The Gospel of Matthew is filled with references to the scriptures. At many points, Matthew interrupts the narrative to explain why certain things happened, why Jesus performed specific feats, and how they relate to the law, the psalms, and the prophets. It is these interruptions that will prove insightful into how the new covenant authors saw and interpreted the scriptures of old. A key phrase throughout his gospel is “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet.” In Matthew are many seemingly problematic scripture references. The questions are as follows. How does prophecy work? Why did the new testament authors quote the passages as they did? Did the new testament authors reinterpret the old testament scriptures? Did the new testament authors bring out a deeper meaning from the old testament texts that was not originally present? Is there a uniform approach that can be used as we examine each instance the new testament authors quoted the old testament?
This will be my next series. I intend to examine each usage of the law, psalms, or prophets within the gospel of Matthew. I will examine the scripture reference in its original context. Then I will examine how it is being used. Then I will draw some conclusions. It should be remembered that Matthew was not only a tax collector, but he identified himself as a tax collector. This had to drive the religious establishment absolutely crazy. For a tax collector to make the top twelve within the inner circle of Jesus of Nazareth, but not one Pharisee, would have been the ultimate insult. While Matthew left his office to follow Christ, he did not abandon the title of tax collector. He identified himself as a tax collector and even expounded upon the stigma involved in such a scandalous appellation within his gospel.
Matthew wrote his gospel well after the establishment of the church. He writes, not so much as an Israelite wishing to convert his countrymen, but as a founding member of the church wishing to portray the truth about his countrymen. Only a scandalous tax collector would set out with such a narrative as Matthew. He was already an outcast being a sinful tax collector, now as another type of outcast with nothing to lose and everything to gain, he is one of the new wineskins containing the new wine. He writes as a scribe for the kingdom of heaven bringing out old treasures and new treasures. The old treasures are the fulfilled prophecies of the prophets. The new treasures are the newly recorded teachings of the Messiah. It is with this preface that I introduce: A Tax Collector’s Guide to Fulfilled Prophecy.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman