“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Matthew’s “Good News” of Jesus Christ (Luther W. Martin)
2) The Father of the Prodigal Son (an excerpt from Luke 15:20-24)
3) Audio Sermons by Gene Taylor
4) News & Notes
Matthew’s “Good News” of Jesus Christ
Luther W. Martin
The first book of the New Testament, was written by Matthew, a resident of Capernaum. At this time, the Roman government had established a custom-house at Capernaum, and Matthew, a publican, had been appointed as a resident deputy (portitor), a collector of taxes, for the Romans. Portitors were not popular among their own people; they seemed to have “sold out” to their conquerors by collecting taxes for Rome from their own kinsmen, the Jews. Alexander the Great through his military conquests several centuries before Christ, had spread the Greek language throughout the Mediterranean World. Now, Rome had conquered the “civilized” world, and had forced Roman laws (civil and military), as well as politics, throughout its territories. And, although the koine Greek, was the language of politics, commerce, and even religion; it would be several centuries before the Latin Language would begin its ascendency.
Matthew Wrote To Convince The Jews About Christ
It is not known whether Matthew’s biography of Christ was the first to be written, or not. Some scholars have thought that it preceded Mark and Luke. In any event, Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s biographies of Christ are called “synoptic gospels,” because they generally cover the same sequence of events in the life of Christ, while John’s biography of Christ approaches the subject from a different perspective.
As a tax collector under Herod Antipas, Matthew possessed a fluent ability in Aramaic or Hebrew Languages, as well as the commonly spoken koine Greek. Like most of the Jewish people, Matthew eagerly awaited the coming Messiah and King; and anticipated the establishment of a kingdom, that would be military, and political; and would possess such strength, that it would conquer all of its neighbors.
The Book of Matthew serves as a vital connection between the Old and New Covenants. Beginning with the very first verse, it is designed to interest the Jews: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham” because the Jews had long heard and read from the Old Testament prophets, how their King would be a descendant of King David … harking back to the “glory days” of Israel and Judah, in their expectations!
The Gospel according to Matthew, would also provide a relationship between the Law of Moses and the Gospel of Christ; and this would prove to be particularly applicable to the Jews. Mark’s biography of Christ, would be written in a style and manner to appeal to the Romans, and Luke’s biography would be directed toward the Greeks. This would leave John’s “spiritual” biography, with its different approach from the other three biographies, to bring to completion, the Heaven-inspired record, described as: “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20:31).
Matthew’s Record Has Some Peculiarities
One unusual aspect of Matthew’s biography of Christ, will be listed: although there are some others.
Of the four biographical books, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, only Matthew uses the expression “Kingdom of Heaven” and it is used in thirty-one verses! Neither Mark, Luke nor John make use of the expression “Kingdom of Heaven!”
Matthew does use “Kingdom of God” five times; but the term “Kingdom of Heaven” emphasizes a connotation that had a special appeal to the Jews . . . for whom Matthew’s biography, was especially written!
Ever since the prophet Daniel had written: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed” (Dan. 2:44); the Jewish people had been looking for, and longing for, the prophetic kingdom! In fact, the very last question asked by the Apostles of Jesus, just before he ascended into heaven, was: “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)
The expressions “Kingdom of Heaven” and “Kingdom of God” are synonymous, they refer to the same thing; but specify some different aspects and characteristics concerning this “kingdom” that would also be designated as the Lord’s ekklesia, the called-out assembly, community, or church (called out of the world; called away from carnality and worldliness).
May I suggest that by using the term “Heaven” to the Jews, who were so all-wrapped-up in their thoughts of an earthly, political kingdom, that inspiration was stressing the heavenly or spiritual make-up of this kingdom! Jesus said: “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12) So, it appears that the “Kingdom of Heaven” was used in contrast to earthly kingdoms.
A kingdom, possesses several attributes: (a) A king, as its ruler and law-giver — Christ! (b) The subjects; citizens who are obedient to the King — Christ! (c) The statutes or laws, as issued by the King — Gospel of Christ, contained in the New Testament! (d) The territory (scope) of this kingdom; the minds of men! “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or, ‘See there!’ For, indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21), rather than a geographical realm.
Christ also proclaimed: “My kingdom is not of this world! If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews” (Jn. 18:36). Thus, Christ left no question as to the nature of his kingdom! It was spiritual or heavenly! This, I believe, is why Matthew exclusively used the expression “Kingdom of Heaven” in writing to these earthly-kingdom-anticipating Jews!
Matthew’s biography of Christ’s life, was specifically for instructing the Jews of the first century, A.D. In the 24th chapter of Matthew, the destruction of Jerusalem was predicted and described. This event took place in 70 A.D., when the Roman Legions over-ran Palestine.
— Via the Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 3, pp. 84-85, February 2, 1989
The Father of the Prodigal Son
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found. And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:20-24, NASB).
Audio Sermons by Gene Taylor
We were glad to have Gene Taylor preach for us last week, during our gospel meeting. He did an excellent job with each of his lessons. And all of his audio sermons, except one, can be accessed at the following website:
Though there is no audio recording for the first one, there is a PowerPoint presentation of it (with its 67 slides) that has also been made available at the website above. Once there, just click on the sermon of your choosing (below the flyer-picture). They are as follows:
1) “An Unchanging Standard in a Changing World”
2) “A Kingdom Not of This World”
3) “Condemning the World”
4) “By This, All Men Will Know You Are My Disciples”
5) “Three Ways of Life”
6) “Living Life to the Fullest.”
Feel free to share these with anyone!
News & Notes
It was reported that though John Stoval was finally able to have cancer surgery, yet it appears that some had metastasized to his brain.
Rick Cuthbertson, who had surgery almost a year ago, due to cancer in his liver, now has a blood clot in his leg being tended to.
Penny Medlock had recently been hospitalized here in Waycross, due to some problems she was having; but had to later be transferred to a hospital in Atlanta.
Others to also be praying for: the family and friends of Mary Ellen Aldrich (Danny Bartlett’s mother) who recently passed away; Pat and A.J. Joyner; Jim Lively; James Medlock; Deborah Medlock; Shirley Davis; Mary Vandevander; Michelle Rittenhouse; Kayleigh Tanner; Amris Bedford; Danny Hutcheson; Roger Montgomery; Rex and Frankie Hadley; and Tommy Lin
The Hoboken church of Christ will be having their Spring Gospel Meeting April 19-21. The theme will be on “Spreading the Gospel” with speakers Kerry Keenan and Chuck Bartlett. The church meets at 5101 Main Street, Hoboken, Georgia.
The Lessons & Times will be:
Friday 7:30 p.m.: Motivations for Spreading the Gospel
Saturday 7:30 p.m.: Congregational Evangelism
9:30 a.m.: Tools to Spread the Gospel
10:30 a.m.: To God Be the Glory
5 p.m.: Overcoming Obstacles for Evangelism
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 2 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com (Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermon)