Key theme: GOD’S KINGDOM IS ON THE MOVE
The Gospel of Matthew begins by pronouncing Jesus as the coming King. We are continually reminded of Jesus’ royal credentials – he is the Son of David, the interpreter of the Law, and the fulfiller of prophecies. In Matthew’s gospel, more than any other, Jesus speaks about the Kingdom of God. The arrival of God’s Kingdom is demonstrated by the restoration of a fallen creation; the sick are healed, demons driven out, nature tamed, and death defeated. Jesus’ followers are expected to take part in bringing about this restoration as they are sent out on God’s business. We live in the tension of the Kingdom being both “now” and “not yet” until the King returns. A key feature the Kingdom was its reversal of typical power structures. The true King is identified by humility, service and sacrifice. Like Israel, our ideas of what it means to follow Jesus can be quite different…
As you read…
§ Kingship and Kingdom: Note the references to “King(s)” and “the Kingdom of God/Heaven” that you find. Why does Matthew make so many references to royalty? In what different ways is the Kingdom of God described? How does the emphasis of Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom change depending on the audience? Why do you think he never describes it in a clear, concise “vision statement”? What do Jesus’ actions demonstrate about the Kingdom?
§ Jewishness: How is Jesus portrayed in relation to the law? How does this compare with the Pharisees? How does Jesus develop traditional Jewish understandings of what it meant to obey the law (“you have heard that it was said, but I say to you…)? What OT Testament prophecies does Matthew remind us have been fulfilled?
§ Beyond Israel: Matthew begins and ends with a wider vision of who will be part of God’s kingdom. Who are the women listed in the genealogy in Matt 1 and why were they included? Who were the first people to pay homage after Jesus birth? The last section of Matt 28 is known as the “Great Commission” (v 16-20). What obligations and promises are found in it?
 This gospel is attributed to Matthew by very early church tradition. It is thought to draw heavily on Mark’s account and was likely written in the AD70s. It is structured with five blocks of teaching contained within sections of narrative, and often attempts to portray Jesus teaching and actions as mirroring Moses.
 The genealogies in Matthew 1 can be particularly confusing – they are different from Luke’s and those found in the OT. Jewish culture commonly modified genealogies (often by shortening) to produce numbers with symbolic significance (such as 3, 7 or 12). Here Matthew uses 3 groups of 14 (2×7). The number 14 had the added significance of being the numerical value of King David’s name, further emphasising the theme of Kingship. The three groups can be considered as follows: 1) the Jewish monarchy reaching its peak with King David; 2) the ending of the monarchy with exile; 3) the coming of Jesus, the true King.
 Matthew favours “Kingdom of Heaven”, adopting the Jewish custom of avoiding using God’s name directly.