( All scripture is from NLT )
AS the motorcade slowly winds through the city, thousands pack the sidewalks hoping to catch a glimpse. Marching bands with great fanfare announce the arrival, and protective agents scan the crowd and run alongside the limousine. Pomp, ceremony, protocol—modern symbols of position and evidences of importance—herald the arrival of a head of state. Whether they are leaders by birth or election, we honor and respect them.
The Jews waited for a leader who had been promised centuries before by prophets. They believed that this leader—the Messiah (“anointed one”)—would rescue them from their Roman oppressors and establish a new kingdom. As their king, he would rule the world with justice. However, many Jews overlooked prophecies that also spoke of this king as a suffering servant who would be rejected and killed. It is no wonder, then, that few recognized Jesus as the Messiah. How could this humble carpenter’s son from Nazareth be their king? But Jesus was and is the King of all the earth!
Matthew (Levi) was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples. Once he was a despised tax collector, but his life was changed by this man from Galilee. Matthew wrote this Gospel to his fellow Jews to prove that Jesus is the Messiah and to explain God’s Kingdom.
Matthew begins his account by giving Jesus’ genealogy. He then tells of Jesus’ birth and early years, including the family’s escape to Egypt from the murderous Herod and their return to Nazareth. Following Jesus‘ baptism by John (3:16-17) and his defeat of Satan in the wilderness, Jesus begins his public ministry by calling his first disciples and giving the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5–7). Matthew shows Christ’s authority by reporting his miracles of healing the sick and the demon-possessed, and even raising the dead.
Despite opposition from the Pharisees and others in the religious establishment (chapters 12–15), Jesus continued to teach concerning the Kingdom of Heaven (chapters 16–20). During this time, Jesus spoke with his disciples about his imminent death and resurrection (16:21) and revealed his true identity to Peter, James, and John (17:1-5). Near the end of his ministry, Jesus entered Jerusalem in a triumphant procession (21:1-11). But soon opposition mounted, and Jesus knew that his death was near. So he taught his disciples about the future—what they could expect before his return (chapter 24) and how to live until then (chapter 25).
In Matthew’s finale (chapters 26–28), he focuses on Jesus’ final days on earth—the Last Supper, his prayer in Gethsemane, the betrayal by Judas, the flight of the disciples, Peter’s denial, the trials before Caiaphas and Pilate, Jesus’ final words on the cross, and his burial in a borrowed tomb. But the story does not end there, for the Messiah rose from the dead—conquering death and then telling his followers to continue his work by making disciples in all nations.
As you read this Gospel, listen to Matthew’s clear message: Jesus is the Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Celebrate his victory over evil and death, and make Jesus the Lord of your life.
MATTHEW ( The Person )
Matthew was the son of Alphaeus and a tax collector by occupation. He was chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve apostles and is credited with the authorship of the Gospel of Matthew.
Matthew is listed in each of the four rosters of the twelve (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). Aside from these lists, Matthew is mentioned only in the account of his calling (Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:13-14; Luke 5:27). Before his apostolic call, the Gospels refer to Matthew as Levi (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27; compare Matthew 9:9). The identity of Levi as Matthew is beyond all doubt. It is improbable that Matthew was the brother of James the Less, whose father was also named Alphaeus (10:3), since this fact would have been mentioned in the record of Scripture, as it is in the cases of Peter and Andrew and the sons of Zebedee.
Matthew served King Herod Antipas in Capernaum of Galilee, collecting tariffs on goods passing on the road from Damascus to the Mediterranean Sea. To function in this capacity Matthew would have been an educated man, acquainted with the Greek language as well as the native Aramaic, thus qualifying him to write the Gospel of Matthew. As a tax collector, Matthew may have been a man of wealth, but this occupation also caused him to be despised by the Jews and to be considered among the lowest of people. The Pharisees consistently spoke of tax collectors in the same breath with sinners (Matthew 11:19; Mark 2:16; Luke 7:34; 15:1).
Matthew was called while he was working at his tax booth. Jesus passed by on the road and said to him, “Follow me” (Mark 2:14). Matthew left everything and followed (Luke 5:28). Immediately he gave Jesus a great banquet at his house, and a large crowd of his fellow tax collectors and others were there to enjoy it. It was at this feast that the Pharisees and their scribes made the well-known complaint, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” (5:30, margin).
It is not certain when Matthew was called, but it is probable that the first six disciples were present on that day, since the Pharisees complained to Christ’s disciples during Matthew’s feast. Unlike the first men Jesus called, Matthew was not originally a follower of John the Baptist.
MATTHEW, GOSPEL OF
First Gospel and first book of the NT.
