This project is a critical study of Jesus the Teacher in the First Gospel. Through a variety of methods with a preference for narrative criticism and redaction criticism, this project investigates how Matthew presents Jesus the Teacher with his didactic authority, which is recognized right after Jesus’ first sermon, the Sermon on the Mount. “The crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.” (Mt 7:28-29)
In the literary and theological strata of Matthew, Jesus’ authority lies in His divine sonship, His role as Savior in God’s plan, and in His powers in words and deeds. Matthew describes Jesus as the universal teacher of both Israelites and Gentiles. As the teacher of the Israelites, Jesus makes God’s promises to their ancestors in the Hebrew Bible come true while respecting their priority in God’s plan. As the teacher of the Gentiles, Jesus brings the blessings God made to Abraham for all nations to fulfillment (cf. Gen 22:18). Likewise, Matthew emphasizes Jesus as a unique teacher. Jesus is the only one who knows God and reveals this knowledge to anyone He wants to (cf. Mt 11:25-30).
Although Matthew’s characterization of Jesus the Teacher reflects the religious and social context of his community, it is by no means distorted by the so-called anti-Pharisaic attitude. Rather, it serves as a solution for the problems of Matthew’s community, particularly that of division, and also as a motivation for its mission towards both the Israelites and the Gentiles.