They say text without context is pretext. If you do not understand when, how, which, to who and why certain words are used in the Bible, you will end up with a pretext – a guess work of what the Bible is saying. Therefore, you need to know why certain words are used in the Bible to get the right meaning.
I thought, how about reading the Bible book by book, chapter by chapter to help us get the right context of words and context from which we shall draw the right meaning.
Let’s start with the book of Matthew.
Matthew is written by Matthew a disciple of Jesus Christ. He was previously a tax collector/publican. His name was Levi but he is later changed to Matthew which means gift of God.
It was written around 55-90AD.
Purpose of writing Matthew
Matthew was writing to the Jews who did not believe in Christ. They crucified Christ and continued to wait for another Christ. Therefore, Matthew is writing to show the Christ who was crucified was the Christ who was prophesied.
He uses people and generations they can associate with to show the lineage from which Christ came from. Matthew starts with Abraham whom the Jews knew too well. He explains of Isaac and continues to show the Christ who was crucified was the Christ the prophets talked about.
Matthew also quotes the Old Testament which the Jews were familiar with over 60 times. This was to show them how prophesies they knew had been fulfilled.
Matthew who was a tax collector, with a burden to convince the Jews ends up writing 28 chapters. This was not an easy task keeping in mind he did not have a laptop to type but used to write on scrolls with his own hands.
He did not mind that people will not read his work because he was a tax collector who had a bad reputation. He did not mind how people would remember who he was and fail to believe him. However, he writes extensively to express Christ is. He did not stop at chapter one or chapter five, he writes a whole 28 chapters. It is the longest synoptic gospel among the four – Mark, Luke and John.
Don’t use your past as an excuse
How many of us today remember their past and when they are serving God they do it halfheartedly? How many times have you been reminded of your past and you have felt inadequate? Be like Matthew, don’t think of your past and serve halfheartedly, give it your all.
We are also not told about his marital status. The bible is silent about his wife, children, parents or siblings. Why? I believe the Bible is intentionally silent on such issues so that any time I will not say, I cannot serve well in church because I am not married. Or I will put my wife or husband or siblings or parents as an excuse why I will not be effective in God’s service. Matthew with or without a wife or children is highly effective.
The gospel according to the book of Matthew is also referred by historians and theologians as a swinging door. This means, if you want to understand the New Testament, Matthew is a great starting point. If you also want to read the Old Testament, Matthew is bridge where you can easily cross over.
The genealogy in Matthew
Perhaps you have read the book of Matthew and did not get inspired by the genealogy. However, there is a reason why the Holy Spirit allowed the generation to be outlined there.
One of the reasons is to show that God knows us at a personal level. He also knows where we are coming from, our parents and how we came about. He knows our background. This is to encourage many of us who in difficult situations just feel like God doesn’t care, God is too far and he doesn’t feel or know what I am going through. This is not true. God knows our situations and our background.
We look at the book of Matthew chapter one in details up next.