Matthew and the Old Testament

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Matthew frequently cited the Hebrew Scriptures. Was he a master expositor or did he misuse and abuse the text?

Hour 1:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: Jesus, the Messiah, came into the world to fulfill that which was written.  He fulfilled the longings and expectations of a people long oppressed, and long in exile.  When we set our eyes on Him, Jew and Gentile alike, we find that He is the promised One:  the One who brings liberty and freedom to our souls, the One who saves us from our sins.

Hour 2:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: We have nothing of which to be ashamed when we study the scriptures; when we open the gospel of Matthew and ask God to give us insight and to help us see what he saw, rather than seeing that he didn’t know what he was talking about, we see a man with tremendous insight, a man who was taught by the Messiah Himself!

Featured Resources:

Jewish Roots: This 10 lecture class will open your eyes to God’s eternal purposes for Israel; give you a deeper burden for the salvation of the Jewish people; open up the Jewish background to the NT and show the prophetic importance of the biblical calendar.

Principles of Holiness: In this life-changing, practical class, Dr. Brown explores: The Beauty of Holiness; Grace-Empowered Holiness; Twenty Reasons Not to Sin; God’s Cure for Dirty Feet — and much more.

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Other Resources:

Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus Vol. 4 by Dr. Brown:  In this volume of the Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus series, Dr. Brown counters the arguments that the New Testament mistranslates, misuses, and misunderstands the Hebrew Scriptures, also addressing the objections that Jesus or Paul abolished the Law.

New Testament Objections: See some brief answers to many of the New Testament Objections to Jesus made by counter-missionaries!

9 Comments
  1. Dr. Brown,

    (from the first hour) Thank you so much for connecting the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount to Deuteronomy where Moses got on a mountain to receive the Law…it was breath-taking to notice this and the other similarities like the 40 days and 40 years, and the immersion in Jordan – because that is exactly what happened to Joshua and his people, as a reminder of which the 12 stones were removed from the dry Jordan riverbed and 12 put back…

    Also, if I may add a book recommendation for the lady who called in asking for books for her 3 elderly Jewish friends (very touching call) – may I also suggest – ZVI : The Miraculous Story of Triumph Over the Holocaust by Elwood McQuaid. Thank you again.

  2. I also must confess that I don’t personally agree with Robert H. Gundry’s midrash-ic understanding of the historical accounts of the Lord’s infancy (Magi visiting baby Jesus with gifts etc.). I am not a scholar, I am just a humble believer, but that idea does not sit right with me. I understand that men like Norm Geisler disagree with him on a scholarly level. Not trying to be divisive here, but just expressing my concern.

  3. Hey Doc! This use of Hebrew Scripture is precisely one of the points I think is powerful in the critiques from “Contra Brown”; Christian readings of Hebrew Scripture may very well be rather “Rabbinic” in their hyperbole, creative readings, etc – but there are points where prime and significant DOCTRINE, not ‘prophecy’, are based on such readings – this is NOT in accord with normative proof-texting as practced by Rabbinic Judaism of the time. Later Medieval ‘dogmatics’ which attempt to make full account of Jewish ‘beliefs’ in response to Christianity, Karaism and Islam may do such creative reading, but NOT about such fundamental beliefs as a both divine and suffering Messiah to be worshipped, annullment of Torah laws, etc. could you speak on this? thank you, AOPC

  4. I just started reading some of John Lightfoot’s work. Actually just this morning, apparently he wrote during the 17th century. Apparently he was a Rabbinical scholar and also a Christian theologian.

    Anyway, I looked up some of his commentary on Matthew. It is somewhat interesting so I will post what he wrote about Matthew 2:23 and Matthew 27:9.

    This is what John Lightfoot wrote on Matthew 2:23;
    “23. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

    [He shall be called a Nazarene.] Those things which are brought from Isaiah 11:1 concerning Netzer, the Branch; and those things also produced concerning Samson the Nazarite, a most noble type of Christ, have their weight, by no means to be despised. We add, that Matthew may be understood concerning the outward, humble, and mean condition of our Saviour. And that by the word, Nazarene, he hints his separation and estrangement from other men, as a despicable person, and unworthy of the society of men.

    I. Let it be observed, that the evangelist does not cite some one of the prophets, but all: “spoken by the prophets.” But now all the prophets, in a manner, do preach the vile and abject condition of Christ; none, that his original should be out of Nazareth.

    II. David, in his person, speaks thus; I was a stranger to my brethren, Psalm 69:9.

    III. If you derive the word Nazarene, which not a few do, from Nazir, a Nazirean, that word denotes not only a separation, dedicated to God, such as that of the Nazarenes was; but it signifies also the separation of a man from others, as being unworthy of their society; Genesis 49:26, “They shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate [נְזִיר – nezir] from his brethren.”

