Chiastic Structure in the Book of Matthew

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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of Matthew

#11 Post by Stranger » 1 year ago

Bobcat wrote:
1 year ago
(Unless someone has access to the Bibliotheca Sacra. )

Which volume you looking for?


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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of Matthew

#12 Post by Bobcat » 1 year ago

Hi Stranger,
Which volume you looking for?
Bibliotheca Sacra 163:652 (October-December 2006):426

Incidentally, the symmetry for Mt 2 wasn't complete. Now it is.


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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of Matthew

#13 Post by Bobcat » 1 year ago

Hi Stranger,

I found it, here.


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Re: Chiastic Structure in Matthew - Chapters 1-4

#14 Post by Bobcat » 1 year ago

Here is a proposed symmetry for the genealogical listing in Matthew 1:1-17. It is apparent that Matthew was intending for some type of literary style when he arranged for 3 14-generational lists. Each grouping represents a major segment of Israelite history (Abraham to David, David to the deportation, the deportation to Jesus).
A. The son of David, the son of Abraham.(Mt 1:1) (Ἀβραὰμ, Δαυὶδ, χριστοῦ)

. . . B1 Genealogy from Abraham (Mt 1:2-6) (ἐγέννησεν)

. . . B2 Genealogy from David (Mt 1:7-11) (ἐγέννησεν)

. . . B3 Genealogy after captivity (Mt 1:12-16) (ἐγέννησεν)

A^ From Abraham to David is fourteen generations (Mt 1:17) (Ἀβραὰμ, Δαυὶδ, χριστοῦ)

Where, "A" = The name of Abraham, David and Jesus. "B" = Three genealogies arranged in parallel.

Here is a comparison of Mt 1:1 and Mt 1:17 (this comes from the Biblical Chiasm Exchange):
A. (1) The book of the generation of Jesus Christ,

. . . B. (1) the son of David,

. . . . . . C. (1) the son of Abraham.

. . . . . . C^ (17) So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations;

. . . B^ (17) and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations;

A^ (17) and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

In connection with Matthew's genealogical listing, I think you will find this essay most interesting. And here is another interesting write-up on Matthew's genealogical listing.

Here is the birth account in Matthew 1:18-25 . . .
A. Decided to divorce her quietly.(Mt 1:18-19) (ἀπολῦσαι αὐτήν)

. . . B. You are to name him Jesus (Mt 1:20-21) (καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ)

. . . . . . C. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: (Mt 1:22)

. . . B^ They shall name him Emmanuel (Mt 1:23) (καλέσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ )

A^ Angel of the Lord commands Joseph to take his wife home, and he complies (Mt 1:24-25) (παρέλαβεν τὴν γυναῖκα)

Where, "A" = The change of Joseph's behavior, "B" = The words of the angel and the OT, "C" = Fulfillment of God's words.

Here is an abbreviated symmetry of Matthew chapters 3 and 4 (credit a Mr Todd Moore for much of this):
A. John’s Message: Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near (Mt 3:1-2)

. . . B. Prophecy of Isaiah 40:3 (Mt 3:3)

. . . . . . C. John’s Asceticism (Mt 3:4)

. . . . . . . . . D. Israel’s Baptism by John (Mt 3:5-6)

. . . . . . . . . . . . E. Warning of Judgment (Mt 3:7)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F. Bear Good Fruit (Mt 3:8)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . G. The Children of Abraham (Mt 3:9)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F^ Bear Good Fruit (Mt 3:10)

. . . . . . . . . . . . E^ Warning of Judgment (Mt 3:11-12)

. . . . . . . . . D^ Jesus’ Baptism by John (Mt 3:13-17)

. . . . . . C^ Jesus’ Asceticism & Testing (Mt 4:1-11) (See this post)

. . . B^ Prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2 (Mt 4:12-16)

A^ Jesus’ Message: Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near (Mt 4:17) (See this post)

The calling of the first disciples (Mt 4:18-22):
A. Calling of Simon and Andrew (Mt 4:18) (εῖδεν δύο ἀδελφούς)

. . . B. Come after me (Mt 4:19) (ὀπίσω μου)

. . . . . . C. At once they left their nets and followed him.(Mt 4:20) (ἀφέντες, ἠκολούθησαν)

A^ Calling of James and John (Mt 4:21a) (εῖδεν ἄλλους δύο ἀδελφούς)

. . . B^ He called them (Mt 4:21b) (ἐκάλεσεν αὐτούς)

. . . . . . C^ Immediately they left their boat and father and followed him. (Mt 4:22) (ἀφέντες, ἠκολούθησαν)

Where, "A" = Jesus sees brothers, "B" = Words of Jesus, "C" = The brothers leave past and follow Jesus.

Jesus' fame spreads (Mt 4:23-25):
A. around all of Galilee (Mt 4:23a) (Γαλιλαίᾳ)

. . . B. curing (Mt 4:23b) (θεραπεύων)

. . . . . . C. His fame spread to all of Syria (Mt 4:24)

. . . B^ he cured them (Mt 4:24) (ἐθεράπευσεν)

A^ from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea (Mt 4:25)" (Γαλιλαίας)

Where, "A" = Galilee and its neighbors, "B" = Jesus heals, "C" = The spreading fame.


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Re: Chiastic Structure in Matthew - Chapter 13

#15 Post by Bobcat » 1 year ago

Interesting article on chiastic structure in Matthew, and especially the center, Matthew chapter 13: Here.

The write-up also shows that there is even a hint of geographical symmetry in the book of Matthew. Also relating Matthew with Psalm 78. An interesting read.


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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of Matthew

#16 Post by Stranger » 1 year ago

Hi Bobcat,

In the article referenced above, the author David Higgins said/wrote under the subheading -The deepest secret of the Kingdom- that "God came to Israel in Jesus..."

To me, this is where the rubber meets the road. This is where seeing is believing, believing is being in Jesus at Israel with God, surrounded by the Holy Spirit.

This is where faith is tested, judged, and rewarded. "No one can come or get to the Father except through me". (Jn 14:6)

Stranger (Is 29:23)

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Re: Chiastic Structure in Matthew - Rich Ruler, Vineyard Workers

#18 Post by Bobcat » 1 year ago

What follows is a chiasm of the passage where a rich young ruler encounters Jesus with a question:
The rich young man (Matt 19:16-22) (Copied and edited from here.)

A. someone approached him (Mt 19:16) (εἶς προσελθὼν)

. . . B. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments. (Mt 19:17) (εἰ δὲθέλεις)

. . . . . . C. Question of the man (Mt 19:18a) (λέγει αὐτῷ)

. . . . . . . . . D. Commandment of the Old Testament (Mt 19:18b-19)

. . . . . . C^ Question of the man (Mt 19:20) (λέγει αὐτῷ)

. . . B^ If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to (the) poor (Mt 19:21)" (εἰ θέλεις)

A^ he went away sad (Mt 19:22) (ἀπῆλθεν)

Legend: A: Arrival and leaving of rich man. B: Conditions set by Jesus. C: Questions of man. D: List of commands.

The next chiasm is where Jesus discusses with his disciples the encounter with the rich ruler:
About the Danger of Riches (Matt 19:23-29) (Copied and edited from here.)

A. hard for rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 19:23-24) (τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν)

. . . B. Who then can be saved? (Mt 19:25) (τίς ἄρα δύαται σωθῆναι)

. . . . . . C. for God all things are possible. (Mt 19:26)

. . . B^ What will there be for us? (Mt 19:27) (τί ἄρα ἔσται ἡμῖν)

A^ will sit on thrones, judging tribes of Israel, many things now, eternal life. (Mt 19:28-29) (θρόνου)

Legend: A: Kingdom of heaven/Eternal life. B: Questions of disciples. C: The Almighty God.

For an interesting comparison, here are the same passages in Mark and Luke. In both cases, the two passages in Matthew are combined into one in both Mark and Luke. Curiously, only Luke refers to the young rich man as a "ruler":
The rich man (Mark 10:17-31) (Copied and edited from here.)

A. what must I do to inherit eternal life? (Mr 10:17-19) (ζωὴν αἰώνιον)

. . . B. all of these I have observed from my youth. (Mr 10:20) (πάντα)

. . . . . . C. At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad (Mr 10:21-22)

. . . . . . . . . D. How hard for wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! (10:23-24a) (τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεου)

. . . . . . . . . D^ how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! (Mr 10:24b-25) (τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ)

. . . . . . C^ For human beings it is impossible, but not for God (Mr 10:26-27)

. . . B^ We have given up everything and followed you. (Mr 10:28) (πάντα)

A^ eternal life in the age to come. (Mr 10:29-31) (ζωὴν αἰώνιον)

Legend: A: Eternal Life. B: Doing everything. C: Impossible for human. D: Entering into kingdom of God.
The rich ruler (Luke 18:18-30) (Copied and edited from here.)

A. to inherit eternal life (Lu 18:18) (ζωὴν αἰώνιον)

. . . B. No one is good but God alone. (Lu 18:19-21) (ὁ θεός)

. . . . . . C. a treasure in heaven (18:22-23) (οὐρανοῖς)

. . . . . . C^ How hard for wealthy to enter kingdom of God! (Lu 18:24-25) (τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεου)

. . . B^ What is impossible for human is possible for God. (Lu 18:26-27) (τῷ θεῷ)

A^ eternal life (Lu 18:28-30) (ζωὴν αἰώνιον)

Legend: A: Eternal life. B: The greatness of God. C: Entering into the kingdom of God.

As pointed out above, only Luke identifies this young man as "a ruler." He is not likely to be Jairus. Jairus was "a ruler of the synagogue." (tēs sunagōgēs; Lu 8:41) Jairus was located near Capernaum (north of the sea of Galilee). (Compare Mr 5:1, 21-22) So "the synagogue" is more likely to refer to one in the area of Capernaum (as opposed to "a synagogue"). The "rich young ruler" encountered Jesus possibly in Perea (located south of the sea of Galilee). (Compare Lu 17:11; see map here)

Below is a chiasm of the parable of the vineyard workers from Matthew 19:30-20:16. I got it from here.

Immediately below the chiasm I included the author's interesting personal note. And after that I include some additional comments related to the meaning and intent of the vineyard parable.

It should be noted that I edited the wording of the chiasm for brevity's sake and for the sake of horizontal screen space. I also updated the language some. The writer appears to have drawn his quotes from the KJV. So some of the terms I modernized, and I changed "penny" to "denarius."

A. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first. (Mt 19:30)

. . B. Kingdom of heaven is like a householder, who went out to hire laborers in his vineyard. (Mt 20:1)

. . . . C. He had agreed with laborers for a denarius a day, and sent them into his vineyard (Mt 20:2)

. . . . . . D. Third, sixth, ninth hour, he saw others, said, Go into the vineyard, whatever is right I'll give (Mt 20:3-4)

. . . . . . . . E. 11th hour he went out, found others, said, Go also; whatever is right I'll give (Mt 20:6-7)

. . . . . . . . . . X. At evening master said call the laborers, give them their pay, from last to first. (Mt 20:8)

. . . . . . . . E^ Eleventh hour workers all received a denarius. (Mt 20:9)

. . . . . . D^ The first came, supposed they get more; received a denarius, murmured against owner (Mt 20:10-12)

. . . . C^ He answered, I do no wrong: didn't you agree for a denarius? Take yours and go: I give equally (Mt 20:13-14)

. . B^ Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine? Or is your eye evil, because I am good? (Mt 20:15)

A^ So the last shall be first, and the first last (Mt 20:16)

Note: The classic chiasm – “the first shall be last, and the last first” is repeated at the end of this parable but in reverse – “the last shall be first, and the first last”! In between, the parable is a dramatised chiasm – the first labourers are called up last and vice versa. This clearly demonstrates that chiasm is a conscious technique in the mind of Christ for teaching disciples and not merely an editorial tool for inspired gospel writers.

Having laid out the symmetry, here is what 'inspired' me: Of course, I always intended to put symmetry found in Matthew in this thread. But they covered the story of the rich young ruler from Matthew chapter 19 last night in the CLAM (12/24/19). The last verse in Mt 19 is Mt 19:30 which is actually the start of the vineyard chiasm above. Mt 19:30 and Mt 20:16 bracket the parable of the vineyard workers, which helps show that the parable is intended by Jesus as part of the ongoing discussion. But the discussion in the CLAM ended with Mt 19:30.

So, even though the discussion of the parable was not included in the CLAM book study, the book study ends with Mt 19:30 and some WT interpretation of what Mt 19:30 means. Here is the text from that part of the publication (jy chap. 96):
Jesus adds: “But many who are first will be last and the last first.” (Matthew 19:30) What does he mean?

The rich young ruler is among the “first,” being among the leaders of the Jews. As an observer of God’s commandments, he shows much promise and much might be expected of him. Yet he is putting riches and possessions ahead of all else in life. In contrast, the common people of the land see in Jesus’ teaching the truth and the way to life. They have been “last,” so to speak, but they are now coming to be “first.” They can look forward to sitting on thrones in heaven with Jesus and ruling over the Paradise earth.

Now first of all, there are some others that have a similar view of the application of Mt 19:30. That is, they see the parable as a contrast between the rich man (and his type), and the disciples. So what follows is not meant to simply pick at the WT. (There are also a few other views of Mt 19:30-20:16 that try to give a modernized take on the parable. Or see it as some sort of comment on economic practices.)

At any rate, there are some subtle clues in the text that seem to allow for a much different application than what is in the jy publication.

In the context, the 'rich man' comes and goes in Mt 19:16-22. Then starting in Mt 19:23-24 the discussion shifts to between Jesus and his disciples. In Mt 19:25-26 the disciples are 'astounded' to hear that the wealthy will have such a difficult time getting into the kingdom. Jesus balances things out by saying that 'all things are possible with God.'

At this point, Peter interjects, "We have left all things to follow you (in contrast to the rich man). What then will there be for us?" And as if to emphasize the contrast, Peter introduces his statement with, "Look!" (Mt 19:27 NET; compare Mt 19:27 ESV; Mt 19:27 NASB)

There is a subtle imbalance in Peter's statement. Just before this, the rich man wanted to know how he could "gain everlasting life." After discussing the need to keep the "commandments" of the Law (Mt 19:17-20), Jesus tells him that if he wants to be 'complete', then, 'sell his belongings and follow Jesus.' (Mt 19:21) The disciples understand 'entering into life' and 'entering into the kingdom of the heavens' as referring to 'being saved.' (Mt 19:25; Compare Jn 3:5 with the need to be "born from above" in order to "enter the kingdom of God." But that is a different discussion. . .)

But back to Peter's question. The discussion with the rich man should have already answered Peter's question before he even asked it: If one leaves all things behind and follows Jesus, such a one would 'enter into life' or 'enter into the kingdom,' that is, 'he would be saved.'

So there seems to be a certain sense of entitlement in Peter's question. As if to say, 'We've done all these things. What can we expect?'

Jesus' answer doesn't disappoint. There will be 'thrones to sit on and judging responsibilities and everyone who leaves things behind to follow Jesus will get 100 times more now, along with everlasting life.' (Mt 19:28-29) Then, Jesus follows with, "But ..." (Mt 19:30)

The "but ..." that follows in Mt 19:30 is not about the rich man. He has already come and gone, having declined to follow Jesus. The "but ...", along with the ensuing 'vineyard workers' parable, is addressing Peter's sense of entitlement.

That the parable is directly related to the 'first and last' statement of Mt 19:30 can be seen by the "for" (Greek gar) that the parable starts with. (Mt 20:1) And to make sure of that application, Jesus wraps up the parable with a repeat of the 'first and last' principle in Mt 20:16 (only reversing the order, 'last and first').

Moreover, in the parable, all of the workers agree to work for the owner of the vineyard. So agreeing to work for the owner is not at issue. This rules out the idea that Jesus had the rich ruler or the wealthy in mind. They never started working for Jesus. Jesus is addressing Peter's (and his fellow disciples) sense of entitlement. And this sense of entitlement or sense of having earned one's reward is what the parable is all about. In the parable, the problem that comes about is when the workers receive their pay. God's way of rewarding, and His sense of fairness, is not at all how humans see things.

Interestingly, there is one parable that describes more reward for more/better work. The example that comes to mind is the parable of the Minas. (Lu 19:15-19) That is why the parable of the vineyard workers appears to be tailored to address the sense of entitlement the disciples, especially the apostles, had. It may also be an oblique comment on their ongoing view of who is greatest among themselves.

As for any ramifications of that understanding, for now, I'll leave that for others to comment on. (But see this post for how this parable, along with Mt 19:28-29, might be related to the 144,000 of Rev 7:4-8 & Rev 14:1-5.)

Here is another thread on this same parable.

And here is an index to a thread on parables used by Jesus.


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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of Matthew

#19 Post by Bobcat » 1 year ago

I added some to the top portion of post # 18 above. The additions involve the symmetrical structure of Matthew 19:16-29. Also an interesting comparison with the same passage in both Mark and Luke.


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Re: Chiastic Structure in Matthew ─ Mt 17:22-20:19

#20 Post by Bobcat » 1 year ago

This is a follow on to post # 18 above. It is intended to show how the passage about the 'rich ruler' and the parable of the vineyard workers might fit into a wider context of Matthew. In this case Mt 17:22-20:19.

What delineates or brackets this section of Matthew are two points at which Jesus foretells his death: Mt 17:22-23; 20:17-19. What follows has been copied from here. Included are comments the author made showing the relationships between each parallel part in the symmetry:
In the Bible, we sometimes find a structure called chiasmus, and these will follow a pattern of ABC CBA and occasionally ABC D CBA, with everything building up to a central point and then returning from that point to the opening statement. Such a structure exists between Matthew 17:22 and Matthew 20:19. Beginning in Matthew 17:22, Jesus speaks of His own deliverance to death. The parallel point begins in chapter 20:17, where He returns to the declaration of His death and resurrection. These serve as bookends [an "inclusio" - Bobcat] to a chiasm building to a very important point between them. The structure is as follows:

