The Gospel of Matthew
"C.I. Scofield Introduction to Matthew"

C. I. Scofield: "Introduction to Matthew"
Bible Correspondence Course,[1] LESSON XLIL


The Gospels and Acts,



I.       General Remarks

Each of the Gospels has a distinct purpose, and that purpose gives the key to its structure and its interpretation. In the fulfillment of that purpose the writer, under the Holy Spirit, selected from the mass of the sayings and doings of Christ those words and incidents which  develop and illustrate his distinctive purpose. As truth is many-sided,  and as there is in the words and works of Christ a peculiar fullness of meaning, it often occurs that the same parable, or miracle, appears in two or three of the Gospels, while the great common testimony of all is that this unique four-fold Personage was made a sacrifice.


Matthew is "the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Mat. 1:1). This connects Him at once with two of the Old Testament covenants; the Davidic covenant of royalty and the earlier Abrahamic covenant of redemption. There was to be a seed of Abraham, typified by Isaac, the son offered up, in whom all nations should be blessed; and there was to be a seed of David, typified by Solomon, to inherit Israel's throne. [See Section II., Parts 1, 2, 4.] Of Jesus Christ in that two-fold character Matthew writes. Matthew, then, is the book of a certain King who died for the sins of His people. The key verses are 1:1, 21; 2:2; the key-phrase, "the kingdom of heaven." This expression is peculiar to Matthew. The student will find the question of the various meanings of the biblical word "kingdom" fully discussed in Section III., "The . Great Words of Scripture." Let it be said here that ' 'kingdom of heaven," as used in Matthew, has three meanings.

1. It is used to indicate that earth-rule of Messiah, David's Son, described and predicted in the prophets. This is the kingdom"at hand" of John Baptist and of the earlier ministry of Christ. See Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:5-7.


2. From (and including) Matt. 8 the word is used of the mixed condition, tares and wheat—true children of the kingdom and children of the wicked one—growing together until the "harvest" at the end of this age.

3. In the prophetic portions of Matthew the expression is used in the first sense again. Those portions look beyond "the harvest," which is to be the end of the mixed state (Mat. 8:41-43, 47-50) now prevailing, and see the kingdom as covenanted to David and described in the prophets finally set up.

To recapitulate:

From Matt. 1:1 to 7:50 the "kingdom of heaven" is identical with the Old Testament thought, plus the Sermon on the Mount, which is an amplification of the prophetic idea of ''righteousness" as the special glory of the kingdom, e. g., Isa. 11:4, 5; Jer. 23:5, 6. The Sermon on the Mount describes the righteousness of which the prophets speak.


From Matt. 13:1 to 23:39 it is the mixed state, though the true children of the kingdom are usually in the mind of the Lord in His instructions.


From Mat. 24:1 to 25:46 the future is in view. This view includes "the harvest" of Matt 13, but goes no farther than the setting up of the perfected kingdom according to the prophetic description.


In other words, the whole present age, with the confusions brought in by the rejection of the King, was not in the vision of the Old Testament prophet. The revelation of it, as in Mat. 13, was part of the prophetic ministry of Christ. See Matt. 13:11-17, where this is distinctly stated.

II. Analysis of the Book


The book falls into three chief sections, and these again into divisions and subdivisions.


Analysis of the Book - Section I. The Manifestation of Jesus Christ the Son of David, 1 to 25. inclusive.


Part 1. The official genealogy and birth of the King.

The student will note how everything moves within prophetical lines; for the King's life had been written as prophecy before His advent turned prediction into history.


Part 2. The infancy and obscurity of the King.

Here again the fulfillment of prophecy is carefully noted. Messiah was born in Bethlehem because it was the city of David, and because the prophet Micah had said that Israel's future Governor should come out of Bethlehem.


Part 3. The kingdom "at hand." 3 to 12.


Note. "At hand" is a biblical term which is used in the sense of impending. It is never a positive affirmation that the person or thing said to be "at hand" will immediately appear, but only that no known or predicted event must intervene. When, for instance. Christ appeared to the Jewish people, the next thing, in the order of revelation as it then stood, should have been the setting up of the Davidic kingdom. In other words it was the next announced event. In the knowledge of God, not yet disclosed, lay the rejection of the kingdom (and King), the long period of the mystery form of the kingdom, the world-wide preaching of the cross, and the out-calling of the church. But this was as yet locked in the secret counsels of God. The kingdom, as the next act in the mighty drama of God's purpose, was "at hand."

