Fulfillment Theme of Matthew
- Themes of Matthew
- Main Theme: Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah.
- This is called the ‘fulfillment theme’
- because Matthew says ‘Jesus fulfilled _Fill in the blank_’
- We will study the fulfillment theme using the following topics:
- Jesus as the completion of the exile.
- Jesus as the True Son of David, the Messiah (or Christ).
- Jesus as the "new Moses."
- The literary structure of the five discourses.
- All other themes flow out of this basic one.
- Evident in the twelve "formula quotations" (footnote Matthew 1:22)
- Matthew quotes the Old Testament all the time.
- Suggested by the way the gospel is structured around the five great discourses (chs. 5 - 7, 10, 13, 18, 23 - 25).
- The life of Jesus is the life of the nation of Israel
- Another major theme worth noting.
- Everything central in the relationship between God and his people Israel is represented in the life of Jesus.
- Genealogy of Jesus, similar to the genealogies in the book of Genesis.
- The story of the exodus is completed in Jesus
- God's words "out of Egypt have I called my son" refer both to Jesus and the nation Israel (Matthew 2:13-15)
- The beatitudes similar to the covenantal blessings at the end of Deuteronomy. (Matt 5)
- The Transfiguration (Matt 17) is seen in the presence of God in the cloud (Exodus 24:15-18)
- The death and resurrection of Jesus mirrors the exile and restoration of Israel. (Matthew 26, 27)
- Jesus' command "to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them" (28:19), fulfills the promise to Abraham that "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Genesis 12:3).
- God’s covenant history with Israel is fulfilled in Jesus' life, death and resurrection.
- Jesus as the Completion of the Exile
- Matthew’s story assumes the reader understands a previous story: the story of Israel and of the exile.
- Israel was taken into exile as a result of her continuous sins against God, specifically the sin of idol worship.
- First the northern nation of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians
- Next the southern nation of Judah was taken into exile by the Babylonians
- Solomon’s temple completely destroyed and looted
- Jerusalem completely razed to the ground
- We think the Ark of the Covenant was taken at this point.
- It could have been taken much earlier when Shishak of Egypt invaded
- Exiles return after Babylon conquered by Persia. Reconstruction begins on new temple
- Book of Ezra
- The people who remembered Solomon’s temple wept because it was not nearly as beautiful.
- King Herod rebuilds the Temple again about 500 years later
- the multiple ruling nations between the 2nd and 3rd temples have not been kind to the Temple
- The Glory of the Lord leaves the Temple
- Throughout the Old Testament the glory of the Lord dwelled between the cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant
- In Ezekial 10, we read of God’s glory/presence leaving the Temple because of Judah’s sin. Soon the complete destruction of the Temple will happen
- Then in Ez 43, we see God promising the return from exile, the new temple and the return of God’s glory to the Temple.
- Even though the Temple had been rebuilt (both by Zerubbabel and Herod) nowhere do we read that the Lord was visibly present in these temples.
- Many Jews still thought of themselves as being in exile.
- They were in the Promised Land but …
- were under the rule of a foreign power.
- God’s glory had not returned to the Temple.
- without the physical manifestations of God seen in the Old Testament
- without the ark of the covenant
- The coming of Jesus meant the return of God to the temple in Jerusalem. God is with his people once again.
- He is called “Immanuel” which means "God with us." (1:23 and 28:20).
- Jesus’ name literally means "God saves."
- He is the one through whom the sins of the people will be forgiven,
- Jesus also frees us from the slavery of sin
- Israel freed from slavery in Egypt and brought into the Promised Land
- Jesus frees us from slavery of sin and speaks of us entering the Kingdom if God.
- Genealogical structure
- Support for Jesus completing the exile is found in the structure of the genealogy.
