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The Gospel of Matthew

 

 

 

Introduction:

 

          This is a transitional book. The book of Matthew takes us from the Old Covenant of the Law to the New Covenant of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The book of Acts as well, is a transitional book of the gospel of Jesus Christ because it explains the transition from the preaching of the gospel to the Jews to the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles.

 

The book of Matthew is the first of the three synoptic gospels; the other two are Mark and Luke. These three gospels cover a lot of the same material from three different perspectives. Matthew is also the first of the four gospels. Each of the four gospels looks at a certain perspective of the gospel of Jesus Christ which is the power of God to save souls. (Rom. 1:16) Each describes Christ as our only Mediator between God and man. (I Tim. 2:5) The Gospel of Mark describes Christ as God’s servant. The Gospel of Luke describes Christ as the perfect, sinless man. And the Gospel of John portrays Christ as God in the flesh. But Matthew portrays Christ as the Jewish Messiah and promised King. It is also known as the King’s gospel.

 

          The theme of the book of Matthew is best embodied in the words of Paul. “For we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (II Cor. 8:9)

 

How is it that those of Paul’s day knew the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ as these subsequent facts are here given? They knew of the grace of Christ because of the witness of men like Matthew. These very facts are accentuated by the writing of Matthew. It presents Christ as the King. He was rich in glory and honor more so than any of the children of men for He was and is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He was richer in substance than any man for He was the very God of Heaven. He created all things and holds all things together. (Col. 1:16, 17) Heaven and earth belong to Jesus Christ as well as all the riches of the universe. It is He that owns cattle on a thousand hills. Yet, though He was rich, he became poor for our sakes. He stepped off of His throne and came and dwelt among us.

 

How condescending are the words “and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) He took off the glory of His divinity to be clothed with sinful flesh as you and I are. He who needed no thing gave Himself to hunger and thirst. He who lacked no comfort felt all of our pain and suffering. He who created all things gave Himself to a state where He could say that He had nowhere to lay His head. (Matt. 8:20) He who was the Sovereign of the universe gave His back to the smiters, and allowed men to beat Him, mock Him, spit on Him, and drive nails through His hands and feet. He was born into the house of a poor carpenter. He died with only the earthly possession of a coat and a cloak. He who was the King of all died among common thieves. And when they took Him from the cross His tomb was borrowed. Yes, indeed, the King of kings became poor, and He did so for our sakes. Why? He did it that we “through His poverty” could partake in His riches. All the riches of the universe can only be obtained through the poverty of Christ. Men may lie, cheat, and steal to gain wealth. They may give all their time and energy to make a dollar but the true wealth of the world can only be found through an impoverished King.

 

This is the theme of the book of Matthew and as we go through it we will see these very facts. Christ was the fullness of the words of Paul for he was willing to spend and be spent - for us. (II Cor. 12:15)

 

          We can also consider the human author of the book - Matthew. The real author is the Holy Ghost of God who inspired Matthew and moved him to pen these precious words. (II Tim. 3:16, II Pet. 1:21) The human author of this book is a great picture of the theme of grace that we have just spoke about.

 

Matthew himself recorded his own marvelous conversion. (Matt. 9:9) Consider the poor estate of Matthew before he met Christ the King. Matthew was a hated tax collector or publican. (See Luke 5:27 - at that time he was called Levi) All the Jews were oppressed by Rome and by the publicans of that day.

 

Publicans were hated and despised of all; they were considered to be great sinners just as the harlots. (Luke 5:29, 30) They were commonly and openly thieves of that day who overtaxed the people for the purpose of filling their own pockets. (Luke 19:1-10) They were also notoriously wicked. They spent their time in gluttony, drunkenness, and fornication. Matthew is pictured to us as the poorest of all sinners who was so enslaved to his sin that he was despised even by the lost world. Consider also this – he is called the son of Alphaeus - by Mark. (Mark 2:14) And that is the only place that he is referred to as such. This makes him a brother of some sort to James the less, who, even when listed along with Matthew, is called the son of Alphaeus no less than four times. (In Matt. 10:3,

 

Matthew did not even call himself the son of Alphaeus; Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15, Acts 1:13) What this tells us is that James the less was the only recognized son of Alphaeus; while Matthew, though a son by blood, was nothing more than an outcast. So not only was he a thief in his character, not only was he despised by his own people, but he was apparently even despised by his own family. (Though he did, through Christ, find a reunion with his brother James, both becoming apostles)

 

Praise God, when father and mother forsake us, the Lord will lift us up. (Ps. 27:10) The King of kings set aside the riches of His kingdom to become poor that men like Matthew through His poverty could be made rich in grace.

 

Can you not see the poor son of a carpenter approaching the money changers table and calling Matthew to salvation? Matthew had found the greatest of treasures therefore it is said that he left all and followed Him. (Luke 5:28) The greatest of sinners received the gift of grace that day. God brought him out of that horrible pit and put him on the Rock. He took him from his crooked ways and established his goings. He took away the song of drunkards and put a new song in his mouth even praises to his God. (Ps. 40:1-5) Think of this - God used him to pen this very gospel. God took that great sinner and used him that many through him and the gospel that he wrote should trust in Christ.

 

God did not use a “righteous” Pharisee to pen this gospel. Nor did God use a big name preacher. God used a sinner like Matthew who was saved by grace. God can take the greatest of sinners, an outcast, and entrust him with the greatest of treasures. (II Cor. 4:7) We should never say that God cannot use us. Matthew used that wealth of grace to enrich us today.

 

          Matthew, in His conversion, shows us the change into a new creature. (II Cor. 5:17) In his very name we see the change of a sinner from a poor slave to the riches of grace. Consider the name Levi. (Mark 2:14, Lk. 5:27) Levi was the name of the tribe of Israel to which was given the priesthood. They were people who were ministers of the Law and under the same. This in a way shows the entire approach of Matthew in his book. In it he wrote to the Jews (Gentiles not completely excluded) concerning Christ, but more than that - it showed the hopelessness of Matthew’s case.

 

Levi means “attached” as in the sense of being obligated. That is exactly what the Law does.  Law obligates man to a total obedience.  This puts all men, as sinners, under a complete judgment on them. (Gal. 3:10)  So, by the name of Levi we see the sinful condition of Matthew. He was a sinner under the law of sin and death, a servant of sin. (Rom. 6:17, 8:2-4) He was a condemned sinner unable to escape from the clutches of the law. But grace comes through the poor son of a carpenter.

 

The name Matthew was given to him instead of Levi. Whether it was Christ who changed his name (as He did with Peter) or Matthew himself (or one of the apostles) is not known. But we do know that there was a change. The name Matthew means “gift” which is a perfect change - to picture the riches of grace which he received through Christ. (Rom. 6:23, Eph. 2:7) And this name was exclusively used concerning him after he followed the King. (Matt. 10:3, Mark 3:18, Lk. 6:15, Acts 1:13) Matthew, who records in this book his own conversion, calls himself Matthew. This shows Matthew to have known himself as an object of grace.

 

That is a good thing for us to know. The only esteem we should have of ourselves is that we are objects of eternal grace. And Mark and Luke, who had called him Levi at his conversion, later called him Matthew. This shows us that the change was apparent to all. Something happened to Matthew that day when he met Christ. Everyone from that day forward saw him as a recipient of grace.

 

Can others see that in us or do they still see us as ‘Levi’ - servants of sin? Is there a new name given you or does everyone still use your old name? Should there not be a change?

 

          We also see the approach of Matthew in his book. Matthew was writing to the Jews of his day in an effort to prove to them that Jesus Christ was the very Messiah and King that they had waited for. Our energies would not be wasted if we based all our work on the same principle - of revealing Christ to the world.

 

There is more mention of fulfilled prophecy in the book of Matthew than in any other book. He showed that Christ fulfilled all that was written of Him and that He alone was their salvation. He set out to show the Jews that the One they rejected is the only means of their salvation. So, Matthew painstakingly shows Christ in His lineage, His fulfilled prophecies, His earthly ministry, His miracles and signs, his teachings, His sacrificial and mediatory death, burial, and resurrection, and His gospel, which is now preached in the world, and saving sinners of both - Jews and Gentiles.

 

His book is built on the fact that the Jews had the gospel preached to them first. (Rom. 1:16) He showed the Jews that there was something new which happened when Christ showed up, this “God with us”. And the message which Matthew preached is the same that is preached today.

 

This is going to be our approach, as we take on an expository look at this book. There are so many that want to dispensationalize this book away to make it applicable to only those in Christ’s day, to Jews, or to those in some future dispensation. But the people to which Matthew wrote belonged to the same dispensation as we do. We are not going to apply such to our study. The words that we have before us belong to us. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for us in the area of doctrine, reproof, and instruction. (II Tim. 3:16, 17) The words of the book of Matthew belong to us - not some other so-called dispensations.

 

The dispensation of law and promise ended the day when John the Baptist pointed his finger at Christ and said “behold, the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29; John was sent by God to reveal Christ and to prepare the way of Christ; once He revealed Christ he said of his own ministry that “he (Christ) must increase” while John must decrease; John 1:33, 3:30, Matt. 3:3)

 

The new dispensation started with John who first preached the gospel of Christ. (Mark 1:1-4; search high and low and you will find no place which says that a dispensation began on the day of Pentecost. The “universal church” crowd have us so mystified into believing that that is when the so called “Church” age began as if the focus was on the church and not on Christ; also, the dispensationalists would have us believe the same saying that that is when the so-called age of “grace” began, to imply that those before Pentecost, including the subjects of the book of Matthew and the gospels, who sat under the teaching of Christ, were saved in part or in whole by the works of the law. {Rom. 3:20} But the truth is that when Christ was preached, as the fulfillment of that which the ages of law and promise had long looked for, then the “gospel” age or dispensation began and it will end when Christ comes back to literally reign on this earth; see Matt. 5:17, 11:12, 13.)

 

During the days that Matthew wrote about - all who simply trusted Christ were saved. (John 3:16) Yes, Matthew does tell us of the rejecting of Christ by the Jewish nation and of the turning away from Christ; still, the teachings of the book of Matthew apply to us today, and are for our profit. (II Tim. 3:16, 17)     

 In This Section:

 Genealogy of a King
 Birth of a King
 The Reception of the King
 The King's Herald
 The King's Ministry
 The Blessings
 King's Commision
 King's law
 King's Fellowship
 Considerations and Warnings
 Proofs of Authority
 King's Disciples
 The King's Rejection
 Pictures of the Kingdom
 Further Rejection of the King
 The King's Church
 The King's City
 The King's Entrance
 The Coming Kingdom
 The King's Passion (Part 1)
 The King's Passion (Part 2)
 The Resurrection of the King




 
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