Notes on Jeremy R. Howard Commentary: Matthew's Gospel

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL DATA

Howard, Jeremy Royal, Ed. The Holman Apologetics Commentary: The Gospels and Acts. Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2013.

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW:

Commentary Overview

The Holman Apologetics Commentary on the Bible is designed purposely to equip readers to defend the reliability of the scripture and grasp the teaching with reference to the historic evangelical understanding of its teaching doctrinally. While it is designed for the general readers, scholars will find its probing and welcome its resources as well. This commentary proves and demonstrates the numerous criticisms leveled against the scripture by critics to be incorrect. The second purpose of this commentary is to encourage awareness and discussion on the Bible difficulties that are not commonly mentioned on the pulpit or seminary settings. This commentary explores and provides a faith-affirming context while exploring Bible difficulties and as Christians read this volume, they will be better equipped to be hopeful (1 Pet 3:15), and that skeptics will be struck by the extent to which Christians will be prepared to defend the reliability of the biblical accounts.[1]

            The based conviction of this commentary is the divine inspiration and inerrancy of scripture. It is stated that doctrine of biblical inerrancy should rest on the biblical testimony or evidence rather than an inductive study of the information presently known to the biblical scholars or readers taking the following into consideration: (1) inerrancy applies to the original manuscripts, all of which are lost, and (2) inerrancy cannot be necessary conclusion of inductive study of manuscripts, literary, scientific, or historical evidences.[2] Based on the above reasons, this commentary does not prove inerrancy, but it operates within that conviction and makes a case for biblical reliability in the light of the evidences currently available to the biblical readers. While the commentary deals with these issues, the student has read through the commentary and has taken notes that he thinks are relevant to his reaching and preaching ministries. The notes open with quotation from each chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. He gives comment on each quotation that resonates with the discussion followed by synthesis, analysis, insights, and reflections that are relevant to the student’s ministry.

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.[3]

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER ONE

Matthew records the historical record of Jesus Christ known as the detailed genealogy. In the Jewish custom especially in the Old Testament, the knowledge of genealogies was significant in ancient times and played an important role in Israel. The Jews kept extensive genealogies which served generally as a record of a family’s descendants and it is extended beyond simply due to family ties. It established a person’s heritage, inheritance, legitimacy, and rights ensuring that the property went to the right person (cf. Johnson 1988)[4]. In this junction, genealogy was important and the writer of the Gospel knows very well and he consequently names the genealogical record of the Jesus Christ. He begins stating that Jesus Christ is the Son of David and the Son of Abraham (1:1) while listing the names of the family of Jesus Christ comprising of 14 generations.[5] Several questions arise from this text. Of primary importance, is “virgin” an accurate translation of the Hebrew original, or is “young maiden,” which does not necessitate virginity, more accurate? Matthew declares (v. 22) that the events surrounding the conception of Jesus fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy (Isa 7:14) made during the days of national threat under the reign of Ahaz, king of Judah. In 734 BC Ahaz feared that his reign would be ended by an attack from the north. Pekah, king of Israel, and Rezin, king of Aram (Syria), had formed an alliance and were threatening to invade Judah and replace Ahaz with a puppet king, the son of Tabeel (Isa 7:6). Isaiah declared that God would not allow this to happen, reassuring Ahaz  that God would maintain his promise that a descendent of David would sit on his throne forever (2 Sam 7:11–17). In order to confirm that the two northern kings would not conquer Judah, Isaiah prophesied that the Lord would give to Ahaz a sign; a virgin would give birth.[6]( Pg 23) The birth of the virgin birth was a sign to Ahaz that the northern kings would not conquer Judah, the tribe that Jesus Christ emerged from. It took so many years before this prophecy came to realization upon the birth of Jesus Christ through Mary, the Virgin. When God speaks, it will eventually happen. It is the matter of time. God has spoken that he will return to earth to judge the world. He came as the baby in the manger to die for sin. He is coming as the judge to judge the world. Are you prepared?

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER TWO

In chapter two, Herod, the king hears the birth of Jesus Christ. He is confused and all Jerusalem is with him. He requests that Magi returns to give him feel back after visiting the child. The Magi refused to return. The king ordered the execution of the male children in Israel because he wanted to kill Jesus. Who were the wise men, and how would they know about Jewish messianic expectation? Matthew tells us only that they came from “the east and that they were looking for the one “born king of the Jews” (2:2). They apparently had been exposed to OT prophecies from Jewish colonies in the east. Many Jews returned to Palestine after the Babylonian deportation, but many others remained in the east, especially in Babylon. Pagan leaders, both political and religious, were aware of Jewish religious distinctive, such as Sabbath observance and marital restrictions (Josephus, Antiquities 18.318–19, 340, 449–52).[7] From the above narration, it can be recorded that Satan has hunted for Jesus from the time he was born because he saw the future of Jesus and what Jesus came to do; unfortunately, he did not know that his action to have Jesus executed was his defeat. Had he known this, he would not have crucified the Lord of glory. This tells us that Satan is limited in knowledge because he does not know all things as compared to God who knows all things (the present, the past, and the future). Why allow Satan to intimidate you daily?

