The Gospel According to Matthew: The Hebrew Gospel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, December 1, 2015 0 comments

by Bill Seng

In honor of the birth of Jesus, I would like to devote most of December to an overview of the four written Gospels that appear in the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The first of which I would like to discuss is Matthew.

Matthew is the most complete of the gospels. It details the most significant events of Jesus’ ministry as recorded by an eyewitness, disciple, and apostle of Jesus: Matthew. It is very significant that Matthew penned this Gospel for several reasons.
1) He was there with Jesus during his ministry and saw him resurrected.
2) He was a professional who probably took meticulous notes on Jesus’ teachings.
3) As a part of his trade he had to be able to communicate through multiple languages. On this third point, today the oldest manuscripts of Matthew were written in Greek. However, as a man of Hebrew descent that lived in Israel, he probably took notes in Aramaic and may have first penned his Gospel message in either Aramaic (the language he spoke) or Hebrew (the language of the Old Testament).

Matthew is full of the teachings of Jesus. One of my professors suggested that it was to reveal Jesus as the “Greater than Solomon,” meaning that it reveals that Jesus was more wise than the wisest man ever. There are seven sermons in the Gospel of Matthew given by Jesus. The first of which is also the most popular, known as the Sermon on the Mount. If one were to make a case for this gospel revealing the wisdom of Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount makes a strong case. It contains the Beatitudes (“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”), the Lord’s Prayer (“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”), and the Golden Rule (“Do to others as you would have them do to you”) as well as some of the other most memorable teachings of Jesus.

If you are a good student of the Bible, you will notice that the Sermon on the Mount, as well as the entire Gospel of Matthew, is very focused on preaching the gospel message to an audience with an Old Testament background. The first couple of verses in Matthew are the genealogy of Jesus. Take note that the genealogy traces back to Abraham, the father of all Hebrews. The first New Testament church was in Jerusalem, so it would make sense that the first gospel would speak to their familiarity with the Old Testament.

The beauty of having both the New and Old Testaments in one volume is that Matthew can be relevant to us as well as to those of Hebrew descent. The purpose of preaching to the children of Abraham was to open their eyes to the reality that Jesus was the King that God had promised them hundreds of years ago before the New Testament was written. As an example I will use the story of Christmas to illustrate the message that Matthew was trying to communicate to the Jerusalem church.

At the end of the first chapter of Matthew, an angel visits Joseph to assure him that his betrothed wife had not cheated on him, but what was happening to her was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ – which means, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:22-23).

In the very next chapter, the author introduces some figures who would visit the newborn Jesus that would not have been welcomed by a Jewish audience. We call them the wise men or magi. Read this story on your own in Matthew 2 and pay close attention to its detail. You very well may see the gospel message played out in this story alone. These wise men traveled from a pagan land because they saw a star in the west that indicated to them that a King had been born. In my opinion, these people were no doubt astrologers who watched the stars for signs, predictions, and fortune telling. God, in his grace placed his star in the sky to draw these pagans out of their foreign land to fall down at the feet of a child who was the rightful King of the world, his own Son, Jesus.

There is so much more that could be said about this gospel. Its completeness brought a lot of clarity to people who were seeking out the truth amid the corruption of the old Jewish religion. What we ultimately see is that Jesus was not just the Savior of the Jewish nation, but of the entire world. For more information, feel free to respond to this post either on the Worldview Warriors’ blog page or on Facebook and we can continue the conversation.

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