Christian Teachers in Matthew and Thomas: The Possibility of Becoming a "Master"


Christian Teacher, The Master, Matthew, Thomas, New testament, Christianity, Biblical Studies


During the latter half of the first century C.E. the communities of Matthew and Thomas began to consider the proper role of the Christian teacher within the community. As each community sought to develop its own model, it drew upon available sayings of Jesus. The author of Matthew had access to Q 6.40, which offered an incomplete model of what a Christian teacher should do. Matthew sought to expand this model using the figure of Peter as the ideal disciple for the community. The authors of Thomas found this model completely untenable and offered their own model in direct conversation with Matthew 16. The model of the Thomas community was that the teacher could supplant and become equal to the master teacher Jesus. In a final clarifying effort the author of Matthew 23 sought to establish the proper role of teachers using the context of Jewish sectarian controversies. The correction offered by Matthew 23 intended to clarify many ambiguities associated with Christian teachers, including the contradictory model offered by Thomas Christians.

Original Publication Citation

“Christian Teachers in Matthew and Thomas: The Possibility of Becoming a ‘Master’,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 12 (2004): 289–311.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of Early Christian Studies




Religious Education


Ancient Scripture

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor