Matthew, Gospel according to
Gospel according to Matthew, 1st book of the New Testament. Scholars conjecture that it was written for the church at Antioch toward the end of the 1st cent. Traditonally regarded as the earliest Gospel, it is now generally accepted that it postdates the Gospel of St. Mark and drew considerable material from it (see Synoptic Gospels). However, Matthew differs from the other Gospels in its narration of Jesus' birth, in the arrangement of the Sermon on the Mount, and in the length of the discourse on the end of the world. There are more allusions to the Old Testament in this Gospel than in the others; it was clearly written for Jewish Christians, the purpose being to prove that Jesus was the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. Much of the book is devoted to his teaching. The Gospel can be divided into five sections: the origins of Jesus the Messiah; the first two years of his ministry in Galilee; his third year of ministry, including his rejection by religious opponents and his journey and stay in Jerusalem; the passion and resurrection; the instruction to the disciples to evangelize. The traditional ascription of the Gospel to St. Matthew, which dates from the 2d cent., is questioned by most scholars. See J. D. Kingsbury, Matthew (1975); G. Stanton, ed., The Interpretation of Matthew (1983).
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Matthew, Gospel according to Saint
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Matthew, Gospel According to
MATTHEW, GOSPEL ACCORDING TO
Traditionally placed first in almost all the texts of the New Testament, the gospel according to Matthew has enjoyed widespread popularity because of its richness of detail, its deliberate catechetical intent, and its special preoccupation with Church order. The liturgies have shown a predilection for the Matthean version of the Lord's Prayer and catechetical texts for the Matthean version of the Beatitudes. It alone gives the epochal Tu es Petrus (Mt 16.17–19), and it would be otiose to underline the magnitude of this text in Christian history.
This article is in two parts. The first, reflecting the approach that was common through the middle of the 20th century, outlines the general plan of the Gospel and discusses it in relationship to the other synoptic Gospels. The second part draws on the scholarship of the latter half of the century that focused more on the historical situation of the Matthean community. It presents the composition as the evangelist's response to challenges facing a Christian community in transition, emphasizes the gospel as narrative and, highlights its view of salvation-history.
Plan and Structure. Based on the simplest analysis of its contents, the gospel, after an introduction (1.1–4.11) that reports the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus—the so-called Infancy Narrative—can be divided into three principal sections, each with several divisions and subdivisions: the first section describes Jesus' ministry in Galilee (4.12–13.58); the second section is an account of his journeys (14.1– 20.34); and the third, tells of ministry in Jerusalem, his passion and death and resurrection (21.1– 28.20).
Modern biblical scholars seeking clues to the author's purpose and intent have undertaken more sophisticated analysis. Approaching the text from different starting points, three schools of thought have emerged as to how the author organized his material: one school argues that it follows a broad geographical-chronological outline that traces Jesus' story from Galilee to Jerusalem, from his birth to his death and resurrection; another school finds topical patterns that highlight and explain the evangelist's basic themes; and a third detects a conceptual structure used by the author to focus on the theme of salvation.
Although scholars have grown more and more critical of the so-called Pentateuchal theory advocated by Benjamin Bacon early in the 20th century, they acknowledge his insight in pointing up the literary formula that clearly marked the boundaries of the five major parts of Jesus' public ministry. Each part is composed of a narrative section followed by a discourse, and all are directed to the progressive unfolding of the central theme of the synoptic gospels, the good news of the Kingdom: (1) the promulgation of the Kingdom: ch. 3–7; (2) the preaching of the Kingdom: ch. 8–10; (3) the mystery of the Kingdom and its lowliness and inwardness as opposed to the triumphal aspirations of nationalistic theology: 11.1–13.52; (4) its initial growth among a tiny remnant of believers who are the seed of the future Church (13.53–18.35); (5) the divide: rejection of the Jews and admission of the Gentiles (ch. 19–25).
The five discourses (ch. 5–7; ch. 10; 13.1–52; ch. 18; ch. 24–25) all end with a conventional summary that remains fairly consistent: "And it came to pass when Jesus had finished these words…" (7.28; 11.1; 13.53; 19.1;26.1). The formula is Semitic, and it is given here in its Septuagint (LXX) dress (cf. Jos 4.11; 1 Sm 13.10; 1 Sm 24.17; etc.). In Matthew it has a definitive ring, and he scarcely ever uses it outside these contexts; a possible exception is 9.10. All five discourses have the Kingdom of Heaven for their theme, but each in turn shifts the focus and so changes the definition in a marked manner.
The first (ch. 5–7) of the five discourses, commonly called the sermon on the Mount, constitutes in profane metaphor the Magna Carta of the Kingdom. It embodies inter alia the ideal of what the disciple should be, and it gives an excellent insight into Matthew's method of composition. For him a chosen theme is a magnet that attracts to itself sayings of Jesus, which one knows, from comparing Matthew in loco with the other Synoptics, must belong to different periods in the public life. Not infrequently in fact Matthew himself reproduces such sayings as doublets in what seem to be more satisfying contexts logically.
Thus the Our Father, which is given in Lk 11.2–4 in a very natural context, seems to be placed by Matthew at Mt 6.9–15 by attraction to his theme that at this point is prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. In a similar way the words of Christ on divorce (5.31–32) reoccur as a doublet with no essential change in 19.9 (Mk 10.11–12; Lk 16.18). Matthew places them in the prior setting solely because his theme is adultery at that point. This type of composition is thematic and suits his purpose, but it must of course be carefully born in mind in the overall exegesis of his Gospel. Another case of such thematic attraction seems to be verifiable in Mt 16.13–23, where the Tu es Petrus text seems to have been drawn from a different Sitz im Leben since it is logically difficult to fit it into the total Synoptic context at this point (Mk 8.27–33; Lk9.18–22; Mt 16.13–23).
The second discourse (ch. 10) is addressed to the missionary preachers of the good news and includes both instructions and a warning about impending persecutions.
The third (ch. 13) is on the lowly and hidden nature of the Kingdom and presents a clear rejection of nationalistic messianism. The fourth (ch. 18) is a discourse for the followers of Jesus. They are the little flock through whom the Kingdom will grow, and these Jesus instructs in the way of humility, charity, and mutual support. And from these in fact came the inspired impulse that spread the Kingdom after the dawn of the Resurrection. The fifth (ch. 24–25) enshrines the great apocalyptic tableau that is probably the most mysterious element in the New Testament, here and in the other Synoptics. A double chord runs through it, the rejection of the people of the Old Law and the election of the believers in Christ, Jew and Gentile, the new people of God. There is great emphasis here on the need for vigilance, and all is unrolled against the background of the impending doom of Jerusalem and the Last Judgment.
Matthew separates the discourses by inserting narrative sections. His intention, and it is fairly well sustained, is to use the narrative to anticipate the themes of the discourses. This plan is not fully realized in the case of the first discourse. Here he had to follow inevitably the common beginnings of the Synoptic tradition (John the Baptist, Baptism, and temptations), but even at that his selective hand is visible. He confines himself to the necessary minimum of the common tradition (3.1–4.11), and omitting further elements common to Mark and Luke, e.g., Jesus in the synagogue at Capharnaum and the healing of Peter's mother-in-law, he subtly introduces an audience for the imminent Sermon on the Mount—chosen disciples (4.18–22) and the multitudes drawn by the growing fame of Jesus as a wonder-worker (4.23–25).
The plan is quite clear in the narrative section (ch. 8–9) before the second discourse. Here 10 miracles are grouped together because miracles are signs of the Messiah and His age (4.23–25; 9.35; 11.3–6; 12.28). Thus in the whole missionary context of ch. 8–10 there are not only missionary instructions but also the signs performed by Jesus that His disciples in their turn will do also.
Likewise the narrative section of ch. 11–12 admirably prepares the way for the ensuing discourse in parables. The theme here is the lowliness of the Kingdom, a conception so alien to the majority of the Jews that Jesus elects to speak of it under the veil of parables. To prepare this Kingdom-in-parables notion, the evangelist presents certain events and sayings calculated to justify, as it were, in advance the reason for the use of such a veiled device of divine revelation. The proud who refuse to believe in Jesus are introduced (11.16–24; 12.1–14, 24–45); even John the Baptist seems to have doubts (11.2–6); but the humble of heart are those who receive the message and who become true followers of Christ (11.25–27; 12.23, 46–50).
