THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW
Matthew, also called Levi, was the writer of the first Gospel. He had been a tax collector under the Roman oppressor; therefore, he was one of those hated and ill-reputed publicans.Not all agree upon the date this Gospel was written but no good reason has been given for discrediting the traditional date of A.D. 37.The theme of the book is Jesus Christ, the Son of David, and the Son of Abraham, as mentioned in Ch. 1:1. This connects Him with two of the most important covenants of the Bible, The Davidic Covenant of kingship, and the Abrahamic Covenant of promise, cf. 2 Samuel 7:11-13, 16 and Gen
15:18.The prominent character of Christ in Matthew is that of King.
The writer records His genealogy; His birth in Bethlehem as per Micah 5:2;
His rejection by Israel; and His predictions of His second
coming in power and great glory.Matthew falls into four principal divisions:
1. Chs. 1 to 23. The manifestation to Israel and rejection, of Jesus Christ, the Son of David.
2. Chs. 24 and 25. Actual and parabolic teaching on the second coming of Christ.
3. Chs. 26 to 28:8. The sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of Abraham.
4. Ch. 28:9-20. The risen Lord in ministry to His own.
The events recorded in Matthew cover a period of 38 years. (Usher)
THE MANIFESTATION TO ISRAEL, AND REJECTION, OF JESUS CHRIST THE SON OF DAVID.
In the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew two important facts are dealt with: the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David; and the manner of His birth. Dating back to Abraham in whom we have the founder of the people of Israel, the line of descent is traced through David the king. All the kings of Judah are mentioned to the time of the Babylonian captivity. After that, the royal line without a throne is carried forward until we come to Joseph, the husband of Mary. If there had been a throne, he would have been king, which gave to Christ the right to the title of King of the Jews.
The circumstance of the birth of Jesus Christ is stated very simply. He is the One of Whom God spoke in the book of Genesis as the seed of the woman. In Isaiah 7:14 we read, A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son. Finally the wonder took place and Christ was conceived of the Holy Ghost, making a Man without sin. As a result He could offer Himself for a broken law, and fully “save His people from their sins.”
Matthews’s account of the infancy of Christ is briefly told in Ch. 2. The incident of the visit of the wise men in mentioned in vs.1-12. Due to a warning through a dream they turned homeward another way. In the attempt to kill the child Jesus, many innocent children were slain by Herod's orders, but Joseph and Mary escaped with their babe into Egypt. After the death of Herod, they retraced their steps and finally settled in the city of Nazareth.
In the next ten chapters, we have a record of the activity for which Ch.3:2 might be used as an introduction; the kingdom is heaven is at hand. John the Baptist as the divinely appointed herald called the subjects to repentance. He then pointed to One who would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire, and so thoroughly purged His floor that all chaff would be cast into unquenchable fire, vs. 11-12. Following this Jesus appeared, was immersed in water, and “Anointed with the Holy Ghost,” God testifying to the pleasure He found in His beloved Son.
Immediately afterwards, the Lord Jesus was subjected to a fierce onslaught from Satan, but came forth unscathed as He wielded the sword of the Spirit and defeated the powers of darkness. After the temptation, Christ began to call His followers, thus laying the foundation for His kingdom.The Sermon of the Mount found in Chs. 5, 6 and 7 is a lengthy statement of what the King will require of His subjects as to their manner of life in the kingdom.
Any child of God can apply the contents of these chapters personally, but as the King is the aspect of Matthews Gospel, the sermon is sometimes referred to as the constitution of the kingdom.Chapters 8 and 9, record a number of gracious healings. Jesus also stilled the waves when a great tempest arose on the Sea of Galilee, much to the wonder of His disciples. The whole of Ch. 10 is taken up with Christ instructing and sending forth His twelve disciples. His ministry grew apace and a reaction from Satan came as could naturally be expected. John the Baptist was cast into prison, and sought reassurance from Jesus as to whether He was the Christ or should they look for another, Ch.11:3. The Lord replied by asking the messengers to watch His ministry and then report to John adding these words, and blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. The treatment of John and the rejection of his testimony were noted by the Lord, and He stated clearly to the people that John was the fulfillment of the scripture which said,” Behold I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before thee.”Then He upbraided the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida, and Capernaum because of their poor response to His own ministry, vs.20-24. Their attitude constituted a rejection of the King, a thing, which became more and more evident as the ministry of Jesus was carried forward. The eleventh chapter ends with a personal call in the oft-quoted words of Jesus, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”Ch.12 mentions the healing of the man with a withered hand, and the deliverance of a man possessed with a blind and dumb demon. The Pharisees were incensed at the success of Christ’s ministry and ascribed the results to the working of Satan. For this the Lord warned them of the danger of committing the unpardonable sin.
