Matthew Introduction

The Author

There is no doubt that this book was written by the Apostle Matthew who was also called Levi (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27). He was by trade a tax collector (Matthew 10:3) who likely set up shop on the trade route near Capernaum (Matthew 9:9). The Gospel bore the marks of his authorship “kata MaQQaion,” or according to Matthew, from early on. As early as A.D. 130, the early church fathers attributed authorship to Matthew. Oddly, after the resurrection, Matthew is not Biblically heard from again.

Most believed Matthew used Mark as a source for his Gospel, reproducing ninety percent of what Mark had written. Because Matthew does not mention the destruction of the temple, most believe Matthew to have written the book between 55 and 65 A.D. or around ten years after Mark. It is believed Matthew could have written the Gospel from Antioch of Syria because the earliest quotes from Matthew's Gospel is by Ignatius who was the Bishop at Antioch.

Purpose of the Book

Matthew quotes the Old Testament some sixty-two times, almost like he was seeking to create a study guide for Mark's Gospel, showing Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament Prophets. This has led to the widespread assumption that Matthew had reflected upon and then researched Jesus’ life in the light of Old Testament prophecy to help the Jewish follower grow absolute in their faith that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.

Matthew's Gospel seems to assume a Jewish audience in that Matthew does not seek to explain fully. If the Gospel was intended for a Gentile audience, there likely would have been more explanation.

It would seem Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience to give them essential proof concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was more than a teacher of peasants—He was the expected Messiah, proven by:

His genealogy,
affirmed through His fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy,
reaffirmed by His having touched the earth with the miracle power of the “Kingdom of heaven” (a phrase used only by Matthew),
confirmed even more by His clear teaching of Kingdom of heaven,
but mostly endorsed by the legitimate proof of His death, resurrection, and appearances to witnesses.

Matthew Outlined

Matthew wove the narrative of His Gospel around five of Jesus’ discourses.

Matthew 1-4: Messiah’s Coming
Matthew 5-7: Discourse on Ethics
Matthew 8-9: Messiah’s Ministry in Galilee
Matthew 10: Discourse on Missions
Matthew 11-12: Messiah’s Works and Words Rejected
Matthew 13: Discourse on Kingdom Mystery
Matthew 14-17: The Church and Kingdom in Glory
Matthew 18: Discourse on Community Life
Matthew 19-23: Messiah in Judea and in Jerusalem
Matthew 24-25: Discourse on Coming Kingdom and Judgment
Matthew 26-28: Messiah’s Death and Resurrection

Basic Background

Matthew is the most used book in the New Testament when it comes to being read in liturgy. Matthew does not seek to come off as theological as much as pastoral, a handbook for the layman to fully comprehend Christ and His Kingdom in the light of Old Testament promises.

Matthew interestingly links the nation of Israel to the individual Jesus: "out of Egypt I have called My Son" (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:15). In this, Matthew lays the groundwork for Jesus being the new Israel and all of Israel finding themselves to be the true Israel in Christ.

Matthew aimed his Gospel at the Jew but also at the Jewish religious establishment.

Matthew accused the religious establishment:

of conspiring to bring about the death of Jesus (26:3-5, 27:1-10)
of being full of hypocrisy and the children of those who killed the prophets (23:27-31)
of keeping the form of the Law but then neglecting the heavier and more significant matters of justice and mercy (23:23-25)
of crucifying the Lord's Christ (26-27)