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Gospel of Matthew

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The Gospel according to Matthew is the first book in the New Testament, and also serves as a bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament

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.

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The Gospel of Matthew, like the others in the New Testament, evidently is based on sources that were in existence for some time. The two sources on which most of the material is based are Mark and the Logia

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.

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Thus, Jesus faces the same temptations as the Israelites in the Book of Exodus when He faces the Devil in the Wilderness, but He demonstrates a perfect faith that is evidenced not by His lack of fear, but rather His complete and perfect obedience. Jesus’ time in the wilderness can be seen as a journey of transformation and covenanting that allows Jesus to emerge renewed and filled with the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus enters the wilderness just after His baptism by John the Baptist where the voice of God declares that Jesus is the Messiah (Matt 3). This can also been seen to echo Jewish scripture, where God claims Abraham and Sarah’s son Isaac as his own, the child of the Covenant (Gen 17. 1). The time of trial in the wilderness can be seen as a period of transformation, in which Jesus earns His role as the Savior. In much the way that Jesus bestows power upon Peter following the foot-washing ceremony in the Gospel of John, the Gospel of Matthew provides the story of Jesus in the Wilderness as a time of commissioning. Throughout Matthew 4. 1-11, Jesus refutes the Devil’s temptations through the use of Hebrew Scripture. This highlights Jesus’ role as the Messiah, and claims him as the Davidic King prophesized by Isaiah (Is 26. 1)

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.

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To conclude, it preached being good to others and even turning the other cheek to them when the other was slapped. This was a new and radical concept, which did share some similarities with the Torah, but for the most part was in a league of its own. Hence, the Sermon on the Mount, and Christ’s sending his disciples to spread the word, were the building blocks from which Christianity arose to spread the faith to all the peoples of the earth and save them from sin.

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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.

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