Matthean Posteriority & Matthew’s use of Luke

Matthean Posteriority & Matthew’s use of Luke

Matthew’s dependence on Luke: Matthean Posteriority

This article presents evidence for the author of Matthew having used Luke in the composition of the Gospel of Matthew. The view of Matthew being the last of the three Synoptic gospels and having a dependency on Luke is known as Matthean Posteriority. Posteriority is the state of being later or subsequent. In addition to the Jerusalem School, this view has been advocated by numerous bible scholars over the last few hundred years. Other NT scholars have recognized the merits of Matthean Posteriority. An example is David A. deSilva’s, in his An Introduction to the New Testament, he states:

Martin Hengel has drawn attention to the fact that, while Luke’s use of Matthew remains problematic in the extreme, the possibility that Matthew has used Mark and Luke has not been given adequate attention and may prove, in the end, the most elegant solution… Matthew’s systematization and rearrangement of Luke’s material would certainly be easier to explain than the reverse. (David A. deSilva, An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods and Ministry Formation (Downers Grove, IL: interVarsity, 2004, p. 165)

Overview of Scholarship Attesting to Matthew’s dependence on Luke

Several Key Scholars who have lent support to Matthean Posteriority are summarized. This includes Gottlob Christian Storr, Johann Gottfried Herder, Christian Gottlob Wilke, Gustav Schlager, William Lockton, Ernst von Dobschutz, H. Philip West Jr., Ronald V. Huggins, Evan Powell, Martin Hengel, George A. Blair, Alan J.P. Garrow, James R. Edwards as surveyed in Robert MacEwen book Matthean Posteriority: An Exploration of Matthew’s Use of Mark and Luke as a Solution to the Synoptic Problem, (London : Bloomsburry T & T Clark (2015))

Gottlob Christian Storr (1746-1805) appears to be the first modern scholar advocating Matthean Posteriority, resulting from his attempts to harmonize the Gospels. His conclusion was that Mark and Luke preserve an accurate chronological order of events, but that Matthew gives a more thematic arrangement which suggested that Matthews was later than the other two Gospels (Ibid, p. 7)

Christian Gottlob Wilke (1786-1854) argued that Matthew wrote third and used both Mark and Luke and puts his arguments for Matthew’s use of Luke under four headings:

  1. Matthew’s Gospel has seams that show that Matthew oriented his double tradition (DT) material on the basis of Luke. (Double tradition (DT) is material with parallels (or close parallels) only in two Gospels, usually Matthew and Luke)
  2. Matthew gives evidence of having changed double tradition (DT) material as a result of moving it from its more original Lukan contexts
  3. Matthew uses words that are characteristic of Luke
  4. Double tradition (DT) material reveals its Lukan origins through the evidence it contains of Luke’s redactional interests

 Wilke also suggested that the author of Matthew used Mark as his template, supplementing it with material from Luke.  (Ibid., p. 8)

Gustav Schlager attempts to demonstrate Matthew’s dependence on Luke on the basis of vocabulary and expressions characteristic of Luke that are found in both Matthew and Luke in their parallel passages. Schalager believed that his examples in double tradition (DT) passages and in minor agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark—of Matthew agreeing with Luke in using characteristically Lukan language prove that Matthew used Luke’s Gospel as a source. (Ibid, p. 9)

In the 1920’s William Lockton in ‘The Origin of the Gospels gave the following reasons for viewing Matthew as the last Synoptic Gospel to have been written:

  1. Differences in the Synoptic Gospels are often best explained by an order of development in traditions that goes from Luke to Mark to Matthew (W Lockton, The Three Traditions of the Gospels (London: Longmans, Green, 1926) pp. 3-4, 32-7; The Origin of the Gospels, CQR 94 (July 1922), p. 222)
  2. Matthew appears to have the most developed and artificial structure of the three Synoptics (Lockton, The Three Traditions of the Gospels, pp. 3-4, 32-7)
  3. Matthew’s and Luke’s Infancy Narratives contain such ‘considerable agreement that they ‘can scarcely be independent’ (Lockton, ‘Resurrection and other Gospel Narratives‘, pp. 131-3)
  4. The vocabulary of the double tradition (DT) is more characteristic of Luke than of Matthew, suggesting to him that Luke was Matthew’s source for his material. (W. Lockton, ‘The Origin of the Gospels‘, CQR 94 (July 1922) p. 222)

While many who have advocated Matthean Posteriority maintain the popular view of Marcan priority, that is Mark also preceded Luke, others such Lockton and the Jerusalem School affirm Lukan priority over Mark. Lockton is the predecessor of Robert Lindsey and his followers of the Jerusalem school. Lindsey argued for Lukan priority, as covered in the article Lukan Priority and the Jerusalem School.

Ernost von Dobschutz (1870-1934) argues that Matthew depended on Luke ‘at least in a secondary way’. He believes that Matthew’s use of Luke is more likely than the reverse because Matthew generally seems more developed than Luke in the double tradition (DT) in terms of arrangement and expansions of the material and the constriction of the discourses. (Ernst von Dobschutx, ‘Matthew as Rabbi and Catechist’ in The interpretation of Matthew (ed. Graham Stanton; SNTI; Edinburgh; T&T Clark, 2nd edn, 1995), pp. 34-6)

Dobschutz also saw historical grounds for dating Matthew later than Mark and Luke: Matthew’s rabbinical and catechetical style indicates that his Gospel was ‘a catholicizing type’ of a document (like James, the Pastoral Epistles, and the Shepherd of Hermas) and therefore should be dated to ‘about A.D. 100’. (Ibid p.37)

H. Philip West Jr., in 1967 published an article in the New Testament Studies journal,  ‘A primitive Version of Luke in the Composition of Matthew. He built on the theory of John Knox that both Marcion’s Gospel and canonical Luke were dependent on an earlier Gospel that was ‘roughly equivalent to ‘Marcion’s Gospel. West argues that this ‘Primitive Luke’ was also a source for the Gospel of Matthew. In West’s hypothesis, Primitive Luke essentially takes over the role of Q in the two-document hypothesis.  (Philip West, ‘A primitive version of Luke in the Composition of Matthew‘, NTS v14.1, (1967) p 75; p, 77 Fig. 2)

Ronald V Huggins in Matthean Posteriority argues Matthew made use of both Mark and Luke, and no hypothetical intermediary documents are needed. (Huggins, Matthean Posteriority, pp. 204-6). Proponents of the two-document hypothesis claim that because Matthew and Luke fail to place double tradition (DT) material at the same points in their Markan outlines, this proves that they are independent of each other. Huggins affirms that this is much less a problem for Matthean Posteriority than it is for Lukan Posteriority (i.e., the Farrer hypothesis). He argues that Matthew’s general procedure was to use Mark as his primary source and Luke as his secondary source- supplementing Mark with blocks of material drawn from Luke. (Ibid, pp. 212-13)

Evan Powell advocated for Matthean Posteriority in two books on the Gospels, including The Unfinished Gospel, Notes on the Quest for the Historical Jesus (1994), and The Myth of the Lost Gospel (2006). Based on Matthew being the most developed of the Synoptic Gospels, he claims it is likely to be chronologically posterior to the other two. He observes that we can see Matthew making the same kinds of changes to Luke in the double tradition that he makes to Mark in the triple tradition. Powell argues that the high level of verbatim agreement between Matthew and Luke in the double tradition can be explained by Matthew conservatively copying from Luke in a way that is consistent with the way Matthew handles Mark. (Powell, The Myth of the Lost Gospel, p. 50; pp. 107-20)

Alan J. P. Garrow, in the article Matthew’s Dependence (Biblica Vol.86, No.3 (2005)), lays out a case for his hypothesis that Matthew used Mark, Luke, and an unspecified form of ‘Q’. Garrow makes these key observations:

