THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF DAVID AND ABRAHAM, ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Manfred Diefenbach - ebook

THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF DAVID AND ABRAHAM, ACCORDING TO MATTHEW ebook

Manfred Diefenbach

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The practical commentary on Matthew's Gospel is written for pastoral co-workers and for the faithful. It is a solid help for a better, deeper and profounder understanding of biblical teaching and it will help to preach the Good News more convincingly always and everywhere. The conception of this commentary follows the principle of "Lectio Divina" in five steps (cf. Pope Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini. The Word of the Lord, no. 87): to read the "Word of God", meditate/reflect on it, pray with it and internalize it, as well as live out the biblical message. In doing so, the Christian lifestyle will be inspired biblically. Der praxisorientierte Kommentar zum Matthäusevangelium bietet Seelsorgern und engagierten Laien eine solide Handreichung für ein besseres, vertieftes Schriftverständnis und für eine glaubwürdige Verkündigung im Hier und Heute - in der Liturgie, Schule ... oder privat zu Hause. Der Aufbau des Kommentars folgt dem Prinzip der "Lectio Divina" (vgl. Papst Benedikt XVI., Verbum Domini, Nr. 87) oder in den Worten von Papst Franziskus ausgedrückt: "contemplativa in actione". So stützt die Abfolge von Lektüre, Meditation, Gebet und Verinnerlichung die Motivation, zu wirklich alltagsverändernden Handlungsweisen zu finden. Auf diese Weise wird "die Verkündigung des Evangeliums einfacher, tief und ausstrahlend" (Papst Franziskus am 25. September 2013).

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MANFRED DIEFENBACH

THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST,

THE SON OF DAVID AND ABRAHAM,

ACCORDING TO MATTHEW

A COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW

FOR THE LITURGY, CATECHISM

AND CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY

Epubli GmbH Berlin

© 2013 epubli GmbH, Berlin

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ISBN 978-3-8442-6890-4

Table of Contents

Foreword

Introduction

- Three Stages in the Formation of the Inspired Gospels

- From Exegesis to the “Hearts” as the Hermeneutic of the Word of God

0. The Macrostructure/Composition of the Gospel according to Matthew

1. Beginning: Origin and Infancy of Jesus, the Messiah (1:1–2:23)

1.1 Genealogy of Jesus as His Identity (1:1–17)

1.2 The Birth of Jesus (vv. 18–25)

1.3 The Magi (2:1–12)

1.3.1 The Magi in Jerusalem (vv. 1–8)

1.3.2 The Magi in Bethlehem (vv. 9–12)

1.4 The Flight into Egypt until His Return (vv. 13–23)

1.4.1 The Flight into Egypt (vv. 13–15)

1.4.2 The Killing of the Children in Bethlehem (vv. 16–18)

1.4.3 Jesus’ Return from Egypt (vv. 19–23)

2. Middle: Jesus’ Public Ministry in Word and Deed (3:1–18:35/19:1a)

2.1 Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist (3:1–17) and His Temptation (4:1–11)

2.1.1 John the Baptist – Who is He/What is his Ministry (vv. 1–6)

2.1.2 John’s Preaching of Repentance (vv. 7–10)

2.1.3 John’s Messianic Preaching and His Self-Assessment (vv. 11–12)

2.1.4 The Baptism of Jesus (vv. 13–17)

2.1.5 The Temptation of Jesus by the Devil (4:1–11)

2.2 Jesus’ Public Ministry in Word and Deed in Galilee (4:12–18:35)

2.2.1 The Beginning of Jesus’ Ministry and the Sermon on the Mount (4:12–7:29)

2.2.1.1 The Beginning of His Ministry (4:12–25)

2.2.1.1.1 The Setting/Beginning of Jesus’ Public Ministry in Galilee (vv. 12–17)

2.2.1.1.2 The Call of the First Four Disciples by Jesus (vv. 18–22)

2.2.1.1.3 Summary of Jesus’ Ministry in Word and Deed (vv. 23–25)

2.2.1.2 The Sermon on the Mount to the People as Discourse – the “Charta Christiana” (5:1–7:29)

2.2.1.2.1 The Setting of the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes (vv. 1–2)

2.2.1.2.2 The Main Part (5:3–7:12)

2.2.1.2.2.1 The Beatitudes (vv. 3–12)

2.2.1.2.2.2 The Salt of the Earth (v. 13) and the Light of the World – the Task/Role of Jesus’ Disciples (vv. 14–16)

2.2.1.2.2.3 On the Law and the Prophets – Jesus’ Self-understanding (vv. 17–20)

2.2.1.2.2.4 The so-called six/four “Antitheses” – or rather – “Hypertheses” (vv. 21–48)

2.2.1.2.2.5 Jesus’ View about Almsgiving, Praying, Fasting (6:1–18)

2.2.1.2.2.6 Jesus’ Instructions on Possessions, Judging and God’s Answering (vv. 19–7:11)

2.2.1.2.2.6.1 His Instructions on Possessions (vv. 19–34)

2.2.1.2.2.6.2 His Instructions on Judging and on Profaning the Holy (7:1–6)

2.2.1.2.2.6.3 His Instructions on God’s Answering (vv. 7–11)

2.2.1.2.2.6.4 Conclusion: The Golden Rules (v. 12)

2.2.1.3 The End of the Sermon as a Challenge for or against God (vv. 13–29)

2.2.1.3.1 The Two Ways (vv. 13–14)

2.2.1.3.2 “By their Fruits …” (vv. 15–20)

2.2.1.3.3 The True Disciples (vv. 21–23)

2.2.1.3.4 The True Foundation (vv. 24–27)

2.2.1.3.5 Conclusion of the Sermon (vv. 28–29)

2.2.2 His Ministry and Mission in Galilee (8:1–10:42)

2.2.2.1 His Ministry in Deeds (8:1–9:38)

2.2.2.1.1 The Cleansing of the Leper – First Healing (8:1–4)

2.2.2.1.2 The Centurion of Capernaum – Second Healing (vv. 5–13)

2.2.2.1.3 Jesus’ Healing of Simon’s Mother-in-Law in her/his House – Third Healing (vv. 14–15)

2.2.2.1.4 Summary of His Exorcism – Fourth Healing (vv. 16–17)

2.2.2.1.5 The Setting of the Calming of the Storm – Following of Jesus (vv. 18–22)

2.2.2.1.6 Jesus’ Calming of the Storm (vv. 23–27)

2.2.2.1.7 The Gadarene Demoniacs – Fifth Healing (vv. 28–34)

2.2.2.1.8 His Healing of the Paralytic – Sixth Healing (9:1–8)

2.2.2.1.9 His Call of the Customs Officer Matthew and the Reaction of the Pharisees (vv. 9–13)

2.2.2.1.10 The Question about Fasting (vv. 14–17)

2.2.2.1.11 The Daughter of the Synagogue Leader and the Woman with a Hemorrhage – Seventh and Eighth Healings (vv. 18–26)