The chapter closes with a hint of the new relationship with God through Christ, vs. 46-50, which now comes to pass through the Gospel. While the kingdom of heaven is eventually to be set up on earth and have a universal sway over men, there is a sense where it first exists in a hidden way in the hearts of men. Ch. 13 contains a series of seven parables which Jesus called the “mysteries of the kingdom.” In the sowing of the seed of the Word, its growth depends on the kind of heart-soil, which receives it. From the seven parables of the sower; the tares and the wheat; the mustard seed; the leaven; the hid treasure; the pearl; and the dragnet, we learn that the kingdom in its spiritual aspect is subject to a process of deterioration such as will be in evidence in the apostate church of the last days. Chs. 14 to 23 inclusive, records some more of the general preaching and healing ministry of Jesus. A brief account is given of the death of John the Baptist, Ch. 14:1-11. The two miracles of the feeding of the five thousand and four thousand are mentioned, as also the incident of Jesus walking on
In Ch. 16:17-18, we have the first mention of the Church. The reference is in the future tense, as Christ’s ministry of that time was to Israel. Contrary to what some say, the Lord did not choose Peter above his fellow disciples as the great founder of the church. What he really said was, “thou art a piece of rock, and upon THE ROCK I will build my church.” The keys of the kingdom were not given to Peter alone. While it was granted to him to open the door of faith to the Gentiles in his ministry in the house of Cornelius, yet as far as position goes, it was James who presided at the church council and not Peter. The power to bind and loose mentioned in v.18, was shared by the other disciples, as in John
After Jesus made the reference to His church He foretold His own death and resurrection. Peter was greatly humbled when in his objection to such probable treatment of his beloved Master he was told that his sentiments were from Satan, vs. 21-23. Three of the disciples were granted a vision of the coming of the Lord in glory, as they were with Him on the mount and watched His transfiguration. After descending the mount and healing the demon possessed boy, Jesus again made mention of His coming death and resurrection, Ch. 17:22-23, and again in Ch. 20:17-19, He says it again a third time.
Ch. 21:1-11 gives the account of Jesus riding the colt into Jerusalem. To anointed eyes this would have been most significant for it was an exact fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, but the Scribes and Pharisees were too blind to note the incident. After sundry messages to different groups and some more teaching in the form of parables, Jesus made a scathing denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees, ending with a lament over the city of Jerusalem, Ch. 23:37-39. In this sad expression, we have His official statement of the rejection of the people who had repeatedly rejected Christ their king, and from then on it has come to pass as He said, and their house has been desolate indeed. Now, He awaits the day when they shall turn to Him again and say,” blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
ACTUAL AND PARABOLIC TEACHING ON THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST.
In Ch. 24:1 we read that Jesus went out and departed from the temple. That structure was greatly admired by all the Jews. The disciples were evidently no exception to the rule and they pointed out its beauty to the Lord. To Christ the mere architectural beauty was of small moment. He foresaw the destruction of the temple because of the way the people had lived. God could not countenance forever the hypocritical formalism, which was so common among them. When the Lord predicted the complete overthrow of the beautiful building it set His disciples thinking.
They asked Him a three-fold question:
1. When shall these things be?
2. What shall be the sign of Thy coming?
3. What shall be the sign of the end of the age?
The first question is not answered in Matthew. To get the answer we must consider Luke 21:20-24. (We will look at that when we study Luke.) In vs. 4-14, Jesus gives a brief description of the course of this age. There will be those who arise claiming to be Christ, and history will be a succession of wars and rumors of wars, but, said Jesus, “the end is not yet.” Then, at a certain time there will be war, and civil war on a universal scale, and famines, pestilence, and earthquakes in various places.These will be the beginning of sorrows, a general breakup of society will characterize that time. The Gospel shall be preached in all the world for a witness, and then shall the end come. The foregoing is very much in evidence at this time, therefore we draw the conclusion that the end of the age is at hand, and the coming of the Lord will soon be brought to pass.
