The Gospel of Matthew (chapters 1-4)

I have one word to say about our 3W gathering last night: WOW. What an amazing group! What a great discussion! What fun! We’ll do it again on 10.20.

Now on to Matthew as we are reading through the gospels together this fall.

In a few days you’ll be scratching your head and thinking, “Didn’t I just read this?” Answer: Yes, you read it last month in Mark.

Matthew (we’ll call him this for now, but stay tuned for the debate about his name) had a copy of Mark in front of him as he put his gospel together. He also had a copy of “Q,” a list of things Jesus said and did, not connected by a narrative. More about this later.

Matthew is the most Jewish of the gospels. Notice how often he explains how an event in Jesus’ life happened to fulfill Hebrew Scripture and then quotes a verse from the Old Testament. You’ll see this a lot in the first 4 chapters. Notice that when Jesus is tempted by the devil (4:1-11) his responses to the temptations are quotes from Hebrew Scripture. Like Moses, Jesus returns from Egypt and at the beginning of chapter five Jesus, like Moses in Exodus, is on a mountain from which he shares, not the 10 Commandments, but God’s new law (the Sermon on the Mount). Then in chapter 23 Jesus’ sharpest criticism is directed toward the religious leaders who are stuck in their ways and refuse to see the truth Jesus is offering. Scholars observe that there are five major discourses in Matthew which parallel the Five Books of Law (Torah).

Ah, but I get ahead of myself. You’re just at chapter 1 today!

Here are some things to keep in mind as you are reading:

• Notice that Matthew is the most Jewish gospel

• Notice that the birth narrative is from Joseph’s viewpoint.

• Joseph has to flee to Egypt to protect baby Jesus’ life (2:20-23) (like the ancient Jews had to flee to Egypt to survive famine).

• Jesus, like Moses, returns from Egypt and hands down the “law” from a mountain (chapters 5-7).

• Jesus is at odds with Jewish leaders (see chapter 23)

• Written by one of Jesus’ 12 hand-picked followers (9:9), who was a tax collector, meaning he had been pushed out of the Jewish religious community.

• Probably written for the church at Antioch

• Matthew’s favorite word is fulfilled.

• Matthew is especially impressed with Jesus as teacher (see chapters 5-7).

Please use “Leave a Comment” to offer questions, interpretations, observations, whatever. Your insights will help everyone to engage more deeply with the gospel, and just like last night, your comments will shape our study on 10.20.

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18 Responses to The Gospel of Matthew (chapters 1-4)

  1. Sherida Kemp says:

    Sammy, I did notice the “begat” section in Chapter 1. Was this purposely done to prove Jesus had a clear claim to be the Christ not only from His “heavenly Father” (Luke 3:23-38) but from His “earthly father” as well?

  2. Kasey Buckland says:

    Matthew 2- I love hearing the birth story from Joseph’s perspective! What a good man!
    So my question is….is our modern day “angel that tells us to go to Egypt” the holy spirit? Kind of wish we still got the angels occasionally. 🙂 how can we turn up the volume on the holy spirit?
    Thanks again for an awesome 3w the other night…it was awesome!

  3. Wendy says:

    Love this format, the readings and discussions. Would it be appropriate to share some reflections and insights here on the Genealogy of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 1?

    • sammywilliams says:

      Yes, Wendy. I’m encouraging everyone to use the comments to share their insights and interpretations as well as their questions. Can’t wait to read what you have to offer!

  4. logan jones says:

    Ok so is it just me or does Matthew ch 1 verse 23 say that Joseph should call the baby, “Immanuel … meaning ‘God with us’ …” and then after saying in 24 that Joseph did as the angel of the LORD commanded him …yet in verse 25 Joseph “called his name Jesus.”

    Did i miss the “Immanuel = Jesus” explanation? I mean, “Logan and Samuel”aren’t interchangeable for example, … right? Is it just me, does every one else just immediately understand the seamless interchangeability of the names?

    “What’s up with that?”


