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Introduction to the Gospel of Matthew



Let us start the Introduction to Matthew by doing an Introduction to Bible Study in General.


It is one thing for you to hear someone teach the Bible. It is another thing entirely to study the Bible yourself.


How to Study a Book of the Bible


·        Step 1 – Read the Book you intend to study a great many times for an overview and Initial Impressions.


·        While you are ‘Reading’ or are in the ‘read me’ phase you should:

o   Ask ‘who, what, when, where, why, and how questions.

§  Get a notebook and write down these questions.

§  Investigate them later.


·        You should ask questions like…

o   who is in this passage?

o   are they Jews or Gentiles or a combination?

o   what relation do they have with the author?

o   to whom was the passage written? (was it written to the church, does it apply to you?)

§  You would be amazed at how many people take Bible verses that weren’t written to them and try to apply them to everyone!

o   where and when did the passage take place?

o   why was it written?

o   what type of language was used?

§  Are you reading a command?

o   what are the key words and thoughts in the passage?

o   are any historical or cultural facts mentioned?

o   how does this apply to me?

§  Does it apply to me?

§  And if it does, how do I apply it?

·        You also want to be on the lookout for…

o   Emotions – ascertain the authors emotions – try reading the passage out loud.

§  Do you think Elijah was emotional when he challenged the false prophets of Baal in 1Kings 18 or was he matter of fact about the whole thing?

§  He was both emotional and sarcastic (he asked was their false god not available to answer their prayer because maybe he was using the restroom).

o   Repetition of words – look for words and phrases that repeat

§  Repetition means importance

§  If something is being repeated, that is a clue.

o   Contrasts – look for ideas, individuals, and/or items that are contrasted with each other. Look for differences.

§  Jesus in the Sermon On the Mount in Matthew 5-7 said, ‘You have heard that it has been said… but I say unto you…’

o   Comparisons – look for ideas, individuals, and/or items that are compared with each other.  Look also for similarities.

o   Lists – anytime the text mentions more than two items, identify them as a list.

o   Cause and Effect – look for cause and effect relationships

o   Figures of speech

o   Question and Answers – Note if the text is built on a question-and-answer format.

o   Dialogue – Note if the text includes dialogue. Identify who is speaking and to whom.


·        Basically what you are going to have to do is to slow down  when you read.

o   It is better to read one verse of scripture and understand what you are reading than it is to read 10 chapters and remain dumb.

o   One way to slow down is to…


·        Meditate on the passage you are reading


Psalm 1:1–3 (ESV)

1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 


o   use your sanctified imagination

o   put yourself in the author’s shoes as you read their writings

o   try to imagine their motives, feelings, settings, as they wrote.


·        Work out an annotated outline of the whole book [to be revised by further study]

o   Discover everything you can about the purpose.

o   does the author say anything explicitly about it?

o   What is implied?


·        Does this all sound like hard work?

o   Success in any area takes hard work.

o   Just because salvation is free, just because God gave ministry gifts to the church doesn’t mean we do not have to work at the things of God. So, I am challenging you in this area of YOUR PERSONAL BIBLE STUDY today because Christianity is not a spectator sport.

o   We are not supposed to just hang around Christianity and have everything handed to us.


o   Head out in this direction and understand that it will take hard work to be successful in this area.


·        Success is not a straight line proposition.


·        Let us look at the next phase and that is the art of reading scripture in context.

o   Stuff taken out of context is a major area to guard against both in your studies and in your listening to others teach the Bible.


·         Look at this often quoted verse in Matthew chapter 18.


Matthew 18:20 (ESV)

20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”


·        How many times have you heard this applied to a church service or a Christian gathering of some type?

o   Example, “There are only a few here today but it doesn’t matter Jesus is here because where two or three are gathered together, Jesus is right there in the midst.”

§  What does this line of thinking actually say? Are you saying, “If I am here in this room by myself, Jesus is not here with me – I need two or three to have His presence?”

o   This is a context problem – Matt. 18:20 has nothing to do with church services. Read the verse in context.


