Matthew (Part 1) Chapter 1-13
Themes and Structure of the Book
The first theme in Matthew shows Jesus as the promised Messiah from the line of King David.
The second theme is that Jesus is the new, authoritative teacher of God’s people like Moses in the Old Testament (OT). It’s especially apparent in the Beatitudes, also called the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), where Jesus teaches about God’s new commandments near the mountains, much like Moses delivering God’s Ten Commandments after coming down from Mount Sinai (Exodus 20).
The third major theme is that Jesus is Immanuel – “God with us” (Isaiah 7-8; Matthew 1:23).
Matthew is structured with an introduction and a conclusion as well as five clear sections in between. Each of these sections ends with a block of teaching by Jesus.
Chapters 1-3 set the stage with Jesus’s ministry set right onto the storyline of the OT. It starts with the genealogy of Jesus which highlights how he is from the messianic line of David and is a son of Abraham indicating that he will bring God’s blessing to all the nations of the earth (Genesis 12:3). Then we get the famous story of the birth of Jesus and how this fulfills all the OT prophetic promises. These fulfillments are to show that Jesus is not merely a human but is really “God with us.”
Matthew demonstrates that Jesus is the new authoritative teacher as Moses was to the people of Israel. Like Moses, Jesus came out of Egypt, went through the waters of baptism (Red Sea), went into the wilderness for forty days (rather than forty years) and also taught the people on the Mount of Olives (Moses at Mount Sinai). Through all of this, Matthew is showing that Jesus is the “greater” Moses. He will deliver people from slavery, give new divine teaching, save them from sin, and bring a new covenant relationship with God.
The Moses and Jesus parallel also explains why Matthew structured the next major sections as he did. The five main parts highlight Jesus as a teacher and parallel the first five books of OT, called the “Torah” (תּוֹרָה) from the Hebrew meaning “law” or “commandment.” Jesus is the new authoritative teacher who is going to fulfill the storyline of the Torah.
Jesus announces the arrival of God’s kingdom which is a rescue operation for the world. Jesus comes to confront spiritual evil and its legacy and to restore God’s rule and reign over the world by creating a new family of people who will live under his rule. He takes his followers out to the Mount of Olives and teaches them what it means to follow him and live in God’s kingdom. This is an “upside-down” kingdom where there are no privileged members and everybody is invited to repent. Jesus is not here to undermine the Torah, but to transform the hearts of people so that they will truly obey its commands. Jesus then concludes his teaching on the Kingdom of God.
The next section is about Jesus bringing the Kingdom of God into the daily lives of people. There are nine stories about Jesus bringing the power of God into the lives of hurting people. There are three groups of three stories which are all about people who are sick, broken, or in danger. Jesus heals or saves them through his grace and power. In between these stories, we have two parallel stories about Jesus’s call to people to follow him. Matthew is making the point that people can only experience the healing power of Jesus’s grace by following him and becoming his disciple. After Matthew shows the power of the Kingdom of God through Jesus, we see Jesus extending his reach by sending out the twelve disciples to do what he has been doing. He teaches them how to announce the coming of the kingdom and what to expect once they do.
Jesus knows that not all will accept his message, some will accept it with rejoicing, others will be neutral and others will reject it completely – especially the religious leaders, who will lose much if they admit that Jesus, not they, best understands and teaches the truth of God.
Chapters 11-13 are a collection of stories about the responses to this message. Jesus is not surprised by these responses. In fact, he focused on it by telling parables in the third block of teaching. Jesus’s parables are like commentaries on the different responses to his message recorded in chapters 11-12.
Source: BibleProject & www.pursuegod.org/read-scripture-series-matthew-chapters-1-13