5 things to consider while reading the Gospel According to Matthew
- It was written in Greek around A.D. 85-90 for a community that came from Palestine and settled around Syria.
- The author used materials from an early version of Mark and a source called Q, in addition to his own materials.
- It is the most Semitic of Gospels, written for a Christian community of Jewish background who continued to reverence the Jewish law. Matthew constantly touches on Jewish customs and shows Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament. “Do not think I have come to destroy the law and the prophets; I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Mt 5:17) Because of this Jewish influence the author also makes numerous references to the final retribution and warns the people about the rewards or punishments they could face.
- This Gospel emphasizes the Kingdom of Heaven, with Jesus deserving honor as King and Son of God from day 1. He sees his Christian community as a manifestation of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, albeit an imperfect one. Jesus is shown as the Davidic Messiah and Law-giver second to Moses.
- He presents Jesus as a teacher and true interpreter of the will of God. Christians benefit from Jesus’ teachings and His help in living them. The author organizes his teachings into 5 sections, just like there are 5 books in the Jewish Law: the Sermon on the Mount, the Missionary Discourse, Parables, the Community, and the Last Discourse.