Coming to Terms with Life in Rome (81-90 CE) and the Gospel of Matthew


After the death of Jesus, his resurrection, and ascension into heaven, his followers believed that he would return in the second coming or Parousia. Even after the destruction of Jerusalem, the Roman-Jewish civil war, the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius totally destroying two cities and their inhabitants, Jesus had not returned (McGinn, 2014, p. 204). Often, people question their beliefs, themselves, and others in desperate times. The followers of Jesus question if he is coming back.



If God is real why didn’t he just destroy the Roman Empire, and save his people?

Why are the Emperors of Rome allowed to build Coliseums using Jewish slave labor? What about all the stolen money utilized to exploit the Jews? Why were the Romans allowed to hold over a hundred days of games, slaying countless numbers of Christ-believers and thousands of wild animals? With so much wavering in beliefs, several people wrote about the life of Jesus, four of these writings become known as the "four gospels". The first New Testament book is the Gospel according to Matthew, although the first in the collection, is believed to be written after the Gospel of Mark (McGinn, 2014, pp. 205-207).


McGinn states that Matthew writes from a view of organizational structure. Jesus proclaims Peter as the rock, “You are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church…whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven” (Mt 16:18-19) Jesus is giving Peter the power to perform miracles and proclaiming Peter as the head of the organization. Matthew begins his gospel with the genealogy of Jesus, the structure or lineage of Jesus.


Matthew is very similar to Mark's writings, but much more detailed, and structured, Matthew provides five sermons by Jesus to the people, once again the teaching needed for an organization of Christ-followers. Matthew speaks of two demons cast into the swine (Mt 8:28-33), two blind men (Mt 20:29-34), and two donkeys (Mt 21:2-7). Mark only speaks of one each. Although this is only the second Gospel I have read in class, they are both quite similar, but from different views and have different timelines. Why might this be? Can they both have the same source, but a different perspective?


References:

Coogan, Michael D., The New Oxford Annotated Bible. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

McGinn, Shelia E. The Jesus Movement and the World of the Early Church. Winona: Christian Brothers Publications, 2014.



Article Written June 7, 2017, by Esther Steele





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