Part 3 falls into six subdivisions as follows:


(1) The King's herald, John Baptist, announces the kingdom as at hand, whereupon the King appears and is anointed, 3.


(2) The King withstands a three-fold testing of His humanity, His divinity and His royalty, and Himself announces the kingdom as at hand. 4.


(3) The King next declares the laws of the offered kingdom, 5, 6, and 7.


Note. The Sermon on the Mount has a two-fold application.

(a) Literally, to the kingdom. In this sense it gives the divine constitution for the righteous government of the earth. Whenever the kingdom of heaven is established on earth it will be according to that constitution. In this sense the student will note that the Sermon on the Mount is pure law. It reenacts the Decalogue (Mat. 5:17-19) with stringent additions (Mat. 5:21, 22, 27, 28). Here lies the deeper reason why the Jews rejected the kingdom. They had reduced "righteousness" to mere ceremonialism, and the Old Testament idea of the kingdom to a mere Solomonic affair of outward splendor and power. They were right in expecting a visible and powerful kingdom, but the glowing words of the prophets should have prepared them to expect also that only the poor in spirit and the meek could share in it (e. g., Isa. 11:4). The seventy-second Psalm, which was universally received by them as a description of the kingdom, was full of this. For these reasons the Sermon on the Mount in its primary application gives neither the privilege nor the duty of the church. Under the law of the kingdom, for example, no one may hope for forgiveness who has not first forgiven (Mat. 6:12, 14, 15). Under grace the Christian is exhorted to forgive lest he grieve the Holy Spirit of God whereby he is sealed unto the day of redemption, and is reminded that he himself is already forgiven (Eph. 4:30-32).


(b) But there is a beautiful moral application to the Christian. It always remains true that the poor in spirit, rather than the proud, are blessed. And those who mourn because of their sins, and who are meek in the consciousness of them, will hunger and thirst after righteousness, and, hungering, will be filled. The merciful are "blessed;" the pure in heart do "see God."

(4) The Anointed King, having announced the constitution of His kingdom, now authenticates His divine power by mighty works, viii., ix. Twelve astonishing miracles are recorded in these two chapters.

Through them the King demonstrated His capacity to rule the earth. These group as:

a. Power over disease and hence to forgive sin, since divine authority is required for either.

b. Power over nature.

c. Power over evil spirits.

d. Power over death.

(5) The Anointed King, having announced the constitution of the kingdom, and demonstrated His power, sends heralds to announce to Israel the kingdom as ''at hand." 10.


(6) The King discloses the virtual rejection of the kingdom announced as "at hand." 11, 12.


Note. The student should note that, while the formal and official rejection comes later, and after the final offer of the King according to Zechariah (Mat. 21:1-5; Zech. 9:9), it is in chapters xi. and xii. that our Lord points out how, really, His rejection is already apparent. That generation would have neither John Baptist nor Himself (11:16-19). The cities in which His mightiest works had been done had not been aroused to faith (11:20-24) and there remains for them a sorer judgment than that which had been sent upon Sodom. For a moment the course of kingdom testimony is suspended, and a magnificent gospel appeal is uttered (11:28-30). Returning to His place as Son of David, He conforms to the Davidic type, permitting an action which He defends by quoting what David did in the day of his rejection (12:1-4). Performing a gracious action, the Pharisees begin to plot His assassination (12:9-14). Then follows a quotation from Isaiah which brings into view blessing for the Gentiles, thus implying His rejection by Israel. See Rom. 11:9-12. A sign being asked He declares that but one "sign" remains to be given, and speaks, not of ascending David's throne, but of death and resurrection. It was time, therefore, that His disciples should be told that what lay before them in the immediate future was not the kingdom of the prophets, but the kingdom in a form never revealed to the prophets, viz. ...


Part 4. The kingdom in mystery, 13 to 23.

(1) The King describes in seven parables the state of the kingdom from its rejection by the Jewish people to the end of this present period, 8.

a. The Sower. Genesis of the kingdom in mystery.


b. The Wheat and Tares. The kingdom in mystery to consist of true children of the kingdom and children of the wicked one, or mere nominal Christians, such as compose the majority of state churches, Romanism, etc.


c. The Mustard Seed. The rapid but unsubstantial growth of the kingdom in mystery''.


d. The Leaven. The kingdom in mystery will be so defiled with evil, working subtly, that even the true children of the kingdom will become contaminated with Pharisaism, Sadduceeism, Herodianism (world-conformity), malice and wickedness. See Mat. 16:12; 23:23-33;

Luke 12.


e. The Hid Treasure. Israel during the continuance of the kingdom in



f. The Pearl. The church of this age, composed of the children of the kingdom united together into "one body" (1 Cor. 12:12, 13; 10:17; Eph. 4:15, 16) "without spot or wrinkle or any such thing" (Eph. 5:25-27).


g. The Net. The mixed state of the mystery form of the kingdom, as in the wheat and tares.

