Matthew 7:21-23 an Exegesis of Essay

Excerpt from Essay :



Theological Analysis

What does this passage say about the relationship with God?

Robert Imperato observes that "Matthew connects Jesus repeatedly to Jewish prophecy throughout the text" (17). The point he emphasizes, however, is that the Jews had a special relationship to God, through the Mosaic covenant contained in the Old Testament.

Yet, Jesus makes it clear, according to Imperato, that He is giving "a new interpretation of the Law" (17). In fact, Jesus is fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies, identifying Himself as the Son of God, and the Messiah in whom the prophets must place their trust if they seek salvation.

Therefore, Christ sets out the guidelines for the new relationship with the Lord that all must have who do indeed wish to cry out, "Lord, Lord." The Lord, through Christ, is showing that the way to salvation is not through legalism, or through adherence only to the Old Law, but rather through adherence to the Golden Rule, to virtue, to the beatitudes and to Christ Himself. He is the one whom the disciples must come to know. He is the one whom they must let enter their hearts. Just as the Centurion shows, through his humility, that he is not worthy to have the Lord enter into his house, so too must the disciples of Christ ask Jesus to enter into their hearts despite their unworthiness. That man is unworthy of Christ is also implied -- but that Christ is willing to heal, in spite of man's sinfulness, shows the glory of God, His mercy, and His charity.

What questions might this passage have addressed in the community for which it was originally written?

This passage appears to address in the community, the "new righteousness" which Jesus is communicating (Imperato 17). By appealing to the very words and modes of expression of the Rabbis, Jesus "is taking the highest authority of his culture and putting his own words above it" (Imperato 17). Thus, He demonstrates His own absolute moral authority over not only His followers but even over those who oppose or reject Him.

In fact, Jesus addresses this question of moral authority in Matthew 7:21-23 when he compares those who prophecy and say "Lord, Lord," without any real love, devotion, affection, or oneness with Christ, to those who will be cast into the outer darkness. Christ addresses the question of His Omnipotence, of His Majesty, of His being the Way, the Truth and the Life. "No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

Thus, Jesus' constant reference to the Old Testament, to the Law by which the Jews expected to be saved, and to the punishment of those who fail to recognize the Messiah, all point to the importance of the Person of Jesus, who not only stands in the midst, heals their sick, forgives their sins, and resurrects their dead, but also demands that they allow Him to enter into their hearts. He places this above all else. If the disciples had any questions about what they had to do to win heaven, Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 7:21-23 that only those who place before themselves no obstacles to virtue but open the door of the hearts and minds, in humility, to Jesus will enter into the kingdom of heaven. Just as Matthew shows in the next chapter through the story of the faithful Centurion, faith, hope and charity are what allow Jesus to "know" his followers and his followers to know him.

Works Cited

Combrink, H.J. Bernard Combrink. "The Structure of the Gospel of Matthew as

Narrative." Tyndale Bulletin vol. 34 (1983): 61-70. Print.

Hays, J.D. "Applying the Old Testament Law Today." Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 158, no.

629 (2001): 21-35. Print.

Imperato, Robert. Portraits of Jesus: A Reading Guide. Lanham, Maryland: University

Press of America, 2008. Print.

Lachs, Samuel Tobias. A Rabbinic Commentary on the New Testament. KTAV

Publishing House, 1987. Print.

Luomanen, Petri. Entering the Kingdom of Heaven. Germany: Druck,…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Combrink, H.J. Bernard Combrink. "The Structure of the Gospel of Matthew as

Narrative." Tyndale Bulletin vol. 34 (1983): 61-70. Print.

Hays, J.D. "Applying the Old Testament Law Today." Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 158, no.

629 (2001): 21-35. Print.

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