The narrative section 13.53–17.27 introduces the theme of the fourth discourse less clearly than in the preceding cases. There is, however, in this section a general orientation toward the ecclesiastical subject matter of ch.18. It contains, for instance, two episodes that are fundamental to the constitution of the future Church: the confession of Peter at Caesarea Philippi and the multiplication of the loaves with its Eucharistic symbolism. In addition, the role of Peter is strongly emphasized in this section: he walks on the waters (14.28–31), he receives the solemn promise of Jesus (16.17–19), and he is closely related to Jesus when the latter pays the Temple tax for both (17.24–27). In fact, one may say that the person of Peter throws a prophetic shadow on the subsequent discourse.
As much may be said regarding ch. 19–23. Here the choice of events intended to introduce the eschatological discourse are not very systematically related to it. Yet the orientation toward it is quite discernible. In view of the supreme crisis that it presents, Jesus is shown calling for the humility that is a condition for entry into the Kingdom (19.10–30; 20.20–28). That a decisive spiritual event is at hand is clearly indicated by the solemn entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (21.1–11) and by the symbolic cleansing of the Temple (21.12–17). The tone of Jesus is decisive and unprecedented as He rejects official Judaism and its hypocrisy (23.1–36). And the most poignant moment is reached in the "Jerusalem, Jerusalem …" passage, 23.37–39. Only the Resurrection can answer this cry of a broken heart.
Sources and Synoptics. St. irenaeus attributed to Matthew the "composition of the Gospel" while "Peter and Paul were preaching and founding the Church in Rome" (Adversus haereses 3.1.1, quoted by Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 5.8.2). origen (d. 254) in his commentary on Matthew says: "The Gospel according to Matthew … was the first to be composed … in the Hebrew language for believers from Judaism" (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.25.4). Eusebius himself gives evidence in the same strain (ibid. 3.24.6), and one may note that the little phrase "in the Hebrew language" remains a constant. Early tradition, based on the testimony of Papias of Hieraplis (c. 60–130), held that Matthew composed a Gospel in Aramaic in Palestine. Papias presumably got his information from John the Presbyter since that was the source of his information on Mark (ibid. 23.2). Modern critical analysis, however, changes this view considerably. It shows in fact that the present canonical Greek Matthew and Luke presuppose Greek Mark as a basis. Matthew would therefore have been substantially constructed from a union of Mark with the hypothetical source called Q. The latter, already briefly referred to above, would have been used also by Luke, and this would explain the striking resemblance and at times identity of Matthew and Luke in passages of which Mark shows no trace. Additional critical study has followed this lead but with further modifications.
Some Catholic scholars of the Synoptic problem are loathe to set aside the ancient tradition of Matthew's priority. They see in the Papias tradition a reference not to the canonical Matthew but to an original Matthew in the Aramaic language which is now lost. What follows summarizes P. Benoit's assessment of the situation as he presented it in his Introduction to the Gospel of Matthew in the 1961 Bible of Jerusalem.
Material Common to Matthew and Mark. There exist the closest resemblances in subject matter and form between these Gospels. Matthew includes almost all the narrative material of Mark and adds little to it if one excludes the Infancy narrative. He follows the order of Mark very closely. One may certainly admit with the advocates of form criticism that the Synoptic Gospels are the result of the grouping together of originally isolated units (miracle stories, pronouncement stories, novellen, sayings and parables, etc.). But when one finds that the units once grouped have a more or less identical order as between two Gospels, this cannot be due to chance and the conclusion must be drawn that one depends on the other or that both are following a common but anterior source that had already arranged the original units in the present grouping. Must one choose between these alternatives, or somehow suggest a solution by combining them? An Aramaic original could explain the common order but could not explain the resemblances of language, in this case Greek. There are many indications that Greek Matthew depends on Greek Mark.
