Critics Of Gospel Of Matthew
This article covers the Critics of Gospel of Matthew.
Of the four canonized Gospels, it is my opinion that the Gospel of Matthew is the most reliable and accurate, describing Jesus as a Prophet.
Although one item stands out when compared to the remainder of the Bible. This is Matthew’s “over attempt”.
What is meant by “over attempt” is that the Gospel of Matthew tries too hard to make Jesus appear to be the Prophet which is predicted in the Old Testament. As a result, we see additions of events surrounding Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.
While these additions do make Jesus appear to be the “Prophet like Moses” predicted in the Old Testament, (Deuteronomy 18:18) the negative result of these additions is that it makes the other three canonized Gospels (Mark, Luke, and John) appear as if they are missing something.
Here we will list examples of Matthew’s attempts to match Jesus to prophecies in the Bible.
The first example is the purchase of the potter’s field with the thirty pieces of silver that Judas cast back to the chief priests and elders, which is claimed to have fulfilled a prophecy made by Jeremiah:
“Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was priced, whom certain of the children of Israel did price; and they gave them for the potter’s field as the Lord appointed me” (Matthew 27:9-10).
The issue here is that Jeremiah never made such a statement. Some scholars have suggested that Matthew was quoting “loosely” a statement that was actually written by Zechariah ( 11:12 -13) rather than Jeremiah.
Another example is in Matthew’s second chapter when Joseph took his family to Nazareth upon their return from Egypt, Matthew said that he did so “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets, that he should be called a Nazarene”(Matthew 2:23 ). No one has been able to find any statement that any prophet ever made that this could be a reference to.
The Old Testament prophets never referred to Nazareth, the word Nazareth, as well as Nazarene, was never even mentioned in the Old Testament.
The second chapter of Matthew is often looked upon as a prophecy fulfillment in (Deuteronomy 18:18 ). As Pharaoh kills all the children while Moses escapes, so does Matthew place Jesus in an identical scenario. King Herod (Jesus’ Pharaoh) killed all children under the age of two in attempt to stop Jesus, while Jesus and his family (Joseph and Mary) escape to Egypt . (Matthew 2:16).
The only perplexity is that none of the other Gospel writers mentioned it. There is support from both historians and the remaining Gospels that such an event did not take place. The Jewish historian Josephus chronicled the reign of Herod in Book 18 of Antiquities of the Jews. In doing so, he made no apparent attempt to whitewash Herod’s character.
He related, for example, Herod’s execution of John the Baptist, an event related by three of the gospel writers, but he said nothing about the massacre of the children at Bethlehem, which would have undoubtedly been the most heinous crime that Herod committed.
Furthermore, the Gospel of (Luke 2:22-40 ) says that following the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary remained in the area of Jerusalem for the Presentation (about forty days) and then return to Nazareth without ever going to Egypt. There is no slaughter of the infants.
The Gospel of Luke also says that Jesus was born during the Syrian governorship of Quirinius, who was not even appointed to the position until 6 A. D. (Luke 2:2). Matthew said that Jesus was born in the reign of Herod, who died in 4 B. C. (Matthew 2:1).
In his attempts for prophecy fulfillments, no event was too trivial for Matthew. A sample of one of his smaller insertions is in the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem shortly before his betrayal and crucifixion.
The story is recorded by three of the Gospel writers, but Matthew’s account differs significantly from Mark’s and Luke’s. Mark and Luke simply had Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a colt to the cheers and hosannas of the multitudes (Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28 -40). Matthew however, tries to build it into a prophecy-fulfillment:
This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion , Look, your king is coming to you, humble, mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them (Matthew 21:1-7).
The major difference in Matthew’s version of this event and Mark’s and Luke’s: (1) Matthew had Jesus riding both a donkey and her colt; Mark and Luke had Jesus riding only a colt, and (2) Matthew saw it as fulfillment of a prophecy; Mark and Luke said nothing at all about prophecy fulfillment being involved.
We also see Matthew’s over attempt in (Matthew1:23) where it was claimed that an angel’s announcement to Joseph that his betrothed wife Mary would give birth to a child conceived by the Holy Spirit was done to fulfill a prophecy spoken by Isaiah:
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.”
In the original context, however, Isaiah made this statement as a sign to Ahaz, king of Judah, that an alliance recently formed against him by Rezin, the king of Syria, and Pekah, the king of Israel, would not succeed in defeating him.
Finally, Isaiah said to him, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore, Yahweh, Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:13 -14).
Hence, the context clearly shows that this so-called prophecy was made not to foretell the birth of Jesus some 700 years later but the birth of a child to that time and that situation.
Luke, Mark, and John, in fact, were completely silent about the birth. Doesn’t it seem strange, then, that this remarkable “prophecy fulfillment” would have been treated with silence by three of the four “inspired” writers who recorded the life of Jesus?
Secondly, no record exists of Jesus ever having been called Immanuel by his contemporaries.
Besides trying to match the Old Testament prophecies, Matthew also makes some of his own predictions which also demonstrate inconsistencies. When Matthew wrote; “twelve apostles to be rewarded” he gave a prediction which was ignoring the 12th apostle who betrayed Jesus (Judas).
When Peter asked Jesus what reward the apostles could expect for forsaking all to follow him Jesus said, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28).
Also the prediction of Jesus’ second coming: Jesus prophesied that his second coming would occur during the lifetime of his generation. Upon leaving the temple in Jerusalem, he predicted in the Gospel of Matthew about the temple’s destruction to his disciples, saying that “not one stone shall be left here upon another” (Matthew. 24:2).
When they reached the Mount of Olives, his disciples said to him, “Tell us, when will these things be?
And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age (Matthew 24:3). In reply, Jesus describes some details of the day of Judgement and than said; “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place (Matthew 24:32-34).
This concludes that both the past and future prophecies utilized by Matthew were a good effort but land short of being accurate.
Here is a further short critique of the Gospel of Matthew compared to the other 3 Gospels;
Matthew wrote that the centurion went in person to ask Jesus to heal his servant who was near death (8:5-13). Luke said that the centurion stayed at home and sent elders of the Jews to ask Jesus to heal the servant (7:2-10).
Matthew said that Jairus reported his daughter dead when asking Jesus to go heal her ( 9:18 -25). Both Mark ( 5:23 ) and Luke ( 8:42 ) said that she was still alive but dying.
We also see the Gospel of Matthew writing about Matthew, suggesting the original Matthew did not write the Gospel; (9:9) “And Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom; and he said unto him; Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.” As confirmed in (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Bible Commentary)
Thus we end with a quote from the “Ecumenical Translation of the Bible” which says the Gospel of Matthew was written to show “Jesus fulfilled the history of Israel .”