Monday, July 14, 2008

The Gospel of Matthew : Jesus and the Scripture

There has been a lot of debate on how to study the Bible, especially in regards to its inerrancy, reliability, and how applicable it is for today. One of the best places to look would be to see how Jesus view, used, and taught the Scripture. Here is a listing of almost every Old Testament (OT) verse used in Matthew.

1. Matthew 1:22Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23"BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US."

This quotation is from Isaiah 9:6. As with the other prophecies, Matthew assumes the reader can fully understand and comprehend these prophetic texts (ie it has a specific meaning not "what does it means to you"). Furthermore, he ascribes, the authority of God on this text. You'd be hard pressed to say that "spoken by the Lord" does not mean inerrant.

2. Matthew 2:5They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 6'AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.'"

Quote from Micah 5:2. Hard to see anything, but that Matthew expects his reader to clearly see a literal fulfillment of this prophecy through Jesus.

3. More prophecies 2:15 (quoting Hosea 11:1), 2:17 (Jeremiah 31:15), 2:23 (see here, here, or here ), 4:15 (Isaiah 9:1). Already we see Matthew making a case for Jesus from the Scriptures. He is methodically using OT passages, using them as syllogisms, and appealing to the authority and perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture.

More fulfillments: 8:17 (Isaiah 53:4), 11:10 (Malachi 3:1), 12:18 (Isaiah 42:1-4), 13:14 (Isaiah 6:9-10), 13:35 (Psalm 78:2), Matthew 15:8-9 (Isaiah 29:13). Matthew 21:5 (Zechariah 9:9), 26:31 (Zechariah 13:7), 27:9-10 (Zechariah 11:13)

4. Even the Messiah's forerunner in the OT in Isaiah 40:3 and used for a witness for John the Baptist.

5. Very famous usage of Scripture via Jesus comes in Matthew 4 when He is tempted by Satan. Here he uses 3 verses from Deuteronomy: 8:3, 6:16, and 6:13. So much has been said about this, but in reference to our postmodern age (who doesn't even believe in Hell or Satan), Jesus didn't appeal to his inner strength only to fight off evil, but the authority and clarity of the Scripture. Even Satan tries to use Scripture against Jesus because the devil knows (albeit twisting them) the authority and the reverence Jesus has to it!

6. Matthew 5:17"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19"Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments,and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven;but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Is it important that Jesus did not want to go against what the Law and the Prophets/Bible revealed. The people in the crowd, perhaps they were awaiting the new covenant or wanting Jesus to overturn the Romans and establish a new theocracy with new laws. Now a days we sometimes think that the NT has replaced the OT, but no! Jesus came to fulfill it not to take it away and neither should we attempt to brush the OT aside. In fact Jesus' praise was so high he said no part of the Law would disappear. Even more, Christ said that one's greatness in the kingdom of heaven could depend how seriously you took it ie whether we annual some rules b/c our modern day culture will not accept it (ie homosexuality, divorce, sanctity of life, etc.) We need to ask do we have the same attitude that is in Jesus?

7. On the sermon on the mount Jesus goes over these verses: Exodus 20:13, 14, Deut 24:1, Numbers 30:2, Exodus 21:24, and Leviticus 19:18. We get to here Jesus explain these verses and correct the false teachings surrounding them.

Matthew 5:21 "You shall not commit murder"; 22"But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

Matthew 5:27 "You shall not commit adultery" 28but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matthew 5:31 "Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce" 32but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Matthew 5:33 "You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord" 37"But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil.

Matthew 5:38 "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" 39"But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

Matthew 5:43 "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy" ("hate your enemy" is not in the Bible and is a scribal and/or Pharisaic insertion); 44"But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Okay, so there really is no disagreement on v. 38 and 43 and rightfully so. Jesus surely focused on the preeminence of love. However, when was the last time you heard anybody, but true Bible believing folks, talk about hell and marriage like Jesus does in verses 21, 27, and 31? With Jesus "1 out of 2" ain't good enough.

8. Matthew 8:2-4
2And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." 3Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."