    Therefore, let us digest the sense of the evangelist by this paraphrase: Joseph was to depart with Christ to Beth-lehem, the city of David, or to Jerusalem, the royal city, had not the fear of Archelaus hindered him. Therefore, by the signification of an angel, he is sent away into Galilee, a very contemptible country, and into the city Nazareth, a place of no account: whence, from this very place, and the name of it, you may observe that fulfilled to a tittle which is so often declared by the prophets, that the Messias should be Nazor, a stranger, or separate from men, as if he were a very vile person, and not worthy of their company.”

    BTW I added in the brackets about [nezir/נזיר] in case it was unclear why he quoted the latter part of Genesis 49:26, because it was unclear to me until I checked the Hebrew.

    Now concerning Matthew 27:9, he wrote;
    “9. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;

    [That which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet.] How much this place hath troubled interpreters, let the famous Beza, instead of many others, declare: “This knot hath hampered all the most ancient interpreters, in that the testimony here is taken out of Zechariah, and not from Jeremiah; so that it seem plainly to have been a failing of memory, as Augustine supposes in his third book, ‘De consensu evagelistarum,’ chapter the seventh; as also Eusebius in the twentieth book of demonstration. But if any one had rather impute this error to the transcribers, or (as I rather suppose) to the unskillfulness of some person, who put in the name of Jeremiah, when the evangelist had writ only, as he often doth in other places, by the prophet, yet we must confess that this error hath long since crept into the Holy Scriptures, as Jerome expressly affirms,” &c.

    But (with the leave of so great men) I do not only deny that so much as one letter is spurious, or crept in without the knowledge of the evangelist, but I do confidently assert that Matthew wrote Jeremy, as we read it, and that it was very readily understood and received by his countrymen. We will transcribe the following monument of antiquity out of the Talmudists, and then let the reader judge: “A tradition of the Rabbins. This is the order of the prophets. The Book of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the twelve.” And a little after: “But since Isaiah was before both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, he ought to have been set before them: but since the Book of Kings ends with destruction, and all Jeremiah is about destruction, and since Ezekiel begins with destruction and ends with comfort; and all Isaiah is about comfort, they joined destruction with destruction, and comfort with comfort”: that is, they placed these books together which treat of destruction, and those together which treat of comfort.

    You have this tradition quoted by David Kimchi in his preface to Jeremiah. Whence it is very plain that Jeremiah of old had the first place among the prophets: and hereby he comes to be mentioned above all the rest, Matthew 16:14, because he stood first in the volume of the prophets, therefore he is first named. When, therefore, Matthew produceth a text of Zechariah under the name of Jeremy, he only cites the words of the volume of the prophets under his name who stood first in the volume of the prophets. Of which sort is that also of our Saviour, Luke 24:44; “All things must be fulfilled, which are written of me in the Law, and the Prophets, and the Psalms.” “In the Psalms”; that is, in the Book of Hagiographa, in which the Psalms were placed first.”

    Interesting, right? I think Dr. Brown really nailed the points, but it’s just nice looking back a few centuries ago and seeing other explanations.

  5. By the way,

    If anyone has any recommendations of commentators of the Bible who have a very deep insight and understanding of traditional Jewish literature and the original languages, like Dr. Brown, John Lightfoot, etc..

    I still have to get Dr. Brown’s commentary on Jeremiah, I would love dive into that. Also, people like Delitzsch and Keil. People like that, if anyone has any recommendations for commentators like these people, with backgrounds like them, please let me know!

    Thanks!

  6. Hello,I am only an unregenerate Gentile who studies Holy Scripture,but I have a comment :

    When Jesus gave a warning about finishing up in Gehenna,in Matthew,who was He speaking and refering to ?
    The world ? The Pharisees ? His disciples/servants?

    Take for instance Matthew 10:28 – who is told to fear God beyond merely the fear of physical death ?
    And,what about Matthew 25:14-30 – where does the third entrusted servant finish up ?

    How many British and American disciples face up to this ?
    Did the living God issue any idle threats in the First Covenant ?
    Has the Man who is the truth issued any in the Second ?

    On Mike Bickle’s website ihop.org David Pawson has been described as ‘one of the world’s finest Bible expositors and prophetic preachers’. Michael is somewhat familiar with David himself – in his book ‘Go And Sin No More’ he recommended David’s book ‘Once Saved Always Saved ?,’and in a past radio show,he has recommended David’s book
    ‘ When Jesus Returns’.

    David has written a boat-rocking book about the warnings of Jesus called ‘The Road to Hell’.
    It is available in paperback and eBook form.
    It would be an awful read for anyone who enjoys listening to ticklish teachers,but an excellent addition to the library of anyone who wants to listen to Jesus properly.

    Matthew took those warnings seriously,and passed them on.
    How many British and American disciples do likewise ?
    Do get David’s boat-rocker.

  7. Eric, i love to read John Lightfoot commentaries. You can also read John Gill, and also Adam Clarke. And you can search all the people the was call Christian Hebraists (google that and wikipedia has a big list — many of the wrote in german). Like Paul Billerbeck commentary on the New Testament.

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