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A Study of the Gospel of Matthew, Part 1- Introducing the Kingdom of Heaven

The findings of one who loves The Word of God and Truth, knowing that "he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews11v6).

Matthew's Gospel

a-study-of-the-gospel-of-matthew

A Summary of Matthew's Gospel

SubjectWhich Chapters

Genealogy and birth of Jesus

1.2

John the Baptists ministry

3

Temptation of Jesus

4

Principles of the Kingdom of Heaven, showing us how to live

5,6,7

Parables on the Kingdom of Heaven

13,20

Warning about the Pharisees

23

Second coming of Jesus, when the Kingdom of Heaven will be established on earth

24,25

Jesus’ ministry in Galilea

3-18

Jesus' ministry in Judea and his death and resurrection

19-28

Introduction to Matthew's Gospel

The first book in the New Testament of The Bible

Matthew’s Gospel sums up the christian faith, not as a religion, but rather life as a citizen of heaven. Matthew introduces Jesus as the ruler and teacher of this kingdom.

Matthew is the gospel that emphasizes The Kingdom of Heaven, although the other gospels refer to the Kingdom Of God. Until Jesus came, it was all about the Kingdom of this earth, where God blessed people with physical land, buildings and material riches, but Jesus took it up to a higher realm and brought the Kingdom of Heaven. Right from the beginning it is defined and explained by what it is about and how its’ citizens should live, differentiating it from the Kingdom of this earth.

Jesus came to save us from the Kingdom of this Earth and lift us to the Kingdom of Heaven, so that we change our citizenship from one Kingdom to the other, where we put ourselves under God’s rule instead of our own.

This is the only gospel where the church is mentioned (a couple of times).

Jesus The Jew?

A Jew writing to Jews

Matthew began his gospel by showing how Jesus indisputably was born a Jew, from the line of David and so was the Messiah they had been waiting for. His genealogy in chapter 1 unusually for that time, included four women. Jesus’ ministry included women, despite them being viewed as inferior in his day. He came to lift them up. These women, of disreputable character or background, show how Jesus identified himself with sinners, those whom society debased, to whom he came to bring saving grace. Matthew was himself a tax-collector, a profession despised by most Jews, as not only did they take money from Jews to give to the Romans, but invariably cheated and extorted them by taking more and keeping some for themselves. Jesus was accused of spending his time with such people, and yet how else could he share the Good News with them, whom he came to save?

Thus the New Testament begins.

Matthew Chapter 1

The Book of The Generation

The first phrase, “the book of the generation” is used one other time in the Bible, in Genesis, where we are shown the genealogy from Adam in the Old Testament, The word “generation” is only used this once in the New Testament and is where we get the word for the title of the first book, Genesis, which describes the effect of this first Adam on the human race. Jesus in the New Testament is the second Adam, who affects the human race, this time as it’s saviour.

We have already noted that four women are mentioned in this genealogy, who were either born out of incest or were themselves adulterers or prostitutes. So right at the beginning of this gospel and the New Testament, we are given the message that Jesus didn’t come to call righteous, but sinners to repentance.


Introducing Joseph

Verse 19

We are introduced to Joseph, who was betrothed to Mary. However, as Mary was told that she had conceived the child and Joseph believed that she had done so with another man, he decided to put her away quietly, to avoid public disgrace. The verse tells us that he was a just man. How amazing that we are shown this first example of a godly man who was ready to humbly and wisely deal with what he believed was sin, rather than making a spectacle of it. He wanted to cover the sin of someone else, even though he didn’t have the Holy Spirit at this time!



The Virgin Birth

Fulfilled Prophecy

The angel reminded Joseph in a dream that the virgin birth of this baby, that had been conceived by the Holy Ghost, had been prophesied years earlier by the prophet Isaiah. The Greek word that Matthew uses for “virgin” is “parthenos” which never has any other meaning. Joseph must have been amazed to realise that this prophecy that he would have known, was being fulfilled through them. So he did as the angel said and married Mary.

The first promise

Verse 21

Significantly that “he (Jesus) shall save his people from their sins.” Not just forgiving past sins, but saving them from their sins of today, so they need no longer be slaves to sin. The second promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire would come later in chapter 3, together creating the New Covenant.

The Prophesied Virgin Conception

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel.

