The Gospel of Matthew – Some Background informationst matthew stain glass

This year we follow the Easter story primarily through the Gospel of Matthew (with a departure into John for Maundy Thursday). The church follows a three year cycle of readings centered on the Gospel readings from the three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). Synoptic means “same sight” and refers to the fact that these three Gospels share a connection through common sources. John’s Gospel which is clearly written later not necessarily drawn from the same written sources as the other three, and is used to ‘fill in the gaps’ in the Lectionary readings.

All four Gospels are specific works of literature and theological faith in their own right and it is to our detriment that we tend to blend them into one homogenous whole. There are specific lessons of faith they each have to teach us and so the focus on one particular Gospel in a given year enables us to do this.

A little background information about where Matthew’s Gospel came from. Mark is the earliest of the Gospels and clearly Luke and Matthew had knowledge of Mark’s Gospel because there are whole passages repeated verbatim in Matthew and Luke direct from Mark. There are also other identical passages in Matthew and Luke which are not from Mark. This has led to a theory that there was another early Gospel, now lost to us which Matthew and Luke knew about. This is often referred to as “Q” from the German word Quelle, meaning ‘source’. Q is often typified by proverbic sayings of Jesus. There is then other material in Luke and Matthew specific to their own Gospel. Often called ‘Special Matthew’ and ‘Special Luke’. The following diagram explains this visually.

relationship between synoptic gospels

Matthew was written between 80-90CE by a Jewish Christian and is written in “polished synagogue Greek”.  “The author of Matthew wrote for a community of Greek-speaking Jewish Christians located probably in Syria (Antioch, the largest city in Roman Syria and the third-largest in the empire, is often mentioned).” (Wikipedia citing John Nolland (2005). The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text.) Matthew, more than the other three Gospels presents Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and the one who fulfills the law (Torah).

To fully appreciate the emphases of Matthew’s presentation of the passion, read Chapters 21-28 of Matthew’s Gospel. The key readings for these sermons (with the exception of Maundy Thursday) are taken from this section of Matthew specifically the following:

Palm Sunday       Matt 21:1-11                   Entry into Jerusalem

Good Friday        Matt 26:36 – 27:66       Jesus’ Arrest, Betrayal, Denial,

                                                                        condemnation, crucifixion

Easter Day           Matt 28:1-10                 The empty tomb, appearance

 However, reading the other passages around these readings will further augment your the understanding of the Gospel according to Matthew.

Ven Andrew Mintern  21st April 2017

Continue viewing more sermons in the 2017 Series of  Easter Sermons by Ven Andrew Mintern

Background information to the origin of Matthew’s Gospel – Ven Andrew Mintern