Matthew and Mark

New Testament Survey, Lesson 2 of 13


Matthew is the first book in the New Testament. It has twenty-eight chapters. It covers the life of Christ from His birth to the giving of the Great Commission. It is perhaps the most widely read book of the Bible because of its location at the beginning of the New Testament. Matthew was first written to the Jews.

The purpose of Matthew is to show that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ) who was foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament. There are sixty-five quotations from the Old Testament in the book of Matthew. The family history of Jesus is traced from Abraham through David. This shows Jesus was a true Jew and the promised Seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:3; 22:18; Galatians 3:16). It also shows Jesus was the Son of David. Therefore, He had the right to the throne of Israel. Matthew, Mark and Luke are sometimes called “the synoptic gospels.” This simply means that they record many of the same things about Jesus’ life and teaching. Some scholars do not believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. They say Mark copied from an unknown writing called “Q.” Then Matthew and Luke copied from Mark. There is no proof of this. The so-called “Q” writing does not exist, nor is there proof it has ever existed! The reason Matthew, Mark and Luke contain much of the same information is: (1) They were all inspired by the Holy Spirit; (2) They all deal with the life and teachings of Jesus. Each one of these books contains some information the others do not have. Each book was written with a different purpose and audience in mind.

Matthew is the inspired writer of the book which bears his name. He is not named in the book as its author. However, Christians from earliest times have believed he was the writer. Matthew was a tax collector. He was called by Jesus to be one of His disciples (Matthew 9:9). Later, he was chosen to be one of the twelve apostles (Luke 6:12-16). He was one of the group of tax collectors and sinners who followed Jesus (Matthew 9:10-13). When Jesus called him, Matthew left everything to follow Him (Luke 5:27, 28).

Matthew must have been a well educated man for this was required to be a tax collector. He was a prosperous man because of his job. He owned a house where he made a feast for Jesus (Matthew 9:9-11; Mark 2:14-17; Luke 5:29). Matthew’s name means “gift of God.” He was also known as “Levi, the son of Alphaeus” (Mark 2:14).

The message of Matthew is that Jesus has come to be king over His kingdom. Matthew often uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” to refer to the church which Jesus had come to build. He also called the coming church “the kingdom of God.” Frequently, Matthew referred to Jesus as “the Son of David.” This showed He was the heir to David’s throne. Again and again Matthew shows that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of the Christ (Matthew 1:22, 23; 2:5, 6, 17, 18; 4:13-16; 8:17; 12:17-22; 13:34, 35; 21:4, 5; 27:9, 10). He records Peter’s confession that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” and Jesus’ promise to build His church (kingdom) upon this great truth (Matthew 16:16-19).

Matthew includes fifteen parables which were taught by Jesus. Ten of these parables are not found anywhere else in the New Testament. Matthew also records twenty miracles which were done by Jesus. Three of these are not found elsewhere. Matthew sets forth the teaching of Jesus during His personal ministry more fully than the other Gospel writers.


Mark, the second book in the New Testament, has sixteen chapters. It is the shortest of the four accounts of the life of Christ. It is a fast moving history of Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection. Mark uses words such as “immediately” many times. He was a companion of Peter in Peter’s later years (1 Peter 5:13). Many early Christian writers believe Mark wrote his account of Christ’s life as he heard it preached by Peter. They also believed he wrote it with the Romans in mind.

Mark’s full name was John Mark (Acts 12:12). His mother was Mary who was a Christian. The church met in her house to pray for Peter when he was put in prison by Herod. Mark was also a relative of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10). He accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:5). However, he left them and returned home when they came to Perga (Acts 13:13). Later, when they planned to make a second journey, Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them. Paul disagreed strongly so the two men went their separate ways (Acts 15:36-41). Mark and Paul were later reconciled for Paul mentions him favorably (Colossians 4:10). When he was in prison in Rome, Paul requested Timothy to bring Mark with him for “he is useful to me for ministering” (2 Timothy 4:11).

While Matthew emphasizes what Jesus taught, Mark emphasizes what He did. Mark differs from Matthew and Luke because he does not record the family line of Jesus. Neither does he mention the birth and childhood of Jesus. He begins his account of the life of Christ with the ministry of John the baptist. Mark does not record the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ rebuke of the scribes and the Pharisees, or the parables of the second coming which are found in Matthew 25. However, he gives more details of the miracles of Jesus than either Matthew or Luke. Mark presents Jesus more as a servant than as a king.

Some unbelieving Bible scholars have argued that the closing verses of Mark 16 should not be in the Bible (Mark 16:9-20). Some versions take this passage out of the text and put it in a footnote at the bottom of the page. However, Mark 16:9-20 is in the majority of the Greek manuscripts. It was quoted by writers such as Irenaeus who lived in the second and third centuries. Therefore, we know it was a part of the Bible in their day. It is also found in the ancient translations which are older than many of our oldest existing manuscripts. As one believing scholar said: "If these verses are not genuine, why did God in His providence so long allow them to pass for genuine?"

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