What was the first thing Jesus wanted him to do? To fulfill what was written in Leviticus 14:2-4: 2"This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. Now he shall be brought to the priest, 3and the priest shall go out to the outside of the camp. Thus the priest shall look, and if the infection of leprosy has been healed in the leper,4then the priest shall give orders to take two live clean birds and cedar wood and a scarlet string and hyssop for the one who is to be cleansed.

9. Matthew 12:3-7; 40-42 - Rebuking the Pharisees with the Bible itself. He is taking their interpretation and putting it on their heads. It is evident that correct exegesis (interpreting the text), as opposed to eisegesis (your own interpretation of the text) was critical to Christ and that He believed in the historicity of the events of the OT.

10. Matthew 13 and the parable of the seeds and the sower. Remember here the seed =The Word! It can bear a hundredfold in fruit.

11. Matthew 15:4"For God said, 'HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,' and, 'HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.' 5"But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God," 6he is not to honor his father or his mother.' And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

The authority of Scripture (and its clarity) is set against the Pharisaic tradition. Once again, good doctrine overtakes bad doctrine.

12. Matthew 16:11 "How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." 12Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

Jesus hates false teaching!

13. Matthew 18:16 "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED."

Jesus uses Deuteronomy 19:15 for church discipline.

14. Matthew 19:3 "Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" 4And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He [God] who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5and [God] said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'? 6"So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

This is awesome. Jesus is quoting Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 here. If you look at the bolded words, you can see Jesus, giving credit to God, not only for the creation of man, but saying Genesis 2:24! Now that's a high view of Scripture!

15. Matthew 21:15 "But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they became indignant 16and said to Him, "Do You hear what these children are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read, 'OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABIES YOU [God] HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF[God/Jesus]'?"

Its kind of slick of Jesus, but you see that Jesus is getting praise from the children and then He quotes a verse (Psalm 8:2) from the Bible saying that the God prepared children to give Himself/God praise and uses it of Himself!
16. Matthew 21:42 (from Psalm 118:22):

"Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures,

Love it. Jesus straight out asked, "Didn't you read this in the Bible?"

17. Matthew 22:15-46
This is an awesome section. It shows Jesus' masterful command of the Scripture. We are taught, and rightfully so, to love as Jesus did, but we should also strive to have his reverence of Scripture as well. It consists of 5 Bible questions (3 to Jesus; 2 from Jesus):

i) v.17 "Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?"

Jesus replies using logic. Reasoning and apologetics does have its place. I really hate it when Christians say faith and reason are separate things. No way! Jesus was a master logician and something that is worthy to be emulated.

ii) If a woman marries 7 brothers according to the Law (Deut 25:5), whose wife will she be in heaven? v. 29 But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God"

Look here, part of the problem here was their misunderstanding of Scripture! And this is particularly telling, b/c it applies to our day and age. Why do Christians have the same divorce rate as non-Christians? B/c they do not understand the Scriptures when it comes to marriage.

iii) v. 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?"
38"This is the great and foremost commandment.
40"On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets

Just look at the mastery of Scripture here by quoting Deut 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. It's important to note that in the OT, it never explicitly says what the greatest command is. Just put yourselves in Jesus shoes, someone asks you an incredibly loaded question on which your reputation stakes, and you have to figure out from all the rules in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, which is ithe greatest command?! Can we even name 10 laws from any of those books (besides the 10 commandments), let alone the greatest? But Jesus, not only knows, but He also knows the second greatest and than on top of that adds a little commentary "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

If you have ever tried to witness to someone about Christianity, you know how difficult it is to answer people's objections, but Jesus because of His mastery of Scripture just bulldozes the competition. iv) 41.. Jesus asked them a question:

42"What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?" They said to Him, "The son of David."

Pretty straightforward, but the next question is a little harder...

v) 43He [Jesus] said to them, "Then how does David in the Spirit call Him 'Lord,'saying,
45"If David then calls Him 'Lord,' how is He his son?"

First thing, to notice is, just the incredible recall Jesus has and how He picks the perfect verses to stump his opponents. Usually, Christians only know a couple of key verses and if someone can get passed those, we go "ugh...ummm...hmm..."

Second thing is that Christ attributes Psalm 110:1 here to David and the Holy Spirit! It is the Bible is the work of God through His designated people.

