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by John Dummelow
1. The word Gospel. ’Gospel’ (lit. ’God story,’ i.e. story about God) is the usual English translation of euaggelion, lit. ’good tidings,’ which in the NT. always means the good tidings of salvation as preached by our Lord Himself (Matthew 4:23; Matthew 9:35), or by the apostles and other Christian teachers (e.g. Matthew 24:14; Matthew 26:13; Acts 15:7, also Romans 2:16, where ’my gospel’ means ’the gospel message as preached by me’). Not till the 2nd cent., apparently, did it come to mean a written biography of Christ, though the way for this use had already been prepared by the title of St. Mark’s Gospel, ’The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ [the Son of God] ’ (Mark 1:1).
2. The Gospels in general. Only four Gospels having any claim to historical authority have been transmitted to us, those of SS. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There were numerous earlier ones (Luke 1:1) of which our evangelists have made full use, but the appearance of their far superior narratives rendered the earlier efforts comparatively useless, and they soon ceased to be copied. All that is known or can be probably conjectured about them is stated in the special article, ’The Synoptic Problem.’ Numerous Gospels, generally called ’apocryphal,’ were written later than the canonical four, but of these even the earliest, such as ’the Gospel according to the Hebrews’ (cirMatthew 100 a.d.), and ’the Gospel of Peter’ (cirMatthew 100-150 a.d.), are so obviously contaminated by fiction, that it is impossible to feel sure that any of the facts or sayings therein recorded (except those borrowed from our Gospels) are authentic.
The first three canonical Gospels (Mt, Mk, Lk) are generally called ’synoptic,’ and their authors ’synoptists,’ because they all present the same general view of our Lord’s ministry. For the most part they record the same incidents, in the same order, in the same (or closely similar) words, and from the same point of view. To all of them Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Jews, and also the Saviour and Redeemer of all mankind; He is true man, but He is also the superhuman Son of God, who perfectly knows and reveals the Father, who atones for sin by His death, and by His resurrection is exalted to almighty power over the universe. But the main interest of the writers is biographical, not theological. Their aim is to place before the reader a vivid picture of the historical Jesus of Nazareth ’in fashion as He lived,’ going about doing good, teaching, healing, comforting, advising, guiding, rebuking, blessing, and drawing all men to Himself by the strong cords of admiration and love. Special objects in writing each evangelist doubtless had. St. Matthew, writing for the Jews, though not perhaps exclusively for them, presents our Lord’s claims to the throne of David, and expounds fully His attitude towards the Law; St. Mark, writing for the Romans, carefully explains for their benefit the Jewish customs and observances which were so unintelligible to Gentiles; St. Luke, writing as St. Paul’s interpreter, desires particularly to make it plain that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female, that the poorest and humblest most easily enter God’s kingdom, that the good Creator desires to save every soul which He has made, and that accordingly there is hope for the most careless of prodigals and the most abandoned of sinners. But the main aim of each synoptic writer is just the simple one of placing before the reader vividly the gracious personality of Jesus Christ, and letting it make its own appeal to the heart and understanding.
The aim of the fourth evangelist is different. Writing after the rise of heresy, he aims definitely at establishing the true doctrine of the person of Christ. Sayings and incidents are selected not for their biographical interest, but for their doctrinal importance as illustrating various aspects of the Incarnation of the Divine Son of God. The Gospel is, in fact, a sermon on the text ’And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us’ (John 1:14). Unlike the synoptists St. John is an allegorist, and expects the reader to detect a hidden spiritual meaning beneath the letter of his narrative. Assuming the synoptists to be well known, he omits for the most part the events and sayings which they record, and thus his Gospel forms a supplement—and. one of priceless worth—to the synoptic record. Taken, all together, the four Gospels give an adequate and harmonious picture of the God-Man, the synoptists delineating mainly His Humanity, and St. John His Deity. As an old writer (St. Irenseus, 177 a.d.) well says: ’The Word, who was manifested to men, has given us the gospel under four aspects, but bound together by one Spirit.’
