The Tax Collector


TABLETALK DEVOTIONS WITH RC SPROUL

The Tax
Collector
=================
Matthew 1:1 “The book of the genealogy of
Jesus Christ, the son of David, the
son of Abraham” (v. 1).

Unlike
Paul’s letters, none of the four Gospels explicitly identifies its
author in
the body of its text. Though the title, the gospel according to
[insert the
apostle’s name], is attached to each book in the oldest New
Testament
manuscripts, biblical scholars regard each gospel as an
anonymous
work.

Liberals deny that apostles or their associates wrote
the Gospels. However,
believers have always affirmed the apostolicity of
these books. The early
church was certain that the apostles Matthew and John
composed the gospels
bearing their names. Mark and Luke were not apostles,
but the church fathers
knew Peter and Paul to be the sources of the second
and third gospel,
respectively.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the
Synoptic Gospels because of the
similarities between them that set them apart
from John. These three authors
probably worked interdependently, relying on
the same sources and the work of
one another when writing. Under the guidance
of the Holy Spirit, each man
selected and arranged the historical data to
give us an accurate portrait of
Jesus.

Literary interdependence leads
liberals to reject Matthew as the first
gospel’s author. Why, they ask, would
Jesus’ disciple use the gospels of Mark
or Luke to record the life of Christ? Yet this objection is not conclusive. If
Mark is based on Peter’s testimony,
why would Matthew not use Mark’s work to
write the first gospel? Moreover,
nothing in Matthew’s gospel makes apostolic
authorship impossible, and the
early church testified that Matthew was its
author. We have no reason to deny
that Matthew wrote the gospel bearing his
name.

Matthew also went by
the name Levi and worked as a tax collector, at least
prior to his conversion
(Matt. 9:9; Mark 2:13–14). This vocation required
official dealings with the
Greek-speaking Roman empire and certainly helped
Matthew develop the Greek
proficiency reflected in the gospel’s original text.
One church tradition
says Matthew was martyred in Ethiopia around A.D. 60.

Matthew’s text is
teeming with Old Testament allusions and quotations. The
ubiquity of such
references shows us Matthew wrote his gospel to explain how
Jesus, the son of
David, fulfills God’s promises to the nation of Israel.

Coram deo: Living
before the face of God
========================================
Even in
the very first verse of his gospel, Matthew tells us that Jesus
fulfills
God’s promises to His people. As the “son of Abraham,” Jesus is
revealed as
the one through whom Abraham will bless the nations (Gen. 12:1–3).
Many in
this world think they can find this blessing through means other than
the mediation of Christ Jesus. In this age of syncretism and relativism let us
always maintain that God’s favor comes only through Christ
Jesus.

For further study:

Jeremiah 33:14–26

The Bible in a
year:

Genesis 3–5

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