While Mark was likely written Earlier, Matthew was probably included first because of its direct tie-in to the Old Testament, especially as to the fulfilment of Messianic prophesies. There are atleast 47 Old Testament quotations in Matthew, most related to Messiah. Matthew authenticates the person of Jesus through His Words and works (miracles) and affirms His right to reign as Messiah King. Matthew was originally intended for primarily Jewish audiences. It is the first book in the New Testament which begins with the genealogy of Jesus Christ showing His right to reign as King of the Jews — “Son of Abraham” (which would make Jesus the promised Messiah see Genesis 12:3; Galatians 3:6-9, 16-18) and “Son of David” which will make Jesus the promised King to sit on David’s Throne see 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Psalms 89:3-4, 19-21,27-29,35; and Matthew 1:1-17). This geneology focuses on the public record, legal line descent of Jesus (Son of David) through Joseph which gives Him the right to regn as Messiah King!
Luke’s genealogy (Luke 3:23-38) as we will see in our next Study after Mark focuses on the private, physical line of descent of Jesus (Son of Adam) through Mary, emphasizing His humanity and qualifying Him as the Unique Son of God who had the right to redeem men from sin.
The book has twenty-eight chapters and covers the life of Christ from His birth to the giving of the Great Commission. It is perhaps the most widely read book of the Bible because of its location at the beginning of the New Testament.
The first three gospels — Matthew, Mark and Luke are primarily historical biographies or topical narratives of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. They are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they “see together” the life of Christ by covering the same basic events while each contributes its own unique material and emphasis. They were all written during the 50’s–60’s AD in the following probable order:
- Mark c.50-60 AD
2. Matthew c.60-65 AD
3. Luke c.65-68 AD
While Some critical scholars do not believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God and that it contradicts each other and repetitious, in fact the four gospel accounts;
- Complete each other
- Complement each other.
- Confirm each other.
The reason Matthew, Mark and Luke contain much of the same information is:
- They were all inspired by the Holy Spirit;
- They all deal with the life and teachings of Jesus.
Each one of these books contains some information the others do not have. Each book was written with a different purpose and audience in mind.
Matthew is the inspired writer of the book which bears his name. He is not named in the book as its author. However, Christians from earliest times have believed he was the writer. Matthew was a tax collector. He was called by Jesus to be one of His disciples (Matthew 9:9). Later, he was chosen to be one of the twelve apostles (Luke 6:12-16). He was one of the group of tax collectors and sinners who followed Jesus (Matthew 9:10-13). When Jesus called him, Matthew left everything to follow Him (Luke 5:27,28).
Matthew must have been a well educated man for this was required to be a tax collector. He was a prosperous man because of his job. He owned a house where he made a feast for Jesus (Matthew 9:9-11; Mark 2:14-17; Luke 5:29). Matthew’s name means “gift of God.” He was also known as “Levi, the son of Alphaeus” (Mark 2:14).
The message of Matthew is that Jesus has come to be king over His kingdom. Matthew often uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” to refer to the church which Jesus had come to build. He also called the coming church “the kingdom of God.” Frequently, Matthew referred to Jesus as “the Son of David.” This showed He was the heir to David’s throne. Again and again Matthew shows that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of the Christ (Matthew 1:22,23; 2:5,6,17,18; 4:13-16; 8:17; 12:17-22; 13:34,35; 21:4,5; 27:9,10). He records Peter’s confession that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” and Jesus’ promise to build His church (kingdom) upon this great truth (Matthew 16:16-19).
Matthew includes fifteen parables which were taught by Jesus. Ten of these parables are not found anywhere else in the New Testament. Matthew also records twenty miracles which were done by Jesus. Three of these are not found elsewhere. Matthew sets forth the teaching of Jesus during His personal ministry more fully than the other Gospel writers.
The Messianic claims of Jesus Christ cannot be ignored – they must either be personally accepted or rejected with eternal consequences flowing from the decision.
The Gospel to the Jewish People