Things to Know About Matthew's Gospel
The Gospel of Matthew is the first book of the New Testament. It is comprised of 28 chapters, which is more chapters than any of the other three gospels, although Luke includes more content in total.
This brings up an important identifying term; If you are new to the distinctions between the four gospels, it may help to start by mentioning an important term which is, synoptic. You may hear people from time to time use the phrase synoptic gospels. What this speaks of are the gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Matthew is one of three books that has much of the same content and structure.
Because of this, we call them synoptic because of their similarities.
The Man, the Tax Collector, the Matthew
As you read Matthew, you will notice much of the same material and structure as that of Mark and Luke, but a careful study shows that there are also unique features to this book. I want to point this out to you so that you understand that Matthew is going to share much of the same information, but for the purposes of introduction, I will stick to highlighting what makes Matthew unique as a gospel.
This book is historically attributed to Matthew, also known as Levi the tax collector and one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. In terms of content, some have pointed out that there are five general discourses or teaching occasions that structure the Gospel of Matthew which are as follows:
The Five Discourses of the Gospel of Matthew
1. Life and Conduct in the Kingdom of Heaven (Ch 5-7)
2. Discipleship and Evangelism (Ch 10)
3. Parables of Jesus (Ch 13)
4. Forgiveness and the Kingdom of Heaven (Ch 18-20)
5. Eschatology (Ch 24-25)
Although these are not hardline structures, they do help in noting the progression of the major themes in Matthew. They are also easy to trace when each segment ends, as they are concluded with the repeated phrase “When Jesus had finished these sayings”.
Unique to Matthew's Gospel
Here are a few things to know about the gospel of Matthew that are unique to his content and writing purposes.
The Geneology of Jesus
One of the most important factors and contributions of the gospel according to Matthew is the genealogy of Jesus. Many skeptics of the modern age try to discredit that Jesus ever lived, a very new enterprise of skepticism. The Bible as a whole and the Gospel of Matthew, in particular, includes historical accounts and documentation such as this genealogy in Matthew 1 to prove the authenticity of the content.
Prior to this new skepticism of seeking to disprove whether Jesus ever lived, the issue at hand was never whether Jesus lived, but whether He was in fact the Messiah. As such, Matthew’s genealogy is proof of His existence historically, yet it is also a tracing of royalty, which upholds His right to the throne. In addition, Matthew is the only gospel to include the account of Jesus’ birth and detail of His childhood.
Old Testament Proofs for Jesus the Messiah
But most significant to the theme of the book, Matthew lays out the case that Jesus is the Messiah by the constant notation of the Old Testament. Again, and again, Matthew’s content is followed by the phrase, “this took place to fulfill Scripture”, often quoting the Old Testament verses surrounding the event.
For Matthew, Jesus’ earthly ministry and work of redemption are evidenced by fulfillment, and this stands against popular secularized views of Jesus that view him as a social activist or political revolutionary.
Closing Thoughts as you Read
There are certain things that take place in the life of Jesus that are socially or politically related, but this book is concerning cosmic proportions, concerning a King who concludes His ministry by saying that He possesses all authority in heaven and on earth. Because of this, we must concern ourselves not with inventing a new spin on Jesus and His life, but by taking the details and claims in the gospel on their own objective terms.
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my related articles that survey our remaining three gospel accounts!