Gospel of Matthew – Overview

From Peter Kreeft’s You Can Understand the Bible:

Matthew’s Gospel is the first book of the New Testament, not because it was written first – some of Paul’s epistles take that honour – but because it’s the bridge between the Old and New Testaments.

Matthew’s Gospel is written by a Jew to Jews about the Jew who was crucified for claiming to be King of the Jews.

Matthew’s purpose in writing is to prove to  his fellow Jews that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. As a result, Matthew uses 40 direct quotes from Old Testament and 60 other references to Jewish prophecies. 9 times Matthew refers to Jesus as “the son of David.” Also, Matthew begins with Jesus’ genealogy, tracing him back to David, and then to Abraham, the first Jew. That’s also why Matthew introduces Jesus’ public ministry with John the Baptist, who was the last and greatest prophet of the Old Covenant. (John was the first prophet Scripture mentions in more than 4 centuries).

Matthew had been a tax collector for the Roman rulers. Tax collectors were regarded as both thieves and traitors. No one could have been a more unlikely convert, certainly no one a more unlikely saint. Yet when Jesus called Matthew to follow Him, he immediately left his office and his job (Mt 9:9).

Matthew’s Gospel is a direct eyewitness account (except for the narrative of Jesus’ birth).

Matthew’s Gospel has been called “the Gospel of the Kingdom.” The term Kingdom appears 50 times, and Kingdom of heaven 32 times. Matthew emphasizes the kingly aspects of Jesus.

Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter (“Rock” or “Rocky”). In Judaism, only God can change your name. Thus God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and Jacob’s name to Israel.

Christ made Peter the “Rock”, the foundation and ruler of His Church. For nearly 20 centuries, the Church has always claimed that her message is from God, not from man, and therefore has divine authority. She is not the author of her message, but the mail carrier. She interprets the data, does not edit it. Also, Peter was given authority to bind a loose – verbs in perfect tense – meaning that when Peter binds or looses, it will already have been accomplished in Heaven – that is, Peter follows the will of God in Heaven and not the reverse.

The Greatest Sermon Ever Preached

Sermon on the Mount is the most famous part of Matthew. It can be printed on a single page and read in 15 minutes.

Jesus is not giving us a morality He thinks we can practice, but a morality He knows we can’t. For morality is not salvation. The moral law is not the goods news, the operation; it is the bad news, the diagnosis, the X-ray.

Jesus says that God demands more, not less, than the strict observances of the Pharisees; He demands a pure heart. For God is a lover, not a machine.

Although we cannot reach the standard set from the Sermon on the Mount, God can accomplish this transformation in us.


From the Navarre Bible Commentary:

The outstanding feature of the first Gospel is its inclusion of several long discourses by Jesus. Five of these – the sermon on the mount (5:1-7:27), the discourse to the twelve apostles (10:1-42), that of the parables (13:1-52), the so-called discourse of the Church (18:1-35), and the “eschatological discourse” (24:1-25:46) – conclude with words along the lines of “and when Jesus finished these sayings…” Some scholars see this form of presentation of the Gospel as being evocative of the 5 books of the Pentateuch, the Jewish law.

St. Matthew depicts Jesus as the promised and rejected Messiah. It has been called the “Gospel of fulfillment” for this reason. And because of Jesus’ rejection as Messiah by Israel, St. Matthew’s Gospel has also been called the “Gospel of the Church.”







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