The 4 Gospels were originally written to 4 different audiences. The most Jewish of these original recipients was the one that received the Gospel of Mathew. It should not surprise us, therefore, that it was Mathew’s Gospel which utilizes the greatest number of Old Testament direct quotations and allusions.
For example, after Jesus performed some exorcisms and healing miracles, we read these words in Mathew 8:17 – “This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.”” This reference to a spoken or written word recorded in the Old Testament is a common formula in Mathew’s Gospel. The audience that Mathew is writing to is familiar with the Jewish Scriptures and he wants to show his readers that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel. He “is the One to come” (Mathew 11:3).
And Mathew wants to make clear that Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount doesn’t go against the teaching of Moses and the Torah. Instead he makes it clear that Jesus interprets the full meaning of the Mosaic teaching. For example in Mathew 5:21-26, Jesus explains that the commandment “Do not murder” not only prohibits the actual physical killing of a person but also prohibits holding hateful thoughts and saying insulting words to another person. Jesus goes to the heart of the matter. This is God’s full intent for this commandment.
Jesus also shows His divine authority by how He introduces each new section in Mathew 5. This is Jesus’ formula: “You have heard that it was said…………..But I tell you” (Mathew 5:27,28 and other places). Jesus is putting Himself on the same level of authority as God when He says this because the 1st part of that formula quotes God’s word from the Old Testament.
The strong fulfillment motif of Mathew’s Gospel is also seen in Jesus’ words recorded in Mathew 5:17,18: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” It is God’s providence which placed Mathew’s Gospel as the first Gospel of the New Testament. It serves a great segue way into the rest of the new revelation that came through Jesus and the New Covenant, and came to be known as the New Testament. In Christ’s love and service, Pastor John