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Intro to the book of Matthew.

matthew-graphics1

The Gospel of Matthew deals at length with matters of the law, tradition, the fulfillment of the Jewish scriptures, and of Jesus’ confrontations with the Jewish leaders of his day. The reason many scholars believe Matthew is the first book of the New Testament is because it offers an incredible transition from the Old Testament to the New Testament; old covenant to new. The constant references to the OT and Jesus’ conflict with the Jewish authorities serves as a “bridge” between both testaments.

 

Some of the themes we will see in Matthew:

* Jesus as the fulfillment of the messianic OT prophecies.

* How He applies OT text to various aspects of His ministry.

* How He viewed OT law & traditions of Jewish scribal teachings.

* His conflict with official Jewish religious representatives & the nation of Israel.

* The nature of the Christian church as an extension of Judaism (after all Jesus was a Jew!)

In the gospel of Matthew we will see for the first time how salvation was extended to the gentiles. In the OT salvation was only for the house of Israel. If a gentile wanted to worship the one true God, they had to go through a number of steps according to Jewish law first (they had to be circumsized, baptized, etc.).

 

Time period.

Most modern scholars conclude that Matthew was written within the last 20 years of the first century (around A.D. 80, some say as early as A.D. 50) and confirmed by the writings of Eusebius  ( ca. A.D. 265-339) who quotes Origen (ca. A.D. 185-254).

These are the reasons why Matthew is not dated earlier by most scholars.

1-  If, as generally supposed Mark’s gospel was not written earlier than about AD 65, and Matthew used Mark, then it must have written after AD 65.

2- The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 is believed to have influenced such passages as Matt 22:7, 23:38 and several parts of chapter 24.

3- The “anti-Jewish” tones suit the period around AD 85 because at this time Christians were excluded from synagogue worship since a “curse” against Nazarenes and heretics was added to the synagogue’s laws on worship ( AKA Liturgy ). Before this time the lines were not drawn as clearly on the subject.

**I must add that this date is not conclusive. Scholars form all walks of life still debate the dating of Matthew. No one knows the exact date, we just have an approximation.

 

The writer.

Early Christian theologians unanimously believe this gospel was written by the disciple Matthew (The tax collector). Whose call can be found in Matt 9:9.

From the characteristics of the gospel we can assume that Matthew was a Jewish-Christian with a strong interest and extensive knowledge in the OT. He was very familiar with the traditions of the scribes and with the methods of Rabbinic debate. Matthew was capable of writing in Greek even though he was clearly Semitic ( relating to people who speak Aramaic, Hebrew or Arabic).

As I mentioned before Matthew was a tax collector whose former name was Levi. A tax collector back in those days had to be fluent in Greek as a job requirement. The name Levi as a general consensus was more of a tribal name, denoting he was from the tribe of Levi. In which case he was right at home with scribal tradition. This book was written to strengthen the faith of Jewish Christians and as a useful apologetics tool for Jewish evangelism.  Matthew was written mainly to a Jewish audience.

 

Central Theological Emphases of Matthew.

Fulfilment

* The fact that Jesus was the fulfillment of all OT prophesies as the much awaited Messiah as well as the fulfillment of the Law (The Old Covenant was done away with and a New Covenant started).

Christology (the study of the attributes of Christ)

* The major theme in Matthew is the explanation of who Christ is.

1- Christ as Messiah ( the word Messiah is Christ in Greek).

2- Christ as the Son of man ( Christ as a human being).

3- Christ as King. Jesus fulfills the institution of kingship in the OT, he is the “son of David”, the “greater than Solomon”. Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus focuses on his royal descent from Israel’s greatest King, David.

4- Christ as the Son of God. This is revealed to us not as much from Christ himself in this gospel as from God Himself, what others call Him, by Satan, demons and eventually by his disciples as they begin to get a deeper knowledge of who He is.

* The law. In this book you will see Jesus’ relation to the law. If He was the fulfillment of it, we must understand His relation to it especially when the Jewish people prided themselves in being the people whom God gave His laws to. The law was the entire focus of their life and religion. It was out of such concern for the law that the scribes developed a complex set of rules on how to live a correct  life and worship which is called the Mishna. The scribes and pharisees were known for keeping the Mishna meticulously.

* The people of God.

1- The failure of Israel to repent and recognize their Messiah as John the Baptist calls them to repent.

2-  The nature of the new community. Christ didn’t require membership of the nation of Israel but repentance for their sins. Those who responded to the call of repentance and faith became member of a new community of the forgiven. Membership of the people of God was not a matter of belonging to the right nation or ethnic group. Now it was composed of those who had heard and responded to the message of Christ and established a proper relationship with Him.