Dependence of Greek Matthew on Greek Mark. Where the same narrative is in question Matthew's style is spare and dry and concerned only with the doctrinal point at issue, whereas Mark is leisurely and colorful and abounds in touches of realistic detail. If one compares Mt9.18–26 with Mk 5.21–43, it is more likely that Matthew has made a schematic abstract from the vivid narrative of Mark than the other way around. This could also be explained by suggesting that Mark had embellished a common source that Matthew retained in its original and direct simplicity. But that seems quite unlikely in view of the coherent spontaneity of Mark.
The Greek of Matthew is solid and workmanlike, if not elegant, while that of Mark is rough and not without solecisms. When two parallel texts are compared carefully the refining hand of Matthew is evident as he attempts to improve on the deficiencies of Mark's language. This certainly shows a dependence of Matthew on Mark.
More important, however, are the cases in which Matthew betrays his dependence by keeping inexplicable details in his text on occasions in which he has reworked a Marcan narrative. Thus when he speaks of cures that took place "in the evening" (8.16), he retains a detail that has no meaning in his context, whereas in Mark (1.32) it has meaning since it marks the end of the Sabbath (1.21). In Matthew there had been no reference to a Sabbath, whereas in Mark there had to be since he is showing that Jesus waited until evening ended the Sabbath so as not to violate it by performing miracles, or more likely because the people would have been indoors during the Sabbath. In the same way the dinner with the sinners and the discussion on fasting (Mt 9.10–17) do not fit into the context of the ten miracles where Matthew places them. At this point the reference to the vocation of Matthew (8.9) was the relevant issue for the Evangelist, but that is found elsewhere in Mark (Mk 2.14–22) specifically linked to the two episodes referred to above. Apparently Matthew could see no way, or did not choose, to detach them and thus leaves evidence of his dependence on Mark. These and other indications could be presented to show dependence, but do they prove total dependence? Benoit believes that the matter may be explored even further.
Matthew's Use of the Old Testament. All the New Testament writers are concerned with the fulfillment of the Old Testament in the person of Christ, but none as much as Matthew. He quotes the Old Testament directly at least 60 times (Mark 23 and Luke 25 times), not to mention covert allusions and echoes. Some 10 of these quotations he cites as personal reflections on the event at hand; the rest he places on the lips of others. His Old Testament text is normally the LXX. This whole procedure is somewhat disconcerting to a modern reader, especially when on one occasion he apparently invents an ad hoc citation: "He shall be called a Nazarene" (2.23b). This is not in the Old Testament, nor is Nazareth ever mentioned there. At times he conflates two disparate Old Testament texts, a procedure that appears wholly artificial to the modern reader. Thus in 27.9–10, when showing that Judas is fulfilling a prophecy of Jeremiah, Matthew achieves his purpose by conflating Jer 32.6–15 with Jer 18.2–3 and Za 11.12–13. This is not the way of Western logic, but Matthew was in good rabbinical standing in his methods. The Messiah (the Christ) promised in the Old Testament had come. To Matthew's mentality the whole Old Testament had pointed to this, and therefore it was conceived as so charged with the promise of the Messiah that every word of it somehow ministered to this promise. Any text in it would therefore have some intimation to convey of the future Christ and could be used as such. It may be added that the New Testament use of the Old Testament is generally rather sober when compared to some of the extraordinary elaborations of the rabbinical traditions of exegesis. A selection of Matthean Old Testament citations is appended here to illustrate his spirit and method.
In Mt 1.23, Is 7.14 is quoted according to the LXX: "'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son; and they shall call his name Emmanuel'; which is, interpreted, 'God with us."' The Hebrew has "young woman" and "she shall call."
In Mt 2.15, Hos 11.1 is quoted: "Out of Egypt I called my son." In the original the reference is to the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. Matthew reinterprets the passage messianically.
