Read an Excerpt
Zondervan King James Version Commentary-New Testament
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2010 Zondervan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW
The early church fathers were unanimous in holding that Matthew, one of the twelve apostles, was the author of this gospel. In addition, every early manuscript of Matthew that has been preserved attributes the gospel to him. No one in the early church ever suggested that anyone else was the author. Matthew is quoted by Ignatius as early as AD 110 and is quoted by various church fathers more often than Mark or Luke.
The results of modern critical studies, however, in particular those that stress Matthew's alleged dependence on Mark for a substantial part of his gospel, have caused some biblical scholars to abandon Matthean authorship. Why, they ask, would Matthew, an eyewitness to the events of the Lord's life, depend so heavily on Mark's account? The best answer seems to be that he agreed with it and wanted to show that the apostolic testimony to Christ was not divided. In addition, writers often seek an outline to help them in their work, even when they are familiar with the subject. Mark offered a convenient and accurate framework for Matthew's work.
Matthew, whose name means "gift of the Lord," was a tax collector who left his work to follow Jesus (see 9:9-13). In Mark and Luke, he is called by his other name, Levi, and Mark also mentioned that he was "the son of Alpheus" (Mark 2:14). As a tax official, he had to be intelligent and literate, and thus capable of precisely recording the events of Jesus' life. Matthew frequently mentioned money and had an interest in large figures (see 18:24; 25:15).
Date and Place of Composition
The Jewish nature of Matthew's gospel may suggest that it was written in the Holy Land, though many think it may have originated in Syrian Antioch. Some have argued, on the basis of its Jewish characteristics, that it was written in the early church period, possibly the early part of AD 50, when the church was largely Jewish and the gospel was preached to Jews only (see Acts 11:19). Those who have concluded that both Matthew and Luke drew extensively from Mark's gospel, however, date it later-after the gospel of Mark had been in circulation for some time (see chart, Zondervan KJV Study Bible, p. 1349). Accordingly, some feel that Matthew would have been written in the late 50s or in the 60s. Others, who assume that Mark was written between 65 and 70, place Matthew in the 70s or even later.
Since his gospel was written in Greek, Matthew's readers were obviously Greekspeaking. They also seem to have been Jews. Many elements point to Jewish readership: Matthew's concern with the fulfillment of the Old Testament (his quotations from and allusions to the Old Testament are more numerous than that of any other gospel writer); his tracing of Jesus' descent from Abraham (1:1-17); his lack of explanation of Jewish customs (especially in contrast to Mark); his use of Jewish terminology (e.g., "the kingdom of heaven"; see discussion on 3:2) and "Father in heaven," in which "heaven" reveals the Jewish reverential reluctance to use the name of God); his emphasis on Jesus' role as the "Son of David" (1:1; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30-31; 21:9, 15; 22:41-45). This does not mean, however, that Matthew restricted his gospel to Jews. He recorded the coming of the wise men (non-Jews) to worship the infant Jesus (2:1-12), as well as Jesus' statement that "the field is the world" (13:38). He also gave a full statement of the Great Commission (28:18-20). These passages show that, although Matthew's gospel is Jewish, it has a universal outlook.
Theme and Theological Message
Matthew's main purpose was to prove to his Jewish readers that Jesus was their Messiah. He did this primarily by showing how Jesus, in His life and ministry, fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures. Although all the gospel writers quoted the Old Testament, Matthew included nine additional proof texts (1:22-23; 2:15; 2:17-18; 2:23; 4:14-16; 8:17; 12:17-21; 13:35; 27:9-10) to drive home his basic theme: Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament predictions of the Messiah. Matthew even saw the history of God's people in the Old Testament recapitulated in some aspects of Jesus' life (see, e.g., his quotation of Hos. 11:1 in 2:15). To accomplish his purpose, Matthew also emphasized Jesus' Davidic lineage (see "Recipients," above).