2.2.2.1.12 His Healing of Two Blind Men – Ninth Healing (vv. 27–31)

2.2.2.1.13 His Healing of the Dumb Demoniac – Tenth Healing (vv. 32–34)

2.2.2.1.14 The Summary Notice (vv. 35–38)

2.2.2.2 Discourse/Sermon about the Mission to the Twelve (10:1–42)

2.2.2.2.1 His Election of the Twelve (vv. 1–4)

2.2.2.2.2 The Commissioning of the Twelve (vv. 5–15)

2.2.2.2.3 Jesus’ Warnings and Instructions (vv. 16–42)

2.2.2.2.3.1 The Fate of the Disciples (vv. 16–25)

2.2.2.2.3.2 His Exhortation to Fearless Confession (vv. 26–33)

2.2.2.2.3.3 Divisions within Households (vv. 34–36)

2.2.2.2.3.4 Conditions of Discipleship (vv. 37–39)

2.2.2.2.3.5 Rewards of Discipleship (vv. 40–42)

2.2.3 Questioning of and Opposition to Jesus (11:1b–13:52)

2.2.3.1 The Importance of Jesus and His Rejection (vv. 11:1b–12:50)

2.2.3.1.1 Summary about Continuation of Journey (11:1)

2.2.3.1.2 The Identities of Jesus and John the Baptist (vv. 2–19)

2.2.3.1.3 His Woes Pronounced on Galilean Cities (vv. 20–24)

2.2.3.1.4 His Thanksgiving Prayer to the Father (vv. 25–27)

2.2.3.1.5 The Gentle Mastery of Christi (vv. 28–30)

2.2.3.1.6 His Conflict with the Pharisees because of the Picking Corn on the Sabbath (12:1–8)

2.2.3.1.7 His Healing of the Man with the Withered Hand on the Sabbath (vv. 9–14)

2.2.3.1.8 Summary of His Healings as God’s Servant (vv. 15–21)

2.2.3.1.9 Is Jesus Beelzebub? (vv. 22–37)

2.2.3.1.10 The Sign of Jonah (vv. 38–42)

2.2.3.1.11 The Return of the Unclean Spirit (vv. 43–45)

2.2.3.1.12 His True Kindred (vv. 46–50)

2.2.3.2 His Seven Parables as a Discourse (13:1–53)

2.2.3.2.1 The Parable of the Sower – First Parable (vv. 1–9) and

2.2.3.2.3 His Interpretation of this Parable (vv. 18–23)

2.2.3.2.2 The Reason for Speaking in Parables (vv. 10–17)

2.2.3.2.3 His Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat – Second Parable (vv. 24–30)

2.2.3.2.4 His Parable of the Mustard Seed – Third Parable (vv. 31–32)

2.2.3.2.5 His Parable of the Leaven – Fourth Parable (v. 33)

2.2.3.2.6 His Use of Parables (vv. 34–35)

2.2.3.2.7 His Interpretation of the Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat (vv. 36–43)

2.2.3.2.8 His Parables of the of the Hidden Treasure and of the Pearl – Fifth (v. 44) and Sixth Parables (vv. 45–46)

2.2.3.2.9 His Parable of the Net – Seventh Parable (vv. 47–50)

2.2.3.2.10 His Parable of the Owner of a House – Eighth Parable (vv. 51–52)

2.2.3.3 Conclusion of the Sermon in Parables (v. 53)

2.2.4 Christology and Ecclesiology (13:54–19:2)

2.2.4.1 Jesus’ Christology according to Matthew (13:54–17:27)

2.2.4.1.1 The Reaction of His Preaching in Nazareth (13:54–58)

2.2.4.1.2 Herod Antipas’ View/Identity of Jesus (vv. 1–2)

2.2.4.1.3 The Execution of John the Baptist by Herod Antipas (vv. 3–12)

2.2.4.1.4 Jesus’ Feeding of the 5,000 through the Multiplication of Loaves and Fish (vv. 13–21)

2.2.4.1.5 His Walking on the Water (vv. 22–33)

2.2.4.1.6 Summary of His Healing at Gennesaret (vv. 34–36)

2.2.4.1.7 His Major Debate with Pharisees and Scribes (15:1–20)

2.2.4.1.8 His Healing of the Canaanite Woman (vv. 21–28)

2.2.4.1.9 Summary of Healings (vv. 29–31)

2.2.4.1.10 His Feeding of the 4,000 – the Second Multiplication of the Loaves (vv. 32–39)

2.2.4.1.11 The Pharisees Seek again a Sign from Heaven (16:1–4)

2.2.4.1.12 The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (vv. 5–12)

2.2.4.1.13 Peter’s Confession – the Identity of Jesus and Peter (vv. 13–20)

2.2.4.1.14 The First Prediction of His Passion and Resurrection (vv. 21–23)

2.2.4.1.15 Sayings on Discipleship – Follow Him (vv. 24–28)

2.2.4.1.16 His Transfiguration (17:1–9)

2.2.4.1.17 The Question about Elijah (vv. 10–13)

2.2.4.1.18 His Healing of a Boy Possessed by an Evil Spirit (vv. 14–21)

2.2.4.1.19 Second Prediction of His Passion and Resurrection (vv. 22–23)

2.2.4.1.20 Jesus’ View about the Temple Tax (vv. 24–27)

2.2.4.2 His Instructions to His Disciples as a Discourse (18:1–35)

2.2.4.2.1 True Greatness (vv. 1–5)

2.2.4.2.2 His Warnings Concerning Scandals (vv. 6–10)

2.2.4.2.3 The Parable of the Lost Sheep (vv. 11–14)

2.2.4.2.4 On Reproving One’s Brother/Sister (vv. 15–20)

2.2.4.2.5 The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant concerning Reconciliation (vv. 21–35)

2.2.4.2.6 The Conclusion of the Fourth Part (13:54–19:1a)

2.3 Jesus’ Journey to Jerusalem (19:1b–20:34)

2.3.1 The Summary Note of His Going to Jerusalem (19:1b–2)

2.3.2 His Teaching on Marriage, Divorce and Celibacy (vv. 3–12)

2.3.3 Jesus Blesses Children (vv. 13–15)

2.3.4 His Teaching about Riches and the Rewards of Discipleship (vv. 16–30)

2.3.5 The Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard (20:1–16)

2.3.6 Third Prediction of His Passion and Resurrection (vv. 17–19)

2.3.7 The Sons of Zebedee, Precedence among the Disciples (vv. 20–28)

2.3.8 His Healing of Two Blind Men (vv. 29–34)

3. Final Part: Jesus in Jerusalem (21:1–28:20)

3.1 His Ministry in Jerusalem (21:1–26:1)

3.1.1 His Arrival in Jerusalem – the First Day (21:1–11)

3.1.2 His Cleansing of the Temple (vv. 12–17)

3.1.3 The Withered Fig Tree –the Second Day (vv. 18–22)

3.1.4 The Question about Authority (vv. 23–27)

3.1.5 The Parable of the Two Sons and His Updating (vv. 28–32)

3.1.6 The Parable of Tenants or the Wicked Husbandmen in the Vineyard (vv. 33–46)

3.1.7 The Parable of the Royal Great Wedding Banquet (22:1–14)

3.1.8 The Question of the Pharisees: On Paying Tribute to Caesar (vv. 15–22)

3.1.9 The Question of the Sadducees about the Resurrection of the Dead (vv. 23–33)

3.1.10 The Question from a Expert of the Law about the Great Commandment (vv. 34–40)

3.1.11 His Question about David’s Son (vv. 41–46)

3.1.12 His Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees (23:1–39)

3.2 His Eschatological Discourse (24:1–25:46)

3.2.1 His Prediction of the Destruction of the Temple (24:1–2)

3.2.2 Signs before the End (vv. 3–14)

3.2.3 The Desolation Sacrilege (vv. 15–28)

3.2.4 His Prophecy of the Eschatological “Prelude” (vv. 29–31)

3.2.5 “The Time is Near” (vv. 32–44)

