Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Study of Matthew - Intro

My friend from Virginia and I have decided to study the book of Matthew via email, text and blog. Anyone who wants to add comments to these posts, please feel free to do so.

Authorship: All the early church fathers unanimously held that Matthew was direct author, the same Matthew who was one of the 12 apostles. His name means "gift of the Lord." He was previously named Levi and worked as a tax collector before being called to leave his work to follow Jesus. Some modern critiques believe that Matthew was not the actual author, because the book resembles so much of the Gospel of Mark. However, most serious scholars still hold with the early church that the similarities actually show that Matthew agreed with Mark and that both of their writings bear testimony to the work of Christ.

Context: The date range for the actual writing of Matthew most probably was from the 50's to the very early 60's. Even if Matthew and Luke were written after Mark, it is unlikely that either were written after the book of Acts which was "Luke, the sequel" and ended 63 soon after the last even recorded there.

The recipients of the Gospel of Matthew were Greek-speaking and Jewish. The book is heavily geared toward Jewish characteristics, specifically the fulfillment of OT with the highest number of OT quotes in all the NT. He traces Jesus' descent from Abraham (Luke traces it back to Adam). He uses an abundant amount of Jewish terminology and illustrations from Jewish customs with very little explanation, assuming that his audience was acquainted with these. Although Matthew's Gospel is primarily Jewish, he carefully includes the Gentiles regularly, and of course ends with the capstone of our "Great Commission."

Purpose: To prove to his Jewish readers that Jesus is the Messiah. From his teachings in the Sermon on the Mount to His miracles and ministry in Galilee, Judea, and Perea, to His suffering during Passion week, Jesus is our Messiah.

We hope to spend a considerable amount of time in the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus' parables.

Our Online Study Guide is provided by "Into the Word": this week: The King has Come!

The Gospel of Matthew
The Geneology of Jesus
1 A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife,
7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
9 Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.

12 After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14 Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Eliud,
15 Eliud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.

Key points:

God is the God of promises. God made the promises, and God keeps His promises!

Faith is not inherited! We cannot get it from our parents or our church, even though our lineage may be passed down for generations.

Faith is personal and relational to Christ for each individual person who is in community with the Church

Jesus is the ultimate humbler; He humbled Himself by taking on the likeness of a mere man.

Jesus' lineage included the improbable, dubious, and even wicked, such as captives, the obscure, and the insignificant—even traders, prisoners, adulterers, murderers, and harlots. By coming as fully man and fully God, only He could ever redeem His people.

And He did - God is faithful.

Questions for Discussion

  • Why does Matthew begin with the genealogy of Jesus? Why is it important?
  • How does knowing that God works through diverse people, regardless of wealth, culture, or position, give you hope and assurance?
  • Before reading this study, did you see or consider that there are great things to learn even from this seemingly obscure passage? How can this help motivate your Bible reading?
  • How can this passage help you know that God makes promises and God keeps His promises through all generations?
  • Can you trust Him with all of your needs, worries, and problems, even if you do not understand what is going on?
  • Christ humbled Himself by taking on the likeness of a mere man; He was still also fully God when He came to this earth. Knowing this, how can you live your life with an attitude of humility?


C. in VA said...

I'm not sure how much I can contribute! I don't know that
much about the Bible or its writers. But...I do have a few questions about Matthew 1 section 1 and a few questions on your blog comments.

1. What does 'fourteen' symbolize? There has to be a deeper meaning to the number 14. Is it used elsewhere in the Bible?

2. Lineage - I think earlier in the Bible, prophets say that Jesus
will be of the same lineage as King David, right? Please correct me if I'm wrong...Shouldn't the lineage be stemming from Mary since God, is the father of Jesus, not Joseph?!?!?


deb said...

Hey, C:
Let me give it a try.. Questions are good! Answers..??? We can both learn and do the research, right?

1) As far as the number 14, this is what I found:
For one thing, the dividing of Matthew's genealogy into three groups of fourteen helps for the memorization of the list. Also, since Matthew emphasizes that the names have been grouped into sets of 14, we should assume there is a significance. The number 14
is itself important because it is 2 times the holy number 7. The number 14 was also said to be important in the Davidic Psalms Most importantly, the division of 14 generations 3 times would add a high level of importance to Jesus' birth, by virtue of being at the end of the third (number of completion) set of 14.

All that being said, I think most scholars who aren't into Bible codes and stuff like that look at it and say... hmmmm that was significant, then move on, rather than making a big puzzle out of it...

2) Lineage Question: Good catch!! King David is shown in Matthew's
lineage (in verse 6). The reason why it starts with Abraham is because Matthew is showing Jesus' Jewishness. And in doing so, he is also shattering A LOT of cultural assumptions.

I'm pretty sure that the key points of Matthew's geneology are to establish the "Royal" bloodline of the Messiah, while also driving home the fact that Israel's tainted past required a Savior.

As far as the question on Mary, notice that Matthew calls "Joseph, husband of Mary." This is noteable in itself. To identify a man by his wife and not he other way around was pretty radical. Also, it is interesting to note that mothers and wifes are mentioned throughout the lineage. This in itself was ground breaking and would have raised quite a few eyebrows.

Now, if you really want to get into it - or should I say - get me even more confused :), do a comparison with the Messiah's lineage in Luke Chapter 3. Luke was writing primarily to the Gentiles and non-Jewish covenanters and he does trace Jesus' lineage through Mary's father, Heli, instead of Joseph's father Jacob. We don't have to go totally into it now. We can always come back to it.

I would say, let's go on to the next section and not get bogged here. Then maybe revisit all of the lineage stuff at a later time.

What do you think?