Matthew An Introduction:
This Gospel does not name its author, but it does contain clues. The author knew the geography of Palestine well (2:1; 8:5; 20:29; 26:6). He was familiar with Jewish history, customs, ideas, and classes of people (1:18, 19; 2:1; 14:1; 26:3; 27:2). He was well acquainted with the Old Testament (1:2–16, 22, 23; 2:6; 4:14–16; 12:17–21; 13:35; 21:4; 27:9). And the terminology of the book suggests that the author was a Palestinian Jew (2:20; 4:5; 5:35; 10:6; 15:24; 17:24–27; 18:17; 27:53).
Other details point specifically to Jesus’ disciple Matthew as the writer of this Gospel. As a tax collector, Matthew would have been literate and familiar with keeping records of money. Appropriately, this Gospel contains more references to money than any of the others. Furthermore, Matthew’s hometown was Capernaum, a village that is given special attention in this Gospel. When Capernaum is mentioned, some special description is usually attached to it (4:13; 11:23).
Matthew wrote the Gospel before the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. He describes Jerusalem in the book as the “holy city” and as though it was still standing (4:5; 27:53), and he speaks of the customs of the Jews as continuing until “this day” (27:8; 28:15). Furthermore, Jesus’ prophecy (recorded in 24:2) of Jerusalem’s destruction includes no indication that it had already occurred when Matthew wrote Jesus’ words. In light of all of this, it is reasonable to conclude that the book was written sometime between a.d. 50 and 60.
Succession to a throne is often a time of conflict and uncertainty. David’s son Absalom tried to usurp the throne (2 Sam. 15:1–18:18). Solomon’s choice of successor lost more than half the kingdom to a traitor (1 Kin. 12:20). Menahem assassinated his predecessor in Israel (2 Kin. 15:14). Royalty is a dangerous business.
This is no less true when the heir is the King of kings. If ever there was a high-stakes succession, this was it. A Man claims to be Israel’s own Messiah; of course all Israel sits up and takes notice. Of course He must prove His credentials: Who wants an impostor? The Book of Matthew presents Jesus’ credentials. It presents Jesus as the King, but King of a totally different kingdom—the kingdom of heaven.
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DID # JTB 40 01