Animal Allusions Within Matthew’s Gospel -- By: James J. S. Johnson

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 20:60 (Summer 2016)
Article: Animal Allusions Within Matthew’s Gospel
Author: James J. S. Johnson

Animal Allusions Within Matthew’s Gospel

James J. S. Johnson*

* James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D., associate professor of apologetics and chief academic officer, Institute for Creation Research, Dallas, Texas

In the Old Testament, God’s teachings are often enhanced by illustrations that refer to animals, such as the following: “Go to the ant, thou sluggard” (Prov 6:6). The New Testament does likewise.1 Being the Creator of all animals, God is perfectly qualified to know which animal illustrations would best accentuate what He is teaching humans, whenever He informs them about a variety of important topics.

The largest “nature sermon” in Scripture is God’s message to the patriarch Job, recorded in chapters 38-41, most of which (i.e. Job 38:39-41:34) focuses upon God’s role as Creator and Sustainer of various animals. If Job was confronted by God the Son (in Job 38:1 and following), that lengthy “nature sermon” could be included in a study of how Christ taught using animal illustrations. However, that sermon will not be analyzed here, because this study is limited to the teachings of Christ as the incarnate God, as reported by the Apostle Matthew.2

Christ’s first (albeit informal) teaching allusion to an animal, as reported by Matthew, is the Lord’s historic call to two fishermen brothers, Andrew and Peter, which call necessarily painted a word picture of fish being harvested: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19). The importance of fish, in Matthew’s Gospel, is revisited in the following.

Miracles And The Sermon On The Mount

The Sermon on the Mount is the first major discourse of Christ, reported in Matthew’s Gospel; it is “freighted with dispensational theology” about Christ’s kingdom, according to Toussaint (see fn. 2). Neither the Beatitudes (5:3-12) nor the Similitudes (vv. 13-16) allude to any animals. Christ’s “ye-have-heard-it-said” critique of the then-popular Jewish legal traditions (Matt 5:17-6:18) likewise omits mentioning any animals. Christ’s first reference to an animal, in his Sermon on the Mount (as reported by Matthew), is his warning that “moths” (sēs) ...

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