Jesus foretells His death: Matthew 17:22-23

A. Jesus speaks of giving freely/sacrificing self: Matthew 17:24-27

. . . B. Little children are the essence of the kingdom: Matthew 18:1-7

. . . . . . C. Sacrifice the body for the sake of the kingdom: Matthew 18:8-9

. . . . . . . . . D. Do not despise what God values: Matthew 18:10-14

. . . . . . . . . . . . E. Entreating a brother about sin or offense: Matthew 18:15-17

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X. Agreement between Heaven and Earth: Matthew 18:18-20

. . . . . . . . . . . . E^ Entreating a brother about sin or offense: Matthew 18:21-35

. . . . . . . . . D^ Do not despise what God values: Matthew 19:1-9

. . . . . . C^ Sacrifice the body for the sake of the kingdom: Matthew 19:10-12

. . . B^ Little children are the essence of the kingdom: Matthew 19:13-15

A^ Jesus speaks of giving freely/sacrificing self: Matthew 19:16-20:16

Jesus foretells His death: Matthew 20:17-19

The Building Points: Humility & Self-Sacrifice

A. Giving. In Matthew 17:24-27, Jesus uses the temple tax as an illustration of His divinity. Then, in Matthew 19:16, a wealthy young man approaches Jesus who asks what he needs for salvation. Jesus tells the young man to sacrifice of His goods. The man turns away, and Jesus observes wealth makes Heaven a difficult goal. The point of these lessons is that glory comes as a result of sacrifice. The apostles in these verses take some pride in what they have sacrificed, and He tells them they have done as they should do. We treat our wealth and our possessions as our right, but remember Philippians 2:5. Jesus gives up all that is His to accomplish an act of mercy and grace.

B. Be Like Children. Matthew 18:1-7 records the apostles asking how to be the greatest in His kingdom, and Jesus teaches a lesson in humility. Humility is necessary for sacrifice. Children come to Jesus in Matthew 19:13, but the apostles seek to prevent them approaching Him. Jesus rebukes His apostles, calling on them to become as humble, pure, and innocent as children. Philippians 2:8 reminds us that Jesus humbled Himself to the point of death.

C. Sacrificing Self for the Kingdom. Matthew 18:8 asks if we are willing to go so far as giving up appendages for the sake of the kingdom. This is sacrifice in relationship to the value of the kingdom. In Matthew 19:10, as Jesus is being asked about divorce, the apostles proclaim that it would be better for man to remain unmarried if divorce is so restricted. Jesus answers them that some do sacrifice the pleasures of marriage for the sake of the kingdom. That is how much the kingdom is worth, a kingdom for which Jesus gave up His life.

D. Valuing What God Values. In Matthew 18:10, Jesus calls on His followers to value those that God values. He calls on them to treat one another the way God treats them, ever aware of their needs, ever caring for them, ever seeing them as valuable. He uses the illustration of a lost sheep to make His point. The corresponding passage in Matthew 19:1-9 is in the context of marriage, where Jesus calls on those around Him to respect marriage as much as God does. We should value what God values.

E. Concern for a Sinning Brother. Matthew 18:15-17 directs us in dealing with sin in others. Jesus does not instruct us to stew over the offense or complain to others about it. He details a pattern that demonstrates concern over the individual overtaken in sin. The goal is restoration and reconciliation, as God’s plan for mankind focuses on redemption. In Matthew 18:21, Jesus returns to the theme of sin when Peter asks him how often he should forgive one who sins against him. Jesus answers with a parable about a servant seeking mercy for his debt. The king forgives the servant his debt but grows angry with that servant when he is unwilling to show the same mercy to a fellow debtor. As we want forgiveness from our Father, we should show that same mercy to those around us.

The Center of the Chiasm: Unity Between Heaven & Earth

Matthew 18:18-20 records Jesus talking about agreement between Heaven and Earth. His apostles will do and say what has been decreed in Heaven. We must do as the Father decrees in all things. Our words and actions should agree with the pattern given from Heaven. Just as Moses and the children of Israel had to follow God’s pattern in the Old Testament, we too have to respect His authority and follow His plan. We move when God moves, and we stop where God stops. This is the theme of the chiasm between Matthew chapters 17-20.

There must be unity among us as disciples if there is to be fellowship in Heaven. Jesus speaks of God being among those gathered in His name, and, if we are truly living in His name, then we will be sacrificial in our lives; we will be humble as children; concerned about sin; valuing what God values; and putting the kingdom first in our lives. These qualities will help us achieve that mind of Christ we read of Philippians 2, forsaking self to draw closer to God.


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