Notes on Craig L. Blomberg Commentary: Matthew's Gospel

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL DATA

Blomberg, Craig L. The New American Commentary, Volume 22. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992.

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW:

Commentary Overview

The commentator of the New American Commentary, Volume 22, has dissected the gospel of Matthew as he methodologically adopts the structure of how Matthew has been presented, the theology with reference to Israel and the Gentiles, Christology, the fulfillment of Scripture, and discipleship and the church with reference to evangelism and church planting. The commentator delineates on the purpose and audience, the sources, date, the author of Matthew gospel, and its historicity and genre.

            With reference to the structure of the Matthew gospel, most commentaries naturally unfold Matthew gospel in chronological fashion of Jesus’ ministry as the commentators had considered the gospel to be collection of discrete passages about what Jesus said and did at different stages in his life and in different locations without trying to group those episodes into any larger thematic sections.[1] In the discussion of the theology of the Matthew’s gospel, the commentator has adopted and utilized outlines since outlines provide a window through which one can view through the lenses of the biblical writer’s distinctive theological emphasis on the various subjects the commentator wants to address in the commentary. As one goes through the New American Commentary, volume 22, this rule is carefully followed. The commentator arrives and does it using this rule when he analyzes the topics that link together material in the various pairs of narratives and discourses; then, a unified plot emerges.[2]

            The gospel of Matthew has been written apologetically to try to convince non-Christian Jews of the truth of the gospel for the purpose of Christian living and perhaps administered to initiate into the community, encouragement to the church’s witness in a hostile world, and deepening Christian faith by supplying more details about Jesus’ words and works.[3] The reconstruction of the relationship among the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) indentifies Mark’s Gospel as their sources; in this light, Matthew obtained information from Mark to enable him deliberate on the life of Jesus Christ; though, he was an eye witness of what Jesus said and did. With regard to date and the author, the Gospel of Matthew was written before A.D 100 as quoted by Ignatius (e.g., in Smyrn. 1.1), writing in approximately 110–115.[4] The evidence survey with reference to structure, theology etc. allows for authorship by the apostle Matthew; however, none of these evidences demands its attributive authorship to Matthew. With relative to historicity and genre, the New American Commentary does not permit the leisurely examination of all the issues; many worth topics have been excluded in order to remain true to its purpose. The primary purpose of this series is “theological exposition” predicated on the history of the tradition.[5]

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW:

Introduction

The Gospel of Matthew narrates the story of the arrival of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Matthew was widely read frequently and used among the four Gospels the most during the early years of the church. The widely use of the Gospel of Matthew during the formative years of the church was the result of its verification that Jesus is recognized as the long-awaiting Messiah of peace, deliverance, salvation, and the new life for humanity including both Jews and Gentiles as prophesied in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament.[6]

CHAPTER 1–4

Introduction To Jesus’ Ministry (1:1–4:16)

The commentary discussed the origin of Jesus placing emphasis details on the genealogy of Jesus Christ (1:2–17). In the event of God becoming human, the virginal conception is delineated (1:18–25). The event marks Herod versus the Magi in the vicinity of Bethlehem resulting to the new exodus from Egypt (2:13–15) at which the child is rescued from the hand of the king who sought the death of Jesus. The failure of the Magi to return to King Herod led to the massacred of the children (2:16–21). The child is rescued in the midst of the harsh command to execute all the male children in Jerusalem. Jesus prepares for his ministry and the John is sent as the prophetic forerunner before the Messiah (3:1–4:16). John the Baptist, baptized Jesus, the Messiah followed by his temptation (3:13–17; 4:1–11). Jesus settled in Capernaum (4:12–16). These happenings dictate the present of evil in the world. The devil will always pursue the interest of humanity to stop what God has for the betterment of humanity. He is the father of hates and lies; therefore, people who hate and lie are agents of the devil.

CHAPTER 5–7

Paradigmatic Preaching: The Sermon On The Mount (5:1–7:29)

Jesus preached on the mount delivering the beatitude to a large audience including his disciples. He talked about the kingdom blessings focused on the Christian character development that necessitates the integrity and distinction between the believer and the non-believer. He zeroed this beatitude to salt and light to explain to his audience the Christian identity. He introduced the Greater Righteousness as the thesis statement to illustrate on murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, retaliation, and loving the enemies (5:21–48). In the forth going chapters, he explained about truth versus hypocritical piety, almsgiving, prayer, and fasting (6:1–18). There are two key things in this world that are in conflict with one another and the two tend to evade human emotion. They are wealth and worry. In this light, one cannot serve two masters. Loving money can lead to evil and such evil can serve as barrier between the individual and God; therefore, the futility of worry and attending to two masters are enemies to the fear of God and Godly piety. Money versus real riches is opposite to each other (6:19–34). How to treat others with reference to judging others, God’s generosity, and the observance of the golden rule as dictated in scriptures are paramount to Godly living because they are virtues to one’s Christian life and standing before God. They are the practices of true religion (7:1–12). In the concluding chapters, the gospel writer mentions two ways: the narrow versus the wide gate/road, good versus bad fruit, and the wise versus the foolish builders (7:223–27) and concludes with the response (7:28–29).

