Matthew wrote the Gospel to the Jews, his natives. The difference between him and Paul was that Paul was the “perfect” Jew before his conversion, whereas Matthew was “the traitor” Jew. Both were called directly by Jesus. After they accepted their call and converted, they both loved Jesus. Both also witnessed about Jesus in writing. While Paul wrote pastoral letters, Matthew penned a Gospel. Paul wrote primarily to the converted Gentiles, Matthew wrote primarily to the Jews. However, both were bringing arguments regarding the salvation of Jews and Gentiles.
Jesus invited all who were weary and burdened to come to him and promised that he would give them rest (Matt. 11:28ff). This was then, and continues to be, a welcome and attractive offer; an overwhelming majority of individuals experience soul-destroying, life-quenching exhaustion from the labor and troubles characteristic of life on this planet. Desperate for relief, multitudes have responded to Christ’s offer, seeking the promised rest. Sadly, only a portion of these finds this radical relief, the experience of revitalization.
The title “Sermon on the Mount” was apparently first given to Matthew 5-7 by Augustine of Hippo, but the specialness of this discourse was realized from the beginning and largely accounts for the popularity of this gospel in the early church. It is the first of five such discourses into which Matthew gathers the teachings of Jesus topically, the others being: Counsels on Mission (chapter 10), Teaching in Parables about the Kingdom of God (chapter 13), Church Relationships (chapter 18), and Last Things (chapters 23-25).
Our commentary this week is taken from A Commentary on the New Testament From the Talmud and Hebraica by John Lightfoot
Matthew 4:23 - And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
‘The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the Son of Abraham.’ That is Matthew chapter 1, v. 1—not exactly riveting stuff, is it? One might have thought that the ‘begots’ were an Old Testament thing—but here we are, at the very start of the New Testament, supposedly the new religious order and what do we have? Matthew 1, v.2: ‘Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.’
I barely remember my several years as a teenager being a part of the Youth Sabbath School at the Walla Walla Seventh-day Adventist Church. But a few things that I do remember include the young and earnest youth leader, the bright fabric on the pews, and how I often used to sit in or near the back every Sabbath that my family attended.
Leading Question: How does one know which of the seven churches of Revelation offers the closest match to our own experience?
For this week’s lesson on the seven churches in Revelation, the official study guide states that “we shall study them from the perspective of the original recipients.” Such an approach may leave some readers unsatisfied since Adventists traditionally have used the historicist approach for both Daniel and Revelation. Thus they plot all events on a historical line to the end of time.
This week’s Sabbath School study focuses on the apostle Paul’s distinctive contribution to the theme of the Great Controversy. In Paul’s writings this theme, like all other themes, are viewed in the light of the apostle’s main emphasis on Christ and His ultimate victory in providing salvation to the world.
There can be few episodes in earth’s history more illustrative of the Great Controversy’s working out in human affairs than the repeated bloody persecutions of the early Church. The stories of heroic fortitude and commitment shown by the early Christian martyrs inspired the believers of their own time and literally has inspired (and continues to inspire) Christians for two thousand years.