Nowhere does the text of Matthew itself clearly identify the author. Yet, as did the ancient church, we may ascribe authorship to Matthew the apostle. He was otherwise known as Levi (see Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27, 29). Before Jesus called him, he was a tax collector (Matthew 9:9 ff.). It is interesting to note that Matthew called himself a tax collector, while none of the other Gospel writers did. Perhaps he did this to show how great an ascendancy he had been granted when the Lord called him, for tax collectors were despised and considered the lowest of people. The Gospel itself bears the impress of one knowledgeable of currency, for the Gospel writer speaks quite specifically about a two-drachma tax (Matthew 17:24), a four-drachma coin (verse 27), and the various talents (18:24; 25:15 ff.).
DATE AND PROVENANCE
Scholars are divided about the date when Matthew was written primarily because there is still debate about which Gospel was first written: Matthew or Mark. If Mark was written before Matthew, then Matthew was very indebted to Mark for a great deal of material, and vice versa. Those who argue for Matthew’s priority do so on the basis that Matthew’s Gospel was (1) recognized in the early church as the first Gospel, (2) written to those who first needed a written account— the Jews, and (3) placed first in the NT canon. Whether it preceded or followed Mark, most scholars are certain that it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem (AD 70) because the temple is spoken of as still standing (Matthew 24:15). Irenaeus indicated that Matthew wrote this Gospel while Peter and Paul were in Rome. This would make the time of writing in the 60s.
Matthew wrote to a community of Greek- speaking Jewish Christians, located in a center such as Antioch in Syria. The community was surrounded and beset by Jews hostile to the claims of Jesus and the Christian community.
Matthew wrote as a Jew for Jews. In Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew contends, the OT reached its appointed goal. Jesus is the Messiah of Israel’s expectation. In the opening chapter Matthew identifies him as “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (1:1), indeed as “God with us” (verse 23). In later chapters Jesus is revealed as the Son of Man of Daniel 7 and the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. Throughout the book (Matthew 1:22–27:10) the events of Jesus’ life are represented as the “fulfillment” of OT prophecies. He comes to offer Israel salvation from sin (1:21). Nevertheless, the Jews have rejected him as their Messiah, and have thus placed themselves in the most perilous position (11:20-24; 21:33-46). One explanation for Israel’s rejection of Jesus is the failure of the Jewish religious leadership to prepare the people for his coming. In the strongest language, Matthew denounces the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. They have forsaken the Word of God in favor of their own traditions (chapter 15).
TEACHING THE CHURCH
Matthew also wrote as a Christian for Christians. He presents Jesus as a new Moses, indeed as Yahweh incarnate, expounding his own law for his people (chapter 5), now newly constituted around his person under the leadership of the apostles (10:2-4; 16:18-19; 23:8-10). If the Christian church is to function properly, the teaching of the Messiah on a host of moral and spiritual issues must be taken with utmost seriousness (chapters 5–7, 18). To aid this purpose, Matthew takes the form of a theological textbook or a handbook for the church, to instruct the people of God concerning the person and work of Jesus. That these teachings may be more readily and firmly grasped, Matthew presents them in a highly organized and memorable way. To facilitate the learning of the material, he arranges Jesus’ teachings in five major discourses (interlocked with narrative portions) in which teachings of the same kind are clustered together (e.g., chapter 10 consists of a charge to missionaries, and chapter 13 consists of seven parables of the kingdom). Matthew’s leading theological themes may be identified as the Son of God (Jesus is Yahweh incarnate, “God with us”), the kingdom of God (in Jesus, God is invading history to inaugurate his final rule), the salvation of God (as the servant-king, Jesus has come to “save his people from their sins,” 1:21), and the people of God (Jesus has come to build his church, a redeemed community consisting of both Jews and Gentiles).
THE COMING OF THE SAVIOR (1:1–2:23)
His name reveals his mission: “Jesus” (1:1) means “Yahweh saves.” He is “the son of Abraham,” who comes to fulfill God’s ancient promises to Jews and Gentiles (Genesis 12:1-3). He is “Christ [or Messiah],” the son of David (Matthew 1:1), who comes to inaugurate the kingdom of God (4:17). More than that, as evidenced both by prophecy (1:22-23) and by the nature of his conception (verses 18-20), he is “God with us”—now come to “save his people from their sins” (verse 21). As the son of David, and in accord with prophecy, he is born in Bethlehem (2:1-6). Drawn by the star of Israel’s Messiah (cf. Numbers 24:17), Gentiles come to worship him (Matthew 2:1-12). When Herod seeks to destroy him, Jesus finds sanctuary in a gentile land; God’s calling his Son from Egypt marks the beginning of a mighty saving work—nothing less than a new exodus under Jesus, the new Moses (verses 13-20). Having been born in the humblest of circumstances, Jesus now comes to live in Nazareth (verses 21-23).