3.2.6 The Parable of the Good Servant and the Wicked Servant (vv. 45–51)

3.2.7 The Parable of the Ten Virgins (25:1–13)

3.2.8 The Parable of the Talents (vv. 14–30)

3.2.9 The Final/Last Judgement (vv. 31–46)

3.2.10 The Conclusion of the Fifth Part (24:1–26:1a)

3.3 His Passion, Crucifixion/Death and Resurrection (26:1b–28:20)

3.3.1 His Passion and Crucifixion/Death (26:1b–27:66)

3.3.1.1 The Setting – His Death is Premeditated (26:1b–5)

3.3.1.2 His Anointing in Bethany (vv. 6–13)

3.3.1.3 Judas Iscariot’s Agreement with the Jewish Leaders in Jerusalem (vv. 14–16)

3.3.1.4 The Preparation (vv. 17–19) and Celebration of Lord’s Supper (vv. 20–29)

3.3.1.5 Gethsemane (vv. 30–56)

3.3.1.6 Jesus before the (Jewish) Sanhedrin (vv. 57–68)

3.3.1.7 Peter’s Denial (vv. 69–75)

3.3.1.8 Jesus’ Handing out to Pontius Pilate by the Jewish Leaders (27:1–2)

3.3.1.9 The Death of Judas Iscariot (vv. 3–10)

3.3.1.10 Jesus before (the Roman) Pontius Pilate (vv. 11–26) and His Mockery by the Roman Soldiers (vv. 27–31c)

3.3.1.11 Golgotha (vv. 31d–44)

3.3.1.12 The Death of Jesus (vv. 45–56)

3.3.1.13 The Burial of Jesus (vv. 57–61)

3.3.1.14 The Guard at His Tomb by the Roman Soldiers (vv. 62–66)

3.3.2 His Resurrection (28:1–20)

3.3.2.1 The Galilean Women at the Empty Tomb (28:1–10)

3.3.2.2 The Bribing of the Guards by the Jewish Leaders (vv. 11–15)

3.3.2.3 Great Commission on a Mountain in Galilee (vv. 16–20)

4. Conclusion

4.1 The Evangelist – Who is Matthew?

4.2 Time Line – When was the Gospel of Matthew Written?

4.3 The Audience/Receiver of Matthew’s Gospel – Where and for Whom Did the Evangelist Write His Gospel?

5. Bibliography

5.1 Edition Translation, Concordance, Linguistic Works of Reference, Dictionary

5.2 Short-List of Commentaries

5.3 Biblical Dictionaries

5.4 Introduction

5.5 “Documents” of the Catholic Church and other Churches

5.6 Exegetical Literature

6. Appendix/Graphics/Map

6.1 The Christian Bible

6.2 Three Stages in the Formation of the Gospels

6.3 The Babylonian and Jewish View of the World

6.4 The Structure/Conception of the Gospels – “Who (do you say) I am”?

6.5 Jesus’ Actions in Word and Deed according to Matthew

6.6 Timetable of the Last Days of Jesus in Jerusalem

6.7 Last Days of Jesus of Nazareth in Jerusalem about 30 A.D.

6.8 Stations of the Cross

6.9 Personal Information about Jesus of Nazareth

6.10 Places of Matthew’s Gospel

6.11 The Apostle’s Creed and some Biblical References

6.12 Liturgical Aspect of Scripture Reading

6.12.1 Liturgy of the Roman Catholic

6.12.2 Liturgy of the Anglican Church

6.12.3 Liturgy of the Greek Orthodox Church

6.12.4 Liturgy of the Coptic Orthodox Church

6.12.5 Liturgy/“Perikopenordnung” of the EKD/Evangelical Church in Germany

6.13 Spiritual Aspect of Scripture Reading – “Lectio Divina”

6.13.1 “Lectio Divina” in Four Steps

6.13.2 Suggestion for Scripture Reading for Preaching/Teaching

6.14 Lexicon of Terms

Foreword

In the year 2012, the publishing house Aschendorff published my commentary on Mark for the liturgical year B. A revised version will be published by epubli 2014. Then I wrote my second commentary for you and for your liturgical, catechetical and spiritual service – the commentary on Luke (C). Last but not least, I have written a commentary on Matthew (A) and I hope, it will be useful and helpful for you. Later, I want to write a commentary on the fourth Gospel (according to “John”). My hope is that I have grasped Mark’s, Matthew’s and Luke’s spirit and that this esprit can inspire us as His followers/disciples here and now.

All my commentaries intend to be a solid help for a better, deeper and more profound understanding for biblical teaching and to help preach and teach the Good News more convincingly in word and deed always and everywhere. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare ourselves in five steps of the “Lectio Divina” according to Pope Benedict XVI1 (Verbum Domini, Rome 2010, no. 87): to read (lectio) the “Word of God”, meditate/reflect on it (mediatio), pray with it (oratio) and internalize it (contemplatio), as well as live out the biblical message (actio). The aim of these more synchronic commentaries is to improve the biblical, historical, linguistic, rhetoric and etymologic background of the ancient biblical texts and to help the understanding of the theological, spiritual “Word of God” today. Whether you are a priest, a deacon, a catechist, a lay minister or a seminarian, this work will have achieved its goal if it succeeds in complementing and helping you in your preaching and/or in your teaching. These e-books will be the basis for your self-study and ongoing formation programme.

I especially want to thank the German Catholic institution MISSIO Aachen for their “sponsoring” of my project in the context of the evangelization with my commentaries on the Gospels (Luke and Matthew) to bring the Good News to the people.

Again, I would like to acknowledge my debt to Bishop Dr Paul Hinder OFM Cap, the Vicar of the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia. I also wish to thank Mrs. Alison Müller, who was born and grew up in England and is married to a German, for her proof-reading and suggestions.

Limburg-Offheim,

the Memorial of the Evangelist Saint Matthew on 21st September 2013

Manfred Diefenbach

Introduction

All Christians – both clergy and lay people – are called to be witnesses – being a “Minister of the Word of God” (Luke 1:2) and of faith. We are “ministers” of the Word of God. We should be teachers of the faith in order to open hearts to conversion, so that those whom we teach may hear and receive the “Word of God”. Let us keep in mind that we are first receivers of the Word, and then disciples and “servants”/“co-workers” of Jesus Christ in preaching and/or teaching the message of the Good News. To be a minister of the Word of God and of His Love is to receive first, and then to “hand on” (the meaning of the Latin word “traditio” is “hand on”) what has been received. The truth that saves our life kindles the heart of the receiver with a neighbourly love that should motivate him/her to communicate her/his experience of faith to others.

Jesus was a teacher, preacher, catechist, biblical scholar and storyteller. He talked about, and explained in parables, “the Kingdomof Heaven”, taking into account people’s different kinds of background and understanding. In His preaching, Jesus used parables like the parable of the sower (cf. Mark 4:3–8/Matthew 13:4–8/Luke 8:5–8) who sows seeds in various soils. Through His interpretation (cf. Mark 4:13–20/Matthew 13:18–23/Luke 8:11–15), Jesus helped His disciples to understand, receive, believe, accept and live this parable. We, the faithful who want to spread and share the “Word of God”, must be sowers who preach and teach His Word as the message of God and His Kingdom, now as it was then. The seed is the Word of God, His message. With His help, the Good News of God will fall on good soil, in the heart of men (cf. Matthew 13:19). In the same way, the seed that has fallen into the heart of the disciples of Jesus – now as it was then – is a fruitful, ranging up to 100 per cent depending on their disposition.

The Word of God must appear in its entire splendour, even if it is “expressed in human language” (Dei Verbum 13). That is the task of all preachers in the Church and teachers and catechists in schools. May we be guided in our preaching and teaching by Jesus Christ who opened the minds of the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Luke 24:27) and the other disciples (cf. v. 45) to the understanding of the scriptures, making their hearts burn within them (cf. v. 32) with the desire of glorifying God.

THREE STAGES IN THE FORMATION OF THE INSPIRED GOSPELS2

The Gospels tell us about the life of Jesus of Nazareth, who was born in Bethlehem, the town of King David in 7 or 6 B.C. (cf. Matthew 1:18–2:18; Luke 2:1–20) He healed the sick and taught the people about God. God (cf. Matthew 3:17; 17:5) and Peter (cf. 16:16) proclaimed Him: the “Christ” (cf. 1:1), the “Son of God”.

After His Death on “Good Friday” (14th Nisan according to the Synoptic Evangelists) and His Resurrection on “Easter Sunday”, the second stage in the development of the Gospels was the oral tradition of the Good News in the preaching of His disciples and Galilean women, such as, for example, Mary Magdalene. What could they tell the people? The Acts of the Apostles says:

“Someone must join us as a witness to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. He must be one of the men who have companied with us during the whole time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism until the day when Jesus was taken up from us” (Acts 1:21–22) and “ascended into Heaven” (1:11).