     Remember that a text without a context is a pretext

o   A pretext is a half-truth

o   A half-truth is a whole lie

o   How much trouble you get yourself into for believing a half-truth depends on which half you got a hold of!

     So when we are talking about context, look at pericopes – whole thoughts in scripture not just isolated verses but also look at things like…


·        Historical Context

o   Are there any other historical-cultural factors that might shed light on the book?

§  Geography – where did the passage take place?

§  Religious – what was the spiritual climate at the time the book was written?

§  Economic – what role did money play?

§  Legal – how did the laws of the land impact events?

§  Agricultural – what are the customs of rural life?

§  Architectural – what role did building science play in biblical events?

§  Domestics – what are the characteristics of everyday life?

§  Clothing – How did clothing affect biblical history?

§  Military – what role did military customs play?

§  Athletic – what role did the athletic games play?

§  Are there any other historical-cultural factors that might shed light on the book?


·        Basic Grammar

o   Shouldn’t we know who or what is the subject of the sentence?

o   What about verbs?

§  verbs are where the action is in biblical interpretation

§  What are the modifiers in the sentence? (adjectives and adverbs)

§  What are the conjunctions in the passage?

·        Conjunctions are connectives, joining words, thoughts or phrases.

·        Contrast – ‘but’ – Eph. 2:4

·        Comparison – ‘even as’ – Eph. 4:32

·        Correlation – ‘just as’ – Eph. 5:25

·        Reason – ‘therefore’ – Eph. 3:13

·        Result – ‘therefore’ – Eph. 2:19

·        Purpose – ‘that’ – Eph. 4:28

·        Conclusion – ‘therefore’ – Eph. 4:1

§  What are the independent and dependent clauses (prepositional and participal phrases etc.)

·        What about Word Definitions or Studies?

·        What about Cross References?

·        What about Commentaries?

o   Do you think your Pastor uses commentaries?

o   Just because you are Charismatic does not mean denominational people do not know things about God and the Bible.

o   I have always been determined to find out what other people know about the Bible.


·        This is some of the physical part of Bible study – it is not all there is to the story!!!

o   Many scholars end their study here

o   If you end your study here – you will dry up!


·        The role of the Holy Spirit – the spiritual part

o   Holy Spirit people know how to pray Ephesians 1 and get the Spirit of God involved in their studies.


Ephesians 1:16–19 (ESV)

16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might


·        Most Charismatics stop here.

·        It won’t work, to just pray though. You have to put ‘legs’ to your prayer

o   If you only pray and do not do the hard work of study, you will ‘blow up’.

·        When you pray and trust the Great Teacher, the Holy Spirit, AND study to show yourself approved, (you don’t dry up, or blow up, you GROW UP!)


·        You may look at all this and say ‘Wow, that is a lot of work!’

o   In this computerized microwave age, the things of God are still the same cost as they always have been.

o   MANY PEOPLE let others study the Bible for them!!!

o   How does all this apply to the Gospel of Matthew?


·        Let us take one of these line items above and apply it to the whole gospel of Matthew



o   That is let us ask “who, what, when, where, why, and how” questions.



·        A ‘WHAT’ question


Matthew 9:9 (ESV)

9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.


Mark 2:14 (ESV)

14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.


Luke 5:27 (ESV)

27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.”


·        What do we know about Matthew?

o   He had 2 names!

§  Levi is Matthew’s Jewish name

§  Matthew is his Christian name or his name after he was saved.

o   Before he was saved, he was Levi the tax collector.

o   After he was saved, he was Matthew the gospel writer!


·        A ‘WHY’ Question

o   WHY is this significant?

o   Matthew audience were Jewish believers

§  That is who Matthew was writing to

§  He was not writing to 21st century believers

§  He was writing to Jewish believers in the 1st century

o   Don’t you find that interesting that Matthew, writing to Jewish constituents, uses his Christian name and not his Jewish name?


·        A ‘WHAT’ Question

o   WHAT is the point?

o   The point Matthew is making to his Jewish readers is that there is a higher call than being Jewish in the flesh!


