Matthew, author of the 1st book of the New Testament, written anywhere from 9 to 20 years after the death of Jesus.
One of Jesus 12 hand selected apostles.
Matthew gave a little history.
Such and such happened that it the prophesises might be fulfilled (completed).
In Greek, the name Matthew means “gift of God”
He was a “Publican“ a person who held a job working for the Roman government.
Job: Collect money from the Hebrew people for the Romans, public taxes, tariffs, and customs.
There was no salary! In order to have money for himself, a tax-collector had to cheat people, to collect a little extra for himself. Also the highest bidder got the job.
Zacchaeus a Publican in Jericho was probably a colleague.
He knew Aramaic and Greek. He could write, read, multiply, divide, handle many figures and calculations, be precise. Know prices of grain, oil and olive oil. He ran money tables.
He knew geography, history, politics, religion, the writings of the Old Testament and current events.
He skilled in dealings with other people.
He was rich enough to own 2 houses.
His work place”, and his huge villa home in Capernaum, used for large gatherings of the publicans.
He had influential social and political contacts.
He went to court in Tiberias to settle his accounts with Herod.
There was fraud, extortion and greed amongst tax collectors. A money lender for people who needed quick cash, maybe loan sharks.
A good Jew would not touch such scandalously earned money.
People also deceived, swindled, or robbed the tax collectors as pay back or revenge.
Good devout Jews considered these Jewish workers of the Roman government traitors of their own people and the Jewish religion.
Devout Jews called tax collectors a disgrace, thieves, and robbers, and lumped them with murders, assassins and criminals.
A good Jew would not touch such scandalously earned money.
Matthew had a deep belief and great trust in the word of God.
What was the use of all this money if his own people outlawed him.
Matthew may have himself been disgusted by Herod and the whole tax collecting system.
If Herod asked for a fatter purse, Matthew had to squeeze more money out of the people, in order to maintain his own high standard of living. .
What an unjust system.
Matthew was ready to be freed from the curse of money.
Jesus had started preaching “Change your life. God’s kingdom is here”.
That beginning right now they were under God’s government, a good government.
Matthew must have thought this new life was a true salvation, a source of real happiness.
Plus Jesus had been working miracles.
Jesus Invitation to Matthew to “Come along with me”changed the whole world for Matthew.
Was Matthew thinking of himself when he quoted from Isaiah’s. The people who sat out their lives in darkness in the country of death, saw a huge light, watched the sun come up.
Mark & Luke called him Matthew “Levi” tax collector. Was he a descendant of the old tribe of Levi who collected tithes for the temple? Or was it because of his job working for the Roman government collecting taxes?
Did Jesus change Matthews name to show Matthew was converted to living a better life, and to remove any prejudices towards Matthew?
Matthew threw a big banquet to celebrate his retirement from his old way of life.
At the banquet table a great gathering of publicans (many of them made rich by lying and cheating people). Others were at the table with them, and Jesus was there.
The scribes and the Pharisees said Jesus was setting a bad example being cozy with crooks and riffraff. Matthew 9: 10-11.
Matthew gives Jesus answer to the Scribes & Pharisees. “Who needs a doctor the healthy or the sick?” “I am after mercy not religion”. Matt: 9:12-13
Matthew alone noted a further remark. “Go and figure out what this means”.
Matthew became a ray of hope for sinners who thought they are beyond God‘s mercy and love. It was available to Social Outcasts, even tax-collectors.
Matthew stuck to the facts. An orderly logical account of the words of Jesus, with frequent writings about money and coins. Mentioning 10 different pieces of money.
Matthew recorded Jesus words about money. “Do not hoard treasure here on earth where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or -worse!-stolen by burglars.” 6:19-21 You can’t worship God and money.” 6:24
Matthew “You have been treated generously, so live (give generously).’’ 10:5-8.
Matthew went into more detail about what wasn’t needed on their mission journey.
The others wrote don’t take money. Matthew added do not keep gold, or silver, in your girdles.
He recorded finding the coin in the mouth of the fish for Jesus & Peter to pay their taxes. Matt: 17:26-27.
He recorded the parable of the treasure hidden for years in a field and accidentally found by a trespasser, who proceeded to sell everything he has to buys the field . Matt: 13:44.
Matthew 16:24-26 Money is good only when it is put to good use at the disposal of love and more important justice. “What kind of deal is it to get all the profit, gain, everything material you want, but lose your own soul?’’