In Mt 4.15–16, Is 9.1–2 is quoted: "Land of Zabulon and land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light; and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, a light has arisen." Isaiah was thinking of the Mediterranean coast and in terms of the Assyrians. Matthew uses this text quite loosely as a reflection citation to provide a theological reason for Jesus' transfer from Nazareth to Capharnaum on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
In Mt 11.10, Mal 3.1 is quoted in a somewhat changed form: "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall make ready thy way before thee." The words of Malachia ("Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me") have been changed (as also in the LXX and in Mk 1.2) because of the influence of Ex 23.20 ("See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared") and are then reinterpreted to refer to John the Baptist. [In Mk 1.2 the adapted citation from Mal 3.1 is attributed to Isaiah because it is followed (Mk 1.3) by a quotation of Is 40.3.]
In Mt 21.5 the evangelist writes: "Now this was done that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, 'Tell the daughter of Sion: Behold thy king comes to thee, meek and seated upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of a beast of burden."' This is a combination of Is 62.11 ("Say to daughter Sion, your savior comes") and Za 9.9 ("See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass"). Matthew or his source misunderstood the parallelism of the Hebrew poetry and spoke of two animals; the ass and colt are to be regarded as one in the original.
Matthew ranges widely over the Old Testament. He loves above all Isaiah, "the prophet of the Gospel," but he makes other Prophets, the Law, and the Psalms as well tributary to his theology of Christ in the Old Testament.
Historical Situation. A resurgent interest in Matthew's Gospel on the part of Scripture scholars has yielded significant studies of Matthean theology (Kingsbury, Meier) and a few commentaries. As already noted, the view that the Gospel according to Matthew was written by one of the Twelve in Hebrew or Aramaic and is the oldest and most complete account of the life and teachings of Jesus is no longer held. Although the Gospel numbers Matthew as one of the Twelve and describes him as a tax-collector (9:9; 10:3), there is a consensus that the evangelist was most likely a second-or third-generation Christian-Jew, probably trained as a scribe in a school where several versions of the Scriptures were available (Stendahl). Modern scholars see an autobiographical reference in Matthew's esteem for the scribe who brings new things and old out of the treasure house of tradition (13:52). Matthew's Gospel can be dated about a.d. 85, about 15 years after the Jewish revolt against Roman rule. It seems to have been composed in a predominantly Jewish-Christian community, probably in Antioch or some other urban center in Syria or Palestine where the postrevolt reform movement, influenced by the Pharisees of Jamnia, affected the religious environment.
In applying the methods of redaction criticism to Matthew's Gospel, scholars have discovered that the evangelist's community was coping with confusion caused by a time of transition. Christians, dispersed from Jerusalem, established communities throughout Palestine (Acts 8:1–3a), and Paul's missionary activities had opened the movement to Gentiles. Key leaders had been put to death: James in Jerusalem (a.d. 60); Peter and Paul in Rome (a.d. 67–68). What had been a predominantly Christian-Jewish movement was becoming progressively more Gentile.
Within Judaism dramatic changes were taking place. Prior to the revolt against Rome which ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (a.d. 66–70), Christian-Jews had understood themselves as a sect within Judaism, living under the same large umbrella as the Sadducees, the Essenes, the Pharisees, and the Zealots. But after the revolt they found themselves in conflict with the Jewish reform movement strongly influenced by the Pharisees. The movement took steps to control the rising significance of Christian-Jews and caused them to be gradually excommunicated from local synagogues.
These events caused Matthew's community to examine their own actions and their identity as followers of Jesus. Could they continue as a sect within Judaism? Should they continue to focus their missionary efforts on their fellow Jews or shift more to the Gentiles? What attitude should they take toward the Jewish Law, as it was being reinterpreted by the Pharisees? How should this community deal with the tension and hostility—a result of their belief that Jesus was the promised Messiah—between themselves and the synagogue leaders? These questions caused the community disorientation, confusion, tension, and internal conflict, as they wondered how to understand themselves in the world of postwar Judaism.
Important internal issues also included: persecution from Jewish and non-Jewish sources, scandal caused by mutual betrayal, hatred between members, the divisive influence of false prophets, and widespread wickedness causing love to grow cold (24:1–14). In a word, Matthew's community faced the challenges of a threefold transition: from an image of themselves as a sect within Judaism to an image of themselves as an independent movement; from a strong Jewish community to an increasingly Gentile community; and from a movement that included leaders who saw and heard Jesus during His earthly life to a movement more dependent on stories about what Jesus did and on collections of His sayings.