The Evangelists Mark, Matthew, Luke – who wrote the three Synoptic Gospels3 – and John wrote the four Gospels under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They related the story/history of Jesus of Nazareth as both the “Son of God” and the “son” of Joseph and Mary and His message of salvation, by selecting some of the many elements which had been handed on, either orally or already in written form, through the Holy Spirit (= inspiration).

FROM EXEGESIS TO THE “HEARTS” AS THE HERMENEUTIC OF THE WORD OF GOD

The Bible is like a library. We find two parts in the Holy Scriptures: the “Old Testament” – the “Hebrew Bible” – and the “New Testament” which were written between 1000 B.C. and 100 A.D.

The Holy Bible is based on factual information, and at the same time it is from the eternity of God and it leads us back to His eternity. On the other hand, the reader or the listener of the Bible who wants to understand the words and deeds in it, should read, study, and understand the texts of the ancient world in their original historical context, and project herself/himself into Antiquity, 2,000 or even 3,000 years ago.

People today find themselves in the same situation as the 1st century Ethiopian in the Acts of the Apostles. They need an interpreter to understand the biblical texts (Acts 8:30–314): Philip asked the Ethiopian: “Do you understand what you are reading?” The Ethiopian replied: “How can I unless someone guides me?”

Therefore the “Word of God” has to be made understandable in our time and culture with the help of the Holy Spirit by the works of the scholars, preachers, teachers/professors, catechists, parents. For example, in the New Testament, what is the intention of Luke? The distance between this ancient text of the 1stcentury and the reader of the 21stcentury has to be bridged in order to arrive at the authentic sense of the sacred text. Christians also hear Christ’s voice in the readings and homily which explain the texts of the Bible in today’s language. They are thus invited to apply these inspired biblical words/texts in their lives. Their different forms – parables, healings, the narratives of His Passion and Resurrection as well as their context (who wrote it, to whom, why), are a personal message from God. We must enter the ancient world so that the written text can become living word.

The Apostle Paul spoke “on Christ’s behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:20) as God’s “mouthpiece” (Galatians 1:10) and placed himself completely at the service of the proclamation of the Gospel. He preached the Good News of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ without compromise – cf. Romans 8:35–37 or 2 Corinthians 11:23–27.

As His “servant”, Paul was His instrument because he only wanted God and Christ to be the focus of his life. He was not a self-centred “minister of the Word of God”. The Spirit of God and Jesus Christ lives in us and is taught through us in words and deeds by means of personal testimony.

According to the “communication model”5, our role as a SENDER/transmitter (1) and as a “minister of the Word of God” is to reach the members of the Church, the RECEIVERs/ addressees (3) of the apostolic MESSAGE – the Good News (2).

Bishops, priests, deacons, professors, catechists, parents and all the faithful should learn, through frequent reading of the Sacred Scripture(s), to bring the message of the Bible to the ears and hearts of people of our own time. First, we are receivers, and then we can act as God’s servants and Christ’s disciples, and co-workers in the preaching and/or teaching of the message of the Good News. A faithful and true minister of the Word of God receives and hands on what has been received. The truth that saves his life inflames the heart of the receiver with love of neighbour, and motivates him to pass on to others what he has freely received. The principal functions in the pastoral ministry can be distinguished: catechesis, preaching, and the biblical apostolate; the Word of God has to be made understandable in our time and culture – in preaching and/or teaching as well in the biblical apostolate.

How can we guide the people who want to hear and understand the Good News? We have to avoid two extremes6 when interpreting the Bible:

· on the one hand, we have to protect the interpretation of the Bible from attacks by science which analyses words of the Bible – the so-called “historical-critical methods” – as if they were ordinary writings without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit;

· on the other hand, there is the so-called “mystical exegesis”. This way of understanding the Bible is all symbolic and spiritual as if it had nothing to do with historical facts and the world we live in, and believes that there is no need for science to help in interpreting the Bible. So the Bible is read as if the Spirit dictated it word for word.

“For the words of God, expressed in human language, have been made like human discourse, just as the word of the eternal Father, when He took to Himself the flesh of human weakness, was in every way made like men” (Dei Verbum 13)”. That is the task of all preachers in the Church and teachers and catechists in schools. May we be guided in our preaching and teaching by Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God who opened the minds of the disciples of Emmaus (Luke 24:27) and the other disciples (v. 45) to the understanding of scripture(s), making their hearts burn within them (v. 32):

“Christ has no hands, only our hands to do His work.

He has no feet, only our feet to lead people on His way.

Christ has no lips, only our lips to tell people about Him.

He has no help, only our help to bring people to His side”,

so runs the prayer of Saint Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582 A.D.).

In this way, we Christians have to present and represent – with body and soul – Jesus Christ, the “Son of God”, the “Christ”, the incarnate “Word of God” so that we already bring a little bit of Heaven to earth.

0. The Macrostructure/Composition of the Gospel according to Matthew

We agree – more or less – with the renowned catholic biblical scholar Raymond E. Brown’s structure of Matthew’s Gospel on the basis of the Greek phrase “kaì egéneto hóte etélesen ho Iesoũs …”.(= it happened when [Jesus] finished [ ] …) in 7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:18 at the end9 of the five discourses respectively “sermons”10 (cf. 5:3–7:27; 10:1–42; 13:1–53; 18:1–35; 24:1–25:46) as a “epiphora”11. We also postulate a “ring-composition” of Matthew 4:25–5:2; 7:28–8:112 in the form of an inclusion; however we do not follow the structuring by the renowned catholic exegete Joachim Gnilka because of the Greek phrase “apò tote érxato ho Iesoũs …” in 4:17 before the “Sermon on the Mount” and in 16:21 as an introduction of the first prediction because we can find the similar use of it in 11:7, 20; 26:74. Therefore we slightly modify the composition of the Gospel “according to Matthew” in allusion to Raymond E. Brown as follows:

1. Beginning: Origin and Infancy of Jesus, the Messiah (1:1–2:2313)

1.1 Genealogy of Jesus as His Identity (1:1–17)

1.2 The Birth of Jesus (vv. 18–25)

1.3 The Magi (2:1–12)

1.4 The Flight into Egypt until His Return (vv. 13–23)

2. Middle: Jesus’ Public Ministry in Word and Deed (3:1–20:34)

2.1 Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist (3:1–17) and His Temptation (4:1–1114)

2.2 Jesus’ Public Ministry in Word and Deed in Galilee (4:12–18:35/19:1a)

2.2.1 The Beginning of Jesus’ Ministry (4:12–25) and His Sermon on the Mount to the People as Discourse (5:1–7:29)

2.2.2 His Ministry (8:1–9:38) and His Mission in Galilee (10:1–42/11:1a)

2.2.3 Questioning of and Opposition to Jesus (11:1b–12:50) and His Sermon in Parables (13:1–53)

2.2.4 Christology (13:54–17:27) and Ecclesiology (18:1–35/19:1a)

2.3 Jesus’ Journey to Jerusalem (19:1b–20:34)

3. Final Part: Jesus in Jerusalem (21:1–28:20)

3.1 His Ministry in Jerusalem (21:1–23:39)

3.2 His Eschatological Discourse (24:1–25:46/26:1a)

3.3 His Passion, Crucifixion/Death and Resurrection (26:1b–28:20)

Chapter 1

Similar to Zadok(ite) or Levi(te tradition), the three-part genealogy of Jesus’ ancestors/earthly fathers (vv. 1–6, 7–11, 12–16/17; Luke 3:23–38/Genesis 5:1), as “the son of David” (v. 1a) and the “son of Abraham” (v. 1b) according to Matthew 1:17 is a list with 3 x 14 (= 42) biblical names of David’s lineage – the number 14 in Hebrew (ד/D [= 4] + ו/W [= 6] + ד/D [= 4]) is also the name “David” – 38 men and 4 women (Tamar [cf. v. 3a], Rahab [cf. v. 5a], Ruth [cf. v. 5b], Uriah’s wife [cf. v. 6b]).

