While we have no means of knowing exactly when Matthew’s gospel was written, or even whether (as some suppose) it first appeared in Hebrew, or was originally written in Greek, it is very evident that it was placed rightfully at the beginning of the New Testament; for it is definitely the connecting link between the prophets of old and the new dispensation of grace. The many quotations in it from the books of the prophets are designed to show how our Lord Jesus Christ came as the promised King of Israel, in exact accordance with the numerous predictions which God had inspired His servants to give from Abraham’s day to that of Malachi, when prophetic testimony ceased. God was silent for 400 years, until John the Baptist, the last of the prophets, came declaring that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt. 3:2 KJV). Matthew is in a real sense the Jewish gospel. This does not mean that it has no message for Christians, but rather that it was designed by the Holy Spirit to make clear to honest Jewish inquirers that Jesus Christ is the One of whom Moses and the prophets spoke. In Matthew 1:1-17 we have the genealogy of the King, and in 1:18-25 the birth of the King. In 2:1-12 the Gentiles do homage to the King, and in 2:13-23 we see the preservation of the King. Matthew 3 gives the dedication and anointing of the King; while in chapter 4 we have His testing. In chapters 5 to 7 – the “Sermon on the Mount” – the King unfolds the principles of His kingdom. In chapters 8-12 we see the King accredited by mighty works of power, but meeting with everincreasing rejection. In chapters 13-20 we behold a new condition which was to prevail after the rejected King returned to heaven, and until He comes again. In chapters 21-23, God’s earthly people (Israel) are set to one side because of their refusal to receive the King when He came to them in exact accordance with their own Scriptures. Chapters 24-25 have to do with the second advent of the King. In chapters 26-28 we have His death and resurrection, closing with His commission to His disciples to go forth to the nations with the kingdom message.
The genealogy given in Matthew is that of Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus, lineal descendant of David and heir to the throne, through whom the throne rights were transmitted to our Lord. His birth occurred in Bethlehem late in 5 BC or early in 4 BC, while the visit of the wise men took place possibly some two months afterward, and this was followed immediately by the flight into Egypt.
We need not be surprised to find that everything in connection with the advent of the King was of a miraculous character, when we realize that He was truly “Immanuel” – meaning “God with us” – as predicted in Isaiah 7:14. When God came down to earth how could it be otherwise than that certain natural laws should be suspended in order that He might enter into our world in a manner becoming to His majesty and power.
So we see Him taking our humanity as born of a virgin mother, His coming made known in some supernatural way to the wise men from the East, and His life preserved by divine arrangement so that the malice of Herod could not reach Him in order to destroy Him. The beauty and simplicity of the narrative fills us with admiration and moves our hearts to worship and thanksgiving for God’s unspeakable Gift.
While it is of great importance that we observe and take into account the special dispensational place of this Gospel, we shall lose much if we fail to realize that it is gospel, and not law. For the gospel is God’s message concerning His Son, and here the Son is presented in His Kingly aspect that we may learn to reverence Him as such and bow in subjection at His feet.
This article is from H. A. Ironside’s Notes On Matthew (Loizeaux Bros; New York, ’48), pp. 7-9. Used by permission.
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org