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER THREE

John the Baptist, the forerunner is introduced in this chapter as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah (3:3). John the Baptist baptized Jesus in order to fulfill righteousness. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus as the dove; consequently, God spoke from heaven to authenticate the Sonship of Jesus as the son of God. God appraised him and emphatically declared, “Listen to him.” Has Matthew altered the original quote from Isaiah 40:3, and does Isaiah’s context allow for the application Matthew makes? Just as Matthew finds OT support for Jesus’ beginnings in Bethlehem and Nazareth, so he finds OT support for John the Baptist’s background of obscurity in the wilderness. Matthew quotes Isaiah 40:3 to explain that John is the one foretold to prepare the way for the Lord (cf. Isa 40:3). In its immediate context, Isaiah 40:3 comforts the exiles in Babylon with hope that the Lord will bring them back across the wilderness from Babylon (Oswalt 1998, 51).[8]

            From the above introduction followed by the quotation explains the connection between Isaiah’s prophecy about Jesus and John’s confirmation of Jesus through baptism. God spoke to Isaiah years ago when John the Baptist and Jesus were not born. When the fullness of time came for Isaiah’s prophecy to be fulfilled, Jesus and John were born and John subsequently became the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Jesus is baptized by John and God spoke at Jesus’ baptism to confirm the prophecy he has given to Isaiah years ago. God knows the past, the present, and the future. Before everything existed, God pre-existed.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER FOUR

The devil tempts Jesus after Jesus having fasted for forty days and nights. The temptation failed as Jesus refused to yield to the temptation. Jesus withdrew into Galilee as he left Nazareth behind and went to live in Capernaum by the sea. This marked the calling of the first disciples and Jesus’ deliverance and healing ministries surfaced. Matthew and Luke have similar temptation narratives (cf. Luke 4:3–12), but they reverse the order of the second and third temptations. Critics charge this represents a contradiction, but that is an unnecessarily skeptical conclusion. The differences instead illustrate how each Evangelist chose to narrate the incidents for his particular purpose. There is no reason to suppose they did not have this sort of freedom; no two historians recount the same event without variation of emphasis on perspective.[9]

            The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness is being recorded by Matthew and Luke in variations; therefore, critics of the Bible state that the stories in Matthew and Luke referencing the temptation of Jesus are contradictory. The stories are not contradictory as the critics have said. The critics lack understanding of Biblical stories and failed to understand that these biblical writers or prophets wrote the word of based on how they understand stood it and they wrote from their own style of writing based on educational level. God did not dictate to the biblical writer, but he inspired them to write allowing them to use their humanness.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER FIVE

This chapter begins with the Sermon on the Mount called the beatitude. After the Sermon, Jesus continued his teaching using metaphorical expressions for the descriptions of humanity as salt and light of the earth and the world. Jesus’ description in the passage refers to someone who has come to fulfill the law instead of destroying the law as perceived by his audience. Jesus’ view of the law is described and explained in this chapter. These similarities and differences have led to different conclusions about how the accounts are related. First, the similarities lead someone to assert that Matthew and Luke present two distinct summaries of the same sermon (e.g., Bock 1994, 553; Carson 2010, 154; Osborn 2010, 160–61). Second, the differences lead others to suggest that Matthew and Luke record two different sermons, which Jesus gave on separate occasions but included similar content (e.g., Blomberg 1992, 96; Morris 1992, 93).[10] Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in a similar sequence and in similar or sometimes identical wording. They stand in contrast to John whose content is largely distinct.[11] . The Sermon on the Mount accounts for the synoptic nature of the Gospels. Matthew and Luke give similar or identical account; however, the contents of their presentation indicate that the two sermons were given on two different occasions, but with similar contents. The synoptic natures of the Gospels and how each Gospel writer has made his presentation proves inerrancy of scriptures but involved human elements taking into account the educational level.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER SIX

Chapter six links chapter five as Jesus explains the characters of the disciple with reference to how they should conduct themselves in this world admonishing them to be careful when it comes to the practices of righteousness. He mentions this teaching to his disciples to caution them with reference to how the Pharisees perceived and practiced righteousness. The major theme of the passage is hypocrisy. Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them (6:1): Does this conflict with Jesus’ saying in 5:16 (“let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works”)? On the surface if seems to, but there is a difference in the disciples’ motive in performing public acts of piety in these two cases. In the former case the public display of good works is not for the disciples’ personal attention, but so that people will “give glory to your Father in heaven” (5:16). In 6:1, Jesus addresses religious vanity, in which case disciples face the temptation to perform public acts of piety and good works to gain the admiration of other people.[12] The statements followed by the quotation address motive initiated and driven intention when it comes to the practice of righteousness or good works before men. Jesus cautioned his disciples concerning how righteousness is practiced before men; though, he admonished them to express their true identity by being salt and light. The qualification of an individual whose righteousness is accepted before God depends on motive and not on action. Jesus is drawing a demarcation between hypocrisy and pure motive when it comes to serving God in pure motive and ascribing glory to self instead of God.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER SEVEN