  • The generally high degree of word-for-word agreement between Matthew and Luke in the double tradition, similar to the agreement between Matthew and Mark, is best explained by Matthew’s direct use of Luke
  • Matthew’s complex scribal operations are explained by Matthew having possessed the Gospels of Mark and Luke in codex form, making it easier to rearrange his sources’ orders of material than if he had accessed them in scroll form. 
 James R. Edwards defends a version of Matthean Posteriority in his book The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition. His thesis is the earlier gospel he refers to as the Hebrew Gospel is not the canonical Matthew, but is the book that early church fathers had claimed was written by the Apostle Matthew. Against the established ‘Two-Source’ and increasingly popular ‘Farrer-Goulder’ hopothesis, Edwards revises an older scholarly fascination with the mysterious ‘Hebrew Gospel; that was held in high regard by many church fathers. Drawing on a careful review of patristic quotations on the Semitisms in the Gospel of Luke, Edwards proposes that the Third Evangelist used a single Gospel document in Hebrew both for his special material and for his overall narrative outline. 
Edwards also claims that canonical Matthew was the last of the Synoptic Gospels to be written, and that canonical Matthew was not even dependent on the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. Edwards defends the view of Matthean Posteriority on the basis that Matthew is the most developed of the Synoptics in terms of literary structure, style, references to Judaism, Christology, and comparisons with Mark and Luke in parallel texts. (Edwards, The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition, Wm. B. Eerdmans (2009), pp. 243-62) 

Summary of Works of Key Matthean Posteriorists

MacEwen summarizes the works of adherents to Matthean Posteriority as follows

Storr was apparently the first to propound a theory that Matthew was written in dependence on Mark and Luke; his observation that Matthew’s thematic arrangement made his Gospel look more developed than Mark’s and Luke’s was a significant insight. Herder argued for the lateness of the Canonical Gospel of Matthew relative to Mark and Luke while emphasizing the role of oral tradition… Wilke defended Matthean posteriority as a simple ‘utilization hypothesis’ involving direct literary relationships between the Synoptics. His observation that Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount appears more developed and heterogeneous than Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, has been taken up by most of his successors.  Schlager defended Matthean posteriority using an argument based on the characteristic vocabulary of Luke found also in Matthew in the DT [double tradition]… Lockton pointed out that Matthew’s Gospel as a whole has the most developed and artificial structure of the Synoptics and showed that Matthew’s and Luke’s Infancy Narratives have more in common with each other than is generally recognized. Dobschutz defended the MPH [Matthew Posteriority Hypothesis] in terms of the Infancy Narratives, the MAs [minor agreements], and the historical considerations.  West argued persuasively that Matthew’s omission of Lukan Sondergut [sayings only in Luke] is explainable on the basis of Matthew’s redactional tendencies and that Matthew, in composing his major discourses, used Lukan material consistently with the way he used Markan material. Huggins, at the end of the twentieth century, reintroduced Matthean posteriority as an option, providing the theory with a memorable name and giving a credible account of Matthew’s procedure in using Mark as his primary source and Luke as his secondary source.  Powell argued that an MPH view of Matthew’s consistency in conservatively copying from both Mark and Luke is more reasonable than the 2DH [two-document hypothesis] view of Luke conservatively copying passages while taking great liberties with Mark. Hengel offered a generally plausible account of historical factors affecting the development of the Synoptic Gospels and took a mediating position between the MPH and the 2DH – suggesting that Matthew depended on Luke but also that the two Gospels could have had other sources in common in addition to Mark. Blair, looking at Matthew as an editor of his sources, defended Matthean posteriority in every Synoptic pericope having parallels. Garrow succinctly and persuasively showed how the MPH can explain the key data of the Synoptic Gospels. Edwards argued for the posteriority of canonical Matthew while also taking seriously the testimony of the church fathers that the earliest Gospel was one written in Hebrew by the Apostle Matthew.

