The New Testament Is Not a Single Document

The New Testament is not a single document.  It is a collection of 27 different documents.  Four of them are “gospels,” telling the story of Jesus of Nazareth.  The rest of them are letters, but not all letters of the same kind.  Trying to understand the New Testament as if it were a single document is a way to misunderstand it.

Here’s how I described the New Testament in yesterday’s post:

The New Testament is a collection of 1st-century documents written by leaders of a newly-spawned Jewish sect to their followers. These documents were written by various leaders, at various times, from various locations, to various locations, in various styles, and for various reasons. The central conviction shared by both the senders and receivers of these documents (i.e. everyone in the social movement of which they were a part) was that a Jewish contemporary of theirs – Jesus of Nazareth – was the Messiah who had been promised by prophets who wrote the Jewish Scriptures (what is also called the Old Testament). More specifically, this conviction was that this Jesus had been crucified by the Romans and raised from the dead by God according to those Scriptures, and that He would soon be coming in the kingdom of God according to those same Scriptures.

Thus there is a unifying theme to this collection of diverse documents.  That theme is the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all creation.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

What Is the New Testament?

What is the New Testament?

The New Testament is a collection of 1st-century documents written by leaders of a newly-spawned Jewish sect to their followers. These documents were written by various leaders, at various times, from various locations, to various locations, in various styles, and for various reasons.  The central conviction shared by both the senders and receivers of these documents (i.e. everyone in the social movement of which they were a part) was that a Jewish contemporary of theirs – Jesus of Nazareth – was the Messiah who had been promised by prophets who wrote the Jewish Scriptures (what is also called the Old Testament).  More specifically, this conviction was that this Jesus had been crucified by the Romans and raised from the dead by God according to those Scriptures, and that He would soon be coming in the kingdom of God according to those same Scriptures.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Deuteronomy 14:1 – We Are Sons of the Lord

Deuteronomy 14:1 “You are the sons of the LORD your God…

Who is the Lord?  Jesus.

How did He become God?  He was God before His incarnation, and He returned to that place when He was raised from the dead, taken to heaven, and installed as the king of the kingdom of God.

Is He then our Father?  Yes.

Do the Scriptures support this?  Yes.  Isaiah, for example, says that the Son will be called “Eternal Father.”

Isaiah 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

And, as we’ve seen above, Moses writes that the children of Israel are the sons of the Lord.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Deuteronomy 1:37-38

Deuteronomy 1:37 “The LORD was angry with me also on your account, saying, ‘Not even you shall enter there.
Deuteronomy 1:38 ‘Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter there; encourage him, for he will cause Israel to inherit it.

Moses could not get the people of God into the promised land.  Another would have to take on that task.  In the flesh, it was Joshua, son of Nun.  In the spirit, it was Joshua, son of Joseph and Mary.

Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, causes true Israel to inherit the true promised land – which is the entire new creation.

Jesus is our Joshua.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

1 Chronicles 4:10 – The Prayer of Jabez

1 Chronicles 4:10 Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.

The prayer of Jabez should make us think of Christ.  The only impediment to this meditation, of course, would be the request of protection from harm or pain.  However, when you consider that Christ suffered briefly in comparison to the eternal redemption He is, and always will be, enjoying, it does rather seem like the pain mothers experience bringing new life into the world:

John 16:21 “Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.

Jesus is thus our Jabez, whose “borders” have been infinitely enlarged – both geographically and chronologically.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Post-Church Age

We live in the post-church age.  What was the church age?  That which we see in the New Testament.

What could be greater than the church?  The kingdom of God.

Those who seek and find the kingdom of God are the true church of God and they have no human leaders.  Jesus Christ is their Leader, and they have need of no other.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

2 Kings 11:17

2 Kings 11:17 Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and the people, that they would be the LORD’S people, also between the king and the people.

Paul said that he ministered the gospel “as a priest” (Romans 15:16).  A true priest does what Jehoida the priest did, as described in this verse.  That is, he connects the people of God to their King.  The priest does not try to become the leader of the people of God.  Rather, He points his fellow citizens to the Leader.

This is just what the priest Samuel did at the inception of Israel’s monarchy.  He anointed the king for the sake of the people.  So we should anoint Jesus with our words that He might be the king of the people.  We have no need of popes or pastors in this the post-apostolic age.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Adonijah and Solomon

In 1 Kings 1 we see a pattern involving Adonijah and Solomon that reminds us of 1) the man of lawlessness prophesied to rise in the latter days of the New Testament church, and 2) the shepherds who try to lord it over God’s flock in our day.

