Matthew from 30,000 Feet
The Gospel of Matthew:
A Study of the Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ.
Selected verses from Matthew
I. The Background of Matthew. What is the historical and literary setting of this book?
A. Who wrote this book?
_______________________ (9:9; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27-29; 6:15; Acts 1:13)
Scholar Brant Pitre summarizes the external evidence in these words:
“This, in a nutshell, is the external evidence for who wrote the Gospel of Matthew. For our purposes here, the most important point is that there is not the slightest trace of an idea that the Gospel was ever anonymous. Nor is there the slightest suggestion that the Gospel was written by anyone other than Matthew, the eyewitness to Jesus’s life and one of the twelve apostles. The popular assertion that ‘we have no idea who wrote the Gospel of Matthew’ is not one that ever seemed to cross the minds of the ancient Christians who were closest to the Apostles”
(The Case for Jesus, 43).
*For a solid defense of the traditional authorship of Matthew see Brant Pitre’s book The Case for Jesus.
B. When was this book written?
C. For what purpose was it written?
Matthew wrote his book to a predominantly Jewish audience (hence all the references to the Old Testament) with the specific purpose of convincing his readers that Jesus the Messiah fulfilled God’s promises in the OT.
The word “fulfilled” is a key word in Matthew (see 1:22; 2:15, 17, 23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; 27:9). In Matthew 5:17-18, for example, Jesus clarifies His mission saying “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to FULFILL. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until ALL is accomplished.”
II. The Big Picture of Matthew. What are the various themes and overall structure of this book?
A. Jesus is the __________________________, the embodiment of God’s presence.
The book is bracketed by two statements that reveal the divine identity of Jesus (Matt. 1:22-23; 28:20).
In between these two statements there are several reinforcements of this theme:
- Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
- Matthew 25:34-40: “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of the least of these brothers of mine…you did it to Me.”
Robert Reymond on the significance of the word “with”:
“When one reflects on the two parties on either side of the preposition: on the one hand, God, infinitely holy, in whom there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5), who is of purer eyes than to behold evil with any degree of approbation (Hab. 1:13); and on the other hand, men, of whom none is righteous (Rom. 3:10) and who are all children deserving God’s wrath (Eph. 2:3); one could hardly blame God had he sent His Son as ‘God AGAINST us’ or God OPPOSED to us.’ When, however, he reveals His Son as ‘God WITH us,’ the messianic task, full of grace and the promise of salvation, is [gloriously] suggested.”
B. Jesus is the __________________________, the embodiment of God’s people.
J.M. Boice: Jesus is the “ultimate embodiment of Israel, the one in whom is wrapped up the true character and destiny of the people.”
*There are numerous connections that Matthew makes between the life of Jesus and the history of Israel.
What is the structure of this book? How is it put together? (Refer also to the enclosed chart):
- Introduction: Chapters 1-3
Five teaching sections constitute the heart of this book. These five sections likely recall the Five Books of Moses (the Torah) and remind us that Jesus is the new and greater Israel and the greater Moses. Each section closes with similar words: “and it happened when Jesus finished these words…” (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1).
(Interlude 1: Chapter 4)
- First teaching section: the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7). Closes with 7:28: “When Jesus had finished all these words…”
(Interlude 2: Chapters 8-9)
- Second teaching section: Instructions to Disciples (Chapter 10). Ends with 11:1: “When Jesus had finished giving instructions…”
(Interlude 3: Chapters 11-12)
- Third teaching section: Parables on the Kingdom of God (chapter 13). Concludes with 13:53: “When Jesus had finished these parables…”
(Interlude 4: Chapters 16-17)
- Fourth teaching section: Life in the Kingdom (chapter 18). Ends with 19:1: “When Jesus had finished these words…”
(Interlude 5: Chapters 19-22)
- Fifth teaching section: The Olivet Discourse (chapters 23-25). Concludes with 26:1: “When Jesus had finished these words…”
- Conclusion: The Passion Narrative and Great Commission (Chapters 26-28)