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Who wrote the book of Matthew? Who was the author of Matthew?

author of Matthew

The eagerly awaited event, foretold in the Old Testament, was the arrival of the Messiah. The Gospels depict this significant occurrence, portraying Jesus as the Messiah—a carpenter’s son who performed miracles, preached about the kingdom of God, affirmed His divinity, faced crucifixion by adversaries, and triumphantly rose from the dead on the third day. The first Gospel narrative in the New Testament canon is the book of Matthew, though many scholars have concluded that Mark was the first Gospel to be written. Matthew presents Jesus as the fulfillment of both the Law and the Prophets in the Old Testament, and commentators agree that it is the most Jewish Gospel of the four accounts.

There is no explicit mention of an author in the text of Matthew. However, Christian tradition attributes the Gospel to Matthew, who was also known as Levi, a former tax collector and disciple of Jesus. His Jewish background explains the emphasis on Old Testament prophecies, as well as his interest in Jesus’ teachings and parables, chiefly the renowned Sermon on the Mount. Notably, Matthew incorporates financial details absent in other Gospels (for example, Matthew 17:24).

Beyond Matthew’s background and internal clues, early Christian witnesses all attest to the authorship of Matthew. For instance, Papias (AD 60—130), writes that Matthew “put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could” (“Fragments of Papias,” The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Roberts, Donaldson, and Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Christian Literature Company, 1885, p. 155). Other early church fathers such as Pantaenus, Origen, and Irenaeus also corroborate Matthew as the Gospel’s author. It appears likely that the original Gospel of Matthew was written in Hebrew before being translated into Greek.

Furthermore, unlike what critics argue, all extant manuscripts of Matthew attribute the apostle Matthew as the author. In this way, no anonymous copies of the Gospel of Matthew exist. In his work, The Case for Jesus (Image Books, 2016), Brant Pitre contrasts the earliest copies of the Gospels to that of Hebrews, which is considered anonymous. While there exist a variety of suggested authors for Hebrews, the authorship of Matthew is unanimous on the manuscripts. Enemy attestations further support Matthew’s authorship, as heretics like Basilides and Cerinthus accepted and utilized the book of Matthew in their teachings.

The universal testimony of the early church, internal clues, and manuscript evidence are sufficient to accept that Matthew wrote the Gospel that bears his name.

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This page last updated: March 14, 2024