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a. Traditionally the Gospel is ascribed to Matthew Levi, a tax collector called by Jesus, who became one of the Twelve (Mt.9:9-13; 10:3; Acts 1:13).

b. Matthew was a Jew, and his work is very Jewish in character. He refers to the Old Testament about 60 times. He appreciates the Scriptures as God's Word.

c. The Gospel is organised into two main divisions (see: "From that time": 4:17; 16:21) and five blocks of material (see: "And it came to pass when Jesus...": 7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). This may reflect Matthew's profession as a tax collector who kept books. His five major discourses correspond to the five books of Moses: the Sermon on the Mount (chs.5-7); the charge to the Twelve (ch.10); the parables of the kingdom (ch.13); the teaching on greatness and forgiveness (ch.18); and the discourse on the last things (chs.24-25). But who is Jesus according to Matthew?

Jesus is the one who fulfils the Scriptures

a. "Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled" is found in 1:23; 2:6,15,18, 23; 4:15, 16; 8:17; 12:18-21; 13:35; 21:5; 27:9,10).  (Involve the congregation in reading these verses.)

b. God's covenant promises are fulfilled in Jesus. (Note that the fulfilment motif underlines promise before prediction.)

c. The first scripture cites Isa.7:14, and names Jesus as Immanuel (God with us). This reminds us that the Gospel represents Jesus more than Messiah.

Jesus is the Messiah

a. Matthew seeks to demonstrate for Jewish readers that Jesus is the promised Messiah - the Anointed or the Christ.

b. The genealogy of Jesus (1:1-16) is messianic - he is the son of David.

c. At his baptism the Lord was anointed by the divine Spirit (3:13-17; cf., Isa.42:1; Psa.2:7).

d. Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ at Caesarea Philippi (16:16).

e. The miracles are messianic signs (12:28).

f. Pilate's recognition contrasts with the unbelief of the Jews (27:22).

g. But a crucified Christ was a stumbling-block to the Jews (27:37; 1 Cor.1:23; Dt.21:22,23; Gal.3:13). How could someone cursed by God be the Christ?

Jesus is the universal King

a. The key verse: "Where is he who has been born King of the Jews?" (2:1) intimates a main theme. But 'king' may denote Messiah, universal king, and king of the kingdom of God (of which the church is a part: 16:18). ('Kingdom' is a dynamic term (Gk.basileia = rule or reign before region).

b. As a king Jesus entered Jerusalem in peace on the animal of peace (21:1-11; Zech.9:9).

c. He knew the fate of the city (23:37-39) and spoke of his future powerful advent (25:31f.) as Son of Man. (He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords (Rev.17:14; 19:16; cf., Isa.9:6).

Concluding thoughts

a. In common with all the four Gospels Matthew gives a full account of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Matthew is a Gospel, a manual prepared for preachers and teachers. It is not a life of Christ.

b. Matthew is concerned with discipleship (28:19-20). So, he emphasises the centrality of Jesus, the important of Scripture, and the Lord's teaching to those who would follow him (4:19; 11:28-30).
Will we follow ? See Mt.19:15-22.

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Copyright 2007 Vernon Ralphs

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