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Gospel of Matthew Characteristics

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

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The Gospel of Matthew is one of four gospels found at the beginning of the New Testament. The gospels are not listed in the order according to the date they were written. They are listed in the Bible in this order.

  1. Matthew
  2. Mark
  3. Luke
  4. John

They were actually written in this order:

  1. Mark
  2. Matthew
  3. Luke
  4. John

All four of the gospels have some things in common, but they are also different because they were written by four different writers with four different perspectives to four different audiences. Jesus is the central character in all of the gospels with details about Him, His life, ministry, death, and resurrection.

The Book of Matthew is one of the three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. That means they have a common view and share many of the same accounts. John is not a synoptic gospel because it is about the person of Jesus and does not focus on His deeds as much as the other gospels.

Reason Matthew Is Listed First

Even though the Gospel of Mark was written first, the Gospel of Matthew is listed first in the New Testament for a valid reason.

After God spoke to the last prophet Malachi in the Old Testament, He did not speak to another prophet for 400 years. Those years are called the silent years. Actually, God is never silent. It is just that He did not speak to any prophet during that time. The period is officially known as the Intertestamental Period.

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John the Baptist was that transitional prophet who shows up in the Gospel of Matthew but not in the Gospel of Mark that was written first. He was the first prophet God spoke to after speaking to Malachi 400 years earlier.

The Gospel of Matthew serves as a bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Therefore, it is appropriate to be placed first in the New Testament.

Matthew's Audience

Matthew was a Jew writing to the Jews about a Jew. He and Luke started their gospels with the birth of Jesus. Many preachers use the beginning of these two gospels to preach sermons during the Christmas season based on the birth of Jesus. Matthew's gospel goes only back to the genealogy of Abraham through Mary's ancestry. The physician Luke goes all the way back to Adam. Both writers told the story from their very own perspectives.

Because the Gospel was Matthew was written to the Jews, it has over 60 Old Testament references and many Old Testament customs because the Jews knew the Old Testament and could relate to Matthew's details.

Matthew is the teaching gospel that contains long sermons and more parables than the other gospels. In fact, there are several of the 28 chapters of Matthew containing kingdom parables where Jesus compared the things with the Kingdom of Heaven.

Even though the feeding of the five thousand is in all the gospels, Matthew goes into much detail because the event occurred in Jewish territory.

Matthew's Keywords

Any Bible scholar will notice that Matthew used certain keywords and phrases that are not evident in the other three gospels.

  • Matthew describes Jesus as the "King of the Jews."
  • The introductory statement "It is written..." is stated about 60 times referring to what is in the Old Testament.
  • Matthew thought it was too sacred to say "God" or "Kingdom of God." He says, "Kingdom of Heaven" instead.
  • Jesus says, "You have heard it said..., but I say unto you..." Jesus reminded people of what they had heard it said in the Old Testament, but He is saying it in a different way.
  • Matthew was a tax collector. Therefore, he was fond of numbers. For example, "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22).
  • Matthew calls Jesus “Son of David” referring to the Davidic line 9 times in Matthew. It is found only 6 times combined in Mark, Luke, and John.
  • Matthew introduces Jesus as “Messiah,” the long-awaited king of the Jews. He uses over 130 Old Testament times to prove that claim.

Onlys in Matthew

Some things are mentioned only in the Gospel of Matthew and not in the other three gospels.

  • Matthew is the only gospel writer who mentions the magi at Jesus’ birth.
  • Only Matthew contains the Sermon on the Mount.
  • The Beatitudes are included only in the Gospel of Matthew
  • Matthew is the only gospel that has the Golden Rule.
  • Matthew is the only gospel that has the Great Commission.
  • The suicide of Judas is found only in the Gospel of Matthew.
  • This gospel is the only one that mentions the church.

Understanding the Gospel of Mattew

You will be able to understand the Gospel of Matthew much better when you know the above characteristics. The next time you read something from Matthew, pay attention to those keywords and things that are mentioned only in that gospel.

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