Matthew: An Apologetic -- By: John H. Bennetch

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 103:412 (Oct 1946)
Article: Matthew: An Apologetic
Author: John H. Bennetch

Matthew: An Apologetic

John Henry Bennetch

(Concluded from the April-June Number, 1946)

The apologetic of the first Gospel may be traced with comparative ease from one chapter to the next through its repetition of the formula “…that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying—.” Thus the Evangelist confronts his reader with fulfilled prophecy a dozen times over, all of it confirming the Messianic claims of the Nazarene. Instead of asking any to receive the Nazarene as Messiah without all the proof necessary, Matthew will go back to the Old Testament for this material ready to hand, in the Prophets and their description of the coming One. Jesus Christ alone has fulfilled the many and diverse predictions going before which delineate the type of Savior promised, God-man that He is. In logical fashion the Apostle considers the Nazarene and His claim to Messiahship from three angles: (1) appearance on the scene of earth by virtue of incarnation, (2) the service rendered, and (3) His disappearance from the earthly scene by virtue of crucifixion and resurrection. Four definite statements are made in connection with each of these, the above-named formula appearing every time until all twelve have been given. A previous article treated the first four statements, so that eight more remain for consideration now.

Coming then to reflection on the ministry or service of Jesus the Nazarene, what was there about it that might demonstrate a Messianic character? In the first place Matthew alludes to the message and testimony that He brought: “And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: that it might be fulfilled which

was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (4:13–17). The burden of the Nazarene’s message was repentance, nothing more and nothing less, such a conversion as would welcome the kingdom of heaven and Him its king. Judea had been hearing the same note of condemnation in recent days from John the Baptist, but now he was imprisoned (4:12), to languish there until his martyrdom because the nation had rejected the unfavorable message borne (not alone because he had dared to rebuke Herod, 21:25). Since John...

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