(Robert MacEwen, Matthean Posteriority: An Exploration of Matthew’s Use of Mark and Luke as a Solution to the Synoptic Problem, (London : Bloomsburry T & T Clark (2015) pp. 24-5)


 On page 26, MacEwen summarizes the strongest of the arguments in favor of the hypothesis that Matthew depends on Luke as follows:

  1. There is a higher degree of verbal agreement found between Matthew and Mark and Matthew and Luke in contrast to that found between Mark and Luke
  2. Matthew’s arrangement of the DT (double tradition) material if he were using Luke is easier to explain than Luke’s arrangement if he were using Matthew
  3. Matthew appears generally more developed than either Mark or Luke
  4. Matthew’s redactional tendencies can explain his omissions of Luke’s Sondergut (sayings which are only found in Luke)
  5. Historical factors (e.g. Hengel’s argument that Matthew reflects a somewhat later period in the first century than does Luke)
  6. The infancy and resurrection narratives contain evidence of Matthew’s knowledge of Luke’s accounts
  7. Characteristic vocabulary, which is reversible

Textual Evidence of Matthew’s Knowledge of Luke

A principal argument for Matthean Posteriority is the numerous parallel passages in the Synoptic Gospel that contain evidence that the Gospel of Luke was known to the author of Matthew. Here are several examples of parallel passages that can be seen to provide evidence of Matthew’s knowledge and use of Luke. 

As an analogy for his use of Luke, examining Matthew’s reordering of Marcan material

There are numerous examples that demonstrate that Matthew transfers material from a Markan context to a new context in his own Gospel. This appropriated material includes narratives, blocks of teaching, and short sayings. Mark has a series of five controversy stories in Chapters 2:1 through 3:6 and a series of three miracle stories in chapters 4:35-5:43. Matthew reorders these stories as indicated below:
  1. Healing of the Paralytic and controversy about forgiving sins: Mark 2:1-12 vs. Mat 9:1-8
  2. The Call of Levi and Eating with Tax Collectors and sinners: Mark 2:13-17 vs. Matt 9:9-13
  3. The question about fasting: Mark 2:18-22 vs. Matt 9:14-17
  4. Plucking Grain on the Sabbath: Mark 2:23-28 vs. Matt 12:1-8
  5. Healing the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath, Mark 3:1-6 vs. Matt 12:9-14
  6. The Parables Discourse: Mark 4:1-34 vs. Matt 13:1-52
  7. The stilling of the storm: Mark 4:35-41 vs. Matt 8:23-27
  8. The Gerasene demoniac: Mark 5:1-20 vs. Matt 8:28-34
  9. Jarius’ Daughter and the woman with a hemorrhage: Mark 5:21-43 vs. Matt 9:18-26
  10. Mission Instructions: Mark 6:8-11 vs, Matt 10:5-42

As compared to the 1-10 sequence of stories of Mark, Matthew is in the order. 7-8-1-2-3-9-10-4-5-6. Matthew transposed stories into his desired teaching blocks. Other Matthean recontextualizations of Markan sayings include the following:

  1. Matthew deletes Mark’s periscope of the strange exorcist (Mark 9:38-41) except for the final saying that he places at the end of his Mission Discourse, right after another saying about rewards (Matt 10:41-42)
  2. Matthew takes Mark 11:24, found at the end of Mark’s Withered Fig Tree periscope, and puts it at the end of a section on prayer in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 6:14-15)
  3. In addition to maintaining the original context of the saying, ‘But many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first,’ Matthew adds the saying to a second context at the end of the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matt 20:16). He makes the parable an illustration of the saying, and the saying the moral of the parable. 
  4. Matthew omits the saying on receiving the kingdom as a child (Mark 10:15/Luke 18:17) from the context of Jesus blessing the children but adds a similar saying to his community discourse (Matt 18:3)
  5. Matthew removes the description of the crowd as ‘sheep without a shepherd’ from the Markan context in the feeding of five thousand (mark 6:34) and uses it in the introduction to his mission discourse (Matt 9:36) 
  6. Matthew puts the saying on hearing with one’s ears in a different context (Matt 13:43 vs. Mark 4:23, Matt 14:9 vs. Mark 4:9 vs. Luke 8:8)
  7. Matthew puts the saying on receiving or losing what one has in a different context than Mark (Matt 13:12 vs. Mark 4:25)
Those who argue for the two-document hypothesis would not argue that Matthew was unaware of the location of those settings in Mark’s Gospel. Yet, a similar claim is often made about the double tradition material of Matthew and Luke’s different contexts. That is because Matthew contextualizes things differently than Luke, he had no knowledge of Luke’s placement. However, the following examples indicate that Matthew was actually familiar with Lukan contextualization for double tradition material, although he preferred to recontextualize the material in a different way. 

Matthew’s Conflation of Luke and Mark in Matthew 10:9-10

Jesus’ instructions to apostles in the triple tradition pericope of the twelve sent to preach and heal of Matt 10:1-14, Mark 6:6-14, and Luke 9:1-6, was for his apostles to travel light. There are some minor agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark. Mark permits taking a staff while Matthew and Luke forbid it and Matthew and Luke (but not Mark) mention silver. However, Matthew conflates Mark’s mention of not bringing copper with Luke’s forbidding of silver. In addition, the Matthean reading further forbids gold in addition to silver and copper. Textural criticism typically holds that the longer and conflated readings are later than the shorter ones. The conflation in Matthew 10:9-10 of forbidding bringing gold, silver, or copper is evidence of Matthean Posteriority. 

Luke as the source for Matt 6:24 featuring the word ‘Mamon’

Luke 16 features the use of the word ‘Mamon’ three times in Luke 16:9, 11, 13. This Aramaic loanword occurs once in Matthew 6:24. If one presumes that Matthew was written after Luke, it is plausible that Luke could have received the entirety of his ‘mammon’ passage (Luke 16:9-13) from a single source and Matthew would have known the Lukan passage. Matthew possibly decided he didn’t want to use the preceding parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16:1-8) but did want to include Luke 16:13 in his section on focusing on heavenly things rather than earthly in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 6:19-33). Thus, Matthew chose to retain the Aramaic expression for one selected context, similar to how he sometimes used Mark.

Luke as the source for ‘Do not store up treasures on earth’

In the treasures in heaven passages of Matthew 6:19-21 and Luke 12:32-34, Matthew and Luke are fairly close in the second half of the periscope but distant in the first half. If Matthew relied on Luke, the similarity between the two passages is easily explained in terms of Matthew’s dependence on Luke. In composing Matthew 6:19-34, Matthew draws on material from Luke 11 and 16, but primarily from Luke 12:13-34, the section of Luke’s Gospel dealing with holding on to possessions versus trust in God. Matthew selectively uses this material in an arrangement that suits his purposes. Matthew probably decides not to use Luke’s Parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21) because he wants to incorporate mostly direct teachings in the Sermon on the Mount rather than extend parables. However, Matthew does see it useful to connect elements of Luke 12:21, the warning that those who store up for themselves are not rich toward God, and Luke 12:33, ‘unfailing treasure in heaven’ together in Matthew 6:12-21 while omitting Luke’s injunction, ‘Sell your possessions and give alms.’ Perhaps the implication of Luke renouncing earthly possessions was too radical for Matthew.

Luke as the basis for Mathew 23:37

Luke contains a particular form of the word ‘Jerusalem’ (Ἰερουσαλὴμ) 27 times in Luke and 37 times in Acts. This form of the word ‘Jerusalem’ is not exhibited in Mark, and exhibited only once in Matthew 23:37. This is the only place that Matthew uses the Lukan form of “Jerusalem” (Ἰερουσαλὴμ, Noun, Vocative, Feminine, Singular) rather than Jerusalem (Ἱεροσόλυμα, Noun Accusative, Neutral, Plural) as the typical form used commonly in Matthew, which he picked up from Mark. Although Matthew typically adopted the Marcan form of the word for ‘Jerusalem’ at least in this one case of Matt 23:37, he adopted the Lukan form. Luke also commonly uses the double vocative in several places such as Martha, Martha (Luke 10:41), Simon, Simon (Luke 22:31), and Jerusalem, Jerusalem (Luke 13:34). Matthew 23:37 incorporates both the Lukan form of the word for ‘Jerusalem’ and the double vocative ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem’  which is characteristic of Luke 13:34. 

