Was Matthew An Evangelist to the Jews? Matthew 28.15

This is not mean to be a full-fledged post on the matter, just putting my thoughts on paper.

οἱ δὲ λαβόντες τὰ ἀργύρια ἐποίησαν ὡς ἐδιδάχθησαν. καὶ διεφημίσθη ὁ λόγος οὗτος παρὰ Ἰουδαίοις μέχρι τῆς σήμερον (Mat 28:15)

Nearly all translations render that phrase as ‘among the Jews’, but ‘literally’ is reads, ‘among Jews’. Is there a difference between the two phrases?

If Matthew’s author was a Jew (Matthew’s Gospel is heavily Jewish), and writing to fellow Jews (not fellow Christians, or rather, to Gentile believers in the Messiah) then he would not have been polemic, would he? He would not have said ‘the Jews’ as if he is of a different religion, but acknowledged that his fellow Jews were saying things, and had this acknowledgment from inside the Jewish community.

The way I understand this portion of Matthew is that the author is speaking to Jews, acknowledging that it is commonly said, that the disciples stole the body of Jesus, which for me doesn’t allow ‘the Jews’ to be painted as gossips. Instead, it turns Matthew into an evangelist to the same Jews who are saying those things as if he is saying ‘Yes, among us Jews, it is said that the disciples stole the body of the Messiah, but…’

What do you think?

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12 Replies to “Was Matthew An Evangelist to the Jews? Matthew 28.15”

  1. Definitely possible. Remember that Ioudaios is actually an adjectival form, hence 'among Jewish [people]'. Considering this, I'd say its anarthrous usage here is probably to be attributed to a lack of specificity about any particular third party rather than an indictment on any particular group: i.e., not just Sadduccees or Pharisees, but people who self-identify as Jews and don't accept the resurrect story, etc. Also, the phrase hoi Ioudaioi was a term commonly used to refer to Jewish leadership proper, so it certainly appears to be more generic than that here. I'm not so sure how many inferences about the insider/outsider status of the speaker from this passage we can draw, though.

    Interesting idea!

  2. Thanks, Steve. Just trying to working through a few different things, and since the internet, at least for now, seems to be my classroom, I am to ask others for help!

  3. I would argue that Matthew was written to Jews who were in the process of or had recently been ejected by the synagogue or Jewish religion generally thus Matthew is seeking to establish identity and boundaries for the community apart from its traditional setting. Is he trying to “reach” Jews in an evangelistic sense? Perhaps but I think it is more possible he is writing to Jewish Christians.

  4. The royal aspect in the genealogy is in fact spiritually required from Abraham and David downward (1: 1-17); and He (Jesus Christ) is presented as what He is – before Man (relatively) – the highest earthly position, the King. And this is certainly Jewish first. The structure of the book as a whole is “Behold Your King” (Zecch. 9: 9).

    Corresponding with the above –

    “The King and the Kingdom. Proclaimed to the Nation in the Land. The Kingdom rejected and the King crucified in Jerusalem, the capital.
    The re-offer of both (Acts 2: 38 ; 3: 19-26) to the Dispersion among the Gentiles; and their final rejection in Rome, the capital of the Dispersion (Acts 28: 16-28).
    The King exalted, and made the Head over all things for the Church, which is His Body (Eph. 1: 20-28 / Phil. 2: 9-11 / Col. 1: 13-19), in the Kingdom of His beloved Son (Col. 1:13). The mystery revealed (Eph.3:1-12 / Col.1:24-29). The Kingdom on earth (visible) in abeyance. “Not Yet” (Heb. 2:8)
    The Kingdom set up in judgment, power and glory. The King enthroned (for all). Set forth as the great subject of the Apocalypse.

    * The above is based upon the premise that the Kingdom is finally and must fully historic Pre-Millennial.

    Joel,

    This has been a position I have held in the past, and I am still “toiling” over? Seeking to honor the whole biblical revelation. And of course this is not “supersessional”.

  5. The point is all Four of the Gospels, are in reality a spiritual unity. Matthew presents the Jewish King and Kingdom. And as Paul speaks to the issue of both the Nations and Israel – Rom. 9-11. Two great subjects for the Apostle Paul, in Romans… The Law of God, and the place of Israel's failure! To miss this, we really miss Paul, note Rom. 11: 32.

  6. Whether historic pre-mill, or post-mill (a-mill too)…both the Nations (Gentiles) and Israel must be brought together, but without loss to either. But the covenants belong to Israel first and always – (Eph. 2: 12 / Rom. 11: 26-31) – note the verses here 29 & 30-31.

  7. I don't really do the 'supersessional' but more on that later, I reckon, as I develop my theology here.

    I think that Matthew is indeed the Jewish Gospel, but as you know, it is seen as polemic, just as John often is, against the Jews. Just examining those issues which seem to be polemic.

  8. Joel,
    I see both Matthew and the Gospel of John as polemical toward the nation and religion of Israel. Matt. 23 cannot be seen any other way! A tough chapter for the NPP people BTW..to my mind.

  9. Well its certainly toward the leadership, but they rejected Christ, and took the nation with them. Note, Matt. 27: 25!

  10. Nearly all translations render that phrase as “among the Jews”, but “literally” is reads, “among Jews”. Is there a difference between the two phrases?

    It's an interesting observation. There's almost certainly a difference between para ioudaiois (“among Jews”) and para tois ioudaiois (“among the Jews”).

    I think “the Jews” (the more common form) is usually “the Jews as a group,” which generally ends up meaning “all Jews,” while “Jews” refers to “some Jews.”

    -Joel

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