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Introduction to Matthew


Summary of the Gospel of Matthew

This summary of the Gospel of Matthew provides information about the title, author(s), date of writing, chronology, theme, theology, outline, a brief overview, and the chapters of the Gospel of Matthew.


Although the first Gospel is anonymous, the early church fathers were unanimous in holding that Matthew, one of the 12 apostles, was its author. However, the results of modern critical studies -- in particular those that stress Matthew's alleged dependence on Mark for a substantial part of his Gospel -- have caused some Biblical scholars to abandon Matthean authorship. Why, they ask, would Matthew, an eyewitness to the events of our Lord's life, depend so heavily on Mark's account? The best answer seems to be that he agreed with it and wanted to show that the apostolic testimony to Christ was not divided.

Matthew, whose name means "gift of the Lord," was a tax collector who left his work to follow Jesus (9:9-13). In Mark and Luke he is called by his other name, Levi.

Date and Place of Writing

Some have argued on the basis of its Jewish characteristics that Matthew's Gospel was written in the early church period, possibly the early part of a.d. 50, when the church was largely Jewish and the gospel was preached to Jews only (Ac 11:19). However, those who have concluded that both Matthew and Luke drew extensively from Mark's Gospel date it later -- after the Gospel of Mark had been in circulation for a period of time. See essay and chart, p. 1943. Accordingly, some feel that Matthew would have been written in the late 50s or in the 60s. Others, who assume that Mark was written between 65 and 70, place Matthew in the 70s or even later. However, there is insufficient evidence to be dogmatic about either view.

The Jewish nature of Matthew's Gospel may suggest that it was written in the Holy Land, though many think it may have originated in Syrian Antioch.


Since his Gospel was written in Greek, Matthew's readers were obviously Greek-speaking. They also seem to have been Jews. Many elements point to Jewish readership: Matthew's concern with fulfillment of the OT (he has more quotations from and allusions to the OT than any other NT author); his tracing of Jesus' descent from Abraham (1:1-17); his lack of explanation of Jewish customs (especially in contrast to Mark); his use of Jewish terminology (e.g., "kingdom of heaven," where "heaven" reveals the Jewish reverential reluctance to use the name of God; see note on 3:2); his emphasis on Jesus' role as "Son of David" (1:1; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30-31; 21:9,15; 22:41-45). This does not mean, however, that Matthew restricts his Gospel to Jews. He records the coming of the Magi (non-Jews) to worship the infant Jesus (2:1-12), as well as Jesus' statement that the "field is the world" (13:38). He also gives a full statement of the Great Commission (28:18-20). These passages show that, although Matthew's Gospel is Jewish, it has a universal outlook.


Matthew's main purpose is to prove to his Jewish readers that Jesus is their Messiah. He does this primarily by showing how Jesus in his life and ministry fulfilled the OT Scriptures. Although all the Gospel writers quote the OT, Matthew includes nine proof texts unique to his Gospel (1:22-23; 2:15; 2:17-18; 2:23; 4:14-16; 8:17; 12:17-21; 13:35; 27:9-10) to drive home his basic theme: Jesus is the fulfillment of the OT predictions of the Messiah. Matthew even finds the history of God's people in the OT recapitulated in some aspects of Jesus' life (see, e.g., his quotation of Hos 11:1 in 2:15). To accomplish his purpose Matthew also emphasizes Jesus' Davidic lineage (see Recipients, p. 1945).


The way the material is arranged reveals an artistic touch. The whole Gospel is woven around five great discourses: (1) chs. 5-7; (2) ch. 10; (3) ch. 13; (4) ch. 18; (5) chs.24-25. That this is deliberate is clear from the refrain that concludes each discourse: "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 Gospel has a fitting prologue (chs. 1-2) and a challenging epilogue (28:16-20).

The fivefold division may suggest that Matthew has modeled his book on the structure of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the OT). He may also be presenting the gospel as a new Torah and Jesus as a new and greater Moses.


I.           The Birth and Early Years of Jesus (chs. 1-2)

A.   His Genealogy (1:1-17)

                    II.        The Beginnings of Jesus' Ministry (3:1 -- 4:11)

                   III.        Jesus' Ministry in Galilee (4:12 -- 14:12)

                  IV.        Jesus' Withdrawals from Galilee (14:13 -- 17:20)

                   V.        Jesus' Last Ministry in Galilee (17:22 -- 18:35)

VI.           Jesus' Ministry in Judea and Perea (chs. 19-20)

VII.           Passion Week (chs. 21-27)

VIII.           The Resurrection (ch. 28)

──New International Version


Introduction to Matthew |

Let us now consider the Gospel by Matthew. This Gospel sets Christ before us in the character of the Son of David and of Abraham, that is to say, in connection with the promises made to Israel, but presents Him withal as Emmanuel, Jehovah the Saviour, for such the Christ was. It is He who, being received, should have accomplished the promises (and hereafter He will do so) in favour of this beloved people. This Gospel is in fact the history of His rejection by the people, and consequently that of the condemnation of the people themselves, so far as their responsibility was concerned (for the counsels of God cannot fail), and the substitution of that which God was going to bring in according to His purpose.

