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Renewing Your Mind


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New Testament Survey



The Gospel of Matthew

Key Verse(s):

Key Chapter(s):

Key Word(s) or Concept(s)


            Who is the author?

                        How do you know this?

            Who is the audience?

                        How do you know this?

            Is there a particular problem?

            Is there a key theme to the book?

            How is Jesus presented?

            What geographical area does Matthew use in his Gospel?

            How is a Christian to live?

Suggested Reading beyond the Key Chapter(s):


revisedfinalbook36.gif The first Gospel, as well as the first book, of the New Testament is that of Matthew. This seems appropriate since it is the Gospel to the Jewish people and “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). Indeed, the opening verses which provide the genealogy of Jesus commence with the proposition that He is the Son of David and Abraham.

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Matthew 1:1

Theme and Purpose

revisedfinalbook38.gif A review of this book shows several reasons or purposes behind Matthew’s effort. All of these are related to the basic purpose of the book, namely, that Jesus is the Messiah, the King of the Jews. The purposes might be listed as follows:
revisedfinalbook39.gif An apology or an apologetic argument is a defense of a given position. When we speak of Matthew as being an apologetic against the illegitimacy of Jesus, we mean that the Gospel presents the arguments to prove that Jesus’ birth was supernatural and not illegitimate.

Authorship and Date

This Gospel, as with the other three, never names its author. The testimony of the early church is that the Apostle Matthew wrote this book. The earliest manuscripts uphold this tradition, naming the work “According to Matthew.” Internal evidence supporting Matthew’s authorship includes his using his apostolic name rather than the name Levi which is used by Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27, the lack of a descriptive “his” in front of the story on the banquet (9:10 - Mark and Luke include the “his”), and the details of events such as the temple tax story (Matt 17:24-27). There is no specific negative evidence against Matthew being the author.

revisedfinalbook40.gif Apostle comes from the Greek meaning one sent forth with an order, a messenger.

Suggested dates of the writing for this Gospel depend upon whether it was the first written Gospel. The fact that the destruction of the Temple is still future (Matt 24:2) strongly suggests a date before A.D. 70. The use of the word “church” suggests a later date as well. If so, this places a later date on the materials.

This, in turn, brings one back to the Synoptic Problem. Was Matthew or Mark written first? If Matthew is first, then a date as early as A.D. 45-50 is reasonable. If Mark is first, then a later date, say A.D. 55-60 is more probable. It should be noted that modern scholarship generally favors Mark as the first of the Gospels, a point we will consider in more detail in the chapter on Mark. To balance this trend, the early church fathers, at least according to later quotes, favor Matthew as being the first of the four Gospels.

Who is Matthew?


Matthew was a publican or tax collector. This means he was a Jew working for the Romans. Generally, the arrangements between Rome and the publicans was such that Rome expected to receive a certain amount of funds per year. To the extent the tax collector was able to bully his “clientele” into paying a larger amount, the tax man kept the difference. Thus, an unscrupulous tax collector could easily become a wealthy man. Matthew’s tax booth appears to be on one of the busiest roads in Palestine, so he probably was very wealthy, most certainly the wealthiest of the Apostles. When he walked away from this to follow Jesus, he truly did leave everything.


27 And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. 28 And he left all, rose up, and followed him. 29 And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.

Luke 5:27-29

Uniqueness of the Gospel

As will be evident from this study, each of the Gospel writers selected material which would best support their purpose in writing. In Matthew’s case, the themes of Kingdom and Messiahship are the driving forces of the book. Jesus performed thirty-six miracles as recorded in Scripture. Matthew’s account contains twenty of these, but only four are unique. These are the healing of the two blind men (9:27-31), the healing of the dumb demoniac (9:32-33), the deliverance of the blind and dumb demoniac (12:22), and the fish with the coin in its mouth (17:24-27). This last fits with the story of the Temple tax and may be included because of Matthew’s tax collecting background.

About sixty percent of the Gospel deals with Christ’s teachings. These are presented in five major discourses – the Sermon on the Mount (5:1-7:29), the instructions to the twelve (10:1-42), the kingdom parables (13:1-52), the teachings on greatness and forgiveness (18:1-35), and a long discourse covering the rebuke of the religious leaders (23:1-39) and the Olivet Discourse (24:1-25:46). Those who prefer the concept of five discourses suggest a parallel has been drawn by Matthew from the five books of Moses. Others divide the last discourse into two separate speeches, finding a total of six in the book rather than five.

Matthew’s Gospel contains the most material from the Old Testament. While he shows some leaning to the use of the Septuagint, most of his quotes appear to be free translations of the Hebrew text.

revisedfinalbook43.gif It is interesting to note that most of these usages stress fulfillment and are used in a literal sense without any allegorizing. This should strongly recommend to us a historical, normal interpretation of the materials found in Scripture, taking into account, of course, any special literary styles, such as poetry or prophecy.

Special Consideration of Kingdom


And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matthew 3:2

revisedfinalbook45.gif In the Greek, the word for “kingdom” may mean sovereignty, dominion, or rule. This concept requires a ruler who has the power to rule and a people over whom this power is exercised. Finally, there must be an actual exercise of this power. Throughout Scripture, God is recognized as the ultimate ruler. The Old Testament portrays the Israelites as God’s chosen people. They are, therefore, the ones to be ruled. The proclamation of Matt 3:2 suggests that the King is at hand. This is Matthew’s prime theme. The Jews simply never recognize this concept.

The spiritual kingdom is present as well as the earthly one. The Sermon on the Mount (5:1-7:29) is an expression of how the Ruler expects His people to live their lives. This spiritualness is seen especially in 6:33 and in 19:23. The parables of Chapter 13 also demonstrate this concept of the kingdom. These parables might be viewed as showing the “mystery” of God’s kingdom.

revisedfinalbook46.gif In biblical terms, a mystery is something previously hidden from God’s people which is now being revealed.

To Matthew and the Jews, there is / will be a fulfillment of the Davidic kingship as well. When the Jews rejected Jesus (11:2-12:50), the stage is set for Jesus to explain the mysteries of the kingdom (13:1-52) and, then, to offer the kingdom to the Gentiles.

ole19.gif Chapter 1 sets forth the genealogy of Christ to demonstrate His fulfillment of the line of David for the purposes of proving His kingship. The genealogy also relates Christ to Abraham and the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. Further, 1:20-21 is a key verse giving the statement of Christ’s mission on earth. Since the Abrahamic covenant deals with both Jews and Gentiles, one can anticipate the ultimate offering of the kingdom to the Gentiles through Jesus.

Note the temptation of Christ (4:1-10) is presented in a form to cover body (stones-to-bread), soul (cast thy body down), and spirit (worship me, the devil). Jesus was tempted in all ways just as we are tempted daily in all ways (Heb 2:18; 4:15).

The Sermon on the Mount (Chps 5-6-7), sets forth the rules for living in the kingdom. These three chapters, along with the parables of the kingdom in Chapter 13, give the clearest definitions of the kingdom in Scripture. This may help to explain why Matthew is the most frequently quoted book of the New Testament.

Chapter 12 sets forth the rejection of Christ by the Jewish Nation. This rejection is shown in very similar fashion in Mark 8:27-30 and Luke 9:18-22. John demonstrates the rejection differently. This sets the stage for Peter’s confession in 16:15-18:

revisedfinalbook47.gif 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 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.
revisedfinalbook48.gif There is some controversy amongst scholars over the exact meaning of verse 18. The Roman Catholic Church uses this verse as a demonstration that Peter was the first Pope proving, thus, that the successor to Peter, the Pope, has full power over the church. In the Greek, Peter’s name petros, means rock or stone. However, a different Greek word, petra, is used in the phrase “upon this rock I will build my church.” Christ is the rock upon which the church is built.
revisedfinalbook49.gif Church, Greek ekklesia, means a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly. This is the only mention of the church in the Gospels. This church is yet future, being formed at Pentecost (Acts 2).

In reviewing the materials of Chapters 16-23, notice that Jesus never mentions the Crucifixion apart from the Resurrection (16:21; 17:22,23; 20:17-20, 28-32). The Resurrection is the capstone of salvation, for it is in the Resurrection that Christ overcame death and Satan.

Chapters 24 and 25 are called the Olivet Discourse. This discourse is delivered to His disciples on Mt. Olivet in response to their question:


And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

Matthew 24:1-3

The Olivet Discourse is the great Prophecy of Christ concerning the end times. He looks forward to the short term destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in A.D. 70 and then looks farther ahead to the final days of the Great Tribulation when God will destroy all of His enemies and once again restore the Jewish Nation into fellowship with Him. Mark 13 and Luke 21 covers these same prophecies.

The events of the Crucifixion are fixed only by a study of all four Gospels. For example, only one of the seven sayings from the Cross is recorded by Matthew (27:46 – “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”)

And, of course, the great hope of Christianity is found in Chapter 28 with the Resurrection of Jesus. As Paul writes


And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

1 Corinthians 15:17

Outline of the Book

I.   The Person and Presentation of Jesus the King

II    The Preaching of the King

III   The Power of the King (8:1-11:1)

IV   The Progressive Rejection of the King

V     The Preparation of the King’s Disciples

VI    The Presentation of the King

VII   The Prophecies of the King (24:1-25:46)

VIII  The Passion or Final Rejection of the King (26:1-27:66)

IX    The Proof of Jesus the King (28:1-20)


18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:18-20



What is Matthew’s presentation of Jesus?

How does the Gospel differ from a modern day biography?



How should Matthew’s presentation affect the way you live?

How might Matthew’s Gospel apply to contemporary mega-churches?

     To Christians whose professions are mainly formal?

     To questions of multi-culturalism in the church?

What is Christ’s charge to you as a believer?




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