Author:
Paul Foster University of Edinburgh School of Divinity

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Abstract

Of all the canonical gospels, the Gospel of Matthew is the most eschatologically minded. Its fullest treatment of eschatological themes (Matt 24) is based on material drawn from Mark’s Gospel. However, Matthew expands and supplements the Markan account to provide a more extensive vision of end-time events. Matthew’s eschatological material has a dual purpose. First, it is fundamentally part of his Christology. It presents Jesus as heavenly king and judge. Second, it is motivational for the life of discipleship. Here Matthew emphasises in greater detail the negative picture of future judgement over the more positive vision of eschatological judgment. Matthew, like all followers of Jesus, did not have first-hand experience of the end of the age. For that reason, he resorts to images and parables to depict it. He conceives of the eschaton as resulting in dualistic fates, and he is certain that one of those outcomes is to be avoided at all costs. The other can only be enjoyed by remaining faithful to the pattern of discipleship as set out by the Matthean Jesus.

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