  5. Wendy says:

    I have always quickly skimmed past, okay usually skipped the genealogies listed in the Bible. Half the time I can hardly pronounce their names. However, these ancestral records are listed frequently in the Old Testament, and we begin Matthew with such a list, suggesting that these records are significant and important. And at least as far as I could find, Jesus was never questioned about his lineage (i.e. that he came from the line of King David). So were these records written down and kept somewhere? Anyway, I did a bit of purely scriptural research based on the 14 generations of Jesus as recorded in Matthew. Some of the people and their stories were very familiar and others not so much. Looking back at the stories of those that are actually recorded in the Old Testament provided lots of insights and I found this to be rather encouraging.
    God ordained that Immanuel(Jesus) would be born of this particular earthly line of people. These are his blood relatives! Within this lineage there are deeply faithful people of God(like Abraham), there are those who were oppressed or voiceless, who were taken down a path that they did not choose(Tamar in part?) and then there is such dysfunction with some of the kings that their stories scream generational bondage(Manasseh) . Yet, throughout their stories God’s grace and forgiveness continued to pour down on those who were faithful, on those who had been oppressed and on those who truly acknowledged their wrongdoings before God. God is always steadfast and faithful in God’s desire to bring us back so that we can experience the life-giving, transformational relationship with him. He does this over and over and over again in the Old Testament and then through the ultimate gift and sacrifice of Christ Jesus. So in Matthew before we even get into reading about the life of Jesus or his message or his purpose, our faith and hope can be strengthened by these stories of the forefathers and mothers. Jesus who experienced all that we have experienced(and more) physically and emotionally, also knows about family challenges. When we come from families where there is generational addiction and abuse, Jesus is there. When we think that we have nothing to offer God, when we think that we have messed up and veered off the path one too many times, Jesus is there. If we feel we do not have a voice, Jesus understands. He understands all of it because it is part of his earthly lineage as well. We can see how God has moved in the lives of his people and how through the redemption offered in Christ Jesus we can take a different path just as some of those in this list chose to do. We were created to have abundant life in Christ. We are not tied or bound to the past.
    Here is a brief synopsis of some as recorded in the genealogy of Jesus from Matthew.
    *Women were considered to be a possession of their fathers and then their husbands. Yet there are 5 women listed in the genealogy of Matthew and 4 of the women were Gentiles!
    *Tamar(gentile) whose story is told in Genesis 38, was married to Er, Judah’s son, and he was so wicked that God “put him to death.” The custom was that she would marry a brother of her husband to produce offspring for the dead brother. You can read the story but Tamar was mistreated, wronged, lied to and received broken promises and finally took matters into her own hands. Judah proclaims that Tamar is more righteous than he.
    *Rahab(gentile) whose story is told in Joshua 2, was a prostitute(more than likely out of necessity). Rahab demonstrated great faith and acknowledged who God was as she risked her life and the life of her family. She and her family were saved from the Fall of Jericho and Rahab went to live among the Israelites and gave birth to Boaz who married the next woman listed:
    *Ruth was a Moabite(that seems important to note because the author mentions it many times), who gave up security and a place and a life with her own family. She showed great commitment and faith in God by staying with her mother-in-law. “Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth 1
    *Bathsheba, because of King David’s misdeeds, became pregnant. David had her husband killed in battle to “save face,” and as a consequence their firstborn son was very ill and died. King David fully acknowledged his wrongdoings and God’s grace and forgiveness poured over David and he and Bathsheba gave birth to Solomon(who prayed for and received great wisdom from God).
    * Sweet Mary(the only Jewish woman listed in the crowd here), the mother of Jesus who was told by Gabriel, “you have found favor with God.”Luke 1:30
    Some of the Forefathers:
    *The covenant begins with Abraham’s call in Genesis 12.
    *We are probably pretty familiar with Isaac and Jacob.
    *Amminadab called out by God to assist Moses in taking the census of the Israelites. His daughter married Moses’ brother Aaron(okay, I just thought that was cool).
    *King Hezekiah who we are told in 2 Kings 18:5 that he “trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.” Hezekiah was told he was going to die and he prayed before the Lord and God added 15 years to his life. Hezekiah also pridefully showed everything in his storehouses(all his treasures) to a prince of Babylon. (And here is where we keep all the good stuff! Big mistake!)
    *Manasseh was so evil that he led the nation of people astray. The consequences of his actions led him to be captured by the King of Assyria and he had a hook placed through his nose. In total destitution, he recognized and acknowledged his need for God and confessed his wrongdoings before God. God’s grace and forgiveness poured over him and God “brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom.”(2 Chronicles 33).
    *Manasseh’s son, Amon was so evil(obviously he didn’t learn from the forefathers) that he was assassinated after a 2-year reign(2 Chronicles 33) Smells like generational bondage here!
    *Zerubbabel was told, “and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.(Haggai 2:23) “(that was cool because a King’s signet ring was used to seal his decrees and orders)
    *Joseph, the adopted father of Jesus, who through scripture appeared to be a kind, wise and courageous man.

    Sammy, you are probably the only one who still reading this and I do apologize for the lengthiness. Thank you so much for a place where we can share what we have received and wrestled with while reading God’s word.

