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Written by: Unknown    Posted on: 05/12/2003

Category: Bible Studies

Source: CCN


  Matthew is the gospel written by a Jew to Jews about a Jew. Matthew is the writer, his countrymen are the readers, and Jesus Christ is the subject. Matthew's design is to present Jesus as the King of the Jew's, the long-awaited Messiah. Through a carefully selected series of Old Testament quotations, Matthew documents Jesus Christ's claim to be Messiah. His genealogy, baptism, messages, and miracles all point to the same inescapable conclusion: Christ is King. Even in His death, seeming defeat is turned to victory by the Resurrection, and the message again echoes forth: the King of the Jews lives.

  At an early date this gospel was given the title Kata Matthaion, "According to Matthew." As this title suggest, other gospel accounts were known at that time (the word Gospel was added later). Matthew ("Gift of the Lord") was also surnamed Levi (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27).


  The early church uniformly attributed this gospel to Matthew, and no tradition to the contrary ever emerged. This book was known early and accepted quickly. In his Ecclesiastical History (A.D. 323), Eusebius quoted a statement by Papias (c. A.D. 140) that Matthew wrote logia ("sayings") in Aramaic. No Aramaic Gospel of Matthew has been found, and it is evident that Matthew is not a Greek translation of an Aramaic original. Some believe that Matthew wrote an abbreviated version of Jesus' sayings in Aramaic before writing his gospel in Greek for a larger circle of readers.

  Matthew, the son of Alphaeus (Mark 2:14), occupied the unpopular post of tax collector in Capernaum for the Roman government. As a publican he was no doubt disliked by his Jewish countrymen. When Jesus called him to discipleship (Matt. 9:9-13; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27,28), his quick response probably meant that he had already been stirred by Jesus' public preaching. He gave a large reception for Jesus in his house so that his associates could meet Jesus. He was chosen as one of the twelve apostles, and the last appearance of his name in the Bible is in Acts 1:13. Matthew's life from that point on is veiled in tradition.


  Like all the Gospels, Matthew is not easy to date: suggestions have ranged from A.D. 40 to 140. The two expressions "unto this day" (Matt. 27:8) and "until this day" (Matt. 28:15) indicate that a substantial period of time has passed since the events described in the book, but they also point to a date prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24 and 25) also anticipates this event. The strong Jewish flavor of this gospel is another argument for a date prior to A.D. 70.

If Matthew depended on Mark's gospel as a source, the date of Mark would determine the earliest date for Matthew. The likely time frame for this book is A.D. 58-68. It may have been written in Palestine or Syrian Antioch.


  Matthew presents Jesus as Israel's promised messianic King (Matt. 1:23; 2:2,6; 3:17; 4:15-17; 21:5,9; 22:44,45; 26:64; 27:11,27-37). The phrase "the kingdom of heaven" appears thirty-two times in Matthew but nowhere else in the New Testament. To show that Jesus fulfills the qualifications for the Messiah, Matthew uses more Old Testament quotations and allusions than any other book (almost 130). Often used in this gospel is the revealing phrase "that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled," which appears nine times in Matthew and not once in the other Gospels. Jesus is the climax of the prophets (Matt. 12:39,40; 13:13-15,35; 17:5-13), "the Son of man" (Matt. 24:30ff.), the "servant" of the Lord (Matt. 12:17-21) and the "son of David" (the Davidic reference occurs nine times in Matthew, but only six times in all of the other Gospels).


  Key Word: Jesus the King - A Jewish tax collector named Matthew writes to a Jewish audience to convince them that the King of Jews has come. By quoting repeatedly from the Old Testament, Matthew validates Christ's claims that He is, in fact, the prophesied Messiah (the Anointed One) of Israel. Everything about this King is unique: His miraculous birth and obscure yet carefully prophesied birthplace, His flight into Egypt, His announcement by John, His battle with Satan in the wilderness, all support the only possible conclusion - Jesus is the culmination of promises delivered by the prophets over a period of a thousand years. Thus God's redemptive plan is alive and well, even after four hundred years of prophetic silence.

  Key Verses: Matthew 16:16-19 and 28:18-20 - "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it  unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16:16-19).

  "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (28:18-20).

  Key Chapter: Matthew 12 - The turning point of Matthew comes in the twelfth chapter when the Pharisees, acting as the leadership of the nation of Israel, formally rejected Jesus Christ as the Messiah, saying that His power comes not from God but from Satan. Christ's ministry changes immediately with His new teaching of parables, increased attention given to His disciples, and His repeated statement that His death is now near.


  The Old Testament prophets predicted and longed for the coming of the Anointed One who would enter history to bring redemption and deliverance. The first verse of Matthew succinctly announces the fulfillment of Israel's hope in the coming of Christ: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." Matthew was placed first in the canon of New Testament books by the early church because it is a natural bridge between the Testaments. This gospel describes the person and work of Israel's messianic King. An important part of Matthew's            structure is revealed in the phrase "when Jesus is finished" (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1), which is used to conclude the five key discourses of the book: the Sermon on the Mount (5:3 - 7:27), Instruction of the Disciples(10:5-42),Parables      of the Kingdom (13:3-52), Terms of Discipleship (18:3-35), and the Olivet Discourse (24:4--25:46). Matthew can be outlined as follows: the presentation of the King (1:1--4:11); the proclamation of the King (4:12--7:29); the power of the King (8:1--11:1); the progressive rejection of the King (11:2--16:12); the preparation of the King's disciples (16:13--20:28); the presentation and rejection of the King (20:29--27:66); the proof of the King (28:1-20).

  The presentation of the King (1:1--4:11): The promise to Abraham was that "in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:3). Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, is "the son of Abraham" (1:1). However, He is also "the son of David"; and as David's direct descendant, He is qualified to be Israel's King. The magi know that the "King of the Jews" (2:2) has been born and come to worship Him.

John the Baptist, the messianic forerunner who breaks the four hundred years of prophetic silence, also bears witness of Him (cf. Mal. 3:1). The sinlessness of the King is proved when He overcomes the satanic temptations to disobey the will of the Father.

  The Proclamation of the King (4:12--7:29): In this section, Matthew uses a topical rather than a chronological arrangement of his material in order to develop a crucial pattern in Christ's ministry. The words of the Lord are found in the Sermon on the Mount (5-7). This discourse requires less than fifteen minutes to read, but its brevity has not diminished its profound influence on the world. The Sermon on the Mount presents new laws and standards for God's people.

  The Power of the King (8:1--11:1): The words of the Lord are presented in a series of ten miracles (8 and 9) that reveal His authority over every realm (disease, demons, death, and nature). Thus, the words of the Lord are supported by His works; His claims are verified by His credentials.

  The Progressive Rejection of the King (11:2--16:12): Here we note a series of reactions to Christ's words and works. Because of increasing opposition, Jesus begins to spend proportionately more time with His disciples as He prepares them for His coming death and departure.

  The Preparation of the King's Disciples (16:13--20:28): In a series of discourses, Jesus communicates the significance of accepting or rejecting His offer of righteousness. His teaching in 16:13--21:11 is primarily directed to those who accept Him.

  The Presentation and Rejection of the King (20:29--27:66) The majority of Christ's words in this section are aimed at those who reject their King. The Lord predicts the terrible judgement that will fall on Jerusalem, resulting in the dispersion of the Jewish people. Looking beyond these events (fulfilled in A.D. 70), He also describes His second coming as the Judge and Lord of earth.

  The Proof of the King (28): Authenticating His words and works are the empty tomb, resurrection, and appearances, all proving  that Jesus Christ is indeed the prophesied Messiah, the very Son of God.

  Christ's final ministry in Judea (beginning in 19:1) reaches a climax at the cross as the King willingly gives up His life to redeem sinful persons. Jesus endures awesome human hatred in this great demonstration of divine love (cf.Rom. 5:7,8). His perfect sacrifice is acceptable, and this gospel concludes with His glorious resurrection.

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