Matthew is the first book listed in the Brit Hadasha. There is actually no rhyme or reason to the order of the books, so Matthew is as good a beginning as any. Especially since Matthew starts out with the genealogy of Yehoshua (Yeshua) Messiah which takes us back in the Tanakh to the early parts of Genesis starting with Abraham. This is a good initial connection between the Brit Hadashah and the Tanakh.
We are told in Torah that on the account of two or three witnesses a matter is established or confirmed. (Deu 19:15 NASB) “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.” This law is reiterated in other parts of Torah also (Num. 35:30, Deut. 17:16).
Yeshua quoted this same fact of Scripture in Matthew 18:16. Paul also referred to this law at least three times in his letters (1 Cor. 13:1, 2 Tim. 5:19, Heb. 10:28). Therefore, when it comes to establishing the most important matter of all, the identity of the Messiah, we must have at least two or three witnesses to establish the matter. We have that and more: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all give accounts on the miraculous life, death, burial, and resurrection of Yehoshua. Paul also writes of meeting Him personally on the road to Damascus and writes extensively as to how He is truly the Mashiach (Anointed One) of the Scriptures. Other disciples and followers of Yeshua give their written testimony as well. Also, there is no refuting testimony from that day. As far as truthful attestation in ancient history, none is as well established as the fact that Yehoshua is the prophesied Messiah that lived, taught, miraculously healed others, and was put to death as an innocent man, resurrected from His death three days later and subsequently ascended to the Father. That matter is very, very well established.
The book of Mark focuses on the miracles Yeshua performed during his time here on earth. Luke focuses on the birth and the teachings, especially the parables, of Yeshua. Matthew gives us a wonderful blend of the teachings and miracles in the life of Messiah, as well as telling us of His miraculous birth, death and resurrection.
We have ancient testimony that Matthew was originally written in Hebrew. Around 180 AD Irenaeus of Lyons wrote the following:
“Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church (assembly). After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon his breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.” (Against Heresies 3:1:1)
There are other ancient people who testify to the original writing of Matthew being in the dialect of the Jews (either Aramaic or Hebrew) such as Papias, Origen, and Eusebius. While this could be true of much of the Brit Hadasha, it is very important in the case of Matthew because he had more references to the Tanakh and the fact that Yeshua was a fulfillment of the prophecies of the Messiah than any other writer. Matthew was intent on proving to his own people that Yeshua is the anointed one spoken of by the Torah and the prophets.
He did that in the beginning of his book by showing that Yehoshua was the son of Abraham and the son of David.
Please join us in our study of Matthew—verse by verse. Have questions? Contact us under the “Ask the Rabbi” tab on the homepage.