The Greek text of the birth of Jesus is structured with the help of two genitiva absoluta in verses 18a and 20a: the description of the “delicate” situation of the pair/couple Mary and Joseph (cf. vv. 18–20) and the divine message of an angel to Joseph in his dream (cf. vv. 20–23). After his dream, he made up his mind and obeyed the angel’s order (cf. vv. 24–25).

1. Beginning: Origin and Infancy of Jesus, the Messiah (1:1–2:23)

1.1 Genealogy of Jesus as His Identity (vv. 1–1715)

- The “Headline” of Matthew’s Gospel (v. 1)

Matthew introduces his Gospel with the words: The “book”16 of the “genealogy17” (cf. Genesis 2:4; 5:1) “of Jesus Christ18” – Christ (in Hebrew Messiah – “the anointed” – cf. vv. 1, 16c, 17c, 18a and, for example, Romans 1:3; Galatians 3:16) is the first messianic title for Jesus. Then the two messianic titles: “the son of David19” (cf. vv. 1, 6a, b, 17a, b, 20) and “the son of Abraham20” (cf. vv. 1, 2a, 17a) follow.

The First Part of the Genealogic List – the Patriarchs: From Abraham to David (vv. 2–6)

v. 2: “Abraham” (cf. v. 1, 17a) “begat” fathered “Isaac” (in Greek Isaák21 – cf. Genesis 21:2–3; Luke 3:34a);

“Isaac begat Jacob” (in Greek Iakób22 – cf. Genesis 25:26; Luke 3:34a);

“Jacob begat Juda” (in Greek Ioúdas23 – cf. Genesis 29:35; Luke 3:33) “and his brothers” (cf. Genesis 29:32–34; 30:1–24);

v. 3: “Juda begat Perez and Zerah” (in Greek Pháres and Zára – cf. Genesis 38:29 – 30; Luke 3:33) “by Tamar” (in Greek Thamár);

“Perez begat Hezron” (in Greek Hesróm – cf. Ruth 4:18; Luke 3:33);

“Hezron begat Aram” (in Greek Arám – cf. Ruth 4:19a; Luke 3:33);

v. 4: “Aram begat Aminadab” (in Greek Amınadáb – cf. Ruth 4:19b; Luke 3:33);

“Aminadab begat Naasson/Nahshon” (in Greek Naassón – cf. Ruth 4:20a; Luke 3:32);

“Naasson/Nahshon begat Salmon” (in Greek Salmón – cf. Ruth 4:20b; Luke 3:32);

v. 5: “Salmon begat Boaz” (in Greek Bóes – cf. Ruth 4:21a) “by Rachab/Rahab” (in Greek Racháb – cf. Joshua 2:1–16);

“Boaz begat Obed” (in Greek Iobéd – cf. Ruth 4:21b; Luke 3:32) “by Ruth” (in Greek “Roúth”);

“Obed begat Jesse” (in Greek Iessaí24 – cf. Ruth 4:22a; Luke 3:32);

v. 6: “Jesse begat [ ] David” (cf. vv. 1, 6a, b, 17a, b, 20), [“the King”] (cf. Ruth 4:22b);

“David begat Solomon” (in Greek Solomón25) “by Uriah” (in Greek Ouríou [genitive] of Ourías) – that means by Uriah’s wife Bathsheba (cf. 2 Samuel 11:2–5; 12:24).

The Second Part of the Genealogic List – the Kings: From David to the Babylonian Exile (vv. 7–11)

v. 7: “Solomon begat Roboam/Rehoboam” (in Greek Roboám – cf. 1 Chronicles 3:10a);

“Roboam/Rehoboam begat Abia/Abijah” (in Greek Abıá – cf. 1 Chronicles 3:10b [; Luke 1:5]);

“Abia/Abijah begat Asaph/Asa” (in Greek Asáph – cf. 1 Chronicles 3:10c);

v. 8: “Asaph/Asa begat Josaphat/Jehoshaphat” (in Greek Iosaphát – cf. 1 Chronicles 3:10d);

“Josaphat/Jehoshaphat begat Joram/Jehoram” (in Greek Iorám – cf. 1 Chronicles 3:11a);

“Joram/Jehoram begat Ozias/Uzaya/Uzziah” (in Greek Ozías);

v. 9: “Ozias/Uzaya/Uzziah begat Joatham/Jotham” (in Greek Ioathám – cf. 1 Chronicles 3:12c);

“Joatham/Jotham begat Achaz/Ahaz” (in Greek Acház – cf. 1 Chronicles 3:13a);

“Achaz/Ahaz begat Ezekias/Ezechias/Hezekiah” (in Greek Ezekías – cf. 1 Chronicles 3:13b);

v. 10: “Ezekias/Ezechias/Hezekiah begat Manasseh/Manasses” (in Greek Manassēs – cf. 1 Chronicles 3:13c);

“Manasseh/Manasses begat Amos/Amon” (in Greek Amós/Amon – cf. 1 Chronicles 3:14a; Luke 3:25);

“Amos/Amon begat Josias/Josiah/Joshaiah” (in Greek Iosías – cf. 1 Chronicles 3:14b);

v. 11: “Josias/Josiah/Joshaiah begat Jechonias/Jechoniah/Jeconiah” (in Greek Iechonías) “and his brothers” (cf. 1 Chronicles 3:15). The Evangelist commented that they lived at the time of the “deportation”26 to “Babylon” (in Greek Babulõn27 – cf. vv. 11b–12a, 17b, c) – the so-called Babylonian exile of Israel (586–538 B.C. – cf. 2 Kings 25:8–26; 2 Chronicles 36:17–23).

The Third Part of the Genealogic List – the “Unknowns”: After the Babylonian Exile until Christ (vv. 12–16)

v. 12: “Jechonias/Jechoniah/Jeconiah” (1 Chronicles 3:[15c,] 16) “begat Salathiel/Shealtiel” (in Greek Salathiél – cf. 1 Chronicles 3:17; Luke 3:27);

“Salathiel/Shealtiel begat Zorobabel/Zerubbabel” (in Greek Zorobabél – cf. 1 Chronicles 3:19; Luke 3:27);

v. 13: “Zorobabel/Zerubbabel begat Abiud/Abihud” (in Greek Abıoúd);

“Abiud/Abihud begat Eliakim” (in Greek Elıakím – cf. Luke 3:30);

“Eliakim begat Azor” (in Greek Azór);

v. 14: “Azor begat Sadoc/Zadok” (in Greek Sadók);

“Sadoc/Zadok begat Achim/Akim” (in Greek Achím);

“Achim/Akim begat Eliud” (in Greek Elıoúd);

v. 15: “Eliud begat Eleazar” (in Greek Eleázar);

“Eleazar begat Matthan” (in Greek Matthán);

“Matthan begat Jacob” (in Greek Iakób);

v. 16: “Jacob begat Joseph” (in Greek Ioséph – cf. Luke 3:23c).

At the end of the genealogy of Jesus there is a very short and deeply theological statement/reflection: “Joseph28, the husband of Mary29, of whom was born30Jesus”, the “Christ” like a conclusion (cf. v. 1).

v. 17: At the end of the genealogy by Matthew, he provided information about how he had structured it: So he listed “fourteen generations31from Abraham to David” (1st part – the patriarchs), “fourteen from David to the exile/deportation to Babylon” (2nd part – the kings), and “fourteen from the (Babylonian) exile ( ) to the Christ” (3rd part – the “unknowns”32).