THE BEGINNINGS OF MINISTRY (3:1–4:25)
In face of the judgment that Jesus is about to execute (as evidence of the kingdom’s arrival), John the Baptist calls Israel to repentance (3:1-12). Jesus’ submission to John’s baptism, and the voice from heaven, show him to be a King who serves his subjects by taking their sins upon himself (verses 13-17). Like Israel at the exodus, Jesus is led into the wilderness for a period of testing (4:1). When the devil seeks to turn him away both from God and from his appointed mission, Jesus gains victory by depending upon God and his Word (verses 1-11). Returning to Galilee, Jesus deliberately settles in territory with both Jewish and Gentile inhabitants (verses 12-16) and begins a ministry of preaching (like John, he calls for repentance in face of the dawning kingdom), teaching (he calls his first disciples), and healing (verses 17-25).
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT (5:1–7:29)
Just as Moses ascended Sinai to receive God’s law for Israel, so Jesus— as both the new Moses and as God incarnate—ascends the mountain to set forth his instruction for the citizens of the kingdom of God (5:1-2). He begins with gospel (not law), declaring that God shall surely save those who—beset by sin—trust in God’s mercy, obey his commands, and long for him to establish his righteous rule in the earth (verses 3-12). Toward that end, disciples are a preservative (salt) and a witness (light) in a sinful society (verses 13-16). As the one who has come not to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to bring them to completion (i.e., to usher in the new age to which the OT pointed—verse 17), Jesus calls his disciples to steadfast obedience to God’s law as now expounded by the Lawgiver himself (verses 18-20). God’s commands embrace inner desires as well as outward actions, must not be watered down or rationalized, and call for more radical obedience than ever before, now that the end has come (verses 21-48). In their giving, praying, and fasting, disciples are to combat hypocrisy by God-centeredness and self-forgetfulness (6:1-18). The Lord’s Prayer (verses 9-13) calls upon God to honor his name by establishing his rule on earth, and to pardon, protect, and provide for his children. Given this prayer, and given the disciples’ God-centered view of reality (verses 19-24), there is no cause for anxiety (verses 25-34). Disciples must be discerning without being judgmental (7:1-6), and depend on God for the power needed to love others (6:7-12). Having completed his exposition of the law (5:21–7:12), Jesus now calls would-be disciples to follow him (7:13-14), warns against false teachers (verses 15-20), and insists that true disciples do God’s will (verses 21-23).
THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS (8:1–9:38)
Having given his authority verbal expression in teaching (7:28-29), Jesus now gives it visible expression in a series of healing miracles, again revealing himself as the servant of Isaiah (8:17). He heals a leper, a centurion’s servant, and a bleeding woman by his word (8:1-13; 9:20-22). His touch dispels a fever and raises a dead person (8:14-15; 9:23-25). A combination of word and touch cures the blind (9:27-31). As “God with us,” Jesus calls for unqualified allegiance (8:18-22). Though lacking even the natural protection enjoyed by animals (verse 20), he demonstrates his sovereignty over the natural world—and thus his deity—by calming the storm (verses 23-27). In direct confrontations with demons, he shows his superiority over them (8:28-34; 9:32-33). Exercising God’s own authority, he declares sins forgiven (9:1-8) and calls sinners to repentance and to discipleship (verses 9-13). Joy over the kingdom’s inauguration is mingled with longing for its consummation (verses 14-17). The summary of 9:35-38 echoes 4:23-25, recalls chapters 5–7, and prepares for the next major discourse.
JESUS’ CHARGE TO THE MISSIONARIES (10:1-42)
In response to the prayers that he has commanded, Christ now invests 12 disciples with apostolic authority and sends them out into his harvest field (9:37–10:4). The discourse speaks both of the apostles’ immediate mission (10:5-15) and of the church’s broader mission (verses 16-42). For now, the apostles are to concentrate on evangelizing Jews (verse 6), in preparation for the mission to Gentiles (28:19). The “worthy” are those who welcome the apostles and their message; the “unworthy,” those who reject them (10:11-15). In the broader mission, there is sure to be persecution (verses 16-19, 24-25), but this will actually aid the witness (verses 17-23). God will save his faithful missionaries (verses 19-23) but judge those who oppress them and who disown Christ (verses 26-39). A sure reward awaits both the herald and the recipient of the message (verses 37-42).
