Introduction of the Gospel of Matthew

Author and Date of the Gospel of Matthew

The Gospel of Matthew is anonymous but probably written by Matthew, also called Levi, who was a former tax collector transformed into an apostle by his encounter and relationship with Jesus. This gospel was probably written in the late 50’s or 60’s to Jewish and Gentile Christians in Syria. (ESV Study Bible)

I would note there is much debate on such things. Some scholars assert that it was written in the early part of the 50’s, when the church was mostly Jewish. Others have concluded that both Matthew and Luke which draw extensively from Mark’s Gospel date it later after the Gospel of Mark had been in circulation for a period of time. (NIV Study Bible)

Central Focus of the Gospel of Matthew

The central focus of Matthew’s gospel is the assertion that Jesus is the Messiah of the O.T. Scriptures. Matthew’s gospel begins with these words, “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). OT references fill Matthew’s gospel as evidence that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the O.T. Scriptures.  Matthew even sees the history of God’s OT people summarized in some aspects of Jesus’ life.

Structure of the Gospel of Matthew

The Gospel of Matthew is woven together around five discourses: 1) Chapters 5-7; 2) Chapter 10; 3) Chapters 13; 4) Chapters 18; 5) Chapters 24-25. Each of these discourses conclude with: “When Jesus had finished saying these things,” or similar words (7:28 11:1 13:53 19:1; 26:1). The narrative sections, in each case, appropriately lead up to the discourses.

The fivefold division may suggest that Matthew has modeled his gospel on the structure of the Pentateuch presenting it as a new Torah and Jesus as the greater Moses. (NIV Study Bible)

A Kingdom Theme in the Gospel of Matthew

At the beginning of his earthly ministry, Jesus announced, “the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17). When we read “kingdom of heaven,” we are tempted to think angel choirs and the afterlife. Simply, the “kingdom of heaven” refers to God’s rule on earth. The kingdom of heaven has come near means that God’s Kingdom has come to earth. Sent by His Father from heaven to earth, Jesus ushered in God’s kingdom come to earth, yet not fully.

By faith in King Jesus, we become citizens of the “kingdom of heaven” or the “kingdom of God”. As citizens, we live in two worlds. We live as citizens of this present world with its values and as citizens of God’s kingdom with its values. This is the tension and often the spiritual struggle of the Christian life.

The Gospel of Matthew, in telling the story of Jesus, shows and teaches how to live in this present world with Jesus values and power. The Spirit of King Jesus empowers us to be His “light”, “salt”, “city on a hill” giving a glimpse of the glory of God and His eternal kingdom in our routine life, work and play. In Matthew’s gospel alone, Jesus reveals Kingdom values relating to relationships, prayer, mission, love, leadership and the use of power, fair and unfair business practices, truth, deception, conflict resolution, wealth, investing, saving, resting and a bunch more. Jesus teaches those who follow Him a Kingdom-first, dynamic, radical, counter-intuitive, counter-cultural way of thinking and living in this world.

Other themes in Matthew’s Gospel:

  • Clear and thorough Picture of Jesus (1:1,23; 2:2;14:33; 16:16;18:20;21:5-9)
  • God’s work of salvation within Israel extended to all peoples of the earth through the person and work of Jesus Christ (10:5-6; 28:19)
  • A New Community of Faith (11:28; 16:18-19; 28:19)
  • Christ church built and maintained by the presence of Christ (16:18; 18:15-20; 22:10; 28:20)
  • Christ Commission to His church (28:16-20)
  • Manuel for following Jesus (Chapters 5-7;10,13;18-20;24-25)