While he discussed hypocrisy in chapter seven, he introduced the criteria involved in judging others and to what extent believers are required to judge others. Do not Judge, so that you won’t be judged (7:1): Does this verse prohibit Christians from making moral judgments about actions of others? Jesus does not identify the specific issue being judged, allowing for broad application. The verb “judge” (krino) has several nuances, ranging from ordinary discernment or evaluation (cf. Luke 7:43) to judicial litigation (Matt 5:40), bestowal of reward (Matt 19:28), pronouncement of guilt (John 7:51), and absolute determination of a person’s fate (John 5:22; 8:16). The latter two senses are in view here. Jesus warns his disciples against setting themselves over others and making a pronouncement of their guilt before God.[13]

            The question posed in the quotation and the imperative statement forbidding judging others in chapter seven verse one does do not show specificity when it comes to judging others; therefore, it depends on the person who is trying to capitalize on morality or ethics when it comes to practicing righteousness. I am of the opinion that Jesus is drawing line between hypocrisy and pure motive. It is ironical to condemn someone when the individual who is doing the condemnation is guilty of the act he or she is passing judgment for; as the result, the person who is passing judgment should be careful because he or she is condemned already. It does not mean that believer should not judge others.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER EIGHT

In chapter eight, Jesus cleansed the man with skin disease and warned him to publicize the information. After the cleansing of the skin disease, he also ministered to the Centurion. Jesus is presented in the chapter as the Messiah and the miracle worker. Jesus casts out evil spirits and heals the sick people. But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (8:12): Previously Jesus spoke of the place of punishment as “hellfire” (5:22), but there he refers to it as a place of “outer darkness.” Are these descriptions compatible? Jesus’ intention in these descriptions is to use imagery that conveys the dread of hell. A place of darkness indicates chaos and fear, a place where one is shut out of God’s presence. Burning by fire evokes images of agony and judgment for offenses against God. Together, the images of f ire and darkness point to a reality of hell more horrific than either image can convey by itself. How exactly these images come together is unknown, but we must not think of hell as fictional or nonliteral for that reason. (See also comments at 5:22 and 13:42.)[14] Many have denied the existence of hell including members of some religious groups; however, the reality of hell as a place of torment or suffering cannot be under looked or under estimated because Jesus himself has talked about hell describing it as the place of torment or total darkness. These descriptions should not be considered as fictional narratives; indeed, they are real incidence that awaits human kind.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER NINE

In this chapter, after the casting out of the demons from the man at Gadara, he called Matthew, the tax collector to follow him. After calling Matthew to follow him, Jesus healed Jairus’ daughter followed by the healing of the demon possessed man who was mute. Order of events before or after the exorcism at Gadara? (9:9): Matthew places the calling of Matthew, the dinner at his house, and the healing of the paralytic after the exorcism at Gadara, whereas Mark and Luke depict these events as falling before the exorcism. Is this a contradiction? As noted above (see on 8:1), in chapters 8–9 has collected a number of miracle stories that are not in chronological order. It is widely recognized that Matthew had theological purposes in mind as he gathered these stories together in one place. We would expect to find narrative connectors if Matthew was giving a chronological account, but these are lacking.[15]

            It appears that due to the order of how Mark and Luke portrayed their events as falling before the exorcism, critics should be caught in asking another question if such depiction is a contradiction as compared to Matthew’s depiction as explained above; however, it should be noted that Matthew collected his materials and placed them not in chronological fashion; nevertheless, he had a theological purposes in mind as he gathered the collection of stories together in one place. This reminds the biblical student that God did not dictate his word to the biblical writers or the prophets; however, he inspired them to write. For this reason, they wrote the scriptures adopting their personalities with reference to their educational level and style of writing; nevertheless, the word is without any error. ‘The bible is both a divine and human book because God used humans to write the bible.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER TEN

