Saturday, June 15, 2013

John the inquisitive prophet & Peter the confessing apostle

In his book, Reading Matthew: A Literary and Theological CommentaryDavid Garland observes an interesting parallel between John the Baptist in Matt. 11:1-19 and Peter the apostle in 16:13-20. Garland's outline is below:

John the Prophet
a  11:2  Question about Jesus
   b  11:3-5  Jesus’ answer
      c  11:6  Beatitude for those who respond to Jesus
         d  11:7-15  John’s role explained

Peter the Apostle
a‘  16:13-20  Question about Jesus
   b’  16:14-16  Jesus’ answer
      c’   16:17  Beatitude for those who respond to Jesus
         d’  16:18-20  John’s role explained1

Because Matthew parallels the initial imprisonment and witness of John the Baptist with Peter's confession of Jesus as the Messiah, Matthew is likely setting up Peter to be a martyr (i.e. a witness) in the eyes of his Jewish audience as well. Just as John would be martyred for his faith (14:1-12), so Peter would be martyred for his witness to Jesus as the Christ. Peter, the apostle to the circumcised, leads Christian Jews down the highway to Zion which John the Baptist paved for Israel.

1.  David E. Garland, Reading Matthew: A Literary and Theological Commentary [Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2001], p. 124

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