would argue for a date as late as 110 AD and authorship by a person other than Matthew who simply copied an earlier account, this hypothesis is totally at odds with the internal textual markers, early manuscript evidence, and information from early church writers. Thus, Matthew appears to be the first of all of the Gospels, written by a tax collector turned disciple, who was there for many of the important events in the life of Jesus.

- Dave Stotts, host of Drive Thru History – “The Gospels”

Drive Thru History®:

The Gospels

"The Gospels" tells the story of Jesus from the actual locations recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

We travel to over 50 sites in Israel to deliver the Gospels in a fresh way, show the evidence for the truth of scripture, and encourage families to get excited about reading the Bible again.

Drive Thru History®:

The Gospels

"The Gospels" tells the story of Jesus from the actual locations recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

We travel to over 50 sites in Israel to deliver the Gospels in a fresh way, show the evidence for the truth of scripture, and encourage families to get excited about reading the Bible again.

READ MOre:

Copyright © 2019, ColdWater Media