Jesus called his disciples, gave them authority, and sent them to drive out demons from people. Matthew named the names of the twelve disciples. He sent his disciple instructing them to go to  specific people group and admonished them not to take any traveling bag, extra shirt, sandals, or walking stick. He predicted his disciples will be persecuted; however, he admonished and encouraged them not to be afraid of the one who kills the body, but has no control over their souls. These are the name of the 12 apostles (10:2): Not only are the “12 disciples” (10:1), they are also “apostles” (10:2). Disciple designates all those who have believed in Jesus, while the apostle designates those whom he has commissioned to be his representatives. “Apostle” has narrow and wide meanings in the NT. The narrow sense, as here, is the usual meaning, signifying the special authoritative representatives chosen by Jesus to play a foundational role in the establishment of the church (cf. Gal 1:17, 19; 1 Cor 9:1–5 ; 15:7; Eph 2:19–22). Matthew uses the word “apostle” only here, and he is the only Gospel writer to use the expression “12 apostles” (cf. Rev 21:14).[16]

            If Jesus sent his disciples to drive out demons as indicated in the first statement above and second line of paragraphs mentioned disciples and apostles interchangeably; however, it gives meaning of disciples and apostles in contrast with reference to the definition be designation. Disciples are all those who believe in Jesus and apostles are those who have been commissioned to carry out specific tasks in the kingdom. By definition in the Greek, apostles are the sent ones for the specific mission. It can be concluded that all apostles are believers; however, among the believers God has chosen specific people among the believers called apostles in order to carry out specific tasks called divine assignments. The first is a general call and the second is a special call; therefore, not everyone in the kingdom of God is called to be an apostle; on the contrary, everyone is called to be a disciple.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER ELEVEN

In this chapter, John is put into prison while Jesus continued preaching and teaching after he has given order to his twelve disciples to go in order to accomplished a task. John sent messengers to his disciples to question the authenticity of Jesus being the Messiah. Jesus referred to the works he has accomplished as the evidence or substance to authenticate the genuineness of he being the Messiah. In this chapter, Jesus admits that things have been entrusted to him by his Father. All things have been entrusted to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and no one knows the Father except the son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him (11:27): This statement has been called “the most important passage for the study of Synoptic Christology” (Ladd 1993, 164). It reveals Jesus’ profound divine self-consciousness. In Matthew, Jesus is validated at the baptism as the Son (3:17), tested as the Son of God (4:2–10), worshiped as the Son of God (14:33), confessed as the Son of the living God (16:16), validated at the “Transfiguration as the Son (17:5), alludes to himself as the Son in the parables of the landowner and wedding banquet (21:23–46; 22:1–14), refers to himself as the Son of the Father (24:36), emphasized as Son of God strongly in the trial and crucifixion (cf. 26:39, 63; 27:43m 54), and associated with the Father and Holy Spirit as the Son in the baptism of new disciples.[17] The questioning of John the Baptist through his disciples to authenticate the identity of Jesus as the Messiah sent by God triggered Jesus’ response to the question. Jesus responds by referencing his works and let the messenger know that tell John that the blind sees, the cripples walk, the dumb speaks, the deaf hears, and the dead is resurrected. The referencing of Jesus’ works in paragraph one and the characterization of Jesus’ relationship with his Father as the Son of God are profound revelations backed scriptural references in paragraph two. It proves in practice that Jesus is the Son of God who came in the flesh as human to die for the sin penalty. God has testified to his sonshipwitnessed by his disciples and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER TWELVE

The disciples of Jesus are accused of picking grains on the day of the Sabbath and eaten them. The Pharisees approached and confronted Jesus about the act. Jesus answered them giving reference to David and his men who entered the temple and ate the sacred bread that only priests could eat. Jesus posed the event before them and declared himself as the Lord of the Sabbath. He said, “For the Son of man is the Lord of the Sabbath (12:8). After the incidence, Jesus healed a demon possessed man who also was blind and unable to speak. According to this account of miracle, the blindness and muteness of the demon possessed man might have been by the presence of the demon in his life; therefore, the healing of the blind and the mute man were initiated by exorcism.

            Jesus further explained the consequence of sinning against the Holy Spirit after having been accused of using the power of demons to drive out demons. He commented on people being held accountable by the words they have spoken; therefore, words have virtues and they can cause good or bad based on the source and how they are used. For your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned (12:37): Does our eternal destiny come down to the word we use? This verse might seem to say so, which implies that our salvation is by works (choosing our words carefully). Jesus’ statement does not suggest that our eternal destiny is based on the works of good words, but rather that our speech indicates the state of our heart.[18]

