The Gospel of Matthew

Introduction to Matthew

Who was Matthew?

Matthew (Levi) was a young tax collector who gave up everything to follow Jesus when he met Him. Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27 mention Levi, believed to be Matthew’s original name.

Matthew is the first book of the New Testament and also the first listed synoptic gospel. A ‘synoptic gospel’ is one that tells stories that are similar in style and order. The first three of four gospels are synoptic, with the gospel of John being different in style. Matthew is not a complete narrative of the life of Christ, nor does it claim to be. However, it does show that Jesus is the long-expected Messiah of Israel and the only lawful claimant to the throne of David.

Matthew may be the first to appear in the New Testament canon, but is not necessarily the first to have been written. That distinction is generally thought by scholars to belong to Mark.

So why does Matthew open his gospel account with a genealogy that leads up to Christ? First of all, this basically summarizes the entire Bible up until His birth, if you look at the people involved and read their stories. It also shows the reader how Christ fulfills prophecy as the One promised as the Messiah. To sum it up, the purpose is to prove that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal king.


400 years had passed since the last of the Old Testament prophecies and Jews were still waiting for the coming of the Messiah (Luke 3:15). Matthew is gong to present Jesus as the King and Messiah who will reign forever, as indicated in Isaiah 11:1-5. At this time in history, Rome controlled the land of Israel, largely considered an insignificant outpost by many in the whole picture of the vast empire. Family lineage was important to the Jewish people (as it is to many different people today), and Matthew chose to use this approach to establish Christ as the promised One who would deliver His people. This genealogy is the first of many ways Matthew used to establish the position of Jesus as the Messiah.

In the first 17 verses we meet 46 people whose lifetimes spanned 2,000 years and who were the ancestors of Jesus. They varied in many ways: position, wealth, reputation and experience. They illustrate (as the Life Application Bible puts it) that God is not limited by human frailties and sins in His work throughout human history. We will consider some of them to illustrate God’s use of imperfect people to achieve His perfect goals. Aside from some women of notorious repute we will list momentarily, some prominent male figures had very questionable ethics and dealings in the past, yet God was able to use them in key ways to achieve His purposes. Two of note listed in Matthew’s gospel include: Abraham, who was a liar (Genesis 12:10-13) and King David, who murdered his friend after committing adultery with his wife to cover it up. Other Bible characters of importance who did some bad things include Moses (a murderer), Paul (killed many Christians) and Peter, who denied Christ three times. Paul was well aware that we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

(Read note on Matthew 1:3-6 in Life Application Study Bible).

Matthew 1:1. Jesus Christ. The word we use for our savior in English is Jesus. The actual name in Hebrew is Jeshua and means “the LORD is salvation.” Christ comes from Christos and means “anointed one.” It is the exact equivalent of the Hebrew word “Messiah” (Dan. 9:25). The Son of David is a term found in the Synoptic gospels as a messianic title. The title Son of Abraham establishes His royal lineage all the way back to the nation’s inception in the Abrahamic covenant found in Genesis 12.

5 women Matthew lists in his genealogy:

1:3. Tamar. It is unusual for women to be named in genealogies, yet Matthew names 5. She was a Canaanite woman who posed as a prostitute to seduce Judah (Gen. 38:13-30).

1:5. Rahab. A Gentile and a prostitute.

1:6. Ruth. She was a Moabite woman and worshiper of idols. The woman with whom David begot Solomon was Bathsheba, former wife of Uriah and who had committed adultery with him while Uriah was away in battle.

Mary. In 1:16 we see the name of Mary, who bore the stigma of unwed pregnancy (even though we know she conceived by the Holy Spirit).

Other interesting points worth mentioning:

Jeconiah is mentioned in verse 16. He was a King who was cursed by God as recorded in Jeremiah 22:30: Thus says the LORD: Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah (NKJV). Had Jesus been the real son of Joseph, He would have fallen under this curse. But in reality, we know He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and was rather the legal son of Joseph, allowing Him to be the heir to the throne through Joseph.

1:18. The Birth of Jesus Christ. Most of us know the story of the first Christmas as told by our parents, the church and in song. But there are interesting things to note that some may not now. Mary became pregnant while betrothed to Joseph. In the culture of the day, that was every bit as much considered adultery [by those who did not know the circumstances] as it would be, had she already been formally married to Joseph. (A betrothal commonly lasted a year before the marriage ceremony took place). So Joseph, who obviously loved Mary and had no wish to harm her, decided to quietly “put her away” (the equivalent of divorce). He knew that he would be considered complicit in the matter and disgraced as well, should word get around that he was aware of the situation but chose to do nothing about it. Of course he changed his mind, once he received word from an angel as to what he was to do.