The way the material is arranged reveals an artistic touch. The whole gospel is woven around six great discourses: (1) chapters 5-7; (2) chapter 10; (3) chapter 13; (4) chapter 18; (5) chapter 23; and (6) chapters 24-25. That this is deliberate is clear from the refrain that concludes each discourse: "When Jesus had ended these sayings," or a similar phrase (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). The narrative sections, in each case, appropriately lead up to the discourses. The gospel has a fitting prologue (chaps. 1-2) and a challenging epilogue (28:16-20).
Matthew begins as "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ"(1:1),much as Genesis begins each of its ten main sections with "the generations of ..." (see discussion on Gen. 2:4). Jewish readers would have noticed the similarity immediately. Matthew cited Jesus' royal lineage and supernatural birth (chaps. 1-2), followed by His qualifications through His baptism and temptation (chaps. 3-4). Then he gave Jesus' basic message (chaps. 5-7),followed by a grouping of miracles (chaps. 8-10). After describing Christ's rejection (chaps. 11-12), Matthew recorded Jesus' parables that showed a different direction from the immediate kingdom He had been announcing for the Jews. The climax of Matthew is found in the passion story, which makes up much of the rest of the book.
I. The Birth and Early Years of Jesus (chaps. 1-2) A. His Genealogy (1:1-17) B. His Birth (1:18-2:12) C. His Sojourn in Egypt (2:13-23) II. The Beginnings of Jesus' Ministry (3:1-4:11) A. His Forerunner (3:1-12) B. His Baptism (3:13-17) C. His Temptation (4:1-11) III. Jesus' Ministry in Galilee (4:12-14:12) A. The Beginning of the Galilean Campaign (4:12-25) B. The Sermon on the Mount (chaps. 5-7) C. A Collection of Miracles (chaps. 8-9) D. The Commissioning of the Twelve Apostles (chap. 10) E. Ministry throughout Galilee (chaps. 11-12) F. The Parables of the Kingdom (chap. 13) G. Herod's Reaction to Jesus' Ministry (14:1-12) IV. Jesus' Withdrawals from Galilee (14:13-17:20) A. To the Eastern Shore of the Sea of Galilee (14:13-15:20) B. To Phoenicia (15:21-28) C. To the Decapolis (15:29-16:12) D. To Caesarea Philippi (16:13-17:21) V. Jesus' Last Ministry in Galilee (17:22-18:35) A. Jesus Foretells His Death (17:22-23) B. Temple Tax (17:24-27) C. Discourse on Life in the Kingdom (chap. 18) VI. Jesus' Ministry in Judea and Perea (chaps. 19-20) A. Teaching concerning Divorce (19:1-12) B. Teaching concerning Little Children (19:13-15) C. The Rich Young Man (19:16-30) D. The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (20:1-16) E. Jesus Prophesies His Coming Death Again (20:17-19) F. A Mother's Request (20:20-28) G. Restoration of Sight at Jericho (20:29-34) VII. Passion Week (chaps. 21-27) A. The Triumphal Entry (21:1-11) B. The Cleansing of the Temple (21:12-17) C. The Last Controversies with the Jewish Leaders (21:18-22:46) D. The Denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees (23:1-36) E. Prophecy concerning Jerusalem (23:37-39) F. Olivet Discourse (chaps. 24-25) G. Jesus' Betrayal Plotted (26:1-16) H. The Last Supper (26:17-35) I. Garden of Gethsemane (26:36-56) J. Trial before Caiaphas (26:57-68) K. Peter's Denial (26:69-75) L. Judas's Death (27:1-10) M. Trial before Pilate (27:11-26) N. The Soldiers Mock Jesus (27:27-32) O. The Crucifixion (27:33-56) P. The Burial (27:57-66) VIII. The Risen Christ (chap. 28) A. The Empty Tomb (28:1-10) B. The Authorities Cover Up What Really Happened (28:11-15) C. The Great Commission (28:16-20)
I. The Birth and Early Years of Jesus (chaps. 1-2)
A. His Genealogy (1:1-17)
1:1-17. Matthew's gospel begins by connecting Jesus to the promised messianic line in the Old Testament. For a comparison of Matthew's genealogy with Luke's, see discussion on Luke 3:23-38. The types of people mentioned in this genealogy reveal the broad scope of those who make up the people of God as well as the genealogy of Jesus.
