MATTHEW, THE GOSPEL OF The opening book of the New Testament which appropriately begins with the declaration, “the book… of Jesus Christ.” When we begin reading this book today, we should, however, have in mind its ending (Matthew 28:18-20). Matthew's purpose was to show that Jesus had the power to command His disciples to spread His gospel throughout all the world.
Matthew 28:16-20 is the scene of the resurrected Jesus meeting His disciples on a hill in Galilee. Jesus immediately declared his absolute authority: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (NIV). The disciples would be reminded of many experiences during Jesus' ministry that proved His authority. Now with this knowledge of the resurrection, it was evident to them that He had received His authority from God. Jesus then gave the disciples a Commission to “make disciples of all nations” (NIV). A disciple is (1) one who willingly becomes a learner of the Master's teaching and seeks to follow His example by implementing His teaching, and (2) who passes on to others what one has learned. Hearing Jesus' command, the disciples recalled His teaching and fellowship. Now they were called on to carry forward His mission. Jesus said they would make disciples as they went away from their meeting with Him. Their activities would include baptizing new disciples into the lordship of Jesus. This is the original commitment. The disciples would pass on to others all that Jesus taught them. In telling this story, Matthew emphasized that Jesus (1) has total authority, (2) His teachings must be transmitted, (3) and His message is for all people. If we, the modern readers, will keep these three themes in mind as we read the Gospel from the beginning, we will discover that the author shows us how Jesus demonstrated His authority, the teachings He employed, and His concern for all nations.
The Gospel is easily divided into seven sections: a beginning and an end with five teaching sections between. Because of this, Matthew has been recognized for its emphasis on the teachings of Jesus.
Matthew 1:1-4:25 opens the Gospel with the royal genealogy and builds to the proclamation of God in Matthew 3:17: “This is my beloved Son.” The genealogies confirm Jesus' authoritative, kingly lineage and remind the reader of His relation to all nations by mentioning Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the wife of a Hittite. The wise men (Gentiles) came seeking the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2). The angel affirmed Jesus' divine nature to Joseph. The child received a messianic name (Matthew 1:18-23). Joseph took the holy family to Gentile territory (Egypt) to escape the threats of Herod. When Jesus came to John for baptism, the voice from heaven proclaimed Him as God's Son. As God's Son, Jesus had the authority and power to confront Satan and overcome. Jesus then went to Galilee of the Gentiles (Matthew 4:15) to begin His public ministry. This opening section makes it obvious that Jesus is designated by God to be the Messiah with authority—for all nations.
Matthew 5:1-7:29 is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount. It should be called the Teaching from the Mount since that is what the text calls it (Matthew 5:2). While teaching and preaching overlap, teaching emphasizes the essential principles which must be passed on to maintain the discipline or movement at hand. Jesus gave His essential doctrine in this teaching. He stressed the importance of His commandments in Matthew 5:19; emphasized the authoritative nature of His teachings by declaring: “But I say unto you” (Matthew 5:22,Matthew 5:28,Matthew 5:32,Matthew 5:39,Matthew 5:44); and was recognized by the crowds as a Teacher with authority (Matthew 7:28-29). Matthew presented Jesus as an authoritative Teacher. When the disciples went out to teach, they knew what to teach. When a believer goes out to teach today, he can refer to Matthew's Gospel.
Matthew 8:1-10:42 opens with a series of ten miracles demonstrating Jesus' authority over disease, natural catastrophes, demons, and death. What He had demonstrated verbally in the teachings on the Mount, Jesus acted in displays of power. His disciples wondered “that even the winds and sea obey him!” (Matthew 8:27), and the crowds stood amazed that He had the authority to forgive sins (Matthew 9:8). Ministry to a Gentile centurion is in this section also. After demonstrating His power, Jesus gave authority to His disciples to go out and heal and teach as He had done (Matthew 10:1), thus preparing them for their final Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. By continuing the emphasis on authority, teaching, and Gentiles, Jesus prepared His immediate disciples for their task after His death. Matthew continues to teach later generations of believers about Jesus' power and concern for all mankind.
Matthew 11:1-13:52 shows various people reacting to Jesus' authority. Various responses are noted in Matthew 11:1, including Jesus' thanksgiving that the “babes” understand (Matthew 11:25-30). When the leaders rejected Jesus' authority in Matthew 12:1, Matthew implied that Jesus would go to the Gentiles by quoting Isaiah the prophet (Matthew 12:18-21). Jesus continued His teaching in parables to those who were willing to listen (Matthew 13:10-13). So when Jesus commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and teach, they were aware that he had already begun the movement by His example in His earthly ministry.
