Once a person has read/studied the rest of the gospels and 1 John, I would say it’s time to tackle the gospel of Matthew. As the most Jewish of the gospels, and perhaps of the entire New Testament, one must at least have some background knowledge that can best be found in the rest of the gospels, all of which were written for non-Jewish audiences, and thus were written in such a way that those audiences could more easily understand Jewish history, religion, culture, language etc. That background, I think, is sufficient, for gaining a basic understanding of this gospel. Of course, depending on how much one wants to understand of all of Scripture, one may use as much of appropriate Scripture as one likes as cross reference to gain a deeper and richer understanding of any Scripture. However, I recommend that one, at the very least, have read John to understand how to live forever, 1 John to understand how one may know that they have eternal life, Mark to best understand what it means that Jesus Christ is Lord, Luke to best understand what it means that the Lord Christ is Jesus, before one reads or studies Matthew to better understand what it means that the Lord Jesus is the Christ.

That is what the main theme of Matthew is: The Lord Jesus is the Christ. Christ is translated from the Greek word, christos, which is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word, meshiach, from which we get the English word, Messiah. All of those words literally mean “anointed one.” What does that mean? It means one who has oil poured upon them to signify their special calling as one who is to serve God in a specific way. One may think of it like the act of a king, in this case, God, who symbolizes his designation of an individual for special service as a knight by tapping the new knight on the shoulders with a sword. However, in this context, what it means for the Lord Jesus to be the Christ is to be the One who has been designated as God’s High Priest, as the King to whom He has given all authority on heaven and earth, and as His final and perfect Prophet.

As the most Jewish of the gospels, Matthew serves as a good jumping-off point for someone to continue with the New Testament because most of its other books were written by Jews. In addition, it rounds out one’s background knowledge from which one may further understand the New Testament. The Bible has the gospels and 1 John as its foundation, upon which a main building is built in the epistles and Revelation, all of which serve as the interpretative foundation for the Old Testament, which is interpreted for us by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. Without a good understanding of what it means to gain eternal life, to believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that Christ is Lord, and is Jesus the Nazarene, it is difficult to understand the rest of the Bible, which builds upon these subjects in detail, draws out their most important implications, and applies them to daily life. Remember, the Lord Jesus Christ is the life and eternal life (1 John 5:20), the Son of God, the Author and Perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2), God’s perfect Prophet, High Priest, and King, the perfect man, and the pre-existent Word. In the beginning, Genesis 1:1, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and all things came into being through Him. That Word is prayed to in the last verse of Revelation, in which the Holy Spirit says, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” From beginning to end, the Bible is about God, who most brilliantly and wonderfully reveals Himself in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God the Son.