Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Overview of Matthew

As I begin to look at the study of Matthew, I want to take several posts to gain a bird's eye view of the entire book. This post I will give some introductory thought and then the next few posts will reveal the main sections throughout Matthew.

To begin with, I hold to the traditional view which says the disciple Matthew is the author of this Gospel. This disciple was also called Levi and who was the son of Alphaeus (Mark 2:14) It is interesting to me to note that the call of Matthew (found in the previous verse) is the only call of a disciple in which only one person is called. We read of Peter and Andrew's call (Matt 4:18-20) and James and John's call (Matt 4:21-22). Matthew's call is the only recorded call where he is alone. This may go to show how much of an outcast his profession made him to his fellow Jews (Mark 2:14) or it may mean nothing at all. I just find it interesting.

I also believe Matthew was writing to Jews. There are many proofs of Matthew's audience throughout the book but a few of the specific items which I would focus on is first the lineage which Matthew starts his Gospel. The evangelist starts by showing that Jesus was from the line of Abraham and from the line of David. Second, Matthew uses the Old Testament in a very specific manner. That would be to show that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies (more will be said about this in upcoming posts). Finally, the focus on Jesus being the King and that His Kingdom has come is a significant characteristic of his Gospel which shows his audience are Jews.

The last thing I will discuss on the overview of Matthew is that I identify eight distinct sections which make up the whole of his book (these divisions of the book are something of a mix of my thoughts and those from different commentaries). In each of these sections, there is a large narrative section in which the story of Jesus is unfolded. Additionally, there is a section of significant discourse in each of these sections. The only exception to this is the section on the passion of Christ which does not have an extended discourse but is mostly all action. Finally, in each discourse found in each section there is challenge issued to the readers. These will be identified in the upcoming posts.

The next several posts will continue the overview of Matthew but will look a bit more closely at these eight sections.