Gospel of Matthew’s Old Testament Typology Pt. 2


Matthew, as we examined in Part 1 of his Typology, is making precise and easy to follow Old Testament connections, but it appears that by analyzing the text another stronger possibility is that Matthew is writing in a manner to reaffirm and motivate Jewish believers or possible opposition. Although Matthew appears to be explaining Old Testament prophecy for those with a simple understanding, he also connects with Old Testament prophecy as Sri explains with “more subtle allusions to the Jewish Scriptures.”[1] Sri explains this subtleness by stating that “Matthew assumes his readers know the Old Testament stories the way many Americans know the lines from popular songs, movies, and commercials,”[2] and that “When Matthew mentions just a line or a key phrase from an Old Testament prophecy he is alluding to a larger story.”[3]

A line that Sri provides that gives an example of this Old Testament subtle reference is Matthew 2:4 which explains that “Herod’s ‘assembling all the chief priests and scribes of people,” would have tremendous meaning to first century Jews.”[4] Sri notes that this would have instantly stirred up Psalm 2:2 within the memory of Jews reading the text of Matthew’s gospel.[5] The Psalm explained that “Kings on earth rise up and princes plot together against the Lord and his anointed.”[6] Of course, first century Jews would have easily made the connection of Herod and the Messiah within the passage.  Sri examines other subtle passages such as the coming of the Magi and its connection story of Balak as well as Herod being of Edom descent.[7]

The gospel of Matthew would also have historical significance to a primarily Jewish audience as it begins with an entire genealogy. Sri indicates that this would be to be odd stating, “One has to wonder why Matthew begins his Gospel with a long genealogy.”[8]  Sri points out that Matthew begins with the long list of names simply because it would have been tremendous news to any first century Jew.[9] As explained, the lowest point for the Jewish faithful reached at verse 11 of the first chapter, “which says that Josiah was “the father of Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon…this verse brings to mind all that the Jews lost when Babylon invaded Jerusalem” in 586. B.C.[10]

The subtle references from Matthew make his gospel clearly written for a Jewish audience in comparison to the Gospel of Luke who writes his account to Theophilus, “so that you may realize the certainty of the teaching you have received.”[11] Luke is already setting the stage of expressing a story that wouldn’t be all that familiar to his audience.  Overall, no matter who the audience was intended for Luke and Matthew the typology between their accounts and the Old Testament cover the necessities for Christ’s anointed birth: born of a virgin,[12][13] and Born from the line of David among other things.[14][15]

[1] Sri, 138.

[2] Sir, 140.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 141.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ps. 2:2 NAB

[7] Sri, 142-143.

[8] Ibid, 110.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid, 114-15

[11] Lk. 1:4 NAB

[12] Lk. 1:27 NAB

[13] Matt 1:23 NAB

[14] Matt. 1:1-16 NAB

[15] Lk. 1:27 NAB

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