Goal for the Class: Textual studies like this have something for everyone. No matter where you are spiritually, you can benefit from studying a book about Jesus. By the time this course is over every student should…
1. understand the book of Matthew in its historical setting.
2. know the life of Jesus well enough to explain him to others and be able to show how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies.
3. be able to take Jesus’ teachings and apply them to life’s daily problems.
Student Requirements: You get out of it what you put into it. You’ve undoubtedly heard that before, but it is worth reminding ourselves that learning takes effort. So to get the most out of this course:
1. Keep a notebook. There will be handouts every week in 5½x8½ format. Keep these and any personal notes you make in a notebook for future reference.
2. Read Matthew once a week. It is nice when you can read any book you are studying in one setting, but time does not always allow such a luxury. If you want to read a little each day you can break down the chapters as follows: 1-4, 5-7, 9-12, 13-17, 18-22, 23-25 and 26-28. This will take about 10 minutes each day.
3. Be ready to discuss the upcoming text. We have 28 chapters to cover in 13 weeks so we will average a little over two chapters per week.
4. Study your notes and be ready for quizzes. About every other week we will have a quiz. This will give us some idea of how well we are communicating in the class. Please see this as a positive. I promise nobody will flunk the class.
5. Bring your Bible to class and look up the passages. Studying from your own Bible helps you find the text you are looking for later on.
Author: There is no historical reason to doubt that Matthew, the tax collector, wrote the gospel of Matthew. Patriarchal fathers such as Eusebius (250 A.D.), Irenaeus (180 A.D.) and Tatian (170 A.D.) all acknowledge Matthew as the author. “Matthew also issued a written gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect.” -Irenaeus
Date: Some time would pass after the resurrection and ascension of Christ before there would be a need for a written record of His life and teachings. Naturalists try to date Matthew after 70 A.D. because of the detailed description of the destruction of Jerusalem in chapter 24. However, there is historical evidence that Christians heeded the warning of Mat 24 and escaped from Jerusalem in time. This would prove the book existed before 70. Matthew was written sometime between 60 and 70 A.D.
Purpose: Matthew is designed to show Jews that Jesus is undoubtedly the prophesied Messiah. In every way, Jesus fulfilled what was prophesied about the Messiah. His miracles also confirmed His authenticity. Matthew shows that Jesus is the Savior promised by God and is worthy of our worship. Five major speech sections anchor the structure of the whole book. Our study will revolve around these sections of teaching.
The Synoptic Problem: There are obvious similarities between Matthew and the other gospels and yet clear differences as well, which raises the question, did the gospel writers copy from each other? If so, which one copied from which? Did they have sources, besides each other to copy from? This is referred to as the synoptic problem. Luke ascribes his investigation of Christ to several sources in the beginning of his gospel account. No doubt, each gospel writer had various ways of learning about Jesus, but there is no need to seek organic explanations when one understands the working of the Holy Spirit. Despite similarities, each gospel serves a different purpose. The Holy Spirit inspired each writer to record the words which best served the book’s intended purpose (John 14:26; 2:22; Luke 24:44-45; John 16:13).
Aramaic Gospel– (Dessing & Eicchorn) Independent source for Mt, Mk & Lk. Document never seen by anyone. Doesn’t explain the differences.
Fragment Theory– (F. Schleirmacher 1825) Several fragments of Jesus’ teaching were floating around, based on Lk 1:2. -No such fragment MSS have been found.
Oral Theory– (J.K.L. Giesler, B.F. Westcott) Israelites were famous for passing on oral traditions.
-Does not explain how Mt, Mk & Lk could be so similar in order of events.
Mutual Literary Dependence Theories– Writers copied from one another or another source.
(Augustine DeHippo early 400s)- “Mk followed Mt closely and looks like an imitator and an epitomizer.”
(Karl Lachmann 1835)- Discovered strong textual congruity between Mt & Lk in pericopes corresponding with Mk. Other independent texts were in different order. He concluded Mk was the original source. Darwinism popularized this theory; evolving from the simple.
(C.H. Weisse 1801-1866)- Agreed Mk was first but that Mt & Lk had another source he called Quella. The Two Source Theory.
(B.C. Butler 1951)- Demonstrated that it was just as easy for Mk to use Mt as a source and condense.
(Sir John Hawkins)- Did statistical studies on Gospel synopsis. Founded the 4 Document Theory.
(B.H. Streeter 1924)- Further clarified.
*Please read the gospel of Matthew by next Sunday.