Matthew 13:53-18:35 opens with the story of Jesus' teaching in the synagogue in Nazareth. The people had the same response to Jesus' teaching as the crowds did at the end of the Sermon on the mount. They were astonished (compare Matthew 13:54; Matthew 7:28). Although Jesus presented His authoritative teaching, His hometown people rejected it (Matthew 13:57). His disciples accepted Him (Matthew 14:33), and so did the Gentile woman (Matthew 15:22). Again, Jesus taught authoritatively and related to Gentiles.
Matthew 19:1-25:46 makes the transition from Galilee to Jerusalem. Jesus dramatically presented His kingly authority by His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-9) and by cleansing the Temple (Matthew 21:10-17). Then, while He was teaching, the chief priests and elders challenged Him saying, “By what authority doest thou these things?” (Matthew 21:23). Jesus answered with parables and other teachings (Matthew 21:28-22:46). Jesus warned the people about the examples of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 23:1-38). He then concentrated His teaching only on His disciples (Matthew 24:1-25:46). They could recall this when He commanded them to teach what He taught. The modern believer must also hear what Jesus taught and teach it to others.
Matthew 26:1-28:20 has no teaching situations, but it tells of the conspiracy ending in Jesus' execution. In the midst of the trial scene Jesus was asked if He was the Messiah. Jesus responded by affirming His authority: “Thou hast said” (Matthew 26:64). by Pilate, a Gentile, recognized, Jesus' kingly authority, placarding over the cross: “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS” (Matthew 27:37). The Gentile centurion proclaimed: “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54). As in the birth story, so in the end, the author stressed Jesus' divine, kingly authority and emphasized the inclusion of the Gentiles.
When the resurrected Lord declared His authority to His disciples in Matthew 28:18, they understood because they had seen His authority displayed as they lived with Jesus. When modern readers come to Matthew 28:18, they understand because Matthew has shown us Jesus' authority from the beginning. When Jesus commanded His disciples to make other disciples by teaching all that He taught them, they knew what to teach; and we modern believers know what Jesus intended because we know Matthew's record of His teaching. When Jesus included baptizing, they realized it was the sign of commitment to discipleship, and so do we. When Jesus assured His disciples that He would be with them even to the ends of the earth, the disciples understood because already Jesus had included all people in His ministry.
As we read through the seven sections summarized above, we should also note that Matthew presented Jesus as the “Son of God,” a term that appears twenty-three times in the Gospel of Matthew. While the virgin birth story affirms Jesus' sonship, the quotation from Hosea 11:1 (Matthew 2:15) confirms it. Twice God proclaimed Jesus' sonship: at His baptism (Matthew 3:17) and at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:5). Peter confessed it (Matthew 16:16). Jesus attested to His sonship in the Lord's prayer (Matthew 6:9), His thanksgiving to God (Matthew 11:25-26), and the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39). The author wanted the reader to be aware that Jesus, the Son of God, is the One crucified on the cross; so Jesus called out to “my God” from the cross (Matthew 27:46), and a Gentile centurion confessed that the dying One is “truly… the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).
Matthew wanted the reader to be aware that forgiveness of sins comes through the death of the divine Son of God. The angel had told Joseph that Jesus would “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus Himself had assured His disciples that His destiny was “to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Jesus left behind a continuing reminder of His role in the forgiveness of sins when He instituted the Lord's Supper. “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).
It is impossible to know the exact date when the Gospel of Matthew was written. Some contemporary writers date it as early as A.D. 60; some, as late as A.D. 95. The place of writing was probably some place along the coast of Phoenicia or Syria such as Antioch. This is because of Matthew's several references to Gentiles, a reference to Phoenicia and Syria, and the terms (in the Greek text) used for coins (Matthew 17:24,Matthew 17:27). Although the Gospel nowhere identifies the author and many modern Bible students point to a complex history of editing and collecting sources, Matthew, the tax collector, the son of Alphaeus has been identified as the author since the second century. See Matthew.
