If you wish to read the texts click here: Eph 4:1-7, 11-13; Mt 9:9-13
scholars hold today that the Gospel of Matthew was written after Mark.
Matthew’s Gospel was the one that was used most often in the early Church and
so it has been placed before Mark in the Bible. It is known as the Ecclesial
Gospel or the Gospel of the Church. One reason for this is that Matthew’s
thesis seems to be that since Israel for whom Jesus came rejected Jesus as
Messiah, the Church has become now the new and true Israel. Also Matthew is the
only one of the four Evangelists who uses the word “Ekklesia” translated
“Church” in his Gospel (16:18;18:17). There is however, throughout the Gospel
the tension between Particularism on the one hand and Universalism on the
other. The Jesus of the Gospel of Matthew is sent “only to the lost sheep of
Israel” (15:24; see also 10:6) and the same Jesus can tell Israel “the kingdom
of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits
of it” (21:43).
Gospel begins with the genealogy of Jesus, which goes back to Abraham. Joseph is
not called the father of Jesus but the husband of Mary (1:16) since Matthew is
clear that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. The birth of Jesus is
then narrated, followed by the visit of the wise men to Bethlehem and Herod’s
plan to kill Jesus. This leads the family to go to Egypt where they remain till
Herod’s death and then return to Nazareth. The birth, flight into Egypt and
return to Nazareth all fulfil scripture. Matthew then goes on to narrate the
Baptism of Jesus by John and Jesus’ temptations and his overcoming them. Jesus
then begins his public ministry in Galilee after calling the first four
disciples. Unlike Mark, which is a story, Matthew intersperses his narrative
with long discourses. The first of these is the Sermon on the Mount (5:1-7,29).
There are four other discourses in the Gospel. These are The Mission Discourse
(10:1-11:1), The parable Discourse (13:1-53), The Community Discourse
(18:1-19:1) and the Eschatological Discourse (24:1-26:1). Each of these
discourses ends in a similar manner with the words, “and when Jesus had
finished (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). This is also Matthew’s way of
focussing on the teaching of Jesus and giving it as much if not more importance
that the deeds of Jesus. Like in Mark, Jesus enters Jerusalem triumphantly, but
soon encounters opposition, which grows and leads to his arrest, passion and
death. The Gospel ends with accounts of the resurrection appearances of Jesus
to his disciples and what is known as the Great Commission, in which the disciples
are commanded to go to all nations and make disciples of them and assured of
the presence of the ever present Lord to whom all authority in heaven and earth
has been given (28:16-20).
characteristics unique to Matthew’s Gospel are as under:
1. Matthew mentions five women in his genealogy
(Luke has no mention of women). While many explanations have been offered to
explain this fact the most plausible one is that in the case of all five women
there was something irregular in their union with their husbands.
2. The visit of the wise men from the East
(2:1-12) is exclusive to Matthew and probably with the intention to show that
though the Jewish leaders “know” the details of the birth of the Messiah, they
“do” nothing about it. On the other hand, Gentiles (represented by the Magi) do
not “know” the details, but are willing to “obey and do”.
3. Only in the Gospel of Matthew is the tax
collector who is called referred to as Matthew (9:9) and is referred to as
"Matthew the tax collector" in the list of the disciples (10:3).
4. Matthew uses the phrase "the Kingdom of
God" only in 12:28; 19:24; 21:31.43. Instead, the term "the Kingdom
of Heaven" is preferred (3:2; 4:17; 5:126.96.36.199; 7:21; 8:11; 10:7;
11:11.12; 13:188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206; 16:19; 18:1.3.4; 19:220.127.116.11; 20:1;
22:2; 23:13; 25:1). In some of these, Matthew has changed his Marcan source.
The best explanation of this phenomenon is Matthew prefers to avoid use of the
word "God," using the circumlocution "Heavens" instead.
5. More than the other synoptic gospels, the
Gospel of Matthew stresses the fulfilment nature of Jesus' ministry. The author
explicitly cites Old Testament messianic prophecies as having been fulfilled in
or by Jesus, often with a formula using the verb "to fulfil." The following are those instances that are
unique to the Gospel of Matthew.
6. Matthew often doubles the numbers found in
his Marcan source. Thus one demoniac of Mark 5:1-20 becomes two in Mt 8:28-34;
one blind man of Mark 10:46-52 becomes two blind men in Mt 20:29-34. Matthew
also has in 22:2 an ass and a colt where Mark 11:2 has only a colt. One reason
that has been proposed for this is that Matthew wants to ensure the proper
number of witness that was required to certify an act.
7. Only in Matthew 16:17-19 is Peter commended
by Jesus after his answer that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God”
and given the keys of the kingdom and the power to bind and loose. This is
interpreted here as the authority to determine who is allowed in and for the
authority to determine what interpretation of the law is binding. Also Peter’s
failed attempt to walk on water (14:28-31) after Jesus has successfully done so
and the incident of payment of the Temple tax in which Peter is asked to go to
the sea to find a shekel in a fish’s mouth (17:24-27) are exclusive to Matthew.
This probably indicates that Peter was an important figure in the Matthean
8. Matthew alone narrates that Judas was paid
thirty pieces of silver for his willingness to betray Jesus (26:14-16). While
some see the connection with Zech 11:12-13 where thirty shekels of silver is
mentioned as the wages of the shepherd, others see it as related to Exodus
21:32 which is price that had to be paid by the owner of an ox to the master of
a slave who was gored to death by the ox. Judas’ repentance and suicide is also
exclusive to Matthew (27:3-10)
9. Pilate receiving a message from his wife to
have nothing to do with Jesus (27:19) and his washing his hands and declaring
himself innocent of the death of Jesus (27:24), are incidents that are found
only in Matthew. Some see this as Pilate’s obedience to the command of God
communicated to him by his wife’s dream and also as Matthew’s attempt to put
the onus for the death of Jesus on the shoulders of the Jews. This is also
probably why Matthew alone has the people as a whole answer, “His blood be on
us and on our children!” (27:25).
text chosen for the feast contains the call of Matthew, and Jesus’ fellowship
with tax collectors and sinners. It is only in the Gospel of Matthew that the
tax collector is called Matthew. In Mark and Luke he is called Levi. However,
in the lists of the Twelve in both Mark and Luke, the disciple is named Matthew
and Levi does not appear. It is unlikely that Matthew and Levi refer to the
same person. It was rare for Jews to have two different Jewish names. The
reason for the author choosing the name Matthew remains unknown. However, in
the text what strikes one is that whereas most people who passed by the tax
office would see a corrupt official; Jesus was able to see a potential
disciple. It was Jesus’ way of looking that led to the transformation and the
response of Matthew to the call. In his response to the objection of the
Pharisees, Jesus responds with a common proverb about the sick needing a
doctor, and also quotes from Hoses 6:6, which here is interpreted to mean that
the mercy of God in Jesus is extended to all humanity and takes precedence over
everything else. All else must be understood in this light.
are times when we judge people too easily and many of these times our judgement
of them is negative. This is also how we often look at the whole of creation
and because we put labels on things, people and all else in creation, we may
miss out on the uniqueness that each possesses.