Luke 10:4-6 as a precursor to Matthew 10:11-13

There are a few interesting differences between Matt 10:1-13 and Luke 10:4-6. In Matt 10:11-13 Matthew omits Luke’s command, ‘Do not greet anyone on the road’, but he appears to have read it since he immediately uses Luke’s verb to write, “When you go into the house greet it,” in place of Luke’s more Semitic, “say, Peace to this house.” It is also very likely that Matthew read Luke’s wording “Peace to this house,” since in Matt 10:13 he writes “let your peace come upon it,” in close arrangement with “your peace will rest upon it” in Luke 10:6. It is highly likely that Luke’s wording is more primitive than Matthew’s here. Taking a view of Matthean Posteriority in this passage is more logical. Otherwise, one would have to presume Luke decided not to use Matthew’s use of ‘greet’ and ‘worthy’ in the instructions about lodging and, in response to Matthew’s phrase “let your peace come upon it,” to have come up with the Semitic expressions “peace to this house” and “son of peace” with which to replace them. Furthermore, it also appears that Matthew was influenced by Luke 10:7 “laborer deserves his wages” in Matt 10:10 “laborer deserves his food.” 

Luke as the influence behind Matthew 9:32-35 and 10:25

Luke 11:15 Jesus is said to cast out demons by ‘Beelzebul.” The Parallel in Matthew 9:32 changes ‘Beelzebul’ to ‘the prince of demons’. However, Matthew introduces the word ‘Beelzebul’ for the first time in Matt 10:25. The best explanation for the appearance of ‘Beelzebul’ in Matt 10:24-25 (an expanded version of Luke 6:40 that lacks the word ‘beelzebul’) is that Matthew was previously exposed to Luke’s use of the word  ‘Beelzebul’ when composing Matt 9:32-34 in reference to Luke 11:15. That Matthew was using Luke when he composed Matt 9:32-34 is supported by the agreement with Luke 11:14-15, including a seven-word string of verbatim agreement of Matt 9:33 with Luke 11:14. 

Luke as a precursor to Matthew 12:22-24

Matthew depended on Luke in both Matt 9:32-34 and Matt 12:22-24. The differences between the two Matthean passages can be explained as follows. Initially, Matthew intended to use only the healing account from Luke’s Bellzebul controversy pericope and did so in Matt 9:32-34. Later Matthew changed his mind and decided to create a conflation of the Markan and Lukan versions of this pericope since he liked elements of both. He favored Luke’s healing story at the beginning (instead of Mark’s difficult comment about Jesus’ family considering him insane Mark 3:20-21). But he could not simply copy Luke’s story again since he had just done so. So instead, Matthew conflated two of his earlier healing stories – the two blind men of Matt 9:27-31 with the mute demoniac of Matt 9:32-34, creating a new account of a man who was both blind and mute because of a demon.  The combined evidence of the Beelzebul material in the Synoptics is better explained by Matthean Posteoriority than the Two-document Hypothesis or the Farrer hypothesis. 

Lukan influence on Matthew 12:11

Luke has two stories involving controversy over healing on the Sabbath of Luke 13:10-17 and Luke 14:1-5 which both feature a defense of Jesus’ actions by giving an analogy of what people would normally do for their animals on the Sabbath. There is also a triple tradition pericope about the Man with the withered hand of Matt 12:9-14, Mark 3:1-6, and Luke 6:6-11 in which only Matt 12:11 makes reference to what people would do for their animals on the Sabbath. Matthew took his cue from the other Luke passages of Luke 13:15 and Luke 14:5 on using the argument of helping an animal. Matthew chose not to follow Luke in multiplying the stories of healing on the Sabbath but decided in the story of in  Matt 12:9-14 to take Luke’s animal-in-a-pit analogy and insert it into what is for the most part the Markan version of the story Mark 3:1-6. Matt 12:11 is a redactional addition influenced by Luke. 

