Written by Dutch Reformed pastor and preacher Cornelis Vonk, and translated by Nelson D. Kloosterman, the volume provides an introduction to the book of Matthew. Like others in the series, it is neither a technical commentary nor a collection of sermons, but rather an accessible primer for the average churchgoer.
Matthew focuses heavily on the Gospel itself, providing an accessible interpretation of its unique messages and themes, but always tracing each back to the larger unfolding God’s ultimate plan and to the grand totality of Scripture. This is true for all volumes in the series, but is particularly valuable here, given Matthew’s routine references to the Old Testament (no fewer than 59 times, compared to 25 in Mark, 32 in Luke, and 13 in John).
As an example, here an excerpt from Vonk’s commentary on the Fifth Beatitude (“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy”):
Scripture does not often speak of merciful people. David was merciful toward Mephibosheth, the son of his deceased intimate friend Jonathan (2 Sam. 9). It is striking that the Lord Jesus in one of his most well-known parables identified a Samaritan as an example of mercy but a priest and a Levite as examples of mercilessness (Luke 10). Among the Jews the theory was in circulation that people who struggled with sickness, blindness, and the like, were being punished with those conditions for sin that either they or their parents had committed. From John 9:2, the story of the man born blind, we see that the disciples of the Lord were not entirely free of that notion.
But we do read about the mercy of God frequently (think of Exod. 34:6, mercy shown to Moses after the sin of Israel with the golden calf, and of Ps. 103:8). Our Savior himself was so merciful that he healed many sick people. He is even called a merciful high priest (Heb. 2:17). He also commanded his disciples: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). According to Matthew 5:7 he told them, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” When he executes final judgment one day, the mercy people have shown toward his needy believers will “triumph over judgment” (Matt. 25:34–40; Jas. 2:13).