1:1. The son of David. A messianic title (see discussion on 9:27) found several times in this gospel (in 1:20, however, it is not a messianic title). The son of Abraham. Because Matthew was writing to Jews, it was important to identify Jesus in this way.
1:2-5. By including four women (contrary to custom) in his genealogy, Matthew may have been indicating, at the very outset of his gospel, that God's activity is not limited to men or to the people of Israel. The four women are: Thamar (v. 3; see Genesis 38), Rachab (v. 5; see Joshua 2), Ruth, and Bathsheba, "her that had been the wife of Urias" (1:6). At least three of these women were Gentiles (Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth). Bathsheba was probably an Israelite (see 1 Chron. 3:5) but was closely associated with the Hittites because of Uriah, her Hittite husband. Aminadab (v. 4). Aaron's father-in-law (see Exod. 6:23).
1:6. Because quite a long time had elapsed between Rahab and David (v. 6) and because of Matthew's desire for systematic organization (see discussion on 1:17), many of the generations between these two ancestors were assumed, but not listed, by Matthew.
1:7-15. Joram begat (v. 8). Matthew calls Joram the father of Ozias, but from 2 Chronicles 21:4-26:23 it is clear that, again (see discussion on 1:6), several generations were assumed (Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah) and that "begat" is used in the sense of "became the forefather of." Josias begat (v. 11). Similarly, Josias is presented as the father of Jechonias (i.e., Jehoiachin), whereas he was actually the father of Jehoiakim and the grandfather of Jehoiachin (see 2 Chron. 36:1-9). For Salathiel begat (v. 12), see discussion on 1 Chronicles 3:19.
1:16. Matthew did not say that Joseph was the father of Jesus, only that he was the husband of Mary and that Jesus was born of her. In this genealogy, Matthew showed that although Jesus was not the physical son of Joseph, He was his legal son and therefore a descendant of David. By not being Joseph's son, Jesus avoided the curse on Jechonias's descendants (see Jer. 22:30).
1:17. Fourteen generations ... fourteen ... fourteen. These divisions reflect two characteristics of Matthew's gospel: (1) an apparent fondness for numbers and (2) a concern for systematic arrangement. The number fourteen may have been chosen because it is twice seven (the number of completeness) and/or because it is the numerical value of the name David (see KJV Study Bible note on Rev.13:17). For the practice of telescoping genealogies to achieve the desired number of names, see 1 Chronicles, Introduction: "Genealogies."
B. His Birth (1:18-2:12)
1:18. Mary was espoused to Joseph. There were no sexual relations during a Jewish betrothal period, but it was a much more binding relationship than a modern engagement and could be broken only by divorce (see 1:19). In Deuteronomy 22:24, a betrothed woman is called a "wife," though the preceding verse speaks of her as being "betrothed unto a husband." Matthew used the terms "husband" (1:19) and "wife" (1:24) of Joseph and Mary before their betrothal was consummated.
1:19. Just. To Jews, this meant being zealous in keeping the law. Put her away privily. Joseph was considering signing the necessary legal papers for a divorce but not having Mary judged publicly and stoned (see Deut. 22:23-24).
1:20. In a dream. This phrase occurs five times in the first two chapters of Matthew (here; 2:12-13,19, 22) and indicates the means the Lord used for speaking to Joseph. Thou Son of David was perhaps a hint that the message of the angel related to the expected Messiah. Take unto thee Mary thy wife. Joseph and Mary were legally bound to each other but were not yet living together as husband and wife. That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. This agrees perfectly with the announcement to Mary (see Luke 1:35), except that the latter was more specific (see discussion on Luke 1:26-35).