Following this brief synopsis of the course of this age the Lord gives the sign immediately preceding the great tribulation. The “abomination of desolation,” spoken of by Daniel will be set up in the temple. In other words, antichrist will demand worship as god in the temple of God as per 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4. This will be followed by the great tribulation, vs. 15, 21. A very brief mention is made of the rapture, vs.27-28, and purposely so, for Christ left the revealing of the mystery of the Church to the ministry of the apostles. After the great tribulation, the Lord will return in glory and Israel shall be gathered from all parts wherever they have been scattered, vs. 29-31. In the closing verses of the chapter a few remarks are made as to the prevailing condition of society in the end time, which fully agree with other mention of the same subject in the Word of God.
In Ch. 25, we have two parables relative to the necessary preparation for the Lords coming. The great need is to have a lamp well trimmed and burning and spare oil in the vessel, vs. 1-13. In other words, we should make the Word as illumined by the Spirit, the rule of life, and seek a daily renewal of the Holy Spirit for all emergencies. In a second parable, Christ illustrates how the church is to be judged at His coming so that service will get its due reward, vs. 20-23. For one who has received his one talent but has miserably neglected to make good there is nothing but utter rejection awaiting him, vs. 24-30. After the two parables Jesus spoke plainly about His judgment of the nations. He, Who shall rule earths people with a rod of iron makes clear that His word will be strictly applies, vs. 31-46. To us all it is a lesson on the importance of doing the small acts of helpfulness as we have opportunity that we may be rewarded at His coming.
THE SACRIFICE AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF ABRAHAM.
In Hebrews 2:16, we are told that Christ took on Him the seed of Abraham in order to redeem us. Since His genealogy in Matthew 1 is traced to both David and Abraham we draw the conclusion that Calvary and the resurrection have rather strictly to do with His Abrahamic relationship. Certain incidents, which led up to the death of Christ, are mentioned in Ch. 26. The Jewish leaders held a meeting that they might devise some way to put Him to death, vs. 3-5. At the same time a woman entered the house of Simon the leper where Jesus was being entertained, and anointed His head with costly ointment, vs. 6-15. Jesus applied the incident as a preparation for His burial. Again at about the same time, Judas took steps to betray His Lord, vs. 14-16. Jesus, having in mind the great significance of the cross arranged to eat the last Passover with His disciples, vs. 17-18. It was then that He instituted what we love to call “The Lords Supper”, vs. 26-29, and after they had partaken the Lord quoted Zechariah 13:7 which told how His followers would scatter from Him as He neared the judgment. The agony in Gethsemane is fully depicted in this chapter, vs. 36-46. The coming of Judas followed this with a band of men who bound Jesus and led Him away to Caiphas, the high priest. False witnesses were hired to testify against Him, but Jesus was condemned on His own statement, which foretold His coming in the clouds of heaven, vs. 63-66.
The account of Peters denial of Christ in vs. 69-75 brings the chapter to a close. The trial and crucifixion of Jesus and His internment in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea takes up most of Ch. 27. The Lord was led away to Pilate that he might receive the sentence of death. Judas in the meantime was filled with remorse. He took the thirty pieces of silver and cast them on the ground before the priests in the temple, v.5, and went out and hanged himself. Pilate found much difficulty in fixing a sentence upon Jesus, which would make Him worthy of death. He finally tried to wash his hands of all responsibility as he literally took a basin of water and in their presence rinsed his hands, v.24. Jesus was finally led out and crucified between two thieves. At the time of His death darkness was over all the land even though it was the brightest time of the day, v.45. The veil of the temple was rent in two from top to bottom, v.51, and certain dead saints arose and appeared to many as god shook the earth with an earthquake, vs. 52-53.The body of Jesus was laid away by His good friends, and a stone was rolled against the entrance to the sepulcher and sealed with the official seal of those in authority. Early in the morning of the first day of the week the watching soldiers were terrified by the appearance of an angel who rolled the stone from the doorway, and sat upon it. They hurried off to the city and reported to the rulers of the Jews what had taken place. Seeing their powerlessness, the priests could do nothing but bribe the men to spread the report that the disciples of Christ had stolen His body while they slept, Ch. 28:2-4, and 11-15. Jesus came forth triumphant over death and met some of His disciples, and arranged with them for the whole group to see Him at an appointed place in Galilee, vs. 9-10.
THE RISEN LORD IN MINISTRY TO HIS OWN.
When Jesus and His disciples met in Galilee He told them that all power was given unto Him in heaven and in earth. They were then commissioned to go and teach all nations, and to baptize believers in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever He had commanded them, vs. 16-20. His own presence would be with them, thus making the work a mutual cooperation in service. To all who have answered this call wonderful results have followed their ministry, and to all who will yet make the surrender unto such a service will be granted a like blessing, even His own presence unto the end of the age.