“Do not suppose that I came to overthrow the law or the prophets; I came not to overthrow but to complete them.”
The Purpose of Matthew’s gospel and to whom it was written.
All writings have a purpose, whether it be a novel, an autobiography, or an historical account. Matthew was no different, and his purpose was to bring the gospel to the Jews in a way that they would understand and so lead them to accept that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, God’s anointed one.
There are a number of occasions when Matthew uses the phrase:
Now all this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet – Matthew 1.22.
This phrase occurs 16 times in various forms within Matthew’s gospel.
In making known the good news of Jesus to the Jews it was important for them to know that Jesus was the complete fulfilment of all the promises and prophecies that God had given in the Old Testament. Therefore, Matthew took the time to relate to the Old Testament what Jesus said and did.
In order to understand the Old Testament we have to know the gospels, and in particular Matthew’s gospel. This was particularly true for the Jews. The writer of the book of Hebrews was also writing for a Jewish readership, which can be seen in his details regarding the Jewish sacrificial system.
Matthew’s desire was to see the Jews saved and come to know Jesus; therefore, he puts all that Jesus said and did within the context of the Old Testament.
Yet Matthew did not write exclusively for the Jews, and it is clear that the gospel of Jesus is to be preached to the whole world:
“And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then, finally, the end will come” – Matthew 24.14 (NLT).
Therefore, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Matthew’s gospel is for the Jews and the Gentiles. We are blessed to have written down for us some of his memories of Jesus, supplemented by those of Peter, through Mark’s gospel.