Matthew – Introduction

Author

The author is not mentioned in the gospel, however pretty much all bible teachers agree that Matthew, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus was the author. Early church teachers, for example Papias, who was discipled  by John mentioned Matthew as the author in his writings.

The meaning of Matthew is “Gift of God”. He is also called Levi (Mark 2:15), his father’s name is Alphaeus. Matthew was a tax collector. Tax collector was generally viewed by the Jews as traitor who works for the Romans. The Jews look down to tax collectors because they collects taxes and interests from the Jews, thus violated God’s law for not imposing interests on fellow Jews (Lev 25:36, Deut 23:19-20). Matthew himself recorded the incident where the Pharisees questioned the Lord Jesus for having meal together with tax collectors and sinners (Matt 9:9-13).

The calling of Matthew by the Lord Jesus is recorded in Matt 9:9, Mark 2:14-17, Luke 5:27-28. Only Luke mentioned that Matthew left everything to follow the Lord Jesus. Matthew purposely left that from his writing. Other than his calling and dinner with the Lord Jesus in chapter 9, the only other time he mentioned himself is in chapter 10 verse 3, where Matthew records the names of the twelve apostles.

The interesting thing is he is the only one in the list with profession listed. The twelves disciples are mentioned in three other places in the new testament, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13. Only Matthew mentioned he himself is a tax collector. In my opinion Matthew was reminding himself and the readers that he was a sinner who purposely ignored God’s law, but now is saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus. He wanted to emphasize to his readers that he is a sinner who has received the free gift of salvation from God. Since the meaning of Matthew is “Gift of God”. The other gospel writers always refer to Matthew as Levi.

Other than chapter 9 and chapter 10, Matthew hided himself in the gospel. He may have purposely omitted the parable of Pharisees and tax collector (Luke 18:9-14) because that parable puts himself in a favorable light. He has one purpose in writing this gospel, it is to proclaim to the readers the Lord Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in the ancient Old Testament scriptures. The Lord Jesus Christ is the King of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew primary target readers was the Jews. He wanted to show to the Jews that the Lord Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. That is why he quoted more than 60 times from OT, more frequently than any other NT books except Paul in Romans.

Four Gospel Books

The four gospel accounts were written by different authors with different perspective, to address different people group and to portray the four natures of the Lord Jesus. The follow table gives a summary of the differences among these four gospel accounts.

Authors Matthew Mark Luke John
Readers Jews Romans Greeks Everybody
Nature of Jesus King Servant Son of Man Son of God
Four faces of the living
creatures in Ezekiel 1
Lion Ox Man Eagle
Key Words Fulfilled Immediately Son fo Man Believe and Eternal Life

When the human writer pen the text, they had specific readers in mind. However the real author of these gospels and for that matter the entire bible is the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit inspired these scriptures for humanity. That is why even though Matthew had Jews in mind when he wrote this book, the Holy Spirit had all men and women in mind when He inspired Matthew. That is why it is profitable for all people to read this book, and for the same reason every book in the bible.

Outline

Matthew can be divided into 5 teaching sections, each preceded with a narrative of Jesus life. Each section ends with a similar phase like this: “When Jesus had finished saying these things…”. After the five teaching sections, the book ends with the narrative of the passion week and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Narrative Teaching Theme of the teaching Transition
1-4 5-7 Sermon of the Mount 7:28
8:1-9:34 9:35-10:42 Sending of the Twelve 11:1
11:2-12:50 13:1-52 Parables of the Kingdom 13:53
13:53-17:27 18:1-35 The lesson of Forgiveness 19:1
19:1-23:39 24:1-25:46 Second Advent 26:1
26:1-28:20

 

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