Matthew explained 18:23-35 The King who erased a servants debt of $100,000 was furious when that servant grabbed his fellow servant who owed him only$10 and had him arrested. Since the man who received mercy from the King did not show mercy the King but the boots to this servant to make sure he repaid the whole $100,000.
Matthew wrote about the estate manager hire labourers at the town square early in the morning to work in the vineyard. Then hired more labourers at 9, 12, 3 and 5 o’clock. At the end of the day the manager gave all the workers the same pay for the day. To the ones who worked longer and were grumbling they should then get more than what they had originally agreed to, the manager answered, “Can’t I do what I want with my own money. Are you going to get stingy because I am generous.”
Only Matthew wrote about the man going abroad and entrusting 5 talents to each of 3 servants. Matt:25; 14 -30.
Matthew carefully noted how many pieces of silver Judas settled on being paid by the high Priest. To betray Jesus. Matt: 26: 14-16. Matt: 27: 1 -2
Matthew wrote on 6 occasions about Jesus words that contradicted the Jews notion of an earthly, National Messiah. It wasn’t about an earthly royal kingdom.“ You have heard it said to the ancients… But I say to you…
In this new Messianic Kingdom there are no races, no classes, no castes.
For 15 years Matthew preached in Hebrew to the Jewish community in Judia.
Later he preached in Ethiopia, Macedonia, Persia, & Parthia.
In the year 200. Pantaenus, head master of the Catechetical School of Alexandria went to India-Arabia the southern part of present day Arabia. He mentioned the Gospel of Matthew, written in the language of the Hebrews was brought to the sections of India that bordered Ethiopia, by the apostle Bartholomew.
Even Muslim/Islamac writings speak of Matthew and Andrew who went to Ethiopia to preach the message of God.
It is also recorded that in Pontius, Andrew saved Matthew from the cannibals who wanted to consume him.
An Ethiopic legends says Matthew raised the King’s daughter from the dead, and that act converted the royal family and the entire district under its rule.
But Matthew was opposed the brother of the King’s brother’s intention to marry his niece, the girl Matthew had raised from the dead. So the King’s brother had Matthew killed by the sword.
Others record Matthew died a martyrs death by the spear or sword.
Matthew’s remains were supposedly taken to Paestum an ancient Greco-Roman, City of Southern Italy. Then in the 10th century moved 40 KL north to Salerno, Italy where they are honoured today.
Writers of the New Testament, and their “Purple passages”
A “Purple passage is a selection of phrase which expresses a writer's best ideas in rich and clear sentences.
There are eight writers of the New testament. Some give us several such passages.
For our spring series, we have selected only one or two of the best “Purple passages per writer.
The Apostle Paul :
I Corinthians 13, the greatest discourse on love ever written.
Verse three says: “ If I give my possessions to the poor, but have not love, I am nothing."
John, one of the 12 disciples:
I John 4:12, “no one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us.”
“God is Love” in John's definition of God.
The Apostle James : , brother of Jesus, bishop of Jerusalem: Chapter 2 : 14,17 ,
“what good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but no deeds? Faith by itself if not accompanied by deeds is dead”
The Apostle Jude, another brother of Jesus :
an example of a faithful layman, of little speech and who wrote sparingly, but has given us a great Doxology ( 1:24):
“ To him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you before his glorious presence without fault, to the only God his glory Majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forever more. Amen”
Please note : A disciple means a “ pupil” and refers to the 12 disciples of Jesus. An Apostle means ones sent out to spread the Good News. Best example of apostle is St Paul, or the Apostle Paul
John came to know Jesus in his youth, walked with Him, considered what He had observed, contemplated Jesus for 65 years than wrote from this perspective.. John used persuasive writing and reason to prove the credibility of Jesus teachings.
He uses supporting evidence to appeal to his audience. His eye witness account.
He appealed to the readers emotions.
John was revered a visionary a mystic he saw things on a grander scale. He saw all things in a “glorified manner”
Others opened a window to the wonder of Jesus. John’s case opens a garage door to him it was billows of Glory.
He remained single. The Church was really his family.
Jesus asked him to take care of His mother after the crucifixion. John settled with Jesus mother in Ephesus the main city of the Roman province of Asia which is a small part of what I now Turkey.
He wrote 5 books in the Bible
The Gospel of John, the 3 Epistle of John & the Revelation. He wrote the Gospel of John after age 80
He was exiled by the Roman emperor Domitian to the Isle of Patmos. The Emperor thought that would silence John.
