Introduction
The Gospel according to St. Matthew has been called the most Jewish of the four Gospels. The author makes frequent connections with the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) and in general employs a familiar Jewish literary style. In every way Matthew endeavors to demonstrate the authenticity of Jesus as God's Messiah (Christ) who has come into human life in accord with promises made by God to the people of Israel in the books of the Hebrew scriptures (especially the Prophets and Psalms). Matthew makes clear that Jesus' coming is good news not only for Jews, but also for all the world's people.
This Gospel stands first among the four not because it was written first but because it was by far the most popular in the Early Church. It has been thoughtfully organized around five “teaching discourses” of Jesus (see indented sections of outline below). As Matthew presents him, Jesus is a Teacher of great stature and authority like Moses had been in his day (Deut 18.15). He speaks for God so persuasively that listeners marvel at his words. Significantly, like Moses, he also teaches from a mountaintop (the Sermon on the Mount), and his five central teaching sections in this Gospel compare in number with the five books of Moses (Pentateuch). Throughout this Gospel Jesus is presented as “the new Moses,” one who now speaks for God, bringing good news for his people, and for all people.
In the closing section narrating Jesus' suffering and death, Matthew brings out the majestic character of Jesus as Israel's Messiah. Jesus serenely predicted his eventual triumph over death (20.17-19), and this theme that death cannot defeat him is central to the author's purpose here. The final scene after Jesus' resurrection is again on a mountaintop, signaling authoritative revelation, and it is here that he commissions the disciples to go “and teach all nations” (28.19). Key themes in Matthew are struck again here at the end: Jesus the Teacher with authority, universal mission, commissioning of his followers to carry on his mission.
Matthew was written by an unknown Christian from Antioch in Syria around a.d. 90, but tradition has attributed this Gospel to Jesus' disciple, the tax collector of this name (but called Levi in the parallel texts in Mark and Luke).
Outline
Jesus' Origins (1.1—2.23)
Jesus' Preparation for Ministry (3.1—4.16)
Discourse 1: The Sermon on the Mount (“Living Rightly”) (4.17—7.29)
Jesus the Compassionate Healer (8.1—9.34)
Discourse 2: Mission Teaching (9.35—11.1)
Jesus Encounters Hostility (11.2—12.50)
Discourse 3: Teaching in Parables (13.1-52)
Jesus Continues His Ministry in Galilee (13.53—16.20)
Pointing toward Jerusalem (16.21—17.27)
Discourse 4: Teaching about Community (18.1-35)
Guidance for the Disciples (19.1—20.34)
Jesus in Jerusalem (21.1—23.39)
Discourse 5: The Final Age and Judgment (24.1—25.46)
Jesus' Arrest, Death and Resurrection (26.1—28.20)
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