Matthew’s Gospel Isn’t Necessary. (Purpose and Persons)

We don't need the gospel of Matthew. I mean, really, why do we need his extremely long gospel with its unnecessary genealogy and innumerable Old Testament references? Why couldn’t we just read Mark, Luke, and John and be done with it? This would mean one less book of the Bible to read. Isn’t there enough of Jesus in the three other gospels? Like they say, too much of a good thing…

Why couldn't Matthew have just been happy with the writings of those other guys? Was Matthew jealous of Mark's gospel? Was he thinking: "Mark thinks he can write about Jesus; oh yeah? I'll show him. I'll write an even longer gospel." Is that what’s going on?  

Was Matthew trying to make a name for himself? Was he thinking he could make some money if he wrote a book about Jesus? Heck, he was a tax collector and they were known to be shady individuals, right? So why did Matthew write another gospel? WHY AM I ASKING SO MANY QUESTIONS?

The truth is each of the gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Jose, (just kidding), were writing with a particular people and purpose in mind. It’s like writing a letter or an email. You write with a particular person or group in mind, whether that be a business, a relative, or a friend. You know who you are writing to and what that recipient is like. If you’re corresponding with someone you also have a particular purpose in mind. For example, you may want to write your friend and remind him he owes you $50 bucks for when his wiener dog barfed on your sofa. Whatever it is, you have a purpose and person in mind when you write.

Wiener dog
Matthew had person(s) and a purpose in mind with his gospel. His purpose and persons were different than Mark, Luke, or John, who also wrote to a particular people and for a particular purpose. The people Matthew had in mind were the Jews. He was writing with a Jewish audience in mind. As a Jew himself Matthew wanted his fellow Israelites to believe in Jesus. Matthew’s purpose was to show his people Jesus was the Messiah, the anointed one, the Christ, God’s promised Savior. He wanted the Jews to believe that Jesus was the one God had promised since the beginning pages of the Bible. His purpose was to show how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies about the Messiah so the Jewish people would believe in Him as their Savior.

Therefore Matthew’s gospel is filled with a lot of references to the Old Testament. As you read it you’ll see the words “fulfilled” a lot. Matthew tries to highlight how something in Jesus’ life, an action he performed, or a word he spoke, “fulfilled” a prophecy in the Old Testament about the Messiah. Matthew also highlights how Jesus preaching and actions verify and validate Jesus as the Christ. Remember, Matthew wrote his gospel many years after Jesus had died and rose again. In those days there was a lot of pressure from the Jewish leaders for people NOT to believe in Jesus. Part of Matthew’s purpose was validate Jesus’ claims as Messiah and refute the negative claims made by the Pharisees. (Do you think I've used the words people and purpose enough?)

So what’s the big deal? Why is this important? It gives us important context to keep in mind when we read Matthew’s gospel. It helps us see why Matthew may have included information the other writers did not include in their gospels. You may ask: “Why do I need to read this gospel when it’s mainly directed to Jews?” Good question. Gold star! Jesus was the Savior of all men, Jews and non-Jews. Also, Jesus WAS A JEW. (Shocking, I know). If we want to fully understand our Savior, what he has done, the words he spoke, and why he acted in certain situations we need to understand him in the context of his race and history. It would be like watching the movie Braveheart without seeing the first hour of the movie. You’d see a Scottish guy who killed a bunch of folks and yelled FREEDOM at the end, but you wouldn't know why. Knowing the context of the book of Matthew and the context of Jesus as the Messiah will help us better understand the gospel, worship Jesus more deeply, and learn more as we read.

So I guess we do need the gospel of Matthew anyway. 

Dang it.


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