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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

The Gospel of St. Matthew
GA 123

The four Gospels, Steiner says, are meant to supplement one another to form a comprehensive picture of earthly and spiritual events. The Matthew Gospel describes Christ Jesus in his human aspects so that he is more near to us in a human sense. From an understanding of the Gospel of St. Matthew “can stream into us courage in life, strength and hope in our labors.”

These 12 lectures, from the lecture series, The Gospel of Matthew, were published in German as, Das Matthaeus-evangelium. Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond and Mildred Kirkcaldy

Introductory Notes
Lecture 1 September 01, 1910
The four Gospels present different aspects of the greatest event in the history of the Earth and of Mankind. Keynotes and characteristic features of each Gospel. St. Matthew's Gospel depicts Christ Jesus as Man during His sojourn on Earth. All the qualities of the blood of Abraham, the progenitor of the Hebrew people, were concentrated in the physical constitution of Jesus of Nazareth. The mission and function of the Hebrews in the evolution of humanity. Movement of peoples from West to East as a result of the Atlantean Flood. Atlantean and early post-Atlantean clairvoyance. Gradual development of the faculty of sense-perception. The soul-qualities of early post-Atlantean peoples. The great antithesis between Turanians and Iranians. The legend of Djemjid and the golden dagger. The Zarathustra-Individuality: his teachings, influence and subsequent incarnation into the Hebrew people as Jesus of Nazareth.
Lecture 2 September 02, 1910
Dual principles of Zoroastrianism: Ormuzd (Light) and Ahriman (Darkness). These derive from a single, undivided origin: Zeruane Akarene, generally translated as ‘uncreated Time’. The mysteries of Space and Time. Zarathustra's influence upon later cultures through Hermes and Moses, his former pupils. Contact made between Sun-wisdom (Hermes) and Earth-wisdom (Moses). Earthly events are reflections of happenings in the Cosmos and can be expressed in pictures derived from cosmic phenomena. Stages in the development of the wisdom of Moses on the path of return towards the Sun. This process is portrayed in the history of the Hebrews. Mercury stage reached at the time of David; Venus stage at the time of the Babylonian captivity. Contact made with a stream of wisdom from Asia, present in modified form in the Babylonian and Chaldean Mysteries. Zarathustra, reincarnated as Zarathas or Nazarathos in the sixth century B.C., became the teacher of Pythagoras and of the learned Hebrews, Chaldeans and Babylonians. Origin of Hebraic racial stock. Transformation of corrupted Atlantean-Turanian clairvoyance into a force operating in the inner constitution of the Hebrews. Experience of the Divine concentrated in man's own being, in the blood flowing through the generations.
Lecture 3 September 03, 1910
Interaction between Thot-Hermes and Moses as the reflection of a cosmic process. Processes of densification and rarefication in cosmic evolution. The ethers and the elements. Consequences of separation of Sun from Earth. Man's faculty of clairvoyance during the epoch of Atlantis enabled him to perceive the spiritual backgrounds of material existence during an intermediate state between waking consciousness and sleep. When man sleeps today, forces from the whole solar system are drawn into his astral body and Ego, but he is unaware of this while separated from his physical and etheric bodies. Awareness of the sound-ether (‘harmony of the spheres’) and the life-ether vanished with the loss of ancient clairvoyance to the extent to which man felt himself an Ego. Cosmic events (separation of Sun and Moon from the Earth) reflected in the life of man and in the evolution of his consciousness. The three offerings made by the Zarathustra-Individuality. The mission and function of the Hebrew people. Talmudist legend of Abraham. Abraham was the first into whom was implanted the physical organ of thinking (as opposed to clairvoyance) through which knowledge of the Divine could be acquired. Transmission of this organ through physical heredity from generation to generation. After three times fourteen generations (Abraham to David, David to Babylonian captivity, captivity to Joseph), the physical constitution established in rudiment in Abraham, together with the etheric and astral sheaths, had reached a state of perfected development and could become the body needed for the incarnation of Zarathustra in preparation for the descent of the Christ.
