Israel and Typology in Matthew’s Gospel

It is probable that the whole of Matthew’s Gospel is a typological fulfillment of Israel’s history. This means, of course, that all of Christ’s life is the chronological anti-type of Israel’s experience. Here is a brief explanation:

Matthew opens with the words: “The book of the generations of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the Son of Abraham.” Why only mention David and Abraham? Simply put, they were the two Israelitish covenant heads who were organically related to Christ. Jesus did not come from Moses’ seed, but he did come from Abraham and David. Note also the way that Matthew mentions David first, then Abraham. As the genealogy unfolds he starts with Abraham, moves to David, goes through the exile and finally comes to the fulfillment of the promises. This structure sets the grid for understanding Matthew’s Gospel.

Matthew could have chosen to take the genealogy back to Noah and Adam (as Luke chooses to do) but it appears that he wanted to stop at Abraham to explain the Israel/Christ typology. This is further developed by the reference to Hosea 11:2 in Matthew 2, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” Then by the baptism, the temptation in the wilderness, the Sermon on the Mount, the feeding of the multitudes, the references to David and Solomon, the pronouncement of ‘woes’ on the leaders of Israel, and His death on the cross (i.e. the great exile).

In summary, Jesus, the Son of Abraham, is therefore the true Israel. He go does down into Egypt, come up from Egypt, passes through the waters (see 1 Cor. 10:1-2 for a reference to the crossing of the sea as baptism), goes into the wilderness, goes up on the mountain to deliver the law, miraculously multiplies bread from heaven, parallels the life of David and his mighty men when he walks through the grain fields on the Sabbath with His disciples, parallels the life of Solomon with His wisdom and His entry into Jerusalem on a lowly animal, parallels the ministry of the prophets by pronouncing ‘woes’ on the rulers of Israel, and is finally cut off (i.e. exiled)from the land of the living, at the cross, on account of disobedience–i.e. He is made a curse because of the disobedience of His people.

This is some of the strongest evidence that Jesus was the true Israel, God’s Son who obeyed in every way that Israel disobeyed, and who, by His obedience merited the blessings that Israel forfeited by its disobedience. I would also suggest that Matthew’s purpose, as so many have argued, was not to write to a Jewish audience so as to win them to faith in Christ, but it was to show that Jesus is the true Israel. Now, I know that some may disagree with this and may chalk it up to being something fanciful or allegorical, but the evidence is there, and unless it can be clearly refuted ought to be given serious attention.

4 Responses

  1. Well here goes my second comment on one site today…just when you think you’ve got typology down, there’s always another layer to be found (I really didn’t mean to rhyme that). Much to ponder.

  2. Nicholas T. Batzig

    Thanks Joey and Nichole. I do want to be careful not to speculate too much in regard to typology, but Matthew clearly does reference Hosea 11:2 at the beginning of his Gospel to indicate that Jesus is the antitype of Israel. I think this has massive implications to our understanding of Christ’s fulfillment of the law. The first Israel failed. The true Israel succeeded. We, in Him, are counted as the true Israel (Gal. 6:16) and receive the blessings of the covenant on account of His obedience and death. This is “Good News” indeed! Thanks again.

    I would also recommend that you read O. Palmer Robertson’s “The Israel of God.” He makes the point that Jesus was reconstituting Israel when He chose 12 disciples (i.e. 12 tribes reconstituted by 12 disciples). This accounts for the reference to 24 elders in the book of Revelation as well. Oh, our God is so wise!

  3. Rudy Villa

    I go to a despensationalist church for about 20 years, and when I found out this from Steve Wohlberg’s white horse ministries I was Stunned, since it was the first time I’ve read this. It made so much sense. That Being an ordained miniter of my denomination, I statrted to preached this from the pulpit in my despensationalist church. But I have been politely rebuked, with all due respect to my pastor, I continue to be assertive in this revelation due to the injustice Palestinians suffer because Evangelical Christiansm moral support, that enables racism, destruction, warmongering, wholesale slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza.

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