Evangelist's Composition. In response to these tensions, Matthew composed what we know as his Gospel. Weaving earlier traditions together, he retold the story of Jesus, so that his community might know what it meant to be Christian in the changing world of postwar Judaism. He affirmed their roots within Judaism and presented Jesus as the Messiah promised in the Hebrew Scriptures (Mt 1–2). He constructed five discourses to show that Jesus was their authoritative teacher, their Rabbi, not the Pharisees at Jamnia (Mt 5–7; 10; 13; 18; 24–25).
Matthew challenged his community to let Jesus deepen their "little faith," as they encountered the storms of transition (8:18–27; 14:22–33). He taught them to cope with internal dissension by avoiding scandal, by seeking the one sheep gone astray, and by reconciling and forgiving the brother or sister who had sinned against them (18:1–35). Matthew also directed their evangelical mission to both Jews and Gentiles (24:14; 28:16–20) and promised entrance into the kingdom of heaven to those who used their talents properly and remained awake and watching for the Messiah's expected return (24:37–25:30). As he retold the story of Jesus, Matthew highlighted these themes to show his community that they remained rooted in their Jewish heritage, to instruct them on how to deal with their present confusion, and to direct them toward their future life and mission.
Gospel as Narrative. Scholars have used composition and narrative criticism to interpret the Gospel of Matthew as a story about Jesus that begins with His roots in Abraham and David (1:1–18) and ends when He commissions to carry His message into all the world (28:16–20). The Infancy Narrative, the flight from Bethlehem in Judea to Egypt, and the return to Nazareth in Galilee recapitulate the story of Israel (Mt 1–2). Jesus' public life begins in the desert in Judea (3:1—4:11), continues in the towns and villages of Galilee (4:12–18:35) and on the journey to Jerusalem (19:1–20:34), and ends with the events in Jerusalem (21:1–28:15) and his return to Galilee (28:16–20).
The story scenes alternate sequentially with five collections of sayings, but the story as a whole remains a narrative that is structured more by the overall dramatic movement of plot and characters, than by the five distinct discourses. The story pivots on "hinge" scenes that echo what has gone before and announce what is to come: beginning the ministry in Galilee (4:12–25); return to Nazareth (13:52–58); Caesarea Philippi (16:13–28); blind men at Jericho (20:29–34); plot to kill Jesus (26:1–5).
Jesus is the central character in a network of relationships to his followers, to the suppliants who seek his help, to the hostile Jewish religious authorities, and to the larger Jewish crowds. The evangelist shapes these characters so that his community might see themselves in the followers, the Gentiles in the suppliants, the Jamnia Pharisees in Jesus' enemies, and their fellow Jews in the crowds.
Matthew's story begins with scenes from Jesus' infancy that tell the entire story in miniature (1–2). Next, John the Baptist and Jesus meet in the desert of Judea (3:1–4:11). With John in prison Jesus then reveals himself in Galilee as mighty in word and deed (4:12–9:34), and he empowers the 12 disciples to carry his power to the cities of Israel (9:35–10:42). Various reactions for and against Jesus are portrayed (11:1–12:50), and then Jesus teaches about the kingdom of heaven in parables (13:1–58).
Jesus then focuses on forming His disciples by strengthening their faith and increasing their understanding in episodes concerning bread (14:1–16:12) and by revealing the paradox of His suffering, death, and Resurrection on the journey to Jerusalem (16:13–20:34). In Jerusalem, Jesus takes possession of the temple, debates with His enemies, publicly denounces them, and instructs His disciples about the end of the age (21:1–25:46). Finally, He gathers with His followers at the supper, prays in the garden, moves through His passion, death, and Resurrection, and appears to His disciples in Galilee (26:1–28:20).