I. Jesus' Birth Fulfilled Prophecy (Matthew 1:1-2:23).
A. Jesus was born of the line of David (Matthew 1:1-17).
B. God directed the circumstances of Jesus' birth (Matthew 1:18-25).
C. Even Gentile foreigners worshiped the newborn Jewish king (Matthew 2:1-12).
D. God provided for His Son's survival (Matthew 2:13-23).
II. The Obedient Jesus Invites People to Kingdom Service (Matthew 3:1-4:25).
A. Jesus carried out God's will by being baptized by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-15).
B. God approved His Son (Matthew 3:16-17).
C. Jesus obeyed God's Word and defeated Satan (Matthew 4:1-11).
D. Jesus called people to God's kingdom through repentance (Matthew 4:12-22).
E. Jesus demonstrated the power of the kingdom (Matthew 4:23-25).
III. Jesus Taught God's Way to Live (Matthew 5:1-7:29).
A. Real happiness comes from a right relationship to God (Matthew 5:1-12).
B. Christians must be like salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16).
C. Love, not legalism, is the rule of the kingdom (Matthew 5:17-48).
D. The desire to be seen by others is the wrong motive for good works (Matthew 6:1-4).
E. Prayer is private seeking of forgiveness, not public search for praise (Matthew 6:5-15).
F. Fasting is of value only if the motive behind it is right (Matthew 6:16-18).
G. Only spiritual wealth really lasts (Matthew 6:19-21).
H. Each person must choose whether to give God first place (Matthew 6:22-34).
I. To judge others is wrong; to show discernment is necessary (Matthew 7:1-6).
J. The kingdom requires persistence in prayer and faith in God's goodness (Matthew 7:7-11).
K. The Golden Rule summarizes the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:12).
L. Only the narrow path of submission to God's will leads to life in His kingdom (Matthew 7:13-23).
M. Jesus and His teachings form the only lasting foundation for life (Matthew 7:24-29).
IV. Jesus' Power and Call Reveal His Authority (Matthew 8:1-10:42)
A. Jesus' healing power is available to all persons of faith (Matthew 8:1-17).
B. Discipleship is first priority (Matthew 8:18-22).
C. Jesus has authority over nature, demons, and sin (Matthew 8:23-9:8).
D. Jesus calls sinners to share His authority (Matthew 9:9-13).
E. Jesus' gospel requires new forms of piety (Matthew 9:14-17).
F. Jesus' authority responds to faith, conquers demons, and does not come from Satan (Matthew 9:18-34).
G. The compassionate Lord prays for compassionate helpers (Matthew 9:35-38).
H. Jesus entrusts His disciples with His authority in word and deed (Matthew 10:1-20).
I. To exercise His authority, disciples must face the dangers Jesus faced (Matthew 10:21-25).
J. Jesus' authority removes cause for fear (Matthew 10:26-31).
K. Disciples confess Jesus in all situations (Matthew 10:32-39).
L. Those who welcome Christian messengers will receive rewards (Matthew 10:40-42).
V. Jesus' Work Led to Controversy (Matthew 11:1-12:50).
A. Jesus fulfilled messianic prophecy (Matthew 11:1-6).
B. John marked the end of the prophetic era (Matthew 11:7-15).
C. Blind religion seeks controversy rather than truth (Matthew 11:16-19).
D. Repentance is the proper response to Jesus (Matthew 11:20-24).
E. Discipleship requires faith in God's Son, not great human wisdom or works (Matthew 11:25-30).
F. Mercy, not legalism, is the key to interpreting God's Word (Matthew 12:1-14).
G. Jesus fulfilled Isaiah's servant prophecies (Matthew 12:15-21).
H. Faith sees Jesus as Messiah, but blindness calls Him satanic (Matthew 12:22-37).
I. Resurrection faith is the criterion for eternal judgment (Matthew 12:38-45).
J. Obedient believers form Cod's family (Matthew 12:46-50).
VI. Jesus Taught About the Kingdom (Matthew 13:1-52).
A. Response to the kingdom depends on the “soil” (Matthew 13:1-23).
B. God delays separating the true from the false (Matthew 13:24-30).
C. God's kingdom, small at first, will finally transform the world (Matthew 13:31-33).
D. Jesus' use of parables fulfills Scripture (Matthew 13:34-35).
E. The Son of Man controls final judgment and will send those who reject Him to eternal punishment (Matthew 13:36-43).
F. The kingdom is worth any sacrifice (Matthew 13:44-46).
G. The kingdom involves both traditional and new understandings of Scripture (Matthew 13:47-52).
VII. Jesus Confronts Conflict and Critical Events (Matthew 13:53-17:27).
A. Jesus faced rejection and sorrow (Matthew 13:53-14:12).
B. Jesus placed compassion for others over personal needs (Matthew 14:13-21).
C. Jesus' power over nature and disease shows He is God's Son (Matthew 14:22-36).
D. Thoughts and motives, not ritual acts, determine spiritual purity (Matthew 15:1-20).
E. Faith overcomes all obstacles that would separate us from Jesus (Matthew 15:21-28).
F. Jesus' compassionate ministry leads people to raise God (Matthew 15:29-39).
G. Unbelieving authorities demand a sign but cannot interpret ones they have (Matthew 16:1-12).
