The Gospel of Matthew
(Gk. Κατά Ματθαίον Ευαγγέλιον) is one of the four canonical
gospels in the New Testament
and is a synoptic gospel
. It narrates an account of the life
of Jesus of Nazareth
. It describes his genealogy
, his miraculous birth
and childhood, his baptism
, his ministry of healing and preaching in Galilee, his trip to Jerusalem
marked by an incident in the Temple
, and finally his crucifixion
. The resurrected Jesus commissions
to "go and make disciples
of all nations."
The Early Christian tradition attributes the Gospel to Matthew, one of Jesus' disciples. Beginning in the 18th century scholars have increasingly questioned that traditional view, and today most scholars agree Matthew did not write the Gospel which bears his name. Most contemporary scholars describe the author as an anonymous Christian writing towards the end of the first century. The consensus view of the contemporary New Testament scholars is that the Gospel was originally composed in Greek rather than being a translation from Aramaic or Hebrew. It is nearly universally agreed among scholars that Matthew (and Luke) used Mark's narrative of Jesus' life and death, plus the hypothetical Q document's record of Jesus' sayings while the minority argue that Matthew was the first, Luke expanded on Matthew and Mark is the conflation of Matthew and Luke.
Of the four canonical gospels, Matthew is most closely aligned with first century Judaism. Matthew repeatedly stresses how Jesus fulfilled Jewish prophecies. Most scholars hold that the author was a Jewish Christian rather than a Gentile. The author arranged Jesus' teaching into five sermons: Sermon on the Mount (ch 5-7), the Mission discourse (ch 10), a collection of parables (ch 13), instructions for the community (ch 18) and finally teaching concerning the future (ch 24-25, also probably including the woes against the scribes and Pharisees in ch 23). It has been often suggested that this indicates that the author regarded Jesus as a greater Moses and intended to imitate the first five books of the Old Testament; others have discounted the significance of "five" discourses, arguing that many Jewish and Greco-Roman writings have five divisions or sections.
The special commission given to Peter has been highly influential. Matthew is the only Gospel to mention the church (ecclesia). Jesus cites its authority and calls on Christians to practice forgiveness (ch. 18). With its integration of Mark's narrative with Jesus' teachings and its emphasis on the church, Matthew was the most popular Gospel when they circulated separately. Matthew has a rhythmical and often poetical prose. Of the Synoptics, it is the Gospel best suited for public reading, and it has probably always been the best-known of them. Matthew provides a full and well-ordered account of teachings of Jesus; its Sermon on the Mount is widely respected and referred to, even by non-Christians; but, according to Graham N. Stanton, his awkward use of the Old Testament as a set of proof texts, anti-Jewish statements and harsh comments on Judgment has been puzzling for modern readers.
Like the two other synoptic Gospels but in contrast with John, in Matthew Jesus talks more about the Kingdom of Heaven than himself, and teaches primarily using short parables or short sayings rather than extended speeches (as in John). Certain details of Jesus's life, of his infancy in particular, are only related by Matthew. Examples are the homage of the Wise Men, the flight into Egypt and the massacre of the innocents.
The Early Christian
tradition attributes the Gospel to Matthew
, one of Jesus' disciples. Some scholars date back this tradition of authorship to the middle of the second century
CE. Beginning in the 18th century, however, revisionist scholars have increasingly questioned whether Matthew wrote the Gospel which bears his name..
Contemporary scholars describe the author as an anonymous Christian writing towards the end of the first century. According to Howard Clark Kee, it appears that Jesus' teachings and sayings were handed down orally until they were eventually written down. This theory is partly based upon "the fact that other, later Christian writings include sayings attributed to Jesus that resemble those in the gospels, but for which there is no exact equivalent."
The consensus view of the contemporary New Testament scholars is that the Gospel was originally composed in Greek rather than being a translation from Aramaic or Hebrew. It is evident that the author was not a native speaker of Greek, whether because he is writing in a secondary language or his work was later translated. Although necessarily speculative, it is widely believed among scholars that Matthew (and Luke) used Mark's narrative of Jesus' life and death, plus the hypothetical Q document's record of Jesus' sayings while the minority argue that Matthew was the first, Luke expanded on Matthew and Mark is the conflation of Matthew and Luke.
