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Preface to the Gospel of Matthew
by Blessed Theophylact

There are four Evangelists; two of them, Matthew and John, were of the company of the twelve, and two, Mark and Luke, were of the seventy. Mark was a follower and disciple of Peter; and Luke, of Paul. Matthew, then, first wrote the Gospel, in the Hebrew language for the Jews who believed, eight years after Christ’s Ascension. Some say that John translated it from the Hebrew language into Greek. Mark wrote his Gospel ten years after the Ascension, instructed by Peter. Luke wrote his Gospel fifteen years after the Ascension, and John the most wise Theologian, thirty two years after the Ascension.

It is said that after the death of the first three Evangelists, the three Gospels were brought to John while he yet lived that he might see them and judge if they had been composed according to the truth. When John read them he fully accepted the grace of the truth in them. and whatever the other Evangelists had omitted, he completed in his Gospel, and whatever they had touched on briefly, he elaborated. This was the beginning of theology. Since the other Evangelists had not mentioned the existence of God the Word from before the ages, John himself spoke the word of God—theology—concerning this, so that no one would think that God the Word was a mere man without divinity. For Matthew speaks only of the existence of Christ in the flesh, as he was writing for the Jews for whom it sufficed to learn that Christ was begotten from Abraham and David. A believing Jew is content to know that Christ is from David.

You might ask, “Was not one Evangelist enough?” Listen, then: one was enough, but four were allowed to write so that the truth might be revealed more clearly. When you see these four Evangelists, not sitting down together in one place, but each one by himself at a different time and place writing about the same things as if with one voice, do you not marvel at the truth of the Gospel and conclude that they spoke by the Holy Spirit? Do not tell me that they are not in agreement in all points. Consider where exactly they do not agree. Does one Evangelist say that Christ was born, and another, that He was not? Or one, that He rose, and another, that He did not? Indeed not! In what is essential, they speak with one voice. Therefore, if they do not diverge in the essential points, why do you marvel if they appear to vary in minor details? It is precisely because their accounts do not agree in every detail that we can see that they present the truth. If they had agreed on every point, it would cause one to suspect that they sat down and deliberated together in writing the Gospels. Instead, what one Evangelist has omitted, another has recorded, and for this reason that they seem to be at variance on certain points.

Let us now turn to the text …

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