First, the apostles made clear that in the last days, “the man of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) or “antichrist” (1 John 2:18) would appear.   The “man of lawlessness” title refers to an outward profession of spirituality but an inward condition of death (Matthew 7:22-23).  The “antichrist” title refers to  the actual opposing of Christ – in the same way that the Pharisees and Sadducees opposed Christ and sought themselves to sit in the seat of Moses (Matthew 23:2).  Only there wouldn’t be one of them – there would be many of them.  This is why the apostle John wrote:

1 John 2:18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.

And this is just as Paul himself had said things would go when he was giving his farewell exhortation to to the leaders of the church in Ephesus:

Acts 20:29 “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
Acts 20:30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

For this reason the apostle Peter wrote to church leaders as follows:

1 Peter 5:1 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,
1 Peter 5:2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;
1 Peter 5:3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.
1 Peter 5:4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Peter didn’t want any of the elders lording it over people as we certainly never saw the apostles lording it over people.  Peter did not worry about successors for the elders because the Lord Himself was soon coming.

This brings us to the second point: the leaders of today’s organized church.  They are seeking to take Christ’s place as shepherd of the flock.  There is, however, only one shepherd of the flock in this the eternal age.

Therefore, watch how Adonijah seeks to acquire the glory that is due the king alone.  Solomon is the true king; Adonijah is a usurper.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

2 Samuel 22:3-4

2 Samuel 23:3 …
‘He who rules over men righteously,
Who rules in the fear of God,
2 Samuel 23:4 Is as the light of the morning when the sun rises,
A morning without clouds,
When the tender grass springs out of the earth,
Through sunshine after rain.’

Is this not “the strong man” who “rejoices to run his course,” the one of whom David spoke?  Yes:

Psalm 19:4 …
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
Psalm 19:5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.

And is this not “the sun” of whom Malachi spoke?  Yes.

Malachi 4:2 “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings…

In the book of Revelation the apostle John puts an exclamation point on the idea:

Revelation 1:16 … His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

Of course, by the time of the book of Revelation, we had actually seen His face.  Therefore, it was a point worth emphasizing!

This “sun” is truly “the light of the world.”

His name is Jesus.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

2 Samuel 18:2-3

2 Samuel 18:2 David sent the people out, one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the people, “I myself will surely go out with you also.”
2 Samuel 18:3 But the people said, “You should not go out; for if we indeed flee, they will not care about us; even if half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us; therefore now it is better that you be ready to help us from the city.”

The people knew that David was the one whom the enemy wanted; their own lives were inconsequential in the light of his.  Therefore, they rightly sought to guard their king at all costs.

For this reason, David’s descendant – the heir to his throne and the Messiah of Israel – said this to Pontius Pilate:

John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

Jesus was bringing in a new covenant, wherein He would reign from heaven and not earth.  This is why David was protected but Jesus was sacrificed.  Once sacrificed, Jesus was raised from the dead, never to die again and therefore never to be at risk from enemies again.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

He Answered Their Prayers Because They Trusted in Him

1 Chronicles 5:20 They were helped against them, and the Hagrites and all who were with them were given into their hand; for they cried out to God in the battle, and He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him.

What a felicitous promise for prayer!

How simple a construct!

Let us aspire to so live that these words be spoken of us before we leave this earth.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

From Judah Comes the Leader

In the first book of Chronicles we find these two verses [emphasis added, here and throughout]:

1 Chronicles 5:2 Though Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came the leader, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph),

1 Chronicles 28:4 “Yet, the LORD, the God of Israel, chose me from all the house of my father to be king over Israel forever. For He has chosen Judah to be a leader; and in the house of Judah, my father’s house, and among the sons of my father He took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel.

This idea of Judah being the leader goes back to the prophecy of Jacob:

Genesis 49:10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

And thus Jesus relied upon this prophecy from His earthly ancestor when He pointed out to the Samaritan woman that it was from His side of the house of Israel and not hers that Messiah would come:

John 4:22 “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

The term “Jew” is, of course, derived from the name “Judah.”

The book of Revelation adds its own emphasis to this unique role for Judah:

Revelation 5:5 and one of the elders *said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”

Thus from one end of the Bible (Genesis) to the other (Revelation), the promise of salvation and thus of Messiah is through Judah.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Day of the Church Versus the Day of the Lord

The day of Israel gave way to the day of church.  That is, when Jesus was raised from the dead, He called to Himself all of the true sons of Israel.  The faithful of Israel became the faithful of the church, and we read about them in the New Testament.

However, the day of the church quickly gave way to the day of the Lord, for the New Testament’s vibrant pulse is the expectation of the coming of the Lord in that generation.  Indeed, Christ came in the kingdom of God and thus ushered in the eternal day of the Lord.

Of course, we live in that day.  Let us therefore stop focusing attention on church and focus it instead on the Lord.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Deuteronomy 34:9

Deuteronomy 34:9 Now Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; and the sons of Israel listened to him and did as the LORD had commanded Moses.

Numbers 13:16 tells us that the name Joshua was given by Moses to Hoshea the son of Nun.  This anticipated the naming the Messiah, for in Matthew 1:21 an angel of the Lord instructed the carpenter to name Mary’s child Joshua – the Greek form of which is Jesus.

Thus, Deuteronomy 34:9 foreshadowed Messiah who would be filled with wisdom like no other.  Moses “laid his hands on” Messiah through the Law, for the Messiah heeded all the Law of Moses.  All the true sons of Israel listened to Jesus; false sons of Israel persecuted Him.

Jesus is the greater Joshua.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

At the Heart of the Miracle of the Fishes and Loaves

At the heart of the miracle of the fishes and loaves – that is, when Jesus fed the multitudes with what little food He and His disciples had – was generosity.  Jesus was living according to this verse from Isaiah:

Isaiah 58:7 …to divide your bread with the hungry…

That is, the basis upon which God dramatically increased the food supply was the generosity of Jesus to share all that He had with others.

Surely we should be as struck by Jesus’ generosity as we are by God’s miracle.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

We Read the Old Testament Through Christ

Apart from Christ, the Old Testament has no meaning for us and holds no interest for us.  It is an ancient book written for ancient Jews.  What makes it relevant to us is that Jesus of Nazareth was an ancient Jew and He reinterpreted it such as way that we could see it testifying of Him.  That’s what makes the Old Testament relevant to us.

The ancient Israelites heard God’s voice directly.  It so frightened them that they begged Moses to be the go-between:  that is, Moses would listen to God and then tell the Israelites what God had said.  Likewise, Jesus brings to us the words of the Old Testament.  If we cannot understand a passage through Him, we are not interested in hearing it – and this is as it should be.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

God Spoke to Moses

That God spoke to Moses was something about which Jesus, His apostles, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Samaritans, and therefore practically all of the Jews agreed.

Jesus’ Jewish opponents disagreed with Him about many things, but they did not disagree with Him that God revealed great truths through Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy – the Law of Moses.

Thus Jesus and of the kinsmen who rejected Him agreed that the Law of Moses was the word of God.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Revelation 19:10

Revelation 19:10 …For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

The prophets who wrote the Old Testament testified of Messiah who would come.  The apostles who wrote the New Testament testified of Messiah who came.  Both testaments testify of Christ and both are thus imbued with the spirit of prophecy.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Isaiah 64:8

Isaiah 64:8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father,
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all of us are the work of Your hand.

Christians confess that Jesus is Lord.  Why then are they not willing to call Him “Father” as well, as this prophecy of Isaiah does?

Jesus was not revealed as the Father in the New Testament and that is why He is not revealed in those terms there.  Isaiah, however, prophesied that the Messiah would be “the Eternal Father”:

Isaiah 9:6 For a child will be born to us,
a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Eternal Father,
Prince of Peace.

It all happened in due time.  Specifically, Jesus became the Father once again at the coming of the kingdom (see Whatever Became of Jesus Christ?).  If we’re willing to call Him the “Prince of Peace” should we not also be willing to call Him “Eternal Father”?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Isaiah 53:7

Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.

These words could have been written by the apostles who witnessed Jesus being falsely accused at His trial before the Jewish and Gentile rulers.  However, they weren’t.  They were written centuries before His crucifixion by Isaiah the prophet.  Such is the glory of God.  He tells us in advance what is going to happen and yet we still so seldom see it coming.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Isaiah 42:22

Isaiah 42:22 But this is a people plundered and despoiled;
All of them are trapped in caves,
Or are hidden away in prisons;
They have become a prey with none to deliver them,
And a spoil, with none to say, “Give them back!”

