Was the Author of Matthew the Apostle?

Joseph Francis Alward


Apologists claim that the apostle Matthew is believed to have been the writer of the gospel called Matthew, but where is the evidence? The author of Matthew never gives the slightest hint that he is the apostle who was the tax-collector. Instead, there is strong evidence to the contrary. Read what the author of the Book of Matthew has to say about "himself":

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. (Matthew 9:9)

 Does this sound like something the apostle Matthew would write about himself? Speaking of himself in the royal third person? Jesus never spoke of himself this way, so we hardly should imagine that the tax-collector Matthew would be so presumptuous as to do so, if he even existed.

There is strong evidence that the Matthew author, whoever he was, manufactured his stories about Jesus.  He apparently took what he thought were foreshadowing stories in Scripture and adapted them to fit Jesus.  Why? To make it seem that his "Jesus" was the messiah he thought was prophesied in Scripture.  However, he made many laughably bad mistakes in interpretation. I won't go into all of them here; you can consult my web page for those stories. I'll just mention one here.

One example of Matthew's bumbling is found in his story of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Matthew bases this fictional story on a misunderstood story in Scripture. In that story, the prophet speaks of a king riding a donkey--a colt (a young male donkey), the foal of a donkey:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9 NASB)

Obviously, Zechariah didn’t mean that the king was riding a donkey and a colt; he was merely telling us that the donkey was a colt foal (young son) of a donkey.

Unfortunately for Matthew, he thinks the prophet meant that there were two animals: a donkey, and a colt, instead of just a donkey that was a young colt. Thus, Matthew invents a story in which Jesus sends his disciples to fetch two animals--an ass and a colt, so that Jesus might ride on them into Jerusalem. The other gospel writers weren't so foolish. Here is the evidence.

Matthew: Jesus Sent for an Ass and a Colt

And …then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me… All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. (Matthew 21:1-5)

Mark, Luke, and John, understood Zechariah; according to them, Jesus sent his disciples after only one animal. Mark and Luke call the animal a "colt," and John calls it an "ass," and all three versions are compatible with the "prophesy" in Zechariah, wherein the animal is described as a donkey that is a colt.

None of them have Jesus send his disciples to fetch two animals, as was the case in Matthew's story. Here are the stories by Mark, Luke, and John:


Mark: Jesus Sent for a Colt

And …he sendeth forth two of his disciples, And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him…And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. (Mark 11:1-7)


Luke: Jesus Sent for a Colt

Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. …35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. (Luke 19:30-35)


John: Jesus Sent for an Ass

And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt. (John 12: 14-15)


The conclusion is inescapable: Matthew thought Zechariah was referring to two animals, so he invented a story in which Jesus sends his disciples to fetch two animals, but it is obvious that Zechariah was referring to just one animal. Thus, Matthew was mistaken, and his error is compounded by the fact that the fictional story he created was based on this error.

(Much of information in this post was lifted verbatim from the article at Triumphal_Entry.htm.

So we see that not only is zero evidence that the "apostle" Matthew was the writer of the gospel, there is good evidence that he was not the writer. Furthermore, we see evidence that the author of the Book of Matthew, whoever he was, invented stories about Jesus.