            The beatitudes are Christian characters that dress the individual Christian to represent Christ while serving God during the Christian journey.

CHAPTERS 8–9

The Paradigmatic Healing (8:1–9; 35)

Jesus heals the outcasts in Israel with reference to the touching of the lepers to bodily response, rewarding of the centurion to ethnic response, and the healing of the Peter’s Mother-In-Law to gender response (8:1–17). Jesus exercises his divine authority and demands decisive discipleship with relative to the demand of discipleship to inadequate response based on the scribe’s over eagerness and the disciples under eagerness. He stilled the storm and exorcised the Gadarene demoniac, and healed the paralytic in the response to disaster, demons, and disease in order to exercise his authority over Satan’s realm (8:23–9:8). The demands of discipleship in response to adequate response, Matthew becomes a disciple and John’s disciples questioned Jesus (9:9–17) are played out in the story. He continued to heal producing hints of hostility through the stopping of a hemorrhage and bringing the dead alive, giving sight to the blind, and making the mute to speak (9:18–35).

            The Jesus that drove out demons during his day is in the believer today to do the same. Our responsibility is to pray for the demon possessed, the sick, the lunatic etc. and God will do the deliverance and the healing. Our responsibilities become God’s ability. God needs men to do the job.

CHAPTER 10

Rising Opposition To Jesus’ Mission (9:36–12:50)

Jesus being the God sent faces opposition from his opponents while the same is predicted for the disciples’ mission (9:36–10:42). Jesus sees the need for mission; therefore, he sends his disciples in the number of twelve and charges knowing the prospect of the future hostility. The proper reaction to hostility is to fear God and not people, acknowledge Jesus, put God above family, and to receive God’s messengers (9:36–10:42).

            How many of us in ministry that face opposition? If Jesus faced opposition; then, the church will face opposition in this generation; nevertheless, the church life should face opposition to develop and to become mature.

CHAPTERS 11–12

Opposition Experienced In Christ’s Mission (11:1–12:50)

Jesus, the Messiah, sent by God to redeem the world through his death was opposed by the generation of his time. The key figures in his opposition were the Pharisees commonly called the religious law keepers. Jesus’ opposition is implicit (11:1–30). John the Baptist, the forerunner is sent to prepare the way for Jesus; however, John doubted Jesus and sent his disciples to inquire the authenticity of Jesus being the promised Messiah. Jesus responded to John’s disciples referencing miracles as sign and proof of the authenticity. Meanwhile, Jesus testified about John’s prophetic ministry to the people of his days. Many of the people went to John the Baptist to be baptized by him as he preached on the coming judgment regarding the unrepentant cities (11:20–24). He preached directing the people to Christ and noted the rest Christ would provide for them (11:25–30). Christ’s opposition was not only implicit, but his opposition was also explicit (12:1–50). The explicit opposition centers on the Sabbath controversies and their outcomes. Jesus’ disciples are accused of picking the grain on the Sabbath and Jesus is accused by the Pharisees of healing the man on the Sabbath who had the Shriveled hand. Jesus withdrew from the controversial hostility (12:1–21). The second explicit opposition references exorcism controversies that highlight the use of Jesus’ exorcistic powers to drive out demons from people, the sign of Jonah, and the return of the evil spirit to the victim that is compromised (12:22–45). It concludes with the family controversies recorded in 12:46–50.

CHAPTERS 13–16

Progressive Polarization Of Response To Jesus (13:1–16:20).

In this discourse, Jesus speaks to the crowds in parables with the interpretation to his disciples instead of the ordinary crowds. To the crowds, he states the parables of the Sower, the Weeds and the Wheat, the Mustard Seed and the Leaven. Jesus’ purpose of speaking in parables to the crowds was that those who have understanding would understand and those who despised God in their lives would not understand because they were not in the Spirit to understand spiritual things unless the parables were interpreted to them; otherwise, they could not understand the parables. To the disciples, he interpreted the parables of the Wheat and Weeds and stated the parables of the hidden treasure and Pearl of Great, the parable of the dragnet, and the parable of the Scribe trained for the kingdom. The next polarized enactment is the event between Jews and Gentiles with reference to Jesus (13:53–16:20). Jesus’ hometown rejected him while Herod rejected John the Baptist. Jesus being the bread of life for the Jews and Gentiles alike, he revealed himself as the Son of God through feeding the five thou sand, walking on the water, and healing of the Gennesaret (14:13–16:12). On the other hand, Jesus revealed himself as the Son of David and turned from Israel to the Gentiles. This closes with Peter’s revelation of Jesus’ identity (16:13–20).

