The following is a brief digest of the book of Matthew. The goal is to provide a condensed summary of the book, as a cursory introduction for the benefit of personal study.
Jesus – The Messianic King
Matthew describes how Jesus of Nazareth came to offer the Kingdom, presenting Himself as the promised Messiah – prophesied in the Old Testament as the Davidic King.
(1:1 – 4:16) The Coming of the Messianic King
(4:17 – 16:20) The Proclaiming of the Messianic Kingdom
(4:17-25) The Beginning of the King’s Work
(5:1 – 7:29) A Kingdom Manifesto
(8:1 – 9:34) Manifestations of Messianic Authority
(9:35 – 11:1) Spreading the Messianic Message
(11:2-30) Difficulties of the Kingdom
(12:1 – 16:12) Opposition to the Kingdom
(16:13-20) The King’s Subjects
(16:21 – 27:66) The Cross of the Messianic King
(16:21 – 20:34) The Cross and the King’s Subjects
(21:1 – 23:39) Rejection by the Jewish Leaders
(24:1 – 26:2) Revelation to the Disciples Concerning the Future
(26:3 – 27:66) The Passion of the King
(28:1-20) The Triumph of the King
From the early days of the church, the first gospel has been traditionally attributed to Matthew. The earliest title for the gospel is, “The Gospel According to Matthew.” Patristic sources also affirm the authorship of Matthew.
The systematic arrangement of his material, the humble way in which Matthew is referred to as “the publican,” and the attention to detail in regard to finances and numeric figures, suggests the traditional stance of Matthew as the original author.
Date and Setting:
While the content, context, writer, and readers, all seem to be thoroughly Jewish, internal and external evidence seems to suggest that Antioch of Syria is the most likely place of origin for the writing of the gospel of Matthew.
Internal evidence strongly points to a date of composition before AD 70, contrary to the claims of critics. Close estimates place it as early as AD 40. My own opinion is that it was composed around AD 42-45.
Matthew has a particular emphasis on the prophetic fulfillment of Jesus as the promised Messiah. Matthew constructs his Gospel to connect Jesus to the Old Testament promises of the Messianic hope.
Matthew is notably Jewish in its context and content. Matthew is writing to Jews, in a Jewish context, about a Jewish king.
A primary focus of the Gospel of Matthew is to show Jesus as the promised Davidic King. Matthew emphasizes the title of Jesus as the Son of David, and employs the language of “kingdom” more than any other Gospel.
Another notable feature of Matthew is the thematic arrangement of stories. The majority of the Gospel of Matthew is arranged thematically, rather than chronologically (with the exception of the first few chapters, and the Passion Week.)
- Why does Matthew arrange his material topically rather than chronologically, and what impact does this have on our attempt to understand the life of Christ more accurately?