1:22. Prophecies fulfilled. Matthew points out fulfilled prophecies no less than a dozen times in his Gospel.

1:23. Immanuel. See Isaiah 7:14.


Immediately Jesus spoke to them. “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” -Matthew 14:27 HCSB

Most of us know the expression where there is fear, there is no faith or some variation of it. Jesus told His disciples to have courage. But how do we acquire it?

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. -Isaiah 41:10 HCSB

I have lots of things going on in my life that could easily lead to fear and dscouragement. However, they don’t necessarily have to. For me to do that would be both self-destructive and render me ineffective for the kingdom. The reality is that, as a believer, I have a toolkit at hand to combat such things. The enemy would have me forget that or not know it at all.

What are those tools I am referring to? First and foremost, we have the Bible. The Scriptures are where we can find God’s directions to us on how we should maintain both our relationship with Him and with our fellow human being. Secondly, we have fellowship with other believers from which we can draw encouragement, direction and knowledge from those who have more experience walking the Christian walk and studyng His word. The Bible specifically enourages us to assemble as believers. Corporate worship and study is invaluable to us as His children.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. -Hebrews10:24-25 NIV

So let us live today, mindful of the hope imparted to us by our precious Savior’s sacrifice for us and His resurrection to eternal lfe. He goes to prepare a place for us (as He is quoted in the Bible). Will you be ready to move into that place at the appointed time? It is my hope and prayer for you that you may be able to say with confidence that you are. It makes dealing with the pressures and assorted things that we face in this life. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.


Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near. -Hebrews 10:23-25 NASB77

For starters, the Bible is explicit that we are to get together for worship, fellowshipping and encouraging each other in growth. Finding a local congregation of believers to join and contribute to is simply being obedient to the LORD and will reap many blessings.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can such faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself. -James 2:14‭-‬17 CSB

I love my church. If you go to church, I hope you love yours too. Church is so much more than just studying God’s word and singing a few songs, it is an important avenue for fellowship and thus encouraging each other to work for the goals of our Father’s kingdom. The people at my church are warm, loving and show their caring through deeds — not just nice words and prayers.l

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. -James 2:18 NIV

Before we started attending and eventually joining the church my wife and I belong to now, we checked out a couple of different churches to see what would best fit for us in our Christian service. We have come to appreciate a more traditional style of worship and found a church that reminds us more of a Baptist church in style and theology. The bottom line is that we think the Holy Spirit has drawn us to the church we joined. For the record, the church my wife and I belong to is the Preston City Bible Church in Preston City, CT. It is fundamentalist in doctrine and practice (although not KJV-only). I find it to be Spirit-filled (NOT to be confused with Charismatic or Pentecostal). The church has grown, is active in the community and various forms of outreach. The people are great and we have come to love many of them as the family they truly are.

It is my hope and prayer for you the reader that you too may find a local fellowship of believers to help strengthen and encourage you in achieving the kingdom-minded goals our LORD has for you!

*If* You are willing…

A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” -NIV84

Too often, we act as though God owes us healing whenever we demand it — like He is our personal butler, delivering whatever we want when we ‘ring the bell.’ Sorry, but it doesn’t quite work that way.

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NIV84

Quite often, dealing with physical ailments is the catalyst that propels us closer to Him. The sweet relationship we may have with our Lord is worth so much more than material success, physical health or anything else we may think is of value in this world.

Jesus Revolution

Karen and I went to see the new movie “Jesus Revolution” at our local AMC Theater this evening with some friends from Calvary Chapel. The theater was filled and, perhaps most importantly, the movie was well done! We highly recommend it. Perhaps the revolution is beginning again, as we see young people in a university south of us holding a revival and others following in their footsteps. Praise the LORD!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. -John 3:16‭-‬17 NIV

Overcoming Worry

From Merriam-Webstermental distress or agitation resulting from concern usually for something impending or anticipated ANXIETY

Often in my life the distress that is the fruit of worry results from those things anticipated rather than necessarily “impending.” It is perhaps the most personally damaging sin I have to deal with in my life these days. The good news is that there is a solution to the problem written in the sacred pages of scripture: JUST STOP IT.