(2) The "goodness and severity'' of the rejected King. xiv. to xxiii. This division records works of goodness toward the blinded and unthinking; stem warnings to the self-righteous and willful; and tender counsels to the true children of the kingdom soon to be bereft of their Lord. Three passages call for special remark.

A. In chapter xvi. our Lord declares definitely the purpose obscurely announced in the Parable of the Pearl, viz., that He is to build a church. This is the first mention in Scripture of the church. The student will observe that it is a prediction. He does not say, ''have built," or "am building," but ''will build." In His apostles and personal disciples our Lord had gathered material—living stones—toward the future edifice ; but these must be built together by the Holy Spirit. See 1 Cor. 12:12, 13; Eph. 1:22, 23; 2:10-22.


B. In chapter xvii. the King exhibits, upon the mount of transfiguration, a model, as it were, of the future form of the kingdom. This was the fulfillment of His promise (Matt. 16:28). The elements are:


a. The scene was on earth, not in heaven.


b. The King was in glory, not in weakness, rejection and humiliation.


c. Three classes of persons were present: Natural men (Peter, James, John), a glorified saint (Elijah), who had been translated without dying, and a glorified saint (Moses), who had passed through death. After this pattern the future kingdom will be modeled. It will contain

the living nations upon the earth in their natural bodies; the translated church (1 Thess. 4:14-18); and the saints both of the Old Testament and the New, who have passed through death and resurrection. Both the latter classes will be glorified.

(3) In chapter 21. the King makes his final offer of Himself to Israel. There was some emotional response, but it did not even arrest the approaching official rejection.

Part 5. Predictions concerning the course and end of this age, the return of the King, and the setting up of the kingdom in glory according to the Old Testament prophets, 24 , 25.

Note. This part should be read in connection with Luke 21. in the following order:


Mat. 24:1-3. The three-fold question.


Matt. 24:4-14; Luke 21:8-19. Introductory: The path of true discipleship in this age.

Luke 21:20-24. The first answer. Covers the question as to the destruction of Jerusalem.


Matt. 24:15-26. The great tribulation, in which this mystery-age ends.


Matt. 24:27-30. The return of the King in glory.


Matt. 24:31. The "harvest" of Matt. 13:41.


Matt. 24:32 to Matt. 25:30. Counsels to the children of the kingdom in anticipation of the King's return.


Matt. 25:31-46. The judgment of the nations at the beginning of the next, or kingdom, age

Analysis of the Book - Section II. The Manifestation of Jesus Christ the Son and Seed of Abraham, 26, 27.


According to the Abrahamic covenant as illustrated by the offering of Isaac, and interpreted by Gal. 3, all nations were to be blessed in the promised Seed, through His offering by the Father, as an only and well-beloved Son, who should be raised from the dead after accomplishing His sacrifice. [See Section II., Part 1, Lesson. 15] Gen. 22:1-8; Heb. 11:17-19; Gal. 3:13-16.


Analysis of the Book - Section III. The Resurrection of Jesus the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, 28.


The sacrificed Son of Abraham was also the royal Son of David, and the eternal Son of God. For three reasons, therefore. His resurrection was imperative.

1. It was not possible that He should be holden of death, because He was in Himself the Lord and Author of life. He was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead. Rom. 1:4; Acts 2:24.


2. David, being a prophet, and ''knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on his throne ; he, seeing this before,

spoke of the resurrection of Christ." Acts 2:25-31.


3. As Seed of Abraham He was "delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." Rom. 4:25.

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, would not, therefore, be complete without a declaration of His resurrection. That event was at once the proof of His deity; the seal upon His prophetic and redemptive work, and the first step in His royal progress to David's throne. The book closes, appropriately, with instructions for a world-wide seed-sowing pending His return.


[1] C. I. Scofield, The Scofield Bible Correspondence Course, Vol. II, New Testament, Twentieth Edition, The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago Correspondence School, Chicago, Il, 1934, pp. 177-187 (Public Domain)