The Gospel Of Matthew
In this section, you will become more familiar with some of the identifying features of the Gospel of Matthew, and you will also get a feel for “Matthew’s” particular style of writing. Remember that even though we do not know who wrote this gospel, we will use “Matthew” to identify this particular gospel and the gospel writer.
Objectives for this section
- As you go through the resources for this section, you will gain a better understanding of the following aspects of the Gospel of Matthew:
- Origins of the gospel: where and when written, original language, etc.
- Who was Matthew writing for (his audience); what was his purpose in writing.
- Matthew’s writing style so that you will begin to recognize a few differences/similarities between Matthew and the other gospels.
- How Matthew portrays Jesus of Nazareth
Steps for achieving the objectives
Hint: If you complete all of the reading by the end of Week 7, you will be well prepared for completing the assignments due in Week 8. Remember: Procrastination = STRESS!!! :-/
Complete the following steps in the order listed and by the due dates listed below.
- Read Frontline: The Gospel of Matthew: Jesus as a teacher even greater than Moses
- Read “Gospel of Matthew” in The Complete Gospels (pages 61 – 120)
- Watch “I Came Not to Bring Peace, But a Sword.” (One of the “hard sayings” of Jesus that people tend to ignore. (Matthew 10: 34 – 39)
Matthew: Writing Prompt and Background Information
In The Gospel of Matthew, we have an unusually clear picture of how a gospel writer shapes his portrayal of Jesus’ life and teachings according to the writer’s particular beliefs, audience, and purpose. There are several very important examples of how Matthew is doing this in the “Introduction to The Gospel of Matthew” in your textbook. (Please read this Introduction carefully!) Matthew is trying to make the case that Jesus represents the true and authentic line of Moses, the prophets, and Israel as a whole – over and against the other Jewish sects/groups of the time (Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, etc.). This is why Matthew repeatedly inserts sections of scripture from the Hebrew Bible (called “Old Testament” by Christians) – to show that Jesus is the fulfillment of those ancient scriptures (even if Matthew sometimes makes a complete mess of things in the process. For example: Read Matthew 21:6-7 to see that Matthew has Jesus riding on both a colt and a donkey at the same time in his slightly misbegotten attempt to have Jesus fulfilling a passage found in Zechariah.)
In our Discussion Forum for Matthew, we are going to consider the Sermon on the Mount. This Sermon is one of the most beloved and well-known messages of Jesus. Our textbook says, “The famous Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5 – 7) sets forth a Christian interpretation of the Jewish Law.” But really, this statement is not quite accurate because Jesus was a Jew who was often speaking to largely Jewish audiences – and there WAS no Christianity and that time. Therefore, Jesus’ re-interpretation of Jewish Law was Jesus’ own interpretation – not a Christian interpretation (see 5:21 – 48 for examples). And it is worth noting that sometimes Jesus’ teachings are not the same as Christian Church teachings. For example: Many churches take a very hard stand against homosexuality as being against Christian principles. However, Jesus never spoke about or against homosexuality, but he did speak constantly of love and compassion for ALL people – most especially marginalized people.
Jesus paid no attention to social or religious boundaries, he violated Jewish purity laws, and he demonstrated over and over that the compassionate spirit of God’s law is far more important than the letter of religious laws (especially given that religious laws are sometimes cruel and exclusionary). Clearly, Jesus was opposed to hypocrites of every size, shape, and color and he called his followers to live according to higher standards.
Please read Chapters 5 – 7 very carefully, and then do the following:
- Write a summary (including chapter and verse) of how Jesus says we should live and how we should not live. What things are necessary and what things are not necessary?
- What are some of Jesus’ main points (including chapter and verse) about religious hypocrisy?
Follow up post:
- Matthew chapter 5-7 is a very interesting Sermon by Jesus given on the Mount. In Matthew chapter 5, starting verse 3 to 10, Jesus spoke about a certain character that a follower of Jesus needs to follow in order to inherit the Kingdome of God. For example, in verse 3, “congratulation to the poor in spirit, the empire of Heaven belongs to them”, this verse teaches us how to be humble. In Verses 3-10 it teaches us to be merciful, just or peacemaker, be pure in heart, gentle, and to hunger and thirst after righteousness. In verse 11, the teaching is similar to our previous discussion about what it means to pick up your cross and follow Jesus. It basically teaches us about the price of being a follower of Christ, and how one should be grateful because of the reward in heaven. Jesus also preached about how his followers are the salt and the light of this world.
One thing that I always hear Christians disagree about how Christ came to break the law given by Moses, but in Mat. 5:17 he stated that “Don’t imagine that I have come to annul the law or the Prophets, I have come not to annul but to fulfill.” If we go further dawn in Mat 5, he compares the law given in the old testament and the new law. For example, we should not make adultery, divorce, an eye for an eye, hate our neighbor, and break the oath. However, we should love our neighbor as our self, forgive those who were violent against us, and so on. In chapter 6, it teaches us the importance of doing things for God not to get credit from other people, like how we should give, fast and not pile up possessions on earth. In Mat 6:25-34, it teaches us about the importance of seeking God’s empire first than to worry about the things that we eat, wear, and drink.
- In Mat. 5:20, Jesus stated, “Let me tell you unless you live your religion more fully than the scholars and Pharisees, you won’t set foot in the empire of heaven.” Religious hypocrites break the law, however, they expect others to live by the law. In Matt 23:25-28, Mat 6:1-6, Mat 23:5-7 Mat 15:1-9, all teach us what the religious hypocrisy really is and how Jesus condemn their lifestyle because their righteousness was external. Jesus condemns their actions because their action was the motive of self-exaltation and self-interest. The religious hypocrite went public with what should have been their private devotions towards God like prayer, fasting, and giving.
Between chapters 5 to 7 in the Gospel of Mathew, Jesus lays out some guidelines for how he wants you to live your life. Jesus states that previously they were told to not kill or you will be subjected to judgement. Here Jesus states that if you put down a loved one or friend you will go through the same judgement. He also states that they were told to not commit adultery, he now stretches the meaning of the word adultery to lewd thoughts about a woman. If you think impure thoughts about another women, you have sinned. You can also no longer divorce your wife because that forces her into adultery, and you can’t marry a divorced women because that act would be considered adultery. He also says that ‘an eye for an eye’ is now longer the law of the land, rather one should ‘turn the other cheek’ when being attacked in anyway. The anointed one also states that you should love your neighbor still, but loving your enemies is the real thing to do. It is not impressive to love the ones that love you, rather it is impressive to show love and compassion to your enemies. He asks us to not show our religion publicly, rather to keep your pray and believe to yourself. He states to worry less about our Earthly possessions, rather to worry about our enteral life in heaven which we have to follow all of these rules to get into. He literally says “To sum up, you shall be perfect, in the same way your heavenly father is perfect.”