- Three sets of fourteen generations. 14-14-14
- The first set of fourteen generations moves from Abraham to David:
- Abraham, the father of the Jewish people and all God believers
- David, the anointed king who was the "man after God's heart," the nagid-king who took responsibilities for the faith life of the people
- The promise to Abraham and the movement towards its fulfillment
- The second set of fourteen generations moves from David to the exile,
- The movement of Israel towards disobedience
- Israel rejecting God’s intentions for the nation and for the world
- The reason God removed the original nations from the Promised Land was because of those nation’s sins… not because of Israel’s righteousness (Deut 9)
- The Exile happened because Israel rejected God’s covenant and became like the nations before them.
- The third set moves from the exile to Jesus,
- God’s plan to restore his people to covenant.
- Jesus is the Messiah/Christ (literally: ‘the anointed one’) who will restore the relationship between God and His people,
- This is God bringing them back from exile.
- This genealogy also provides the unifying factor between salvation history for Israel and the world.
- It identifies Jesus as the son of Abraham and the son of David, who will take back the throne of David.
- God said David will always have a descendent on the throne (2 Sam 7)
- God told Abraham all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him (Gen 12)
- Jesus fulfills both these promises.
- Jesus is David’s descendent who reigns in heaven forever
- Through Jesus, all people (not just Jews) can come into relationship with God.
- The three sets of 14 generations can also be understood as six sets of 7;
- 7 throughout the Bible is a number for
- the divine
- Jesus starts the seventh seven,
- He is the perfect divine completion of what God is doing with Israel
- Can correspond to the blowing of the seventh trumpet in Rev 11:15
- This trumpet call is accompanied by loud voices in heaven saying: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever," and is followed by the account of the woman giving birth to a son and the dragon ready to devour this child, the Messiah.
- Jesus as the “True Son of David”
- Matthew 1:1 shows us that Jesus is a descendant of David.
- The covenant God made with David in 2 Samuel 7:16 is fulfilled in Jesus:
- "Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever."
- Jesus was the true Son of David,
- the King who completely carried out the responsibilities of the King of Israel,
- the covenant mediator between God and his people.
- The King of Israel’s task was to:
- be God’s representative to the people (Ps 72)
- promote justice
- defend the poor and oppressed
- defeat the nation's enemies
- lead the people to God and promote the keeping of the Law
- One of the primary ways this was done was in the King’s attitude towards worship
- As went the King, so went the nation.
- The King either led the people to God or away from him.
- Central to this task was the king's attitude towards the Temple.
- Think of “the sins of Jeroboam” for every single King of Israel.
- They worshipped at the wrong place and set up their own priesthood
- The king was responsible for the building and maintenance of the Temple, and for directing the people to the proper worship of God.
- Jesus did what Israel’s Kings were supposed to do.
- David’s Son promoting justice and defending the poor and the oppressed.
- The gospel of Matthew is filled with accounts of healing miracles, restoring of sinners, and defending of society's outcasts.
- These healing events cause people to say in amazement, "Could this be the Son of David?" (12:23).
- David's Son responsible for the Temple.
- Jesus cleansed Temple by driving out the money changers and animals sellers.
- These actions echo the prophet Zechariah's messianic predictions about a day when "there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord Almighty"" (14:21).
- Here Canaanite would be anyone who is spiritually or morally unclean
- It can also be translated as ‘merchant’.
- Jesus challenged the prevalent Jewish way of worship, pointing them towards proper worship of God.
- This is the basis for his constant struggle against the religious leaders
- Jesus is the temple (John 2:19-21).
- David’s Son defeating the nation’s enemies.
- Jesus did not drive out the Romans but he did break the power of sin over our lives.
- Jesus came to break the power of the Devil (1 John 3:8, Heb 2:14)
- Jesus was a true Son of David when he rode the donkey into Jerusalem.
- The donkey was a symbol of humility, peace and royalty
- He was intentionally saying, I’m the Messiah, I’m the King.
- The 'triumphal entry' and the demonstration in the temple together are a clear public challenge to the Jerusalem authorities to face up to his Messianic claim.
- Jesus' identity as the true Son of David is revealed in the inscription on the cross: King of the Jews.
- He definitely was not the Messiah the Jews expected.
