Matthew 2.1 – Distilled

Speaker: Scott Jarrett | Jul 31, 2016

MATTHEW·DISTILLED (to extract the essential meaning or most important aspects of)

CHAPTER (TWO) SYNOPSIS = The events surrounding Jesus’ childhood years (from approx. 2yrs old until 30 yrs. old)[1]. There are 4 main events: Birthplace at Bethlehem (1-12), Escape to Egypt (13-15), Murder of Bethlehem’s children (16-18), Settle in Nazareth (19-23).

1. Jesus’ birthplace (Bethlehem) was as significant as His birth and genealogy (ch.1). The appearing of a special star and visit by Magi, the conclusion of Herod and the prophecy of Micah all testify to Jesus’ kingship/Messiahship and the veracity of Matthew’s witness (i.e. he is no practitioner of convenient proof-texting)[2].

(S/M: 1-2 – “where is he who was born king of the Jews? For we saw his star”,9-11 – “the star went before them until it came to where the child was…they saw the child and fell down and worshipped”)[3]

(H: 4 –“where the Christ?”)

(P: 6 – “Bethlehem…from you a ruler shall come who will shepherd my people Israel”; see 1Sa 20:6; Mic 5:2-5 w/Dan 9:25-26[4]).

2. The supernatural experiences of the Magi (astrology, dreams/visions – 2:2, 12) and Joseph (dreams/visions – 1:20, 2:13, 19, 22), the Bible calls “divination”. In biblical times, God used certain forms of divination to guide people into the truth (e.g. OT Joseph – Gen 44:15). Prophesy is also considered an approved form of divination (Jer 14:14; Mic 3:5-6 w/Act 2:17). What God forbid was pagan or fraudulent forms of divination (Deu 18:10). The closing of the canon has made all forms of divination fraudulent and forbidden today (1Co 13:8-10).

3. Herod (the king) and Jerusalem (i.e. the chief priests and scribes – 4) were (m-l) “troubled” (3; greatly disturbed in spirit – Joh 12:27, 13:21) by the news of Jesus’ birth (or the birth of Messiah-king) b/c they knew what this would mean as it related to their own authority (Gen 49:10[5]; also Mat 27:18)[6]:

3.1. People today have the same problem, when hearing that Jesus is a king (the “king of kings”) (Psa 2:1-12 w/Jam 1:19-22)

3.2. At the heart of all sin, is the problem of authority and ultimately, idolatry/god-complex (Gen 3:5).

4. God oftentimes uses ordinary means to accomplish supernatural purposes:

4.1. The fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy req’d Jesus be born in Bethlehem (again 6 w/Mic 5:2-5). God accomplished this thru the census of Caesar Augustus (Luk 2:1-4)

4.2. The fulfillment of Hosea’s prophecy req’d that the holy family leave Bethlehem and move to Egypt (13-15 w/Hos 11:1). God accomplished this thru Herod’s murderous rage (13 – “destroy” = murder) and the financing of that trip thru the Magi’s expensive gifts (11 – “gold, frankincense and myrrh” = the value of these items even in small quantities wb enough to support the family during their short stay in Egypt – i.e. less than a yr.)

4.3. The fulfillment of the Nazarene prophecies req’d the holy family move to Nazareth rather than back to Bethlehem. God accomplished this by placing Herod’s son, Archelaus in Judea (the region where Bethlehem is located) as its new ruler (Mat 2:19-23[7]; Luk 2:4 – Nazareth was the town where Joseph used to live/work).

4.4. The fulfillment of God’s supernatural purpose for us as His people (i.e. our salvation -from beginning to end) also finds God employing the use of the many ordinary means (e.g. consider all the ordinary things God did in your life to prepare the soil of your heart to follow Christ – Mat 13:18-23). As such, we must never discount them – or see the ordinary things that happen in our lives as meaningless/non-essential. (IOW): Don’t become hyper-calvinists! (Rom 8:28-29; Jam 1:2-12; 1Co 9:19-23).

5. Herod’s murder of Bethlehem’s children is more than just fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy. It also functions as another important marker supporting Matthew’s claims to Jesus as the Messiah/Christ:

5.1. It signals the end of exile and ushering in of the New Covenant (Mat 2:16-18 w/ Jer 31:15…16-31)

5.2. It (too) points to Jesus’ life (and ministry) as a repeat of Israel’s redemptive history (Mat 2:15, 16-18 w/Exo 4:22-23, 12:29 = OC Israel has become Egypt – Joh 1:11; Luk 19:41-44; Mat 2:19 w/Exo 14:28 = Herod the Jewish king is the new pharaoh).

OT Book Redemptive Theme Matthew chapter
Gen Calling (selection of God’s people. kingdom/cov. community) One[8]
Exo – Deu Consecration (thru deliverance, atonement/baptism, separation, est’g of code of the kingdom) Two thru Seven (e.g. 3:13-17 w/Exo 14// 4:1-11 w/Exo 15:22; Num 32:13; Deu 8:3, 6:13, 16)[9]
Jos – 1Chr Conquest (thru expansion, evangelism, construction, continuation of kingdom/cov. community and removal of enemies) Eight thru Twenty
2Chr – Proph, Ezr – Neh Correction (thru admonition, discipline, judgment, consequences, cleansing of the cov. community) Twenty-one thru Twenty-seven
Proph Consummation (thru restoration of the kingdom/covenant community) Twenty-eight

6. The prophecies used by Matthew in chapter two are also a lesson in NT Biblical Hermeneutics. (IOW): thru them he teaches us the three most important questions we should be asking as the means to testing/vetting how we have interpreted a particular passage/event in the New Testament:

 6.1. Does it agree w/the OT (Isa 8:20): historically (the message of the OT w/in its historical context; Mat 11:13) or preceptively (the timeless principle/precept established by the OT – 1Co 10:11; Rom 15:4; 2Ti 3:16)? (historically = Mat 2:6; Rom 3:9-18[10] preceptively = Mat 2:15, 18; Rom 10:20-21 w/Isa 65:1-2)

“We must inspect the past to get the present right.”

