Calling God “Father” in Matthew’s Gospel
We have already seen in part 4 that Matthew was eager to add the title Son of God where it did not exist in Mark and Luke. Let us look at one more example of this. On one occasion, Jesus asked his disciples who they think he is. Peter’s reply is recorded in Mark (8:29), Luke (9:20) and Matthew (16:6) as follows:
In Mark: “You are the Christ”
In Luke: “You are the Christ of God”
In Matthew: “You are the Christ, son of the living God.”
Notice that Matthew has added the phrase “Son of the living God” to Peter’s declaration.
The other side of calling Jesus ‘Son of God’ is to call God ‘Father’. We find in the Gospels that the title Father is also added to the Bible in several places where it did not belong. Matthew was eager not only to call Jesus ‘Son of God’, but also to call God ‘Father’. In Matthew 10:29, Jesus called God ‘your Father’. The identical saying of Jesus is reported also in Luke with the significant difference that in Luke God is called God (see Luke 12:6).
Another example of this occurs in Matthew 10:32-33. There Jesus is reported to have said:
“So every one who acknowledges me before men. I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).
The very saying of Jesus is reported also in Luke, but the title “my Father” is not there. Once again, Matthew modified the saying of Jesus to convince his readers that Jesus is the Son of God.
Another example is the following saying of Jesus:
“Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mark 3:35).
That saying is also reported in Luke as follows:
“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:21)
The words vary in the two reports, but notice that in each case God was called God. But in the same saying of Jesus reported in Matthew, we will find that God is called ‘my Father’ (see Matthew 12:50). Once again, Matthew modified the saying of Jesus to help prove that Jesus is the Son of God.
We do not have space in this series to look at John’s Gospel. But in a separate series we will show, with God’s help, that even more changes occurred in John’s Gospel.
In the next part we will see that Jesus was viewed by his earliest followers as the messiah and prophet of God, but never as Son of God.