Matthew the Evangelist
Since about the middle of the second century
, the Christian tradition has attributed the Gospel to the disciple Matthew. Arguments made to discount Matthew's authorship include the text being originally composed in Greek
, not Aramaic
, the Gospel's heavy reliance on Mark
(nearly universally agreed among scholars), and the lack of characteristics usually attributed to an eyewitness account. Furthermore, the gospel seems to have been written after the siege and destruction of Jerusalem
by Romans in 70 CE (see Matthew 22:7). Howard W. Clarke
and Aubrey William Argyle
(of Regent's Park College, Oxford) argue that "the author never adverts to his being an eyewitness of his gospel's events (nor does he ever indicate an eyewitness source), and it would leave unexplained his apparent dependence on Mark
, who was not an apostle." Bart D. Ehrman
argues that that the original manuscripts did not have names attached to them, a conclusion drawn from the fact that the surviving Greek manuscripts provide a wide variety of different titles for the Gospels. Had Matthew written the gospel, he would have called it by a title of the type "The Gospel of Jesus Christ" whereas the choice of the title “Gospel according to Matthew” indicates someone else trying to explain, at the outset, whose version of the story this one is. Furthermore, the Gospel always talks in third person and lacks phrases like "I and Jesus”, etc. It furthermore talks about the disciple Matthew in Matthew 9:9, but there is no indication that he is the person writing the account: (Matthew 9:9 reads: "as Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him") Comparing the latter verse with Mark
2:13-14 that calls the tax collector by the name Levi, W. E. Mills et al argue that this might be a conscious change on the part of the author, in turn indicating that the author belonged to a community whose foundation was indebted to the disciple Matthew.
Papias's church history
The first reference to a text written by the disciple Matthew comes from Papias
(bishop of Hierapolis in Asia Minor
during the first half of the second century) around 120-130 CE, around fifty years after the book was put in circulation. Papias remarked that "Matthew composed the logia
in the Hebrew tongue and everyone interpreted them as he was able". According to Ehrman
this is not a reference to the gospel we have since the New Testament scholars are unified in the view that the Gospel of Matthew was originally written in Greek and not Hebrew. The interpretation of the above quote from Papias depends on the meaning of the term logia
. The term literally means "oracles", but the intended meaning by Papias has been controversial. Traditionally this was taken as a reference to the gospel according to Matthew. Another view uses the fact that the early Church
fathers used oracles to refer to the words of the Old Testament, to argue that Matthew composed a list of prophecies or prooftexts from OT. Others say that this refers to a list of saying of Jesus (perhaps Q or something like Q). Adopting the latter translation, Ehrman argues that Papias is not referring to our Matthew since it contains much more than sayings. Aubrey William Argyle
holds that it is impossible to decide even whether Papias' statement is reliable because "the fourth-century historian Eusebius
, who records Papias' statement, says that Papias was of very limited intelligence."
Irenaeus and the four gospels
Apart from Papias' comment, we do not hear about the author of the Gospel until Irenaeus around 185 CE who remarks that there are only four Gospels that had been inspired by God, and that they were written by Matthew, Mark
. According to Erhman, Irenaeus had reasons to convince his readers of the apostolic origin of the books: Irenaeus and many other Church leaders were involved in heated debate over correct doctrine. Irenaeus for example knew large group of people who believed that there were two separate Gods, the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. Each group adhering to a certain doctrine had books in proof of their view. In order to support the authenticity of previously anonymous gospels, names were attached to them. The insistence on the disciple Matthew's authorship therefore, in Erhman's view, should be viewed as part of the campaign against heretics.
Modern scholars have made several suggestions as to the identity of the author: a converted Jewish rabbi or scribe, a Hellenised Jew, a Gentile convert who was deeply knowledgeable about the Jewish faith, or a member of a "school" of scribes within a Jewish-Christian community. Most scholars hold that the author was a Jewish-Christian, rather than a Gentile.
