Matthew was a publican (Roman tax collector) when Christ called him to be His disciple and then chose him to be one of the twelve apostles (Matt 9:9; 10:1-7). He will be one of the twelve princes that will judge the twelve tribes of Israel in the Kingdom (Matt 19:28). The book of Matthew was written by a Jewish apostle about a Jewish Christ and His Jewish Kingdom.
There are 23 direct quotes of the Old Testament and 76 references to it in 28 chapters. The phrase “that it might be fulfilled” occurs 10 times. The phrase “which was spoken” occurs 14 times.
The Church, which is the Body of Christ, was a mystery hid in God until revealed through the apostle Paul (Eph 3) and has to do with His eternal purpose for the heavenly places. Therefore, the book of Matthew is not written to or about the Body of Christ and neither are the other three Gospels. The events recorded by Matthew transpired under the dispensation of the Law (Matt 5:17-20; 8:4; 19:17; 23:13; 24:20).
In his Gospel, Matthew presents Christ as the promised King. God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham (Gen 12:1-3) who was the father of the Hebrew people. He promised to make of him a great nation and to give them a land. He also made an everlasting covenant with David concerning his throne and the kingdom (2 Sam 7). Christ came to confirm the promises that God made to the Jewish fathers (Rom 15:8).
Notice the order in Matthew 1:1 (cf. Gen 5:1):
Jesus Christ as the Son of David – chapters 1-12 – The Kingdom Proclaimed
Jesus Christ as the Son of Abraham – chapters 13-28 – The King Rejected (cf. Gen 22)
The word “kingdom” is found 56 times in Matthew. The term “kingdom of heaven” is unique to Matthew and is found 32 times. The kingdom of heaven is not referring to God’s kingdom in heaven, but rather the God of heaven establishing His kingdom on the earth (Jer 23:5; Dan 2:44; Matt 6:10).
The gospel of the kingdom (Matt 4:17, 23-24) is the good news that the kingdom God promised Israel was at hand. The nation must repent and be baptized in preparation for the kingdom. The signs that Christ and His apostles worked were signs of the kingdom they were preaching. The twelve apostles preached the gospel of the kingdom without believing in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Matt 16:21-23) which is the basis for the gospel of the grace of God that Christ later revealed to Paul (1 Cor 15:3-4).
The term “kingdom of God” is used 70 times in the New Testament. It is found 5 times in Matthew and 50 times in the other three Gospels.
God is an eternal King (1 Tim 1:17) and as such He has an eternal kingdom. The kingdom of God is a general designation that refers to the eternal and spiritual aspect of God’s kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is a specific designation that refers to the kingdom of God being established upon the earth. That is why the terms are used interchangeably (cf. Matt 5:3 with Lk 6:20; Matt 11:11 with Lk 7:28; Matt 16:27-28 with Lk 9:27). The kingdom of God will be visible (Lk 13:28-29; 14:15; 19:11; 21:31; 22:16-18; 23:51).
Christ did not come, to establish a spiritual kingdom like so many teachers falsely claim because His spiritual kingdom has always existed. He came to establish His kingdom on the earth. In rejecting God’s commandment to rightly divide the word of truth, covenant theologians have to “spiritualize” the literal promises that God made to the literal nation of Israel. They accuse dispensationalists of making Christ out to be a failure because we teach the kingdom was postponed and will be established later. Christ did not fail, His people did, and He knew they would. If you reject dispensational truth, you will make God out to be an unfaithful liar.
Matthew presents the right of Jesus Christ to be the King:
The Legal Right (1) — His royal lineage
The Royal Right (2) — Born King of the Jews
The Prophetic Right (3) — The prophesied forerunner
The Moral Right (4) — The righteous King
The Legislative Right (5-7) — The law of the kingdom
The Miraculous Right (8-11) — The signs of the kingdom
The Pivotal Chapter (12) — Warning of the unpardonable sin
The Preparation of the Disciples for His Rejection (13-26)
The Crucifixion of the King (27)
The Resurrection of the King (28)
Concerning His earthly ministry, Matthew has two clear sections:
“From that time Jesus began…” (Mt 4:17)
“From that time forth began Jesus…” (Mt 16:21)
Many incorrectly think that Christ began to reveal the present mystery age in chapter 13. The parables were about the mysteries of the kingdom (Matt 13:10-11), i.e. further revelation about the kingdom not found in the Old Testament prophets. When Christ declared, “I will build my church,” He was not revealing a new purpose, but rather confirming the fact that He would accomplish what He came to do even though He must first be rejected (Matt 16:13-17:13). He was speaking of the prophesied kingdom church (cf. Ps 22:22; Heb 2:12), and not the mystery of the church which is His Body.
From beginning to end, Matthew is all about the Kingdom. From a mountain (the symbol of a kingdom, Isa 2:1-5) Christ gave:
The charter of the kingdom (Matt 5-7)
The vision of the kingdom (Matt 17:1-13)
The signs of His coming kingdom (Matt 24-25)
The kingdom commission (Matt 28:16-20)