Salvation-History. In this story the evangelist presents a distinctive view of salvation-history. Apocalyptic signs at Jesus' death and Resurrection (27:51–54; 28:2–3) reveal a significant turning point in that history and Matthew has used his understanding of the post-resurrectional era to interpret Jesus' public ministry. (Compare Mt 14:32–33 with Mk 6:51–52; and Mt 16:15–23 with Mk 8:29–33.) In the beginning Jesus limited his mission, like that of John the Baptist and the 12 disciples, to Israel (10:5–6). But as crucified and risen, Jesus has come into all power over heaven and earth, and He sends His followers on a more universal mission, that is, to make disciples of both Jews and Gentiles until the end of the age. It is Matthew's purpose to explain how, in the mystery of God's plan of salvation, the kingdom proclaimed by Jesus is accepted more readily by the nations than by the Jews (8:10–12; 21:43).
Matthew's community looked back on both the death of Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem as marking the end of one era and the beginning of another. As Christians looked forward, the evangelist challenged them to use the story of Jesus to interpret their experience, to pattern their lives on the relationship between Jesus and His disciples, to live according to Jesus' teachings and teach others to observe His commands, and to devote themselves to the task predicted by Jesus: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come" (24:14). The continued presence of Jesus promised to the end of time (28:20) is to be found in a community that is committed to His teaching and willing to live by His commandments.
Bibliography: Commentaries. m. j. lagrange, Évangile selon saint Matthieu (3d ed. Études biblique ; 1927). j. schmid, Das Evangelium nach Matthäus (2d ed. Regensburger N.T. 3; Regensburg 1952). p. benoit, L'Évangile selon saint Matthieu (3d ed. Bible de Jérusalem, 43 v. [Paris 1948–54]; 1961). e. lohmeyer and w. schmauch, Das Evangelium des Matthäus (Meyers Kritischexegetischer Kommentar über das N.T.; Göttingen 1956). p. bonnard, L'Evangile selon Saint Matthieu (Neuchatel, Switzerland 1963). e. schweizer, The Good News According to Matthew (Atlanta 1975). j. p. meier, Matthew (Wilmington, Del. 1980). d. a. hagner, Matthew, 2 v. World Biblical Commentary 33A, 33B (Dallas, 1993, 1995). d. j. harrington, The Gospel of Matthew. Sacra Pagina 1 (Collegeville, MN 1991). w. d. davies and d. c. allison, jr., Matthew, 3 v. (The International Critical Commentary ; Edinburgh, 1988, 1991, 1997). u. luz, Matthew 1–7. A Commentary (Minneapolis 1989). Matthew 8–20. Hermeneia (Minneapolis 2001). Studies. k. stendahl, The School of Matthew (Copenhagen 1968). g. bornkamm, et al., Tradition and Interpretation in Matthew (Philadelphia 1954). w. d. davies, The Setting of the Sermon on the Mount (Cambridge, England 1966). j. d. kinsbury, The Parables of Jesus in Matthew 13 (Richmond, VA 1969). m. j. suggs, Wisdom, Christology and Law in Matthew's Gospel (Cambridge, MA 1970). w. g. thompson, Matthew's Advice to a Divided Community (Rome 1970). o. l. cope, Matthew: A Scribe Trained for the Kingdom of Heaven (Washington 1976). j. p. meier, Law and History in Matthew's Gospel (Rome 1976). r. a. edwards, Matthew's Story of Jesus (Philadelphia 1985). j. lambrecht, The Sermon on the Mount (Wilmington, DE 1985). g. d. kilpatrick, The Origins of the Gospel according to St. Matthew (Oxford 1946). b. c. butler, The Originality of St. Matthew (Cambridge, England 1951). j. dupont, Les Béatitudes (new ed. Bruges 1958). w. trilling, Das wahre Israel: Studien zur Theologie des Matthäusevangeliums (3d ed. Studien zum A. und N.T. 10 ; Munich 1964). d. l. balch, Social History of the Matthean Community: Cross-Disciplinary Approaches (Minneapolis 1991). j. a. overman, Matthew's Gospel and Formative Judaism: The Social World of Matthew's Community (Minneapolis, 1990). d. senior, What Are They Saying About Matthew? (New York/Mahwah 1996).
w. g. thompson/eds.]
"Matthew, Gospel According to." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (January 23, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/matthew-gospel-according
"Matthew, Gospel According to." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved January 23, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/matthew-gospel-according