The Gospel of Matthew is one of four gospels found in the New Testament. Matthew was one of the 12 apostles who made up Jesus Christ's public ministry on earth. The purpose of the book is to prove to readers that Jesus is the true Messiah who fulfills the messianic prophecies found in the Old Testament. Of the four gospels, the Gospel of Matthew is the longest, with 28 chapters. It is generally thought that the Gospel of Matthew was written between 50 and 70 CE.
The Gospel of Matthew is divided into eight different sections that describe the various parts of Jesus' life. In the beginning of the book it states the ancestry of Jesus and establishes him as a direct descendent of the Israelite King David and the Jewish royal family. The first section of the book also describes Jesus' miraculous birth and the immaculate conception.
The second section the Gospel of Matthew goes on to tell us of the origins of Jesus' ministry, his baptism and his temptation by Satan in the desert. The next section tells us about Jesus' ministry while in the Galilee. While in the Galilee, Jesus gathers the 12 apostles, performs miracles such as the curing of two blind men, curing a leper and healing paralysis at Capernaum. He also cured a bleeding woman, healed a centurion's servant, performed an exorcism, found a coin in a fish's mouth, fed thousands of people and also walked on water to meet a boat. The miracles as detailed in the Gospel of Matthew are narrated in the first person as Matthew was actually there at those events.
In Chapter 13 Jesus begins to teach parables on important subjects such as adultery, divorce, charity and prayer. Chapter 17 details the transfiguration as seen by three of Jesus' disciples, John, Peter and James. The sixth section predicts Jesus' death. Section seven which starts in Chapter 21 sees Jesus' return to Jerusalem on a donkey and ends in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. The final section describes the events of Jesus' resurrection.
The last chapter of the Gospel of Matthew elaborates the calling of all disciples of Christ to "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:19-20). These verses describe the mission of all Christians to spread the word of Christ to the world and to share his lessons with the entire population of the world.
The Gospel of Matthew is extremely significant. It establishes that Jesus is the messiah who was prophesized in the Old Testament. It also proves that Jesus was the Son of God and that Jesus lived a perfect life free of sin. It also details Jesus proving his dominance over nature by performing miracles such as calming the storm, healing people and bringing the dead back to life. Jesus also provides real and practical examples of how God wants people to live, deal with difficult circumstances and also make the correct choices in order to spend eternity in Heaven. It also tells how Jesus is rejected by the Jewish people as the messiah and this was the beginning of the conversion of non-believing Jews to Christians as the true inheritors of the Jewish legacy.
The Jewish legacy of Christianity is highlighted in the Gospel of Matthew. For example, all the important actors in the book are Jewish, including Jesus, the twelve apostles and everyone who witnesses Jesus' miracles. They also are not ashamed or deny their Jewish heritage as at this point in history Christianity was only in its fledgling stages and would take decades to become an independent separate religion.