In the current thread I have been posting about the Jewish emphases of Matthew’s Gospel, all in an attempt to move to an answer to the question of whether, in my opinion Matthew was himself Jewish. When I get done with these posts, I’ll explain what my opinion is and why I have it; I can tell by some of the responses so far to these posts that some people are in for a surprise….
In previous posts we saw that Jesus, in Matthew, insists that his followers keep the Jewish law – even better than the scribes and the Pharisees. But for Matthew, What is the real purpose of the law?
We get a hint of Matthew’s answer already in the Sermon on the Mount, in Jesus’ famous expression of the Golden Rule. We know of other ancient teachers who formulated similar guidelines of behavior usually in its negative form — that you should not do to another what you do not want them to do to you – as far afield as Confucius and as close afield as Rabbi Hillel, the most famous Jewish teacher of Jesus’ time. For our present discussion, though, the emphasis of Jesus’ own formulation is important: “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (7:12) The final phrase cannot be emphasized enough: the entire law with all of its commandments can be summarized in this simple principle, that you treat others as you want them to treat you.
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