THE BOOK OF MATTHEW
Written by: Unknown Posted on: 05/12/2003
Category: Bible Studies
THE BOOK OF MATTHEW
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 AUTHOR OF MATTHEW
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
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.
THE TIME OF MATTHEW
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.
THE CHRIST OF MATTHEW
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
KEYS TO MATTHEW
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"
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.
SURVEY OF MATTHEW
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
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
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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