The Chronicles of Matthew

In my recent article on the Big Bible Project I got to thinking about the books of Chronicles. This has sparked some interesting observations that I want to share with you today.

The Old Testament for me is a difficult collection of books. My advice to any Christian approaching the Old Testament is to proceed with caution and plenty of direction. Along with that I advise people to always read Scripture, whether Old or New Testament in light of the Gospel, in the light of the Spirit of Christ. 

For the Christian, all Scripture must point to (either forwards or backwards in time) to the Resurrection, to the young man in the tomb proclaiming "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.” Mark 16:6.


That is until you realise one thing. In the Hebrew Bible 1 and 2 Chronicles are one and the same book, but not just that. This combined book is the last book of the Hebrew Bible. Now slot in Matthew, the first book of the Christian New Testament right beside it and voila look what happens. Chronicles becomes an overture to Matthew. 

Chronicles begins with its genealogy neatly reassess and retells the history of the Jewish People and the importance of the temple, then in slips Matthew with his genealogy culminating with Jesus at the completion of the History of the Jewish people with the New Temple.

 It reads like Matthew is trying to tell us that the genealogy of Chronicles is not complete, here it is now complete and here is the completion of the history of the temple. When seen in this light there is no end to the possible comparisons and literary allusions. I think more research needs to be conducted into the comparison between Matthew and Chronicles. I hope this is a starting point. 

But I want to just bring this to the table as something for you to think about:

In Chronicles we read how, after Solomon completed the temple, the Lord appeared to him. The Lord said to Solomon “For now I have chosen and consecrated this house (the temple) that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.” (2Ch 7:16 ESV).

Then having seen the temple with its curtain torn in two and its rocks cracked (Mt 27:51) Matthew concludes with the resurrected Jesus coming to the disciples saying, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Mat 28:18-20 ESV)

Just think about that for a while.
Amen


3 comments:

  1. Very nice post John, and I believe your thesis has merit. As the most "Hebrew" of the gospels, Matthew is clearly demonstrating the continuity of God's working with Israel with His work with the Ekklesia. In fact, Matthew records the only two accounts of our king using that word in reference to His followers. In my mind your thesis finds further support in the fact that Chronicles ends with the messias/christos/king Cyrus delivering God's people from captivity. This provides the perfect segue for Matthew to introduce us to king Jesus; his book opens "The book of the beginnings of of King Jesus, son of David, son of Abraham..." (My translation.)

    Chronicles tells the story of Israel's many false starts and the failings of her kings, climaxing in God's use of a pagan messias/christos/king to fulfill his promise to Jeremiah and Isaiah. Matthew then takes up the story with the story of our king, and the ultimate deliverance He provides from the "dark rulers of this world."

    Thanks for the post, and keep up the good work!

    For the king,
    Chris

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  2. I have never heard that theory of the approach to Matthew before and it is a very interesting insight in my opinion. Given that Matthews gospel was written for an almost exclusively jewish audience, it makes perfect sense to begin where the last story stops, in theological and genelogical terms if not historical. It is clearly the intention of Matthew to place the new King in the history and geneology of the old Kings.
    Great post John.
    Mike

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  3. "Chronicles becomes an overture to Matthew." A fascinating thesis! As a non-theologian (in the academic sense) I enjoy having my eyes opened to new perspectives on the Bible … and, as you may guess - how digital allows different readings/possibilities for sharing ideas.

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