Jehovah’s Word Is Alive

Highlights From the Book of Matthew

THE first person to write a thrilling account of Jesus’ life and ministry is Matthew​—a close associate of Jesus Christ and a onetime tax collector. Originally written in Hebrew and later translated into Greek, the Gospel of Matthew was completed about 41 C.E. and serves as a bridge connecting the Hebrew Scriptures to the Christian Greek Scriptures.

Apparently intended primarily for a Jewish audience, this moving and meaningful Gospel portrays Jesus as the promised Messiah, the Son of God. Paying close attention to its message will strengthen our faith in the true God, his Son, and His promises.​—Heb. 4:12.

“THE KINGDOM OF THE HEAVENS HAS DRAWN NEAR”

(Matt. 1:1–20:34)

Matthew highlights the Kingdom theme and Jesus’ teachings, even though doing so means deviating from presenting matters in strict chronological order. For example, the Sermon on the Mount is related early in the book, although Jesus delivered it about halfway through his ministry.

During the course of his Galilean ministry, Jesus performs miracles, gives ministerial instructions to the 12 apostles, denounces the Pharisees, and relates Kingdom illustrations. Then he departs from Galilee and comes to “the frontiers of Judea across the Jordan.” (Matt. 19:1) Along the way, Jesus tells his disciples: ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man will be condemned to death, and on the third day he will be raised up.’​—Matt. 20:18, 19.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

3:16—In what way were ‘the heavens opened up’ at the time of Jesus’ baptism? This seems to indicate that Jesus’ memory of his prehuman existence in heaven returned to him.

5:21, 22—Is giving vent to anger more serious than harboring it? Jesus warned that a person who harbors smoldering wrath against his brother is committing a serious sin. However, giving expression to wrath by speaking a word of contempt is more serious, making one accountable to a court higher than the local court of justice.

5:48—Is it really possible for us to be “perfect, as [our] heavenly Father is perfect”? Yes, in a relative sense. Jesus was here discussing the subject of love, and he told listeners to imitate God and be perfect, or complete, in their love. (Matt. 5:43-47) How? By expanding it to include their enemies.

7:16—What “fruits” mark the true religion? These fruits include more than our conduct. They also involve our beliefs​—the teachings to which we adhere.

10:34-38—Is the Scriptural message to be blamed for family rifts? Not at all. Rather, rifts are caused by the position taken by unbelieving family members. They may choose to reject or oppose Christianity, bringing about divisions in the family.​—Luke 12:51-53.

11:2-6—If because of having heard God’s voice of approval John already knew that Jesus was the Messiah, why did he ask if Jesus was “the Coming One”? John might have asked this in order to get a personal  confirmation from Jesus. More than that, though, John wanted to know if there was to be “a different one” who would come with Kingdom power and fulfill all the hopes of the Jews. Jesus’ answer showed that there was to be no successor.

19:28—What is represented by “the twelve tribes of Israel” that will be judged? They do not represent the 12 tribes of spiritual Israel. (Gal. 6:16; Rev. 7:4-8) The apostles to whom Jesus was speaking were going to be part of spiritual Israel, not judges of its members. Jesus made ‘a covenant with them for a kingdom,’ and they were to be ‘a kingdom and priests to God.’ (Luke 22:28-30; Rev. 5:10) Those of spiritual Israel are to “judge the world.” (1 Cor. 6:2) Hence, “the twelve tribes of Israel,” whom those on the heavenly thrones judge, evidently represent the world of mankind who are outside that royal, priestly class, as pictured by the 12 tribes on Atonement Day.​—Lev., chap. 16.

Lessons for Us:

4:1-10. This account teaches us that Satan is real and not a quality of evil. He uses “the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life” to tempt us. Nevertheless, applying Scriptural principles will help us to remain faithful to God.​—1 John 2:16.

5:1–7:29. Be conscious of your spiritual need. Be peaceable. Shun immoral thoughts. Keep your word. When praying, give spiritual concerns priority over material interests. Be rich toward God. Seek first the Kingdom and God’s righteousness. Do not be judgmental. Do God’s will. What practical lessons are included in the Sermon on the Mount!

9:37, 38. We should act in harmony with our request to the Master to “send out workers into his harvest,” zealously engaging in the disciple-making work.​—Matt. 28:19, 20.

10:32, 33. We should never be afraid to speak about our faith.

13:51, 52. Getting the sense of Kingdom truths brings with it the responsibility of teaching others and sharing these treasures with them.

14:12, 13, 23. Periods of solitude are essential for purposeful meditation.​—Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12.

17:20. We need faith to overcome mountainlike obstacles that interfere with our spiritual progress and to cope with difficulties. We should not be negligent about building and strengthening our faith in Jehovah and his promises.​—Mark 11:23; Luke 17:6.

18:1-4; 20:20-28. Human imperfection and a religious background that emphasized position made Jesus’ disciples overly concerned about greatness. We should cultivate humility as we guard against sinful tendencies and maintain a proper view of privileges and responsibilities.

“THE SON OF MAN IS TO BE DELIVERED UP”

(Matt. 21:1–28:20)

“Mounted upon an ass,” Jesus comes to Jerusalem on Nisan 9, 33 C.E. (Matt. 21:5) The next day, he comes to the temple and cleanses it. On Nisan 11, he teaches in the temple, denounces the scribes and the Pharisees, and thereafter gives his disciples “the sign of [his] presence and of the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matt. 24:3) The following day, he tells them: “You know that two days from now the passover occurs, and the Son of man is to be delivered up to be impaled.”​—Matt. 26:1, 2.

It is Nisan 14. After having instituted the Memorial of his imminent death, Jesus is betrayed, arrested, tried, and impaled. On the third day, he is raised from the dead. Before his ascension to heaven, the resurrected  Jesus commands his followers: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations.”​—Matt. 28:19.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

22:3, 4, 9—When do the three calls to the marriage feast go out? The first call to gather the bride class went out when Jesus and his followers began preaching in 29 C.E., and it continued till 33 C.E. The second call extended from the time of the outpouring of the holy spirit at Pentecost 33 C.E. to 36 C.E. Both calls were directed only to the Jews, Jewish proselytes, and Samaritans. However, the third call was issued to the people from the roads outside the city, that is, to the uncircumcised Gentiles, beginning in 36 C.E. with the conversion of the Roman army officer Cornelius and continuing into our day.

23:15—Why was a proselyte, or a convert, of the Pharisees “a subject for Gehenna twice as much” as the Pharisees themselves? Some who became proselytes of the Pharisees may formerly have been gross sinners. By converting to the extremism of the Pharisees, however, they took a turn for the worse, possibly becoming more extreme than their condemned teachers. Thus, they were ‘subjects for Gehenna,’ doubly so in comparison with the Jewish Pharisees.

27:3-5—Over what did Judas feel remorse? There is no indication that Judas’ remorse was true repentance. Rather than seeking God’s forgiveness, he confessed his wrongdoing to the chief priests and older men. Having committed “a sin that does incur death,” Judas was rightly overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and despair. (1 John 5:16) His remorse was prompted by his being in a desperate state.

Lessons for Us:

21:28-31. Our doing the divine will is what really counts with Jehovah. For example, we should have a zealous share in the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work.​—Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20.

22:37-39. How succinctly the two greatest commandments summarize what God requires of those who worship him!

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Are you zealously engaging in the harvest work?

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Matthew highlights the Kingdom theme