Introduction to Matthew’s Gospel

During the first years after the resurrection of Jesus there were thousands of Jesus followers who were born into the many new churches that had started. One of these was the church at Antioch in Syria (Acts 1.19). As a result of the ministry of the Holy Spirit there was many new believers who came to faith (Acts 11.21). Barnabas was sent to Antioch from Jerusalem when news arrived about the move of God in the church at Antioch. By himself, he was not able to handle the influx of all these new followers of Jesus. He sought out Saul (later called Paul) in his hometown of Tarsus and brought him back to Antioch to help with the task of training this new influx.

During the following years the church at Antioch kept bringing new people to faith in Jesus. Two decades after the birth of the church, Matthew wrote his book to provide material for the ongoing stream of new Jesus followers. He wanted these people to understand about Jesus, the new Moses for the new Israel, the church.

At the conclusion of his book, he furnishes a clue about his intention. In the conclusion of his book he tells the story of the command of Jesus for his disciples to make disciples by baptizing them and teaching them. Matthew took the teaching part of this story to heart. He produced a book to help new believers and not-so-new believers to understand who Jesus was and how to walk out their new found faith in their Christian life.

To demonstrate to his readership that Jesus was really the new Moses for the new Israel, the church, he used subtle but very obvious comparisons between Moses and Jesus. He told the story about the attempted murder of Jesus by killing all the infants under the age of two (Exodus 1.22 compared with Matthew 2.16). When Matthew presents Jesus teaching on the mount, it is a comparison to Moses receiving the Law on Mount Sinai. In Luke, Jesus delivers the same sermon on a plane. The most obvious comparison is the five teaching books in which Matthew structures his book. You will see the outline anon, which demonstrates how he did this. The goal of Moses in his five books: to train the children of Israel. Matthew’s goal: to train new converts.

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