6:01 PM

V 23b by Matt B

1) In Matthew 10:23b, as in the final comments on the inevitable suffering of the disciples, Jesus remarks on the Son of Man’s appearance before all towns of Israel have received the disciples’ gospel message. Such a statement seems rather odd in comparison with the earlier vv 5-6, in which Jesus initially commissions the disciples strictly to the “house of Israel.” Upon reading, one may sense the urgency of the Israel directive, particularly with regard to the command to pack lightly and move swiftly throughout the pericope (vv 9-14). Does this indicate Jesus presumed the eschaton to occur shortly after his lifetime? And, is this a later scribal addition to the narrative? Most importantly, however, the presence of the Son of Man is rather historically ambiguous. Does this refer to Christ’s resurrected appearance and ascension, or does it refer to the eschatological return further along (cf. Matt 16:28)? What may be, depending upon the timing of the Son of Man “event,” the implications for how the Israel directive is to be applied for the primitive (i.e., pre-resurrection) or apostolic (i.e., post-resurrection) missions?

2) According to Lutz, the verse in question is likely authentic to Jesus’ words, but only much later when the persecution had been manifest to the disciples (91). Also, if the Israel mission is uninterrupted, one must confront the (a) apparent change of plans away from exclusivity, or the (b) apparent misapprehension of Jesus with regard to the initial Israel mission and eschatological timing (92-3). Therefore, it appears Matthew amended the discrepancies later on with the later Great Commission (94). According to Davies & Allison, the hypothesis of a Matthean redaction to earlier sources is also unlikely, such as the eschatological similarity within v 22 makes the addition unnecessarily redundant (188). Also, the words seem to apply within the context itself, for the suffering disciples would understandably receive comfort in the promissory words of Jesus (189). (Although, none of these reasons are definitive proof.) The phrase does not appear to be a fulfilled prophecy in the form of the resurrection or some erstwhile moment in history. If consistent within the Matthean interpretation, the “Son of Man” is synonymous with the actualized “kingdom of God.” This would indicate the continuance of pre-resurrection evangelistic work among the Jewish community—as the Israel directive did not conclude with but expanded upon in the Great Commission—until the “parousia” or Christ’s second coming (190).

3) At this point, we will consider the words to be authentic. It is likely the promise to the disciples brought initial comfort among them in their suffering. Obviously, the statement appears to have served at least a prophetic function. At first glance, I considered v 23b to refer to Christ’s resurrection as the triumphant “Son of Man,” viable considering the inability of the disciples to cover all of Israel until after Christ’s ascension, especially in their post-resurrection zeal. If Davies and Allison are correct with regard to consistent use of the terminology “Son of Man,” then the eschatological second coming appears most likely. However, Lutz’s point about the odd timing of the eschatological return is troublesome. However, if Matthew "corrected" the discrepancy of vv 5-6, 23b with 28:19 according to Lutz, one might cynically ask why the author did not remove the text from the gospel in the first place. Last, I wonder what the difference may be for the theological understanding of “house of” (v 6) versus “towns” (v 23b), if any. Might v 6 have a more profound sight than that mentioned in v 23b?

Comments (2)

The parallel in 16:28 that you point to seems important, more important perhaps that D & A recognize. I don't get Luz's talk of "comfort." There is a psychologizing tendency throughout his commentary; he repeatedly reads the text in relation to people's "feelings." I like that you point out how Luz's understanding implies that Matthew is not a very good story, i.e., lots of loose ends and contradictory claims that never get resolved, only corrected. He seems to assume that Matthew's Gospel is like a modern piece of Gospel criticism, i.e., that the story must somehow include certain bits of tradition regardless of how well they fit. Keep working on the 16:28 parallel (as well as chapters 24-25).

Better than Luz's comfort is your own reading that emphasizes the urgency of the apostles' mission to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

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