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

The chapter commences with the explanation of the necessity of the use of the parables, as Jesus explained to his disciples (13:15). Jesus referenced why the secrets of the kingdom of God have been given to his disciples rather than the unbelieving world. Using the prophecy of Isaiah with reference to its fulfillment as it relates to the heart’s condition of the children of Israel specifically the Scribes and the Pharisees. Jesus continued his parables liking it as the kingdom to that of the mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds (13:31–32). Having taught or spoken in parables, he dismissed the crowds and went into the house and threw light on how the unrepentant or the wicked will be punished giving descriptions of hell (13:14). Jesus continued the teaching with parabolic approach using figurative comparison to the kingdom of God to be like a treasure. The audience marveled about his parabolic approach to teaching biblical truth about the kingdom of God. Despite of these parabolic teachings, the people did not believe in him; therefore, he did not do as many miracles as anticipated (13:58). Skeptics question the ethics of Jesus’ reason for using parables. Others commit that his tactic resembles the Gnostic emphasis on secret knowledge that leads to salvation. To properly understand how Jesus employs parables, we must unpack the significance of his language here. The word “secret” is the Greek musteria (“mysteries”), which draws upon a Semitic background that speaks of an eschatological secret passed on in veiled speech to God’s chosen.[19] This concludes that Jesus used parables as the medium to reveal mysteries of the kingdom to people who were ready to hear the word of God. Those who were not willing to hear his teaching, the meaning of the kingdom’s mysteries transmitted through parables were hidden from them to understand. This is the reason Jesus spoke in parables; though, critics has questioned it to be unethical. Who are they to question God?

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

In this chapter, Herod the Tetrarch, had arrested John the Baptist, chained him, and put him in prison on account of the Herodians, because the prophet has said that it was unlawful to take his brother’s wife. John the Baptist is beheaded as the result of the king fulfilling the request of the Herodians, the daughter. John is buried and Jesus began the teaching ministry (14:15–21). He healed the sick in isolated places where the crowd had gathered. The healing of the sick led to the feeding of the 5,000 people, the only miracle that is recorded in the four gospels. After the healing of the 5,000, Jesus walked on the sea (14:25). The disciples worshipped Jesus as the result of this event. Naturally, it is impossible to walk on the water without God’s interventions.

            In history, every advocate or activist who stands for the truth is hunter to be killed. Truth is the one that brings social, emotional, economic, political, or spiritual freedom to humanity. Allowing truth to take course is the direct act of allowing freedom to reign. How many kings, governors, presidents, judges, magistrates, pastors, bishops, fathers, mothers, or leaders will permit truth to reign? Every time truth is given permission to reign, its potential victim and perpetrator experience freedom. When a leader fails morally, he or she is not free and such individual lives in fear and torment. Every tyrant who kills people to remain in power does not have peace in this world. Psychologically and emotionally, they suffer pain; however, they will pretend to their subjects that they are ruling or leading as if they have peace. They do not have peace of mind in this world because those whose lives they have taken are affront before their Creator; therefore, God will hold their perpetrator responsible for the act committed against them. It is just a matter of time. The killing of John the Baptist by the king as recorded in biblical history is an example of someone who stood for morality in society and told the king that it was unlawful for him to take his brother’s wife. This made the woman angry and requested that John the Baptist beheaded to satisfy the request of the King’s daughter.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

In this chapter, the Pharisees and the Scribes confront Jesus why his disciples eat with unwashed hands. Jesus responded to them by saying not what enters a man that makes him unclean, but what comes out of him. Jesus withdrew to the areas of Tyre and Sidon and he was met by a Canaanite woman whose daughter was sick. Jesus healed her daughter after the woman requested for healing and became persistent to her request. Jesus described the woman as the woman who had strong faith in God. After the healing of the woman’s daughter, Jesus healed the sick followed by the multiplication of the loaf of bread to feed the five thousand men and twelve basketful of bread was left over.

            God is known and trusted better by humanity when miracles are performed by him; in this regard, the healing of the woman’s daughter and the feeding of the five thousand speak volume of what Jesus is and what he can do. Jesus is characterized by miracles because he is God; hence, this makes Christianity distinct and different from all the religions of the world. Besides Christianity, all religions of the world are deceptive and full of regulations or rituals and have no provable evidence they can give to prove that they have assurance of salvation. In apologetics, credible religion from God is proven by miracles as evidence that such religion is from God. Are there any religions of the world besides Christianity that can show me one miracle that happened in their setting?

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

In this chapter, Jesus used a question to interrogate his disciples with reference to what he was with regard to his identity and authority. Peter was given a revelation about Jesus and emphatically stated that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God (16:16). Jesus confirmed Peter’s declaration electing the declaration upon which the Church is built and spiritually solidified. He subsequently gave the key of the kingdom to the Church after the confession that guaranteed the position and the stability of the Church when it comes to the use of the authority that has been dedicated. The Church is empowered and given the authority to control the affairs of things on planet earth provided the Church knows her identity and authority given her.