Lecture 4 September 04, 1910
The form of knowledge of the Divine possessed by the Hebrews through contemplation of the Folk-Spirit flowing in the blood of the generations. Jahve was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, manifesting himself in the Folk-consciousness. Identity of this God of the Hebrews with the God venerated in the Mysteries of all ages. Meeting of Abraham with Melchisedek, formerly the great Atlantean Sun-Initiate and Teacher of the Rishis and Zarathustra. Prophetic announcement by Zarathustra that Christ, the Sun-Spirit, would come to the Earth in a human body. The Sun-Mystery was imparted to Abraham by Melchisedek, manifesting himself through the etheric body of Shem. Reflection of the ordering of the stars in the sequence of the generations of Abraham's descendants: images of the zodiacal constellations in the twelve sons of Jacob and the twelve tribes of the Hebrews. Evolution of the Hebrew people as an image of cosmic evolution. Preparation of the blood for the body in which Zarathustra was to incarnate as Jesus of the Solomon line. Reference to the beginning of Genesis. Significance of the fact that the gender of ‘Ruach-Elohim’, rendered ‘Holy Spirit’ in the Bible, is feminine. Contributory streams (Therapeutae and Essenes) in the preparation of the Christ Event. Influence of the Bodhisattva who will become the Maitreya Buddha. Jeschu ben Pandira, a herald of Christianity and a leading figure in the Essene communities about a hundred years Enc., is not to be confused with Jesus of the Gospels.
Lecture 5 September 05, 1910
The Bodhisattvas as the great Teachers and Inspirers of humanity. A Bodhisattva is a Teacher until he attains Buddhahood; from then onwards he is a life-bestowing power. Gautama Buddha and the Nathan Jesus of St. Luke's Gospel. Communities of the Essenes and Therapeutae chosen to be instruments for the teachings given in preparation for the coming of Christ by Gautama Buddha's successor in the office of Bodhisattva. The work and destiny of Jeschu ben Pandira a century before the appearance of Christ. The aim of the Essene Initiation: clairvoyant experience of the secret of the 42 generations from Abraham and vision of the mysteries of the Cosmos. Preparation of the bodily constitution for the Jesus of St. Matthew's Gospel. Preparation of astral body and Ego-bearer as vehicles for the Christ. This aspect described in St. Luke's Gospel. Secrets of number in the stages of the descent of the Divine-Spiritual Power into a human Individuality and in the expansion into the Cosmos as depicted in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke.
Lecture 6 September 06, 1910
In St. Luke's Gospel the lineage of the Nathan Jesus is traced back to Adam, to God, i.e. to the epoch when man's nature was still divine. Descent of man in Lemurian epoch from a divine spiritual existence into the earthly world. ‘Adam’ signifies ‘Earth-man’. Generations were formerly of much longer duration. In the Atlantean epoch man's memory extended to the experiences of his ancestors and was not limited to his single, personal life. The same name — e.g. Adam, Noah, Seth, Enoch — used for several successive personalities in the sequence of generations. Teachings imparted to the Essenes through Jeschu ben Pandira relating to the preparation of the physical body and etheric body in which Zarathustra would incarnate as the Solomon Jesus. Purification and experiences undergone by the Essenes. In the process of Initiation they were transported in soul through the 42 stages represented by the generations from Abraham. This aspect is presented in St. Matthew's Gospel. The other aspect is described in St. Luke's Gospel: the 77 names in the genealogical table denote stages leading to the level of the Divine-Spiritual Power which permeated the astral body and Ego-bearer of the Nathan Jesus. The work and pupils of Zarathustra (as Zarathas) in the occult schools of Chaldea in the sixth century B.C. The three Magi led to the birthplace of their former Teacher in Bethlehem. The Nazarite: occult training for development of soul and body continued by Essenes. The five special pupils of Jeschu ben Pandira: Mathai, Nakai, Netzer, Boni, Thona. Colony of Essenes established in Nazareth by Netzer. ‘He shall become a Nazarene.’ Content of early chapters of St. Matthew's Gospel derive from Jeschu ben Pandira through his pupil Mathai. The Solomon Jesus and the Nathan Jesus. Fulfillment of words contained in the so-called ‘Egyptian’ Gospel.
Lecture 7 September 07, 1910
It is a law of evolution that if new faculties are to awaken in human nature they must have been present in their fullness at some one time in a single personality. Qualities and attributes of the Eightfold Path: the initial impulse for their development in humanity was given by Gautama Buddha. Twofold process of Initiation in the pre-Christian Mysteries. Expansion into the Macrocosm and the twelve necessary standpoints symbolised by the zodiacal constellations. Conscious penetration into the Microcosm, i.e. into the physical and etheric bodies. Dangers accompanying each process without due preparation. Twelve helpers of the Hierophant in the Egyptian and Northern Mysteries. Christ's coming made it possible for man to experience the two processes of Initiation in freedom and independence. The human sheaths for the descent of Christ were prepared by the Zarathustra-Individuality. His third offering. The Solomon Jesus and the Nathan Jesus. The Baptism by John. Having assumed the nature of man, Christ lived through as an example the processes of descent into the physical and etheric bodies (the Temptation) and of expansion into the Macrocosm (events from the Last Supper onwards). Processes of the two aspects of Initiation hitherto concealed in the secrecy of the Mysteries were enacted by Christ in the arena of world-history.