CHAPTER 16–28

The Climax Of Jesus’ Ministry (16:21–28:20)

The climax of Jesus’ ministry focuses on the coming death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus must die and resurrect to fulfill the mission he has been sent for. Jesus predicts his death; on the contrary, Peter refuses to accept this reality as predicted by Jesus Christ; as the result, Jesus rebukes Peter calling it Satan’s ideology. As this part of the conversation unfolds and concludes controversially, Jesus further gave instruction on self denial. The gospel writer discusses the foreshadowing of the future glory with reference to Jesus’ transfiguration, discussion about Elijah, and disciples’ lack of faith. Jesus’ prediction and discussion about the temple tax resonates with the second exchange concerning Christ’s death. Matthew further implicates the Church with regards to humility and forgiveness become the lifestyle of the church identities. He discusses the disciples’ humility using the childlike analogy and dependence on God as the positive analogy to practice what humility is and causing sin risks damnation as the negative analogy. Matthew discusses that forgiveness withheld without repentance is the process of confrontation and ratification while concluding with unlimited forgiveness with repentance discussed under the both positive and negative analogies.

CHAPTER 19–25

The Road To Jerusalem: Impending Judgment On Israel (19:1–25:16)

Matthew discusses the journey of Christ from Galilee to Jerusalem that is tied together geographically as he leaves Galilee to Judea, and to the holy city there, as he has previously prophesied (19:1; 20:17–18, 29). In the passage, he gives further instructions for the disciples based on the concern raised by outsiders referencing the Pharisee on the matter of divorce, disciples and children, and the rich man and eternal life. Matthew deliberates on the controversial issues noted, the dialogue Jesus had with his disciples, and the parable of the Vineyard Workers. He places focus on Jesus passion with contrasting response from his audience, the third passion prediction, the inappropriate response with reference to James and John statuses, and appropriate response from the two blind men who sought mercy from Jesus. As Jesus entered Jerusalem, he pronounced judgment on the temple with regards to the judgment on the temple by purification and judgment on the temple threatened destruction ‘as the controversies continued with the Jewish leaders, Jesus’ authority is questioned. While his authority is questioned, he continues to teach using parables with his disciples and the general public. The parables comprise of the two sons, the wicked tenants, and he wedding banquet. In the event of these parables, Jesus answered the Pharisees and Herodians with reference to taxes, he answered the Sadducees about the resurrection, he answered the lawyer about the greatest commandment, and he posed questions to them about the Messiah.

CHAPTERS 23–25

Judgment On The Temple But Also On The Nations (23:1–25:46)

Matthew discusses primarily the chronology of the judgment against Israel specifically pointing out the behavior of the Jewish leaders and lament for the coming destruction of the temple. Secondarily, he continues with the judgment against Israel and the nations that is eschatological in nature with reference to signs that do not yet herald the end which include the destruction of the future temple, the occurrence of the Great Tribulation, Christ’s Second coming, and concludes with implications. Matthew warns his audience to be vigilant to the observance of Christ’s return to earth because scripture expresses uncertainty when Christ will return to earth for the Second time. No one but God the Father knows the time of Christ’s return is the thesis of the chapter regarding the subject. Matthew happens to be the eye witness of what Jesus did and presents the parables of Jesus in the chapter. Such parables include the householder and the thief, the faithful and unfaithful servants, the ten bride maids, the talents, and the sheep and the goats. Jesus used these parables during his preaching ministry to teach a moral truth to his audiences.

            The herald that are listed and contingent to occur imminently will eventually happen. It is the matter of time and season. Jesus will eventually return to judge this world including its inhabitants. What are you doing to prepare for his second return?

CHAPTERS 26–28

Jesus’ Ultimate Destiny (26:1–28:20)

Matthew uses the last three chapters to teach the passion and crucifixion of Jesus Christ with reference to the preparation of the Jesus’ death culminating with the events preceding Thursday night unfolding and unpacking the introduction to the passion narrative, the Jewish leaders’ plot against Jesus to have him arrested, the woman anointing him for his burial, and Judas preparation to betray him. The event follows the final hours of Jesus with his disciples culminating the events of the last super, the prediction of Peter’s denial of Jesus, the prayers at Gethsemane, the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane, the trial before the Sanhedrin and followed by Peter’s trials in the courtyard. After these events, Jesus is sentenced by the Jews and the Romans followed by self-execution of Judas. After the sentencing of Jesus, he is crucified, buried, and the guards are placed at the tomb to guide it. Jesus is resurrected, and the guards report the news to the public. Jesus appeared to his disciples, revealed his identity, declared his authority, and commissioned them to evangelize the world through the proclamation of the gospel message (28:16–20).

            Jesus had met the requirement for the salvation of the entire human race through his death on Calvary cross. People should have no reason to going to hell because Jesus had paid all for their salvation; unfortunately, people will go to hell because they have rejected Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Pastor Jallah Yelorbah Koiyan, M.Div, Founder, Praise Ministries International, Inc


[1]Craig L. Blomberg, The New American Commentary, Volume 22. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992, 22.

[2]Ibid., 25.

[3]Ibid., 34.

[4]Ibid., 41.

[5]Ibid., 46.

[6]Ibid., 7.