Meaning of "fulfilled" in the Gospel of Matthew

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The Pixie
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Meaning of "fulfilled" in the Gospel of Matthew

Post by The Pixie » Sun Jun 05, 2016 7:14 am

In particular, I am curious what people think "fulfilled means here:

Mat 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not [h]the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever [j]keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

My belief is that it means that what was prophesised in the Book of Law and in the Book of Prophets will happen. I am wondering what others think.

The Greek word used is πληρῶσαι:
http://biblehub.com/greek/4137.htm

Matthew uses it several times, and mostly in reference to a prophet, or to prophets in scriptures:

Matthew 1:22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

Matthew 2:15 He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON."

Matthew 2:17 Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:

Matthew 2:23 and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: "He shall be called a Nazarene."

Matthew 4:14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:

Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

Matthew 8:17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: "HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES."

Matthew 12:17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:

Matthew 13:35 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "I WILL OPEN MY MOUTH IN PARABLES; I WILL UTTER THINGS HIDDEN SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD."

Matthew 21:4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

Matthew 26:54 "How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?"

Matthew 26:56 "But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets." Then all the disciples left Him and fled.

Matthew 27:9 Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: "AND THEY TOOK THE THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER, THE PRICE OF THE ONE WHOSE PRICE HAD BEEN SET by the sons of Israel;

Matthew 27:35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.


Note: generally I have used the NASB, but for the last one I used the KJV, as the NASB skips the bit about something being fulfilled.

So there are fourteen example of Matthew using the word in relation to a prophet or prophets or scripture. Pretty clearly he uses the word "fulfilled" to indicate a prophesy has come to pass. Are there other examples? There are three:

Matthew 3:15 But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him.

I understand this as fulfilling an expectation, just as before. The prophets had expectations, or prophecies, which Matthew said were fulfilled. Here the expectation is not a prophet as such but is a specific event that is expected to occur, and Jesus is telling John the Baptist that they should fulfill that expectation.

Matthew 23:32 "Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.

Again NASB seems to let us down here; there is no direct mention of guilt in the Greek. Other translations go with "complete what your ancestors started" or "fulfill the standard of your forefathers".

Matthew 13:48 and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away.

In this verse the word indicates the nets were full of fish. Perhaps they fulfilled the expectation of a full net? The word is used in Luke to mean filling a valley and John to say a house was full of fragrance, so it probably just means full here too.

So it seems the Greeks used the same word for filling a jug as they did for fulfilling a prophecy, and in fact this was true in English; fulfill originally meant to make full.
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=fulfill

So now let us go back to this one, which is the verse I was discussing with met.

Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

What does "fulfill" mean here? Given how Matthew uses the word elsewhere, either to fill up, as with a jug, or to "to carry out, or bring to realization, as a prophecy or promise" (here). From the context, I think we can reject the former - there is no container present. Are there prophecies present? Yes, there are. The Law and the Prophets refers to sections of the Hebrew Bible (see [url=https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don ... rt_385.cfm]here[/ur]), and of course Matthew believed the Hebrew Bible was full of prophecies of Jesus.

Consider this verse in Luke:

Luke 24:44 Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

Here Jesus is being very specific that it is the prophecies written in the Law and in the Prophets that are being fulfuilled. Also here:

Luke 16:16 “Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in.[d] 17 But that doesn’t mean that the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned.

Again, "the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets" refers to scripture, and as in the verse in Matthew, Jesus again makes it clear that what is written in that scripture is just as important.

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Re: Meaning of "fulfilled" in the Gospel of Matthew

Post by met » Sun Jun 05, 2016 10:36 am

Yeesh! In some Sermon on the Mount passages that I quoted for you before, Jesus also makes clear with his comments about being "angry with your brother" and "committing adultery in your heart" that fulfilling the law merely in your actions will give you no credit. The implication there is that you must have the Law internalized--"written on your heart--as Jeremiah (I think?) promised the Jewish people it would be, and as Paul once again echoes in Romans.

Then, wouldn't the gist of it all be, such a person walks in the Spirit, not in the Flesh, so that no Law need apply to them?

Which is --TA DA!! -- just what Paul said...
The “One” is the space of the “world” of the tick, but also the “pinch” of the lobster, or that rendezvous in person to confirm online pictures (with a new lover or an old God). This is the machinery operative...as “onto-theology."
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Re: Meaning of "fulfilled" in the Gospel of Matthew

Post by met » Sun Jun 05, 2016 11:47 am

BTW, your argument here that Christ fulfills so many things, but somehow doesn't 'fulfill the Law", whatever that means, seems almost self-defeating.

What are you arguing for? That the Bible teaches ancient Judaic Law should be enforced everywhere? Well, I think you will run quite far afoul of Paul, &sp his letter to the Galatians. Meanwhile, the X-ian tradition, following Paul, will simply answer "Grace fulfills the Law"--duh!

