Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion ClassNew Testament: Matthew 1:1–7:29Week 6, Page 3
c)What are Matthew’s themes, and who is his audience?i)Each gospel has areas of focus that give it a unique style and “flavor.” Matthew has atleast five main themes in his gospel:(1)
Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy.
Matthew frequently writes about somethingJesus did, and then says “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by theprophets,” followed by an Old Testament passage.
He lists about a dozen directreferences
and many indirect references to the Old Testament.(a)Some of the passages he quotes are not in our Old Testament. For example,Matthew 2:23 quotes “the prophets” (plural) as foretelling that the Messiah would be from Nazareth. There is no known work—either in the OldTestament or in apocryphal writings—that contains this prophecy.
The kingdom of heaven.
In Matthew Jesus discourses frequently on the comingof God’s future kingdom.
Matthew is the only New Testament writer to use thephrase “kingdom of heaven” (which he does 32 times).
In Matthew’s gospel Jesus gathers his people and prepares hisapostles to lead them when he is gone. The word “church” appears in no othergospel but Matthew’s (16:18; 18:17), and Matthew contains the only discourse inthe gospels on life and order in the church (18:1–35).
In Matthew Jesus teaches frequently on the nature and calling of discipleship. The word “disciple” appears 73 times in Matthew, nearly twice asmuch as it does in Luke.(5)
The Law and morality.
Matthew frequently grapples with the relationship between the Law of Moses and Jesus’ teachings, and the moral and ethicalrequirements of being a follower of Jesus.
d)In summary, Matthew’s gospel is written to a later audience than Mark’s, one that wasmade up of Jewish converts who were trying to determine how interpret the Law of Moses in light of Jesus’ teachings.i)This was a major issue among early Jewish Christians, when Christianity was stillseen as a sect of Judaism, before it became its own separate religious tradition in the2nd century.
1:18–2:23. Matthew’s birth narrative.
a)Dating Jesus’ birth.
Matthew is not above taking Old Testament passages out of context in his fulfillment statements. The best-knownexample is his quote of Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:22–23, where he interprets Isaiah’s Immanuel Child prophecy given to King Ahaz in 730
. as a foretelling of the birth of Jesus the Messiah. There are substantial problems with this interpretation, butMatthew’s use of Isaiah has nonetheless resulted in most Christians reading Isaiah 7:14 the same way he did. For more on this,see notes to Old Testament lesson 18, pages 1–4;
See Matthew 1:22–23; 2:5–6, 15, 17–18, 23; 4:14–16; 8:17; 12:17–21; 13:14–15, 35; 21:4–5; 26:54, 56; 27:9–10. Othergospel writers do this as well—for example, John the Baptist as the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3–5 appears in all four gospels(Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4–5; John 1:23)—but Matthew makes it a special focus.
In the Book of Mormon, Nephi
has a vision of Mary being “in the city of Nazareth” (1 Nephi 11:13), but this prophecy was received in the Arabian wilderness and went with him to the New World.
Jesus’ ministry begins and ends with proclamations of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 25:1, 14).
This phrase also appears in the Book of Mormon in Alma (11×) and Helaman (2×), and in the Sermon at the Temple in 3Nephi (4×). It appears throughout the Doctrine and Covenants (11×) and in the Book of Moses (1×).
Many scholars see this section as evidence of an emerging Christian church in the late 1st century.
This is seen most clearly in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus teaches about the relationship of his commandmentsto the Law (Matthew 5:17–48).
We’ll discuss Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus (1:1–17) when we cover Luke’s infancy narrative.
© 2010, Mike ParkerFor personal use only. Not a Church publication.