CHRIST THE LORD (11:1–12:50)
The judgment John predicted is already under way; one’s stand in the last judgment would be determined by his response to the words and works of Jesus (11:2-6). Like his herald, Jesus meets with widespread hostility and indifference (verses 7-19). Given the finality of the grace attending his ministry, those who reject him will suffer the severest judgment (verses 20-24). Yet there are others—the lowly, the burdened, the teachable—who learn (by revelation from God the Father and God the Son) that the “Lord of heaven and earth” is also the “gentle and humble” God who comes to give rest to those who trust in him (verses 25-30). As the one who ushers in the new age (12:6), Jesus claims that he is the Lord of the Sabbath (verses 1-8). True rest (11:29) comes to those who come to Jesus.
Viewing Jesus as the destroyer of the Sabbath, the Pharisees ascribe his miraculous powers to Satan (12:22-24). On the contrary, says Jesus, the rule he is inaugurating is crushing Satan’s empire (verses 25-29). To reject this truth in the full awareness of what one is doing is to commit the unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit (verses 30-32); the words of Jesus’ accusers expose them as persons destined for condemnation (verses 33-37). The requested sign from heaven will not be given. Jesus’ resurrection is the only sign they need.
THE PARABLES OF THE KINGDOM (13:1-58)
This, the third of Matthew’s five great discourses, contains seven parables. In the parable of the sower, four kinds of soil— hard, shallow, cluttered, and fruitful—illustrate the various responses to Jesus’ preaching (13:3-9, 18-23). As those who have received Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom (4:17), the disciples are given more light, but the crowds must accept that initial proclamation before further light is given (13:10-17, 34-35). In both the parable of the weeds (verses 24-30, 36-43) and the parable of the net (verses 47-50), Jesus assures his disciples that the final judgment will separate true believers from false, and warns against hasty, premature judgments (cf. 7:1-5). The parables of the mustard and the yeast (13:31-33) contrast the smallness of the kingdom’s inauguration with the fullness of its consummation. The parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl (verses 44-46) depict the kingdom as a value far surpassing all others (cf. 6:33). Thus illuminated by Jesus, disciples have new treasures to add to their old (13:51-52). The people of Nazareth, on the contrary, echo the crowds’ lack of understanding and the Pharisees’ hostility (verses 53-58).
SPIRITUAL CONFLICT (14:1–16:12)
In 14:1-12 the preaching of John exposes the weakness of Herod, and the beheading of John anticipates the crucifixion of Jesus (cf. 17:12). The true king is not Herod but Jesus. He is sovereign over nature itself (14:13-36)—God incarnate, “God with us,” who feeds the hungry multitude in the wilderness (as God once provided manna) and walks upon and calms the sea (see Psalm 89:9). Peter models Christians’ faith, fear, and utter dependence on Jesus (Matthew 14:28-31). The Pharisees and teachers of the law appear to worship God but in fact are devoted to their own traditions, which they offer not as supplements but as rivals to the Word of God (15:1-9). In verses 10-20 Jesus teaches both that ceremonial law apart from moral law becomes empty ritual, and that the old distinction between clean and unclean foods (Leviticus 11) is now as obsolete as the distinction between Jews and Gentiles. To underscore the point, Jesus enters pagan territory, heals a Canaanite (15:21-28) and feeds a Gentile multitude (verses 29-39). Pharisees and Sadducees, for all their differences, are united in their opposition to Jesus (16:1-12).
THE COMING SALVATION (16:13–17:27)
Going beyond the crowds’ respectful but inadequate estimates, Peter confesses Jesus to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God”—
a recognition of Jesus’ deity granted by divine revelation (16:13-17; cf. 11:25-26). As it is God the Son who possesses and builds the church, Satan and death are victims rather than victors. Jesus will build his church on Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. The apostles’ prohibiting and granting entry into the church (“binding” and “loosing,” respectively) depends upon the prior decision of heaven (i.e., God’s revelation of apostolic teaching). In face of Peter’s confession and the persistent false notions of messiahship (16:20, 23), Jesus now (for the first time) predicts his sufferings and coming glory (verses 21-28). In anticipation of that glory, Jesus is transfigured before certain disciples; Moses and Elijah join God the Father in bearing witness to the unique splendor of God the Son (17:1-8). Jesus then demonstrated his power by combating demonic powers (verses 14-18) and exhibited his authority by choosing to pay the temple tax using miraculous means (verses 24-27).
GREATNESS IN THE KINGDOM (18:1-35)
In this, the fourth of Matthew’s five great discourses, Jesus concentrates on the character and attitudes of church members. He calls upon his followers both to become and to welcome the lowliest (18:1-5). Leaders especially are enjoined to deal harshly with themselves but gently with those under their care (verses 6-9). Remembering the Father’s love for sinners, Christians are to make every effort (both by prayer and by personal initiative) to restore offending brothers, with excommunication being the last resort (verses 10-20). Church members who really understand the Father’s amazing grace will never stop offering forgiveness and compassion to those who wrong them (verses 21-35).
INSTRUCTIONS ON THE WAY TO JERUSALEM (19:1–20:34)
Given God’s creation ordinances, says Jesus, divorce itself is never commanded; it is only permitted in the case of sin—that is, where the marital bond has already been severed through infidelity (19:1-9). As in 5:17-48, Jesus calls his followers to radical obedience (19:10-12). Besides instructing disciples to become like children (18:1-4), Jesus embraces children themselves with his love (19:13-15). He appeals likewise to the rich young man (verses 16-22); but the man, while faithful to the commands about love of neighbor, is too bound by his wealth to give himself unreservedly to loving God. Yet those who abandon all to follow Jesus will receive wealth untold in the coming kingdom (verses 27-30). The basis for such blessings lies not in human merit but in the astonishing generosity of the gracious God (20:1-16). None—not even the rich—are beyond the power of his grace. But God offers free salvation at great cost to himself (verses 17-19). Confronting competitiveness and ambition among his followers, Jesus teaches them that true greatness lies not in lording it over others but in serving them (verses 20-34), as shall be supremely demonstrated in his death as “a ransom for many” (verse 28).
CONFRONTATIONS IN JERUSALEM (21:1–22:46)
As the Servant-King (cf. 3:17), and as the Messiah destined for suffering (cf. 16:16-21; 20:28), Jesus enters Jerusalem not upon a war horse but upon a donkey’s colt, for he purposes not to declare war on his enemies but to hand himself over to them—and thus achieve his triumph through defeat (21:1-11). As Lord of the temple, he demands that its commerce be halted and that it become (as God ordained) a place of worship for everyone, including the sick, the young, and the alien (21:12-17; cf. Mark 11:17). He outwits those who refuse to acknowledge the heavenly source of his and John’s authority (Matthew 21:23-27). In dramatic and devastating fashion, first visibly (by cursing the fig tree—verses 18-22) and then verbally (in the three parables of 21:28–22:14), Jesus pronounces judgment upon those Jews who have refused to acknowledge him as Messiah and Son of God. Henceforth, the true people of God are those who believe in Jesus, whether Jews or Gentiles. He calls upon his people to pledge their supreme allegiance to God. In the resurrection what will matter most is one’s relationship to God (22:23-33). Indeed, he who loves God with his whole being and his neighbor as himself has kept the two foundational commandments of the OT (verses 34-40). Henceforth, submitting to God means rightly recognizing Jesus; he is indeed David’s son (Matthew 1:1), but he is supremely David’s Lord—the exalted Son of God (22:41-46; cf. 16:16).
WOES UPON THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES (23:1-39)
Five reasons are stated for Jesus’ denunciation of the Jewish religious leaders. First is their hypocrisy: their practice contradicts their teaching (23:1-4), their external purity conceals inner rottenness (verses 25-28), and they appear to champion God’s cause but are really enemies of God’s servants (verses 29-36). Second is the pride that prompts their hypocrisy (24:5-12). Third is their exploitation of, and their baleful influence upon, those under their charge (verses 13-15). Fourth is their preoccupation with the minutia of the law to the neglect of its weightier matters (verses 16-24). Fifth is their responsibility for the dreadful judgment that the whole nation is about to experience (verses 33-39).
THE COMING OF THE END (24:1–25:46)
The introduction to this, the fifth and last of Matthew’s great discourses, makes it plain that there is the closest connection (for both Jesus and his disciples) between the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age (24:1-3). Jesus first characterizes the time between his first advent and his return: there will be natural catastrophes, international warfare, the rise of false messiahs, the persecution of God’s people, and the universal proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom (verses 4-14). Then Jesus speaks of the catastrophe that is soon to befall the Jewish nation in particular (as already foretold in 22:7; 23:38), culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in AD 70 (24:15-25). Sometime thereafter (but after an interval known only to God the Father—verse 36), the Son of Man will return in great glory, amid apocalyptic signs, to gather his people (verses 26-31). The present generation will not pass away before judgment falls upon Israel (verses 15-25), so let listeners take heed (verses 32-35). The same warning applies to the more remote coming of the Son of Man (verses 36-51): both the certainty of the event and the uncertainty of its time call for vigilance and faithfulness in the interval, for that event will bring both salvation and judgment. To drive the lesson home, Jesus tells the parables of the wise and foolish virgins (25:1-13) and the talents (verses 14-30). The concluding parable of the sheep and the goats (verses 31-46) speaks of the urgent necessity of making the right response to the “brothers”—that is, the messengers—of Christ; those who feed, clothe, and otherwise care for the messengers of Christ thereby testify to their reception of the apostles’ message and their Lord (cf. 10:40-42).
THE ROAD TO GOLGOTHA (26:1–27:26)
As though in response to Jesus’ own prediction, the chief priests and the elders hatch their murderous plot (26:1-5), soon to be aided by Judas (verses 14-16). The anointing at Bethany (verses 6-13) testifies to the extravagance of love and the imminence of death. At the Passover meal (verses 17-30), signaling at what sacrifice the new exodus comes about (cf. 2:15), Jesus interprets his forthcoming death as an atoning sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins (26:26-28; cf. 1:21) and anticipates the day of final victory over sin and death in the consummated kingdom (26:29). Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane (verses 36-46) expresses his horror over taking his people’s sins upon himself. By a stupendous act of filial obedience, he submits his will to the Father, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled (26:54; cf. Isaiah 53). As the servant of God destined to suffer, Jesus resists attempts to thwart his arrest (26:47-56). The Jews’ supreme court (the Sanhedrin) and their loftiest religious official (the high priest) condemn Jesus as a blasphemer because he dares to identify himself as “the Christ, the Son of God” (26:57-68; cf. 16:16). As though joining the court’s
repudiation, Peter—in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy (26:31-35)—disclaims knowledge of Jesus (verses 69-75). Judas’s disillusionment finds expression in suicide (27:3-10). The Jews hand Jesus over to Pilate the Roman governor (verses 1-2), he alone having the authority to pronounce the death sentence. Knowing that the charge of blasphemy will carry no weight with Pilate, the Jews now represent Jesus as a threat to Caesar. In the end, Pilate responds not to specific charges and evidence but to pressure from the crowd and the threat of riot (verses 11-25). He releases Barabbas and delivers Jesus to be crucified (verse 26).
THE DEATH OF JESUS (27:27-66)
Following his humiliating treatment at the hands of the Roman soldiers, Jesus is led to the place of execution; weakened by the beatings, he requires assistance (27:27-32). He refuses the proffered narcotic so that he might keep his head clear (verse 34). His being executed with malefactors (verse 38) testifies to the purpose of his death (cf. 1:21). A steady stream of abuse is hurled at him, in blasphemous disregard of the truth of the superscription “This is Jesus the King of the Jews” (27:37-44). Finally, out of the darkness Jesus utters the cry of dereliction; now is revealed the ultimate horror (that from which his soul shrank in Gethsemane), the sin-bearer’s supreme agony—the beloved Son’s abandonment by the Father (verses 45-49). Having cried out with a loud voice (cf. John 19:30), Jesus dies (27:50). Immediately, the saving effects of his death become evident (verses 51-53): sinners, now forgiven, have access to the holy God (the veil of the temple is rent asunder), and there is hope of resurrection for those who have died. As at the beginning (2:1-12), Gentiles instead of Jews confess Jesus (27:54; contrast 26:63-65). Joseph’s careful attentiveness to Jesus’ burial contrasts with the ongoing attempts of the chief priests and Pharisees to resist Jesus’ power (27:57-66).
THE TRIUMPH OF THE SAVIOR (28:1-20)
Amid great glory and power and joy, the Savior’s victory over death is announced and attested (28:1-7). The risen Jesus appears first to the women who stayed with him during his crucifixion (28:8-10; cf. 27:61; 28:1). The Jews’ response to the guards’ report signals their growing desperation before irresistible reality (28:11-15). Meeting with the 11 disciples on the mountain in Galilee (verses 16-20), Jesus, the new Moses, continues his instructions. He now reveals the evangelistic purpose for which Matthew has been preparing readers from the very threshold of his Gospel. The apostles are to disciple all peoples by baptizing them into the name of the triune God and by teaching them to obey all that Jesus has commanded. The apostles go forth in the assurance that Jesus—as the Lord—stands over them, and that Jesus—as Immanuel—stands with them until the very end of the age.
Bible Reading - Matthew 1-17
The Ancestors of Jesus the Messiah
1 This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David* and of Abraham:
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac.
Isaac was the father of Jacob.
Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers.
3 Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (whose mother was Tamar).
Perez was the father of Hezron.
Hezron was the father of Ram.*
4 Ram was the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab was the father of Nahshon.
Nahshon was the father of Salmon.
5 Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab).
Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth).
Obed was the father of Jesse.
6 Jesse was the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon (whose mother was Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah).
7 Solomon was the father of Rehoboam.
Rehoboam was the father of Abijah.
Abijah was the father of Asa.*
8 Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat.
Jehoshaphat was the father of Jehoram.*
Jehoram was the father* of Uzziah.
9 Uzziah was the father of Jotham.
Jotham was the father of Ahaz.
Ahaz was the father of Hezekiah.
10 Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh.
Manasseh was the father of Amon.*
Amon was the father of Josiah.
11 Josiah was the father of Jehoiachin* and his brothers (born at the time of the exile to Babylon).
12 After the Babylonian exile:
Jehoiachin was the father of Shealtiel.
Shealtiel was the father of Zerubbabel.
13 Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud.
Abiud was the father of Eliakim.
Eliakim was the father of Azor.
14 Azor was the father of Zadok.
Zadok was the father of Akim.
Akim was the father of Eliud.
15 Eliud was the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar was the father of Matthan.
Matthan was the father of Jacob.
16 Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah.
17 All those listed above include fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile, and fourteen from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah.
NOTES ( Matthew 1:1-17 )
In the first 17 verses we meet 46 people whose lifetimes span 2,000 years. All were ancestors of Jesus, but they varied considerably in personality, spirituality, and experience. Some were heroes of faith—like Abraham, Isaac, Ruth, and David. Some had shady reputations—like Rahab and Tamar. Many were very ordinary—like Hezron, Ram, Nahshon, and Akim. And others were evil—like Manasseh and Abijah. God’s work in history is not limited by human failures or sins, and he works through ordinary people. Just as God used all kinds of people to bring his Son into the world, he uses all kinds today to accomplish his will. And God wants to use you.
COMMENTARY ( MATTHEW 1:1 )
A record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah. The first seventeen verses of Matthew’s Gospel present Jesus’ ancestry. Because a person’s family line proved his or her standing as one of God’s chosen people, Matthew began by showing that Jesus was a descendant of King David and of Abraham, fulfilling Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah’s line (“father of” can also mean “ancestor of”). Matthew traced the genealogy back to Abraham, through Joseph. Matthew’s genealogy gives Jesus’ legal (or royal) lineage through Joseph, a descendant of King David (see also 2 Samuel 7:16; Isaiah 9:6-7; Revelation 22:16 ).
COMMENTARY ( MATTHEW 1:2 )
Abraham was the father of Isaac. The phrase was the father of can also mean “was the ancestor of.” Thus, there need not be a direct father-son relationship between all those listed in a genealogy. In ancient times, genealogies were often arranged to aid memorizing. Thus Matthew recorded his genealogy in three sets of fourteen generations (see 1:17). Abraham was called by God, received God’s covenant promises, and believed that God would keep his promises (Genesis 15:6). His story is told in Genesis 11–25. Abraham was the father of Isaac. Abraham and Sarah wondered if God would ever send them the promised son, but God always keeps his promises. See Genesis 21–22.
Isaac was the father of Jacob. These three men—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—are often named together as the “patriarchs,” fathers of the nation and receivers of God’s covenant (see Genesis 50:24; Exodus 3:16; 33:1; Numbers 32:11; Luke 13:28; Acts 3:13; 7:32).
Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers. Jacob had twelve sons by his wives Rachel and Leah, who became the twelve tribes of Israel (see Genesis 49:1-28). Matthew, desiring to trace Jesus’ royal lineage, made special note of Judah because the royal line was to continue through him (Genesis 49:10).
COMMENTARY ( MATTHEW 1:3 )
Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar). An interesting sidelight appears in this verse. One might expect a genealogy to avoid mention of less reputable ancestors, but Judah’s sons were born by Tamar, who had prostituted herself to her father-in-law. The story of Judah and Tamar is told in Genesis 38. While Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah, he was not married to their mother Tamar. Perez and Zerah were twins (see also 1 Chronicles 2:4). The line tracing Perez to King David is also recorded in Ruth 4:12, 18-22.
Hezron . . . Ram. Not much is known about Hezron and Ram. Hezron is mentioned in Genesis 46:12 and 1 Chronicles 2:5. Ram (or Aram) is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 2:9.
COMMENTARY ( MATTHEW 1:4 )
Amminadab and Nahshon are mentioned in Exodus 6:23. Amminadab’s daughter and Nahshon’s sister, Elisheba, married Aaron, who became Israel’s high priest. See also Numbers 1:7; 2:3; 7:12-17. Salmon is mentioned again only in the genealogy in Ruth 4:18-21. These men are also listed in 1 Chronicles 2:10-11.
COMMENTARY ( MATTHEW 1:5 )
Boaz (his mother was Rahab) . . . Obed (his mother was Ruth) . . . Jesse. Rahab is the woman of Jericho who hid Israel’s spies and eventually was saved by them when the Israelites destroyed Jericho. Rahab was a prostitute (Joshua 2:1) who came to believe in Israel’s God. Rahab is included in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. There is a chronological problem in making Rahab the actual mother of Boaz, however. As with the phrase “father of,” those listed as mothers in a genealogy may be ancestors rather than actual mothers.
The book of Ruth tells the story of Boaz and a young woman named Ruth, who had come to Israel from the nearby nation of Moab. Boaz married Ruth, and they became the parents of Obed (Ruth 4:13-17). Obed later became the father of Jesse (Ruth 4:21-22). See also 1 Chronicles 2:12.
COMMENTARY ( MATTHEW 1:6 )
Jesse had several sons, one of whom had been anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the next king of Israel after King Saul (see 1 Samuel 16:5-13). The story of King David is told in 1 and 2 Samuel, with the transfer of his throne to his son Solomon recorded in 1 Kings 1.
Solomon (his mother was Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah). The story, recorded in 2 Samuel 11, describes how Solomon was born to David and Bathsheba, and how David had Uriah murdered. God was very displeased with David’s evil actions, and the first child born to David and Bathsheba died (2 Samuel 11:27–12:23). The next child born was Solomon, who later ruled Israel during a reign that would later be described as the golden age of the nation. His God-given wisdom became known worldwide, and he wrote many of the proverbs in the book of Proverbs, as well as Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. His story is told in 1 Kings 1–11 and 2 Chronicles 1–10.
COMMENTARY ( MATTHEW 1:7 )
Solomon’s evil son Rehoboam split the kingdom because of a prideful and ill-advised decision (see 1 Kings 12:1-24). Two kingdoms emerged: the southern kingdom, called Judah, was ruled by Rehoboam; the northern kingdom, called Israel, was ruled by Jeroboam. Rehoboam’s son, Abijah (also called Abijam), was also an evil king (1 Kings 15:3-4). Asaph is also called Asa, who was a godly king (1 Kings 15:11).
COMMENTARY ( MATTHEW 1:8 )
Good King Asaph (Asa) was the father of another good king, Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:43). However, Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram (also called Joram) was evil (2 Kings 8:18). Jehoram’s son Uzziah (also called Azariah) provides an example of how this phrase did not always mean actual “father of.” According to the same genealogy in 1 Chronicles 3:10-14, Matthew omitted three names between Jehoram and Uzziah: these three kings were Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah. Probably Matthew did not include these names in order to keep his pattern of three sets of fourteen generations in this genealogy.
COMMENTARY ( MATTHEW 1:9 )
Jotham walked steadfastly before the Lord (2 Chronicles 27:6), but his good influence did not extend to his son, for Ahaz was evil, to the point of sacrificing his son in the fire (2 Kings 16:3-4). Following the exceedingly evil reign of Ahaz came the prosperous reign of the good king Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:5).
on your life
1 Briefly describe a time when you met someone you considered very important ?
2 How did this meeting affect positively or negatively ?
the passage Read the introductory material to Matthew 1:1-17, and the following
-1:1 -1:1-17 -1:16
3 What is the main purpose of the Gospel of Matthew ?
4 How far is it from Jerusalem to Caesarea Philippi ? What town or city is about that far from where you live ? (Use the map "Key Places in Matthew" in the introductory material.)
5 There are four women besides Mary mentioned in Jesus' genealogy. Why REALIZE
might they have been included in a list of fathers ? the principle
6 Why was it important for Matthew to include a list of Jesus' ancestors in his Gospel ?
The purpose of the Gospels is to give us a clear picture of Jesus so we can get to know him better. They tell us who he is, what he came to do, and what he wants us to do. Matthew's unique snapshot gives us a picture of Jesus the King. By the time you reach the end of the Gospel of Matthew, your knowledge of Jesus should be deeper, your picture of him should be clearer, and your understanding of what he wants you to do should be more mature. In the end, if you are willing, you will know him better,too.
7 Roughly how many times have you read the Gospel of Matthew all the way through ?
- Never - Once - A couple of times - Quite a few times - Many times
8 Which of the five Megathemes (from the introductory material) are you most
interested in understanding better ?
9 Briefly describe how you would like your understanding of Jesus to change.
10 In what specific ways do you think you would be different if you knew Jesus
better than you do now ?
to take action
11 What will you do this week to get to know Jesus better ?
12 Throughout the coming week, pray that God will enable you to benefit from your study of Matthew by helping you to understand yourself and Jesus better.
in this action
A Which of the Old Testament people in Jesus' family tree do you recognize ?
What do you know about them ? Which people would you like to learn more about ?
B Use the timeline and the Blueprint outline in the introduction to figure out the length of time covered in each of the main sections of Matthew. How did Jesus spend most of his time during his ministry ? What does his example say about our priorities ? How might you adjust your priorities ?
C Several titles and names for Jesus are used in the introductory material. Which ones means the most to you ? Why ?
D What was the world's political situation at the time of Jesus' birth ? What longings did this create in God's people ? How did God address those longings ? What longings or desires does our world's present situation create in you ?
Which of God's provisions meets your desires most ?