The Gospel according to Matthew

The Gospel “according to Matthew” was written by Matthew, one of the Twelve Apostles, in Antioch on the Orontes in Syria in 52 CE. Matthew, “the tax collector,”* was the only one of the Twelve with a writing table, writing implements, and the skills to use them. He probably took down notes in shorthand, and what Jesus probably had them memorize, on wax tablets and transferred them to parchment as he was able. These he eventually arranged and edited before he finally transferred them to the vellum scroll which he published in 52, when he made it available for copying. [*  Matthew is not to be confused with Levi in Mt. 9:9, renamed Matthew by an enthusiastic scribe.]

Matthew wrote as a representative of the Twelve from the perspective of the Jewish church embracing a gentile mission contentious with its Jewish milieu. As the mission expanded its geographic perimeter, the verbal medium of the eyewitness memoirs—which were shared when the churches gathered for the Lord’s Table—came to be seen as inadequate to the requirements of the new churches; the memoirs needed the stability of a written medium.

Matthew wrote his gospel to correspond to the annual synagogue readings (there was a three-year lectionary and a one-year one; I mean the one-year one) with the purpose of his gospel also being read annually as scripture (see, e.g., 1 Tm. 5:18) in the messianic gatherings, which met in homes on the Lord’s Day (Saturday evening or Sunday before sundown) after the Shabbat gathering in the synagogue earlier in the day or the day before, when the Jews would have read the portion from the Torah and a selection from the Early or Latter Prophets. Matthew would have assumed that the auditors of his scroll would be attending both gatherings and intended that the portion read from his gospel-scroll would correspond in some way to the readings they heard in the synagogue.

The underlying motif in Matthew’s gospel is the presence—in the kenosis of Daniel 7:13’s “Son of Man”—of the overcoming-reign of the heavens and its present conflict with the kingdoms of this age (including the kingdom for which the zealots were striving).

This gospel functions as a seven-part guidebook for the formation of disciples, describing for them the vita evangelica. In effect, it is about the inclusiveness of the Gospel, not just for gentiles but for all marginalized people.

An Introduction to the Gospel according to Matthew

1. The Kenotic Coming of the One to Come— chapters 1—2
      (the overcoming-reign of the heavens emerges)

A. For Jews— chapter 1
      (Emmanuel)

01:01-25 Jesus, the Son of David (2007),
–        The Son of David (2009),
–        The King of the Kingdom of the Heavens (2011),
–        01:18-25 The Genesis of Jesus Christ (2013).

B. And for Gentiles— chapter 2
      (foreshadowing the course of the apostolate)

02:01-23 The Gentiles Seek Him (2011),
–        02:01-18 Gentiles Seek Him (2010),
–        02:01-12 “The Desire of the Nations” (2008),
–        –        The Son of David for the Gentiles (2013),
–        –        The Messiah of Israel Sought by Gentiles (2015)
–        02:13-23 The False Presence of the Kingdom (2007)
–        02:13-23 Joseph’s Obedience (2013).

2. Penitence— chapters 3—8:1
      (the present sphere of the overcoming-reign of the heavens)

A. The Penitent and the Penitents— chapters 3—4:23
      (the Coming One as Penitent as the sphere into which penitents are called)

03:01-17 The Baptism of Jesus, What It Means, (2012):
–        03:01-12 The Baptism Proclaimed by John (2007),
–        –        The Coming of God (2013),
–        03:13-17 The Baptism of Our Lord (2008),
–        –        The Baptism of Jesus (2014).
04:01-17 Jesus Binds the Strong Man (2012),
–        The Lord’s Temptation and Choice (2008):
–        04:1-11 The Testing of the Christ (2014);
04:12-23 The Beginning of Jesus’ Proclamation (2014).

B. The Way of Penitence— chapters 4:24—8:1
      (a description of this sphere into which penitents are called)

04:24—5:2 The introduction to the Sermon on the Mount  
05:3-10 The Beatitudes
05:11-16 The relation of the disciples to society
–        04:18—5:16 The Call to Discipleship (2008)
–        –        Discipleship and Beatitude (2012)
–        –        Discipleship and Beatitude, additional notes (2012)
–        04:24—5:10 The Promised Land (2014)
–        05:11-20 The Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount (2014)
05:17-48 Jesus’ “fulfillment” of the Law and Prophets
–        05:17-20 Introduction (also see above)
–       
05:21-48 Six antitheses
–        –        05:17-32 Fulfilling the Law (2008)
–        –        05:17-26 To Fulfill the Commandments (2012)
–        –        05:21-37 Understanding God’s Law (2014)
–        –        05:27-32 Adultery and Divorce (2012)
–        –        05:33-48 Fulfilling the Prophets (2008)
–        –        05:33-48 Truth, Resistance, Love (2012)
–        –        05:38-48 To Love As God Loves (2014)
06:01-18 Living Before the Father (2008)
–        Living Before the Father (2012)
06:19-34 Depending on the Father’s Provision (2008)
07:01—8:1 Appeal to the Believers (2008)
–        Authenticity in Christ (2012).

3. The Sending Forth— chapters 8:2—11:1
      (the apostolate [or mission] of the overcoming-reign of the heavens)

A. The Apostle and the Apostolate— chapters 8:2—9:35
      (the Coming One as the Sent One embodying the course of the apostolate)

08:02-17 Son of God and Savior (2008)
–       Dispensations of Salvation (2012)
08:18—9:8 Moving in Grace (2012)
–        08:18—9:1 Preaching to the Gentiles (2008)
–        09:02-17 The Gospel Call to Sinners (2008)
09:09-34 Grace for Those Lost in Sin (2012)
–        09:18-34 Salvation and the Land of Israel (2008)

B. The Way of the Apostolate— chapters 9:36—11:1
      (how the Sent One sends forth ones whom he selects)

–        09:35—10:5 The Sending Out of the Called Ones (2012)
–        09:35—10:15 The Gospel and the House (2008)
–        10:5—11:1 The Mission Discourse (2012)
–        10:16—11:1 The Cost of Spreading the Gospel (2008)
–        10:24-39 Confessing in Jesus (2014)

4. Misapprehension— chapters 11:2—13:53
      (different reactions to the overcoming-reign of the heavens)

A. Confusion, Misperceptions, and Resistance— chapters 11:2—12

11:02-19 Being Disappointed in Jesus (2008)
–        11:02-11 What Do We Expect to Find in Jesus? (2013)
11:20—12:8 Rest for the Burdened (2008)
–        “Come to Me and Rest” (2012)
–        11:16-19, 25-30, The Expected One Is Misunderstood (2014)
12:9-37 Do Not Harden Your Heart (2008)
12:38-50 Jesus Distinguishes His Own (2012)

B. To Apprehend and to Not Apprehend: Seven Parables— chapter 13:1-53

13:01-17 The Parables of Jesus (2008)
–        Having Ears to Hear (2012)
13:18-35 The Illegitimate Inflation of the Kingdom (2008)
–        The Kingdom in the World (2012)
13:36-53 The Reality of the Kingdom (2008)
–        Attaining the Kingdom (2012)
–        13:31-33, 44-52 Things New and Old (2014)

5. The Community— chapters 13:54—20:34
      (how the overcoming-reign of the heaven impacts relations)

A. The New Community Set Forth Symbolically— chapters 13:54—16:20

13:54—14:21 The Grace of God in Christ (2008)
–        The Messiah’s New People (2012)
–        14:13-21 The Kingdom and the Crowds (2014)
14:22—15:38
–        14:2215:20 The Church’s Journey (2008)
–        The Controversy with the Zealous (2012)
–        –        14:22-33 Coming to Jesus “across the Water” (2014)
–        15:21-38 Jesus Our Satisfaction (2008)
–        The Master of the Feast (2012)
15:39—16:20 The Revelation of Christ and the Church (2008)

B. Principles and Instructions— chapters 16:21—20:34

(i) Kenosis and Glory— chapters 16:21—17:21

16:21—17:21 The Way of the Cross and the Glory of the Church
–        16:21—17:13 To See Christ in His Kingdom (2008)
–        –        16:21-28 The Cost of the Mission Jesus Sends Us On (2014)
–        –        16:28—17:9 The Transfiguration (2014)
–        17:14-21 “The Sons Are Free” (2008)
–        Down from the Mountain (2012)

(ii) Various Relations— chapters 17:22—20:16
(a) Relations between Those within His Community— chapters 17:22—19:1a

17:22—20:16 The Way of the Cross and the Life of the Church
–        17:22—18:35 Preamble, and the Life of the Church among its Members
–        –        17:22-27 “The Sons Are Free” (2008)
–        –        Down from the Mountain (2012)
–        –        18:01-14 Caring for One Another (2008)
–        –        Disciples as Little Ones (2012)
–        –        18:15-35 Reconciling with One Another (2008)
–        –        The Interconnection of All the Siblings (2012)
–        –        18:15-20 On Not Stumbling the Little Ones (2014)
–        –        18:21-35 Forgiving One Another (2014)