Some scholars have suggested that the author, in Matthew 13:52, may be hinting that he is a learned scribe when says: "every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old. According to Browning, it is possible that the author was coming from a city whose Church was founded by the disciple Matthew.
The Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke (known as Synoptic Gospels) include many of the same episodes, often in the same sequence, and often even in the same wording. The relationship of Matthew to the Gospels of Mark
is an open question known as the synoptic problem
. The great amount of overlap in sentence structure and word choice of the three Gospels has been explained by arguing that the Gospel writers either copied from each other, or they all copied from another common source. It is nearly universally agreed among scholars that Matthew (and Luke) used Mark
's narrative of Jesus' life and death, plus the hypothetical Q document's record of Jesus' sayings while the minority argue that Matthew was the first, Luke expanded on Matthew and Mark is the conflation of Matthew and Luke. For most scholars, the Q collection accounts for what Matthew and Luke share — sometimes in exactly the same words — but are not found in Mark
. Examples of such material are devil's three temptation of Jesus
, the Beatitudes, Lord's prayer and many individual sayings. Matthew contains around 612 verses out of 662 verses of Mark, and with few exceptions all in the exact order. Matthew however quite frequently removes or modifies from Mark redundant phrases or unusual words and modifies the passages in Mark that might put Jesus in a negative light (i.e. removing the highly critical comment that Jesus "was out of his mind" in Mark 3:21, removing "do you not care" from Mark 4:38 etc)
New Testament scholars are unified in the view that the Gospel of Matthew was originally composed in Greek. There has, however, been extended discussion about the possibility of an earlier version in Aramaic. There is a pervasive Jewish-Christian dimension in the Gospel of Matthew, suggesting that the author was of Jewish-Christian background and was writing for Christians of similar background: Christ's fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies are emphasized. Jesus is represented as a new lawgiver whose miracles are a confirmation of his divine mission. Some scholars have suggested that the Papias's statement about Matthew's collection of Jesus' sayings is a reference to the earlier version of the Gospel in Aramaic that was used by the author of the Gospel of Matthew.
Place of composition
It is suggested that the Gospel was possibly written in Syrian Antioch on the River Orontes, a cluster of urban communities in that neighborhood, or one of the larger settlements in Galilee. According to W. R. F. Browning
, the content of the Gospel indicates tensions between the Christian and Jewish community in that area: the Gospel underscores the role of Jewish leaders as opponents of Jesus from the beginning of the gospel (Matthew 2:1) to its conclusion. According to Matthew 10:17, Christians could expect to be hauled before a local court (Sanhedrin) where Jesus might be dismissed as a magician and a deceiver. The Gospel replies to the current Jewish explanation about the alleged empty tomb
. The author uses his knowledge of the Old Testament
in defense of the Christian claims.
According to W. R. F. Browning
(who adopts the more common view that the author of Matthew was a Jewish-Christian), due to author's rabbinical background, he avoids using the holy word God, and has preference for the term "Kingdom of heaven". He also divides his work into great blocks each ending with the phrase: "When Jesus had finished these sayings ..." This narrative framework echoes that of Hexteuch: "the birth narratives/Genesis; the baptism in the Jordon and Jesus' temptations/Exodus; healing of a leper and an untouchable woman/Leviticus; callings of disciples/Numbers; the Passion and Death of Jesus/Deuteronomy; the Resurrection/Joshua (the entry into promised land)". Graham N. Stanton
discounts the suggestion that the "five" discourses are an imitation of the first five books of the Old Testament arguing that many Jewish and Greco-Roman writings have five divisions or section.
The Sermon on the Mount of Matthew embodies the ethical teachings of Jesus. It "relates the new righteousness in the light of the coming of the Kingdom to the former obligations of the Law. The authority which the Law has for Christians has to be interpreted by the overriding injunction to love and therefore stretched out to an ideal not attained in the practices of the Pharisees."
For convenience, the book can be divided into its four structurally distinct sections: Two introductory sections; the main section, which can be further broken into five sections, each with a narrative component followed by a long discourse of Jesus; and finally, the Passion and Resurrection section.
