Why is Matthew important?
Almost all scholars agree with the idea that the Gospel of Mark was written first and Matthew was second. Mark is the shortest gospel. So why do we Matthew? There are some parts of Matthew and some themes that are very important that the Gospel of Mark does not contain.
One larger question that needs to be answered first is why we have four gospel witnesses instead of one. It would seem at first glance that the more witnesses you have, the more complicated the original story would get.
That’s not true at all. The four Gospels, and the evangelists behind them, the writers of the books, provide a unique perspective to the same events. It’s just like having more witnesses to tell you what happened in a court of law.
The Gospels are written to different people at slightly different times in the first century. Matthew is written to Jews while Mark is written to the Roman Gentiles. Luke is written to a man named Theophilus, a new believer who wants to learn an orderly account about Christ. And the Gospel of John is written the latest in the first century, so that people may believe that Jesus is the son of God (John 20:30-31)
Each of the Gospels gives us a different perspective of the life of Jesus. But they all contain things that Jesus did during his life and ministry here on earth. It’s like looking at Jesus through four sets of eyes. Each one is beneficial in its own way.
Now we get to the importance of the Gospel of Matthew. For one, because it is written to the Jews, it emphasizes the kingdom of heaven instead of God. But they are the same thing.
One of the main contributions of Matthew is the times that he mentions Christ’s fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. Beginning with the birth of Jesus, Matthew begins to tell us how Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies. He continues throughout the book to do this.
Another contribution that is most expounded upon is the Sermon on the Mount. While much of it appears also in Luke, it is most expounded in Matthew. Matthew arranges his gospel more by topic then chronologically.
Scholars have detected five sections to the book of Matthew. The first is his earthly ministry, his miracles, followed by his teachings, next his parables, and finally the arrest, crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Throughout his book, Matthew offers new perspective and insight into Jesus, his life, and ministry that we don’t get anywhere else in Scripture. I’m thankful that Matthew’s gospel is included within the pages of the New Testament.
His gospel is especially useful for helping Jews see the truth of Jesus’ claims to divinity as well as how he fulfilled Old Testament Scriptures. Understanding who the Messiah is helps them see Christ as he is.