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 first post of a series:
The essential key to all Matthew’s theology is that in Jesus all God’s purposes have come to fulfillment. That is, of course, true of all New Testament theology, but it is emphasized in a remarkable way in Matthew. Everything is related to Jesus. The Old Testament points forward to him; its law is ‘fulfilled’ in his teaching; he is the true Israel through whom God’s plans for his people now go forward; the future no less than the present is to be understood as the working out of the ministry of Jesus. History revolves around him, in that his coming is the turning point at which the age of preparation gives way to the age of fulfillment. Matthew leaves no room for any idea of the fulfillment of God’s purposes, whether for Israel or in any other respect, which is not focused in this theme of fulfillment in Jesus. In his coming a new age has dawned; nothing will ever be quite the same again.
Page 39 through 40
There has been much debate about the origin and function of these formula-quotations. Most scholars now regard them as Matthew’s own contributions, rather than as traditional elements in the story of Jesus, and the study of their textual peculiarities indicates that behind them lies some quite original and sophisticated study of the Old Testament in order to discover points of correspondence much more subtle than the direct fulfillment of clear prophetic predictions. Sometimes the subtlety results in an application of the Old Testament text which is ‘to our critical eyes, manifestly forced and artificial and unconvincing’; but C.F.D. Moule, in a helpful discussion from which those words are taken, goes on to argue that this ‘vehicular’ use of Scripture ‘is a symptom of the discovery that, in a deeply organic way, Jesus was indeed the fulfiller of something which is basic in the whole of Scripture.’ IN an article which concentrates on the four formula-quotations of Chapter 2, I have suggested that what may seem to us as embarrassingly obscure and even irresponsible way of handling Scripture is in fact the outworking of a careful tracing of scriptural themes, which in different ways point to Jesus as the fulfiller not only of specific predictions, but also of the broader pattern of God’s Old Testament revelation.