- Containing the genealogy, the birth, and the infancy of Jesus ().
- The discourses and actions of John the Baptist preparatory to Christ's public ministry ().
- The discourses and actions of Christ in Galilee (4:12–26:1).
- The Sermon on the Mount, concerning morality (Ch. 5–7)
- The Missionary Discourse, concerning the mission Jesus gave his Twelve Apostles. (10–11:1)
- The Parable Discourse, stories that teach about the Kingdom of Heaven (13).
- The "Church Order" Discourse, concerning relationships among Christians (18–19:1).
- The Eschatological Discourse, which includes the Olivet Discourse and Judgement of the Nations, concerning his Second Coming and the end of the age (24–25).
- The sufferings, death and Resurrection of Jesus, the Great Commission (26-28).
Genealogy and Infancy narrative
Matthew (like Luke) provides a genealogy and an infancy narrative of Jesus. Although the two accounts differ, both agree on Jesus being both Son of David, and Son of God, and on his virgin birth, and according to Howard W. Clarke, that Jesus' status as the long-awaited status Messiah and as the Son of God was assured before his birth rather than being conferred later in his ministry or acquired after his death.
Matthew divides the genealogy of Jesus into the following three sub-sections: Abraham to David; David to deportation to Babylon; and deportation to Babylon to Christ. The first two sub-sections have 14 names, and the last sub-section 13 (unless one also counts Mary). Matthew (like Luke) traces the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph, not Mary. Matthew puts Joseph a descendant of David's son Solomon while in Luke he is descended from David's other son, Nathan. After David, the lists coincide again at Shealtiel and Zerubbabel (founder of the second temple) but then again part company until they reach Joseph through his father (Jacob as in Matthew; Heli as in Luke).
The differences between Matthew's and Luke's genealogy has been a problem for both ancient and modern rationalist readers of the Gospels. According to Howard W. Clarke, the two accounts can not be harmonized and today the genealogy accounts are generally taken to be "theological" constructs. More specifically, some have suggested that Matthew wants to underscore birth of a messianic child of royal lineage (mentioning Solomon) whereas Luke's genealogy is priestly (mentioning Levi). According to Scott Gregory Brown, the reason for the difference between the two genealogies is that it was not included in the written accounts that the writers of the two Gospels shared (i.e. Gospel of Mark and Q).
According to Stanton, the genealogy foreshadows acceptance of Gentiles into the Kingdom of God: in reference to Jesus as 'the Son of Abraham', the author has in mind the promise given to Abraham in Gen 22:18. Matthew holds that due to Israel's failure to produce the "fruits of the kingdom" and her rejection of Jesus, God's kingdom is now taken away from Israel and given to Gentiles. Another foreshadowing of the acceptance of Gentiles is the inclusion of four women in the genealogy, something unexpected to a first century reader. According to Stanton, women are probably representing non-Jews to a first century reader. According to Markus Bockmuehl et al, Matthew is mentioning this to prepare its reader for the apparent scandal surrounding Jesus' birth by emphasizing on the point that God's purpose is sometimes worked out in unorthodox and surprising ways.
Mary becomes pregnant with Holy Spirit, but Joseph wants to put her away. He however has a dream with the promise of the birth of Jesus. The gospel proceeds with visit of the Magi who acknowledge the infant Jesus as king. This is followed by Herod's massacre of the innocents and the flight into Egypt, and an eventual return to Nazareth.
According to Mary Clayton, the chief aim of the infancy narrative is to convince readers of the divine nature of Jesus through his conception with Holy Spirit and his virgin birth; the visit of Magi and flight into Egypt intended to show that Jesus' kingship is not restricted to Jews but is rather universal.
Baptism and Temptation
John baptizes Jesus, and the Holy Spirit descends upon him. The evangelist addresses the puzzling scene of Jesus, reputedly born sinless, being baptized. He omits reference to baptism being for forgiveness of sins and depicts John emphasize his inferiority to Jesus. The descent of the Holy Spirit tells the reader that Jesus has become God's anointed (Messiah or Christ).
