Friday, July 21, 2017

[BTT035] Mar 15:27-28 / Isaiah 53:10-12

Previous: [BTT034] Mat 27:35 / Psalm 22:16-18


Mar 15:27-28 / Isaiah 53:10-12

Fulfillment

With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.”

Original
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.

Comparison

This is our sole plēroō passage in Mark, and that's not the only way he's completely different from Matthew. Not only is the quote word-for-word accurate, it works perfectly well in the context of Isaiah's Suffering Servant prophecy.

I mean, Isaiah does not say "And He was crucified among two thieves, one of whom will repent and one of whom will not," but it's an accurate quote and a fairly clear fulfillment.

One wonders why Matthew isn't more like this, but the point is clear: literal, one-time fulfillments of explicit prophecies where the author cares about the exact wording of the source text are the minority so far.


Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy

Point Five: A passage does not have to be explicitly prophetic to be prophecy



Next: [BTT036] Luk 4:21 / Isaiah 61:1-4

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

[BTT034] Mat 27:35 / Psalm 22:16-18

Previous: [BTT033] Mat 27:3-9 / Jeremiah 32:1-15

Mat 27:35 / Psalm 22:16-18


Fulfillment

Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet:
“They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.”

Original

For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.

Comparison

Finally, at the end of Matthew, we a have a quotation of prophecy that actually lines up with the original. Both texts read exactly the same, except for the verb tense of "divided." Even looking at the wider context, things look pretty good. Surely a "congregation of the wicked" enclosed Jesus; surely they pierced His hands and feet. This is the sort of correspondence between original and fulfillment that we like to see!

There is one slight issue. There is no indication in Psalm 22 that this passage is a prophecy. Rather, it appears to be taken directly from the life of David, describing his metaphorical torments at the hands of his enemies. Of course, Matthew being Matthew, the only prophecy he can quote correctly isn't from a book of prophecy, but from a song.

While Matthew is clearly saying that this Psalm should be considered prophetic, we should also recognize that there is no indication in the original context. Are all Psalms prophetic? Matthew indicates that at least some of them were.

At any rate, this seems as good a point as any to add a new point:


Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy

Point Five: A passage does not have to be explicitly prophetic to be prophecy

Otherwise, Matthew is completely off base and the New Testament is suspect.

Next: [BTT035] Mar 15:27-28 / Isaiah 53:10-12

Monday, July 17, 2017

[BTT033] Mat 27:3-9 / Jeremiah 32:1-15

Previous: [BTT032] Mat 21: 1-5 / Zechariah 9:1-10


Mat 27:3-9 / Jeremiah 32:1-15

Fulfillment

Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”
And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!”
Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.
But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”
 Original

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house. For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, “Why do you prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; and Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape from the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face, and see him eye to eye; then he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall be until I visit him,” says the Lord; “though you fight with the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed”’?”
And Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you, saying, “Buy my field which is in Anathoth, for the right of redemption is yours to buy it.”’ Then Hanamel my uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Please buy my field that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin; for the right of inheritance is yours, and the redemption yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. So I bought the field from Hanamel, the son of my uncle who was in Anathoth, and weighed out to him the money—seventeen shekels of silver. And I signed the deed and sealed it, took witnesses, and weighed the money on the scales. So I took the purchase deed, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open; and I gave the purchase deed to Baruch the son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel my uncle’s son, and in the presence of the witnesses who signed the purchase deed, before all the Jews who sat in the court of the prison.
“Then I charged Baruch before them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Take these deeds, both this purchase deed which is sealed and this deed which is open, and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may last many days. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.”’

Comparison

This passage may be the apex of Matthew's radical re-interpretation. He claims that Jeremiah is talking about someone buying a field with 30 pieces of silver, which they received as the price of a man's life. But that's completely at odds with the original context and the original text.

The passage in Jeremiah starts with the king of Judah complaining about Jeremiah prophesying that Babylon will defeat Judah. Jeremiah responds that he made a real estate deal (bought a field with silver). Why? Because even after Babylon inevitably curb-stomps Judah, there is still hope in the future. The children of God might be going away for a while, but they'll be coming back.