- He humbled himself to death in order that we might live.
- God intended to save the world, by way of the atoning death of Jesus Christ, the Son of David who was completely obedient to his calling.
- Jesus as the "new Moses"
- Jesus also fulfills the Old Testament by becoming the "new Moses."
- Moses is often referred to as the ‘Old Testament mediator’
- He was Israel's leader at the time of the exodus,
- He received the Law from God on Mount Sinai and gave it to the people.
- The exodus from Egypt is the most important event in the Old Testament and in the history of the nation of Israel.
- It delivered the Israelites from slavery
- both physical and spiritual oppression.
- It demonstrated the grace and power of God
- identifying the Hebrews as the special people of the God
- showing God was more powerful than the gods of the Egyptians.
- It revealed God as the Redeemer of Israel who not only saved his people but destroyed their enemies as well.
- Jesus is the "new Moses," the New Testament mediator.
- The New Testament exodus is not deliverance from an earthly oppressor (Egypt) but from the slavery of sin.
- Jesus demonstrated the grace and power of his faithful Father and saved worthless sinners to be the people of God.
- We were slaves just like the Israelites in Egypt
- The enemy Jesus defeated is not an earthly human power (Pharaoh) but Satan.
- Moses gave Israel God's law at Mount Sinai, Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit.
- The law Jesus gives us is not written on stone but on our hearts.
- The Pharisees made obedience to the law a matter of outward appearance.
- a list of do’s and don’ts
- Jesus makes obedience to the law a matter of the heart.
- an inner righteousness which shows itself in words, actions and relationships
- Jesus does not simply endorse existing interpretations of the Law but calls for a more radical obedience
- “You have heard it said but I say to you…”
- Jesus’ interpretation may be less literal, but it is never less demanding
- not a continued literal observance of all its regulations, but rather to a 'greater righteousness' (5:20),
- the gospel contrasts Jesus’ interpretation against the legalism of the scribes and Pharisees,
- It’s not simply don’t commit adultery/fornication but don’t even entertain lustful thoughts in your heart.
- Jesus’ interpretation of the Law finishes with the most radical demand imaginable: 'Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect' (5:48).
- In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives the law its full meaning.
- The Sermon portrays the repentance (the complete change of mind) and the righteousness which belong to the Kingdom of Heaven
- It describes what human life and human community look like when they come under the gracious rule of God.
- Does not mean Jesus gets rid of the Law of Moses
- the Sermon on the Mount confirms and fulfills the Law of Moses.
- i.e. the 10 commandments are not the goal but the starting point
- The literary structure of Matthew's gospel
- Structure: prologue, five major discourses, epilogue
- Each discourse concludes with the phrase "when Jesus had finished saying these things" or something similar (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1).
- The actual starting and ending points are shown on the handout but are not expected to be memorized (why I’ve not included them in the outline).
- Five discourses compare to the five books of Moses, the Pentateuch.
- The Pentateuch is seen as covenant
- not just that the Pentateuch has five books,
- covenant as summarized in Deuteronomy 27 - 30,
- part of the great concluding speech of Moses to Israel before going into the Promised Land
- Matthew portrays Jesus as laying out the teachings for the new covenant.
- The first and last discourses in Matthew provide the clue for this idea because they correspond to the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 27-30.
- The first discourse gives the nine blessings,
- The last one gives the seven 'woes,' (curses).
- The blessings end with the warning about wise and foolish builders
- The woes are followed by predictions about the destruction of the temple.
- Matthew parallels the choices of Israel in Deuteronomy—he’s saying ‘you have the same choice now that our ancestors did with Moses’.
- After the exodus Israel had to make the choice to either follow God or reject him.
- “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Deut 30: 15-20).
- Though Israel said ‘yes’ with their mouths, they said ‘no’ with their actions. Because of this, they were removed from the land (exile)
- Now the story is brought back on course by a new exodus and the renewal of the covenant.
- exodus from sin
- not Egypt
- covenant through Christ’s blood
- not the blood of animals
- In the person of Jesus, Israel is again faced with a choice.
