Posted by / Wednesday, 29 March 2017 / No comments

The characteristics of Matthew's gospel

The books of Mark, Matthew and Luke are collectively referred to as the Synoptic Gospels. This simply means the three writers wrote their books from the the same point of view. There are, however, certain distinctive characteristics about the gospel of Matthew that gives it a unique identity, quiet different from the other three synoptic gospels
One of the characteristics of Matthew’s gospel is that it appeals to the entire world. In other words, Christianity is for humanity and not only for the Jews. When Jesus was born, for example, there were three wise men that came from the East to visit the child. Also when the child’s life was threatened, God told Joseph to escape with the child to Egypt, a Gentile country.

Jewish Particularism
Apart from being universal, the gospel is still exclusive to the Jews in some sense. In other words, it is a gospel dedicated to the Jews. Matthew, for example, traced the genealogy of Christ to Abraham who is regarded as the father of the Jewish nation. Matthew also recorded Jesus as saying he was sent to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” meaning he came specifically for the Hebrew race and not for any other race.

Ecclesiastic interest
Another characteristic of Matthew’s gospel is that, he is seen to be much interested in the church or the “ecclesia”. Matthew recorded Jesus as telling Peter that he is the rock on which he would build his church. Also, according to Matthew, the church must be the final place for the adjudication of disputes, emphasizing the importance of the church in the lives of Christians.

Elements of miracles
Matthew alone tried to make Jesus’ stories more miraculous that they may actually seem. He seemed to employ the literary device called exaggeration to make Jesus look like a powerful miracle worker. In the story of the healing of the Gerasene demoniac, Matthew alone recorded that there were two mad men that Jesus healed. Also, when Jesus cursed the fig tree, Matthew recorded that the tree died immediately but Mark wrote that it was discovered the next day that the tree had withered.

Interest in the Messiah
Matthew also tried to prove that Jesus was the Messiah that was being expected by the Jews. For this reason; he quoted copiously from the Old Testament to buttress his point. His catch phrase is “that it might be fulfilled” preceded his reference to an Old Testament linkage of something he was writing about. So for example, when he wrote about the flight of Joseph with his nuclear family to Egypt, Matthew wrote “that it might be fulfilled that ‘out of Egypt have I called my son’”. He was quoting from the book of Hosea 11:1.

Apocalyptic interests
Matthew was also interested in the happenings of the last days, referred to as eschatology. He spoke about issues concerning the end of the world. The parable of the Talents and that of the Ten Virgins were exclusive to the book of Matthew. All these showed apocalyptic influences.

1. What are the main characteristics of Matthew’s gospel?

2. Apart from being a universal gospel, Matthew was also exclusive to the Jewish race. Discuss.

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