That's all well and good, but it bears no relation to what Matthew is talking about:

1). There is no mention in Jeremiah that the field is a potter's field.
2). The price paid for the field is seventeen shekels of silver, not thirty pieces of silver.[1]
3). There is no indication in Jeremiah that seventeen shekels is anything other than the worth of the field - it is not mentioned as "the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced."
Again, we are faced with two possibilities: first, that Matthew had access to a version of Jeremiah that we do not; second, Matthew is doing whatever he wants with text. Matthew also cares nothing about the original context, or that the prophecy has already been fulfilled by the return of the Jews to Israel under Cyrus. He just does not give one iota of a crap about the principles we moderns use to interpret Scripture.


Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy
Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy
Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy
Next: [BTT034] Mat 27:35 / Psalm 22:16-18

[1]Arguably, the thirty pieces of silver could possibly weigh seventeen shekels. Even if this is the case, the prophecy specifies a weight of silver, not a number of coins.

Friday, July 14, 2017

[BTT032] Mat 21: 1-5 / Zechariah 9:1-10

Previous [BTT031] Mat 12:14-21 / Isaiah 42:1–4



Mat 21: 1-5 / Zechariah 9:1-10


Fulfillment

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”
All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:
“Tell the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

Original


The burden of the word of the Lord
Against the land of Hadrach,
And Damascus its resting place
(For the eyes of men
And all the tribes of Israel
Are on the Lord);
Also against Hamath, which borders on it,
And against Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise.
For Tyre built herself a tower,
Heaped up silver like the dust,
And gold like the mire of the streets.
Behold, the Lord will cast her out;
He will destroy her power in the sea,
And she will be devoured by fire.
Ashkelon shall see it and fear;
Gaza also shall be very sorrowful;
And Ekron, for He dried up her expectation.
The king shall perish from Gaza,
And Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.
“A mixed race shall settle in Ashdod,
And I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.
I will take away the blood from his mouth,
And the abominations from between his teeth.
But he who remains, even he shall be for our God,
And shall be like a leader in Judah,
And Ekron like a Jebusite.
I will camp around My house
Because of the army,
Because of him who passes by and him who returns.
No more shall an oppressor pass through them,
For now I have seen with My eyes.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
And the horse from Jerusalem;
The battle bow shall be cut off.
He shall speak peace to the nations;
His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.’

Comparison

Again, Matthew loves to paraphrase (or else has a version of Isaiah we don't). Compare:
“Tell the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
With:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.

This is actually pretty close by Matthew's standards – he's just added some extra rejoicing. So far we've seen him delete material ("And afterward more heavily oppressed her" from #4), add material ("Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem" from this one) and change things entirely ("And in His name Gentiles will trust" from #6)

But we've already covered Matthew's citation errors. Let's talk about context.

The larger context of Zechariah 9 is that God is going to utterly destroy Tyre, the Philistines, and all the others on His laundry list of enemies. God will dwell among His people, and the Messiah will come as a King of Peace who rules the world and destroys all weapons of war.

Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey certainly seems to fulfill part of this prophecy. But again, looking at the larger context of the original complicates Matthew's interpretation. I don't know if Israel's military still uses horses, but they definitely don't have peace there, let alone "to the Ends of the Earth."

It's going to take all of our Points to explain this. This prophecy must have multiple fulfillments (the destruction of Tyre, Jesus riding on a donkey, the future end of war), or else it completely falls apart. The original context of Tyre is completely misleading in Matthew's interpretation. Past, Present, and Future must be compressed if Isaiah and Matthew are to be compatible. And clearly, Matthew is completely willing to play with the exact words of Scripture.

In fact, we're upgrading Point Four from provisional status. It's now a full-fledged point:

Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy


Next: [BTT033] Mat 27:3-9 / Jeremiah 32:1-15

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

[BTT031] Mat 12:14-21 / Isaiah 42:1–4

Previous: [BTT030] Mat 8:16-17 / Isaiah 53:1-6


Mat 12:14-21 / Isaiah 42:1–4


Fulfillment

Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.

But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. Yet He warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

"Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen,
My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel nor cry out,
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench,
Till He sends forth justice to victory;
And in His name Gentiles will trust.”

Original

“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.
He will not cry out, nor raise His voice,
Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.
He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”

Comparison

Matthew's interpretation here seems to be fairly reasonable. Jesus tells the crowd to keep things quiet - "He will not cry out...nor cause His voice to be heard in the street." Seems simple enough.

Unsurprisingly, Matthew once again quotes from a version of Isaiah that conflicts with the Hebrew. He ends the quote with:

A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench,
Till He sends forth justice to victory;
And in His name Gentiles will trust.”
Whereas Isaiah ends it with:
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.
He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”

This is getting to be a thing, isn’t it? Matthew loves to play it fast and loose with the exact wording of Isaiah.

