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Thursday, November 30th, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 15

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verses 1-39

Handling Offences and Persecutions in the Kingdom of God Matthew 13:54 to Matthew 18:35 emphasizes the theme of how God’s children are to handle offences and persecutions over doctrinal issues within the Kingdom of Heaven. [468] The narrative passage of Matthew 13:54 to Matthew 17:27 emphasizes the many occasions when offences came into Jesus’ ministry from the Jewish leaders and shows us how Jesus responded to offences. This narrative material builds upon the theme of the previous narrative material found in Matthew 11:2 to Matthew 12:50 regarding man’s reactions to the King. [469] This is because persecutions will come from those who adhere to false doctrines when we preach the Gospel and we must learn how to handle these offences. In this fourth narrative section, Jesus also explains to His disciples the dangers of offending others. Thus, the fourth discourse (Matthew 18:1-35) teaches the disciples how to properly deal with these offences within the Church, which Jesus experiences in the preceding narrative passage.

[468] Benjamin Bacon identifies the theme of 13:54 to 18:35 as church government and the problems of church unity. He says, “Because of this unmistakable interest dominating the whole structure of Division B (Matthew 18:0) we naturally expect from previous experience of our evangelist's use of his material that Division A will lead up to this Discourse on church government with narrative selections of corresponding character. In reality such is the case…” See Benjamin W. Bacon, Studies in Matthew (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1930), 397, 410.

[469] Craig Blomberg says two major themes are carried over from the previous narrative material, which are the increased intensity of the rejection of Jesus Christ and His message, and the progressive, Christological revelation of His identity to the Twelve. He says the development of these two themes create “sharper lines of demarcation between insiders and outsiders.” See Craig L. Blomberg, Matthew, in The New American Commentary, vol. 22 (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992), 226. David Turner describes the two leading themes in the fourth narrative section as “increased oppition and conflict” and the works and teachings of Jesus intended to increase the faith of His disciples. See David L. Turner, Matthew, in Baker Evangelical Commentary on the New Testament, eds. Robert Yarbrough and Robert H. Stein (Ada, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 358.

The one Old Testament prophecy of this division in Matthew’s Gospel is Matthew 15:7-9, which quotes Isaiah 29:13 and simply prophecies how God’s own people would rejected the Gospel, reflecting the theme of this division of Matthew on persecutions from within.

Matthew 15:7-9, “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

Isaiah 29:13, “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:”

In the fourth major discourse (Matthew 18:1-35) that immediately follows the narrative material Jesus lays down principles for His disciples to follow when dealing with offences. He quotes Deuteronomy 19:15 as a guideline for His disciples to use when dealing with offences.

Deuteronomy 19:15, “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.”

We may compares this major division of material to the General Epistles of 2 Peter , 1, 2, 3 John and Jude in that they also emphasize persecutions that come from those who hold fast to false doctrines.

The section of Matthew emphasizing sanctification through perseverance from persecutions within (Matthew 13:54 to Matthew 18:35) closes with a transitional sentence that concludes each of the five discourses, telling us that Jesus had ended His teaching (Matthew 19:1).

Matthew 19:1, “And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;”

Literary Evidence of a Common Theme between the Fourth Narrative Section and the Discourse that Follows There is literary evidence that connects the third narrative-discourse section with the fourth narrative-discourse section. While these two macro structures share the same theme of perseverance in the faith for the child of God, there is literary evidence to confirm this connection. [470] For example, the fourth narrative section is related in retrospect to the third discourse in the fact that the Greek word συνίημι is used nine times in the Gospel of Matthew, with six uses in the third discourse (Matthew 13:13-15; Matthew 13:19; Matthew 13:23; Matthew 13:51) and three uses in the fourth narrative (Matthew 15:10; Matthew 16:12; Matthew 17:13). This literary evidence reflects the common theme of the servant of God’s need to persevere in the faith in the midst of offenses by hold fast to one’s understanding and confession of faith in God’s eternal Word. In addition, the fourth narrative section shares a common theme with the fourth discourse that follows in the use of the Greek words σκανδαλι ́ ζω and σκα ́ νδαλον , key words Jesus uses four times in the course of the fourth narrative (Matthew 13:57; Matthew 15:12; Matthew 16:23; Matthew 17:27), as well as six times during the fourth discourse (Matthew 18:6-7 [three], 8, 9). Note that this key word opens and closes the fourth narrative section (Matthew 13:57; Matthew 17:27).

[470] The thematic scheme of perseverance connects third and fourth narrative-discourse sections. Scholars acknowledge the connection of these sections. For example, A. G. van Aarde says, “ Matthew 13:53-27, the fourth micronarrative, in an associative manner relates retrospectively to the third discourse (13:1-52) and prospectively to the fourth discourse (18:1-35), while correlating concentrically with the corresponding third micronarrative (11:2-12:50).” He again says, “the “structural interrelatedness of chapters 13, 14-17 and 18 fits into the concentric and progressive structure of the Gospel of Matthew as a whole.” See A. G. van Aarde, “Matthew’s Portrayal of the Disciples and the Structure of Matthew 13:53-27,” Neotestamentica 16 (1982): 21, 22.

Sanctification: Perseverance - Numbers Versus Fourth Discourse which Deals with Persecutions from Within - We see in the book of Numbers the establishment of the journey of perseverance that the children of Israel endured during the forty-year wilderness journey. In a similar way the fourth discourse on church discipline establishes the perseverance of the Church that every believer must endure.

The narrative passage of Matthew 13:54 to Matthew 17:27 emphasizes the many occasions when offences came into Jesus’ ministry from the Jewish leaders. In this passage, Jesus explained to His disciples the dangers of offending others. Thus, the fourth discourse (Matthew 18:1-35) teaches the disciples how to properly deal with these offences within the Church, which Jesus experiences in the preceding narrative passage.

In summary, the fact that Matthew 11-18 deals with obstacles and persecutions along the journey as a servant of the Lord is a clear reminder of how the children of Israel wandered in the desert facing similar challenges in the book of Numbers.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Narrative: Examples of Offences Matthew 13:54 to Matthew 17:27

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Matthew 15". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/matthew-15.html. 2013.
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