The Gospel of Mathew: Jesus the King.

The Jewish flavor of Matthew’s Gospel is conspicuous. This is evident even in the opening genealogy (Matt. 1:1-17), which Matthew traces back to Abraham. This differs from Luke, who in his Gospel shows Christ as the Redeemer of humanity; going all the way back to Adam (Luke 3:23-38). Matthew demonstrates that Christ is the King and Messiah of Israel. This Gospel quotes more than 60 times from OT prophetic passages, emphasizing how Christ is the fulfillment of all those promises.

“The probability that Matthew’s audience was predominantly Jewish is further evident from several facts: Matthew usually cites Jewish custom without explaining it, in contrast to the other Gospels (cf. Mark 7:3John 19:40). He constantly refers to Christ as “the Son of David” (Matt. 1:1; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9, 15; 22:42, 45). Matthew even guards Jewish sensibilities regarding the name of God, referring to “the kingdom of heaven” where the other evangelists speak of “the kingdom of God.” All the book’s major themes are rooted in the OT and set in light of Israel’s messianic expectations,” explains Dr. John MacArthur.

Matthew’s use of the Greek language, instead of Hebrew or Aramaic, suggests that he was writing as a Palestinian Jew to other Hellenistic Jews. He wrote as an eyewitness of many events providing firsthand testimony about the words and works of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.

Matthew’s purpose was clear. It was to argue that Jesus was the Jewish nation’s long-awaited Messiah. His ample quoting from the OT is specifically designed to show the tie between the Messiah of promise and Jesus the Christ of history. This purpose was always in focus for Matthew. He provides many incidental details from the OT prophecies as proofs of Jesus’ messianic claims (e.g., Matt. 2:17–18; 4:13–15; 13:35; 21:4–5; 27:9–10).

What are the themes contained in the Gospel of Matthew? Since Matthew is concerned with setting forth Jesus as Messiah, the King of the Jews, there is an interest in the OT kingdom promises throughout his Gospel. Matthew’s signature phrase “the kingdom of heaven” occurs 32 times in this book; and nowhere else in all of Scripture.

“The opening genealogy is designed to document Christ’s credentials as Israel’s king, and the rest of the book completes this theme. Matthew shows that Christ is the heir of the kingly line. He demonstrates that he is the fulfillment of dozens of OT prophecies regarding the king who would come. He offers evidence after evidence to establish Christ’s kingly prerogative. All other historical and theological themes in the book revolve around this one,” states Dr. MacArthur.

If we were to look, however, for one single theme that seems to be the most central and most important theme of the entire gospel of Matthew, it would be the theme of the coming of the kingdom. We see in the first instance that the term gospel refers to the gospel of the kingdom—the good news of the announcement of the breakthrough of the kingdom of God. In Matthew’s case, he uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” rather than the terminology “kingdom of God.” He does this not because he has a different view of the meaning or content of the kingdom of God; rather, out of sensitivity to his Jewish readers, he makes common use of what is called periphrasis, a certain type of circumlocution to avoid mentioning the sacred name of God. So for Matthew, the doctrine of the kingdom of heaven is the same kingdom that the other writers speak of as the kingdom of God,” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.

I encourage you to begin reading the Gospel of Matthew. Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

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