Friday, January 1, 2010

Exegesis of Matthew 16

Hyperpreterists often quote Mt 16:27-28 as proof-texts for hyperpreterism.  They claim that anyone who cannot see those texts as pointing to Jesus’ Second Coming are “dishonest” yet 2000 years of Christian interpretation of Mt 16:27-28 has not produced anything like hyperpreterism.  In the article that follows, I’d like to exegete ALL of Mt 16, verse-by-verse.

Matt 16:1 — The Jewish leaders wanted a sign. Not a sign of when Jesus was going to “come back” but a sign that would prove He is the Messiah He kept claiming to be. (For example, John Gill commentary says: “they ask of him to produce a sign from heaven, of his coming from thence”).  Why would they be seeking a sign of His Second Coming if they didn’t believe He was the Messiah in the first place?
Matt 16:2-3 — Jesus told them it should have been obvious to them, that Jesus is the Messiah (For example, Gill says: “if they had not been blind, they might easily have discerned, that the signs of the time of the Messiah’s coming were upon them”)
Matt 16:4 — The sign of Jonas is a veiled reference to Jesus being in the mouth of death for 3 days & then rising. (see Matthew 12:40)
Matt 16:5-12 — Jesus teaches an object lesson to his disciples how bad doctrine should be avoided, as it affects EVERYTHING, not just one segment of a person’s thinking.
Matt 16:13-17 — Still on the theme of Jesus identity, of which the Jews wanted a sign, Jesus first asks his disciples who people think He is in general & then secondly, who they think He is. Peter rightly identifies Jesus as the “Son of God”. Jesus proclaims that Peter didn’t figure this out by evidences/proof-texts (or signs), but by revelation from God Himself.
Matt 16:18-19 — Jesus alludes to the apostles (not just Peter’s) role as the foundation & teachers of the Church (see Mt 18:18-19, authority of ALL the apostles). The Church which will NOT ever fail (as hyperpreterists MUST claim it did).
Matt 16:20 — Jesus was not yet ready for the world to know He is the Messiah, that day would come soon/shortly/before that generation passed.
Matt 16:21-23 — Upon Jesus sharing with His disciples how the Messiah would die, Peter out of what would be shown to be weak loyalty, unknowingly attempted to stand in the way of God’s divine plan. Jesus rebuked Peter.
Matt 16:24-26 — Jesus speaks of a person’s self-sacrifice for following Him, even until death…not just loss of things & status but possibly loss of one’s PHYSICAL life.
Matt 16:27 — The crescendo of the text, & the key to understanding Mt 16:28, Jesus speaks of how He will soon/shortly/at hand be revealed as the Messiah He claimed. He would be glorified & vindicated. He will “come on the clouds” (note it does NOT say “return” nor “come back to earth”) Mt 16:27 is parallel to Dan 7:13 where we see Jesus ALSO “coming with the clouds”…but TO His heavenly throne & TO the Ancient of Days, the Father. Mt 16:27 is not merely about the Ascension but about Jesus’ glorification & vindication. The “sign” the Jews were looking for would come upon that generation. (see more)
Matt 16:28 — Jesus declares that some standing there, some alive even then would see the day when Jesus is glorified & vindicated as the Messiah He claimed to be. The “cloud coming” was the same as mentioned in Mt 16:27 & Dan 7:13. It was to be a revelation of Jesus “coming into His kingdom”. We see this repeated in Mt 26:64 where Jesus tells the High Priest, he would see Jesus coming in the clouds AND sitting at the right hand of power [e.g. glorified & vindicated -- not "returned"]. This is the buttress of the initial discussion Jesus had with the Jews who sought a sign. This is the answer to the question of “Who do men say [Jesus] is?” — they would soon know & some would even be alive to see that day. However many, if not most of the disciples were martyred before that day.
So, as you can see, a fully exegetical analysis of Mt 16 shows that hyperpreterists distort Mt 16:28 & use it as a proof-text for Jesus’ Second Coming when it is really about His soon/at hand/shortly/within that generation/before all standing there died “coming in the clouds” glorification & vindication.
If hyperpreterists CAN’T see that then I don’t even think the sign of Jonas will convince them. They willfully are blind & deaf to 2000 years of Christian understanding & interpretation & instead follow their own private interpretations & in the process call 2000 years of Christianity “dishonest”.

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