matthew versus luke

Back on the laptop again, leaving the stack of books alone for now: I’ve looked up all the reference material I think i need, and now it’s a matter of working out what I’m going to put in this (2000 word) essay. I’ve been moving back and forth from “this is going to be a really dense work, so I need to leave out the detail”, to “I really need to make sure I include this”. Back and forth.

So in an effort to clear my head, I thought I’d blog a little on the difference between the gospel Matthew and the gospel of Luke. Both are books of the New Testament, and both are stories about the time that Jesus spent on earth.

Matthew was written – we think – by one of Jesus’ disciples: Matthew, the tax collector. Luke was written by one of the apostle Paul’s companions – Luke (some people think that he was a doctor – he may even have been a Gentile – that’s a non-Jew). Neither gospel was actually signed by an author, so other clues are used instead to determine who wrote them.

Matthew’s audience was Jewish Christians. There’s a lot of emphasis on the relationship between Jesus and the Old Testament law – Jesus has fulfilled the law – that the Jews have been waiting for centuries for a bunch of promises to be fulfilled, and Jesus is the one who will fulfil them. There is much talk about the kingdom of heaven, and Jesus as the king of that kingdom: this leads on to Jesus’ claims to Deity (that he thought that he was God: if you’re a Christian, this is a pretty important thing). There’s mention of Jesus as teacher (he has to be, given all the teaching that’s in this gospel). Finally, we see Jesus as Saviour – this, of course, is the whole point of the easter story where Jesus is crucified, and then rises from the dead.

Luke was writing to Gentiles: his gospel is dedicated to a man named “Theophilus” (a word meaning lover of God – not everyone is convinced that Theophilus was the person’s real name: it was a politically tricky thing to make too much noise about Christianity at the time that this gospel was written). Luke placed his emphasis on the Holy Spirit, on people who were at the fringe of 1st Century Jewish society (women, sick people, people who were ritually unclean, poor people), on prayer – adding reference to prayer to stories that appeared in other gospels – and to God’s plans.

Let me know if you’d like to know more about these things that I’ve been learning about.

Join the Conversation


  1. I just checked . . . that post was 450 words, so you just have to pad it out to four times the size and you’ve got your essay . . . Keep up the good work.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.