Gospel of Matthew
The gospel tells us of Jesus and his teachings. It is believed that the Gospel originated with Matthew, one of Jesus' disciples, and it circulated anonymously. The message in this gospel was compiled to minister to a Jewish and Jewish-Christian community when tensions between early Christians and postwar Jewish leaders aggravated bitter controversy.
The latter is sometimes called "The Sayings of Jesus" and is often referred to as the Q source. In addition to these materials, another source, sometimes called M, seems to be necessary to account for the unique portions of the gospel. The introductory section, for example, contains several stories that are not found in any of the other Gospels. These stories include an account of the birth of Jesus, the visit of the wise men from the East, the meeting of these men with King Herod, Herod's decree calling for the death of male infants, the flight into Egypt, and the settlement in Galilee. Whether these stories were based on oral or written sources is unknown, but they are not found in either Mark or the Logia. All that ancient Israel had looked for with hope and high expectation is now to be fulfilled in the Christian church. Ancient Israel was given the Law through Moses, and now the new Israel has received another and even higher law in the teachings of Jesus. The basis for membership in the new Israel is neither race nor color nor nationality nor anything other than the character of individuals who believe in Jesus and put their trust in him. Believers will come from both Jews and Gentiles and from all parts of the world. In his selection and use of source materials for the writing of his gospel, Matthew represents different points of view. Some critics have argued that he was pro-Jewish in his outlook, but others have insisted that he was pro-Gentile. Some scholars regard him as a thorough-going legalist, while others find a strong element of mysticism in his writings. He was, according to some accounts, a disciple of Jewish apocalypticism, but others see him as one who believes that the kingdom of God will be established gradually in the lives of people. These different interpretations do not constitute evidence that Matthew was confused in his thinking or that he contradicted himself on these various topics; rather, they indicate that he tried to be fair with each of the different points of view, recognizing that there was truth to be gained from each of them. The result is the composition of a gospel that presents a balance between opposing conceptions and does so without destroying the element of harmony that brings them all together.
It is this emphasis on Jesus’ salvific role depending on His obedience, dedication, and hard work that is demonstrated in Matthew 4. 1-11 that leads to His Passion on the Cross. The importance and sacrifice inherent in His death depend on His sacrifice as a gift of free will, which is mirrored in his choice to give His life over to God, in spite of the Devil’s promises.
Harris, Stephen L. , Understanding the Bible. USA: Palo Alto Press, 1985.
Muir, John, Ed: Wolfe, Linnie Marsh. John of the Mountains: the Unpublished Journals of John Muir. Milwaulkee: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1979.