1:21. JESUS ... shall save. The name Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means "the Lord saves."
1:22. That it might be fulfilled. Sixteen times (here; 2:15, 17, 23; 3:15; 4:14; 5:18; 8:17; 12:17; 13:14, 35; 21:4; 24:34; 26:56; 27:9,35) Matthew spoke of the Old Testament being "fulfilled," that is, of events in New Testament times that were prophesied in the Old Testament-a powerful testimony to the divine origin of Scripture and its accuracy even in small details. In the fulfillments, we also see the writer's concern for linking the gospel with the Old Testament. Matthew, writing especially for the Jews, demonstrated how Jesus fulfilled numerous prophecies.
1:23. See discussion on Isaiah 7:14. This is the first of at least forty-seven quotations, most of them messianic, that Matthew cited from the Old Testament (see marginal notes throughout Matthew). A virgin refers to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Quoting Isaiah 7:14, Matthew used the Greek parthenos to translate the Hebrew 'almah precisely as a "virgin" in the technical sense. His usage of "fulfilled" in 1:22 clearly indicates that he believed the Isaiah passage prophesied the virginal conception of Jesus. Emmanuel means "God with us" and is used as a title of Jesus' divinity.
1:24-25. And knew her not till she brought forth her firstborn son (v. 25). Matthew and Luke both made it clear that Jesus was born of a virgin (see Luke 1:26-35). Although this doctrine is often ridiculed, it is an important part of the evangelical faith.
2:1. Bethlehem of Judea. A village about five miles south of Jerusalem. Matthew recorded nothing of the events in Nazareth (see Luke 1:26-56). Possibly wanting to emphasize Jesus' Davidic background, he began with the events that happened in David's city. It is called "Bethlehem of Judea," not to distinguish it from the town of the same name about seven miles northwest of Nazareth, but to emphasize that Jesus came from the tribe and territory that produced the line of Davidic kings. That Jews expected the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem and to be from David's family is clear from John 7:42. Herod the king. Herod the Great (37-4 BC), to be distinguished from the other Herods in the Bible (see chart, KJV Study Bible, p. 1355). Herod was a non-Jew, an Idumean, who was appointed king of Judea by the Roman senate in 40 BC and gained control only by military conquest by 37 BC. Like many other rulers of the day, he was ruthless. Herod murdered one of his wives, three of his sons, a mother-in-law, a brother-in-law, an uncle, and many others-not to mention the babies in Bethlehem (see 2:16). His reign was also noted for splendor, as seen in the many theaters, amphitheaters, monuments, pagan altars, fortresses, and other buildings he erected or refurbished-including the greatest work of all, the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, begun in 19 BC and finished sixty-eight years after his death. Wise men. Perhaps they were from Persia or southern Arabia, both of which are east of the Holy Land. Jerusalem. Since they were looking for the "King of the Jews" (v. 2), they naturally came to the Jewish capital city (see Map 10 at the end of the KJV Study Bible).
2:2. King of the Jews. Indicates the wise men were Gentiles. Matthew showed that people of all nations acknowledged Jesus as "King of the Jews" and came to worship Him as Lord. Star. Probably not an ordinary star, planet, or comet, though some scholars have identified it with the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. It must have been a supernatural object that looked like a star but that could actually move along and lead the wise men. It eventually led them to the proper house (see 2:9).
2:3-6. Chief priests (v. 4). Sadducees (see discussion on 3:7) who were in charge of worship at the temple in Jerusalem. The chief priests included the ruling high priest, Caiaphas; the former high priest, Annas; and the high priestly families. Scribes. The Jewish scholars of the day, professionally trained in the development, teaching, and application of Old Testament law. Their authority was strictly human and traditional. Thou Bethlehem (v. 6). This prophecy from Micah 5:2 had been given seven centuries earlier.
Excerpted from Zondervan King James Version Commentary-New Testament Copyright © 2010 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.