Born in Palestine, Matthew worked as a tax collector in Capernaum before preaching God’s Word. Writing primarily to a Jewish audience who had Messianic expectations, the Gospel of Matthew was most likely the second Gospel, written somewhere between 40 to 60 AD.
Matthew’s goal for this book was to convince reads that the King of Kings has come, using words and names his audience would be familiar with and presenting Jesus of Nazareth as Israel’s long-awaited Messiah, the anointed one and rightful King. In fact, Matthew sprinkles quotes from the Old Testament (over 60 in all) throughout the book, presenting various aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry as the fulfilment of Old Testament messianic prophecy with the unique expression, “that it might be fulfilled” which is spoken by various prophets.
The structure of Matthew’s Gospel is divided into three parts: the prologue (1:1-2:23), the body (3:1-28:15), and the epilogue (28:16-20). The prologue focuses on Jesus’ genealogy, linking Him to Israel’s greatest King, David and to Abraham.
The main body of the book is constructed around five distinct discourses or sermons for strengthening faith and evangelism:
- The Sermon on the Mount (5:1-7:29)
- The Commissioning of the Apostles (10:1-42)
- Parables about the Kingdom (13:1-52)
- Relationships in the Kingdom (18:1-35)
- Olivet Discourse (24:1-25:46)
Each of these discourses end with a recognizable closing statement such as “When Jesus had finished saying these things…” or “After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples…” Another interesting aspect of the book are the intricate parallels made between the first discourse (Sermon on the Mount) and the fifth (Olivet) discourses, and the second (Commissioning of the Apostles) and fourth (Relationships in the Kingdom) discourses. By doing this, Matthew made the third discourse (Parables about the Kingdom) the focal point of this book.
Of special note… some biblical scholars have also compared Jesus’ baptism with his death, with a rather striking parallel between “That they shall call Him Immanuel”, which is interpreted as “God with us” (1:23) in the prologue with Jesus’ last words, “And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age” (28:20) in the epilogue.
What is your favorite parable?
What is clear is that the Holy Spirit served as the driving force for these four men and for these four gospels to show us in very real ways the truth about Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior from different vantage points. With each writer emphasizing different themes of Jesus’ life, these four historical testimonies provide a powerful, incredibly beautiful portrait of Jesus as servant and teacher, and as Son of God and Son of Man to convey God’s love for humanity.