Introduction to Matthew
Author, Date, and Recipients
Matthew was probably written in the late 50s or early 60s a.d. Matthew (also called Levi), the former tax collector who became Jesus’ disciple, is the author. The original audience may have been the church in Antioch of Syria. Its members included Jewish and Gentile Christians.
Matthew tells the story of Jesus of Nazareth, the long-expected Messiah who brought the kingdom of God to earth.
Matthew writes his Gospel to demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah, that he has the right to the throne of David as Israel’s true King, and that he is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be a blessing to all the world (1:1; Gen. 12:1–3). Matthew seeks to encourage Jewish Christians (and all future disciples) to stand strong despite opposition. They should feel secure in the knowledge of their citizenship in God’s kingdom. Matthew shows that Gentiles also can find salvation through Jesus the Messiah.
- Portrait of Jesus (1:1, 23; 2:2; 14:33; 16:16; 18:20; 21:5–9).
- The bridge between Old and New Testaments (1:1–17, 22–23; 2:4–5, 15, 17, 23; 5:17–20).
- God’s continuing work of salvation within Israel, extended to all the peoples of the earth through the person and work of Christ (10:5–6; 28:19).
- The new community of faith (11:28; 16:18–19; 28:19).
- The church as built and maintained by Jesus’ continuing presence (16:18; 18:15–20; 22:10; 28:20).
- A “great commission” for evangelism and mission (28:19).
- Jesus’ five teachings as a manual on discipleship (chs. 5–7; 10; 13; 18–20; 24–25).
- The Arrival of Jesus the Messiah (1:1–2:23)
- John the Baptist Prepares for the Messianic Kingdom (3:1–17)
- Jesus the Messiah Begins to Advance the Messianic Kingdom (4:1–25)
- The Authoritative Message of the Messiah: Kingdom Life for His Disciples (5:1–7:29)
- The Authoritative Power of the Messiah: Kingdom Power Demonstrated (8:1–9:38)
- The Authoritative Mission of the Messiah’s Messengers (10:1–42)
- Opposition to the Messiah Increases (11:1–12:50)
- The Messianic Kingdom Revealed in Parables (13:1–53)
- The Identity of the Messiah Revealed (13:54–16:20)
- The Suffering of the Messiah Revealed (16:21–17:27)
- The Community of the Messiah Revealed (18:1–20:34)
- The Messiah Asserts His Authority over Jerusalem (21:1–23:39)
- The Delay, Return, and Judgment of the Messiah (24:1–25:46)
- The Crucified Messiah (26:1–27:66)
- The Resurrection and Commission of the Messiah (28:1–20)
The Setting of Matthew
The events in the book of Matthew take place almost entirely within the vicinity of Palestine, an area extending roughly from Caesarea Philippi in the north to Beersheba in the south. During this time it was ruled by the Roman Empire. The opening chapters describe events surrounding Jesus’ birth in Judea, where Herod had been appointed king by the Romans. The closing chapters end with Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension during the rule of Pontius Pilate and the tetrarchs Antipas and Philip.