Matthew’s Content

Matthew breaks his book into five purposeful, smaller sections, each beginning with a phrase similar to, “When Jesus had finished saying these things.” (7.28, 11.1, 1053, 19.1, 26.1). Each of Matthew’s books are made up of a narrative section and an instruction section.

Birth and Infancy 1.1-2.23
It is important to have roots. Matthew provided rooting for his readers. He showed the genealogy of Jesus as a display of the history of salvation for the Jewish nation. It had its peaks and valleys and Jesus was the highest pinnacle of the nation.

He compared Jesus and Moses. He provided some information that Luke does not provide like the account of the Virgin Birth which is one of the five great events which made up the life of Jesus. For Matthew, Jesus is the new Moses for the new Israel. He arranges his material to demonstrate how Jesus is the replacement for Moses.

Book One

Narrative: Invitation to Kingdom Life 3.1-4.25
The Kingdom of God (his rule in your life) calls one to make a commitment. Matthew’s first narrative shows Jesus proclaiming the rule of God in the lives of people through his teaching, preaching, and healing ministry.

Instruction: The Kingdom Way of Life The Sermon on the Mount – 5-7
These are three of the most powerful teaching chapters in Scripture. In them Jesus confirms for those new to the faith that there is a fundamental change in life when a decision to follow him is made. He confirms how his words and works fulfill and update the Law of the Old Testament (see Matthew 5.17.48). He taught about giving, prayer, fasting, planning for the future, worry, judging, and the difference between being wise or foolish.

Book Two

Narrative: The Works of the Kingdom 8.1-9.38
The healing ministry of Jesus is the focus of the narrative section of Book Two. The most natural thing for Jesus to do was to bring the rule of God from heaven and demonstrate it on earth. Jesus healed leprosy, individuals who were paralyzed, a fever-stricken mother-in-law, healed demonized people, raised the dead, and healed a blind and dumb person. The section ends with a call for everyone to go into the world and take the same message and works of healing to those ones the enemy had executed destruction.

Instruction: How To Have Authority 10.1-11.1
Jesus took his disciples aside and gave them the authority to do what he had just demonstrated in the previous section. He gave them instructions about the topic of authority in the context of their mission.

Book Three

Narrative: What the Kingdom Is NOT Like 11.2-12.50
Matthew begins Book Three by telling his readership what the Kingdom of God is not like. In order to understand what is real, one often needs to understand what is counterfeit.


Instruction: What the Kingdom Is Like-The Parables of the Kingdom 13.1-53

Parables are pictorial ways of illustrating truth. Jesus tells several parables about the Kingdom/Rule of God. The Sower demonstrates how the Rule of God will grow even though Satan may be its foe. The parable of the Weeds instructed his followers about the present and future of the Kingdom. When reading this section, keep in mind the idea of the Kingdom/Rule of God and keep asking yourself what do these parables tell you in a pictorial way about Godâ’s Rule.

Book Four

Narrative: Suffering, Miracles, Conflict 13.54-17.27
The intent of this narrative section is to show new believers that they will suffer and have conflict in the world because they have chosen to follow Jesus. The message of the section is that it is okay to suffer and have conflict in life.

Instruction: On Becoming Humble and Forgiving 18.1-35
Matthew teaches about humility and forgiveness in the midst of applying the Kingdom of God to life.

Book Five

Narrative: The Old Age and the Age to Come 19.1-23.39
In the final book, Matthew showed new believers how the Old Age and the New Age will collide in the practice of Christianity. The New Age of the Rule of God had already begun in the works and words of Jesus.

Instruction: The Future Kingdom 24-25
Jesus did not leave new converts in darkness about the future. He shares his thoughts in this final instruction section. The predominant question of the first century was no doubt the same as it is today among believers. How is everything going to work out? What Jesus told these first hearers and Matthew wrote for these first readers was different from what the popular belief about the coming of the Messiah was. The main thrust of this section is not to tell believers when he is returning, but to exhort them to be in a state of preparedness for his return. When will Jesus return is not disclosed in Scripture, regardless of how many newspapers one reads and assigns to prophetic fulfillment. The goal for believers is to be prepared.

Death, Resurrection, Final Instructions 26-28
The training manual of Matthew ends with the powerful stories about the death, resurrection and final instructions which Jesus gave his followers. These stories are profound because they are the events which secured our salvation.

Connection to the Old Testament
While not the first New Testament book written, Matthew stands at the beginning of the New Testament record as the bridge from the Old to the New. He is fond of quoting Old Testament Scripture as being fulfilled in Jesus. How he used Scripture in the quote-fulfillment scheme has led modern readers to the belief that they can just pick out any Old Testament passage and make it a fulfillment passage of the Old in the New. One must remember that Matthew was inspired by the Holy Spirit. His ability to quote and designate as fulfilled was a function of inspiration. We are not inspired today in this sense. We do have the illumination of the Holy Spirit who will help us be open to proper interpretation of Scripture and keep us from running head-long into a belief that would cause us harm.

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