1.2 The Birth of Jesus (vv. 18–25)

- Description of the Situation of the Couple Joseph and the Pregnant Mary (vv. 18–19)

v. 18: After the use and explanation of the messianic titles “son of David” and “son of Abraham” in verse 1 for Jesus the third title “Christ” follows in verse 18 again (cf. v. 1) – “Jesus (is), the Christ”. Immediately the Evangelist describes the birth of Jesus and the “delicate” situation of Mary and Joseph in their Jewish tradition (cf. vv. 18–19 or Luke 1:27) who were “pledged tobe married”33 (cf. Luke 1:27; 2:5). Joseph was faced with a difficult, “delicate” problem – Mary was “pregnant”34 (cf. 24:19) and everyone could see that. The Evangelist emphasizes that the “natural” father was not Joseph (cf. vv. 16, 19–20, 24; 2:13, 19; 13:55; Luke 1:27; 2:4, 16; 3:23; 4:22; John 6:42) but in a “supernatural” sense the “Holy Spirit” (v. 20 – cf. Luke 1:35). This starting point of the birth of Jesus Christ from the “virgin”35 (v. 23 – cf. Luke 1:27) and “young woman” Mary, was not easy to understand then – including for Joseph – and still is not. It can only be understood as a mystery of the faith – Mary (vv. 16, 19–20, 24; 2:11), His “mother”36 (cf. 13:55) got Jesus “with the Holy Spirit”37 (cf. v. 20 and Luke 1:35).

v. 19: Joseph and the other people could see her (“belly”) – and for him as her future husband it was embarrassing so he thought about this “scandal. His idea/plan – more his “decision” (cf. 11:27) – was to “divorce her” (cf. 5:31–32; 19:3, 7–9) “secretly” (cf. 2:7) “privately” according to Deuteronomy 24:1 because he was a “righteous” “man”/“husband” (v. 16) – normally he could not take the pregnant Mary as his wife in the sense of Numbers 5:11–31 because of the Jewish law according to Deuteronomy 22:23–27. Such a pregnancy was punishable by death.

- The Angels’ Message/Order for Joseph (vv. 20–23)

v. 20: An angelic dream appearance38 – an “angelophany” (cf. v. 24; 2:13, 19; 28:2) – crossed Joseph’s plan during his “considering” and “dreaming”39 (cf. v. 24; 2:12–13, 19, 22). The divine message to him starts first with his name and secondly with the title: “Joseph, son of David”40 (cf. vv. 1, 6, 16–17), then followed by two imperatives – “do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife”41 (cf. 2:13–14, 20–21). “What is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (v. 18). The next part of the message is in the future tense:

v. 21: “She is bearing/giving birth to a son” (cf. vv. 23b, 25a) and “will call”42 “His name Jesus” (cf. vv. 23b, 25b and Luke 1:31). A Latin proverb says; “Nomen est omen” – this also applies to the name Jesus. The meaning of the Hebrew name “Jeshua”/“Joshua” is “God saves”/“YHWH, help”/“salvation” or “the Saviour” to “save43 (cf. 3:6; 9:2, 5–6; 12:31; 26:28) “his people from their sins” (cf. Psalm 130:8 [LXX]).

v. 22: The angel’s message for Joseph was a prediction of Jesus’ birth by Mary according to Isaiah’s prophecy (7:14 [LXX]) which is introduced with Matthew’s typical phrase “to fulfil the (Lord’s) message/Word ( ) by the prophet” (in Greek plerothẽ tò h’rethèn [hupò kuríou] … dıà toũ prophétou in verse 22b and in 2:15, 17, 23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4 – further, cf. 26:54, 56; 27:9; Luke 24:44) in the context of important christological events in Matthew’s Gospel:

v. 23: “Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a son,

and they will call (His) name ( ) Immanuel” (cf. Isaiah 8:8) which means “God with us” (cf. Isaiah 8:10 – further, cf. Romans 8:31).

- Joseph’s Realisation of the Angel’s Message/Order (vv. 24–25)

v. 24: After Joseph’s “sleep”44, it is described in the past tense that Joseph put the angel’s order – note the order of the angel in the present tense in verses 20c–21 – into action/practice: He “took” Mary “home as his wife” (cf. v. 20e) which meant that his idea/decision/plan (cf. vv. 19–20a) was interrupted

v. 25: but he had no intercourse with her until she “bore/gave birth to a son” (cf. vv. 21a, 23b). Then he gave him the “name Jesus” (cf. v. 21b and Luke 1:31). This is why, as the legal (adopted) son of Joseph, Jesus was named the “son of David” (v. 20c).

Chapter 2

Matthew structured the text with the help of the “genitivus absolutus” in verses 1a, 9a, 13a and the Greek phrase “and look” in verses 1b, 9b, 13a in two parts: the first: The magi and the King Herod in Jerusalem (cf. vv. 1–8) and the second: The magi and Mary, Joseph and Jesus in Bethlehem (cf. vv. 9–12). Verse 13 introduces a new story about the flight of Joseph’s family to Egypt because of Herod’s order to kill all the baby boys in Bethlehem (cf. v. 16) which is linked with verses 1–12.

1.3 The Magi (vv. 1–12)

1.3.1 The Magi in Jerusalem (vv. 1–8)

- The First Setting (v. 1)

Who: Herod the Great, the magi

Where: Jerusalem45 (vv. 1b, [3]); Bethlehem46 (vv. 1a, 5b, 6a, 8a) in Judea47 (vv. 5b, 22)

When: “the birth of Jesus … in the days of Herod” the Great (37–4 B.C.). On account of the mention of the so-called “Star of Bethlehem” in the Matthean narrative about the infancy of Jesus (vv. 2, 9), astronomers dated it in the years between 2 and 7 B.C. Further, the tax declaration is dated in the time of Caesar Augustus’ worldwide census and registration48 (Luke 2:1, 2, 3, 5) under Quirinius. According to Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews XVII 355; XVIII, 1), a census also took place under the governor Coponius in Judea in the year 6 A.D.

Who: the (Eastern) magi (vv. 1b, 7a), “the star” (vv. 2b); King Herod the Great49 (vv. 1a, 3, 7a–8, [12]), the inhabitants of Jerusalem (v. 3) the high priests and scribes (v. 4a)

The birth story of Jesus according to Matthew contrasts the two “Kings of the Jews”: Jesus, the “son of David”, whose seat was in Bethlehem, and Herod the Great, whose seat was in Jerusalem. However Luke contrasts Jesus with the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus (cf. Luke 2:1) and Caesar Tiberius (cf. Luke 3:1).

- (Public) Question of the magi – Biblical Answer by the Chief Priests and Scribes (vv. 2–6)

v. 2: The reason for the coming of the (Eastern – cf. vv. 2b, 9c) magi to Jerusalem was “to worship50Him” (cf. vv. 2c, 8e, 11b), the “King of the Jews”. Therefore the question of the (Eastern) magi51 (“Where is the newborn ‘King of the Jews’52” – “the King of Israel” [Matthew 27:42]?) introduces the reaction (v. 3) and action (vv. 4–6, 7–8) of (vassal) King Herod under the Roman emperor (vv. 3–8) because Herod was not the rightful heir to the throne of David. Jesus, the “son of David”, was the heir.

