Only New Testament book that was originally written in Hebrew. *


The Gospel according to St. Matthew is intended to bear witness that Jesus is the promised Messiah of antiquity, and that his messianic task consisted in bringing men to the kingdom of God. These two themes - the messianity of Jesus and the presence of the kingdom of God - are inseparably linked, each of them encompassing a "mystery" - a new revelation of the redemptive and divine purpose. (Read Romans 16:25, 26).

The mystery of the Messianic mission is that before the Messiah comes on the clouds, as the heavenly Son of Man, to establish his kingdom on earth, he must first come humbly among men, like the suffering Servant who will die on the cross. The first-century Jew had never heard of such a thing. For the believer of today, chapter 53 of Isaiah relates with meridian clarity the sufferings of the Messiah. However, in this passage reference is made to the Messiah, and the context (Isaiah 48:20; 49: 3) specifically quotes Israel as a servant of God. Therefore, we should not be surprised that the Jews did not understand that Isaiah 53 was referring to the Messiah. They were waiting for a Messiah to come with power and victory, and the Old Testament in fact promises such a Messiah.

The Son of David is a divine King who will rule in the messianic kingdom (Isaiah 9:11, Jeremiah 33), when all sin and all evil will be taken away, and peace and righteousness will prevail. The Son of Man is a heavenly Being to whom the government is entrusted over all the nations and kingdoms of the earth. The Old Testament does not tell us how these two prophetic concepts of the Davidic King and the heavenly Son of God relate to each other, or how each of them can be identified with the Man of Sorrows in Isaiah chapter 53. Therefore the first-century Jews expected a victorious Messiah, or a Son of Man, but heavenly, not a humble Servant of the Lord, who would suffer and die. The Messianic mystery - the new revelation of divine purpose - is that the heavenly Son of Man must first suffer and die in fulfillment of his messianic and redemptive mission, as the Man of Sorrows, before he presents himself with power and glory.

The mystery of the kingdom is intimately associated with the messianic mystery. Chapter 2 of the book of Daniel describes the coming of the kingdom of God with vivid language from the point of view of the destruction of every power that resists God and opposes God's will. The kingdom will come with power, sweeping away all evil and all hostile government, transforming the earth and presenting a new universal order of perfect peace and justice. However, the Lord Jesus did not present a kingdom of portentous power. Hence both his message and his person would completely perplex his contemporaries, including his disciples. He was the son of a carpenter; His family was known in Nazareth; Was very much like any Jewish rabbi. His works were kind acts of affection and love; Nevertheless, he affirmed that in his words, in his deeds and in his person the kingdom of God had come to them. However, the kingdoms of man and the world continued as ever without the hated Roman rule over God's people being challenged. How could God's kingdom be if it did not shatter the other kingdoms of the world? That this kingdom came with spiritual power before presenting itself in glory was a new revelation of the divine purpose.



The second-century church tradition attributes the authorship of the first gospel to the apostle Matthew.



George E. Ladd

Doctor of Philosophy and Letters


* Note from Rogério Dias