Following The Master: An Introduction To The Gospel Of Matthew

stmatthew2This is the first of many posts that will come out each Tuesday where we will be exploring aspects of the biblical text. My goal is to provide brief explanations of a given passage and some application points to which I hope are helpful. If you have trouble sticking to a Bible reading plan it may be helpful to read along with us each week since we will be looking smaller portions of the text but will eventually through each book.

If there are questions about a particular passage that I didn’t address (which is bound to happen) please raise them in the comment section I will do my best to answer them.

This first post will be a basic overview of the biblical book so that as we read the text we will know some of the culture cues and “behind the scenes” action that the original audience would have assumed and incorporated into their understanding of the passages.

Next week will be looking at the importance of the genealogies in Matthew 1:1-17.

Author

It has been traditionally held that Jesus’ disciple Matthew (the former Jewish tax collector) is the author of this particular book.[1] It is seen as his account of Jesus’ life and ministry.

Location & Date

There is considerable debate as to exactly when and where the Gospel was written. However there seems to be a scholarly consensus that originated in an early Jewish-Christian community in Syria or Palestine[2] between A.D. 70-90.[3]

Intended Audience

The book seems to be primarily directed at Jews. The evidence for this is that Matthew appears to be familiar with the kind of teaching in the Mishnah and the Talmud.[4] Additionally he places great emphasis on the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy with one set of scholars citing 61 Old Testament quotations within the Gospel.[5] In terms of an overall message David Turner has provided a great description of Matthew’s intent when he writes, “The Gospel according to Matthew equipped its original Christian and Jewish readers with the teaching of Jesus the Messiah so that they might effectively spread the message of God’s reign to all the nations.”[6]

Who Cares?

This is all nice and good information but what’s the payout for knowing this?

The reward is a deeper insight into the biblical text. As one commentator said, it can be like the difference between watching television in color and in black and white. Historical and contextual issues help us understand issues that aren’t explicitly shown in the text but that the writer is addressing. For example since we know the approximate date of its writing we known that those who are reading it (Jewish-Christians in the Palestine/Syrian area) are very familiar with the Roman’s destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and may be wondering if God’s plan has failed since the Jewish temple (and Jerusalem) has been destroyed.

However Matthew’s answer is no because of Jesus’ fulfillment as the promised Messiah. He makes it clear that God’s plan was in fact coming to fruition by extending beyond Israel out to the entire world (Matt. 28:18-20). change

It Should Change Us

Paul says that the purpose of Scripture is to change us by training us in truth (2nd Timothy 3:16). As you read this next week take some time to pray and ask God to use His Word to change you by transforming you more and more into the image of His Son.


[1] R.T. France,  The Gospel of Matthew, p 15

[2] Ibid.

[3] Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, p 11

[4] Ibid, p 2

[5] Ibid, p 3

[6] David Turner, Baker Exegetical Commentary of the New Testament: Matthew, p 1

Advertisements

~ by simplesage on December 3, 2013.

2 Responses to “Following The Master: An Introduction To The Gospel Of Matthew”

  1. As a new Christian I found the Bible hard to understand… mainly because of the fact that I was never really exposed to it growing up or the teachings and stories it tells. After a couple years I still found it hard to understand all of its intentions and to this day still struggle sometimes with the fact that it’s intentions elude me. So coming from someone who does not read the Bible everyday, like I should, I appreciate this portion of the blog and am really encouraged to learn more than I have before by following along! Thanks… your ministry is a blessing!

  2. Hope it will be helpful SammyT!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: