The Significance of the gmatt: gmatt is the only Gospel to contain…



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The Gospel According to Matthew
(Int NT, chap 5, pp. 103-23)

The Significance of the GMatt:

  • GMatt is the only Gospel to contain…

  • The story of the arrival of the magi after Jesus’ birth (2:1-23)

  • The Sermon on the Mount (5:1-7:29)… including the Beatitudes (5:3-12), the Lord’s Prayer (6:9-13), and the Golden Rule (7:12)

  • The Great Commission (28:19-20)

  • GMatt is the most Jewish Gospel…

  • GMatt was a favorite in the early church…

  • GMatt is almost always placed first in collections of the four Gospels…

Historical Background of GMatt:

  • Author: Matthew? or a disciple of Matthew?

  • Technically, anonymous (see Matt 9:9; 10:3)

  • Acc. to church tradition: Matthew wrote first (??) and in Hebrew (??)

  • Maybe Matthew wrote Q (not GMatt)???

  • Matthew as a person: tax-collector; also named Levi (Mk 2:14; Lk 5:27); son of Alphaeus (bro of other James?)

  • Recipients: maybe Antioch of Syria?

  • Target audience was urban with Jewish heritage (Antioch? Alexandria?)

  • Very Jewish… but the Greek version of the OT is quoted, not the Hebrew

  • Ignatius of Antioch knows GMatt ~110 AD.

  • Date: AD 70-90?

  • After GMark (AD 65-70)

  • In a context of tension between Christian communities & Jewish synagogues.

What is Distinctive about GMatt?

  • Church” (16:18; 18:17)… only Gospel to use this word.

  • Peter figures prominently (Mt 14:28-31; 16:17-19; 17:24-27; 18:21-22)

  • Kingdom of heaven” (32/37 times) instead of “kingdom of God”

  • How GMatt uses GMark (see Powell, pp. 110-11): rearranged, abbreviated, polished, softened, edited, increased tension, etc.



Major Themes in GMatt:

❶ Abiding Presence of God:

  • Jesus is born as “Immanuel” = “God with us” (Mt 1:23)

  • Jesus is worshipped as God (Mt 2:11; 14;33; 28:9, 17; cf. Mt 4:10)

  • Jesus is present in the church (Mt 18:20; 28:20)

❷ Jesus as the Son of God:

  • Born as the Son of God (Mt 1:18-25)

  • Declared from heaven twice to be the Son (Mt 3:17; 17:5; also in GMark)

  • Challenged as the Son of God in his temptations (Mt 4:1-11)

  • Proclaimed to be Son of God at key moments (Mt 14:33; 16:15-20; 27:54)

  • Equal with Father & Spirit (see Trinitarian statement in 28:19)

❸ The Teachings of Jesus:

  • Five major sermons (chaps: 5-7, 10, 13, 18, 24-25)

  • More teachings in GMatt than in any other Gospel.

❹ Discipleship:

  • Emphasis on inner purity, not external rituals (Mt 5:8, 20; 9:13; 12:7; 23:23)

  • Emphasis on practical ethics (see Sermon on the Mount)

❺ Interpretation of OT Scripture:

  • Knowing & quoting the OT is not sufficient (cf. Satan in 4:6; or religious authorities in 2:3-6; 17:10; 19:7; 21:41-42)

  • Jesus came to fulfill the OT (5:17-20), not to abolish it

❻ “Binding” and “Loosing” (= commandments are applicable or inapplicable)

  • Jesus is the true interpreter of the OT (cf. Six Antitheses in Mt 5:21-48)

  • Jesus’ disciples are authorized to interpret OT scripture (Mt 16:19; 18:18)

❼ Worship & Doubt, Faith & Understanding:

  • In GMatt, the disciples are often labeled as people of “little faith” (6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; 17:20)

  • Doubt (14:31; 28:17) and fear (14:26; 17:7; 28:8) occurs at key moments.

  • But the “seed of faith” (13:23; 17:20) grows to maturity.

❽ Hostility toward Jewish Leaders:

  • All Jewish leaders (Pharisees, Saducees, scribes, priests, elders) in GMatt are always portrayed negatively.

  • Harsh criticism of Jewish leaders (e.g., 7 woes in 23:1-39; 27:22-25; 28:15)

  • Distancing from “their” scribes (7:29) and “their” synagogues (4:23; 10:17; 13:54)

  • The tension between Jesus & the Jewish leaders probably mirrors the escalating tension between early Christians & the Jewish synagogue in the decades after the destruction of Jerusalem.




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