 

 The structure of the gospel of Matthew (main section divisions).

* Three groups of fourteen generations ( 1:1-17)

* Three temptations with quotations in reply ( 4:1-11)

* Eight beatitudes ( 5:3-10)

* Six “antithesis” ( 5:21-47)

* Three types of religious observance (6:1-6, 16-18)

* Three symbolic actions (21:1-22)

* Three polemical parables (21:28 – 22:14)

* Seven woes on scribes and pharisees ( 23:13-36)

* Three prayers & return to sleeping disciples ( 26: 36-46)

* Three denials by Peter (26:69-75)

 

By topic this book can be divided as follows:

Intro – Matt 1:1 – 4:11

Ministry in Galilee –  Matt 4:12 – 13:58

Wider ministry in the North – Matt 14:1 – 16:12

Towards Jerusalem – Matt 16:13 – 20:34

Confrontation in Jerusalem – Matt 21:1 – 25:46

Passion and Resurrection – Matt 26:1 – 28:20

There are five major discourses in this book.

The Sermon on the mount (chaps 5-7).

The Commissioning  of the Apostles (chap 10).

The Parables about the Kingdom (chap 13).

Discourse about the Christ-likeness of the believer ( chap 18).

The Second Coming ( chaps. 24 & 25).

 

The exegetical Issue with Matthew.

On Jesus’ Olivet discourse, the prophetic passages present an interpretative challenge. In this discourse Jesus gives some details of the violent destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. His words in chapter 24:34 have led some to conclude that all these things He was speaking of were already fulfilled (although not literally) during the conquest of the Romans in that era. This view is called Preterism. This interpretation if flawed because it forced the reader to read into the passage spiritualized and  allegorical meanings that are commonly not used in normal exegetical methods.

When interpreting Matthew the grammatical- historical hermeneutics approach to these passages is what should be followed. This method yields consistent, futuristic interpretation of yet to be fulfilled end time prophesy.

Note:

  • Hermeneutics: [Greek, hermeneutilos, from hermeneus =an interpreter (from Hermes)]. Applied to the study of Scripture: The art and science of Biblical interpretation.  The “science” involves study of the ancient languages and the individual words in which a Biblical passage is written.  The art involves unfolding the significance of a passage by discerning what the inspired writer meant to convey to the reader, taking into consideration the historical period, the culture of the times, and information within the entire context of the text.

  • Exegesis: [Greek,  exegeomai, = ex “to explain”, or “to take from”; and hegeomai, “to lead”, “to guide”].  Applied to the study of Scripture: Taking from the Biblical text the information upon which to base an interpretation.  Exegete: One who interprets a Biblical passage or text.

I pray you have come away with a much deeper understanding of what you will be studying these coming weeks in the gospel of Matthew! 🙂

Love,

Laire

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Christian Parents dealing with Rebellious Teens…

FYI: If one of my girls ever dared to give me the attitude demonstrated on the picture to the left, they would be grounded for at least a month. I would assume she is out of her mind and quickly help her in finding it! 🙂

Every single one of us either HAS a rebellious teen or knows of someone who does. On this post I am going to give you some tools for you to be able to train them up and address some discipline issues you may be experiencing with them.

First and foremost we can’t address discipline issues without addressing relationship issues. My favorite parenting author says…

“Rules without relationship, breeds rebellion.” Chip Ingram.

No matter what age or stage your children are at it’s never too late to start cultivating a strong relationship with them based on love, trust and discipline. A parent that loves is a parent that disciplines! God disciplines those He loves, the Word states. Parents who hate their children don’t bother to guide/discipline them.

Establish both a bible study night and a family night every week. Pick a bible study where you have no prep work need if you are a busy parent and bring the whole family together to go through the word. It is our responsibility as parents to teach the Word of God to our children. It is not the school’s or church’s responsibility. We need to actively guide and equip our children to grow spiritually. I am going to assume most of my readers send their children to “school” so I am going to write it with that in mind. If you are a homeschooler, all this applies! LOL 🙂

You can’t make your children love God nor want to study His word but what you CAN do is demand respect and appropriate behavior when a bible study is taking place in your home. They need to see you actively being the leader they need. Parenting in a passive manner is no parenting at all. Good parenting takes time, it takes effort and a lot of consistency. Talk to them about their day. Write them notes they can find in their backpacks. Small things will do wonders when you are trying to establish/nurture a relationship with your teens (or children in general). The more they see you trying to have a relationship with them the more they will be willing to accept the discipline without rebellion. I have to be clear on this though, if you have a teen that is rebelling, both relationship and rules MUST be established ASAP! Don’t wait to establish a relationship to set rules. It will never happen because part of establishing a healthy relationship IS rules/discipline. They go hand in hand.