3. Life of St. Matthew. St. Matthew, the reputed author of the first Gospel, was a customs house officer. His business was to collect the tolls levied on the merchandise that passed through the dominions of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Perea. He was stationed at Capernaum, on an important caravan route leading to Damascus. Though probably not in the employ of the hated Romans, but of Herod Antipas, he belonged to a despised class. ’Publicans,’ that is, collectors of taxes or tolls, were ostracised socially, and though not exactly excommunicated by the synagogue, were treated as ’sinners,’ i.e. abandoned and irreligious persons. It required no small courage on the part of the new Teacher to choose as one of His inner circle of disciples a despised publican. Our Lord’s object was probably to obtain influence among the class of religious and social outcasts. The call of Matthew was fully justified by its results. It brought Jesus into direct and fruitful contact with a class of persons for whose spiritual welfare none of the orthodox religious authorities had the least concern. The feast which St. Matthew made to celebrate his call was attended by a great multitude of publicans and sinners, and gave Jesus an opportunity of speaking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God (Luke 5:29.).
St. Matthew’s profession was a comparatively lucrative one (cp. Luke 19:2), so that it cost him something to ’forsake all’ and follow Jesus (Luke 5:28). When the call took place, he had probably been a disciple for some time, as was the case with the other apostles. His original name was Levi, and to this, on the occasion of his call, was added the surname Matthew, i.e. ’gift of God,’ by which he was generally known in Christian circles: cp. Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27 with Matthew 9:9.
According to the oldest traditions, he preached for fifteen years in Judaea and then visited Ethiopia, Persia, Media, and Parthia. His death seems to have been natural, though later authorities make him a martyr. He is commemorated by the church on Sept. 21st.
4. Composition and Authorship of the Gospel. The first Gospel, though compiled from various sources, is a literary unity, the work of a single writer. This is shown by the occurrence of various characteristic phrases, not in certain sections only, but throughout the work. Thus the phrase ’the kingdom of heaven,’ which is found in St. Matthew alone, occurs 14 times in sections which are peculiar to St. Matthew , , 18 times in sections which are common to him and St. Luke or St. Mark. Also the peculiar phrase ’that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet,’ which occurs nowhere else in the NT., occurs in nearly every part of the first Gospel: see Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:15, Matthew 2:17, Matthew 2:23; Matthew 4:14; Matthew 8:17; Matthew 12:17; Matthew 13:35; Matthew 21:4; [ Matthew 26:56;] [ Matthew 27:9;] [ Matthew 27:35;]. It is plain, therefore, that the same compiler has worked over the whole of the book, and given it such unity as it possesses.
The author’s sources were somewhat numerous, and several of them can still be clearly distinguished. His principal authority for narrative was St. Mark’s Gospel, which he probably possessed in its complete form, in which it contained an account of an appearance of the risen Lord in Galilee: see Mark 16:7. He evidently wrote with this Gospel before him, making it the basis of his work, and inserting his additional matter, gained from other sources, at appropriate intervals, but very seldom departing from its order. In transcribing St. Mark, he reproduced his words with considerable exactness, but usually abridged them, generally only slightly, but sometimes very considerably. For example, St. Mark’s account of the Gadarene demoniac runs to 20 vv., while St. Matthew’s has only 7 vv. He seldom adds anything of importance to St. Mark’s narrative. The chief exceptions are the account of the Temptation, where he adds important details from another source (Matthew 4:1-11), that of the walking on the sea, where he adds the incident of Peter descending from the ship (Matthew 14:22-33), that of the confession of Peter at Csesarea Philippi, which is described much more fully (Matthew 16:13.). Altogether, St. Matthew has about 470 vv. out of a total of 1,068 vv. parallel to St. Mark, that is, he borrows nearly half his Gospel from St. Mark.
Another source (or sources) is indicated by the large amount of matter which St. Matthew has in common with St. Luke. A complete list of these correspondences, amounting in all to about 200 vv., or nearly one-fifth of the Gospel, has already been given (see art. ’The Synoptic Problem’), and the reader is requested to refer to it. He will find that in at least two-thirds of the cases, the subject-matter (which consists mainly of discourses and sayings) has been placed differently by the two evangelists, and that the variations of phraseology are also very considerable. This suggests that not more than one-third (if so much) of the correspondences between St. Matthew and St. Luke are due to the use of a common document, and that, for the most part, they used different sources. Our evangelist’s main source for discourses seems to have been a document (called ’the Logia’) in which our Lord’s sayings were collected in masses according to subject-matter; but the sources of the discourses in St. Luke seem to have been documents in which our Lord’s sayings were preserved in their proper historical connexion. There is no sufficient evidence to show that our evangelist grouped together in his Gospel sayings that were separate in his sources, but rather the contrary, for he several times expresses his conviction that the great groups of sayings, which St. Luke separates, were delivered at one time and place, and this he would hardly have done if his sources had recorded them in widely-separated contexts: see especially Matthew 7:28; Matthew 11:1; Matthew 13:53; Matthew 19:1; Matthew 26:1.