Want to try again?

ETA: Good for you for looking up the Greek, btw, but what about the Aramaic? ;)
The “One” is the space of the “world” of the tick, but also the “pinch” of the lobster, or that rendezvous in person to confirm online pictures (with a new lover or an old God). This is the machinery operative...as “onto-theology."
Dr Ward Blanton

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Re: Meaning of "fulfilled" in the Gospel of Matthew

Post by sgttomas » Sun Jun 05, 2016 12:38 pm

The Pixie wrote:.
Coward
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")

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Re: Meaning of "fulfilled" in the Gospel of Matthew

Post by The Pixie » Sun Jun 05, 2016 1:12 pm

met wrote:Yeesh! In some Sermon on the Mount passages that I quoted for you before, Jesus also makes clear with his comments about being "angry with your brother" and "committing adultery in your heart" that fulfilling the law merely in your actions will give you no credit. The implication there is that you must have the Law internalized--"written on your heart--as Jeremiah (I think?) promised the Jewish people it would be, and as Paul once again echoes in Romans.
Is the word "fulfilled" in those passages? No.

People obey laws; they do not fulfill them. What Jesus fulfilled was the prophecies in a book called the Book of Law.
Then, wouldn't the gist of it all be, such a person walks in the Spirit, not in the Flesh, so that no Law need apply to them?
The gist is that you have to obey the laws both in the letter and in the spirit.
Which is --TA DA!! -- just what Paul said...
I agree that Paul said that.
met wrote:BTW, your argument here that Christ fulfills so many things, but somehow doesn't 'fulfill the Law", whatever that means, seems almost self-defeating.
Ah, that would be because you failed to read what I said.

My position is that (according to the Bible) Jesus did fulfill the Law, but that fulfilling the Law means fulfilling the prophecies in a book called the Book of Law, and not abolishing them.
What are you arguing for? That the Bible teaches ancient Judaic Law should be enforced everywhere? Well, I think you will run quite far afoul of Paul, &sp his letter to the Galatians. Meanwhile, the X-ian tradition, following Paul, will simply answer "Grace fulfills the Law"--duh!
I am arguing that Jesus said the laws of the OT should be still be obeyed.

I agree that Paul said otherwise. On the other thread you seemed to be claiming Mat 5:17 said the OT laws no longer applied.
ETA: Good for you for looking up the Greek, btw, but what about the Aramaic? ;)
We do not have access to any works originally in Aramaic.

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Re: Meaning of "fulfilled" in the Gospel of Matthew

Post by met » Sun Jun 05, 2016 1:32 pm

I'm really not sure there is any obvious hermeneutical strategy that answers those questions in any decisive way.

Jesus didn't say much about stuff like that. In fact, he mostly told stories. And, if you really have to STRAIN to find such a "contradiction"--citing one possible interp of only one or two passages--well, that's not very strong. In fact, I have no problem with believing that Jesus might even have said something "wrong"--in the sense of incorrect--about smaller issues and had to adapt his understanding of his mission as he went along--since limited understanding would be implicit in his FULL HUMANITY and ignorance in itself is NOT in any sense a sin....

For me, you'd have to show the whole gist of Jesus's teachings were contradicted by Paul. This is the hermeutical principle, adopted by most bilbical theologies,known as "perspicuity". Look it up. In fact, one might even cite a famous quote by Jesus himself here, also from Matt...
Matthew 23:23-24, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”
The gist is that you have to obey the laws both in the letter and in the spirit.
The gist is that obeying Laws 'in spirit' is MUCH MORE DEMANDING anyway, as the SotM passages (also from Matt) that I previously cited point out pretty clearly, and this allows the "Kingdom of God" to exist OUTSIDE the Jewish theocracy--so there need be no essential conflict, and all this seems pretty obvious. Beyond that, I suspect that you are probably mired in Protestantism's misunderstanding--a la Luther--of Romans, and of how the Law functioned in 1rst-centruy Jewish society . Later archeological evidence now underlines the (obviously) eisogetical aspects of Luther's assumptions, so I suggest you read up on that, and on the "New Perspective on Paul" (circa 2000) in theology. Ancient Jews didn't believe they "had righteousness by keeping the Law" anyway--which should have always been obvious, too, since, as Paul points out, nobody ever did, not even him--but instead, they acquired it by 'belonging to the People that had the Law"; and that's, kinda, the new, updated understanding, and is probably more (scientifically) accurate....
The “One” is the space of the “world” of the tick, but also the “pinch” of the lobster, or that rendezvous in person to confirm online pictures (with a new lover or an old God). This is the machinery operative...as “onto-theology."
Dr Ward Blanton

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Re: Meaning of "fulfilled" in the Gospel of Matthew

Post by sgttomas » Sun Jun 05, 2016 3:56 pm

Thanks Px, I'll take it from here.

