The use and abuse of Scripture in St Matthew’s Gospel

The issue of how the New Testament quotes (or misquotes) the Jewish scriptures was raised in my recent post ‘Rabbi Tovia Singer Debunks Church Claim that Matthew Misquoted Scripture Using ‘Rabbinic Method’. Now I want to do a separate post giving further examples of blatant misquotations and twistings of OT verses and the problems it raises.

In Matthew’s gospel chapter 2 we read about Jesus’s escape to Egypt:

13When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

14So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

So Matthew claims that there was a specific prophecy concerning the “son” (ie Jesus) who God would bring out of Egypt and back to Palestine. Here is the ‘prophesy’ from Hosea 11 in its context:

“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
But the more they were called,
the more they went away from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals
and they burned incense to images.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
a little child to the cheek,
and I bent down to feed them.”

Now you do not need to be a scholar to see the problem with Matthew’s “prophecy”:

1) There is no prophesy! There is nothing about a future event concerning a boy (and his family) escaping to Egypt and returning home safely as Matthew claims

2) the “son” in Hosea is not the messiah but the people of Israel

3) the dramatic personification of the people of Israel as the “son” characterises the son as a rebellious child who worshiped and sacrificed to false gods the “Baals”

4) it is demeaning and insulting to Jesus to use such imagery about him

5) God had to heal the “son” ie Israel

6) Matthew has used and abused Scripture to create his gospel. In fact he misquotes the Bible repeatedly, even making up non-existent prophecies about Jesus. There are many famous examples of this.


So the author of Matthew’s gospel clearly did not feel obliged to quote Scripture with due regard for the context and meaning of the passages. If we practiced this sort of irresponsible mishandling of the Bible today we would be rightly criticised.

Categories: Bible

7 replies

  1. Excellent Paul. Mashallah. Excellent and needed information for all who are seekers of truth and honesty.

    Thanks much for your time and efforts providing us with this information.

    And may you inshallah have a blessed Ramadan.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dudes, posting links is not way this blog works. Lets have a discussion of the issues here. The articles you linked to are an attempted post hoc justification for the misquoting of the Bible by Matthew.

    Note this definition of eisegesis – which is what Matthew does:

    Eisegesis is the process of interpreting a text in such a way that the process introduces one’s own presuppositions, agendas, or biases into and onto the text. This is commonly referred to as reading into the text. The act is often used to “prove” a pre-held point of concern to the reader and to provide him or her with confirmation bias in accordance with his or her pre-held agenda. Eisegesis is best understood when contrasted with exegesis. While exegesis is the process of drawing out the meaning from a text in accordance with the context and discoverable meaning of its author, eisegesis occurs when a reader imposes his or her interpretation into and onto the text. As a result, exegesis tends to be objective when employed effectively while eisegesis is regarded as highly subjective.


    Without Christian assumptions, anyone reading Hosea 11 would not see it as a prophesy. Matthew’s practice is a classic case of eisegesis not exegesis.

    The anonymous author of Matthew’s gospel clearly did not feel obliged to quote Scripture with due regard for the context and meaning of the passages. If we practiced this sort of irresponsible mishandling of the Bible today we would be rightly criticised.


    • Firstly, Paul Copan is professor and Pledger family chair of philosophy and ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He can hardly be dismissed as post hoc.

      Second, your comment doesn’t really lend itself to discussion. You continue to just make assertions based on what you believe true and accurate.


    • thats exactly what you do dude, when you bother to even answer questions put to you


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