Jesus prays and meditates in the wilderness for forty days, and then is tempted by the Devil. Jesus refutes the Devil with quotations from Jewish Law.
Sermon on the Mount
Matthew's principal contribution to Mark's narrative is five collections of teaching material, and the first is the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus, presented as a "greater Moses," completes and transcends Mosaic law. The Beatitudes bless the poor and the meek. In six expositions or antitheses (depending on how the sermon is interpreted, see Expounding of the Law), Jesus reinterprets the Law. He offers the Lord's prayer as a simple alternative to ostentatious prayer. Critical scholars see the historical Jesus in his startling congratulations to the unfortunate and his call to return violence with forgiveness ("turn the other cheek", see also Evangelical counsels). Matthew's beatitudes differ from those found in Luke (Q). Jesus' paradoxical blessings to the poor and hungry are here blessings to the poor in spirit and those who hunger for justice. In addition, Matthew has more blessings than Luke, the extras apparently derived from Psalms and from numerous precedents for virtues being rewarded.
Instructions to the Twelve Disciples
Matthew names the Twelve Disciples. Jesus sends them to preach to the Jews, perform miracles, and prophesy the imminent coming of the Kingdom. Jesus commands them to travel lightly, without even a staff or sandals. Scholars are divided over whether the rules originated with Jesus or with apostolic practice.
Parables on the Kingdom
Jesus tells the parable of the sower, paralleling Mark. Like Mark, Matthew portrays Jesus as using parables in order to prevent the unworthy from receiving his message. The parables of the wheat and the tares and of the net, unique to Matthew, portray God's sure judgment as indefinitely delayed. The parables of the mustard seed and of pearl "of very special value" emphasize the secret nature and incomprehensible worth of the Kingdom.
Instructions to the Church
Matthew is the only Gospel to discuss the ecclesia (Greek: assembly), or church. In Matthew, Jesus establishes his church on Peter, giving Peter and the Church the power to bind and loose (forbid and allow). The instructions for the church emphasize ecclesiastical responsibility and humility. He calls on Christians to practice forgiveness, but he also gives them the authority to excommunicate the unrepentant. Peter's special commission has been highly influential (see Saint Peter).
Jesus heaps the "seven woes" on the scribes and Pharisees. This hostility is thought to represent the attitude of the first-century church.
Signs of the Times
Matthew expands Marks' account of the Parousia, or Second Coming. Matthew names the signs the will precede Jesus' return, such as false Messiahs, earthquakes, and persecution of Christians. After the tribulation, the sun, moon, and stars will fail. The narrator's statement that his generation will not pass away before all the prophecies are fulfilled indicates that the author thought himself to be living the in the last days. This discourse might incorporate two different Parousia traditions, one with typical apocalyptic signs and the other emphasizing that the Master will return without warning.
Parables and vision of the Second Coming
The parables of the foolish virgins and of the talents emphasize constant readiness and Jesus' unexpected return. In a prophetic vision, Jesus judges the world. The godly ("sheep") are those who followed Jesus, while the wicked ("goats") are those who did not.
Final Days and Resurrection
Matthew generally follows Mark's sequence of events. Jesus triumphantly enters Jerusalem and drives the money changers from the temple. He identifies Judas as his traitor. Jesus prays to be spared the coming agony, and a mob takes him by force to the Sanhedrin. To the trial, Matthew adds the detail that Pilate's wife, tormented by a dream, told him to have nothing to do with Jesus, and Pilate washed his hands of him. To Mark's account of Jesus' death, Matthew adds additional natural phenomena and saints arising from their tombs. He provides two stories of Jews conspiring to undermine belief in the resurrection, and he replaces Mark's "young man" at Jesus' tomb with a radiant angel. Matthew does not relate any of Jesus' postresurrection appearances to the disciples in Judea or his Ascencion. He appears to the Eleven in Galilee and commissions them to preach to the world ("go and make disciples of all nations") and to baptize in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Themes in Matthew
Jesus and the true Israel
According to R. T. France,
- Matthew's gospel, more clearly than the others, presents the view of Jesus as himself the true Israel, and of those who have responded to his mission as the true remnant of the people of God . . . to be the true people of God is thus no longer a matter of nationality but of relationship to Jesus.
Kingdom of Heaven
Of note is the phrase "Kingdom of Heaven" (ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν) used often in the gospel of Matthew, as opposed to the phrase "Kingdom of God" used in other synoptic gospels such as Luke. The phrase "Kingdom of Heaven" is used 32 times in 31 verses in the Gospel of Matthew. It is speculated that this indicates that this particular Gospel was written to a primarily Jewish audience, such as the Jewish Christians, as many Jewish people of the time felt the name of God was too holy to be written. Matthew's abundance of Old Testament references also supports this theory.
The theme "Kingdom of Heaven" as discussed in Matthew seems to be at odds with what was a circulating Jewish expectation—that the Messiah would overthrow Roman rulership and establish a new reign as the new King of the Jews. Christian scholars, including N. T. Wright (The Challenge of Jesus) have long discussed the ways in which certain 1st-century Jews (including Zealots) misunderstood the sayings of Jesus—that while Jesus had been discussing a spiritual kingdom, certain Jews expected a physical kingdom. See also Jewish Messiah.
The relationship between Jesus Christ and the "Kingdom" is also mentioned in the other gospels. Jesus had said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but My kingdom is not of this realm" (John 18:36 NASB). See also New Covenant (theology).
While Paul's epistles and the other Gospels emphasize Jesus' international scope, Matthew addresses the concerns of a Jewish audience. The cast of thought and the forms of expression employed by the writer show that this Gospel was written by Jewish Christians of Iudaea Province. The one aim pervading the book is to show that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah — he "of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write" — and that in him the ancient prophecies had their fulfillment. This book is full of allusions to passages of the Old Testament which the book interprets as predicting and foreshadowing Jesus' life and mission. This Gospel contains no fewer than sixty-five references to the Old Testament, forty-three of these being direct verbal citations, thus greatly outnumbering those found in the other Gospels. Matthew uses Old Testament quotations out of context, as individual lines or even letters of Scripture were said to have inspired meanings different from the original ones. The main feature of this Gospel may be expressed in the motto "I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill" (). See also Expounding of the Law. It was the contention of Marcion that Christ had come to destroy the law. See Biblical law in Christianity for the modern debate.
This Gospel sets forth a view of Jesus as Christ and portrays him as an heir to King David's throne, the rightful King of the Jews. Matthew's genealogy, wise men of the east, massacre of the innocents, flight into Egypt affirm Jesus' kingship and liken him to Moses. Matthew regards Jesus as a greater Moses. He arranges Jesus' sermons into five discourses, probably parallel to the five Books of Moses, the Jewish Torah. Matthew affirms Jesus' authority to give the eternal law of Moses a new meaning.
While addressing Jewish concerns, Matthew also addresses the universal nature of the church in the Great Commission (which is directed at "all nations") and Interpretations of the Sermon on the Mount and Christian view of the Law.
Comparison with other canonical Gospels
According to Amy-Jill Levine, in Matthew (and the two other synoptic Gospels), Jesus talks more about the Kingdom of God than himself unlike John in which Jesus identifies himself as the true vine; the bread of life; the way, the truth and the life. Another difference is that while in Matthew and the two other synoptic gospels, Jesus teaches primary using short parables or short sayings, in John he does so using extended speeches. Levine states that each of the three synoptic gospels offer a distinct portraits of Jesus. For example, "Matthew has Jesus' earthly mission restricted to the 'lost sheep of the house of Israel' (Matt 15:24, see also 10:5-6) and emphasizing obedience to and preservation of biblical law. Mark however opens this mission to Gentiles and suggests abrogation of the dietary regulations mandated by the Torah."
