The Book of Matthew is written with a focus on Jewish readership.
The Apostle Matthew was Jewish, a former tax collector by trade. Tax collectors were despised for being cheats. Sitting in their tax booths while working for Rome, they extorted monies from the locals. Any money they could collect that was over and above what Roman government required, was kept for themselves. One would realize this selfish advantage leads them to be concise and detailed in their record keeping.
We read in Matthew 9:9 that it was at Matthew’s (also known as Levi) tax booth where he first met Jesus. As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. This is confirmed in Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27-29.
Matthew’s disreputable job made him a known figure in the Jewish community. Like laws of today, everyone in Jesus’ time was required to pay their taxes; which meant an unwelcome walk to the tax booth on the main roadway. Matthew lived and worked in Capernaum, a large fishing village and trade center on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. And when Matthew dedicated himself to write his gospel and share the Good News of Jesus Christ, he paid special attention to write in terms Jews could relate to. Using his skills for detail, he wanted to make sure they would clearly understand his message.
One special term that is noted in his gospel, as compared to Mark, Luke and John, is the use of “kingdom of heaven” rather than “kingdom of God.” The Jews were waiting for the promised leader the prophets spoke of. This new leader, the Messiah, was to establish a new kingdom. The Jews knew of the Old Testament prophesies for this “anointed one,” which Matthew references often in his book. However, they were expecting a new earthly kingdom.
But Matthew knew The Truth John 14:6. He understood Jesus was the King the prophets spoke about. He also understood Jewish reverence for the name of God and that people avoided mentioning His sacred name. That is why Matthew’s gospel emphasizes “kingdom of heaven” over “kingdom of God.”
In order to better follow Jewish culture and show respect for God’s name, Matthew chose to use the word “heaven” instead of the word “God.” He was teaching others about Jesus just as the other three gospels did, only his gospel centers toward Jewish acceptance.
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 3:2
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 7:21
As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Matthew 10:7
Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. Matthew 13:24
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Matthew 13:44
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 13:45-46
“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous Matthew 13:47-49
He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” Matthew 13:52
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. Matthew 20
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