In proportion as the character of the King and of the kingdom develops itself, and arouses the attention of the leaders of the people, they oppose it, and deprive themselves, as well as the people who follow them, of all the blessings connected with the presence of the Messiah. The Lord declares to them the consequences of this, and shews His disciples the position of the kingdom which should be set up on the earth after His rejection, and also the glories which should result from it to Himself and to His people with Him. And in His Person, and as regards His work, the foundation of the assembly also is revealed-the church as built by Himself. In a word, consequent on His rejection by Israel, first the kingdom as it exists now is revealed (chap. 13), then the church (chap. 16), and then the kingdom in the glory (chap. 17).

At length, after His resurrection, a new commission, addressed to all nations, is given to the apostles sent out by Jesus as risen. [1]


[1] This was from resurrection in Galilee; not from heaven and glory, that was near Damascus.

── John DarbySynopsis of Matthew


Introduction to Matthew

Matthew, surnamed Levi, before his conversion was a publican, or tax-gatherer under the Romans at Capernaum. He is generally allowed to have written his Gospel before any other of the evangelists. The contents of this Gospel, and the evidence of ancient writers, show that it was written primarily for the use of the Jewish nation. The fulfilment of prophecy was regarded by the Jews as strong evidence, therefore this is especially dwelt upon by St. Matthew. Here are particularly selected such parts of our Saviour's history and discourses as were best suited to awaken the Jewish nation to a sense of their sins; to remove their erroneous expectations of an earthly kingdom; to abate their pride and self-conceit; to teach them the spiritual nature and extent of the gospel; and to prepare them for the admission of the Gentiles into the church.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Matthew

