Christ Jesus the True Israel: Matthew 5:1-2

Christ Jesus the True Israel: Matthew 5:1-2. The fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew appears to portray the Lord Jesus Christ as re-enacting Israel’s “arrival at Mt. Sinai to receive the law” in the Sermon on the Mount.[1] Matthew 5:1-2 states, “Seeing the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and when He sat down, His disciples came to Him. And He opened His mouth and taught them.” It is possible that the Apostle Matthew was attempting to draw a typological parallel between Moses and the Lord Jesus via the imagery of Christ going up a mountain to teach the crowds. Blomberg notes that “this motif calls to mind Moses receiving the law on Mount Sinai.”[2] However, he urges caution that “labels of Jesus as a ‘new Moses’ must be at least as sensitive to the discontinuities between the two covenant makers as to the continuities.”[3] Paul Hughes writes the following:

In fact, both Matthew and John draws parallels between Moses and Jesus which typologically reinforce their claims about Jesus’ messianic status. Matthew possibly presents Jesus, after his Exodus from the land of Egypt (Matt. 2:13-23) and subsequent wilderness experience (4a1-11), as a second lawgiver who recontextualizes the stipulations of the Sinai covenant for his hearers from a mountain (5:1) as a prophet like Moses (chs. 5-7). Many interpreters, but not all, find a fivefold structure in Matthew’s Gospel, and interpret it as an imitation of the Pentateuch’s five-part scheme legitimated by its association with Moses.[4]

In other words, like Moses who went up Mount Sinai to receive the Law and deliver it to Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ went up a mountain to instruct the crowds in His new law- namely, the law of Christ (cf. Gal. 6:2; 1 Cor. 9:19-23). Thus, it is possible that even in this instance that the Lord Jesus Christ is again recapitulating the history of Israel in His sinless humanity.


Notes:

[1]Stephen Motyer, “Israel (Nation),” in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, ed. by T. Desmond Alexander, Brian S. Rosner (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 585.

[2]Craig L. Blomberg, “Matthew” in Gregory K. Beale and Donald A. Carson, The Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 20.

[3]Ibid.

[4]Paul E. Hughes, “Moses,” in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, ed. by T. Desmond Alexander, Brian S. Rosner (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 672.

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