Matthew wrote his gospel for a Jewish audience. He did so in a way that mirrored Moses and the Torah (the Five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).
Matthew 1 Is Like Genesis
Genesis is the opening of the Bible, so too is Matthew 1 the opening of the Gospel. Just as Genesis is full of genealogies and introduces the main characters and themes in the story, so too, Matthew 1 begins with an introduction to the main characters and themes of the Gospels. One of the first words that Matthew uses is genesis. Matthew 1:1 reads “The book of the generation [Greek = genesis] of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham”, clearly calling to mind for readers the first book of the Old Testament.
Matthew 2 Is Like Exodus
Matthew 2 corresponds to Exodus. In the Book of Exodus, there is miraculous birth of a prophetic figure who is pursued by a king wishing to kill the prophet. So too, in Matthew 2, Jesus the new prophet is miraculously born and then pursued by a king who wishes to kill him. In Exodus God brings His chosen people out of Egypt and leads them to the Promised Land. In Matthew 2, Jesus as God’s Chosen Son is led out of Egypt to the Promised Land of Israel.
Matthew 3 Is Like Leviticus
The 3rd Book of Moses is Leviticus, which focuses on the priesthood ordinances necessary for salvation. In Matthew 3, Jesus fulfills the laws, rites, and ordinances of salvation by being baptized by John the Baptist.
Matthew 4 Is Like Numbers
The Book of Numbers in the Old Testament details the Israelite nation wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, suffering from thirst and hunger, and experiencing all sorts of temptations. Matthew 4 is patterned on the Book of Numbers. In Matthew 4, Jesus wanders in the in the wilderness for 40 days, suffering thirst, hunger and temptation.
Matthew 5 Is Like Deuteronomy
In the the Book of Deuteronomy Moses ascends a mountain and delivers God’s Laws to the Israelite people before they enter into the Promised Land. Deuteronomy literally means “Second Law” or “the second time that the law was given to the people.” What happens in Matthew 5? Jesus as the new Moses ascends a mountain and delivers the “second” or “higher law” that we all must live in order to enter the Promised Land of God’s salvation.
Matthew wrote his gospel to reveal that Jesus Christ is the New Moses, sent by God to live and reveal the laws that lead to salvation. Anyone with ears to hear and eyes to see would rejoice in Matthew’s powerfully designed gospel.
Learning at the Feet of the Savior
I hope you found these insights valuable and empowering. If so, you may find more such insights in one of my recent books.
Together with my co-author David Ridges, we wrote Learning at the Feet of the Savior: Additional Insights from New Testament Background, Culture, and Setting to encourage people to ask questions and to use the scriptures and the example of Jesus to learn how to learn and to better understand how the scriptures apply to their lives.
Memoirs of the Ward Rumor Control Coordinator, a light-hearted look at our beloved
Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints culture.