The Argument of Matthew -- By: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 112:446 (Apr 1955)
Article: The Argument of Matthew
Author: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.


The Argument of Matthew

S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

If one were looking for a brief quotation from Scripture to use as a summary statement of the theme of the Gospel of Matthew, it would be hard to find a better one than Zechariah’s words, “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee” (Zech 9:9). That Matthew’s Gospel revolves around the coming of the King to Israel is suggested by the fact that at the formal presentation of the King to the nation Matthew adds these words, “All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold thy King cometh unto thee (Matt 21:4–5, Italics added).

There is little need to point out that Matthew, as well as the prophet Zechariah, say, “thy King.” Clearly Israel’s King is in view, for the “thy” refers to the nation, “the daughter of Sion” (Zech 9:9; Matt 21:5). An aura of national royalty pervades the book. As M’Neile points out, “But the special impression which S. Matthew embodies is that of royalty; Jesus is the Messiah.”1 The atmosphere surrounds the book from the early question of the wise men, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?,” to the final answer upon the superscription of the cross, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews” (2:2; 27:37 ).

“But with the King is bound up the Kingdom,”2 McNeile points out. In the presentation of the King there is the presentation of the kingdom. As the King comes on the scene in official capacity the forerunner, the King Himself, and the twelve concur in the message, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (3:2; 4:17; 10:7 ).

The theme of Matthew, then, is the presentation of the King and His kingdom to the nation in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Within the limited scope of this article an attempt will now be made to trace the evangelist’s developement of it.

The Preparation of the King (1:1—4:11 )

Matthew’s early chapters are concerned largely with an account of the preparation of the King for the ministry to follow. After taking a backward glance at the King’s ancestry (1:1–17), the author...

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