Matthew Gospel of
Mat’thew, Gospel of.
1. Its authorship.—That this Gospel was written by the apostle Matthew there is no reason to doubt. Seventeen independent witnesses of the first four centuries attest its genuineness. 2. Its original language.—The testimony of the early Church is unanimous that Matthew wrote originally in the Hebrew language. On the other hand, doubt is thrown over this opinion, both by an examination of the statements of the fathers and by a consideration of peculiar forms of language employed in the Gospel itself. The question is unsettled, the best scholars not agreeing in their judgment concerning it. If there was a Hebrew original, it disappeared at a very early age. The Greek Gospel which we now possess was, it is almost certain, written in Matthew’s lifetime; and it is not at all improbable that he wrote the Gospel in both the Greek and Hebrew languages.—Lyman Abbott. It is almost certain that our Lord spoke in Greek with foreigners, but with his disciples and the Jewish people in Aramaic (a form of language closely allied to the Hebrew).—Schaff. The Jewish historian Josephus furnishes an illustration of the fate of the Hebrew original of Matthew. Josephus himself informs us that he wrote his great work, “The History of the Jewish Wars,” originally in Hebrew, his native tongue, for the benefit of his own nation, and he afterward translated it into Greek. No notices of the Hebrew original now survive.—Professor D. S. Gregory. 3. The date.—The testimony of the early Church is unanimous that Matthew wrote first among the evangelists. Irenæus relates that Matthew wrote his Gospel while Peter and Paul were preaching, and founding the Church at Rome, after a.d. 61. It was published before the destruction of Jerusalem, a.d. 70.—Alford. We would place our present Gospel between a.d. 60 and 66. If there was an original Hebrew Gospel, an earlier date belongs to it.—Ellicott. 4. Its object.—This Gospel was probably written in Palestine for Jewish Christians. It is an historical proof that Jesus is the Messiah. Matthew is the Gospel for the Jew. It is the Gospel of Jesus, the Messiah of the prophets. This Gospel takes the life of Jesus as it was lived on earth, and his character as it actually appeared, and places them alongside the life and character of the Messiah as sketched in the prophets, the historic by the side of the prophetic, that the two may appear in their marvellous unity and in their perfect identity.—Professor Gregory.