    • April says:

      I hadn’t really ever paid that much attention to the lineage either. Wendy, thank you for this perspective on the lineage:

      “These are his blood relatives! Within this lineage there are deeply faithful people of God(like Abraham), there are those who were oppressed or voiceless, who were taken down a path that they did not choose(Tamar in part?) and then there is such dysfunction with some of the kings that their stories scream generational bondage(Manasseh) . Yet, throughout their stories God’s grace and forgiveness continued to pour down on those who were faithful, on those who had been oppressed and on those who truly acknowledged their wrongdoings before God. God is always steadfast and faithful in God’s desire to bring us back so that we can experience the life-giving, transformational relationship with him.”

      What I took from this is a word that is a word that keeps showing up in study this week, HOPE.

  6. beth says:

    Wendy – YOU ROCK! No way Sammy is the only one reading your whole post… not when you are sharing your gift of reflecting on scripture. Thanks for this.

  7. Rach says:

    WOW I had some major posting to catch up on but I’m LOVIN IT 🙂

  8. Kasey Buckland says:

    Love it!! Awesome perspective!
    So another question……john the baptist said he baptizes people with water but Jesus was coming to baptize with holy spirit. Did he ever “baptize” someone in the gospels?

    • Mary Beth El-Shafie says:

      After a little research, seems like this will come up more in John…it’s not totally clear, I don’t think:

      John 3
      22After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized.

      25An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew[a] over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”

      John 4
      1The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, 2although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.

  9. Mary Beth El-Shafie says:

    Love the MSG translation of Matt. 3:12, especially if “winnowing fork” isn’t part of your daily vocab: 🙂

    He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.”

  10. Rach says:

    okay matthew chapter 4 verse 7 says – Jesus answered him, “It is also written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test” f

    f 7 Deut 6:13 which led me to 13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.
    This is the verse that jumped out at me … 16 Do not test the LORD your God as you did at Massah. Where’s Massah, What is Massah? Why haven’t I heard of it before? So I have heard of it before … I just wasn’t paying attention so I looked it up … thank you Wikipedia
    Massah (Hebrew: מסה‎) is one of the locations which the Torah identifies as having been travelled through by the Israelites, during the Exodus,[1] although the list of visited stations in the Book of Numbers doesn’t mention it[2]. In the Book of Exodus, Massah is mentioned at the same time as Meribah, in a context which suggests that Massah is the same location as Meribah, but other biblical mentions of Massah and Meribah, such as that in the Blessing of Moses[3][4], seem to imply that they are distinct[5][6].
    The Biblical text states that the Israelites argued with Moses about the lack of water, with Moses rebuking the Israelites for testing Yahweh[7], hence the name Massah[8], which means testing. In an earlier narrative concerning Marah, a similar argument is related, in which Yahweh tested the Israelites[9]; some of textual scholars regard this latter episode, which doesn’t mention Massah explicitly, as being the Elohist version of the naming of Massah, while the former account, in which the name Massah refers to the testing of Yahweh by the Israelites, is attributed to the Jahwist[10].

    Marah is a place that the Lord has been teaching me about since 2008 … When I had my gallbladder removed … what’s another name for the gallbladder .. Bitter … and bitter … it’s Marah …. WHOA!!!! Here’s what wiki says about Marah – The narrative concerning Marah in the Book of Exodus states that the Israelites had been wandering in the desert for three days without water[3]; according to the narrative, Marah had water, but it was undrinkably bitter, hence the name, which means bitterness

    I know this is probably making no sense but I promise when this song ‘The Shores of Marah” is finished you will understand all of these pieces, know my heart and see His Glory!


  11. Kasey Buckland says:

    So just read Matt 5. It closes (NIV) with “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven in perfect.” For whatever reason, this doesn’t sit right in me. Most of the reading seems so “relational” with Jesus and then this comes up. By engaging with a relationship with Christ the behavior follows. Is that what he means here? That particular statement seems so actions oriented, without the relationship piece. Thoughts?

  12. Wendy says:

    Would you post the quote from this morning’s message? I think it was by David Buttrick. Thanks!

    • sammywilliams says:

      In the early days of the church the Sermon on the Mount was taught as a catechism to new members: this is how Jesus has instructed us to live in God’s new social order (= “kingdom of God/heaven”). “But with the Constantinian approval of Christianity, the movement was conformed to culture. The radical character of the Sermon on the Mount was reserved for ‘saints’; for the rest of us it was scaled down by common sense.” (David Buttrick, Speaking Jesus: Homiletic Theology and the Sermon on the Mount, p. 19.)

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