·        Another ‘WHAT’ Question

o   ‘WHAT’ is up with the job description Matthew?


Matthew 10:1–3 (ESV)

1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;


·        The other gospel writers, do not refer to Matthew as ‘Matthew the tax-collector’. Matthew only refers to himself that way.

o   ‘WHY’

·        Tax collecting was a position farmed out by the Roman government. Those involved in this business were allowed to, in addition to collecting the government tax, charge for their expenses.  This allowance, due fully to lack of Roman regulation, became a source of great abuse.  Tax collectors were wealthy because of this practice which further separated them from the rest of the common people, the majority of which were poor. It is a point of humility that though this group was classed with the dregs of society, Matthew did not forget where he came from as he uses this unpopular term ‘tax collector’ in reference to himself.

o   If that is the case, what do you suppose is Matthews level of understanding of the doctrine of righteousness?

o   What does tell you about the gospel writers?

§  It tells you that the gospel writers were in their infancy in understanding ‘What Happened to them the day they got saved!’

§  We have it in our minds that the writers of the Bible were perfect spiritually – they were people just like you.

·        It is interesting to note that Matthew was not classed as one of the elite spiritual leaders of the early church.

o   That honor belonged to Paul, Peter and John.

o   But of the four Gospels, Matthew’s was the most popular in the first several centuries of the church’s history.

·        And so, the honor of writing the gospel considered by many as one of the most influential was written by a relatively unknown tax collector who was in his infancy understanding what Jesus actually accomplished in His death, burial, and resurrection!


·        A ‘HOW’ question

o   ‘HOW’ do we know that the gospel of Matthew was written to Jewish believers?

§  The phrase ‘That it Might Be Fulfilled’.

·        occurs 13 times in this Gospel (Matt. 1:22, 2:15, 2:17, 2:23, 3:15, 4:14, 5:17, 8:17, 12:17, 13:35, 21:4, 26:56, 27:9).  These references tie the reader back to the Old Testament Messianic prophecies as proof that Jesus is the Promised One.

§  The Great Usage of Old Testament References

·        Old Testament References occurs 59 times throughout the gospel.

·        Matthew records twice as many Old Testament references as any of the other gospel writers.  In fact, he records as many references as Mark and Luke combined! 

§  The phrase ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ or Kingdom of God’

·        This phraseology occurs 38 times in 37 verses.  Nineteen additional times the naked word ‘kingdom’ appears bringing the total word usage to 57 times.

·        Mark uses it 15x

·        Luke’s gospel 33x

·        John’s gospel 2x

·        New Testament references outside the gospel – 16x.

·        The importance of this term in the understanding of this gospel should not be underestimated. With a ‘kingdom’, there must of necessity be a King.  Thus again Matthew points to the uniqueness of   Jesus Christ as Lord of the ‘kingdom of heaven’.

§  The word ‘Messiah’

·        The word occurs 18 times in Matthews gospel but significantly four times in the opening chapter (Mark 9x, Luke 14x, and John 21x) and most importantly in the opening line of the gospel; ‘The book of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah.’  


Matthew 1:1 (KJV)

1 THE book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.


Genesis 5:1 (KJV)

1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;


·        The opening to Matthew’s gospel is the same as Gen. 5:1, ‘…the book of the generations of Adam…’ drawing interesting parallels between the two passages.  Of which are….

o   Old testament versus New Testament

o   First Adam versus the second Adam

o   Fallen man versus Redeemer of Man

o   Created Son versus Begotten Son

·        The claim of Jesus Messiahship by Matthew is bold and to the point.  He wastes no time informing us by comparison that Adams genealogy is that of a backslidden race whereas Jesus heralds the beginning of a new race because He is the Anointed One (2Cor. 5:17) and because of the immeasurable anointing that is upon Him (Jn. 3:34) both identity and function being wrapped in the word Messiah.   

o   Matthew’s dual purpose is to show Jesus as the Messiah and fulfiller of Old Testament prophecy and to help establish a fledging congregation of Jewish Christians with His life and teachings.