Know Your Bible: The Book of Matthew Explained

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The Gospel of Matthew has a unique perspective on Jesus. Matthew was a Jew and was writing to those who were like him - Jewish. His is the first book of the New Testament, but why? What is it about the Gospel of Matthew that makes it so important, and how is it actually different from Mark, Luke, and John?

Who is Matthew?

One thing we know about Jesus was that he loved everyone, including those that no one else really cared to be around.

Matthew was part of that group of people that was rejected by most others for what they did for a living. He was a Jewish tax collector, which means he collected taxes from his fellow Jews for the Roman government.

What Does the Gospel of Matthew Actually Say?

The Gospel of Matthew is actually called the Gospel "According to" Matthew. This is Matthew's chance to give his unique perspective to the tale of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. While the book possesses the same skeleton as the other gospels (Mark, Luke, and John), it offers its own unique view of Jesus.

When we read through the Gospel of Matthew, we can see that it definitely has a Jewish perspective, and with good reason. Matthew was a Jew talking to other Jews about Jesus. It is why his story was chosen first. We go from the Old Testament, where it's all about the Jewish people to the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. During the time it was written, it would be likely that the Gospel would first be presented to Jews, then gentiles.

Jews would also be considered hard to convince that Jesus was the Messiah.

Like the other Gospels, the book begins with Jesus' lineage. This lineage is important to the Jews, as it is part of the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. Yet he did not dismiss the importance of salvation to the gentiles and makes a point of showing that salvation is available to all.

He then delves into the important parts of Jesus' life like his birth, his ministry, and Jesus' death and resurrection.

It was also important to Matthew to point out that believing in Jesus not cause Jews to lose a sense of their traditions. By continuing to cite parts of the Old Testament and the Torah throughout the Gospel of Matthew, he points out that Jesus fulfilled the Law, but He did not come to destroy it. He also understood that Jews needed to see that other Jews war important in Jesus' story, so almost every person of importance referenced in the book is also Jewish.

How is Matthew Different from the Other Gospels?

The Gospel of Matthew mainly differs from the other gospels due to its heavily Jewish perspective. He also quotes the Old Testament far more than any of the other gospels. He spends a great deal of time pointing out references from the Torah present in Jesus' teachings. It also contained five collections of teachings regarding Jesus' commandments. Those teachings were about the law, mission, mystery, greatness, and future of the Kingdom. The Gospel of Matthew also points out the Jewish apathy at the time, which prompted the spreading of the message to the gentiles.

There is some debate as to when the Gospel of Matthew was written. Most authorities believe that it was written after Mark because it (like Luke) incorporates much of Mark in the telling. It does, however, it does tend to focus more on Jesus' teachings and his acts than other books. It is also believed by some that the Gospel of Matthew was written in Hebrew or Aramaic, but the claim has not been fully verified.

Matthew's job as a tax collector is also evident in his Gospel. He discusses money far more in the Gospel of Matthew than any other book, especially in the parable of the Talent.