A third group of sources is indicated by the matter peculiar to St. Matthew. This amounts to about 400 vv., and consists of the following sections:—
|Matthew 1:1-17.||Genealogy of Jesus.|
|Matthew 1:18-25.||The Nativity.|
|Matthew 2:1-18.||The Magi; the massacre of the Innocents.|
|Matthew 2:19-23.||Flight into Egypt.|
|Matthew 3:14, Matthew 3:15.||St. John’s scruple about baptising Jesus.|
|Matthew 4:12-16.||Isaiah’s prophecy fulfilled (Isaiah 9:1-2).|
|Matthew 4:23, Matthew 4:24.||Tours in Galilee.|
|5, 6, 7.||Much of the Sermon on the Mount.|
|Matthew 9:27.||The two blind men.|
|10.||About 8 vv. of the charge to the Twelve.|
|Matthew 11:28-30.||’Come unto me, all ye that labour.’|
|Matthew 12:5.||The priests profane the sabbath and are blameless.|
|Matthew 12:17-23.||Isaiah 42:1 fulfilled.|
|Matthew 12:36, Matthew 12:37.||Every idle word.|
|Matthew 13:14, Matthew 13:15.||Fulfilment of Isaiah 6:9.|
|Matthew 13:24-30.||Parable of the tares.|
|Matthew 13:35.||Fulfilment of Psalms 78:2.|
|Matthew 13:36-43.||Interpretation of the parable of the tares.|
|Matthew 13:44.||Parable of the hid treasure.|
|Matthew 13:45, Matthew 13:46.||Parable of the pearl-merchant.|
|Matthew 13:47-51.||Parable of the net.|
|Matthew 13:52, Matthew 13:53.||’Every scribe which is instructed.’|
|Matthew 14:28-33.||Peter walks on the waves.|
|Matthew 15:12-15;||’Every plant which my heavenly (in part). Father.’|
|Matthew 15:23-25.||’I am not sent but unto the lost sheep.’|
|Matthew 15:28-31.||Many are healed.|
|Matthew 16:11, Matthew 16:12.||The leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (but cp. Mark 8:15).|
|Matthew 16:17-19.||’Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona.’|
|Matthew 17:24-27.||The stater found in the fish’s mouth.|
|Matthew 18:4, Matthew 18:7, Matthew 18:10-11, Matthew 18:14.||Sayings about children.|
|Matthew 18:15-20.||’If thy brother shall trespass.’|
|Matthew 18:21-35.||’Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me?|
|Matthew 19:10-12.||Celibacy for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.|
|Matthew 20:1-16.||Parable of labourers in the vineyard.|
|Matthew 21:4, Matthew 21:5.||Fulfilment of Isaiah 62:11; Zechariah 9:9.|
|Matthew 21:10, Matthew 21:11.||Astonishment of Jerusalem at the triumphal entry.|
|Matthew 21:14.||The blind and lame healed in the Temple.|
|Matthew 21:15, Matthew 21:16.||The children cry ’Hosanna’ in the Temple.|
|Matthew 21:28-32.||Parable of the two sons.|
|Matthew 21:43.||’The kingdom of God shall be taken from you.’|
|Matthew 22:1-14.||Parable of the marriage of the king’s son (the wedding garment).|
|Matthew 23:1-5, Matthew 23:8-10, Matthew 23:14-22, Matthew 23:24-33.||Woes pronounced on scribes and Pharisees.|
|Matthew 24:11.||’Many false prophets shall rise.’|
|Matthew 24:12.||’The love of many shall wax cold.’|
|Matthew 24:30.||The sign of the Son of Man in heaven.|
|Matthew 25:1-13.||Parable of the ten virgins.|
|Matthew 25:14-30.||Parable of the talents (yet cp. St. Luke’s parable of the pounds, Luke 19:12-27).|
|Matthew 25:31-46.||Parable of the sheep and the goats.|
|Matthew 26:25.||Judas asks, ’Master, is it I?’|
|Matthew 26:52.||’Put up again thy sword.’|
|Matthew 26:53, Matthew 26:54.||’Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father?|
|Matthew 27:3-10.||Remorse, suicide, and burial of Judas.|
|Matthew 27:19.||Pilate’s wife.|
|Matthew 27:24, Matthew 27:25.||Pilate washes his hands.|
|Matthew 27:51-53.||Earthquake, opening of tombs, and resurrection of saints.|
|Matthew 27:62-66.||The tomb sealed, and a watch set.|
|Matthew 28:2-4.||A great earthquake. An angel bright as lightning rolls away the stone, and terrifies the guards.|
|Matthew 28:9-10.||Jesus appears to the women.|
|Matthew 28:11-15.||The guards report to the chief priests, who spread a false report.|