Many years ago, a mentor of mine was talking with a friend about a problem area in his life he could not seem to gain victory over. My mentor friend looked him in the eye and simply emphatically stated “just stop it!” No psychobabble, formulas or book recommendations — just stop it. If you really don’t want to engage in something, then don’t. I believe that is exactly what Jesus is telling us in Matthew, where the subject comes up more than once, to be certain.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. -Matthew 6:34 NIV

Jesus knew that worry is an effective hindrance to living as God’s Word instructs us to live. We can do little for His kingdom if we are mired down in worldly concerns — about which we can do little, anyway. Consider Matthew 13:22…

The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. -Matthew 13:22 NIV

Through all of our anxieties and fears, there is a path to peace. Real peace…

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:4-7 ESV

The Baker CSB Study Bible

There will be more to come on Surgeon’s Catechism, but for now a brief pause that I may comment on the Baker CSB Study Bible. I am not a big fan of the CSB translation of the Bible, so the reader will rarely see me refer to it in my writings. I can’t say there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just not a favorite. Perhaps my tastes will change one day if I become more familiar with it. About the only time I pick it up is when I am making use of the study notes found within either the Baker, Evans or Holman’s CSB Study Bibles. I loved the HCSB with it’s bullet notes and particular style. Maybe I just resent the CSB because it replaces the HCSB (which is no longer printed since the advent of the CSB). Now, on to the BAKER…

The Baker is a large, heavy Study Bible that is packed with valuable, conservative evangelical material. At 2,640 pages and almost five pounds, it’s not a Bible you’re likely to carry to Church. However, as a study reference tool it is very valuable. Although this Bible is no longer printed, you can still find new copies at Amazon and other places online. I recommend this as a fine addition to your study library.

Stay in Today

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. -Matthew 6:34 ESV

When I first stopped drinking and using other drugs, I repeatedly heard and thought about the phrase “one day at a time.” I clung to that as a strategy to survive in this new sober life. That same adjustment to attitude also worked for other things, such as quitting smoking.

Clearly, Jesus knew this attitude was essential in one’s faith, as it is discussed in more than one place in the gospels. Planning for tomorrow, whether it involves overcoming an addiction, battling illness, financial distress…whatever the issue, it is pointless. Living in today allows me to focus on what I know I have to deal with. God has never failed to provide for my needs in any given situation as He provided daily sustenance for His people in the wilderness in the form of manna (Exodus 16). It is important to note that they were instructed to take only what they could eat for that day. Again, the message is clear: we must trust God to give us what we need for each individual day. As it says in Lamentations, His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Have I learned to trust God enough to live in today?

God’s Way is Perfect…

In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. -Psalms 18:29-30 NLT

Not much more to say that these two verses from the 18th Psalm don’t clearly state. I have reached a place in my life with the potential for me to suffer serious anxiety — should I forget who the Lord of my life truly is. What a wonderful place to be at in one’s life when they get there! Do you look to the Lord for protection?

Father, please remind me always that the only true protection I have in my life does not come from man or his various inventions, but from you in your majestic and graceful glory. Amen.

Renewed Every Day

As I sit here at my kitchen table drinking coffee on New Year’s morning 2023, I cannot help but be reminded of the year that has passed and the one that has begun. This year I seem to have a greater sense of hope as it begins from the ashes of a tumultous 2022 that I would love to forget much of but which is engrained in my memory. Rather than live in that particular past, I choose to look forward to what this year can bring. I am not thinking right now about material gains or even improved health (mine leaves much to be desired), but how I may better serve Christ in ministering to the needs of those around me. At the moment, I am focused on what really and truly matters.

There is a sense of freedom to be gained by leaving it all in God’s hands and finding a place within where I am confident that whatever happens in okay because God is sovereign and it is all part of His plan. Truly nothing happens that He does not allow in the first place.

Let us reflect for a moment on the well-known statement made in Lamentations: His mercies are new every morning. Just pondering that importance for a few moments can leave one awestruck. Here is Lamentations 3:23 quoted directly from the Bible:

Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
Lamentations 3:23 NLT

Being renewed and becoming a new creature are explained and illustrated throughout the Bible. When we acknowledge receipt of our Savior Jesus Christ, we start to become transformed into the beings God intended us to be. Romans 12 says:

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. -Romans 12:2 NLT

How quickly we change or how much progress we make in this world toward that goal are directly dependent on how much prayer, meditation and study of God’s Word we are willing to undertake. I know that the more I put into practice those things, the better my life is (regardless of my present circumstances) as I strive to become more like Him each day. Are you making such effort? This is a question I must answer each day as I walk the road with Him. Happy New Year!