While there he wrote the book of Revelation around age 90 to 96 when he was a very old man. He also wrote letters to the 7 Churches.
After his exile John returned to Ephesus where he was buried.
He is the only disciple who dies a natural death.
A little Biography:
Born 5 or 6 years after Jesus. He lived to be 96 to 100 years old.
He probably grew up in Bethsaida, a fishing town at the northern tip of the Sea of Galiliee. Galilee was a mixed people of many Nations, and ethnic background. It was also the hometown of Philip, Andrew and Peter. The Galileans were looked down on by the Jews from Judea & Jerusalem.
John’s father owned a fishing business where John and his brother John worked as fisherman. They also had hired servants to mend the nets. Peter and Andrew were also business partners.
Johns family was probably the upper echelon of the Judean population and as such was personally acquainted with the high priest. The night Jesus was arrested John came to the high Priests place and being known was admitted.
Possibly due to family connections he had exposed himself to the best learning of Jerusalem. John was a Palestinian Jew. Like all Jewish boys he was taught the scriptures.
He may have learned the kind of knowledge that was traditionally not even taught to people until after they had completed their education in the entire Jewish Law and teachings. Followed by how to interpret the scriptures for making decisions in every day business dealings, to divorce and marriage.
John knew the scriptures as an intellectual but also as a true believer.
He was a deep thinker who used his own wits and reason.
He believed in the existence of realities beyond human comprehension.
He started working in the ministry about age 25.
He was 5 or 6 years younger than Jesus
He was a disciple of John the Baptist and witnessed the baptism of Jesus.
He was later hand picked by Jesus to follow Jesus.
To John, Jesus was fulfilling the scriptures.
He saw the spirituality of Jesus.
Jesus gave John and his brother James the name “sons of thunder”
Jesus gave John and his brother James the name “Sons of Thunder”
Sounds like they were both impulsive, headstrong, and hot-headed, would let off steam at the slightest provocation. Maybe overconfident, and intolerant.
He may have been the closest to Jesus because he never doubted Jesus.
John presented Jesus as God in Human form. He speaks the word and it happens. John believed Jesus words were the words of God. Jesus is “the word” the expression of the mind of God and Jesus was the full expression of God “the word became flesh.
He rejoiced in the kindness and love of God he saw through Jesus. He felt accepted, understood, captivated, at ease at home in his element. This was the stuff he was eager to learn.
He refers to himself as who he thought he was in relation to Jesus “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
Jesus probably saw the potential in John and gave John extra time, attention, and encouragement, and even confided in John.
John basked in this attention. Jesus was his mentor.
His youthful thunder was apparent.
He was over zealous in protecting Jesus position.
He asked Jesus if Jesus could call fire down from heaven upon the Samaritans.
But Jesus told John to pray for the Samaritans instead that he had come to save lives not to destroy them.
He was someone worth respect, worth listening too, of authority.
He was a chief companion of Jesus then later Peter.
Only John reports the wedding in Cana in Galilee.
He was confident in replying to the Pharisees.
He was a Pillar of the early Church.
Peter, James and John were the 3 Jesus took with Him when he didn’t take the whole group.
John was in the room when Jairus daughter was raised . At the mount of transfiguration..
John had a very close friendship with Jesus.
He was asked to go prepare the Passover meal with Peter.
The Passover was a joyous festival with family and friends. It is recorded that John the one who Jesus loved, was leaning on Jesus at the last Supper. Some accounts say his head was laid on the chest of Jesus.
It is good to feel that comfortable in the presence of your friend at a Passover festival which is meant as a joyous meal with family and friends. Did the wine make him tipsy? Or was he tired and just resting his head a minute? Look at the last supper hanging behind us.
John witnessed the trial of Jesus. He was at the cross.
He took on the care of Jesus mother Mary, just like a brother.
He outran Peter to the tomb.
John was first to recognize the stranger on the shore.
He learnt to curb his thunder disposition and write about the love taught by Jesus and about loving one another and working together in harmony. He learned the value of working together instead of selfish ambition.
John was with Peter when met lame man at gate of temple they were working together.
John went with Peter to Samaria to preach.
He helped Paul & Barnabas with their ministry.
He realized others could be called into service not just the select 12.
He was willing to give a hand of fellowship to anyone in the service that God had given Him.
He loved the Church and encouraged his fellowman to love each other.
The Church fathers wrote of John as the affectionate elder. He kept going to meetings even when he had to be carried. And would simply say little children, love one another.