Who would go on God’s behalf to demand that the dead be given back to Him?  Who could make such a demand?  Only Jesus our Lord.  He said to God’s enemies, “Give them back!”  And they did!

As Paul said:

Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

And thus the dead were raised at the Second Coming of Christ (see chapters 7 and 8 of The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Isaiah 22:21

Isaiah 22:21 And I will clothe him with your tunic
And tie your sash securely about him.
I will entrust him with your authority,
And he will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.

These words of Isaiah are fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ who, through the plan and power of the Father, became “a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.”  As Isaiah said in Isaiah 9:6, an “eternal father!”

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Jeremiah 50:5

Jeremiah 50:5 “They will ask for the way to Zion, turning their faces in its direction; they will come that they may join themselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.

Jeremiah is here prophesying of New Testament times, when the Jesus of Nazareth – the promised Messiah of Israel – came to do the great work of God.  For this reason, it says in the New Testament [emphasis added, here and in the verses following]:

Hebrews 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,
Hebrews 12:23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
Hebrews 12:24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

In the following chapter of Hebrews this new covenant was called the “eternal covenant,” making even more clear to us the connection with Jeremiah 50:5:

Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,

As for being “joined to the Lord,” Paul uses this language in 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 6:17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

Let us therefore rejoice over the fulfillment of what God spoke through His prophet Jeremiah!  And let us glory that this covenant has not been forgotten, just as Jeremiah said!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

1 Chronicles 29:23-25

1 Chronicles 29:23 Then Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king instead of David his father; and he prospered, and all Israel obeyed him.
1 Chronicles 29:24 All the officials, the mighty men, and also all the sons of King David pledged allegiance to King Solomon.
1 Chronicles 29:25 The LORD highly exalted Solomon in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed on him royal majesty which had not been on any king before him in Israel.

Much like what we saw in this post on 1 Kings 1:47, these verses foreshadow what God would do through Christ.  This is the great transfer of saints from the Father to the Son, which is chronicled in the New Testament.  The mighty men of David became the mighty men of Solomon.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

1 Kings 10:24

1 Kings 10:24 All the earth was seeking the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart.

Jesus said, “Something greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:42).  Therefore we can see this verse from 1 Kings foreshadowing what the apostle John wrote:

John 12:19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him.”

And people are still going after Him today – almost two thousand years after His enemies thought they had Him nailed.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

1 Kings 1:47

1 Kings 1:47 “Moreover, the king’s servants came to bless our lord King David, saying, ‘May your God make the name of Solomon better than your name and his throne greater than your throne!’…

We know that Solomon is a type of Christ.  This knowledge helps us to see that the relationship of David and Solomon is a type of the relationship between God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  That is, as David was a man of war and Solomon a man of peace, so God the Father helped Israel in its wars but Jesus would never take up the sword.  Also, as David planned the construction of the temple but Solomon was the one who built it, so God the Father planned the salvation of humanity but Jesus was the one who executed it.  Thus the wish of the servants that Solomon would have a greater name than David has application to God and Christ as well.

What loving father does not want his son to outdo him?  How much more than did God want the name of Christ to be above every name (Philippians 2:9-11).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Jesus as the Christ and the Son of God

Often in the New Testament, we see Jesus referred to as the Christ (i.e. the Messiah) and the Son of God in the same breath.  These two titles were prominently paired in Psalm 2 where verse 2 speaks of God’s “Anointed” (or Christ or Messiah, since all have the same meaning) and verse 7 has God calling Him “My Son.”  These paired titles were also alluded to in 2 Samuel 7 when Nathan prophesied to David of his royal descendant – a descendant to whom God Himself promised to be “a father.”  For this reason, “the Christ” and “the Son of God” titles are easily and often coupled when speaking of this special descendant of David. Here are some obvious examples [emphasis added]:

Matthew 16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Matthew 26:63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.”

Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Luke 4:41 Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ.

John 11:27 She *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”

John 20:31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

2 Corinthians 1:19 For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us–by me and Silvanus and Timothy–was not yes and no, but is yes in Him.