            After the giving of authority to the church, Jesus predicted his death and told his disciples that he would suffer many things, rejected, and be killed; on the contrary, the disciples objected to the prophecy that this happens to their Lord. In culmination of this chapter, Jesus introduced to his disciples the cost of following him and stated that some who stood there at the time would see the Son of man comes in his glory with power. The church can assure that she has the authority to decide cases on earth through prayers. You can move your church to another level if you are a prayerful individual. The lack of prayers in one’s Christian life is the result of lack of spiritual power. The Christian life must be lived through prayers.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

In this chapter, Jesus is transformed before the eyes of his disciples while on the mountain. At the time of transfiguration, two biblical characters, namely, Moses and Elijah appeared with him in the cloud. After the transfiguration, a man approached Jesus whose son had a demonic attack periodically. Jesus rebuked the demon and the demon came out of the boy who suffered seizures often. Jesus predicted his betrayal that caused depression on his disciples; unfortunately, they had no control on this divine plan; instead, one of his disciples became the betrayer of the Master. He commanded his disciples to fish in order to get a coin from the fish mouth (17:27). Eventually, they caught the fish with the coin in the mouth. The life of Jesus, the pioneer of the Christian religion is characterized with phenomena unconceivable; so, it is Christianity and the life of the true servant of God. When a servant of God id used to heal the cancer and the HIV infected person, such phenomenon is unconceivable to the natural mind.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

In this chapter, the disciples questioned Jesus with regards to the greatness in the kingdom of God. He used the little child as the analogy to teach his disciples that humility is the path for greatness in the kingdom of God. Jesus used intentional exaggeration in the passage to indicate that the punishment that waits those who endorse in sinful living which cannot be compared to cutting off one’s hand or foot or picking out one’s eye in this life (18:8–9). Jesus introduced the principle of souls winning referencing the hundred sheep to indicate that God cares for the sinners and he forgives them. He further discussed the methods of conflict resolution among believers and the necessary steps that should be taken to remedy the conflict. The step starts from the individual involvement, the elders, and the entire church depending on the nature of the response from the offender. The conversation continued in the passage concerning forgiveness and one’s response to such on the biblical ground. Peter opened the conversation with Jesus. Jesus introduced ethical and moral agenda to build an institution that is credible; therefore, the Christian religion is being built on various principles that are purely ethical and moral in order to build a community of people who advocate for peace and religious liberty instead of terrorism and religious incarceration. Like any other religions such as Islam was built on terrorism and religious incarceration by its founder or pioneer, Mohammed.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER NINETEEN

This chapter continues with the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus healed many that were brought to him after having given instructions to his disciples concerning forgiveness. In this passage, the Pharisees interrogated Jesus on the subject of divorce while in their question they attempted to presume and to justify that divorce is allowable referencing Moses’ decision on the matter. In response, Jesus explained to them the reason Moses allowed them to divorce; on the contrary, God did not establish it this way in the genesis; therefore, divorce is forbidden according to scripture, except in the case of unfaithfulness between the husband and wife; then, there is the room for divorce; however, forgiveness should be placed on the table as an alternative to avoid the divorce. In the passage, a certain ruler approached Jesus and asked what could qualify an individual to enter the kingdom of God? Jesus instructed him to obey the Ten Commandments; then, the man indicated that he has kept this regulation since he was a young man; unfortunately, Jesus inferred that he lacks the essence to enter the kingdom of God despite of being very religious during these years and consequently asked him to sell all his possessions and give them to the poor; unwillingly, he refused to do so. Jesus said that it is difficult for a rich man to go to heaven than it could be easier than a camel to go through the eye of the needle. This story of the certain ruler teaches the cost of discipleship and the principle of following Jesus that is applicable to believers in this generation. To follow Jesus requires self-denial.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER TWENTY

In this passage, the parable is explained concerning the land owner who hired workers at different time, but he paid the same wages to the workers across the board disregarding the time they were hired and the effort each worker made during the period of their employment. This decision made the other workers angry and indifferent with reference to the pay rate and amount each would have received based on the time each was hired. In this passage, Jesus teaches the principle of time and gratitude toward the employer. Jesus again predicts his arrest, death, and resurrection while Salome asked for favor in order for her children to sit on the right hand side of Jesus. Jesus healed the two blind men and they followed him. At this time, Jesus and his disciples were leaving from Jericho while a large crowd followed him.

            In life we advocate for position that we do not know the job description of such position and the entanglement involved when it comes to the exercise of the job description; however, we still apply for such job. Salome’s request for her children to sit on the right hand side of Jesus did not know what it entails to sit in this position; however, Jesus told her that God has already prepared people to sit in such position. In ministry, people seek for position; unfortunately, they are not prepared to occupy the position as per the job description. Any minister who seeks to be anointed must die to food eating and practice the spiritual disciplines of fasting and praying. How many times do you fast and pray during the week?

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER TWENTY ONE

In this chapter, Jesus sent two disciples as they approached Jerusalem and Bethpage. He commanded his disciples to untie the donkey and bring he donkey to him because the needed it. His ride on the donkey to Jerusalem marked the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (21:11). After entering Jerusalem, he went into the temple complex and drove out all those buying and selling in the temple. This is termed as temple cleansing (21:12–13). While in the temple complex, the blind and the lame came to him and he healed them all. While they were returning to the city, Jesus was hungry and seeing nothing on the fig tree, he cursed it and immediately, it withered from the bottom to the top. His disciples marveled about this incidence and questioned one another. As Jesus entered the temple complex while teaching, he was interrogated by the Chief Priests and Elders the authority he used to make these things happen. He responded by saying that he could not tell them by what authority and power he did these things.