The magi are described as having seen (vv. 2b, 9b, 10a) and followed (v. 9c–d) a (wandering) star to Bethlehem, which thus in the tradition became known as the “Star of Bethlehem”53 and they also saw Jesus (vv. 10–11) and His mother Mary (v. 11a) – the new star(s) of the Christians in contrast to Alexander the Great (356–323 B.C.) or the Roman Emperor Nero (Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, 37–68 Anno Domini [=A.D.]). Which apparition had the magi from the East followed? Is there a reference to speculations based on Numbers 24:17 (“A star shall advance from Jacob”) as a fulfilment of the “Star Prophecy”? Was it a comet, a (super-) nova or a special planetary conjunction of stars, the so-called King-conjunction between the stars Jupiter and Saturn? The last possibility is the hypothesis of the German mathematician, astronomer, and protestant theologian Johannes Kepler (1571–1630 A.D.) who fixed the year of Jesus’ birth in the year 7 B.C. However the hypothesis of the American physicist Michael Molnar is that the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Mercury, and Venus stood together in the sign of the Ram. The sign of the Ram is the constellation of Judea. The American scientist asserts that the symbol of the Ram is on an ancient coin and he linked to the Greek astronomer Ptolemaeus or Ptolemy who wrote in his scripture “Tetrabiblos” that a special king was born on 17th April in the year 6 B.C. It cannot be said for sure that the astronomers Kepler or Molnar are right or wrong. So the “Star of Bethlehem” remains a mystery; it is not necessary for our Christian faith.

v. 3: The Good News of the magi was bad news for King Herod the Great in Jerusalem and the inhabitants of Jerusalem because of his illegal reign as “King of Israel” and their acceptance of him: “One man’s meat is another man’s poison!”

v. 4: Herod ordered the theologians – the chief priests and the scripture scholars (scribes54) as the teachers of the Law – to answer the question of the magi (v. 4b: “Where was the Messiah/Christ55born”? – note the question in verse 2a: “Where is the newborn ‘King of the Jews’”). They found the answer in the biblical prophecy in Micah 5:1–2 and 2 Samuel 5:2/1 Chronicles 11:2 which the Evangelist quotes in paraphrase in verse 6:

vv. 5–6: Bethlehem, the city of King David (cf. 1 Samuel 16:1–17:12; John 7:42) in Judea.

In spite of the correct answer the Jewish leadership and Herod the Great in Jerusalem (only a distance of 6.5 kilometres between Jerusalem and Bethlehem) do not go to worship Him in contrast to the magi who came from the East – “from far away”.

- Their Private Audience with Herod and his Proposal (vv. 7–8)

v. 7: Herod calls the magi secretly56 to find out the exact time the star had appeared57. This information is relevant for the note about the slaughter of the baby boys in Bethlehem in verses 16–18 because of the fear with regard to the real kingship of the “son of David” as the Jewish King. That was the real reason for their private audience with Herod

v. 8: and not his talk about wanting to worship Christ. This was only a pretext, a trick with the help of a lie to get the report58 about the time (cf. v. 16) and the exact place of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. Afterwards Herod’s plan was to kill the child or baby Jesus. For Matthew, the noun “child”/“baby” in verses 8, 9, 11, 13, 14, 20, 21 is the central theme of the second chapter.

1.3.2 The Magi in Bethlehem (vv. 9–12)

- The Second Setting – the Change of the Place (vv. 9–10)

Who: the magi (vv. 9–12), the “star” (vv. 9b–10), the boy child Jesus (vv. [1a, 8b], 9e, 11a), Mary (v. 11a)

Where: Bethlehem (v. 8a)

- The Adoration of the child Jesus by the magi and their three Gifts (v. 11)

They “come, “see” the “STAR” (v. 10 or vv. 2b, 9b–c) and His mother (cf. 1:16, 18, 20 [; 13:55]) like the “epiphany” of God or God’s angel(s). Joseph is not mentioned. Afterwards their reaction is: “to worship Him”. That was the main reason for their journey (cf. vv. 2c, 11b). Upon meeting Jesus, the magi are described as handing over gifts and “falling down” in joyous praise. The use of the term “falling down” 62 more properly means lying prostrate on the ground, which, together with the use of kneeling, had an important effect on Christian religious practice. Previously both Jewish and Roman tradition had viewed kneeling and prostration as undignified, reserved in Jewish tradition for epiphanies; although for Persians it was a sign of great respect, often shown to the king.

The magi bring gifts63 which are explicitly identified: gold, incense, and myrrh64. Is this episode linked to Isaiah 60:6, to Psalm 72:10 and to Song of Songs 3:6 which report gifts being given by kings for the “King of the Jews” (v. 2a)? Did this play a central role in the perception of the magi as kings, rather than as astronomer-priests? There are many different theories of the meaning and symbolism of the gifts. They generally break down into two groups:

That they are all ordinary gifts for the “Son of King David” [and “Son of Abraham”] (1:1) – myrrh being commonly used as an anointing oil, frankincense as a perfume, and gold as a valuable;

That they are prophetic – gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, incense as a symbol of priesthood, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death. Sometimes this is described more generally as gold symbolizing virtue, incense symbolizing prayer, and myrrh symbolizing suffering”.

- The Comment of the Evangelist (v. 12)

A second comment (note the first comment in vv. 9–10) of the Evangelist ends the visit of the magi in Bethlehem and sends them on their return journey. They were warned by God in a dream like Joseph in 1:20; 2:13, 19, 22 or the wife of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate in 27:19. This means they are not accomplices of Herod.

1.4 The Flight into Egypt until His Return (vv. 13–23)

1.4.1 The Flight into Egypt (vv. 13–15)

Who: the magi, an angel, Joseph, Mary, the boy child Jesus

Where: Bethlehem – Egypt

v. 13: A genitivus absolutus introduces a new scene – “when” the magi “had gone”65 (cf. v. 12). Similar to Matthew 1:20, “an angel appeared to Joseph” (cf. 1:16, 18–20, 24; 2:19, 22 – like Joseph in Genesis 41:1-36) in his “dream”66 and gave him the divine order (note the imperatives): “Getup, take the child” (vv. 14, 20–21) “and His mother” (cf. 1:20, 24) “and escape67to Egypt and stay there until I say you”– King Herod’s68 intention is “to search for the child to kill Him” (cf. vv. 8, 16–18 and Exodus 1:15–16).

v. 14: Joseph put the angel’s order (v. 13) into action (cf. 1:24–25) – “he got up, took thechild and His mother ... and left for Egypt” (cf. v. 19) – “during the night”69. “Egypt was a common place of refuge for Jews of this time”70 (for example, Abraham and Sara in Genesis 12:10-20 or 1 Kings 11:17, 40; Jeremiah 26:21, 41:47 etc.) because there were colonies of Jews in several Egyptian cities.

v. 15: Matthew interprets the staying of Joseph, Jesus and His mother Mary in Egypt “until the death/end of Herod” the Great as a fulfilment of the prophecy (cf. 1:22–23 [Isaiah 7:14]; 2:17–18 [Jeremiah 31:15], 23 [Judge 13:5, 7]) in the scroll of the prophet Hosea (11:1) as follows: “Out of Egypt I called my son” (cf. 1:21, 23, 25; [2:23]) like Moses’ Exodus.

1.4.2 The Killing of the Children in Bethlehem (vv. 16–18)

Who: Herod the Great, the magi, Jewish boys under 2 years of age

Where: in and around Bethlehem

v. 16: Herod the Great (vv. 1a, 3, 7a–8, 12, 13, 15, 16), who was “angry”71 because of the magi’s deception, had all “2-year-old72” and under/younger new-born “boys”73/male (Jewish) “children (of the Bethlehemites)”74 “eliminate”75 because of his murderous jealously of all rivals76. This was the reason he also killed his sons Alexander and Aristobul in the year 7 B.C. as well his son Anitpater in the year 4 B.C.77

v. 17: Matthew saw in Herod’s brutal action a “fulfilling”78 (cf. vv. 15b, 23b) of the same situation of Rachel according to the “prophet” “Jeremiah”79 (cf. Matthew 16:14; 27:9) after (Northern) Israel’s return from the Assyrian exile:

v. 18: “A voice80 ( ) is heard (in Ramah), weeping81and great mourning82, Rachel weeping for [her] children [ ] and she is unwilling to be comforted83, because they are not” (31:15).