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Ephesians 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

2 John 1:3 Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

The promise of an Anointed king for Israel who would also be the Son of God was well known among the Jewish people.  What was not so well known was the startling greatness to which these titles pointed.  Only in the wake of Jesus having come and having been raised from the dead have we begun to see the glorious and profound meanings God has invested in these terms.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Titles for Jesus Used in the Gospel of Matthew

Here are the primary names or titles ascribed to Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew:

Matthew Presents Jesus as the Son of God

Matthew Presents Jesus as the King of the Jews

Matthew Presents Jesus as the Son of David

Matthew Presents Jesus as the Messiah (Christ)

Matthew Presents Jesus as the Son of Man

Matthew Presents Jesus as Lord

These names had been prophesied in the Old Testament, but no one was sure what they all meant nor how they related to each other.  In Jesus of Nazareth, however, all the puzzle pieces fit together.  Jesus suffered as a man that He might be glorified as God.  For more on this, see The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is About Jesus Christ – His Suffering and Glory.

Other names were applied to Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, including Teacher and Rabbi.  The names listed above, however, are the most notable ones – and all of them have prophetic significance (which means, among others things, an Old Testament background).

Of course, the most common way that Matthew refers to Jesus is as, simply, “Jesus.”  Over 170 times, Matthew speaks of Jesus.  “Jesus did this; Jesus did that.”  “Jesus said this; Jesus said that.”  Matthew does not normally say, “The Messiah did this,” or “The Son of God did that.”  Those titles are usually employed when someone Matthew is quoting is speaking to or about Jesus.

You may recall that “Jesus” was the name given to Mary’s first child by an angel of the Lord (Matthew 1:21).  “Jesus” is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Joshua.”  Therefore, a Jewish contemporary of Jesus would probably see His connection with Moses even more quickly than we would.

There’s a lot in a name.  Especially when it comes to someone so true to His name.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Matthew Presents Jesus as Lord

In the 1st Century, the term “Lord” could be used in a wide variety of ways.  It could simply be a way of showing respect to a social superior (akin to saying, “Sir”) or it could be a way of referencing God Almighty.  We need to keep this elasticity of application in mind as we consider that “Lord” was the most common form of direct address that people used with Jesus.

Occasionally in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus referred to Himself as Lord*.  You find that in these verses:

Matthew 7:21-22

Matthew 12:8

Matthew 24:42

Matthew 25:11, 37, 44

Here are those occasions where others address Jesus as Lord:

Matthew 8:2, 6, 8, 21, 25

Matthew 9:28

Matthew 14:28, 30

Matthew 15:22, 27

Matthew 16:22

Matthew 17:4, 15

Matthew 18:21

Matthew 20:30, 31, 33

Matthew 22:43, 44, 45

Matthew 26:22

Of course, once Jesus was raised from the dead, the title “Lord” took on much greater significance.

*The verses where Jesus refers to Himself as Lord all look ahead to the point after the resurrection when He would receive heavenly glories.  He certainly did not go around seeking for people to treat him as that kind of Lord while He was on earth.  On the contrary, He came to serve, not to be served (Matthew 20:28).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Matthew Presents Jesus as the Son of Man

In Matthew’s Gospel, as in the other Gospels, Jesus seldom referred to Himself as the Son of God or the Son of David or the Messiah (the Christ).  He did, however, often refer to Himself as “the Son of Man,” especially as his crucifixion approached and he was looking beyond it to the glories he would experience in heaven.

By contrast, those who listened to Jesus seemed puzzled by this self-description.  Nevertheless, his disciples came to understand that this was the third-person way he spoke of himself.  For when Peter gave his famous answer “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” it was to the question from Jesus, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

Here are the many occasions in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man:

Matthew 8:20

Matthew 9:6

Matthew 10:23

Matthew 11:19

Matthew 12:8, 32, 40

Matthew 13:37, 41

Matthew 16:13, 28

Matthew 17:9, 12, 22

Matthew 18:11

Matthew 19:28

Matthew 20:18, 28

Matthew 24:27, 30, 37, 39, 44

Matthew 25:31

Matthew 26:2

Matthew 26:24, 45, 64

The expression “son of man” often appears in the Old Testament as simply a synonym for a human being.  It also appears notably in Psalm 8, in Ezekiel as the way God addressed Ezekiel, and then, grandly, in Daniel 7:13-14 as “one like a son of man” receives “an everlasting kingdom” from “the Ancient of Days.”

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.