Atonement in Matthew's Gospel
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This dissertation examines the theme of atonement in Matthew's Gospel in order to determine if Matthew had a developed understanding of the atonement and if this understanding pervaded his Gospel. Chapter 1 provides a review of previous research. This review demonstrates the need for a thorough study on atonement in Matthew's Gospel. Chapter 2 examines two significant atonement-related passages that occur prior to the passion narrative. The first passage reveals that Jesus' mission is to save his people from their sins, a mission that he accomplishes by his sacrificial death. The second passage shows that the cross is in view even at Jesus' baptism and commission. Chapter 3 looks at two more passages that occur prior to the passion narrative. In the first passage Matthew presents Jesus as the Suffering Servant, who fulfills this role initially in his healing ministry but ultimately in his sacrificial death. In the second passage Matthew reveals that Jesus is greater than the temple: by his death he replaces the temple as the unique means of atonement. Chapter 4 explores key passages leading up to the passion narrative. The passion predictions are more theologically developed than generally realized. The ransom saying, though taken from Mark, reveals Matthew's emphasis on Jesus' atoning death. Chapter 5 examines passages in the passion narrative. In these passages Matthew presents Jesus' death as the inauguration of the new covenant and the means of forgiveness. Jesus' death results in the forgiveness of sins because he endures God's wrath and judgment in our place. Chapter 6 reviews passages in the passion narrative that deal with what happened during Jesus' death and after it. Events that took place while Jesus died reveal that his death was a substitutionary sacrifice for our sin. Events that took place after he died present him as the means of open access to God and show that his death had life-giving power. Chapter 7 sums up the findings presented in this dissertation. It highlights unique emphases in Matthew's Gospel related to atonement. It also emphasizes that Jesus' death was substitutionary in nature and salvific in its effect.