There are two possibilities here. First, that Matthew is paraphrasing the end of the passage. Looking at Isaiah 41, we see that "the coastlands" could be an image for the Gentile nations - "the ends of the earth." It's reasonable for Matthew to try and make the point of the original clear, even if it conflicts with our modern sense of how Scripture should be handled. How many of you would be okay with the following translation?

"For Jesus so loved human beings that He came to Earth as a literally incarnate human being who was also fully God, so believe in Him."
-John 3:16
In fairness to Matthew, I've read some modern translations that were on that level.

The second possibility is that Matthew is quoting from a version of Isaiah now lost to us. This seems unlikely, and even if it were true, is unprovable until we find a version that matches up.

Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments
Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Revised Provisional Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy

If the exact wording matters, Matthew is in trouble (as is the New Testament).

Next: [BTT032] Mat 21: 1-5 / Zechariah 9:1-10

Monday, July 10, 2017

[BTT030] Mat 8:16-17 / Isaiah 53:1-6

Previous: [BTT029] Matt 4:12-16 / Isaiah 9:1-7

Mat 8:16-17 / Isaiah 53:1-6

Fulfillment

When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.”

Original

Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Comparison
Here we have another example of Matthew quoting from a different version of Isaiah.

Compare:

“He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.”
With:
"Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;"
Why do English versions of the Bible translate the two passages differently? We may be tempted to say they don't match because Matthew is quoting from the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint) instead of the Hebrew original. Unfortunately, the Greek of Matthew doesn't match the Septuagint of Isaiah. So what gives?

Maybe Matthew used a Greek translation other than the Septuagint – perhaps this is his own personal Greek translation. This would explain why some of the other "quotations" don't match up (see #4 for another example).
But regardless, the simplest interpretation may be that Matthew doesn't care that much about the exact wording. He clearly cannot view the Septuagint as perfect, or else he would have used it. He also cannot view translations as invalid, or else he would have quoted the Hebrew original. The only possible explanation is that he viewed translations as valid but not authoritative. The Septuagint was not perfect, but it was perfectly usable.

I'm going to add a provisional point to our list:

Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Provisional Point Four: The original text matters more than translations (but translations are fine to use)


Again, this is reflected in how the New Testament is written. Translations were, apparently, good enough for the Holy Spirit.

Next: [BTT031] Mat 12:14-21 / Isaiah 42:1–4

Friday, July 7, 2017

[BTT029] Matt 4:12-16 / Isaiah 9:1-7

Previous: [BTT0028] Matthew 2:6-18 / Jeremiah 31:15-17

Matt 4:12-16 / Isaiah 9:1-7

Fulfillment

Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles:
The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death
Light has dawned.”


Original

Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed,
As when at first He lightly esteemed
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
And afterward more heavily oppressed her,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
In Galilee of the Gentiles.
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation
And increased its joy;
They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For You have broken the yoke of his burden
And the staff of his shoulder,
The rod of his oppressor,
As in the day of Midian.
For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle,
And garments rolled in blood,
Will be used for burning and fuel of fire.
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Comparison
This is a difficult one, and not only because Matthew seems to be quoting from a different version of Isaiah (note discrepancies between the verse in Isaiah and their quotation in Matthew).

The first thing we have to understand is that the triumph announcement of the coming Messiah - who will be both "a Child" born to Israel and the "Mighty God," comes directly after Isaiah 8's prophecy of the Assyrian invasion. This is what the "darkness" and "shadow of death" refer to.

If we look at the immediate context of Matthew, he appears to be saying that Isaiah was prophesying that the Messiah would spend some time in trans-Jordan area. That would be silly, because Isaiah is clearly saying that the Messiah will emerge to rule in truth, justice, etc. This seems double silly because Jesus was born long after Assyria existed. How could Jesus be the light of hope against an empire that no longer existed?

However, things start to make more sense when we take into account the idea that Past, Present, Future do not matter in prophecy. Assyria has been out of the picture for centuries, but the people of Zebulun and Naphtali are still under a different military occupation: Rome. We might even further spiritualize things and say that the true darkness is the darkness of sin and death.

The point is, both the original context and the fulfillment context can be misleading if you take them over-literally. Unless we keep in mind the idea that Past, Present, and Future get mushed together in prophecy, they become unintelligible.


Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments
Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Next: [BTT030] Mat 8:16-17 / Isaiah 53:1-6