Study Guide

Gospel of Matthew Prophecy

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All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel." (NRSV 1:22-23)

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (KJV 1:22-23)

It's not every day that a woman has a baby without having sex first. But apparently the Hebrew prophet Isaiah totally called it. Here, Matthew is referring to Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (KJV). What do you think? How does it hold up?

Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more." (NRSV 2:17-18)

Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. (KJV 2:17-18)

Shout-out to Jeremiah 31:15: "Thus says the Lord:/ A voice is heard in Ramah,/ lamentation and bitter weeping./ Rachel is weeping for her children;/ she refuses to be comforted for her children,/ because they are no more." Well that's pretty much a direct quote, isn't it? This prophecy refers to the massacre of innocents at the hand of Herod.

There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "he will be called a Nazorean." (NRSV 2:23)

And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoke by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene. (KJV 2:23)

Jesus of Nazareth—sounds familiar right? But wait, wasn't the guy born in Bethlehem? Yes he was. And sure enough, that fulfills yet another Hebrew Bible prophecy that the Messiah will be born there (Micah 5:2). But what about this "he will be called a Nazorean" business? Where's that prophecy from? Good question. No one's really made a solid call on that one.

This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight'." (NRSV 3:3)

For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (KJV 3:3)

Another Isaiah shout-out, but this time, it's John the Baptist who's fulfilling the prophecy. Does anyone else get prophecy-fulfilling privileges, or is it just the two all-stars, Jesus and John?

"With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: 'You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn - and I would heal them.'" (NRSV 13:14-15)

And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. (KJV 13:14-15)

Now we're in Isaiah 6:9-10, and Jesus is explaining why he keeps using those crazy parables to teach the disciples. See, Jesus intentionally speaks in code so that only the special few (i.e., his followers) will understand his message.

"Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said: 'This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.'" (NRSV 15:7-9)

Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (KJV 15:7-9)

Why does Jesus keep referring to this Isaiah guy? Well, he was one of the major Hebrew prophets (prophets = prophecy), so pointing to his words gives Matthew (via Jesus) some major street cred.

This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, "Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey." (NRSV 21:4-5)

All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. (KJV 21:4-5)

This time, Jesus actually sends out some disciples for the precise purpose of fulfilling this prophecy. And even though we're out of Isaiah territory (this one's Zechariah 9:9), Matthew is still referring to Hebrew prophets. Jesus isn't about to say, "Hey, this guy who used to sell me oils once said that this was gonna happen—cool!" No, he's pulling out the big guns here.

Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, 'And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price. (NRSV 27:9)

Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value. (KJV 27:9)

Whoa. Did Matthew just confuse his prophets? Is that possible? This sounds a lot more like Zechariah (11:12-13) to us. Just sayin'.

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