Wednesday, December 04, 2019

RCL Year A • Matthew

Matthew: Revised Common Lectionary Year A

Happy New Year!

Every year on the first Sunday of Advent the church begins a new year of grace; gospel scriptures for this year are mostly from Matthew.

Along with Luke and Mark, Matthew is one of the three synoptic gospels that view Jesus with a similar perspective, despite each one having a markedly different personality.

• syn=together, as in synthesis, synod, synagogue, synopsis, synergy, synonym, syntax

• optic=related to eyes or vision, as in optician, optical, optometrist, optimistic, optimum

I often refer to the gospel according to John that almost didn't make the canonical cut as the "outlier, rogue" gospel. Because Mark is so short, during his lectionary Year B we get a lot John interspersed. During the great 50 days of Easter, all three lectionary years feature John's gospel.


circa 80 - 90


No indication of "Matthew" as author until the second century, but for discussion purposes we can assume followers of the apostle and tax collector Matthew similar to the way we consider the gospel according to John authored by the community that surrounded John the beloved disciple.


Matthew contains 90% of the verses in Mark, the earliest canonical gospel. (Luke contains about 50% of Mark.) Matthew and Luke both contain parallel, sometimes identical passages not found in Mark. Scholars still speculate there might have been a no longer extant written collection of Jesus' sayings, sometimes referred to as "Q", from the first word of the German Quelle—river or source. Matthew's community may have had a third written "M" source.


Semitic Greek, or possibly Aramaic, the vernacular Hebrew Jesus spoke. Not really certain.


Book of Beginnings, Book of Origins = biblios geneseos – Matthew presents a new Genesis, a New Creation as he tells the story of Jesus of Nazareth's birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension.


Greek-speaking Jewish Christians in Antioch in Syria, where they first called Jesus' followers Christian – Acts 11:28. That particular Antioch's now part of present-day Turkey. There's also an Antioch, Ohio, USA.

World View – Content

• Salvation (integrity, wholeness, shalom) for all the world, for everyone everywhere

• Matthew never ever lets up on justice and righteousness.

• Kingdom of Heaven rather than Kingdom of God

• Concern about fulfilling Hebrew Bible prophecies and predictions

• New Abraham, New David

Matthew's genealogy goes back to Abraham, in whom all nations would be blessed. Matthew's Jesus is Son of Abraham, whose deep mercy and love bless all people everywhere. Matthew's Jesus is Son of David, not a temporary, short-term monarch like the old David, but this new David reigns forever, for all eternity, his love including and embracing all creation.

• Angel's visit to Jesus' stepfather Joseph; Joseph's dream to flee to Egypt. (Luke tells us more about Mary.)

• Visit of the Magi at Epiphany – ethnic foreigners from a different religion reveal God for the world. Scripture does not say how many kings there were, but tradition has it at three because the text lists three gifts.

• New Moses

Flight into Egypt – Jesus as refugee
New Exodus with Jesus as freedom-giver, liberator
Five discourses that parallel the Torah/Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses. The gospel as a new Torah. Sermon on the Mount explicates existing ten commandments/ten words God gave the people through Moses at Mount Sinai

• As with Luke, some parables are unique to Matthew:
• weeds among the tares of wheat
• the treasure
• the pearl
• the net
• the unforgiving servant
• the laborers in the vineyard
• the two sons
• the ten virgins
The only gospel that uses the word "ecclesia," and brings us some ecclesiology related to church order and structure. Ecclesia is the Roman city council, New England town meeting. Ecclesiastical is the word about the church.

Before Jesus' resurrection Matthew calls God's people "Israelites"; after the resurrection he calls them Jews.

Great Commission – Gospel/Good News for the world

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