— Isaiah 7v14

The Book Of Isaiah

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Matthew Chapter 2

The Birth Of Jesus

The beginning of this chapter tells us that Jesus has now been born in Bethlehem. Wise men from the east followed a star, believing it would lead them to the prophesied King of the Jews. No doubt the Jews believed that this new King would free them from their Roman oppressors, but Jesus had of course been born as ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven, which was not of this earth. Later on in this gospel, we read how Jesus will one day reign on this earth.The wise men seemed to lose their way when they arrived in Jerusalem and asked where the child was. They foolishly went to Herod to try and find out where he was, who in his fear of this new king, massacred all baby boys under 2 years. Always when we follow the world, instead of the star, which depicts the Word of God, we bring disaster. Jesus wasn't born in a palace or anything that this world might offer of value, but in a humble stable. This is where we find him and where we worship him, not in grand cathedrals or impressive buildings, but in the humble hearts of his people.

Jesus teaches later on

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

— Matthew 18v20

Dreams from God

God sometimes spoke through dreams

Chapter two explains how several times people had dreams with messages from God. This was an important time in history. God was ensuring that prophecy would be fulfilled at the appointed time as a true record for future generations. Satan was not going to be allowed to thwart God's plan either and so God warned Joseph in a dream to flea to Egypt, then once it was safe again, after the death of Herod, he was told in another dream to return to Israel. This time however, to be safe, they settled in Nazareth, which again was prophesied by the prophets of old.

Jesus grew up in Nazareth

No-one thought highly of Nazareth!

Philip found Nathanael and said, We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said to him, Can there be any good thing come out of Nazareth?

— John 1v45,46

Isaiah the Prophet said-

He is despised and rejected of men

— Isaiah 53v3

Matthew Chapter 3

John the Baptist is now on the scene,

of whom Jesus declared:

Among those born of women,

there is not a greater prophet, but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

— Luke 7v28

John the Baptist did no miracles and yet he radically changed lives

He spent so much time in the wilderness that he must have had much time alone with God, trained under the hand of God. The Word of God bypassed all the great leaders in great places and came to John. When you have a true word from God, people will come to hear it, as they did him. Just as John came to prepare the way of the Lord, in the spirit of Elijah, so the next spirit of Elijah (the church) should speak out today to warn of the (terrible) Day of the Lord to come. The church must prepare the way of the Lord by preaching repentance, as John did. Verse 2 states that we should repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Two and a half years later it came at Pentecost. During John’s ministry, they were still under the Old Covenant, but Jesus was bringing in the New and John was telling the people the way to be a citizen of this new kingdom, by repenting.

John the Baptist’s ministry was of repentance and baptism

Baptism

The Greek word used for baptism is simply immersion and was only replaced during translation with a new word ”baptism”, in order to keep those happy who wanted to carry on with infant sprinkling, but this was not how it was written. Jesus came to John to be immersed, not because he needed to, for he had led a sinless life, but in order to identify with sinners. He humbled himself to do the will of his father. As he came up out of the water and God declared that we was well pleased with his son, this again reiterated how Jesus had succeeded in overcoming the temptations to sin, just as we can.

John did not baptise without evidence of repentance

In verse 8 he declared that the religious leaders should show the fruit of repentance if they wanted to be baptised. It wasn’t enough that they were children of Abraham fulfilling the law. They were living by the law that would at best, snip off the things from the tree that were bad, so that the tree would still look good. Those that were seeking primarily the kingdom of earth had not repented. They needed to turn right around, with no looking back, for in verse 10 he says “now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which doesn’t bring forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.

A Discovery

A true Christian, as they get light, will see what is sin and turn from it, if they have died with Christ. God is merciful and this is a progressive, continuing discovery of what is sin and not Christ-like

— Zac Poonen

If you have been born again-

Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you have died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God

— Colossians 3v1-3

Set your mind on things above-

Your head in the clouds, but feet on the earth!

Matthew Chapter 4

The Temptations of Jesus

After Jesus had been baptised and anointed by the Holy Spirit, he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. According to Hebrews 4v15, he was tempted in all points as we are. This time of testing was the prelude to his ministry. The Holy Spirit may lead us into a time of testing too, but if we overcome, we can know that there will be a time of great ministry. Hebrews carries on in verse 16 to state that can find grace in our time of need, so we know that he will help us. Some would say that if there is no period of testing, the ministry to follow is likely to be shallow and may even fade out. To keep God’s anointing we, like Jesus, should humbly accept this refining process if we want to be used by God.