Matthew General Review
1. The book of Matthew has always occupied a position of high esteem in
   the faith and life of the church:
   "When we turn to Matthew, we turn to the book which may well be
   called the most important single document of the Christian faith,
   for in it we have the fullest and the most systematic account of
   the life and the teachings of Jesus."  (William Barclay)
2. The writings of the early church fathers reveal that it was...
   a. The most frequently quoted
   b. Perhaps the most widely read gospel
   ...during the first two centuries of the church's history
[Why was this book so popular?  Perhaps we can understand why as we
consider some background information pertaining to it...]
      1. The apostolic origin and canonical rank of the gospel of
         Matthew were accepted without a doubt by the early church
      2. Matthew, surnamed Levi, had been a tax-collector...
         a. He was one of Jesus' earliest disciples - Mt 9:9; Mk 2:14
         b. He was chosen to be one of the twelve apostles - Mt 10:2-3
      3. Being a close associate of Jesus during His ministry...
         a. Matthew's gospel is a first hand account
         b. Unlike Luke who depended upon other eyewitnesses - Lk 1:1-4
   B. BEFORE 70 A.D....
      1. Irenaeus says it was written when Peter and Paul were
         preaching in Rome
      2. Eusebius states that this was done when Matthew left Palestine
         and went to preach to others (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 24)
      3. Clement of Alexandria said that the presbyters who succeeded
         each other from the beginning declared that "the gospels
         containing the genealogies (Matthew and Luke) were written
         first" (Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, VI, 14)
      4. A date before 70 A.D. is considered by many to be the most
      1. Written to Jews, designed to prove that Jesus is the Messiah
         of OT prophecy
      2. Evidenced by his frequent appeal to OT Messianic prophecies
         a. He quotes from almost every book in the OT
         b. Twelve times he identifies O.T. prophecies as fulfilled in
            the life of Jesus
            - Mt 1:22; 2:15,23; 4:14; 5:17; 8:17; 12:17; 13:14,35;
              21:4; 27:9
      -- One could say that the theme is: "Jesus, King of the Jews"
      (adapted from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary)
      1. The birth and childhood of Jesus Christ - 1:1-2:23
         a. Genealogy of Christ - 1:1-17
         b. Birth of Christ - 1:18-25
         c. Visit of the Magi - 2:1-12
         d. Flight into Egypt and massacre of the infants - 2:13-18
         e. Residence at Nazareth - 2:19-23
      2. The preparation for the ministry of Jesus Christ - 3:1-4:11
         a. The forerunner of Christ - 3:1-12
         b. Baptism of Christ - 3:13-17
         c. Temptation of Christ - 4:1-11
      3. The ministry of Jesus Christ - 4:12-25:46
         a. His ministry in Galilee - 4:12-18:35
            1) Residence at Capernaum - 4:12-17
            2) Call of four disciples - 4:18-22
            3) General survey of the Galilean ministry - 4:23-25
            4) Sermon on the mount - 5:1-7:29
            5) Ten miracles and related events - 8:1-9:38
            6) Mission of the twelve - 10:1-42
            7) Christ's answer to John, and related discourse - 11:1-30
            8) Opposition from the Pharisees - 12:1-50
            9) A series of parables on the kingdom - 13:1-58
           10) Withdrawal of Jesus following John's beheading - 14:1-36
           11) Conflict with the Pharisees over tradition - 15:1-20
           12) Withdrawal to Phoenecia and healing of a Canaanitish
               woman's daughter - 15:21-28
           13) Return to the Sea of Galilee and performing of miracles
               - 15:29-38
           14) Renewed conflict with the Pharisees and Sadducees - 15:
           15) Withdrawal to the region of Caesarea Philippi - 16:5-
           16) Instruction of the twelve at Capernaum - 17:24-18:35
         b. His ministry in Perea - 19:1-20:16
            1) Teaching on divorce - 19:1-12
            2) Blessing of the children - 19:13-15
            3) Interview with the rich young man - 19:16-30
            4) Parable of the laborers in the vineyard - 20:1-16
         c. His ministry in Judea - 20:17-34
            1) Another prediction of Christ's death and resurrection 
               - 20:17-19
            2) Ambitious request of Zebedee's sons - 20:20-28
            3) Healing of two blind men - 20:29-34
         d. His ministry in Jerusalem - 21:1-25:46
            1) Triumphal entry - 21:1-11
            2) Cleansing the Temple - 21:12-17
            3) Cursing of the barren fig tree - 21:18-22
            4) Questioning of Jesus' authority and his parabolic answer
               - 21:23-22:14
            5) Questioning of Jesus by various groups - 22:15-46
            6) Jesus' public denunciation of the Pharisees - 23:1-39
            7) Olivet Discourse - 24:1-25:46
      4. The suffering of Jesus Christ - 26:1-27:66
         a. Plot against Jesus - 26:1-16
         b. The final meal - 26:17-30
         c. Prediction of Peter's denial - 26:31-35
         d. Events in Gethsemane - 26:36-56
         e. Events at the Jewish trials - 26:57-27:2
         f. Remorse of Judas - 27:3-10
         g. Events at the Roman trials - 27:11-31
         h. The Crucifixion - 27:32-56
         i. Burial - 27:32-56
      5. The resurrection of Jesus Christ - 28:1-20
         a. Discovery of the empty tomb - 28:1-8
         b. Appearance of Jesus Christ - 28:9,10
         c. Report of the soldiers - 28:11-15
         d. The great commission - 28:16-20
      1. We've noted its frequent appeal to OT prophecies
      2. It's organization is mostly topical, as opposed to strictly
         chronological (a common style in Jewish literature)
      -- It appears to have been written with a Jewish audience in mind
      1. It is the only gospel which mentions the word "church"
         a. It foretells its beginning - Mt 16:18
         b. It describes some of the life in the church - Mt 18:15-17
      2. It contains lengthy discourses especially beneficial to those
         in the church
         a. Such as the sermon on the mount - Mt 5-7
         b. Such as the many parables - Mt 13
         c. Such as the Olivet discourse - Mt 24-25
      3. It contains admonitions important to disciples of Christ
         a. Such as the importance of doing the Father's will - Mt 7:
         b. Such as observing all that Jesus commanded - Mt 28:20
      -- In other words, this was a gospel designed for use by those in
         the early church
      1. It is a preaching gospel
         a. Especially when compared with the apostles' preaching found
            in Acts
         b. For it expands upon the basic elements and point made in
            their sermons
      2. Consider these themes in apostolic preaching:
         a. God's promises in the OT have been fulfilled - Ac 3:18,24
         b. The long-awaited Messiah, born of David's line, has come 
            - Ac 13:23
         c. He is Jesus of Nazareth - Ac 13:23
         d. He went about preaching and doing good through mighty works
            - Ac 10:38
         e. He was crucified according to the promise and will of God
            - Ac 2:22,23
         f. He was raised from the dead, and exalted at God's right
            hand - Ac 2:24,32-33
         h. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the
            dead - Ac 3:20-21; 17:30-31
         i. Therefore, all should heed His message, repent, and be
            baptized - Ac 2:36-38
         -- All of these points are expanded in the gospel of Matthew
1. The purpose which Matthew's gospel served in the first century was
   a. To confirm faith in Jesus as God's Anointed One (the Messiah)
   b. To instructing disciples on living the Christian life
2. It can serve a similar purpose for us today...
   a. Increase our faith in Jesus as the Christ
   b. Instruct us in the righteousness expected of those in His kingdom
The last three verses present the climax of this amazing gospel:
   And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been
   given to Me in heaven and on earth.
   "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing
   them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
   "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;
   and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
                                                      (Mt 28:18-20)
Have you submitted to the authority and command of Jesus as it pertains
to becoming His disciple and observing what He taught?  If so, then you
have the precious promise of His abiding presence in your life!


--《Executable Outlines