            Jesus told them a parable about a man and his two sons to indicate how stubborn they were to accept and to believe God based on the manner they have treated God’s prophets. He emphatically told them that the tax collectors and the prostitutes were entering the kingdom of God than they because the above mentioned groups have accepted, believed, and repented of their sins; unfortunately, they were the opposites. He concluded saying to them that the stone the builders have rejected has become the cornerstone. He was referring to himself.

            If Jesus qualified the prostitutes and tax collectors to enter the kingdom of God but disqualified the religious law keepers who stood daily in the public places and preached the law of Moses; then, will this present generation be disqualified to enter the kingdom of God based on how they treat God in this generation. We have allowed the practices of the world which are not in conformity with biblical and religious practices to enter the church because some so called religious leaders have compromised to allow sinful practices to enter the church. The ordination of homosexual individuals to hold position in the Presbyterian Church of America is dangerous and disgraceful to the Christian community. The holding of votes by ballots system to allow or disallow homosexual individuals to hold position in the church in regardless of sex orientation based on majority or minority vote should not be a discussion in the house of God. Such move is affront with God and should not be welcomed by any church leaders; unfortunately, this has changed and democracy has taken over theocracy in the church world.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER TWENTY TWO

In this chapter, some Sadducees who do not believer in the resurrection of the dead questioned Jesus about marriage after the resurrection. Jesus responded to them by saying that they were deceived because there will be no marriage carried out in this life after the resurrection. “Everyone will be like angel in heaven”, Jesus said. When the Pharisees learned that Jesus has silenced the Sadducees, one of the experts in the law came to test him asking Jesus to indicate or state the greatest commandment in the law. Jesus answered him and stated that the law and the prophets depend on this command according to the scriptures (22:34–40). In reciprocal response, Jesus asked them, what do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he? Jesus asked them this question because they denied his deity.

            In our craftiness, we humans tend to question God as the result of our failures and sinfulness; fortunately, God knows what we are and desires to help us in our craftiness. Jesus knew the thought of the expert in the law. In their hearts, they did not believe that Jesus was God; therefore, Jesus asked the question with reference to his deity and how they were thinking. God knows everything and we cannot hide anything from him. He knows the past, the present, and the future.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER TWENTY THREE

In this chapter, the Lord Jesus has spoken to the crowds and his disciples concerning the hypocrisy of the Scribes and the Pharisees. He admonished them to obey what they were teaching by virtue of their position they occupied as Moses could contemporarily; however, he warned them not to practice their deeds because they did not practice scripturally what they taught (23:1–7). In the passage, Jesus taught them the practical indication of humility and warned them to be given any title such as Father, Teacher, or Master because there is only one Father, one Teacher, or one Master, who is God (23:8–12). He told them that the greatest among them is the servant. He made a woe to the Scribes and the Pharisees and called them hypocrites (23:13–32). He called them snakes and brood of vipers and told them that they could not escape condemnation in hell.

            The issues of hypocrisy and servant hood are emphasized in scriptures. The church is advised to depart from hypocritical lifestyle and pursue holiness and servant hood ministry. Jesus condemned hypocritical lifestyle in his days; therefore, he does the same today. If your life does not model after the Gospel living; then, you are a hypocrite; unfortunately, hypocrites will not enter the kingdom of God. What are you?

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR

As Jesus left the temple complex, his disciples called his attention to the temple buildings. Jesus responded by predicting the destruction of the building. He told them that the generation could not pass until all what he has prophesied happen. This statement is controversial and has many arrays of explanations theologically and apologetically in term of interpretations. In the passage, the coming of the Lord is uncertain and no one knows including Jesus himself except the Father. The omniscience of Jesus regarding his coming is limited. Does that undermine the deity of Jesus Christ? I don’t think so. I am opinionated that it rests on God’s sovereignty which no one can question. The Lord prophesied that as it was in the day of Noah, so it shall be in day of the Lord’s coming (24:37–39). What were the people doing in the days of Noah? This question is an assignment and I will leave it unanswered.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE

This section presents stewardship as the mark of faithfulness between the servant and the master. Jesus narrates the parable about a man going on a journey that called his slaves and turned over his possession to them to be managed according to their abilities. Unfortunately upon his return, he found one to be unfaithful in his discharge of his duty. The master rewarded the two and punished the unfaithful that refused to take care of the talents given him in regards to multiplication (25:14–30). At the conclusion, Jesus talked about the nature of his return, the extent of what will take place, the salvation of the righteous, and the doom for the unrighteous generations. He personified metaphorically the righteous and unrighteous as the sheep and the goats (25:31–46).