Luke 16:14-17 as the catalyst for Matthew 5:17-20

Much of the double tradition material in Luke 16 is found in Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount. Although the one verse of Luke 16:16 is also selected by the author of Matthew to incorporate both Jesus’ Witness concerning John of Matt 11:12-13 in addition to the introduction to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:18. Readers are often puzzled by Luke 16:16-18. Luke 16:16 seems to indicate that after John the Baptist and the proclaiming of the kingdom of God, there is an end to the efficacy of the law. But Luke 16:17 states that ‘It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of the law to fail.’ The two statements appear contradictory. 
It follows that Matthew, reading this passage in Luke, would have intended to resolve the ambiguity and explicitly affirm his theological position that the law is not done away with. Within Matthews’s composition of the Sermon on the Mount, the author explains, by means of Matthew 5:17, that the coming of Jesus and the gospel of the kingdom do not abolish or bring an end to the law and the prophets, but rather fulfill them (bring them to completeness).  Matthew 5:18-19 is an explicit indication that the law will remain valid as long as heaven and earth remain. According to Matthew, Jesus brought the law to fullness through the extensive teachings conveyed in the three-chapter Sermon on the Mount. An indication that Matthew read Luke 16:16-17 is that in Matthew 5:17, he mentions both the law and the prophets, although the prophets are not mentioned in Luke 16:17, which more directly parallels Matt 5:18. That Matthew mentions prophets in Matt 16:17 suggests that he is reacting to the implication in Luke 16:16, that both the law and the prophets have been abolished. Matthew alters the syntax and context of the Lukan saying, toward a more explicitly pro-Torah stance in the Sermon on the Mount.

Another clue that Matthew read Luke 16 is Matthew’s insertion of the remark of the necessity of having a righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt 5:20). It is odd that Matthew would mention this at this point, since in Matthew’s narrative, Jesus had not yet been interacting with scribes and Pharisees. However, Matthew knows Luke’s Gospel and is familiar with Luke 16:14-15 of Jesus’ interaction with Pharisees being the immediate context of Luke 16:16-17. Thus, the presence of criticism of the Pharisees in both Matt 5:20 and Luke 16:14-15, together with Matthew’s attempt to clarify the ambiguity of Luke 16:16-17 regarding the Law, is an indication that Matthew incorporated Luke 16:17 and also crafted the sermon in a way to be responsive to the original Lukan context.

Later interpolations of Matthew of an unambiguous Judaizing quality

Matthew features explicit sayings regarding keeping commandments and judgment that are not seen in Luke. These sayings provide extra detail of a Judaizing quality and are of a non-ambiguous nature (Jesus is quoted as speaking plainly and directly). It doesn’t make sense if Luke is writing with Matthew in view, and that these are actually the words of Jesus, that he would omit such verses. The explanation of why Luke lacks these sayings is that Luke is the earliest of the three Synoptics and that the additional expressly formulated passages are interpolations developed and added by the author of Matthew or are of another later tradition associated with a Jewish-Christian Torah-observing sect. An example of such passages are as follows:

  • Matthew 5:19-20—” Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
  • Matthew 5:21- “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven… Many… I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
  • Matthew 13:36-43— “The Son of Man will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace”
  • Matthew 16:26-27—” The son of Man… will repay each person according to what he has done.”
  • Matthew 19:17— ”If you would enter life, keep the commandments”
  • Matthew 23:2-3— “The scribes and the Pharisees… so do and observe whatever they tell you”
  • Matthew 23:23—“The weightier matters of the law… these things you ought to have done, without neglecting the others”
  • Matthew 25:31-46— ”He will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels… and these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
 Additionally, Matthew revises the more primitive Lukan language with a much higher frequency of words such as ‘lawlessness,’ and ‘righteousness’ and ‘perfect,’ (e.g., “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:18)). For more on this, see the article Matthew is a Judaizing Document.