The New Testament in the Bible commences with the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All these gospels present the Lord Jesus Christ in various characteristics but all the gospels stress and clearly state that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God and God the Son. Even though Matthew presents Christ mainly as the Messiah or King, he still writes and assures us that Jesus is God Himself – the Jehovah of the Old Testament came to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ in the gospels. There are passages in Isaiah and Revelation that show Jehovah of the Old Testament is Jesus Christ.
In a previous article, I pointed out the order of these four gospels and the main points in each gospel, so I will not repeat this again. The main idea in writing about these gospels and taking Matthew as a starting point is to provide a simple outline or overview of each of the gospels and subsequently each of the New Testament books, just like what was done with the Old Testament books.
We commence with Matthew, whose name means ‘gift of the Lord’. The character of Matthew hardly resembled the meaning of his name because he was a publican, or tax collector before Jesus Christ called him to be one of the twelve disciples, and the eventual author of this first gospel by the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Matthew is also called Levi in the gospels of Mark and Luke, but here it is Matthew. We get his calling in Matthew 9:9 when he was sitting at the tax office. This is not like the ordinary tax office buildings that we have in our day today, but it was an average looking location and was probably out in the open. His duty was to collect taxes from people entering into the town where he was and then he would remit this money to the Romans, who were in power at that time. The Jews therefore hated these people and thought of them as ‘lowlifes’ and ‘nobody’s’ but the Lord Jesus had a task for him. I don’t know what was going through Matthew’s mind, but the word of the Lord Jesus worked in his heart, and he arose, left his job and followed Christ. He never went back to his job collecting taxes. What grace of God, to use such a person, especially to write the first gospel about Jesus Christ as King, instead of any other person who was in power at that time.
Matthew is also mentioned as one of Jesus’ disciples in chapter 10:3 and is mentioned as Matthew the publican, or tax-gatherer. His old nature is mentioned but this shows the grace of God working in bringing someone like this to the Lord Jesus. Matthew’s gospel also shows Christ as the friend of tax-gatherers, something the Jews did not like and were not happy with at all, and they really showed their feelings!
The gospel of Matthew was probably written between 60-70 AD, though it was not the earliest gospel. Mark’s gospel was the earliest one. Matthew was written at least 30 years after the Lord Jesus died, arose and ascended into heaven. This is important because when someone writes about an event as it happened, valuable points or important aspects can be missed and left out, so it is fitting that the gospels were written long after the Lord Jesus died, rose again and went into heaven.
Matthew has some peculiar phrases that are not mentioned in the other gospels, or that are mentioned less in the other gospels. One phrase is the ‘kingdom of heaven’ which is not mentioned in any other gospel. This phrase is mentioned about 32 times and is peculiar only to Matthew. The kingdom of heaven is the sphere of heaven on earth and includes all people who profess to be subject to the Lord Jesus Christ who is King, but He is not reigning now. The profession is to Christ as King but He is rejected in this time period. This includes all people who are true and not true. We have 10 parables in Matthew to present this idea and each of these parables tell us that there are those who are true and those who are not true to their profession/confession. We are not to judge those, only God knows those who are true and those who are not. He knows those who are His.
The ten parables are:
- The wheat and tares (darnel) chapter 13:24-30, 36-43
- The mustard seed chapter 13:31-32
- The leaven chapter 13:33
- The treasure in the field chapter 13:44
- The pearl of great price chapter 13:45-46
- The dragnet, or fishing net chapter 13:47-50
- The unforgiving servant chapter 18:23-35
- The workers in the vineyard chapter 20:1-16
- The marriage supper of the king chapter 22:1-14
- The ten virgins chapter 25:1-13
Note that the parable of the seed at the start of chapter 13 does not mention the kingdom of heaven at the start.
Another peculiar phrase is ‘that the words of the prophets might be fulfilled’. About 60 quotes from the Old Testament are referred to in Matthew, but about 30 of these are actually mentioned. The mention of the above phrase is around 14 times.
The gospel starts with Jesus Christ Son of David, Son of Abraham in chapter 1:1 and in this gospel the Lord Jesus as Son of David is mentioned about 8 times.
The other peculiar item in Matthew is the Church, or assembly, meaning ‘called out ones’, coming from the Greek word ‘ecclesia’. This is mentioned in chapter 16 based on Peter’s confession of who Jesus Christ is, and also in chapter 18 when the Church comes together to make a decision about an issue. The Church at that time had not yet been formed because the Lord Jesus was still with His disciples, but He revealed a glimpse of this on the grounds of Peter’s confession that He is the Son of the living God. The Church is not mentioned in Mark, Luke or John.
We see Matthew writing mainly concerning the Jews, and it was to the Jews that were in the land of Israel that this gospel presents Jesus Christ as the rightful King, and at the same time the Son of God. We are blessed with this gospel presenting the Lord Jesus Christ not only as Son of David and Son of Abraham, but the Son of God and God Himself.
The gospel of Matthew can be divided into the following parts that are prominent which everything is grouped.
- The King
- The Kingdom
- The King and the Kingdom is rejected
- The rejection of His earthly people and their judgement
- The mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven
- The Church
- The Mount of Olives Discourse
For a more structured outline, this gospel can be divided in the following way:
- The introduction of the King – chapters 1 to 4:11
- The service of the King in Galilee – chapter 4:12 to chapter 12
- The service of the rejected King – chapters 13 to 20
- The service of the King in Jerusalem – chapters 21 to 25
- The completion of the service of the King – chapters 26 to 28
This outline is adapted from Arend Remmers and Arno Gaebelein’s notes and outlines of the gospel of Matthew. The full outline and notes from the above authors are available on www.biblecentre.org, a website highly recommended and full of rich resources. However, this is not intended to be a copy from these authors, but I attempted to put these in words and phrases that are simple for the youngest reader to understand.
One thought on “Outline of the Gospel of Matthew”
It’s great. Thank you so much for this.