6.2. Does it agree w/the OT’s redemptive (salvific) trajectory (e.g. does it agree w/the gospel in the OT; 2Ti 3:15)? (Mat 2:15, 18; Rom 3:31)

“God loves to repeat Himself since this is the only way for us to make sense of His world. Therefore, all truth, absolutes, science, predictability, planning, learning, language, math, interpretation and other things that allow us to conquer, control, produce, prosper, advance or even simply survive, require a built-in recapitulation of history and life’s principles- including the principles which create the path to salvation.”

6.3. Does it agree w/sacred tradition (both Old and New)? (Mat 2:23; Mat 5:30; Act 20:35; 1Co 10:4; Jud 1:5, 9, 14-15; 2Th 2:15, 3:6; 1Co 11:1-2 – Christ cared about sacred tradition in contrast to human tradition – Col 2:8; Mat 15:2-3, 6)[11].

“Sacred tradition matters. There is much instruction spoken by the prophets or Jesus or one of the Apostles, that we possess no inspired record of (Joh 20:30, 21:25). Their supposed inclusion in other sources do not automatically make them suspect or wrong. Where there is agreement w/the Scriptures (or at least no violation), they may be true. It is just that we cannot be sure. In such cases however, we should be willing to listen since God has and continues to use such sources to lead His people. This was clearly the attitude of Jesus and a

[1] This time-frame is calculated according to what Herod “ascertained from the wise men” (16) and the date at which Jesus began His public ministry (Luk 3:23) – the focus of the remaining chapters in Matthew.

[2] Some have argued against the accounts of the Magi and Herod as fabrications meant to bolster the Bethlehem event. Scholars however, have rightly posited that the fabrication of such things would have most assuredly been challenged (and documented) by those who were close witnesses to the events since many were still alive at the time Matthew produces his gospel biopic. No such objections exist. The same could be said about Matthew’s account of the virgin birth or other miraculous events. Even Jewish sources such as the Talmud – though making strong statements against Jesus (as Messiah), never mention nor challenge any of the events recorded in the gospels.

[3] The 3rd cen. Church Father Tertullian believed these oriental men were kings (or the equivalent thereof). This view was popular through at least the 6th cen. where they were even given names (Bithisarea, Melichior and Gathaspa). Such belief was also adopted into a 19th cen. song (“We Three Kings Of Orient Are”). Such belief squares well w/Isa 60:1-6.

[4] The 69 “weeks” (69 x 7 x 360 Jewish days in a year = 173,880 days = 476.38 modern years) began when Artaxerxes issued a decree to Nehemiah to rebuild the Temple and restore the holy city of Jerusalem (Neh 2:1-8). While other decrees went forth, this was the only one that involved both the Temple and Jerusalem. History records this took place in March/April of 444 B.C. This means Messiah had to appear in the Temple by March of 33 A.D. History does not record anyone, other than Jesus, appearing in this place at that time and claiming also to be the Messiah (Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the Temple – March, 33 A.D.). Additionally, since Daniel’s prophecy is in reference to the 2nd Temple of Jesus’ day, its destruction in 70 A.D. makes it fulfillment in the future, impossible.

[5] According to the Palestinian/Babylonian Talmud the loss of sovereign authority took place during the lifetime of Jesus, shortly before the destruction of the Temple, “A little more than 40 yrs before the destruction of the Temple, the power of pronouncing capital sentences was taken from the Jews. They [the members of the Sanhedrin] covered their heads with ashes and their bodies with sackcloth, exclaiming, ‘Woe unto us, for the scepter has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come.'”

[6] Herod the Great – of whom Matthew is referring to in vv 1-15, was also a megalomaniac, so much so that he killed his mother, one of his wives, and three of his sons, out of fear that they were planning to steal his throne while still alive. Caesar Augustus said of him: “It is better to be Herod’s pig than one of his children.”

[7] Why Archelaus was a threat: he began his reign by slaughtering 3,000 Jewish worshippers in the Temple. This is the event that ultimately prompted Rome to remove power/authority from the Jews.

[8] “The phrase, ‘the book of the genealogy’ is a translation of the Greek phrase, ‘biblios geneseos’, which is found in the LXX translation of Gen 2:4-5! The phrase suggests the idea of a new beginning, or a new creation.” – Keith Mathison (From Age To Age).

[9] “The OT prophets often described the future restoration of Israel in terms of a new exodus (Hos 2:14-15; Isa 10:24-26, 11:15-16; Jer 16:14-15; Eze 20:33-38; also Isa 63:10-17; Jer 31:7-9; Hos 1:10-11, 11:4-12).” – Keith Mathison, Ibid

[10] Romans 3:9-18 is a perfect example of why making this distinction (prophetically or perceptively) is so important to correct interpretation of the NT. B/C most interpret this perceptively, they miss why Paul says the Jews are under condemnation. Not b/c they follow a work-based salvation (and fail due to sin), but b/c they like they historical predecessors (those these verses referred to in their historical context – the lawless covenant-breakers among the Jewish people) have gone apostate from God (i.e. have rejected their obligation to maintain what they gained thru holy living). And, such a state cannot be remedied by a sub-par justification (v20).

[11] Some Protestants have attempted to argue that the only tradition we should consider are those included in Scripture. This however presents a problem not only as it relates to the veracity of Scriptures’ authors, but also the Protestant Bible itself since our acceptance of it is based on tradition!