H. Confession of Jesus as Messiah and Son of God is the church's foundation (Matthew 16:13-20).
I. Willingness to suffer with Jesus is as important as proper confessions of faith (Matthew 16:21-28).
J. God revealed Jesus as His Son, whom people should obey (Matthew 17:1-13).
K. Faith in God overcomes obstacles (Matthew 17:14-21).
L. Jesus expected His coming death and resurrection (Matthew 17:22-23).
M. Concern for others may mean forfeiting one's own rights (Matthew 17:24-27).
VIII. Jesus Gives Insight into Life in His Kingdom (Matthew 18:1-20:34).
A. Entrance into the kingdom requires a childlike trust in God (Matthew 18:1-5).
B. Christians must be careful not to lead others into sin (Matthew 18:6-7).
C. Radical self-discipline prevents sin (Matthew 18:8-9).
D. God takes the initiative in finding the lost (Matthew 18:10-14).
E. Reconciliation must be the Christian's aim (Matthew 18:15-17).
F. Jesus promises power and authority to His church (Matthew 18:18-20).
G. God requires that we forgive if He is to forgive us (Matthew 18:21-35).
H. Lifelong marriage is God's plan for most people, but some can accept single devotion to Him (Matthew 19:1-12).
I. Children have an important place in God's kingdom (Matthew 19:13-15).
J. One must give up any obstacle to discipleship, knowing reward will come (Matthew 19:16-30).
K. God's rewards may be different from human expectations (Matthew 20:1-16).
L. Jesus taught the necessity of His coming death and resurrection (Matthew 20:17-19).
M. The truly great person serves others as Jesus did (Matthew 20:20-28).
N. Those who are healed by His mercy become His followers (Matthew 20:29-34).
IX. Religious Authorities Reject Jesus as Messiah (Matthew 21:1-23:36).
A. Jesus fulfilled messianic prophecy by entering Jerusalem and cleansing the Temple (Matthew 21:1-17).
B. God punishes fruitlessness but rewards faith (Matthew 21:18-22).
C. Answerless authorities question Jesus' authority (Matthew 21:23-27).
D. Authorities must answer the call to repentance to be part of God's kingdom (Matthew 21:28-46).
E. God invites even sinners and outcasts to new life in His kingdom (Matthew 22:1-4).
F. Taxes belong to the state; we belong to God (Matthew 22:15-22).
G. Authorities do not understand Scripture and so do not believe in resurrection (Matthew 22:23-33).
H. Authorities must learn love for God and love for neighbor are the greatest commandments (Matthew 22:34-40).
I. Authorities must learn the nature of God's Messiah (Matthew 22:41-46).
J. Jesus the Authority calls for religious leaders' lives to agree with their teachings (Matthew 23:1-36).
X. Jesus Has the Authoritative Word About the Future (Matthew 23:37-25:46).
A. Jerusalem faces destruction for rejecting Jesus (Matthew 23:37-39).
B. The world will hear the gospel before the end of the age (Matthew 24:1-14).
C. Jesus' disciples must flee Jerusalem when a sign appears (Matthew 24:15-28).
D. Spectacles in nature will mark Jesus' assured return (Matthew 24:29-35).
E. People must prepare for Jesus' return or face judgment (Matthew 24:36-25:30).
F. Jesus will judge us by our service to those in need (Matthew 25:31-46).
XI. Jesus Prepared for Death, Obeying God and Fulfilling Scripture (Matthew 26:1-56).
A. Authorities plotted Jesus' death, as He had foretold (Matthew 26:1-5).
B. Jesus' anointing symbolized His messiahship and coming death (Matthew 26:6-13).
C. A disciple cooperated in crucifying Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16).
D. Jesus transformed Passover to His memorial supper, establishing His covenant (Matthew 26:17-30).
E. Jesus prepared His disciples for their time of falling and restoration (Matthew 26:31-35).
F. Jesus dedicated Himself to the Father's will (Matthew 26:36-46).
G. Jesus' arrest represented fulfillment of God's plan, not evidence of His weakness or God's forsaking Jesus (Matthew 26:47-56).
XII. Jesus Conquered Death (Matthew 26:57-28:20).
A. The innocent Jesus was convicted on His testimony to His messiahship and to His role as Judge in the last days (Matthew 26:57-68).
B. Peter's denial showed Jesus' prophetic powers (Matthew 26:69-75).
C. Judas' guilt drove him to suicide and fulfilled Scripture (Matthew 27:1-10).
D. Government authority found no guilt in Jesus, but religious authorities accepted full responsibility for His death (Matthew 27:11-26).
E. Roman mocking pointed to the truth of Jesus' divine kingship (Matthew 27:27-44).
F. Spectacular events pointed to the saving significance of Jesus' death as God's Son (Matthew 27:45-56). G. Jesus' dead body was entombed and could not be stolen (Matthew 27:57-66).
H. Jesus was raised from the dead (Matthew 28:1-10).
I. Religious leaders bribed people to disprove the resurrection (Matthew 28:11-15).
J. The authoritative Jesus gives His disciples a worldwide evangelistic mission (Matthew 28:16-20).
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.