Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Matthew 13:51–52

Matthew 13:51–52 (ESV): New and Old Treasures


In this passage Jesus pauses from his parables and asks his listeners if they have understood what he’s been telling them. I believe Jesus is only talking to the disciples at this point, not the large crowd; if I’m reading this correctly, verses 1–9 were to the crowd, and verses 10–52 are to the disciples in private.

At any rate, whoever the listeners are, they indicate to Jesus that yes, they have understood him. (Another indication that these are the disciples, not the large crowd, because of verse 11 (ESV), but maybe I’m stretching the point on that one.) Jesus tells them that a “scribe” who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is “like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (verse 52 (ESV)).


So what is this “new” and “old” business? Remember that Jesus’ primary audience were the Jews of his day; he did sometimes go out of the Jewish community to teach and preach, but for the most part he didn’t do too much evangelism to the gentiles. That came after, when the Holy Spirit came, and specially when the Church started to spread throughout the earth. Typically, any time Jesus is talking about “new” and “old” he’s talking about the “old” Jewish religious system compared to the “new” Christian religious system. And in this passage, he’s saying that the “master of the house” (or the scribe, or the person who is a disciple of Jesus) is bringing out both old and new treasures; the Old Testament is not thrown away now that we have the New Testament. The God described in the Old Testament is the same God that saves us from our sins in the New Testament. Although we’re not bound by the Old Testament laws and religious practices the way the Old Testament Israelites were, it doesn’t change the fact that we can learn a lot about God from how He worked in and through the Israelites, and through reading His law, and seeing how it all, at the end of the day, points to Jesus. Or, to quote the ESV Study Bible, such a disciple of Jesus will “understand both the ‘new’ revelation from Jesus and how it fulfills the ‘old’ promises in the OT.”

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