The Gospel of Matthew
"Gaebelein's Introduction to Matthew"

Arno C. Gaebelein: "Introduction to Matthew" [1]

Internal evidences seem to show that most likely originally Matthew wrote the Gospel in Aramaic, the Semitic dialect then spoken in Palestine.  The Gospel was later translated into Greek.  This however, is certain, that the Gospel of Matthew is pre-eminently The Jewish Gospel.  There are many passages in it, which in their fundamental meaning can only be correctly understood by one who is quite familiar with Jewish customs and the traditional teachings of the elders.  Because it is the Jewish Gospel, it is dispensational throughout.  It is safe to say that a person, no matter how learned or devoted, who does not hold the clearly revealed dispensational truths concerning the Jews, the Gentiles, and the Church of God, will fail to understand Matthew.

This is, alas, too much the case, and will it would be if it were not more than individual failure to understand; but it is more than that.  Confusion, error, false doctrine is the final outcome, when the right key to any part of God's Word is lacking.  If the dispensational character of Matthew were understood, no ethical teaching from the so-called Sermon on the Mount at the expense of the Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ would be possible, nor would there be room for the subtle, modern delusion, so universal now, of a "social Christianity" which aims at lifting up the masses and the conversion of the world.  How different matters would be in Christendom if its leading teachers and preachers, commentators and professors, had understood and would understand the meaning of the seven parables in Matthew thirteen, with their deep and solemn lessons.

We think how many of the leaders of religious thought reject and even oppose all dispensational teachings, who never knew how to divide the Word of truth rightly, it is not strange that so many of these men dare to stand up and say that the Gospel of Matthew, as well as the other Gospels and the different parts of the New Testament, contain numerous contradictions and errors....

One has said, "The Holy Spirit is not a reporter, but an editor."  This is well said.  A reporter's business is to report events as they happen.  The editor arranges the material in a way to suit himself, and leaves out or makes comment just as he thinks best.  This the Holy Spirit has done in giving four Gospels, which are not a mechanical reporting of the doings of a person called Jesus of Nazareth, but the spiritual unfoldings of the blessed person and work of our Savior and Lord, as King of the Jews, servant in obedience, Son of Man and the only begotten of the Father.

The phrase "
Kingdom of Heaven" occurs only in the Gospel of Matthew.  We find it thirty-two times.  What does it mean?  Here is the failure of the interpretation of the World; all error and the confusion around us springs from the false conception of the Kingdom of Heaven.  It is generally taught and understood that the term Kingdom of Heaven means the church, and thus the church is thought to be the true Kingdom of Heaven, established in the earth, and conquering the nations and the world.  The Kingdom of Heaven is NOT the church, and the church is NOT the Kingdom of the Heavens.  This is a very vital truth.

May the annotations of this Gospel be used in making this distinction very clear in the minds of our readers.  When our Lord speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven up to the twelfth chapter He does not mean the church, but the Kingdom of Heaven in its Old Testament sense, as it is promised to Israel, to be established in the land, with Jerusalem for a center, and from there to spread over all the nations and the entire earth.  What did the pious, believing Jew expect according to the Scriptures?  He expected (and still expects) the coming of the King Messiah, who is to occupy the throne of His father David.  He was expected to bring judgment for the enemies of Jerusalem, and to bring together the outcasts of Israel.  The land would flourish as never before; universal peace would be established; righteousness and peace i the knowledge of the glory of the Lord to cover the earth as the waters cover the deep.  All this in the earth with the land, which is Jehovah's land, as fountain head, from which all the blessings, the streams of living waters, flow.  A temple, a house of worship, for all nations was expected to stand in Jerusalem, to which the nations would come to worship the Lord.  This is the Kingdom of the Heavens as promised to Israel and as expected by them.  It is all to be on the earth.

The church, however, is something entirely different.  The hope of the church, the place of the church, the calling of the church, the destiny of the church, the reigning and ruling of the church is not earthly, but it is heavenly.  Now the King long expected had appeared, and He preached the Kingdom of the Heavens having drawn nigh, that is, this promised earthly kingdom for Israel. When John the Baptist preached, "Repent Ye, for the kingdom of Heaven has drawn nigh," he meant the same.  It is all wrong to preach the Gospel from such a text and state that the sinner is to repent and then the Kingdom will come to him.

Now if Israel had accepted the testimony of John, and had repented, and if they had accepted the King, the Kingdom would have come, but now it has been postponed till Jewish disciples will pray again in preaching the coming of the Kingdom, "Thy Kingdom come.  Thy will be done in earth as it is done in heaven."  That will be after the church has been removed to the heavenly places.

This is likewise foretold in the Old Testament, Isaiah 53, Daniel 9:26, Psalm 22, etc.  It is also seen in types, Joseph, David, and others.  The herald of the King is first rejected and ends in the prison, being murdered.  This speaks of the rejection of the King Himself.  In no other Gospel is the story of the rejection so completely told as here.  It begins in Galilee, in His own city, and ends in Jerusalem.  The rejection is not human but it is Satanic.  All the wickedness and depravity of the heart is uncovered and Satan revealed throughout.  All classes are concerned in the rejection.  The crowds who had followed Him and were fed by Him, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Herodians, the priests, the chief priests, the high priest, the elders.  At last it becomes evident that they knew Him who He was, their Lord and their King, and willfully they delivered Him into the hands of the Gentiles.  The story of the cross in Matthew, too, brings out the darkest side of the rejection.  Thus prophecy is seen fulfilled in the rejection of the King.

  [1] Gaebelein, Arno C. (c. 1970). "The Holy Scriptures Analyzed and Annotated: Matthew" - Moody Press, Loizeaux Bothers