I am presently reading R.T. France’s Commentary on Matthew and as usual, I mined it for quotes I thought might be edifying to share here, and that I am keeping in my research archives. This is the fourth post of a series:
If the need of Israel is one spur to urgency, another is the opportunity. The harvest is plentiful, and it is ripe. Harvest is used in the Old Testament as a picture of the coming judgment (Is. 27:12; Ho. 6:11; Joel 3:13); John the Baptist had taken this up (3:12), and Jesus does so elsewhere (13:39-40; cf. Mk. 4:29). Here, however, as in John 4:35, his thought is rather of men’s readiness now to respond to the Gospel by ‘fleeing from the wrath to come.’ The context shows that the labourers here are not angels sent out to executre final judgment on the nations, as his Jewish hearers would expect, but men sent out to recue others from judgment, and beginning within Israel itself (10:5-6).
Jesus’ condemnation of ‘this generation’ is a prominent theme in Matthew; see, apart from this passage, 11:16-19; 16:4; 17:17; 24:34; and especially 23:29-36, which shows that it refers to his contemporaries, not just Jews or men in general, as those in whom Isreal’s age-long rebellion has culminated, and on whom judgment must therefore fall.
Jesus endorses the scribes’ expectation (v. 11), but goes on to show that the reality is so different from the way they pictured it that they did not know him(v. 12). Is to restore all thing (the future tense is that of the scribal hope, not Jesus’ prediction of a still future coming of Elijah) reflects Malachi 4:6 (3:24; Heb.), where the same verb is used only of Elijah’s ‘turning’ the hearts of fathers to children. Hence the failure to recognize John the Baptist as the returning Elijah…
… if their gathering is in my name then Jesus himself is part of that gathering. Davies calls this ‘a Christified bit of rabbinism,’ as it echoes a rabbinic belief that ‘if two sit together and words of the Law [are] between them, the Shekinah (God’s presence) rests between them’ (Mishnah Aboth 3:2). But now the ‘divine presence’ is Jesus himself.
At Qumran and in some Rabbinic writing, ‘the many’ is a term for the covenant community…