Bible Study Group-St Matthews Gospel
St Matthews Gospel
5th March 2023
Matthew 17:1 - 9 The Transfiguration
V. 1: ‘Six days later’, not really significant; ‘Peter, James and John’, Jesus’ usual
companions at key events (e.g. Matthew 26:37); ‘a high mountain’, traditionally
considered to be Mount Tabor, south-west of Lake Galilee.
V 2 : ‘his face shone like the sun’, alluding to the brightness of the face of Moses after
the Sinai revelation (Exodus 34:29 - 35).
V. 3: ‘Moses and Elijah’, representing the Law and the prophets respectively, the two
words which represent the entire works of the Old Testament and, therefore, the fullness
of God’s revelation to the people of Israel.
V. 4: ‘three tents’, alluding to the Feast of the Tabernacles, which commemorated the
Isrealites stay on Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 16:13 - 17).
V. 5: ‘a bright cloud’, a symbol of God’s presence; ‘’This is my Son, the Beloved;’’, a repetition of the words used at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:17).
Matthew 11 2:11 The Question of John the Baptist
v. 2: ‘John in his prison’, presumably in the palace-fortress of Machaerus, built by Herod the Great, near the East-central shore of the Dead Sea.
v. 3: ‘’Are you the one … ,’’, not necessarily an expression of doubt about Jesus on John’s part, but surprise that Jesus is not the kind of messiah the Jewish people (and himself included), were expecting; ‘’… who is to come …’’, there is no evidence in Jewish literature that this is another title for the messiah, but its significance would be clear, as per the quotation from the prophet Malachi (3:1) in v.10.
v. 5: Jesus answers with these allusions to oracles from Isaiah 29:18 – 19, 35: 5 – 6 and 6: 1, which although being attributes expected of the Messiah, also emphasize that he will confine himself to benevolent and saving miracles, rather than to violence and retribution.
v. 6: ‘’who does not lose in me.’’, literally, ‘’is not offended in me.’’, or ‘’not be scandalised in me.’’, i.e., anything over which one stumbles or falls.
v. 9: ‘’To see a prophet?’’, for the Jewish people, prophecy ended with the closing of the canon of the books of the prophets, and the next expected one would be like Moses.
v.11: ‘’yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.’’, because as a member of the kingdom he has all the advantages to perform greater works than John, who is the Precursor.
St Matthews Gospel for w/e 4th December 2022
Matthew 3: 1 – 12 The Preaching of John the Baptist
v. 1: ‘In due course’, literally ‘In those days’; ‘in the wilderness of Judaea’, probably close to Jericho.
v. 2: ‘’Repent,’’ translates the Greek ‘to change heart, or direction’, ‘conversion’ through ascetical means; ‘kingdom of heaven’, used in Matthew instead of ‘kingdom of God’ out of Jewish respect for divine titles; ‘kingdom’ refers to the exercise of power and not to an area.
v. 3: ‘This was the man’, John the Baptist was a well-known figure in the early Christian community, so no further introduction has been necessary.
v. 4: ‘garment made of camel’s hair’, John’s clothing and diet are suggestive of the prophet Elijah.
v. 6: ‘baptised’, John’s baptism suggests differences from the rite of immersion, a symbol of purification, practised in ancient religions and in Judaism, in that it is directed to moral not ritual purification, it is a one-time event and, therefore, seems a ceremony of initiation and it has an eschatological value, in that the baptised become members and are prepared for the anticipated messianic community. Although effective on the soul, it is not sacramental, as the Messiah is still to come.
v. 8: ‘the retribution that is coming?’, reflecting the ‘day of Yahweh’ (see Zephaniah 1:14 – 16) and, therefore, strongly eschatological.
v. 9: ‘from these stones’, an allusion to the rejection of the Messiah by the Jews and his acceptance by the Gentiles.
v.11: ‘fire’, the purifying element which already in the O.T. symbolised God’s presence.
v.23: ’the fire that will never go out’, i.e., the fire of Gehenna which was kept alight outside the Jerusalem walls to burn rubbish and corpses contaminated by disease, or of non-Jews.
Romans 15: 4 – 9
v. 4: ‘to teach us something about hope’, the hope that comes from the faith which justified Abraham, and which now justifies Christians through their belief in Christ’s resurrection (see Romans 4:23). In this way, Christ’s suffering in the wider context of salvation history takes on a deeper meaning for Christians, as it is the basis for their hope.
v. 8: ‘Christ became the servant of circumcised Jews’, and, therefore, give testimony to God’s faithfulness, i.e., ‘the truth’.