|Matthew 28:16-20.||Appearance on a mountain in Galilee.|
Of this peculiar matter we may assign to the ’logia’ most of the discourses and sayings, which include parts of the Sermon on the Mount, of the charge to the Twelve, of the denunciations of the Pharisees; also the parables of the tares, the hid treasure, the pearl-merchant, the net, the labourers in the vineyard, the two sons, the wedding garment, the ten virgins, the talents, and the sheep and the goats. Certain incidents similar in character to the common synoptic tradition, such as the Baptist’s scruple (Matthew 3:14), the tours in Galilee (Matthew 4:23), the healing of the two blind men (Matthew 9:27), the healing of the blind and lame in the Temple (Matthew 21:14), the children’s cry of Hosanna (Matthew 21:15), the question of Judas (Matthew 26:25), the remorse of Judas (Matthew 27:3), perhaps also the appearance to the women (Matthew 28:9), and to the eleven in Galilee (Matthew 28:16), seem to point to the use of an authentic narrative source somewhat resembling St. Mark’s Gospel. Very little of the Gospel seems due to oral, as distinguished from written, tradition—perhaps only the Nativity (which is confirmed in its essential features by the independent narrative of St. Luke), the visit of the Magi (which fits well into secular history, and is thoroughly credible), the incident of the temple-tribute, and certain details in the narrative of the resurrection, such as the resurrection of the saints, and the setting of a watch. On these the notes should be consulted.
From what has been said, it will be evident that direct authorship of this Gospel by the apostle Matthew is improbable. If St. Matthew had been the author, he would probably have given his own account of the transactions, and not have laboriously occupied himself with collecting and transcribing ’sources.’ At the same time a connexion with the apostle Matthew is probable. The name of so obscure an apostle would hardly have been connected with the Gospel without some good reason. Ancient tradition (first in Papias, 130 a.d.) credits St. Matthew with the composition of a book of ’logia’ or ’oracles,’ written in Hebrew (Aramaic), which may have been a brief Gospel, but was more probably a collection of discourses classified (as we have already suggested) according to subject-matter. Of a Greek translation of these ’logia’ our author seems to have made such liberal use, that he acknowledged his obligations to the apostle by calling his work ’according to Matthew.’ St. Matthew, therefore, is responsible for the discourses, but probably not for the history.
The author was undoubtedly a Jewish Christian, familiar with Hebrew, and trained in rabbinical methods. His quotations from the OT. (when they are not copied from St. Mark) generally follow the Hebrew rather than the Greek. He arranges his book on the arithmetical principles so common in rabbinical writings, and shows a particular fondness for the Numbers 7, 5, 3, 10. Thus there are seven beatitudes, seven petitions in the Lord’s prayer (not five, as in St. Luke), seven woes denounced against the Pharisees; also the names in the genealogy are arranged in multiples of seven (7 x 2); there are five chief collections of our Lord’s discourses, three temptations, three chief duties of religion (Matthew 6:1-18), three prayers in Gethsemane; also between the first and second discourses of Jesus the evangelist inserts ten miracles (Matthew 8, 9). Seven is, of course, the number of the sabbath day, five of the books of Moses, three of the priestly blessing, and ten of the plagues of Egypt. The author also shows his Jewish predilections in his affectionate references to Jerusalem as ’the holy city,’ and ’the holy place’ (Matthew 4:5; Matthew 24:15; Matthew 27:53).
