chapter  3
The Letters of Ignatius
Pages 6

Matthew is chronologically the third of the Gospels. The Gospel of Matthew has, for most of the history of the Church, been thought of as the first (and even as the most authoritative) of the Gospels. One of the biggest upheavals brought to the understanding of the Bible by critical scholarship was the realization that Matthew was later than Mark and dependent on it. This theory had become common currency by the second half of the nineteenth century. An important argument in favour of the late origin of Matthew is the inclusion of material not found in the other evangelists. This includes the use of the term 'Church', the Greek ecclesia (16:18; 18:17). Matthew's Gospel contains material which is not historical or does not go back to Jesus. Thus, the status of Matthew 28:19b-20 has long been held suspicious within the Gospel.