Set a date night when the two of you can just go out and talk. Be involved in their lives. I ask my son (almost 10), theological questions…I want to know where he is at with the Lord. I find out his fears or doubts and I am able to guide him in the right direction and equip him to seek it out himself. Not only that, I ask everyday how school is going, the info they give you may be irrelevant to your existence yet it matters to them because RIGHT NOW that is their world. They need you as a leader and a believer to share with them a biblical worldview. Help them change the way they see the world to the way God sees the world. By example.

Now that we have gone over some ways which you can establish a relationship with them we need to go over rules/discipline.

 WARNING: In order to change your children’s lives radically, your parenting must radically CHANGE!

I must warn you dear friend, you may not agree with me on these issues I will bring up but TRUST me I know they work!

First of all, don’t EVER excuse your child’s behavior by any circumstance. Exp: they act like that because of so and so or because _________. Fill in the blank. Even though there are some valid reasons why they rebel, don’t excuse them. They need to be accountable for their own behavior as much as YOU need to be accountable for the contribution you or those in your family have made to their rebellion, if any. If you have a  dysfunctional family, you need to take responsibility for such and fix it. We need to get to the core issues, the heart matter before we try to deal with symptoms. Symptoms are not the problem, the heart issue is. If your teen is giving you an attitude, that is a symptom of an issue that HAS to be addressed.

Your teen needs to understand there are privileges and consequences. If they violate the trust you have places in them they will lose privileges and earn consequences. There’s absolutely no reason why a teen should have a phone with internet access. It is beneficial to them? Absolutely NOT. There is no good reason (it is actually detrimental to them, it is an unwise waste of time) for a teen to have an iPhone or any other smart phone. They need a phone to call in case of emergency and supervised/sensible conversation time with friends. We are training children to be insensible. They reason everyone has it so they need to as well. This isn’t a matter of  “well, we got it for free so it was a smart move”…no it wasn’t. You just gave them a way to browse the web and be exposed to temptation left and right. ALL kinds of temptations. We are over stuffing them with technology to the point they not only feel entitled they don’t even know what being sensible is.

Our job as parents is to train them to be sensible, responsible, to honor their father and mother and without active parenting that is impossible.

Take the phone away, they don’t need it to begin with even more so when they rebel. Take the phone! Yes, I said it. 🙂 A phone is a privilege they need to ear by their respectful behavior. After all which one of your teens, pays for rent, food, utilities etc? Yeah…..If they are dependents they need to abide by the rules you set!

Computers…No teen should be left with a computer without safeguard software on it. There are plenty of christian programs that monitor and block sites. You need to monitor your child’s internet activity on a weekly basis. All passwords must be given to you and periodically check every device. If your children want privacy, they can have it when they PAY for their own needs in their own place. No child is due any technological privacy, it’s nonsense!

I sit with my son and put songs we choose together on his iPod. He doesn’t get to pick whatever he wants. First of all we don’t listen to ANY secular music so he has no interest in it…even if he did. I would listen to the song and make a judgment as to if it’s appropriate, etc. Monitor their iPods, dvd’s, books and may I also suggest DO NOT buy your child ANY magazines! There are christian magazines you can subscribe to. No secular teen bop, allure or anything else. That is just brainwashing them with unhappiness, wanting more and SEX believe it or not!

If you have a girl (with boys too) you need to motor what they wear. They do not go shopping by themselves if they do not understand and seek modesty. Go through their closet and throw out every immodest article of clothing you can find. Teach your girls modesty by example. Don’t allow them to wear mini skirts and short shorts. It is immodest and it is not bringing glory to God in any way.

If they have a car and you have tried everything else and nothing works, take it away! They simply can’t drive anymore.

Teens today are raised with entitlement issues, they have become demanding brats! Throwing tantrums at the hearing of Noooooo.

Parents have become weak, they don’t have a relationship with them to begin with so the guilt of the lack of involvement bids a parent to give in, in order for their children to be happy. I understand that. I truly do. I want my children to be happy as well, what mother doesn’t, right?

But I do not want my children to be happy if it interferes with them being holy.

If you have issue with your teen, or just want encouragement you can always send me an email at LightnerCrew@hotmail.com.

Resources:

Raising entitled BRATS!

Train them to suffer well.

How to TRAIN up a child.