Imágenes de páginas

Book and Atlas; Josephus; Prideaux; various Commentaries on the Old Testament: the Harmonies of Griesbach (Synopsis), Newcome and Robinson; early and recent works on New Testament Philology, etc., have been more or less frequently consulted during the progress of the work, and have rendered important aid.


1. Matthew, the writer of the present Gospel, first appears in history as a publican, and was originally named Levi (see the annotation to ch. 9, ver. 9). Of his early history no details have been preserved. Neither his labors as an apostle after the ascension of Christ, nor the circumstances under which he died, are recorded on the pages of authentic history.

§ 2. The Church-historian Eusebius remarks, on the authority of Papias, who lived soon after the apostles (Book III., ch. 24, ch. 39), that after Matthew had proclaimed the Gospel to his countrymen in Hebrew (or the dialect of Palestine), and when he was on the point of going to other nations, he committed the Gospel to writing in the same language, in order to supply the want of his presence by his writings. No ancient writer, however, whose works are extant, alleges that he saw this Hebrew [Aramaic] Gospel; it may have been a brief composition which soon afterwards disappeared, when Matthew prepared the present Greek narrative. His later experience of the rapid diffusion of Gospel truth among the vast numbers of those who spoke the Greek language, no doubt furnished him with a sufficient reason for giving to the Church a translation of his own work, or, more probably, a new and original history or Gospel in Greek. This production of his pen is the only one which we now

possess. He was guided in the preparation of his Gospel by the same Holy Spirit who taught him when he proclaimed Gospel truth orally (Luke 12:11, 12); hence the present writing is an inspired work; containing pure and unmixed truth, taught by the unerring Spirit of God.

3. The year in which Matthew wrote this Gospel is not known with precision. The words of the Lord recorded in ch. 24, ver. 15, compared with Matthew's own incidental remark in 27:8 and in 28: 15, indicate, however, that while this Gospel was written before the actual destruction of Jerusalem, A. D. 70, a considerable period of time had elapsed since the ascension of the Saviour, A. D. 33; it was composed possibly in A. D. 60, but not later than A. D. 69, or rather A. D. 66, when the Jewish War commenced.

§ 4. The title, prefixed by a later hand (except, as it is said, the single word "Gospel ") is: "The Gospel according to St. Matthew." The word "Gospel," equivalent to "good tidings" (see ann. to 4:23, C.), is descriptive of the whole spirit of the narrative; the latter communicates the joyful intelligence to our fallen race that "the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). The phrase: "according to" simply indicates that the glorious truths and facts which are here revealed, are indeed in perfect harmony with those which the other three Gospels present, but that they are selected by Matthew from the vast amount of materials before him (John 21:25), arranged as a complete whole, and illustrated with a special object in view. This object—the exhibition of the evidence that Jesus Christ is the true Messiah promised by the prophets-is illustrated below, ch. II, A. The word Saint, of which "St." is the abbreviation, simply means holy, and was applied already in the days of the apostles to prophets and to believers generally

(see below, ann. to 27:52, 53, B.). The early Church, adopting the practice of the apostles, applied the title, first, to the Evangelists and Apostles themselves, and then, to eminent martyrs. The word, subsequently, was often misapplied, and, after the rise of Popery, was given so indiscriminately, and, indeed, unwisely, that while it is sanctioned as a fitting epithet in itself by the apostolic usage, its employment has been almost entirely discontinued by many Protestants.

5. Matthew adopts the following order of subjects in his narrative:-(I.) The early history of Christ, ch. 1, 2. (II.) John the Baptist, ch. 3. (III.) The temptation of Christ, ch. 4: I-II. (IV.) The Lord's labors in Galileediscourses and miracles-His conflicts with the Pharisees and others premonitions of His sufferings and the glory that should follow, ch. 4:12; 18:35. (V.) The journey to Jerusalem, 19: 1; 20:34. (VI.) Entrance into the city, and subsequent events, 21:1; 23:39. (VII.) Final discourses addressed to the disciples, ch. 24, 25. (VIII.) The ufferings and death of Christ, ch. 26, 27. (IX.) His ressurrection, and the commission given to the apostles. The other three evangelists, while they also begin with the earliest events in the life of Christ, and also close with an account of His death, have adopted other modes of arranging the intermediate matter which they present; each one appears to have chosen subjects either specially adapted to the wants of a particular class of readers, or else corresponding to the special purpose for which they record the life of Christ; the precise order in which dif- · ferent discourses, miracles, etc., are presented is then of no importance. The contents of the four Gospels, accordingly cannot be arranged in four columns in such a manner that the same passage in one will correspond in location and contents precisely with the other three. If we

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