(b) Relations Pertaining to the Households of Those within His Community— chapters 19:1b—20:16

–        19:1—20:16 The Life of the Church in its Households
–        –        19:01-15 The Family for the Sake of the Kingdom (2008)
–        –        Marriage, Being Single, and Children – for the Sake of the Kingdom (2012)
–        –        19:16-26 Our Possessions
–        –        –        19:16-29 Our Possessions in Light of the Kingdom (2008)
–        –        –        The Way of the Cross and Personal Property (2012)
–        –        19:27—20:16 The Reward
–        –        –        19:30—20:16 Do Not Envy or Judge One Another (2008)
–        –        –        Is Your Eye Envious or Generous (2012)
–        –        –        20:1-16 Envying the Johnny-Come-Latelies (2014)

(iii) With a View Towards the Coming Day— chapter 20:17-34

20:17—34 The Way of the Cross for the Church for the Sake of Israel
–        –        The Working Out of the Kingdom in the Church (2008)
–        –        The Working Out of the Kingdom (2012)

6. Judgment— chapters 21—25
      (judgments effected by the overcoming-reign of the heavens)

A. Jerusalem— chapters 21—24:2

21:01-22 The King Enters the City
–        Jesus’ Entry into the City of God (2008)
–        Jesus Comes to Jerusalem (2012)
–        The Prophet Jesus (2014)
21:23—22:14 The Calling to Account
–        21:23-46 The King Confronts the Tenant Leaders (2008)
–        –        Confronting the Tenant Leaders of David’s City (2012)
–        –        21:23-32 Believing the Message of Jesus (2014)
–        –        21:33-46 The Accountability of Stewards (2014)
–        22:01-14 Invited to the Son’s Wedding Feast (2008)
–        –        The Wedding Invitation (2014)
22:15-46 Examining His Examiners (2008)
–        22:15-22 Paying God What Belongs to God (2014)
–        22:34-46 The Condemnation and the Hope (2014)
23:01-32 The Verdict on the Bad Leaders (2008)
–        23:1-12 The Humility Required of Teachers (2014)
23:33—24:2 The Destruction of Jerusalem (2008)

B. The Coming in Glory of the Son of Man— chapters 24:3—25

(i) Before the Coming of the Son of Man in Glory— chapter 24:3-26

24:03-28 Don’t Be Distracted But Be Ready for the End of Things (2012)

(ii) When the Son of Man Comes in Glory— chapters 24:27—25
(a) The Redemption of Israel—chapter 24:27-31
(b) The Suddenness of His Coming in Glory—chapter 24:32-44

24:29-51 The Coming of the Son of Man in Power and Great Glory (2011)
–        24:36-44 The Lord Is Coming! (2013)

(c) The Judgement of the Disciples in Three Parables—chapter 24:45—25:30

25:01-30 The Believer’s Accountability and the Coming Again of Our Lord Jesus (2011)
–        25:01-13 Being Prepared for the Lord’s Delay (2014)
–        25:14-30 The Parable of the Talents (2014)

(d) How the Son of Man will Judge the Gentiles When He Comes in Glory—chapter 25:31-46

25:31-46 The Judgment of the Gentiles (2011)
–        The Judgment of the Gentiles (2014)

7. The Kenosis of the One to Come Brought to Its Depths— chapters 26—28
      (the accomplishing act of the overcoming-reign of the heavens)

A. The Path of Penitence Brought to Completion— chapters 26—27:56

26:1-35 Preparations
–        26:1-16 The Foyer of His Victory (2012)
–        26:17-35 The Passover of Christ (2012)
26:36-56 Christ’s Passion for Us (2008)
–        The Garden of Gethsemane (2012)
26:57-75 The Faithful and the Unfaithful (2008)
–        Confessing His Name: Jesus in the House of the High Priest (2008)
27:01-26 The Judgment for Our Salvation (2008)
–        Jesus Delivered Up to the Gentiles (2012)
27:27-44 Jesus Suffers at the Hands of Men (2012)
27:4528:1 Abandoned by God! (2008)
–        The Death and Burial of the Holy One (2012)

B. Burial— chapters 27:57-66

C. Resurrection: The Witness to His Rising and the Return to the Beginning— chapter 28

28:02-20 “He Is Risen!” (2008)
–        The Beginning (2012)
–        28:16-20 Faith in the Triune God (2014)
–        –        28:19 The Name into Which We Are Baptized Is the Form of Our Life (2016)

Additional Article on Matthew

The Goodness of God as Father in Matthew’s Gospel (2014)