So met, given that the real historical understanding of the identity of Jesus was not centered on the notion of him literally being God, not a homogenous, or obvious way and neither was the idea of righteousness about imputation through blood sacrifice a literal thing, nor a metaphorical thing, because that wasn’t how righteousness was understood by ANYONE….and therefore the notion of original sin and atonement, etc….it’s all gone by the wayside now for many people who aren’t tethered to certain theological traditions (for …reasons).

Give all of that^^ and I know that you're also very reflexive in your approach to understanding the idea of Jesus-as-God, I have a hard time believing that bizarro-met would be able to resist tearing apart that seeming self-justifying need to keep old metaphors alive by totally re-imagining what they meant. It’s absurdity for the sake of it? That’s the innermost secret of religion?
Keeping that vessel (man-as-God), amongst all the possible ones out there, seems to be answering the mystery of reality with absurdity rather than truly metaphysical answers.

I mean #IguessSObutWHY

So the charge I've laid before is that everyone has their own self-image implanted as Jesus, and the better ones recognize this inherently and cannot take themselves too seriously (for good reasons), so the answer is absurdity-as-mystery, rather than a more thorough grasp of the human condition.

Peace,
-sgttomas
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")

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Re: Meaning of "fulfilled" in the Gospel of Matthew

Post by met » Sun Jun 05, 2016 7:05 pm

.
Give all of that^^ and I know that you're also very reflexive in your approach to understanding the idea of Jesus-as-God, I have a hard time believing that bizarro-met would be able to resist tearing apart that seeming self-justifying need to keep old metaphors alive by totally re-imagining what they meant. It’s absurdity for the sake of it? That’s the innermost secret of religion?
Keeping that vessel (man-as-God), amongst all the possible ones out there, seems to be answering the mystery of reality with absurdity rather than truly metaphysical answer
What's so great about metaphysical answers? I think the ridiculously efficient violence of the 20th century was the end of (European) metaphysics (at least). That's, for me, what Bonhoeffer foresaw so clearly. (But perhaps there is a metaphysics out there that isn't grounded in 'sameness' and elitism like the Plato-based versions we inherited from the brutal Romans?) So, the absurdity could be seen as an attempt to unground the metaphysics, the absolutes, from their long term usurpation by the "powers and principalities" of the world. That is--implicitly--not Xianity; that is impossible by the logic of our narratives.

But also, perhaps, I do know what you mean? X-ianty seems tired, or something like that, somehow.... Disillusioned, dissociative.... Like it's on its last legs.... But can we disown the messed-up societies we, kinda, helped give birth to and just go do something totally different? Maybe we have to, but there are numerous suggestions as to what we (X-ian's) could scrap and live without. Perhaps you have a point, and we DO need to scrap the uniqueness of Christ--or some of it--to preserve the dignity of others? Cf, Matt 25; the "sheep and goats" thing. And really, that would be the "X-ian" thing to do, no?
The “One” is the space of the “world” of the tick, but also the “pinch” of the lobster, or that rendezvous in person to confirm online pictures (with a new lover or an old God). This is the machinery operative...as “onto-theology."
Dr Ward Blanton

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Re: Meaning of "fulfilled" in the Gospel of Matthew

Post by The Pixie » Mon Jun 06, 2016 6:41 am

Apologies, met, I think I have misunderstood your position. When you said:

"I don't want to explain all of mainstream X-ian theology to you, either--it's too much work and I'm mostly bored by that stuff now. But, generally, X-ians don't follow the first-century CE Judaic rulebook, right? So there must be a reason? Perhaps, it's because they think the 'all is fulfilled' clause mentioned by Christ in that passage--which you conveniently omitted--has already happened?"

... I thought you were talking about the "fulfilled" in verse 17. I now realised it is the fulfilled in verse 18, which I appreciate is where "all is fulfilled", but in many versions is not translated as "fulfilled".

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Re: Meaning of "fulfilled" in the Gospel of Matthew

Post by met » Mon Jun 06, 2016 3:32 pm

The Pixie wrote:Apologies, met, I think I have misunderstood your position. When you said:

"I don't want to explain all of mainstream X-ian theology to you, either--it's too much work and I'm mostly bored by that stuff now. But, generally, X-ians don't follow the first-century CE Judaic rulebook, right? So there must be a reason? Perhaps, it's because they think the 'all is fulfilled' clause mentioned by Christ in that passage--which you conveniently omitted--has already happened?"

... I thought you were talking about the "fulfilled" in verse 17. I now realised it is the fulfilled in verse 18, which I appreciate is where "all is fulfilled", but in many versions is not translated as "fulfilled".
Oh, okay! :)
The “One” is the space of the “world” of the tick, but also the “pinch” of the lobster, or that rendezvous in person to confirm online pictures (with a new lover or an old God). This is the machinery operative...as “onto-theology."
Dr Ward Blanton

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