According to Levine, in terms of chronology Matthew agrees with all other gospel that Jesus' public ministry began with an encounter with John the Baptist. Then Matthew (and the two other synoptic Gospels) mention teaching and healing activities of Jesus in Galilee. This is followed by a trip to Jerusalem marked by an incident in the Temple. Jesus is crucified on the day of Passover holiday. John by contrast puts the Temple incident very early in Jesus' ministry and depicts several trips to Jerusalem. The crucifixion is also placed before the Passover holiday, on the day of preparation for passover when the lambs for the Passover meal were being sacrificed in Temple. If one however believes that the events occurred as they are recorded in the Gospels, the Gospels could be reconciled in the following way: Jesus disrupted the Temple activities once in the beginning of his career and once at the end of it, and delivered same talks on both Sermon on the Mount (as in Matthew), and Sermon on the Plain (as in Luke), etc.
Details related only by Matthew
Certain details of Jesus's life, of his infancy in particular, are only related by Matthew. For example, Only Matthew mentions "Joseph’s perplexity on learning that Mary is pregnant, the homage of the Wise Men, the flight into Egypt to escape Herod’s soldiers, the massacre of the innocents, and the return of the holy family from Egypt", the description of Pilate washing his hand, or Jesus' permission of divorce in case of unchastity.
In Insular Gospel Books (copies of the Gospels produced in Ireland and Britain under Celtic Christianity), the first verse of Matthew's genealogy of Christ was often treated in a decorative manner, as it began not only a new book of the Bible, but was the first verse in the Gospels. In mediaeval typography, the Greek word Christ was sometimes abbreviated as Χρι (the Greek letters Chi-Rho-Iota); the first three letters of the word Christ in the Greek alphabet), and so the Χρι which begin this verse was given an elaborate decorative treatment by such scribes, who had a similar tradition for the opening few words of each of the Gospels. This trend culminated in the Book of Kells, where the monogram has taken over the entire page. Although later scribes (such as those of the Carolingian Renaissance) followed the Insular tradition of giving elaborate decorative treatments to the opening words of texts, including the Gospels, they did not follow the tradition of decoration of this verse.
- Amy-Jill Levine, chapter 10, The Oxford History of the Biblical World, Oxford University Press, 2001.
- Anthony J. Saldarini, Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, Editors: James D. G. Dunn, John William Rogerson, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003, ISBN 0802837115.
- Aubrey William Argyle, The Gospel According to Matthew: New English Bible, Cambridge University Press, 1963.
- Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. New York: Oxford, (2004), ISBN 0-19-515462-2.
- David D. Kupp, Matthew's Emmanuel: Divine Presence and God's People in the First, Cambridge University Press, 1996, ISBN 0521570077.
- Eduard Schweizer: Das Evangelium nach Matthäus. Übersetzt und erklärt. Das Neue Testament deutsch (NTD) 2. Göttingen (1973) 4. Aufl. 1986 ISBN 3-525-51306-2.
- Graham N. Stanton, The Gospels and Jesus, Oxford University Press, 1989.
- Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible, Palo Alto: Mayfield, 1985.
- Howard Clark Kee, part 3, The Cambridge Companion to the Bible, Cambridge University Press, 1997.
- Howard W. Clarke, The Gospel of Matthew and Its Readers, Indiana University Press, 2003.
- Markus Bockmuehl, Donald A. Hagner, The Written Gospel, Cambridge University Press, 2005, ISBN 0521832853.
- Mary Clayton, The Apocryphal Gospels of Mary in Anglo-Saxon England, Cambridge University Press, 1998, ISBN 0521581680.
- Michael Green: The Message of Matthew. The Kingdom of Heaven. Bible Speaks Today. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove 2001 ISBN 0-8308-1243-1.
- Michael J. Wilkins: Matthew. From Biblical Text – to Contemporary Life. NIV Application Commentary. Zondervan, Grand Rapids 2004 (1003 S.) ISBN 0310493102.
- Scott Gregory Brown, Mark's Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith's Controversial Discovery, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2005, ISBN 0889204616.
- Watson E. Mills, Richard F. Wilson, Roger Aubrey Bullard, Mercer Commentary on the New Testament, Mercer University Press, 2003.