The Gospel of Matthew-An Overview
I think the best way to start a study is with a quick overview of the text we are about to dive into. To provide some context is to understand the author’s perspective and purpose. Remember, all scripture is breathed out by God, but He used human authors to convey perspective and human element to the overall message. There are four gospels, each penned by a different author from a different perspective but they live in harmony with each other because all are Truth. Remember, these studies are written by a guy who just enjoys studying and looking at God’s word. Don’t take these studies as absolute truth, but as a place to start a conversation about the Truth. As the word says “Study and show yourself approved”J. So let’s go!
Authorship: All four Gospels in their original form are, technically, anonymous. Probably because they we’re simply letters that the author thought would be read in their respective church assemblies where they would have been known. The earliest church traditions are unanimous in crediting the authorship of the first Gospel to Matthew, also called Levi (Luke 5:27, 28). That’s important to remember since most Bibles will simply call the name Levi, in places.
Theme: In short; The Kingdom had come! Matthew was a Jew. He writes from this perspective, but his detailed writings of the teachings and Messianic attributes of Jesus are sufficient for any reader. He speaks of instances of Jesus’ ministry to the Gentiles, but from a Jewish perspective calls Jesus the “Son of David” several times to reiterate His rightful claim to the throne of Israel.
There is a point, I think, that is important to keep in mind while reading Matthew. Matthew was a tax collector, but let’s look at what that means. Rome occupied Israel, during this time, and was extremely oppressive to the Jewish people. Jews were taken into slavery, children abducted into trafficking and many other detestable things. For a look at the historical events during the time, I recommend the book “Killing Jesus” by Bill O’Reilly & Martin Duggard. So, to be a tax collector, the Romans would hire a Jew to do the job. Their job was to collect the taxes for Caesar and the way they made their living was by extorting money above what was owed to keep for themselves. The Jews, rightfully, had a great deal of animosity toward the Romans but even lower than a Roman would have been a Jew who would sell out to them and make his living by oppressing his own people. But then here comes Jesus. A Jew, Himself, who would reach out across that table and see the brokenness of a lowly tax collector and say “Follow me”. The Bible, in Luke’s account, says he did just that. That he rose up, left everything (probably, the money owed to Caesar included) and followed Him (Luke 5:27, 28). Matthew would be one of the “twelve”. A front row seat to the teachings and miracles of the promised Messiah. Jesus’ promise that is for “the entire world” rings through Matthew’s gospel. There is no way of knowing how much he stole from his fellow country-men, but now, he could give something back. Something far more valuable. An account of the Promised Messiah!