By Dr. Lawrence Butler, The Bridge Church, Pembroke.
The authenticity of the authorship of this gospel was unchallenged in the early church.
Such historians as Origen (ca. A.D. 185-254) and Eusebius (ca. A.D.265-339) have supported the concept of Matthew as the writer of this book, stating that by tradition from the earliest church this was understood to be true. He was certainly a Jew who was a publican, or a tax collector for the Romans (10:3). When called by Jesus, he left all to follow Christ (Luke 5:27-28).
He then made a great feast for his friends to meet Jesus (Luke 5:29).
Matthew wrote primarily to a Jewish audience presenting Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah and King. He traces His genealogy and focuses on the connection of Jesus to Israel’s greatest king, David. Interspersed in the gospel are OT quotes presenting various aspects Jesus’ life and ministry as fulfillment of OT prophesies. This gospel was written to strengthen the faith of Jewish Christians.
This is confirmed by the fact that there are some 60 references to Jewish prophesies and about 40 quotations from the OT. The key words are: fulfilled, which frequently shows the OT prophesies were completed in Christ; kingdom, which appears 50 times; kingdom of heaven, appearing 30 times; and, King, with Jesus as king (Matt.2:2, 21:5, 25:34, 27:11, 37, 42).
Matthew records 5 major discourses in his gospel. The first is the Sermon on the Mount in chapters 5-7. It is here that we find The Beatitudes (5:3-10). The second is the commissioning of the disciples in chapter 10, where they are instructed, encouraged, given power and warned concerning rejection.
The third discourse is the teaching found in the parables about the kingdom in chapter 13. There are seven parables given, and the reason for teaching in parables is explained in verses 10-17. The fourth discourse is found in chapter 18 and deals with the importance of the believers being childlike. Concepts such as forgiveness and restoration are key in this section.
The fifth major section of this gospel includes the teaching by Christ on His second coming.
It begins with the disciples asking about the end of the world and Jesus’ return, and thus provides us with clear teaching on the subject of His return to earth.
Each of these sections concludes with a variation of “when Jesus had ended these sayings.” A long opening section (1-4) and a short conclusion (28:16-20) bracket the book and divide it into 5 sections each with a discourse and a narrative. Some see in this a parallel with the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible (Moses).