The First Temptation

Verse 3

After Jesus’ baptism we read that God said:

This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased

— Matthew 3v17

Has God Said?

Now in this first temptation, Satan tries to put doubt in his mind about what God said, just as he did with Eve at the beginning, in the Garden of Eden.

Never doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light.

— Zac Poonen

The Devil then tries to tempt Jesus

To use his supernatural power to meet his own needs

Of course Jesus was very hungry, yet he declares that man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of God’s mouth. He only did what his father in heaven told him. That was more important to him (his spiritual needs) than his physical needs. When we use the gifts that God gives us for others, then his anointing stays with us. Jesus did this by multiplying the loaves and fishes to feed the five thousand people. The story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 however, shows how a man received his inheritance from his father, but used it all on himself and it ran out.

We are not to be building our own kingdom!

But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.

— Matthew 6v33

The Second Temptation

Verse 5

Again Satan tries to cause Jesus to doubt God’s word,

If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down, for it is written

— verse 6

Satan can quote God’s word too

Jesus retorted with, “It is written again”

How often have we acted on verses that are taken out of context, without checking and testing the spirits? Like Jesus we can be tempted to presumption, especially when it is wrapped up to appear good. We need to check our motives that we don’t do stupid things in order to gain honour from men (a testimony, but not for God’s glory)! If there is a staircase down, he doesn’t expect me to jump off the building! He also expects us to make use of the natural plants and herbs that he has already given us when we can to heal our bodies.

The Third Temptation

Verse 8

After many years of overcoming temptation the devil knew that Jesus could still be tempted with the glory of this world. No one is exempt from the temptations of money, fame and position and this third temptation is a warning for us all. Satan tried to give Jesus a shortcut in reigning on this earth, which would come in the future, but he resisted because he knew that The Way of the Cross was the only one ordained by his father. When we try to take any other road other than the Way of the Cross, we will be stepping out of God’s will. Jesus is our example and he received grace to overcome this huge temptation and angels to minister to his needs, just as we can. As the chorus says,

“turn your eyes upon Jesus….and the things of earth will grow strangely dim..”

The Way of the Cross

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me

— Luke 9v23

The Way of the Cross

Such an offer from Satan did not come without a price

Satan demanded that Jesus bow down to worship him. This is the price we too will have to pay if we do not resist him. It can even look attractive when we are in the middle of life’s struggles. Jesus was certainly physically weak and hungry! How many have been led astray by succumbing to this temptation and losing their vision? Later on in Matthew 16 Jesus rebuked Satan after Peter had rebuked Jesus for declaring that he would be taking the Way of the Cross. Some might excuse him for only wanting to remain positive, yet this was not God’s Way! The voice that would keep us from the Way of the Cross is from Satan, who would seek to nullify the greatest act of redemption and mercy that God has achieved for Man, to rescue and save us from the sinful world that Satan still rules.


The Message Of Repentance

John was imprisoned

Jesus left the region and went to Galilee, to fulfil Isaiah’s prophecy in verses 15 and 16 (an example of how the Bible corroborates itself). Then we see how at this point Jesus begins to preach repentance, that John could no longer do, such was the importance of this message!

After his time in the wilderness and no doubt after much time spent listening to his father God in prayer, he was ready to choose his disciples, those on whom he would build the church. They were ordinary men who, in leaving their nets were ready to leave their worldly ambitions and follow Jesus in the Kingdom of Heaven. On the back of this message of repentance, these men, with all their human weaknesses, were able to change their allegiance, proving as Paul did later on, that-

When I am weak, then I am strong

— 2 Corinthians 12v10

© 2019 Christine Hulme

Your Comments are welcome!

Christine Hulme (author) from SE Kent, England on November 04, 2019:

Thanks and yes, There is so much in this gospel that deserves a close look. I am currently working on the next part.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on November 03, 2019:

Quite detailed and clearly communicated, Christine. Thanks for putting this together for us.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 25, 2019:

Christine, I appreciate your play by play commentary on the Book of Matthew. You point out clearly that the Kingdom of Heaven is established on principles different than the principles of earth. Glad that those principles include the lifting up of women. Looking forward to learning more.

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