The third point, is something Dr. S. Lewis Johnson pointed out in one of his lectures on systematic theology. See how I bolded the word "
Lord" in v.43? Jesus is creating a point from simply a word in the Bible. It isn't just theological minutia to exam the Bible carefully even down to its words! Jesus is wanting an explanation for a single word and our love and knowledge of Scripture should try to go just as far. We will never have Jesus' mastery of Scripture, but neither will we ever have the depth of His love. We constantly strive to be like Him and have no problem saying we should love, forgive, and be humble like Jesus, yet do we want to try and have His understanding and mastery of the Word? I like the way Matthew puts it in the last verse of this chapter, "46No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question."

18. Jesus quite frequently alluded to the OT to finish His sentences, much like the way we would use famous book or movie quotes (cf. Matthew 5:35, 7:23, 11:29, 13:43, 23:39, 24:31).

19. Matthew 24-25, the great Olivet discourse where our Lord talks about the future. Here he quotes several OT verses and that their fulfillment will be at the end of the age: 24:15 (Daniel 9:27), 24:29 (Isaiah 13:10), and 24:30 (Daniel 7:13). He says something amazing in 24:35 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." This is very similar to ch 5:18"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Jesus is stating is making His words equal to Scripture and God's words.

Other future verses Jesus looked to be fulfilled in the future: 26:64 (Psalm 110:1, Daniel 7:13)

20. Matthew 26:53"Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54"How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?"... 56"But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets." Then all the disciples left Him and fled.

In regards to His death, Jesus says He could stop it, but one of the reasons that it must take place is to fulfill the Scripture. If the Truth in Scripture can be limited to one's interpretation or that we cannot understand it due to a culture or language gap, I do not think Christ would have made such bold statements.

As we see from Matthew 5:18 and 24:35, Jesus knew the Scripture and His words would be timeless! Another thing to notice is that the current Jewish audience that Matthew is writing to is 400 - 2,000 years removed from the writings Jesus is quoting from, not to mention the fact that the OT was written in a different language (Hebrew) than the NT (Greek).

From the way Christ is using Scripture one cannot conclude that a) Time b) Culture or c) Language hindered anyone's understanding or was an acceptable excuse not to understand the Bible.

21. Matthew 27:46 "About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"

Such a misunderstood verse. In His darkest hour Jesus quotes the Bible (Psalm 22:1) to give Himself comfort. As a side note, I highly recommend to anyone, to read Psalm 22 when you get to this section of the Gospel and you will see Christ's utter dependence on God in times of trouble, His faith that God will deliver Him, and that He praises God even in this suffering.

In conclusion from Dr. Daniel Akin's "What Did Jesus Believe About the Bible"

When we survey our Lord’s teaching in the Gospels we discover that the judgments of these scholars is confirmed. Jesus consistently treated the historical narratives of the Old Testament as straightforward records of fact. He referred to Abel (Luke 11:51), Noah (Matt 24:37-39), Abraham (John 8:56), Sodom and Gomorrah (Matt 10:15, 11:23-24), Lot (Luke 17:28-32), Isaac and Jacob (Matt 8:11), the manna (John 6:31), the wilderness serpent (John 3:14), David (Matt 22:43), Solomon (Matt 6:29, 12:42), Elijah (Luke 4:25-26), Elisha (Luke 4:27), Jonah (Matt 12:39-41), and Moses (Matt 8:4), among others. Nowhere is there the slightest hint that he questioned the historicity or accuracy of the accounts...

As I grew in the faith, I came to understand that to be a Christian meant to live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and that His Lordship should permeate every area of our lives. His Lordship included what I should think about all matters of theology, including the Bible. I told him that as I had studied Jesus’ view of the Bible, I came to the conclusion that I could do nothing other than hold to its complete truthfulness and reliability. To be anything other than that would be to set aside the Lordship of Jesus Christ. That professor simply responded by saying, “I have never thought of it like that before, but it does make a lot of sense.”

John 5:39—“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of me.”
Luke 24:25-27—“Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”

Luke 24:44-45—“Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

1 comment:

F2XL said...

You're officially on my future blog roll.

Excellent site, found out about it through UncommonDescent.