Background for the Gospel of Matthew

Synoptic (from the Greek meaning similar)

About 80% of the Gospel of Mark appears in Matthew, but half of Matthew’s Gospel does not appear in Mark.

Four Source Hypothesis for Matthew and Luke – Mark, Q, M and L

Material in Matthew not found in Mark:

1.  Infancy stories

2.  Sermons

3.  Two miracles (8:5-13 and 12:22-23)

Target Audience for Matthew – Jews and Gentiles

Major theme – Jesus is the Jewish Messiah (and more!).

Authorship – Historically identified as Matthew the Apostle, but anonymous in the text.

Date – 80-90 AD

Why is Matthew first in the NT? - Gospel par excellence for teaching

Outline of the book

Origins and Infancy of Jesus(1-2)

Part One:  Proclamation of the Kingdom

  • Narrative: John the Baptist, baptism of Jesus, temptation, Galilee (3-4)
  • Discourse: Sermon on the Mount (5-7)

Part 2:  Ministry and Mission in Galilee

  • Narrative mixed with short dialogue: nine miracles (8-9)
  • Discourse: Mission Sermon (10)

Part 3:  Questioning of and Opposition to Jesus

  • Narrative setting for teaching and dialogue: Jesus and John the Baptist, woes, thanksgiving, Sabbath, Jesus’ family (11-12)
  • Discourse:  Sermon in Parables (13:1-52)

Part 4:  Jesus and the Church

  • Narrative mixed with much dialogue: feeding the 5,000, walking on water, Pharisees, feeding the 4,000, Peter’s confession, transfiguration, passion predictions (13-17)
  • Dialogue:  Sermon on the church (18)

Part 5:  Journey to and Ministry in Jerusalem

  • Narrative mixed with much dialogue: teaching, judgment parables, passion prediction, Palm Sunday, temple cleansing, conflict with authorities (19-23)
  • Discourse:  End of Times Sermon (24-25)

Climax: Passion, Death and Resurrection (26-28)

Major Themes for Matthew

1.  Fulfillment of OT Scriptures – 2:6, 18

2.  Virgin Birth – 1:18-25. 

3.  Christology (or, “Who is Jesus?”) - Jesus as Son of Man and Son of God, Emmanuel, co-equal with Father and Spirit in 28:19.  Also, Jesus as the fulfillment of Moses and David.

4.  Ecclesiology (or, “What is the church?”) – 16:18-19, 18.  Papacy?

5.  Eschatology” (or, “What happens at the end?”) – 24-25. 

6.  Jesus as an ethical teacher – Sermon on the Mount, etc.  20th Century context?  “Challenge” of the kingdom of God.

Reflection Questions

Reflect on both the miraculous (i.e. the virgin birth) and the ethical (i.e. love your enemies) in Matthew.  Which is more challenging for you, and why?

The early church listed Matthew first in the Gospels because it so powerfully captures the teachings of Jesus, while still preserving his mighty works and his death and resurrection.  What would we lose if we had the teachings of Christ, but not the stories of his mighty power?  What would we lose if we had the stories of his miracles and resurrection, but no records of his instructions?