Series: Best Book In the BibleEvery Christian knows the importance of reading their Bible, but many are overwhelmed with the task of devouring such a monstrous book! Often times, when Christians lose steam in their yearly reading plans, they can become frustrated and feel defeated. It is for this reason that individual book studies can be a lifesaver. In the Best Book in the Bible series, we will provide entry points into faithful study through “selling” you on why you should fall in love with the various books of the Bible.
There is no greater aspiration for the Christian believer than to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only is He our Savior, but He is our God and King. And while all of Scripture points to Christ, it is the Gospels that give us the most complete biographical accounts of His life on earth. Because of its focus on the rich teaching ministry of Jesus, for many, Matthew is the best book in the Bible.
Main theme: Jesus Christ: Messiah & King
“For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt. 6:32-33)
“Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matt. 10:32-34)
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matt. 16:24)
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.” (Matt. 24:14)
While Matthew, Mark, and Luke are considered synoptic, that is, they offer similar views of the story of Jesus, it is the Gospel of Matthew that offers us a longer, fuller account. The book was written by the former tax-collector-turned-disciple Matthew, and was directed primarily to Jews who were awaiting the Messiah. In the end, the book functions as an apologetic to who would repent and believe in Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah and King of Israel.
1:1—4:25. Matthew begins his Gospel by presenting the genealogy of Jesus, stretching as far back as Abraham. While at first, this seems like simply a protracted exercise in fiddling with ancient ancestry, in truth, the first seventeen verses provide an undeniable lineage that proves Jesus’ royal claim to the throne of David. It’s interesting to note that, in all four Gospels, never once is Jesus’ lineage questioned by the Pharisees. Matthew 1 provides all the evidence needed to assure questioning Jews that Jesus has a legal right to the Davidic throne through his adoptive father, Joseph.
The remainder of chapter 1 and all of chapter 2 recount the virgin birth, threat of King Herod, and flight to Egypt. Chapter 2 closes with Jesus’ family returning to Nazareth. In chapter 3, Jesus is baptized “to fulfill all righteousness” (3:15), thus demonstrating His perfect obedience to the Father, who declares that He is well-pleased with the Son. Chapter 4 chronicles Jesus’ temptation by Satan in the wilderness, and His sinless victory; followed by Jesus’ move to Capernaum to begin His ministry with the twelve disciples.
5:1—7:29. In what is known as, “The Sermon on the Mount,” Matthew 5-7 presents us with the first of five long discourses in Matthew’s Gospel (also 9:35-10:42; 13:1-52; 17:24-18:35; and 23:1-25:46). There has been much debate about the intended audience of Christ’s Sermon, but it seems correct that His listeners would have been His believing disciples, whom He exhorts to obey His commands in all godliness.
8:1—20:28. While the larger middle section can be broken up into smaller sections, chapters 8 through 20 consist of Jesus’ expansive three-year teaching ministry. In chapters 8 and 9, Jesus displays His power, which functions as proof of His divinity and kingship. Chapter 10 through 16 present to His followers the mission; to announce the arrival of the King and the program of salvation. Chapter 17 famously chronicles Peter, James, and John with Christ on the Mountain of Transfiguration, followed by more teaching in chapter 18 through 20.
20:29—25:46. The next five chapters take place during the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry, leading up to the cross. In chapter 21, we see Jesus ride into Jerusalem on a donkey (Palm Sunday), followed by His strong confrontations with the religious leaders of Israel. Chapter 23 consists of Jesus’ scathing condemnation of the false religious system propagated by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes. And chapters 24 and 25 offer a series of end-times predictions, whereby various signs of “the end of the age” will be seen.
26:1—28:20. The last three chapters of Matthew showcase the Last Supper (Passover), the betrayal of Judas, Jesus’ trail before the Sanhedrin and Pilate, the crucifixion and death of Jesus, followed by His burial, bodily resurrection, and conspiracy plot by the Jews. Matthew concludes his Gospel by recording the Great Commission of Christ to the disciples:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20).
What Makes This Book So Great:
With the exception of Luke, no other New Testament book captures more of the spoken words of Jesus than Matthew. And while, yes, all of Scripture is His word, this Gospel offers so much of what our Lord was teaching the disciples while on earth. No doubt, the Sermon on the Mount is a must-read and a must-learn; a joyous challenge for every Christian believer. Matthew’s Gospel puts on display the wisdom, tenderness, and divine majesty of our Glorious King.
As with other longer books of the Bible, it helps to break Matthew into parts, studying individual sections repeatedly. To help keep your fingers nimble, look up each of the names listed in Jesus’ genealogy in chapter 1, and read the stories of each person. This exercise will help bring into view the value of the Old Testament narrative as it pertains to the coming of the Christ. Also, you may want to do a study on the Sermon on the Mount, as well as many of the parables. As you do this, there will be much that you will want to commit to memory, as the words of Jesus will do nothing but enrich your heart and your mind!
- David Platt, Exalting Jesus in Matthew. Holman Reference, 2013.
- D.A. Carson, “Matthew” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 8. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984.
- John MacArthur, Matthew (4 vols) MNTC. Chicago: Moody, 2004
Note: Find the rest of the Best Book in the Bible series here: EntreatingFavor.com/BestBookSeries