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Matthew’s Fulfillment Citations

Fulfillment citations - one of the most distinctive aspects of Matthew’s infancy narrative is his insistence that everything that happened was a “fulfillment” of Scripture. Why was Jesus’ mother a virgin? To fulfill what the prophet said (he quotes Isaiah 7:14: “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son”) Why was he born in Bethlehem? To fulfill what the prophet said (he quotes Micah 5:2: “And you, Bethlehem…from you shall come a ruler” Why did Joseph and the family escape to Egypt? To fulfill what the prophet said (he quotes Hosea 11:1: “Out of Egypt I have called my son”) Why did Herod have the boys two years and under killed? To fulfill what the prophet said (he quotes Jeremiah 31.15 “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation”) Why did Joseph and his family relocate to Nazareth? To fulfill what the prophet said (he quotes … well what does he quote, exactly? “He will be called a Nazorean.” Huh?) Fulfillment Citations These so-called “fulfillment citations” are found in Matthew and only in [...]

2022-05-28T18:02:20-04:00April 7th, 2022|Canonical Gospels, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

Matthew’s “Filling Full” of Scripture

In the last post I indicated one way that Matthew understood Jesus to have fulfilled Scripture – a prophet predicted something about the messiah (to be born of a virgin; to be born in Bethlehem, etc.) and Jesus did or experienced what was predicted.   There’s a second way as well, one with considerable implications for understanding Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus.  Here’s how I talk about it in my textbook on the New Testament  *****************************************************************  The second way in which Jesus "fulfills" Scripture is a little more complicated.  Matthew portrays certain key events in the Jewish Bible as foreshadowings of what would happen when the messiah came.  The meaning of these ancient events was not complete until that which was foreshadowed came into existence.  When it did, the event was "fullfilled," that is, "filled full of meaning." As an example from the birth narrative, Matthew indicates that Jesus' family flees to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod "in order to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, `Out of Egypt I [...]

2020-04-03T14:11:35-04:00January 7th, 2015|Canonical Gospels|

Matthew’s Fulfillment of Scripture Citations

I’ve begun a short thread dealing with how Matthew understood and interpreted and used Scripture.   Here is a fuller exposition, the first part of which comes straight from my textbook on the NT and the second part straight from my noggin to the keyboard.  **************************************************************  What is perhaps most striking about Matthew's account is that it all happens according to divine plan.  The Holy Spirit is responsible for Mary's pregnancy and an angel from heaven allays Joseph's fears.  All this happens to fulfill a prophecy of the Hebrew Scriptures (1:23).  Indeed, so does everything else in the narrative: Jesus' birth in Bethlehem (2:6), the family's flight to Egypt (2:14) Herod's slaughter of the innocent children of Bethlehem (2:18) and the family's decision to relocate in Nazareth (2:23).  These are stories that occur only in Matthew, and they are all said to be fulfillments of prophecy. Matthew's emphasis that Jesus fulfills the Scripture does not occur only in his birth narrative.  It pervades the entire book.  On eleven separate occasions (including those I have just mentioned), [...]

2020-04-03T14:11:44-04:00January 6th, 2015|Canonical Gospels|

Matthew’s Ancient Approach to Scripture

QUESTION:  (The following question was raised by a reader who objected to Matthew’s attempt to interpret passages in the Hebrew Bible as having relevance for Jesus – especially passages that appear to have been taken radically out of context).  Here’s the question: Well then, the Christians of Matthew’s day did not read the OT very carefully at all. For example, when Matthew says that Jesus returning from Egypt was a fulfillment of Hosea 11:1 (out of Egypt have I called my son), did he not read the first part of that verse? It reads “When ISRAEL was a child, I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” Is this not clearly referring to the Exodus? How could Matthew (or whoever) determine that this referred to Jesus when it clearly states it is Israel?   RESPONSE: Yes, Matthew certainly did not interpret the Bible the way we would teach people!   On the other hand, he does seem to have interpreted it in ways that would have seemed sensible to many ancient readers.  The puzzling [...]

2020-04-03T14:11:51-04:00January 5th, 2015|Canonical Gospels, Reader’s Questions|
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