When someone comes to saving faith in Jesus Christ, inevitably the first questions asked are, “How do I learn more about Jesus?” and “Where do I start reading in my Bible?” Some encourage, and I believe wrongly, to start at the beginning, Genesis, and read chronologically to the end, Revelation. Few point them to the writings of Paul and his epistles. Even fewer direct new believers to applicable books like James, Psalms, and Corinthians. Dreadfully some push new believers into the deep end starting with the apocalyptic books like Daniel or Revelation. However, the majority point people to the Gospels and I believe this is the best place to start. Why? Because it is in the Gospels, we can grow in our understanding of Jesus’s life, ministry, and message. Now, today will serve as a general introduction of Matthew’s Gospel. If you are one who is a listener then you are encouraged to either sit back and take in all that I talk about or if you are a note taker, then write away as there will be plenty to write down. But ultimately, allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you, challenge you, and transform you to become more like our Lord, savior, and King, Jesus.
The Gospels are the first four books of the New Testament and all four are accounts of Jesus’ earthly ministry through his death There are two-types of Gospel accounts, both are canonical (authoritative) they just have different structure.
None of the gospel writers states their name explicitly within the text of their Gospel accounts. All the evangelists were compiling stories of Jesus for churches of which they were active participants. So, naturally there is debate among scholars as to the true author of Matthew that I will not discuss.
Nevertheless, the authors of the Gospels likely stood in the assembly of believers to read their Gospel accounts themselves, so to attach their names to their account as authors would be unnecessary. So, it is wise to look back at church history to determine the authorship of the Gospels. Regarding Matthew’s Gospel the earliest church traditions undeniably ascribe the first Gospel to Matthew the Tax collector, and it is commonly believed he wrote this Gospel in Hebrew. Early Greek Apostolic Father Bishop Papias of Hierapolis (60 Ad to 130 AD) is believed to be the one who is the earliest to mention Matthew as author, he writes, “Matthew wrote down the sayings in the Hebrew dialect, and each man translated as he was able.”
The disciple Matthew was a tax collector called by Jesus Christ (Matthew 9:9). He was also known as Levi the tax collector (Luke 5:27). As a tax collector he would have been trained in secular scribal techniques, and as a Jewish Christian he would have been able to interpret the life of Jesus from the Old Testament expectations.
Now, we read in Marks Gospel that there were among Jesus’ followers many tax collectors and sinners (Mark 2:15 – 15). Jesus was criticized for his association with tax collectors and sinners. But in this account Jesus not only associates with tax collectors but he calls one Matthew to follow Him as a disciple. In response to the criticism he faced, Jesus informs the religious leaders it is not the healthy who need healing, but the sick (Mark 2:16 -17). When Jesus called Matthew, he rose and immediately followed him and leaving his life behind to follow the savior.
We do not know much more about Matthew. We can make some strong assumptions about him.
Matthew does not write this gospel to have people engage with his theology, but rather to engage with Jesus He tells his story of the fresh and decisive action of God in and through Jesus. In his genealogy Jesus is introduced from the beginning as the Messiah, the heir to the promises of Israel’s throne through King David and the promises of blessings through Abraham. His gospel becomes a manual, of sorts, on discipleship, as both Jews and Gentiles begin to follow Jesus and learn to obey all his commands.
This morning has served as a general introduction to our series and to the Gospel of Matthew. I am excited for this journey we will take together as we look at the life of Jesus Christ through the writings of the disciple Matthew. This will not be a verse-by-verse series, but more of a detailed overview of Gospel account. My encouragement to everyone today, me included, is that we take on the attitude of worship during this new series and new year. This worship is not just the mindset of singing worship, but the posture of giving worship to our King, our Lord, and our Savior, Jesus Christ as we honor him, obey him, and proclaim him Lord and Savior of our lives. As we journey through the Gospel, we will skip past the nativity story and start with Jesus’ earthly ministry from his early ministry to his death, resurrection, and ascension and circle back to the beginning during Advent and Christmas to conclude from the beginning.
 John Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2005), 38.
 John Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2005), 39.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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