5. Date. The date of the Gospel is rather before than after 70 a.d. The reason for thinking this is that the author has so arranged our Lord’s sayings about the fall of Jerusalem and His Second Advent as to leave the impression that these events would be coincident. Had he written later, he would have made it evident that they would be separated by an interval, as St. Luke has actually done (see Luke 21:24, and contrast Matthew 24:29-30). But the Gospel cannot have been written much before 70, because it uses sources, some of which are probably not very early, and embodies traditions which in some cases are apparently not in their earliest form.
6. General Characteristics. This Gospel is one of the most attractive books ever written, and in modern times has exercised a wide influence even beyond the pale of Christianity. One of the most influential of modern Indian converts was brought to Christ simply by reading it. The effect of the book is partly due to its excellent arrangement. The author arranges his material not, like St. Luke, chronologically, but according to subject-matter. Material of the same kind is collected into great masses, which being read uninterruptedly, produce a cumulative impression upon the reader. Good instances of the author’s method are the great collection of sayings known as the Sermon on the Mount (5-7); the great group of miracles intended to. illustrate and confirm it (8, 9); the charge to the Twelve, apparently composed of sayings delivered at various times (10); the cluster of seven parables (13), the collection of denunciations of the Pharisees (23), and the sublime group of parables illustrating the end of the world (25). The great glory of this Gospel is the discourses. These are from the pen of the apostle Matthew himself, who evidently had a special gift of remembering and recording accurately the very words of the Master. In almost all cases where there is any difference, St. Matthew’s version is superior to St. Luke’s. This is specially the case in the Sermon on the Mount. In no Gospel, not even in St. Luke, are the unapproachable majesty and splendour of Christ’s utterances so apparent. St. Matthew’s Gospel is particularly helpful in its treatment of OT. prophecy, showing how completely and comprehensively Christ fulfilled the ideals and aspirations of the OT. saints. Sometimes his exegesis, following (like St. Paul’s) rabbinical models, is of a kind more calculated to appeal to his original readers than to us, but, after making all deductions, it is not too much to say, that of all the remains of Christian antiquity dealing with the subject of Messianic prophecy, St. Matthew’s Gospel is the most fruitful.
We have now to speak of the more special peculiarities of St. Matthew’s Gospel, some of which are very definitely marked.
(1) The Gospel is predominantly Jewish-Christian. It reflects the tone of the church of Jerusalem before it was fully realised that the Ceremonial Law had been abolished. Sayings are reported which (literally understood) teach that every letter of the Mosaic Law is binding in perpetuity (Matthew 5:18), that its permission to divorce still holds good (Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9), that not the Levitical distinctions of meats, but only the Pharisaic glosses thereon have been abolished (Matthew 15:20), and that the sabbath day, with all its Mosaic restrictions, will permanently be observed by Christians (Matthew 24:20). The first place in the kingdom of God seems often to be assigned to the Jews (Matthew 19:28), the Gentiles being obliged to content themselves with a subordinate position. Christ’s mission is apparently restricted to the chosen people (Matthew 15:24). As for the apostles, they seem expressly forbidden to go into the way of the Gentiles, or to enter into any city of the Samaritans (Matthew 10:5).
But though the writer’s sympathies are predominantly Jewish-Christian, he is a perfectly honest witness, and does not attempt to suppress facts or sayings which are of a broader or even of an opposite tendency. He introduces Gentiles as the first worshippers of the infant Messiah (Matthew 2:1). He records the praise of the Roman centurion, and our Lord’s striking words, ’Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 8:11), words which affirm not only the admission of the Gentiles to the kingdom, but their admission on equal terms. Other instances of sayings favourable to the Gentiles are, Matthew 12:18, Matthew 12:21 (’in his name shall the Gentiles trust’), Matthew 12:41 (the men of Nineveh), Matthew 13:38 (’the field is the world’), Matthew 13:47 (the net gathering of every kind), Matthew 15:30-39 (feeding of 4,000 believing Gentiles), Matthew 24:14 (the gospel to be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations), Matthew 25:32 (Jews and Gentiles on an equality at the judgment day), Matthew 28:19 (all nations to be baptised). St. Matthew even records such anti-Jewish sayings as, ’the children of the kingdom shall be cast into outer darkness’ (Matthew 8:12), and ’the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof’ (Matthew 21:43).
