The Active Obedience of Christ in Matthew 5:17 and 10:34

Introduction

The structure of Matthew 5:17, whether in Greek or in translation, is clearly linked to Matthew 10:34. The fact that Matthew uses ἦλθον multiple times is not missed by the scholarship, yet most of the scholarship appreciates each one on it is own without affirming and interpreting the intertextual relations. Warren Cater argues that all of the uses of ἦλθον in Matthew should be understood as expressions of the purpose for his incarnation.1)Warren Carter, “Jesus’ ‘I Have Come’ Statements in Matthew’s Gospel,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 60, no. 1 (January 1, 1998): 44–62. Carter seeks to show that that the author intends for the audience to connect all the statements together ultimately to establish a proper understanding of the final one in Matt 20:28. His conclusion concerning each of the individual contexts is that the purpose expressed in these ἦλθον statements must be related to the ultimate purpose of the incarnation that the Son of Man came to die thus delivering his people from their sins. While he adequately makes the case that these statements are all linked he fails to note any significance concerning the relationship between Matt 5:17 and 10:34 despite the large syntactical correspondence.  Most of them congregate in the two pericopes (5:17, 10:34-35), which will be examined by this paper. These two pericopes present why Jesus came with the negative contrast of why he has not come. Because of significant thematic and linguistic overlap this essay will exhibit how and why they should be read in context with each other, in a slightly different fashion than the approach of Carter.2)Carter’s essay focuses in on the final ἦλθον statement and uses all the prior ones to build a case defining Christ’s incarnational purpose of dying. He argues that the reader will approach 20:28 with all the previous statements in the back of his mind. This essay takes a different tack and seeks to look at these pericopes in how they relate and depend on each other for meaning. This is contrary to the linear approach of Cater who sees all the texts as building blocks to 20:28.

This essay will demonstrate that the two particular ἦλθον statements in 5:17 and 10:34 need to be read in concert because they form an inclusio of all the content between chapters 5 and 10, as well as demonstrating that there is an underlying pattern which is imprinted in the text in three primary ways. With the broad context in mind the paper will then prove that what Jesus does in 5:17 causes the result in 10:34; that he met the demands of the Law and the Prophets as a covenant mediator, the second Adam, and that by his active obedience to the Father, He formally established in history a division between the saved and the damned. This thesis will be defended and articulated along four points. First, a comparison of the two ἦλθον statements and their immediate context to show that they conceptually form an inclusio. Secondly, a brief analysis of the major thematic pattern replicated in chapters 5-10. Third, an exegetical look at 5:17 and 10:34 in light of the thematic pattern. Finally, building a case that defends the interpretation that Jesus met the demands of the Adamic Covenant and therefore brings a sword of division.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.Warren Carter, “Jesus’ ‘I Have Come’ Statements in Matthew’s Gospel,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 60, no. 1 (January 1, 1998): 44–62. Carter seeks to show that that the author intends for the audience to connect all the statements together ultimately to establish a proper understanding of the final one in Matt 20:28. His conclusion concerning each of the individual contexts is that the purpose expressed in these ἦλθον statements must be related to the ultimate purpose of the incarnation that the Son of Man came to die thus delivering his people from their sins. While he adequately makes the case that these statements are all linked he fails to note any significance concerning the relationship between Matt 5:17 and 10:34 despite the large syntactical correspondence.
2.Carter’s essay focuses in on the final ἦλθον statement and uses all the prior ones to build a case defining Christ’s incarnational purpose of dying. He argues that the reader will approach 20:28 with all the previous statements in the back of his mind. This essay takes a different tack and seeks to look at these pericopes in how they relate and depend on each other for meaning. This is contrary to the linear approach of Cater who sees all the texts as building blocks to 20:28.

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