Lecture 8 September 08, 1910
The Essene Initiation: consciousness led beyond the forty-two stages or generations to Jahve. Dangers accompanying knowledge of man's own inner nature. Egoism, often unrecognized, is aroused and enhanced. Dependence of an aspirant for Initiation upon teachers and helpers was to cease; the feeling of ego-hood was no longer to be suppressed but full awareness maintained. The essence of Christian Initiation is that the ‘I’ remains as awake in the higher worlds as in the physical world. ‘Malkhut’ or the ‘Kingdom’. The three stages of ancient Initiation. Expressions used in the secret doctrine of the ancient Hebrews for attributes of the Beings whose realms man reaches through penetration into his own inner nature. (The Sephirot.) At the first stage, astral body must be experienced from within before penetration of the etheric and physical bodies is possible. Second stage: experience of realities revealed by the etheric body. Third stage: penetration into the physical body is connected with experience of the lofty Spiritual Beings who have worked upon it since the Saturn-evolution and whose intrinsic quality manifested itself as pure, awe-inspiring Wisdom. Jeschu ben Pandira taught of ‘One who will bring the nine attributes of the Kingdoms of Heaven into Malkhut, the realm in which the Ego of man is actively present’. The Temptation described in St. Matthew's Gospel: the three stages lived through by Christ Jesus outside the Mysteries, making possible the ascent of the human ‘I’ from the kingdom of Malkhut into the higher worlds. The Sermon on the Mount.
Lecture 9 September 09, 1910
Maintenance of full Ego-consciousness when rising into the spiritual world was made possible by the mighty impulse given by the Christ Event. Happenings formerly shrouded in the secrecy of the Mysteries were now transferred to the arena of world-history. Experiences arising in ancient modes of Initiation undergone at an infinitely higher level of consciousness by Christ Jesus as a pattern for mankind. Similarities in accounts of ancient Mystery-rites and in many myths and sagas with certain scenes and passages in the Gospels. Fundamental differences not perceived by superficial scholarship. Example: the Lord's Prayer. Reference to John M. Robertson's Christianity and Mythology. Sentences of the Lord's Prayer alleged to have existed long before the time of Christ. Worthlessness of such research. ‘Initiation of the Ego’ inaugurated by Christ as an essential process in evolution. Atavistic clairvoyance once a natural faculty in men. Until the time of Christ this could be so intensified that penetration into the spiritual world was possible and its health-giving forces applied in order to bring about healing. Through Christ, the riches of the spiritual world that had been lost with the disappearance of the old clairvoyance could flow into the Ego even when functioning on the physical plane. ‘Beggars for the spirit.’ The nine Beatitudes indicate how the Christ-filled Ego works and will in future work in each of the members of man's being. The so-called ‘Beatitudes’ of the Slavonic Enoch.
Lecture 10 September 10, 1910
Christ Jesus the bringer of Ego-consciousness able to experience the Kingdom of Heaven as an inner reality. Every utterance in the Sermon on the Mount and its continuation pervaded by the new impulse of Egohood. Power of the soul over the body far greater in earlier times, making healing possible. Forces of healing drawn from the spiritual world by those who sacrificed some degree of Ego-consciousness during procedures in the Mysteries. Christ Jesus healed the sick in a new way, through the forces of the Ego itself. The disciples led to higher stages on the path into the spiritual world. Imaginations awakened in their souls and their consciousness by day and by night was nourished and enhanced by the magical power emanating from Christ Jesus. The feeding of the 'four thousand' (men of the fourth epoch) and the ‘five thousand’ (men of the fifth epoch). Christ the intermediary for the Sun-forces of the Cosmos radiating from the seven day-constellations and the five night-constellations; these forces are the nourishment destined for men of the fourth and fifth epochs respectively. The sign of Pisces. The power of Imaginative, astral sight streamed from Christ to the disciples; their vision of Him walking on the sea. Constant references in the Gospels to the position of the Sun and specific hours of the day and night indicate that cosmic forces were penetrating into the Earth through Christ. The Transfiguration. Three specially chosen disciples led to the world of Devachan — the level of spiritual experience higher than that of astral vision. The disciples hear as well as see Christ, Elias and Moses talking together. Christ descended once and once only into a physical body. Before the end of the 20th century He will reveal Himself in an etheric form to those able to perceive Him. Paul's vision at Damascus foreshadowed an experience that will later be possible for all men. Jeschu ben Pandira: the future Maitreya Buddha. Inspiration of the Bodhisattva and the renewal of Essene teachings in a new form. False Messiahs.
