by Chuck Missler

The first thing to notice about the Gospels is that they are skillfully designed; each one is tailored to suit its specific perspective. Matthew was a Jew, a Levite; he presents Jesus Christ as the Messiah of Israel – the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. This first book of the New Testament plunges right in to establish Jesus as the Meshiach Nagid, the Messiah the King. After first establishing the royal genealogy, Matthew then proceeds to focus on the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies: Matthew uses the term "fulfilled" 82 times!

Matthew emphasized what Jesus said. He evidently recorded the discourses verbatim. As a customs official, he was a tachygrapher, or shorthand writer. The reason Matthew’s Gospel is so much longer than Mark’s is that he includes Jesus’ extensive discourses, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the Olivet Discourse; without these discourses, Mark’s Gospel would be longer.

Early Origin

Many scholars now believe that the Gospels were written before Paul’s first imprisonment in 57-60 AD, and that virtually all of the New Testament books were written before Jerusalem’s destruction.

There is no hint in the New Testament of Nero’s persecutions after 64 AD, nor of the execution of James, the Lord’s brother, in 62 AD. There is not the slightest mention of the Jewish revolt against the Romans, which began in 66 AD, nor of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. These historic events would have been irresistible in making many of the arguments in the New Testament documents.

Textual evidence suggests that the Gospels were originally written in Hebrew. In hundreds of places the Greek sentence structure betrays a Semitic influence and implies a translation from the Hebrew. It appears that within five years after the death and resurrection of Christ, most of His words and deeds had been committed to a simple written Hebrew form and Matthew is, of course, assumed to be part of this compilation.

In 1994, an ancient segment of the Greek text of Matthew’s Gospel was analyzed and it appears to be dated before 66 AD. Known as the Magdalen Papyrus, it contains segments of Matthew 26:23 and 26:31 on both sides of three fragments. Using a scanning laser microscope, it has provided physical evidence that the Gospel according to Matthew is an eyewitness account written by contemporaries of Christ.

Your Challenge

Matthew’s thoroughness and precision lends many special insights as one delves into his detailed presentations. His rendering of the Seven Kingdom Parables in Chapter 13 is remarkably parallel to the Letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation Chapters 2 and 3, etc. His presentation of Jesus’ confidential briefing to His disciples about His Second Coming in Chapter 24 is an essential foundation in any eschatological (end-time) study. So, clearly, this very basic book of the Bible is, of course, a most rewarding study to both novice and experienced Bible students who are willing to diligently dig in. Our prayers are that you will be blessed as you embark on this fascinating study!