TODAY’S READING: MATTHEW 1- 4
The Genealogy of the King (chapter 1); the Birth of the King (chapter 2); the Announcement of the King (chapter 3); the Testing of the King (chapter 4).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
When you turn the page in your Bible after the Book of Malachi and you come into the Book of Matthew, recognize that there has been a 400 year gap between these Books. Sometimes when we are talking in terms of history, 400 years doesn’t seem like an extremely long period of time. To help to put it in perspective, however, realize that 400 years ago, the King James Bible did not yet exist! 400 years is a long time!
And keep in mind that in that 400 year period of time between the Testaments, God had remained completely silent in terms of new revelation. Though He had been silent in the world, He certainly had not been absent! During those 400 years, God was busy orchestrating the events of history to prepare the world for the coming of His only begotten Son. Remember, Galatians 4:4 says, “But when the FULNESS OF TIME WAS COME, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.”
But also understand that the world had changed in that 400 year period. Hebrew by this time was a dead language, with Greek and Aramaic now the languages of common communication and commerce. There are different sects and parties that are now on the scene that were not found in the Old Testament.
The Scribes – These were men regarded with great reverence by the Jews as the interpreters and teachers of the Scriptures. Ezra was perhaps the first of this sect, but by the time of Christ, they had degenerated greatly from Ezra’s character and godliness. They were constantly in opposition to Christ, and some of Christ’s most harsh words were directed to the Scribes, and another key sect:
The Pharisees – These men were also highly regarded by the Jews. They saw themselves as holy and zealous guardians of the law, and were ultra-conservative in all aspects of their beliefs and external behavior. They, too, brought the Lord Jesus Christ tremendous opposition, and were denounced by Him quite frequently.
The Sadducees – If the Pharisees were the religious “right,” the Sadducees were the religious “left.” For the most part, they were a part of the wealthy, influential, priestly parties, and were rationalistic and liberal in their beliefs, denying the immortality of the soul, as well as the resurrection.
The Herodians – This was not a religious group, but a political party who took their name from Herod. Because of their zealousness for the Roman government, they viewed Christ as a threat to Rome’s authority, viewing Christ as a political revolutionary.
The Zealots – These were extreme and radical defenders of a theocratic form of government (God rules), and were involved in acts of violence against the Roman government to champion their cause.
We will run into these sects repeatedly throughout Matthew and the other gospels and it is important to understand who they are to really understand the social, political, and religious world of the New Testament.
As we move into the Book of Matthew today, because the events are easily understood, perhaps the best use of our time will be in providing an analysis of the Book as a whole:
1. Information About The Author
His name: Matthew.
His name means: Gift of the Lord (or Jehovah).
He was a Publican. (Mt.10:3; 17:24-27; Ro.13:1-7)
He is also called Levi. (Mk. 2:13-14; Lk. 5:27-29)
He was born a Jew. (Mk. 2:14; Lk. 5:27)
He is the son of Alphaeus. (Mk. 2:14)
He has 2 brothers James and Judas. (Mk. 3:18; Lk. 6:16)
He was chosen to be one of the 12 disciples. (Lk. 6:12-
16;Mt.10:1-4; Mk. 3:13-19)
2. Facts About the Gospel
Approximate date of writing: 64-66 A.D.
Written from: Jerusalem.
Dates of the recorded events: 4 B.C. – 33 A.D.
Theme: Christ, the King of the Jews.
Christ is seen as: The Promised King.
Key Verse: Matthew 27:37.
Key Word: Kingdom (56 times).
Verses: 1, 071
3. Features of This Gospel
The only gospel that uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” (32
The only gospel that uses the phrase “that it might be
fulfilled which was spoken” (9 times)
Contains 60 references to the Old Testament.
Contains 25 fulfilled prophecies.
4. A Simple Outline of This Gospel
Rejection #1 - of the Kingdom (Chapters1-12).
Rejection #2 - of the King (Chapters 13-28).