Introduction to Matthew

General Information

NameThe first book of the New Testament, and the first Gospel is named after the apostle Matthew.
Author and Date

Although not named as the author, tradition and internal evidence strongly support Matthew as the author.

Tradition: As early as Ignatius (d. A.D. 110) and Polycarp (c.a. 155), Church Fathers either alluded to or quoted from Matthew’s Gospel.

Internal Evidence: The author was undoubtedly a Jew, having intimate knowledge of Jewish practices, customs, history, and groups (1:18; 2:1; 14:1; 26:3; 27:2). He knew the Old Testament well (1:2-16; 4:14-16; 12:17-21). He was also very familiar with the geography of Israel (2:1; 8:5; 20:29).

Because the Gospel of Matthew was directly quoted by Polycarp, it had to have not only been written, but accepted as authentic by no later than A.D. 110. Further, Matthew describes Jerusalem in language that indicates it had not yet been destroyed, indicting that his gospel was written before A.D. 70. For these reasons, most conservative scholars date Matthew to A.D. 50-60.

AudienceMatthew clearly emphasizes Judaism. He often discusses ceremonial cleanliness, the Sabbath, the temple, and the law. Matthew was written to a Jewish audience, both believing and unbelieving.
Message and Occasion

The phrases “Kingdom of heaven” and “Kingdom of God” appear more times in this Gospel than any other. Scholars now know that the idea of Messiah and a restoration of David’s kingdom were very popular in Israel at the time. Many, if not most Jews were looking for the Messiah and awaiting the coming kingdom. Matthew’s Gospel was meant to prove to Jewish readers that their long awaited Messiah had come. It was also meant to show that Jesus was also the promised king in the line of David (22:41-44).

Another message of the Gospel is to the church. Matthew contains Jesus’ instructions for believers, including the five sermons around which the book is centered (Sermon on the Mount, 5:1-7:28; Mission Discourse, 10:5-11:1; Parables, 13:3-53; the Church, 18:2-19:1; and the End Times, 24:4-26:1) and culminating in the Great Commission (28:20).

Key Information

Key Verses

1:1 “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

5:17 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, 'All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.'”

Key People


Matthew shows Jesus is in the authentic lineage of David in his genealogy, and Jesus applies David’s statements about the Messiah in Psalms to Himself (Matt 22:44).

John the Baptist

Although he plays a less prominent role than in other Gospels, John is nevertheless shown as the messenger of the promised Messiah and a murdered victim of those intent on stopping Jesus.

The Disciples

Jesus directs a large proportion of His teachings in Matthew at His disciples, as well as sending them out to proclaim the Kingdom. The apostles are portrayed as simple fishermen who believe in Jesus and leave everything to follow Him. They struggle with very human issues like pride, jealousy, and fear, and don’t fully understand who Jesus is until after they see the resurrected King.

The Religious Rulers of Israel

The Pharisees are the first to question Jesus, but are soon joined by the Sadducees, Herodians, lawyers and scribes. Although they attempt to trap Jesus numerous times, Jesus always either turns the question back around on them or shuts down their argument entirely. It is only at the appointed time that Jesus gives himself over to them, in order to fulfill Old Testament prophesies and become the Savior through the ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

Jesus the King

Jesus is emphasized as the coming Messiah and King in Matthew. He is first shown to be in the royal line of David, thus meeting the physical requirement for Israel’s king. He emphasized the coming Kingdom, giving the people both the requirements for citizenship as well as the blessings of being included in it. He exercises both divine power (healing the sick and controlling nature) and authority (forgiving sin, commanding demons and blunting the attacks of the religious authorities), as well as accepting worship. Although His mission is to Israel, he nevertheless shows compassion on Gentiles and acknowledges their faith. He ultimately allows Himself to be crucified to become the final sacrifice on behalf of sinners.

Key Events

Jesus’ Birth (Matt 1:18-2:18)

The coming King is born to humble beginnings in a manger. His birth in Bethlehem to a virgin fulfills important prophesies (Isa. 7:14; Isa 9:6-7; Micah 5:2). Wise men from the East arrive, bearing gifts fit for a king, but foreshadowing His death. The Holy Family is forced to flee to Egypt when Herod murders the infants of Bethlehem.

The Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:1-7:29)

Jesus spoke to thousands on a hillside in Galilee, giving them hope, challenging their attitudes and practices, and promising blessings to those who believe His message.

The Lord’s Supper (Matt 26:26-29)

Jesus and His disciples share a last Passover meal together. Jesus inaugurates the Eucharist or Communion wherein believers are told to remember His death until He comes again.

The Crucifixion and Resurrection (Matt 27:35-28:20)

Jesus is arrested, tried, and sentenced to death. He is led to Calvary and hung on a cross, becoming the one sacrifice for all time. He dies and is buried and on the third day he rises from the dead, proving once and for all that He has defeated death and is the true Messiah and King.

Important Theology in Matthew

Jesus as King

Matt 1:1 “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

Matt 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matt 7:29 “For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

Matt 21:5 “Tell ye the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee…”

Matthew depicts Jesus as being in the royal line of David, who inaugurated the Kingdom of God, preaching its message, and possessing the authority of  the promised King and Messiah.

Jesus as Sacrifice

Matt 16:21 “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”

Matt 26:26-28 “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, 'Take, eat; this is my body.' And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, 'Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.'”

Jesus made it clear that His death was pre-ordained and necessary for the forgiveness of sins. At the last supper, He introduced the metaphor of bread and wine as symbols for this sacrifice.

Jesus as God

Matt 1:23 “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

Matt 9:1 “And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; 'Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.'”

Matt 14:33 “Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, 'Of a truth thou art the Son of God.'” 

Matt. 15:25 “Then came she and worshipped him…”

General Outline                                                      

Birth and Preparation of the King (1:1-4:11)                                                        

  1. Jesus’ Birth and Childhood (1:1-2:23)
  2. The Preparation of the King (3:1-4:11)

The King Preaches the Kingdom (4:12-7:29)

  1. Jesus Moves to Capernaum and Calls His First Disciples (4:12-25)
  2. The Sermon on the Mount (5:1-7:29)

The King Is Manifested (8:1-11:1)

  1. The King Demonstrates His Power and Authority (8:1-9:34)
  2. The King Sends Messengers to Proclaim the Kingdom (9:34-10:4)
  3. The King Instructs His Disciples (10:5-11:1)

Opposition to the King (11:2-14:12)

  1. Signs of Trouble (11:2-13:53)
  2. The King Criticized Over Sabbath Violations (12:1-13)
  3. The King’s Trouble with the Pharisees (12:14-45)
  4. The King Explains His True Family (12:46-50)
  5. The King Answers the Opposition Through Parables (13:1-53)
  6. The King Rejected In His Hometown (13:54-58)
  7. The Death of the Messenger (14:1-12)

The King’s Reaction to the Opposition (14:13-19:2)

  1. The King Withdraws, the Crowds Follow, Jesus Feeds Them (14:13-21)
  2. The King Withdraws a Second Time and Walks on Water (14:22-33)
  3. The King Heals at Gennesaret (14:34-36)
  4. The King Confronted and Teaches About Ritual Purity (15:1-20)
  5. The King Finds Faith Outside Israel (15:21-28)
  6. The King Heals Many (15:29-31)
  7. The King Feeds Many (15:32-39)
  8. The King Asked Again for a Sign (16:1-4)

The King’s Revelations (16:5-17:13)

  1. The King Withdraws a Third Time and Peter Confesses Jesus as Messiah (16:5-17)
  2. Revelations of the Church, Jesus’ Death, Rewards, and Second Coming (16:18-28)
  3. The Transfiguration (17:1-13)

The King’s Instructions (17:14-20:28)

  1. Concerning Faith (17:14-21)
  2. Concerning the Death of the King (17:22-23)
  3. Concerning Taxes (17:24-27)
  4. Concerning Humility (18:1-5)
  5. Punishment of Those Who Cause To Sin (18:6-11)
  6. More Parables and Instructions (18:12-34)

The King’s Final Week (17:14-20:28)

  1. The Triumphal Entry (21:1-11)
  2. The King Cleanses the Temple, Curses the Fig Tree, and is Confronted (21:12-27)
  3. Parables in Jerusalem (21:28-14)
  4. Conflicts  with the Religious Authorities (21:15-23:36)
  5. Private Instruction (23:37-25:46)
  6. A Murderous Plot, an Anointment and a Betrayal (26:1-16)
  7. The Passover (26:17-46)

The Arrest, Crucifixion and Resurrection (17:14-20:28)

  1. The Arrest (26:47-55)
  2. The Trials and Denial (26:57-34)
  3. The Crucifixion (26:35-27:56)
  4. The Burial (27:57-66)
  5. The Resurrection (28:1-20)

Used by permission. ©2017 H. Wayne House, Charting the New Testament. All Rights Reserved.