Lecture 11 September 11, 1910
Life-giving forces streamed from Christ to His disciples: their increasing wisdom. Peter's avowal. Forces enhancing the capacities of the several members of man's being are implanted during each of the civilization-epochs. Forces of the higher triad — Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit, Spirit-Man — will be inculcated into human nature in future times. The spiritual or consciousness-soul develops like a plant into which Spirit-Self descends as the first gift from above in those who are in advance of their generation. Such human beings at the time of Christ were known as ‘Sons of Men’. Recognition by the disciples. Retention of full Ego-consciousness in the higher world made possible by Christ. This is implicit in all the Beatitudes. Difference between ‘Son of Man’ and ‘Son of the living God’ or ‘Son of the Life-Spirit’. Peter's avowal did not issue from his normal spiritual faculties but from deeper powers only to be developed in the future. The subconscious Father-power in Peter was the ‘rock’ upon which a community faithful to the Christ Impulse can be founded. When Peter speaks from his conscious faculties his words come from Ahriman, from Satan; hence he is reproved by Christ. Blood-kinship in human communities as an image of macrocosmic conditions was to be replaced after Christ's coming by relationships of a moral and spiritual character. Contrast between this principle and the covenant with Abraham. The force that either loosens the ties between human beings or binds them together in love was to arise from the Ego. ‘Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ Threads of individual karma woven into the karma of the community. The community as an organism is to become an image of the order prevailing in Heaven. Christ leads the disciples to the stage where they can receive the power He himself has brought from the Macrocosm. The principle of ‘jumps’ or ‘gaps’ in the evolutionary process between the end of an old phase of existence and the beginning of the new. Two ancient symbols of this principle: the sign of Cancer and an ass and its foal. In the words, ‘Hosanna in the highest’, the supreme height reached in Christ's earthly life is triumphantly proclaimed. The feast of the Passover is an account of the influx of the power that was to stream into the disciples and eventually into all humanity. Three stages of Initiation into the Macrocosm: Angel, Son or Sun Hero, Father. At the first stage the Spirit-Self is working; at the second stage the Life-Spirit has awakened; in the very highest Initiates the Father-principle is active. Through St. Matthew's Gospel we learn to know how the forces of the Cosmos worked through the human body borne by Christ and what He accomplished through His descent into the nature of man.
Lecture 12 September 12, 1910
To promote man's ascent to the heights intended for him, divine-spiritual Beings descend from the Sun-sphere at crucial points in evolution and dwell for a time in human bodies or human souls. Such Beings — ‘Sun Heroes’ in many myths — had transferred their arena of activity to the Sun after its separation from the Earth. A divine Being who descends to the Earth is known as an ‘Avatar’. Christ the greatest of all Avatars. Preparation through the Zarathustra-Ego and the Nathan Jesus for the descent of Christ. (See the Lecture-Course on the Gospel of St. Luke.) All four Evangelists tell of the Sun-Being, the ‘Son of the living God’, but only St. Matthew and St. Luke of the man into whom this Sun-Being could descend. The higher ethers. Sound-ether: Harmony of the Spheres. Life-ether: Word or Meaning. ‘Honover’ (Persian) identical with ‘Logos’ in St. John's Gospel. The Sun Aura revealed to Zarathustra; his prophecy of the coming of the Sun Word. Aspirants for Initiation in the ancient Mysteries were divided into classes. Special teaching given to some concerned what must be achieved in outer life to become fitting vehicles or instruments for a descending Sun-Being. Such men are under definite leadership and there will inevitably be similarities in the fundamental course of their lives. The four different aspects and starting-points from which the four Evangelists wrote of the Christ Event. The writer of the Matthew Gospel was concerned primarily with the physical and etheric sheaths of Christ Jesus; hence at the Crucifixion the words recorded in this Gospel were: ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ whereas the words uttered in the Mysteries when the spiritual nature of a man emerged from the body and attained higher vision, were: ‘My God, my God, how thou hast glorified me I’ The parable of the five foolish virgins and the five wise virgins. ‘Render unto Caesar ...’ Symbolic interpretations of the myths often lead to absurd conclusions. The life and death of Christ Jesus represent two stages of Initiation. The disciples had been led to the stage where their clairvoyant vision could behold the Risen Christ as the Spirit now pervading Earth-existence. The Sun Aura in the Earth Aura became visible to Paul at Damascus and the Sun Word audible to Lazarus, the one initiated by Christ Jesus Himself. Christ entered the spiritual sphere of Earth-existence to rescue it from the element that produces discord. ‘I have not come to send peace away from the Earth but to send away the sword’ — this is the correct rendering of words that have been distorted into the very opposite of their true meaning. The manhood of Christ Jesus is presented more beautifully in the Matthew Gospel than in any other original record. When Earth-existence has reached its goal all men will be filled with the substance and nature of Christ in so far as as they themselves inwardly desire this. Courage in life, strength, hope in all our labours, stream from the presentation in the Matthew Gospel of the human aspect of Christ Jesus.
Appendix I
Appendix II