That the evangelist expected to have Gentile as well as Jewish readers is shown by his occasional, though rare, explanations of Jewish words and customs (cp. Matthew 1:23; ’Emmanuel’; Matthew 27:46; ’Eli, Eli,’ etc.).
(2) In accordance with the Jewish-Christian character of this Gospel, the apostle Peter, the acknowledged head of ’the circumcision,’ is brought into special prominence. St. Matthew alone records the remarkable tradition of his attempt to walk upon the water (Matthew 14:28), and the promise that upon him, as upon a foundation, the Christian church should be built, and that whatsoever he should bind on earth should be bound in heaven.
(3) As a Jew, the author is particularly interested in the correspondence between the two testaments. In his view the new dispensation grows out of the old by a process so natural and inevitable, that it can hardly be called new. The Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms are not abolished; they are fulfilled in Christ. To Him alone they pointed, in Him alone they find their true significance. The germs of Christian truth were planted of old by inspired men, and have so vitally influenced the subsequent development of religion, that the author can even speak of the events of Christ’s life as taking place to fulfil the ancient prophecies. Thus Christ is born of a virgin at Bethlehem, is named Jesus, sojourns in Egypt, resides at Nazareth, migrates to Capernaum, heals the sick, speaks in parables, enters Jerusalem riding an ass, is deserted by the disciples, is betrayed, and put to death, ’that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet’ (so with slight variations of phrase Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:15, Matthew 2:23; Matthew 8:17; Matthew 12:17; Matthew 13:35; Matthew 21:4; Matthew 26:54 cp. Matthew 2:5; Matthew 13:14-15; Matthew 26:31; Matthew 27:9). This conception is not found in the other synoptists, except perhaps in one or two isolated phrases (see, e.g. Luke 24:28, Luke 24:44), but it is familiar to the fourth evangelist, and forms an important point of contact between the first and fourth Gospels (see John 12:39; John 17:12; John 19:24, John 19:36; John 20:9). St. Matthew alludes to no less than 65 OT. passages, of which 43 are verbally quoted. St. Luke’s allusions to the OT. number only 43, and of these only 19 are direct quotations.
(4) As a predominantly Judaic work, this Gospel portrays Jesus as the Messiah of the Jews. His genealogy is traced back only to Abraham, and not, as in St. Luke, to Adam. Stress is laid upon His descent from David (Matthew 1:1, Matthew 1:20; Matthew 9:27; Matthew 12:23; Matthew 15:22; Matthew 20:30-31; Matthew 21:9, Matthew 21:15; Matthew 22:42-43, Matthew 22:45), and the genealogy is an elaborate attempt to prove His right to David’s throne. The descent is, of course, traced through the legal father Joseph (’the son of David,’ Matthew 1:20), and exhibits not so much physical descent, as the legal transmission of the right to occupy the throne, and be ’king of the Jews’ (Matthew 2:2). But Jesus also satisfies the other and more sublime OT. anticipations with regard to the Messiah. His miraculous conception by the Holy Ghost of a virgin mother is evidence that He is in a unique sense the Son of God. He is, in fact, divine (Matthew 11:27), and consequently may rightly claim the title ’Emmanuel,’ ’God with us.’ He is the supernatural Son of man whose coming was predicted by the prophet Daniel, and at the end of the world will sit on the throne of His glory to judge the human race (Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24:3 o; Matthew 26:64, etc.). Hence He is not only David’s son, but David’s Lord (Matthew 22:44).
(5) The Messiah’s kingdom is the most frequent topic in this Gospel. Its title is almost always the rabbinical one, ’the kingdom of the heavens’; hardly ever, as in the other synoptists, ’the kingdom of God’ (only in Matthew 12:28; Matthew 21:31, Matthew 21:43). The rule over it has been committed by God to the Messiah, who sits on the throne of it as King (Matthew 25:34, Matthew 25:40). The author generally regards this kingdom as eschatological, i.e. beginning at the end of the world, which he expected would happen in his own time (Matthew 24:34). Then there would be a ’regeneration,’ i.e. a transformation or new birth of the whole creation, when the Son of man would sit on the throne of His glory and the apostles would sit upon twelve thrones judging (i.e. ruling) the twelve tribes of Israel, and the righteous would shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matthew 19:28; Matthew 13:43). Other passages illustrating the futurity of the kingdom are Matthew 6:10; Matthew 7:21; Matthew 8:11; Matthew 16:28; Matthew 18:3; Matthew 20:1-21; Matthew 25:1, Matthew 25:34; Matthew 26:29. But the author’s conception of the kingdom is many-sided, and he seems often to regard it (though this is disputed) as something present, like ’eternal life’ in St. John. Thus the subjects of the beatitudes are already within the kingdom (Matthew 5:3), and so are Christ’s disciples (Matthew 11:1), even young children (Matthew 19:14), and great is the sin of those who hinder others from entering (Matthew 23:13). Sometimes the kingdom means the spirit of Christ working secretly and silently in the world like the leaven (Matthew 13:33); sometimes it is the visible Church (Matthew 16:18-19), gathering of every kind like a net (Matthew 13:47), and spreading abroad like the branches of a mustard-tree (Matthew 13:31); sometimes, again, it is the Christian’s secret communion with God through Christ, as symbolised by the hid treasure, and the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:44-45). The conception is a broad and fluid one, and the attempt to define it too rigidly and exclusively is probably a mistake.
(6) Another feature of the Gospel is its anti-Pharisaic character. The pointed condemnations of Pharisaism in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:20; Matthew 6:1, Matthew 6:5, Matthew 6:16) are peculiar to St. Matthew, and in Matthew 23 he has 35 vv. of denunciation as against 3 vv. in Mark , 3 vv. in Lk.
(7) An apologetic purpose may also be detected. The author refutes the Jewish calumny that the disciples stole the body of Jesus (Matthew 28:15). To the objection to our Lord’s Messiahship based on His Nazarene origin (see John 1:46; John 7:41, John 7:52; Matthew 2:5), he replies that His birth took place at Bethlehem, in strict accordance with Micah’s prophecy (Matthew 2:1), and that if He afterwards went to live at Nazareth, this was to fulfil another prophecy (Matthew 2:23). That He ministered in Galilee and Capernaum rather than in Judæa was not a real difficulty, for this had been prophesied by Isaiah (Matthew 4:13). To the current calumny that He had visited Egypt to take lessons from a conjurer (see on Matthew 12:22-37), the author replies that Jesus was never in Egypt except once, when He was an infant, and that this visit was necessitated by a prophecy of Hosea (Hosea 2:16).
7. Analysis of the Gospel.
(a) The lineage and birth of the Messianic king (Matthew 1, 2).
(b) His solemn anointing to His Messianic office, and His preliminary temptation by Satan (Matthew 3:1 to Matthew 4:11).
(c) The proclamation and inauguration of the Messianic kingdom on earth: its laws, principles, and officers (Matthew 4:12 to Matthew 13:52).
(d) The Messiah and His kingdom accepted and rejected (Matthew 13:53 to Matthew 16:20): accepted by the disciples (Matthew 14:33), by the woman of Canaan (Matthew 15:22), by great multitudes (Matthew 15:30), by St. Peter (Matthew 16:16); rejected by the Nazarenes (Matthew 13:57), by the Pharisees and their sympathisers (Matthew 15:12; Matthew 16:4).
(e) The sufferings and death of the Messiah announced (Matthew 16:21 to Matthew 20:34).
First clear announcement (Matthew 16:21).
Second clear announcement (Matthew 17:22).
Third clear announcement (Matthew 20:17).
(f) The Messiah glorified by Death and Resurrection (Matthew 21-28). The triumphal entry (c.21); final denunciation of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes (Matthew 22, 23); great prophetic discourses (Matthew 24, 25); betrayal and death (Matthew 26, 27); the resurrection, and the exaltation of the Messiah to the throne of the universe (Matthew 28).
the Fourth Week after Epiphany