Introduction to the Gospel of Matthew.
- Timothy 3.16
16) All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for proving, for correction, for training in right living,
The gospel of Matthew is similar in many ways to the gospels written by Mark and Luke. They have been given the name: ‘The Synoptic Gospels’. The word synoptic means ‘to see together’. With the first three gospels much of their content can be ‘seen together’, and in much the same order.
It is generally thought that Mark was the first gospel to be written and that Matthew and Luke used much of Mark’s material.
It is obvious that both Matthew and Luke included more events in the life of Jesus than Mark did, for example both Matthew and Luke include the events of the birth of Jesus, whereas Mark does not.
The gospel of John was written much later than the first three gospels, and John concentrates on events in the life of Jesus that are not included in the ‘Synoptic’ gospels.
All four gospels give quite detailed records about the death and resurrection of Jesus.
W Barclay informs us that of the 661 verses in Mark’s gospel, Matthew reproduces 601, and Luke reproduces 320.
We cannot be totally sure who the author of this gospel is. We are given no hints as to his name. This is unlike John’s gospel, where there are hints concerning who the author is:
24 This disciple is the one who bears testimony and has written about these things, and we know that his testimony is true – John 21.24.
This was after Jesus and Peter had been speaking about John.
On the other hand there is nowhere in Matthew’s gospel where he claims to be the author.
Therefore, how did he come to be credited with writing this gospel?
The answer is to be found in the early Church historian Eusebius (260-340 AD). He wrote that a bishop called Papias said that Matthew was the author. He was the bishop of Hierapolis from 100-140 AD. He lived from 70 Ad to 163 AD.
Therefore, perhaps we can assume that from his earliest days Papias would have been aware of the writing of Matthew, which he later described as follows:
“Matthew collected the oracles about Jesus in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could.”
To be continued