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A Journey Through Matthew (pt 1)

Updated: Feb 12

When someone comes to saving faith in Jesus Christ, inevitably the first questions asked are, “How do I learn more about Jesus?” and “Where do I start reading in my Bible?”  Some encourage, and I believe wrongly, to start at the beginning, Genesis, and read chronologically to the end, Revelation. Few point them to the writings of Paul and his epistles. Even fewer direct new believers to applicable books like James, Psalms, and Corinthians. Dreadfully some push new believers into the deep end starting with the apocalyptic books like Daniel or Revelation. However, the majority point people to the Gospels and I believe this is the best place to start. Why?  Because it is in the Gospels, we can grow in our understanding of Jesus’s life, ministry, and message. Now, today will serve as a general introduction of Matthew’s Gospel. and I encourage you to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you, challenge you, and transform you to become more like our Lord, savior, and King, Jesus.


The Gospels are the first four books of the New Testament and all four are accounts of Jesus’ earthly ministry through his death There are two-types of Gospel accounts, both are canonical (authoritative) they just have different structure.

  1. The Synoptic Gospels – These include the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. They are called synoptic because they include many of the same stories, often in a similar sequence and in similar or sometimes identical wording.

  2. The Gospel of John - John’s Gospel differs from the Synoptic Gospels in several ways: it covers a different time span than the others; it locates much of Jesus’ ministry in Judaea; and it portrays Jesus speaking at length on theological matters. The major difference, however, lies in John’s overall purpose. John wrote his gospel to convince people that Jesus is the Messiah, but his gospel also strengthens the faith of those who already know that Jesus is the Messiah.

The Gospel of Matthew one of the most widely read and frequently used Gospels in the foundational years of the early church. One of the main reasons why this it is so attractive to so many is because of the verification that Jesus Christ is, in fact, the long-awaited Messiah of Israel, who has brought salvation to Israel and to all nations.

Authorship of The Gospel of Matthew

None of the gospel writers states their name explicitly within the text of their Gospel writings. All of them were compiling stories of Jesus for churches of which they were active participants.

Nevertheless, the authors of all the Gospels likely stood in the assembly of believers to read their Gospel accounts themselves, so to attach their names to their account as authors would have been unnecessary, however It is wise to look back at church history to determine the authorship of the Gospels. Regarding Matthew’s Gospel the earliest church traditions undeniably ascribe the first Gospel to Matthew the Tax collector, and it is commonly believed he wrote this Gospel in Hebrew. Early Greek Apostolic Father Bishop Papias of Hierapolis (60 Ad to 130 AD) is believed to be the one who is the earliest to mention Matthew as author, he writes, “Matthew wrote down the sayings in the Hebrew dialect, and each man translated as he was able.”


Who was Matthew?

The disciple Matthew was a tax collector called by Jesus Christ (Matthew 9:9). He was also known as Levi the tax collector (Luke 5:27).  As a tax collector he would have been trained in secular scribal techniques, and as a Jewish Christian he would have been able to interpret the life of Jesus from the Old Testament expectations.


In Mark's Gospel we read that there were among Jesus’ followers many tax collectors and sinners (Mark 2:15 – 15). Jesus was criticized for his association with tax collectors and sinners.  But in this account Jesus not only associates with tax collectors, but he calls the tax collector, Matthew, to follow Him as a disciple.  In response to the criticism he faced, Jesus informs the religious leaders it is not the healthy who need healing, but the sick (Mark 2:16 -17). When Jesus called Matthew, we are told that he rose and immediately followed him and leaving his life behind to follow the savior.


We do not know much more about Matthew, but we can make some strong assumptions about him.

  1. He was a faithful follower/learner of Jesus Christ.  He is always mentioned among the 12 disciples throughout the Gospels and Acts.

  2. He was present at Pentecost (Acts 1:13).

  3. He was an eye-witness account in his Gospel.



Matthew does not write this gospel to have people engage with his theology, but rather to engage with Jesus[1] He tells his story of the fresh and decisive action of God in and through Jesus. In his genealogy Jesus is introduced from the beginning as the Messiah, the heir to the promises of Israel’s throne through King David and the promises of blessings through Abraham.  His gospel becomes a manual, of sorts, on discipleship, as both Jews and Gentiles begin to follow Jesus and learn to obey all his commands.


Key Distinctions

  1. Matthews Gospel provides a natural bridge between the Old and New Testament.  He shows repeatedly that the Old Testament hopes, prophecies, and promises are filled through the person and ministry of Jesus.  The early church probably placed Matthew as the first Gospel because it was a bridge between Testaments.

  2. Matthew’s Gospel emphasizes the promises of salvation to the particular people of Israel and the fulfillment of the universal promise of salvation to all peoples of the world (Gentile). Matthew points to Jesus’ intention to go first to the lost sheep of Israel and he also points to the promises made to Abraham that he would be a blessing to all nations as Jesus extends salvation to the Gentiles.

  3. Matthews Gospel gives a focused perspective on Jesus being the promised king of Israel and came to inaugurate the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom did not look like the Kingdoms of the time nor what we would imagine it would look like today.  Jesus centers on establishing the Kingdom of God that has come through his first advent but will not come to full fruition until his second advent when He comes to rule and reign for all of eternity as Lord, Savior, and King. Jesus proclaims the imminent arrival of the kingdom of heaven. God now intends to establish afresh his rule among his people. If people are to be ready for this development, then repentance is urgent and necessary.[2]

  4. Matthew’s Gospel shows a new community of faith in the pagan Roman world.  This community has a large membership of Jewish Christians who are familiar with Jewish customs, activities, and temple practices. But it also has a large group of Gentile Christians, who are discovering their faith through God’s promise of salvation. This new community of faith goes beyond the borders of ethnic, and religious barriers and finds unity in faith and obedience to Jesus Christ.

  5. Matthew’s Gospel places Jesus Christ as the head of this community of faith and continues with his ongoing presence.  Matthew is the only Gospel writer to use the term ekklesia, which means, gathering, and eventually becomes the term designated for the Church. Matthew establishes Jesus as the one who builds, grows, and sustains the church.

  6. Matthew inaugurates the commission of Jesus to “go and make disciples of all nations”. This commission is unique to Matthew’s Gospel as it establishes the model and call to discipleship. The “great commission” has been the heart of discipleship and missionary effort throughout church history.

  7. Lastly, Matthew’s Gospel discloses the five discourses to discipleship found in chapters 5 – 7 (Sermon the mount), 10 (mission-driven disciples), 13 (Parables), 18 (The Kingdom), and 24 – 25 (Olivet Discourse/ Jesus’ return).



I am excited for this journey we will take together as we look at the life of Jesus Christ through the writings of the disciple Matthew. This will not be a verse-by-verse series, but more of an overview of the Gospel account. My encouragement to everyone is that we take on the attitude of worship during this new series and new year. This worship is not just the mindset of singing songs of worship, but in the posture of giving worship to our King, our Lord, and our Savior, Jesus Christ as we honor him, obey him, and proclaim him Lord and Savior of our lives. 

[1] John Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2005), 38.

[2] John Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2005), 39.

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