- Life or death,
- curse or blessings;
- the house on the rock or on the sand,
- the wise or foolish maidens,
- the sheep or the goats.
- Jesus, like Moses, goes to his death with the promises and warnings still ringing in his people's ears. (Matt 23-25)
- After his resurrection, Jesus, like Moses, goes up the mountain and departs from his people, leaving them with a commission to go in and possess the land, that is, the entire world (Matthew 28:16-20).
- Chiastic Structure (A-B-C-B-A)
- Also called ‘ring composition’ or ‘inverted parallelism’
- some other common Hebrew parallelism forms: AA-BB-CC and ABC-ABC
- The center often (but not always) contains the central idea
- By looking at the structure of a text, we can see how ideas are paired together.
- Not all of scripture is in straight line format.
- The five discourses of Matthew have been arranged deliberately in a chiastic structure so that the blessings and curses frame the central discourse on the Kingdom parables:
- chapters 5-7: blessings A
- chapter 10: instruction B
- chapter 13: kingdom parables C
- chapter 18: instruction B
- chapters 23-25: curses (woes) A
- Each discourse is preceded by examples of Jesus' three-fold ministry, "teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people" (Matthew 4:23).
- Examples of Chiasms in Scripture.
- Isaiah 28:14-18
Because you have said,
1. a. “We have made a covenant with death,
b. and with Sheol we have an agreement:
c. when the overwhelming scourge passes through
d. it will not come to us;
2. a. for we have made lies our refuge,
b. and in falsehood we have taken shelter;”
3. therefore thus says the Lord God,
“Behold, I am laying in Zion for a foundation
a stone, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation
4. He who believes in it will not be shaken
5. And I will make justice the line,
and righteousness the plummet;
6. a. and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
b. and waters will overwhelm the shelter.”
7. a. Then your covenant with death will be annulled,
b. and your agreement with Sheol will not stand;
c. when the overwhelming scourge passes through
d. you will be beaten down by it. (Kenneth Bailey)
- Is 60: 1-3
c. For thy light is come,
d. And the glory
e. Of God
f. Upon thee is risen
g. For behold, dimness shall cover the earth
g' And gross darkness the peoples.
f' But upon thee will arise
d' And his glory shall upon thee be seen
c' And nations shall come to thy light
b' And kings to the brightness
a' Of thy rising.
- A "Make the heart of this people fat,
B and make their ears heavy,
C and shut their eyes;
C1 lest they see with their eyes,
B1 and hear with their ears,
A1 and understand with their heart, and convert [return], and be healed." (Isaiah 6:10)
- A "But many that are first
B shall be last;
B1 and the last
A1 shall be first." (Matthew 19:30.)
- A "Do not give what is holy to dogs,
B and do not throw your pearls before swine,
B1 lest they trample them under their feet,
A1 and turn and tear you to pieces” ( Matthew 7:6.)
- You can even do this with multiple chapters of Jewish writing:
Gospel of Luke ch 9 – 19
2. Follow Me 9:57-10:12
3. What shall I do to inherit eternal life? 10:25-41
4. Prayer 11:1-13
5. Sings and the Present Kingdom 11:14-32
6. Conflict with the Pharisees: Money 11:37-12:34
7. The Kingdom is not yet and is now 12:35-59
8. The call of the Kingdom to Israel 13:1-9
9. The nature of the Kingdom 13:10-20
10. Jerusalem: Eschatological Events 13:22-35
9. The nature of the Kingdom 14:1-11
8. The call of the kingdom to Israel and to the outcasts 14:12-15:32
7. The Kingdom is not yet and is now 16:1-8
6. Conflict with the Pharisees: Money 16:9-31
5. Signs and the Coming Kingdom 17:11-37
4. Prayer 18:1-14
3. What shall I do to inherit eternal life? 18:18-30
2. Follow Me 18:35-19:9
1. Jerusalem: Eschatological Events 19:10, 28-48