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Books of the New Testament
St. Matthew's Gospel
The following notes are intended to supplement, not replace, the readings from the Bible and the text book.
Comments or questions should be sent to: Dr. Rollinson.
The Gospel according to St. Matthew
Matthew is usually identified with the tax-collector, or "publican" (also called Levi) whom Jesus called to become one of His disciples.(see Matthew 9:9-13 & 10:1-4, Mark 2:14-17, Luke 5:27-32)
Matthew's Gospel was placed first in the New Testament because it was originally thought that this was the first Gospel to be written. Scholars presently believe that Mark's Gospel predated Matthew, and that Matthew used Mark as the framework for his book, along with a written collection of sayings of Jesus (also used by Luke), and material recorded only by Matthew. Some passages of Matthew and Mark are identical, word-for-word, as are some passages of Matthew and Luke, which indicates that the Gospels are based on even earlier written records rather than on verbal accounts. The collection of Jesus' sayings used by Matthew and Luke no longer exists as a separate entity, but scholars use the name "Q", to refer to the material which is common to Matthew and Luke, but which does not occur in Mark.
Matthew was clearly a Jew, writing for a Jewish readership - he uses the term "Kingdom of Heaven" instead of "Kingdom of God" because a good Jew was very careful not to speak the name of God in case he should break one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:7 - Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain) To this day, observant Jews will write "G-d" instead of "God".
Matthew was also careful to show how Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies - this would have been important to a Jewish readership but not to a Greek or Roman one. Sometimes he did not bother to identify which prophet made a particular prophecy - he assumed that his readers were already familiar with the Old Testament and would know the prophets.
Matthew structured his Gospel around five great "discourses" of Jesus
- The Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7) found only in Matthew
- The Instructions to the Twelve Disciples (chapter 10)
- The Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven (chapter 13)
- Christian Life (chapter 18)
- The Little Apocalypse and the Parables of the End Times (chapters 24-25)
Matthew 1:1-17 - The genealogy of Jesus Christ. Matthew traces Jesus' genealogy back as far as Abraham (regarded as the father of the Jewish people), and is careful to stress Jesus' descent from the royal family of David. Some of the names appear to be slightly different from the forms in which we meet them in the Old Testament. This is because the New Testament was written in Greek, rather than in Hebrew, so the names were written with Greek letters rather than Hebrew ones, and the pronunciation changed somewhat when going from Hebrew to Greek.
Matthew 1:1 - "the son of David, the son of Abraham" would be better translated as descendent rather than son - there were about 1,000 years between Abraham and David, and between David and Jesus.
Matthew 1:3 - Matthew includes some very remarkable women in the genealogy. "Thamar" was Tamar the Canaanite who bore twin sons to her father-in-law Judah (Genesis 38:1-30)
Matthew 1:5 - "Rachab" was Rahab the Canaanite harlot of Jericho who helped Joshua and the Israelites (Joshua 2:1-22, 6:19-25); Ruth was the Moabite girl who renounced her people and her gods, to go to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi (Book of Ruth).
Matthew 1:6 - Matthew does not even give the name of "the (woman) belonging to Urias", but we can read the account in II Samuel, chapters 11-12. In the Old Testament she is referred to as Bathsheba, which means "Daughter of Sheba", "Daughter of an oath", or "Daughter of seven", so Bathsheba may not have been her proper name.
Matthew 1:17 - Matthew idealized the genealogy to make 3 sets of 2 x 7 generations, or 6 x 7 generations in all. To do so he omitted Joash, Amaziah, and Azariah; and counted Jeconiah twice (1:11-12)
Matthew 1:21 - The names "Jesus", and "Joshua" mean Saviour in Hebrew.
Matthew 1:22-23 see Isaiah 7:14
Matthew 2:1 - This Herod was Herod the Great, who ruled under Roman jurisdiction as "King of the Jews" from ca. 40BC to 4BC. He was so paranoid that he killed some of his sons, and his favorite wife, because he thought they were plotting against him.
Matthew 2:1 - The Greek term for the "wise men" implies that they were scholars or astrologers rather than kings. The Bible does not tell us how many Wise Men there were, but three is traditionally accepted, because three gifts are mentioned.
Matthew 2:2 - "His star" In Numbers, chapters 22-24, there is the account of how king Balak of Moab called for the non-Israelite prophet Balaam to come and put a curse on the Israelites, and how Balaam blessed the Israelites instead, and prophesied that "A Star shall come out of Jacob" (Numbers 24:17). This prophecy did not become part of the Jewish prophetic tradition, but seems to have survived amongst the non-Jewish peoples to the East.
Matthew 2:5-6 see Micah 5:2
Matthew 2:15 see Hosea 11:1
Matthew 2:16 - it may have taken the wise men a year or so to get ready and travel to Judah after seeing the star - by the time they arrived in Bethlehem Jesus and His family were in a house rather than in a stable.
Matthew 2:18 see Jeremiah 31:15. Rachel, the mother of Joseph and Benjamin died in childbirth between Jerusalem and Bethlehem (Genesis 35:16-20). Arab ladies still go to the tomb of Rachel to pray when they are pregnant or wanting a baby.
Matthew 2:22 - Archelaus was one of Herod the Great's sons (Herod divided his kingdom into four smaller kingdoms, because he did not want any of his sons to be able to claim to rule over as much land as Herod had.) Archelaus seems to have been even worse than Herod, and eventually the Roman Emperor Augustus deposed him.
Matthew 3:3 see Isaiah 40:3
Matthew 4:4 see Deuteronomy 8:3
Matthew 4:6 see Ps. 91:11-12
Matthew 4:7 see Deuteronomy 6:16
Matthew 4:10 see Deuteronomy 6:13
Matthew 4:12 - for the imprisonment of John the Baptist, see Matthew 14:1-12, Mark 8:17-29
Matthew 4:13 - Capernaum by the "sea" - not the Mediterranean sea, but the Lake of Galilee.
Matthew 4:14-16 see Isaiah 9:1-2
Matthew 4:25 see the Geography Pages for these regions.
Matthew 5:21 see Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17
Matthew 5:27 see Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18
Matthew 5:31 see Deuteronomy 24:1-4
Matthew 5:33 see Leviticus 19:12, Numbers 30:2, Deuteronomy 23:21
Matthew 5:38 see Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, Deuteronomy 19:21
Matthew 5:41 - Roman soldiers had the right to compel anyone to carry things for them for a mile.
Matthew 5:43 see Leviticus 19:18, Deuteronomy 23:6
Matthew 6:24 - "mammon" an Aramaic word for money and riches
Matthew 7:12 - "the Law and the Prophets" the teaching of the Old Testament.
Matthew 8:4 see Leviticus 14:3-10
Matthew 8:17 see Isaiah 53:4
Matthew 10:15 see Genesis 18:16 - 19:29
Matthew 11:5 - this is a fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 35:4-6 & 6:1
Matthew 11:10 see Malachi 3:1
Matthew 12:2 - plucking the grain and taking it out of the husk counted as doing work.
Matthew 12:3-4 see I Samuel 21:1-6
Matthew 12:5 - the priests had to "work", sacrificing animals during worship.
Matthew 12:7 see Hosea 6:6
Matthew 12:17-21 see Isaiah 42:1-4
Matthew 12:24 - "Beelzebul", "Beelzebub", or "Baalzebub" - the term came originally from the name of one of the gods worshipped by the Philistines; Baal or Bel mean Lord in Semitic languages. We no longer know the original form of the name, which would have meant "Lord of . . ." because the Hebrews changed it slightly, so that it became "Lord of flies" (Baal-zebub) or "Lord of dung" (Baal-zebul). Jews used it as a name for the devil.
Matthew 12:39-41 see the Book of Jonah
Matthew 12:42 refers to the Queen of Sheba - see I Kings 10:1-13
Matthew 19:4-6 see Genesis 1:27, 2:24 & 5:2
Matthew 19:7 see Deuteronomy 24:1-4
Matthew 19:18-19 see Exodus 20:1-17
Matthew 21:4-5 see Isaiah 62:11 & Zechariah 9:9
Matthew 21:9 see Psalm 118:26
Matthew 21:13 see Isaiah 56:7
Matthew 21:16 see Psalm 8:2
Matthew 21:42 see Psalm 118:22-23
Matthew 22:32 see Exodus 3:6, 16
Matthew 22:37 see Deuteronomy 6:5
Matthew 22:39 see Leviticus 19:18
Matthew 22:44 see Psalm 110:1
Matthew 23:35 see Genesis 4:8
Matthew 23:39 see Psalm 118:26
Matthew 24:15 see Daniel 9:26-27, 11:31, 12:11
Matthew 24:37-39 see Genesis 6:9-9:18
Matthew 25:15 - A talent was about 100 pounds of silver
Matthew 27:9-10 see Jeremiah 32:6-8, 25, Zechariah 11:12-13
Matthew 27:46 see Psalm 22:1
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