            In the church, believers are being given gifts that are beneficial to the body of believers. If indeed God has given you gifts, what have you done about the gifts? Have you abandoned the gifts and refused to operate in the gift? The gift you are neglecting operate is the gift that will open door for your betterment.

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER TWENTY SIX

In this chapter, Jesus predicts his death referencing the Passover that is scheduled to take place after two days. He prophesied to his disciples that he will be handled over to be crucified (26:2). While Jesus was at Bethany at the home of Simon, a woman approached him with an alabaster jar of very expensive fragrant oil and anointed him; in response, the disciples were indignant and said that it was better for such to be sold and the money given to the poor. In reaction, Jesus told his disciples that it was necessary that she did such because the poor will always be with them; on the other hand, he won’t; therefore, the woman did prepare him for his burial (26:6–16). Jesus predicts his betrayal while having the Passover meal with his disciples (26:17–25). He warned that the person who betrays him, it was better that the person was not born; nevertheless, he must go just as it is written about him (26:24). While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. He told them to take and eat because it represented his body that will be broken for them. After the same manner, he took the cup and told them to drink from it representing his blood of the covenant. While he was still speaking at the Passover, Judas arrived with a large mod having swords and have Jesus arrested (26:47–56). He was arrested and taken to the High Priest to be investigated on the allegation leveled against him from his accusers. During his arrest, Peter betrayed him by disowning him after being pointed out that he was one of Jesus’ disciples and fearing to die, he denied him (26:69–75).

            When we are confronted with temptation, many of us tend to deny Jesus by indulging into the temptation. When we do such, we break God’s law. Such breaking of God’s law is the act of denial. How many times have you fallen into temptations and broken God’s law? Peter denied Jesus because he was afraid that he will die with Jesus. How many of us deny Jesus today?

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN

Judas realized that he has committed a wrong doing full of remorse and therefore returned the thirty pieces of silver to the Chief Priest and elders (27:3–10). This happened as the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy (27:9). Jesus stood before the governor to be interrogated and while being accused by the Chief Priests and elders, he did not answer (27:11–12). It was a customary at the festival that the governor releases to the crowd a prisoner the crowd wanted. At the festival, they asked and demanded that Jesus be crucified and Barabbas be set free to go; however, the King was hesitant to have Jesus crucified knowing him to be innocent, but the people shouted the more, “Crucify him!” The king despite of being warned by his wife to have nothing to do with Jesus, he still handled Jesus to the crowd to be crucified (27:15–20). The king washed his hands to fulfill the wishes of the people. Jesus was taken away by the soldiers as they forced Simon to carry his cross. He was crucified with two criminals on his left and right sides (27:33). During his crucifixion, Jesus cried out in a loud voice and gave out the ghost. Darkness came upon the entire earth (27:45–56).

            The last story recorded in Matthew Gospel chapter twenty seven climaxes the redemption story. Jesus had said it is finished before giving out the Ghost. What effort have you adopted to appreciate Jesus’ death on the cross to save you from your sin since accepted him as Lord and Savior?

Synthesis And Insights

CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT

The angel who has rolled back the stone from the tomb as he has descended from heaven told the women that Jesus has been raised from the dead and he has gone to Galilee ahead of his disciples (28:1–10). To cover off the resurrection of Jesus that it did not happen, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers who witnessed the incidence of the angel who descended from heaven and rolled away the large stone from the tomb. They (chief priests and elders) told the soldiers to lie to the public that Jesus indeed did not resurrect, but his disciples stole him while they were sleeping. This false misleading narrative still remains with the Jews community up to this day according to the scriptures. Then, the eleven disciples travelled to Galilee to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they say him, they worshipped him. He declared to them that authority has been given to him from heaven and he commissioned to go to all nations in order to make disciples of all laying out the methodologies the disciples should adopt and use to accomplish this commission (28:16–20).

            After his death and resurrection, he gave the Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28:16–20. The church is being commissioned to evangelize and to plant churches through discipleship ministry.

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


[1]Jeremy Royal Howard, Ed. The Holman Apologetics Commentary: The Gospels and Acts. Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2013, 1.

[2]Ibid., 2.

[3]Ibid., 7.

[4]Ibid., 16.

[5]Ibid., 21.

[6]Ibid., 23.

[7]Ibid., 27.

[8]Ibid., 40.

[9]Ibid., 44.

[10]Ibid., 49.

[11]Define Synoptic Gospels, n.p.

[12]Ibid., 59.

[13]Ibid., 61.

[14]Ibid., 65.

[15]Ibid., 71.

[16]Ibid., 75.

[17]Ibid., 85–86.

[18]Ibid., 90.

[19]Ibid., 94.