Book Summaries

Like Luke, Matthew stresses the true humanity of Jesus more than do Mark or John, who stress His true divinity. The distinctive characteristic of the 1st Gospel is the completeness with which the author reports the sermons and other discourses of the Saviour. He presents Christ as the master teacher, and gives 6 major discourses, at considerable length, which the other Gospel writers record either briefly or not at all: (1) The Sermon on the Mount, Mt 5 ­7, (2) the discourse on discipleship, chapter 10, (3) the sermon by the Sea, consisting entirely of parables, chapter 13, (4) the discourse on humility and brotherhood, Mt 18, (5) the discourse on hypocrisy, chapter 23, and (6) the discourse on Christ's return, chapters 24, 25. The other Synoptic writers usually quote Jesus as stating the same truths and using the same illustrations under other circumstances. Much of Jesus' teaching selected by Matthew consists of principles of ethical conduct, in an apparent endeavour to stress the fact that true religion is primarily a matter of how a man treats his fellow men. Though Matthew follows a general chronological pattern, he frequently reports incidents out of what appears to be their true setting and groups them together, often in topical order, by kind (confer, "compare" chapters 8:2 to 9:8). For instance, in order to read the incidents of Jesus' Galilean ministry, reported in chapters 4 to 15, in chronological order it would be necessary to skip back and forth among the chapters as follows: 4, 8, 4, 8, 9, 12, 5 ­7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 8, 9, 11, 9 ­10, 13 ­15. Matthew deviates from chronological sequence more than any of the other Gospel writers. He considers his narrative record chiefly as a framework within which to set the teachings of Jesus. He is not a chronicler, recording events as they occur, but a historian, reflecting upon the significance of those events against the larger background of their setting in the history of the chosen people and God's will for them.

After giving Jesus' human ancestry and relating certain incidents connected with His infancy and childhood (Mt 1,2), Matthew deals with events immediately preparatory to His ministry--His baptism and temptation in the wilderness (chapters 3, 4). Like the other Sypnotic writers, writers, he develops the Galilean ministry in considerable detail (chapters 4:12 to 15:20). He devotes nearly half of this space to the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5 ­7), the sermon by the Sea (chapter 13), and instruction on methods of evangelism (chapter 10). He deals rather fully with the period of Jesus' retirement from public ministry (chapters 15:21 to 18:35), and narrates certain incidents in the Samarian-Perean ministry (chapters 19:1 to 20:34). Finally, he covers in great detail the events of the week leading up to the crucifixion (chapters 21:1 to 27:66), and closes his record with the resurrection of Jesus and His post-resurrection appearances (chapter 28).

Horn, Siegfried H., Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association) 1979.