Thursday, 23 July 2009

Fulfillment in Matthew

I've just done a quick study on the word πληροω 'fulfill' in Matthew, and found that it occurs fourteen times in the sense of fulfilling Old Testament prophecy. Now, those of you who know a bit about Matthew will realise that fourteen is a significant number. Apart from being twice seven (the perfect number), it is also the number of generations listed in the three sections of the genealogy of the Messiah:

NLT Matthew 1:17 All those listed above include fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile, and fourteen from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah.

This means that the word 'fulfill' is key to understanding the whole gospel! Not only is fourteen used in the introduction, but it is also the number of times the Greek word occurs, in the sense of fulfilling scripture.

Here are the references, for you Bible scholars: Matt. 1:22; 2:15, 17, 23; 3:15; 4:14; 5:17; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; 26:54, 56; 27:9. Enjoy!

Now, you may be wondering what on earth the relevance of all of this is. I was just reading in Philip Yancey's 'The Bible Jesus Read' that he saw some graffiti saying 'Jesus is the answer', then somebody had scrawled underneath, 'Yes, but what's the question?' The question is pretty much framed by the Old Testament - Moses and the Prophets, as Luke calls it in Luke 24, the Emmaus road.

Luke 24:25-27 25 He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ {Or Messiah; also in verse 46} have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Later the two disciples say, Luke 24:32 "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

I believe that much preaching today lacks the biblical foundation of the Old Testament necessary for understanding the New. Chris Wright says that some evangelicals are 'Practising Marcionites' - Marcion being a 2nd Century heritic who believed that the Old Testament wasn't inspired by the Holy Spirit, contra. Paul (2Ti 3:16) and Peter (2Pe 1:16-21). We need to keep the message of 'Jesus is Messiah and Lord' relevant but also rooted in Moses and the Prophets, where it has its foundation...

1 comment:

Bertram Corner said...

Thanks for sharing, David. I think this is also a key concept in Luke - something spelt out in his introduction (1:1-3).