The Gospel according to Matthew is the first book of the New Testament, which tradition attributes to Matthew the tax collector. Like the Gospel of Luke, but unlike the other Gospels, the Gospel of Matthew contains a genealogy and an account of the nativity. The Gospel of Matthew has been called the Jewish Gospel, focusing on concepts such as Jesus as Messiah.
For convenience, the book can be divided into four sections: Two introductory sections; the main section, which can be further broken into five sections, each with a narrative component followed by a long discourse of Jesus; and finally, the Passion and Resurrection section.
- Containing the genealogy, the birth, and the infancy of Jesus, Chapters 1 and 2.
- The discourses and actions of John the Baptist preparatory to Christ's public ministry, Chapter 3 and 4:11.
- The discourses and actions of Christ in Galilee, Matthew 4:12 and 26:1.
- The Sermon on the Mount, concerning morality, Chapters 5 - 7.
- The Missionary Discourse, concerning the mission Jesus gave his Twelve Apostles Chapter 10 and 11:1.
- The Parable Discourse, stories that teach about the Kingdom of God, Chapter 13.
- The "Church Order" Discourse, concerning relationships among Christians, Chapter 18 and 19:1.
- The Eschatological Discourse, which includes the Sermon on the Mount and Judgement of the Nations, concerning his Second Coming and the End times Chapters 24 and 25.
- The sufferings, death and Resurrection of Jesus, the Great Commission Chapters 26 - 28.
The early church fathers were unanimous in that Matthew, one of the 12 apostles, was the author. Those who believe Matthew was dependent on Mark's Gospel have tended to believe otherwise.
Due to Matthew's strong Jewish characteristics, some scholars date his Gospel around the early part of A.D. 50 when the church was largely Jewish and the gospel was preached to the Jews only (cf. Acts 11:19). Again, others who find that Matthew (and even Luke) were dependent upon Mark usually date his Gospel later, anywhere between A.D. 65-75.
Matthew's main purpose is to prove that Jesus is the fulfillment of the OT predictions concerning the Messiah. All of the Gospel writers quote the OT, however Matthew has nine OT proof-texts that are unique to his Gospel (Matt. 1:22-23; 2:15; 2:17-18; 2:23; 4:14-16; 8:17; 12:17-21; 13:35; 27:9-10).
It has also been observed that Matthew seems to group his material around blocks of material suited for instruction, so that Jesus' actions and other concerns seem less prominent in his overall purpose.
Matthew's theme is that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah of the nation of Israel, as his frequent tying in of material with the Old Testament indicates. He specifically ties Jesus of Nazareth in with the promised descendant of David, which would have been crucial for Jewish readers of his day.
Thus Matthew's portrait of Jesus Christ is focused upon Him as the Lion of Judah more than as, for example, the suffering Servant or the preexistent Logos. As the genealogy of Jesus in the first chapter indicates, Matthew is anxious to tie in the Son of God with a real person born of the Royal Line of David.
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