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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Introduction)


The passing years do not make it any plainer who actually
wrote our Greek Matthew. Papias records, as quoted by Eusebius,
that Matthew wrote the _Logia_ of Jesus in Hebrew (Aramaic). Is
our present Matthew a translation of the Aramaic _Logia_ along
with Mark and other sources as most modern scholars think? If so,
was the writer the Apostle Matthew or some other disciple? There
is at present no way to reach a clear decision in the light of
the known facts. There is no real reason why the Apostle Matthew
could not have written both the Aramaic _Logia_ and our Greek
Matthew, unless one is unwilling to believe that he would make
use of Mark's work on a par with his own. But Mark's book rests
primarily on the preaching of Simon Peter. Scholfield has
recently (1927) published _An Old Hebrew Text of St. Matthew's
Gospel_. We know quite too little of the origin of the Synoptic
Gospels to say dogmatically that the Apostle Matthew was not in
any real sense the author.

If the book is genuine, as I believe, the date becomes a
matter of interest. Here again there is nothing absolutely
decisive save that it is later than the Gospel according to Mark
which it apparently uses. If Mark is given an early date, between
A.D. 50 to 60, then Matthew's book may be between 60 and 70,
though many would place it between 70 and 80. It is not certain
whether Luke wrote after Matthew or not, though that is quite
possible. There is no definite use of Matthew by Luke that has
been shown. One guess is as good as another and each decides by
his own predilections. My own guess is that A.D. 60 is as good as

In the Gospel itself we find Matthew the publican (Mt
9:9; 10:3)
though Mark (Mr 2:14) and Luke (Lu 5:27) call him
Levi the publican. Evidently therefore he had two names like John
Mark. It is significant that Jesus called this man from so
disreputable a business to follow him. He was apparently not a
disciple of John the Baptist. He was specially chosen by Jesus to
be one of the Twelve Apostles, a business man called into the
ministry as was true of the fishermen James and John, Andrew and
Simon. In the lists of the Apostles he comes either seventh or
eighth. There is nothing definite told about him in the Gospels
apart from the circle of the Twelve after the feast which he gave
to his fellow publicans in honor of Jesus.

Matthew was in the habit of keeping accounts and it is
quite possible that he took notes of the sayings of Jesus as he
heard them. At any rate he gives much attention to the teachings
of Jesus as, for instance, the Sermon on the Mount in chapters
Mt 5-7, the parables in Mt 13, the denunciation of the
Pharisees in Mt 23, the great eschatological discourse in Mt
24; 25. As a publican in Galilee he was not a narrow Jew and so
we do not expect a book prejudiced in favor of the Jews and
against the Gentiles. He does seem to show that Jesus is the
Messiah of Jewish expectation and hope and so makes frequent
quotations from the Old Testament by way of confirmation and
illustration. There is no narrow nationalism in Matthew. Jesus is
both the Messiah of the Jews and the Saviour of the world.

There are ten parables in Matthew not in the other
Gospels: The Tares, the Hid Treasure, the Net, the Pearl of Great
Price, the Unmerciful Servant, the Labourers in the Vineyard, the
Two Sons, the Marriage of the King's Son, the Ten Virgins, the
Talents. The only miracles in Matthew alone are the Two Blind
Men, the Coin in the Mouth of the Fish. But Matthew gives the
narrative of the Birth of Jesus from the standpoint of Joseph
while Luke tells that wonderful story from the standpoint of
Mary. There are details of the Death and Resurrection given by
Matthew alone.

The book follows the same general chronological plan as
that in Mark, but with various groups like the miracles in Mt 8;
9, the parables in Mt 13.

The style is free from Hebraisms and has few individual
peculiarities. The author is fond of the phrase the kingdom of
heaven and pictures Jesus as the Son of man, but also as the Son
of God. He sometimes abbreviates Mark's statements and sometimes
expands them to be more precise.

Plummer shows the broad general plan of both Mark and
Matthew to be the same as follows:

Introduction to the Gospel: Mr 1:1-13; Mt 3:1-4:11.

Ministry in Galilee: Mr 1:14-6:13; Mt 4:12-13:58.

Ministry in the Neighborhood: Mr 6:14-9:50; Mt

Journey through Perea to Jerusalem: Mr 10:1-52; Mt

Last week in Jerusalem: Mr 11:1-16:8; Mt 21:1-28:8.

The Gospel of Matthew comes first in the New Testament,
though it is not so in all the Greek manuscripts. Because of its
position it is the book most widely read in the New Testament and
has exerted the greatest influence on the world. The book
deserves this influence though it is later in date than Mark, not
so beautiful as Luke, nor so profound as John. Yet it is a
wonderful book and gives a just and adequate portraiture of the
life and teachings of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. The
author probably wrote primarily to persuade Jews that Jesus is
the fulfilment of their Messianic hopes as pictured in the Old
Testament. It is thus a proper introduction to the New Testament
story in comparison with the Old Testament prophecy.


The Textus Receptus has "The Holy Gospel according to
Matthew" (\to kata Matthaion hagion Euaggelion\), though the
Elzevirs omit "holy," not agreeing here with Stephanus,
Griesbach, and Scholz. Only minuscules (cursive Greek
and all late have the adjective. Other minuscules
and nine uncials including W (the Washington Codex of the fifth
, C of the fifth century (the palimpsest manuscript) and
Delta of the ninth together with most Latin manuscripts have
simply "Gospel according to Matthew" (\Euaggelion kata
. But Aleph and B the two oldest and best Greek
uncials of the fourth century have only "According to Matthew"
(\Kata Maththaion\) (note double th) and the Greek uncial D of
the fifth or sixth century follows Aleph and B as do some of the
earliest Old Latin manuscripts and the Curetonian Syriac. It is
clear, therefore, that the earliest form of the title was simply
"According to Matthew." It may be doubted if Matthew (or the
author, if not Matthew)
had any title at all. The use of
"according to" makes it plain that the meaning is not "the Gospel
of Matthew," but the Gospel as given by Matthew, \secundum
Matthaeum\, to distinguish the report by Matthew from that by
Mark, by Luke, by John. Least of all is there any authority in
the manuscripts for saying "Saint Matthew," a Roman Catholic
practice observed by some Protestants.

The word Gospel (\Euaggelion\) comes to mean good news in
Greek, though originally a reward for good tidings as in Homer's
_Odyssey_ XIV. 152 and in 2Ki 4:10. In the New Testament it is
the good news of salvation through Christ. The English word
Gospel probably comes from the Anglo-Saxon Godspell, story or
narrative of God, the life of Christ. It was early confused with
the Anglo-Saxon godspell, good story, which seems like a
translation of the Greek \euaggelion\. But primarily the English
word means the God story as seen in Christ which is the best news
that the world has ever had. One thinks at once of the use of
"word" (\Logos\) in Joh 1:1,14. So then it is, according to the
Greek, not the Good News of Matthew, but the Good News of God,
brought to us in Christ the Word, the Son of God, the Image of
the Father, the Message of the Father. We are to study this story
first as presented by Matthew. The message is God's and it is as
fresh to us today in Matthew's record as when he first wrote it.

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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Introduction)