1.4.3 Jesus’ Return from Egypt (vv. 19–23)

Who: Herod the Great, an angel, Joseph, Mary, the boy child Jesus, Archelaus

Where: Egypt – Nazareth in Galilee

v. 19: Again a genitivus absolutus (cf. 2:1, 13) opens the short “report” about Joseph’s, Jesus’ and Mary’s return from Egypt into Nazareth in Galilee. After the “death” (v. 15a: “teleuté”)/“dying” (v. 19a: “teleutáo”84) of Herod the Great, the “angel of the Lord appeared in Joseph’s dream” again (cf. 1:20–23; 2:13) in “Egypt” (vv. 13–15) with the order – note the imperatives:

v. 20: “Get up, take the child and His mother” (cf. v. 13c–d), “and go to the land of Israel” because of the death of King Herod the Great in 4 BC, “who was trying to take the child’s life” (cf. v. 13f; further, note in Exodus 4:19).

v. 21: Joseph put the angel’s order in action again (cf. 1:24–25; 2:14): “Got up, took the child and His mother and went to the land of Israel” (in the past tense like in v. 14a, however in the present tense in vv. 13c–d, 20).

v. 22: After Herod’s death, the kingdom was divided among his sons, so that Archelaus became the tetrarch of the district Judea, Samaria, and Idumea from 4 B.C. until 6 A.D. Joseph was warned in a “dream” (cf. 1:20–23, 2:13, 19) not go to Judea but to “the district Galilee” (cf. 3:13; 4:12, 15, 18, 23) – and

v. 23: “lived in a house”85 in a small agricultural settlement86 “Nazareth” (cf. 4:13; 21:11). Similar to Matthew 1:22–23 with a quotation of Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 2:15/Hosea 11:1 or 2:17–18/Jeremiah 31:15, Matthew makes an allusion to Judges 13:5, 7: “Jesus” (1:21, 25) will be called “a Nazarene” (cf. 26:71) – maybe in the sense of the “shoot”/netzer (of David) – like the other messianic titles for Jesus according to Matthew: Jesus as “son of Abraham” (1:1), “son of David” (1:1, 6, 20; 2:6) or “Emmanuel” (1:23).

Chapter 3

Matthew “tells” about John the Baptist in the form of a very short compact report like a “vita” or “biography”. The term “voice” in verse 3 comes before the narrative about a common description and characterization of him (cf. v. 4) and his ministry in word (cf. vv. 3, 7–12) and deed – “to baptize” in verses 6, 11, 13–14, 16 – as the “forerunner”/the “precursor” of Jesus (cf. vv. 11–12). This messianic preaching about the coming of Christ (cf. vv. 11–12) and the baptism of Jesus of Nazareth (cf. vv. 16–17) after a respectful dialogue between John the Baptist and Jesus (cf. vv. 14–15) lead to Jesus’ public ministry in word and deed in Galilee and on His journey to Jerusalem (cf. 4:12–18:35/19:1a) respectively in Jerusalem (cf. 19:1b–25:46) and His Passion in Jerusalem (cf. 26:1–27:66) as well as His “new life” as the Risen Lord (cf. 28:1–20).

2. Middle: Jesus’ Public Ministry in Word and Deed (3:1–18:35/19:1a)

2.1 Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist (3:1–17) and His Temptation (4:1–11)

2.1.1 John the Baptist – Who is He/What is his Ministry (vv. 1–687)

Who: John the Baptist

Where: “desert” (v. 1b), “Jordan” (vv. 6, 13)

v. 1: Matthew introduces with the help of the phrase “in those days”88 his version of the short (historical) description and characterization of “John the Baptist”89. The place of his ministry was the “desert”90 or “wilderness” (vv. 1b, 3b) – Bethany (John 1:28),near Jericho and Qumran/Dead Sea –, maybe it is also a symbol of the exodus from slavery to new life. John the Baptist “proclaimed’/“preached”91

v. 2: “metanoía”92 (= repentance in vv. 8a, 11a) – note the imperative “metanoeĩte” (cf. v. 2a; 4:17b) of the verb “metanoéo” (cf. 11:20–21; 12:41) – and that the “‘Kingdom of Heaven/s’93is near” like Jesus at the beginning of His public ministry (4:17/Mark 1:15) or in the context of the mission of His “Twelve” disciples (10:7). They (at first, John the Baptist, then Jesus and the disciples after His order) continually preached and called for the conversion or a renewal of life (-style) by a washing ritual (v. 11) – in the “Jordan”94 (v. 6a/Mark 1:5, 9) as a visible sign. The purpose of the (eschatological) messianic “preacher of repentance95” (Matthew 3:8) John the Baptist was to prepare people to accept Jesus as the Christ and God’s Son.

v. 3: Then Matthew quotes the book of the “prophet Isaiah”96 40:3 and begins with his “voice”97 (cf. v. 17) to “proclaim” (v. 1) the “coming ‘Lord’” as the “Messiah”, the “Christ” as a “preparing”98. Isaiah 40:1–5 describes Israel’s way back from exile in Babylon as God’s promise of a new exodus through the “desert” to Jerusalem/Zion as a hope. These prophetical words are an expression of God’s comfort and salvation for the (chosen) Jewish people.

v. 4: After the proclamation of the “coming Lord/Messiah”, Matthew described the ascetic “life-style” of John the Baptist in the “wilderness”/“desert” (cf. vv. 1, 3): He wore “clothes”99 (cf. 6:25, 28/Luke 12:23) which were made of “camel’s hair”, “a leather belt around his waist” and ate (note Jesus’ statement about John the Baptist [cf. 11:7–19]) in verse 18: “neither eating nor drinking”) “locusts” and “wild100honey” as “food” (cf. 6:25/Luke 12:23; Matthew 10:10).

v. 5: The people from the Capital “Jerusalem”101, from “all/whole Judea”102 (cf. 4:25) and from the “all/whole surrounding area”103 of “Jordan” were making the (repentance) pilgrimage

v. 6: to be baptized in the river “Jordan”104 (vv. 6, 13) in the form of a public “confessing”105/“confession” and the forgiveness of “sins”106 (cf. Mark 1:4b–5/Luke 3:3). And what about the two districts Galilee and Samaria? Is it limited to the region of Judea? The Evangelist reread and reminded the “Chosen People” of the story of the crossing of the river “Jordan” in Joshua 3:17–4:1.

2.1.2 John’s Preaching of Repentance (vv. 7–10107)

v. 7: The Jewish religious groups of “Pharisees108and Sadducees109” (cf. 16:1, 11–12) “came” in the desert in order to be “baptized” – note the term in 21:25 in the context of John the Baptist – by John the Baptist. His baptism of “repentance” and the forgiveness of sins (cf. v. 6) was a rite of washing/cleansing or purification. This setting introduces his strong statement about them – “brood of vipers110” (cf. 12:34; 23:33) – as a warning regarding the coming “wrath”/Final/Last Judgement in the sense of preparedness for the decisive intervention of God.

v. 8: John called the people to perform more than only words or ritual, but they should change their behaviour/mind – “produce fruit” (cf. 7:16–18, 20; 12:33[; 13:18–23; 21:43]: “either good fruits/tree or bad ones”) “in keeping with repentance” (cf. vv. 2, 11).

v. 9: It also will not be enough to be a “son of the ‘father Abraham’111” – a Jew – in a self-confident manner. An Aramaic/Hebrew proverb – “from these stones God can raise up children of Abraham” – in the form of a play on two very similar words “abanim” (stones of God) and “banim” (sons/children) underlines his viewpoint. They do not rely on their Jewish descent to protect them, because a personal relationship with God is not handed down from parents to children.

v. 10: The tree metaphor/symbol (cf. 7:16–20; 12:33) is an either-or eschatological description – a theological reflection of the “last things” at the end – with the help of the comparison of a “bad” “tree” (cf. 7:17–19; 12:33) which “does not produce good fruit” in the sense of “bad deeds” (cf. 25:41–46a) and “will be cutdown”112 (cf. Isaiah 10:33–34) with an “axe” and “thrown into the fire” (cf. Matthew 7:19; 13:42, 50; 18:8–9).