Matthew - Introduction and 1:1-17


Did Matthew write the book of Matthew?
  • The book itself is actually anonymous
  • However, abundant historical evidence points to Matthew as the author
    • Early church quoted this gospel more frequently than any other
    • Ascribed to Matthew by Papias, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, Justin Martyr, and Origen
    • There is no reason to manufacture Matthew as the author if he actually wasn't
  • The primary opposition to Matthaean authorship are to address the "Synoptic Problem"
    • The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are too similar - there must be a common source
      • This been called "Q" - which stands for the German word "quelle", meaning "source"
      • However, there has never been any evidence found for such a "Q" document
        • No Biblical, historical, nor archeological mentions/evidence

Composition and Date

Until the 19th century, it was nearly unanimously agreed that Matthew was the first of the gospels
  • A theory then arose regarding Mark being first and that Matthew and Luke both used Mark as a source
  • It almost certainly was before 70 A.D. (when the temple was destroyed)
  • Yet there was some passage of time since the events occurred (Mat. 27:8, 28:15)
Papias records that "Matthew wrote the words in the Hebrew dialect", yet the manuscripts of Matthew we have are in Greek
  • Some claim this means that the Greek version we have is really a translation of some original
    • Unlikely, as there has never been any evidence of a Hebrew original found, and the Greek version does not show any literary signs of being a translation
  • Most likely Matthew recorded observations in Hebrew (shorthand) and then later composed the gospel in Greek


The focus of Matthew is to a Jewish audience
  • Irenaeus and Origen state is was written to converts from Judaism
  • Quotes OT more than any other gospel
  • Emphasis on demonstrating Jesus' fulfillment of Messianic prophecy (much of it from Isaiah!)
  • The gospel explains how the Gospel does not discredit the OT, but instead was the very goals towards which the OT revelation points
It is therefore fitting that it is placed as the first Gospel in our collection of the NT scriptures - it is a bridge between the OT and the NT for Jewish believers

Genealogy of Jesus: Matthew 1:1-17

We are given two genealogies of Jesus in the NT:
  • Matthew - the legal line through royal descent
  • Luke - the blood line through Mary's father (Heli)
Discrepancies in the Matthew genealogy:
  • 4 names are omitted in Matthew compared with the listing given in 1 Chronicles 3:10-16
  • Possibly used as a literary device to make the names fall into 3 groups of 14 by Matthew for memorization
  • Common for early genealogies to refer to "son" as either a direct son or a descendant (e.g., grandson"

Jesus - historical name
Christ - Greek for Messiah (Hebrew) - literally, "Anointed One" - his office

Four women are mentioned, which is unusual in Jewish genealogies.  Three bore sexual moral blots (Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba).
  • Tamar (Gen. 38:13-30)
  • Rahab (Josh 2) - not explicitly explained regarding his marriage to Salmon, but it states that "she remained in Israel to this day"
  • Ruth (Moabite)
  • Bathsheba (wife of Uriah) (2 Sam. 11)
There was a curse on Jeconiah (Coniah) that he would be "childless" and not have any descendant on the throne of David
  • Childless in the sense of reigning children
  • Jesus either breaks the curse, or is bypassed due to the fact that he is not a literal blood descendant of Joseph (only Mary)
It is significant that the text does not say Joseph begat Jesus - only that he was the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born
  • Joseph was Jesus' legal father, but nothing more

The significance of the genealogy of Christ

  1. God always keeps his word
    • God had promised to Abraham that all peoples would be blessed through him (Gen. 12:3)
    • He promised to raise of a savior from the family of David (Isa. 11:1)
    • Jesus is traced to be both a son of David and a son of Abraham (Mat. 1:1)
  2. Each person is stained with sin and must fight that battle for themselves
    • Godly fathers had ungodly sons - Grace is not inherited from human descent
    • John 1:13
    • Yet, God still used these people in the line of his Son to save them
  3. Jesus' humility, mercy, and compassion
    • Jesus was willing to be born into and identify with this line of people
    • We are not deserving of Christ's coming, yet he came anyway
    • The sins of the people, and ours, do not preclude our reception of God's saving grace

Teaser for future study: Jesus as the New Moses: