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Critical Introduction to the Book of Matthew

Introduction

The book of Matthew is the first in the New Testament and was written by Saint Matthew, the evangelist. The book primarily discusses the accounts of the life and death of Jesus Christ. The gospel was initially written in Greek sometimes after 69 CE and depended on the earlier gospel according to (Alexander, and Rosner 44). Matthew narrates the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham’s perspective and mentions significant details about the times of Jesus Christ, who was born of virgin Mary and came to rescue the human beings. This paper researches the critical issues that relate to the book of Matthew.

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Critical Issues

As highlighted in the introductory paragraph, the book of Matthew was written by St. Matthew the evangelist. St Matthew was one of Jesus Christ’s disciples and was regarded as a tax collector. Matthew was born during the first century AD in Capernaum and venerated in Eastern Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, Anglicans Communion among others. He was also known as Levi and was one of the few evangelists who existed then (Bruce 55). The bible records that Matthew followed Jesus and was one of the witnesses of Jesus Christ’s ascension after His resurrection.

Most scholars have contradicted the issue about when the book of Matthew was written. However, it is believed that the gospel was written between AD 70 and 80. The range may probably range between AD 70 and 100 according to pre-70 date issues (Meade 30). According to modern scholars in theology, some of the materials which are attributed to the date range of the book cannot be verified hence it would remain the subject matter of discussion.

Occasions that led to the composition of the book of Matthew is Antioch in Syria that hosted Matthew for a long while because it was where many people used to go to church. For instance, Ignatius who quoted Matthew severally was from Antioch (Alexander, and Rosner 64). The congregation in Antioch was comprised of Jews and Gentiles and therefore, this would lead to the problems about legalism and antinomianism that Matthew sought to address then.

The Gospel of Matthew is grounded on sources that existed for some period. Matthew based his perspectives on Mark and the Logia, which is often regarded as ‘The Sayings of Jesus.’ Additionally, sources such as M seem to add on the latter in significant ways as far as the gospel of Matthew is concerned (Meade 36). Some of Mathew’s introductory narratives are unique from other books of the gospel. For instance, the birth of Jesus, the wise men meeting King Herod, the flight to Egypt among others are stories based on oral and unknown written sources (Goldstone 731). However, the content is seen in the book of Mark and the Logia hence Matthew could have drawn his point from the latter.

Literary Structure

The book of Matthew has remarkable literature and it is arranged in ways that present Jesus as the extraordinary Jewish hero. First, Matthew’s work regards Jesus as the Messianic son of David, a prophet who was beyond Moses’s power and the seed from Abraham’s lineage that brought blessings to the whole world (Goldstone 732). Matthew presented who Jesus is and does not state the purpose explicitly. The first outline can be based on discourse in the book that showed Jesus as the ultimate prize that God had given and also the powerful person who had come from God’s place (Alexander, and Rosner 54). These discourses show the listing of the sermon on the mount, the parables, the church of the earlier times, and the issues relating to the end of times. However, this account comes after the first approach to Jesus’s growth and popularity while transitioning from childhood to adulthood with His tasks highlighted.

The outline of Matthew is arranged to show a prologue that relates to Jesus’s birth and significance. There follows the teaching and ministry of Jesus where there is an account of how Jesus gets the followers and the sermon in the mountain (Bruce 65). Jesus’s miracles and works are done by disciples are noted in the order of literature in Matthew’s book. Within the context, the author narrates confrontations of Jesus and parables about the kingdom of God. Jesus is revealed as the son of God (Meade 76). The sequence then shows how people then struggled with the kingship of Jesus and the teachings about judgment and the waited kingdom that would come after the end of times. Lastly, Matthew shows the climax, where the sacrifice, victory, and commissioning of disciples by Jesus is evident.

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Place in the Storyline of the Bible

The bible is a diverse collection of writings that brings the idea that is just one book. According to God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible by Vaughan Roberts, the bible is not a collection of individual books together but one book telling a single story. Therefore, Matthew being one of the books fits the projections of Roberts in the attempt to recognize the storyline of the holy book. Roberts focused on the idea of ‘The Kingdom of God’ and the unity as brought in the bible scriptures (Roberts 29). The book of Matthew notes various elements on the kingdom of God in the outline of its literature. Similarly, there is unifying agenda especially for the Jews and Gentiles hence Robert’s opinion tallies with the entire book of Matthew and what the author intended to communicate.

The first part of the book by Roberts talks about the pattern of the kingdom. Therefore, the book of Matthew takes place in this chapter since there is a notation on God’s people, then God’s rule, and the blessings (Goldstone 732). About the ‘Kingdom of Heaven, Matthew describes it as a process that follows various events. In the gospel book, God starts to act as the ruler, and therefore, there is a manifestation of God being the supreme in the world of people. In Matthew 3:2, Matthew is referring to the kingdom of heaven as a phrase to show the powerful regime by the creator of the universe (Roberts 59). Therefore, the salvation that shows the entry requirement to the kingdom in the book of Matthew, conforms to what Roberts argued about God’s desire to live with human beings.

Major Themes and Theological Message

The book of Matthew is centered on five themes that the Christian faithful can relate to. The major themes are compassion & forgiveness, hypocrisy, immortality, sin, and prophesy (Collins 59). Chapter 9 of the gospel book talks about what Jesus can do when it comes to forgiveness. Apostle Peter, who is mostly referred to as Jesus’s main man, had turned their back on Jesus three times. However, Jesus did to hold grudges with peter rather, He forgave him all the time. Matthew 6:14-15 says ‘For if you forgive men in their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you…’ (Bruce 63). Similarly, the Lord’s prayer which is recorded in the book of Mark, that Matthew is alleged to use as a source appended two verses that give a notion about forgiveness. Compassion comes when one is willing to forgive for instance, in incidents about debts and recovery on the same.

The hypocrisy theme is majorly seen in Pharisees and priests then, who taught about the kingdom of God but never adhered to their teaching. Immortality which centrally refers to the life after death is what Matthew taught on the kingdom of heaven. The book of Matthew would relate many instances by giving scenarios and comparing them with what the kingdom of God would be like. The theme of sin is evident in Matthew 9:1-8 the chapter talks about the authority to forgive sins (Harrison 41). To avoid sin, Jesus told His disciples to let the enemies be by forgiving them and teaching them about doing favorable actions on other people. About prophesy, Jesus started by telling the people then that He was the promised Messiah whom Isaiah had talked about.

The book of Matthew tells the Christian faith that Jesus came to fulfill the prophecy about saving human beings to be free from sin and also prophesying about what the kingdom of heaven would be like. Matthew had many Jewish audiences and therefore, he would use many prophecies as seen in the Hebrew bible to lure them that Jesus was the Messiah. In Mathew 1:1, Jesus is introduced as the son of David, whom God had promised to establish a dynasty from his lineage (Francis 65). Therebefore, the segment depicts fulfilled prophesy in the Old Testament about the coming of Jesus and His powerful missions.

Personal Reflection on the Book of Matthew

The gospel of Matthew is one of the technical written compositions on the contemporary issues of the world, the vision of Jesus, and the life that God wants His people to live. Through the book, it is clear that Matthew was inspired by the Holy Spirit to record various incidents on the proper life people should live (Collins 89). The book is appropriate to drawing someone near to God when they focus on the theme of forgiveness of sin, the kingdom of God, and the prophetic accounts. There is a unique approach to who God is and what Christians should learn from the narrations of the story. The gospel of Matthew presents who Jesus is including the role and manifestation He gives on the nature of God (Harrison 41). Jesus teaches Christians that by believing in Him and swerving God, that would be an assurance to God’s kingdom.

Conclusion

When believers in Christ read the book, they have knowledge and thoughts on the essentials of living a holy life. Matthew’s words of wisdom about the ideal lifestyle and the joy of the Lord are helpful to keep someone’s faith stable in Christ. Salvation is also evident from the teachings of Matthew since he incorporated the issues about living a life without impurities. The source of Matthew’s gospel and scriptures is not that important but the relevance of his composition and the desire of God. With the book in place, many people can get the required moral standards based on Matthew’s content on the importance of the kingdom of heaven.

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Works Cited

Alexander, T. Desmond, and Brian S Rosner. New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Yield Ventures, 2000.

Bruce, F. F. The New International Commentary on The New Testament. Eerdmans, 1988.

Collins William. ESV Study Bible. Wil-P, 2016.

Francis, Leslie J. “Gospel for The Outsider: The Gospel in Luke and Acts; Gospel of Fulfilment: Exploring the Gospel of Matthew”. Rural Theology, vol 18, no. 1, 2020, pp. 64-65. Informa UK Limited, Web.

Goldstone, Matthew. “The Gospel According to The Hebrews and The Gospel of The Ebionites Ed. By Andrew Gregory”. The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, vol 80, no. 4, 2019, pp. 730-732. Project Muse, Web.

Meade, Christopher P. New Testament Alive: Vol. I-The Gospel of Matthew. Leadership Alive, Inc., 2019.

Roberts, Vaughan. God’s Big Picture. Intervarsity Press, 2003.

Harrison, Rolald. The New International Commentary on The Old Testament. NICOT, 2020.

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