The Change in Reference to the People Jesus Ministered in the Gospel of Matthew
In the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew Jesus appears to have directed his ministry through himself and disciples to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. At the end of the gospel Jesus clearly states all nations have the power to go out and spread the teachings of his ministry to the entire world.
During His ministry Jesus spoke to everyone without regard to their belief. . The real truth of the matter still rests in the fact the people were all derived, according to the Old Testament, from Abraham through the tribes of Israel. It is a moot point of linguistics that those who did not practice the prevailing Old Testament faith were called unbelievers or Gentiles. The word unbeliever may be conversely be interpreted as pagan. There is inherently a problem in interpretation of Scripture due to the preferences of translators in their choice of words.
The Gospel of Matthew was one of the first totally Christian books for use in the early church. Up to its creation the Old Testament formed the source of references to God and the coming of the Messiah to the people. The author of this book was totally immersed in the culture of the time. The distinctions between believers and unbelievers may have been a matter of personal interpretation. During the writing of the Gospel the author may have deliberately left the issue of who belonged to future followers. In actuality it makes no difference how Jesus referred to the people around him over time. In the end all peoples were gathered into his ministry.
Over the course of three years Jesus appeared in a world of religious chaos in which preferences were divided between someone from the house of Israel and someone who was not Jesus early in Matthew did make a linguistic distinction between believer and disbeliever but as he left his ministry on earth he clearly reiterated his belief all men belonged to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.