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Eschatological Fulfillment and the Confirmation of Mosaic Law

(A Response to D. A. Carson and Fred Zaspel on Matthew 5:17-48)

by Greg Welty

The following is a series of comments on D. A. Carson’s exposition of Mt 5:17-48, in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 8, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984). D. A. Carson’s interpretation of this crucial text – which includes Jesus’ relation to the law (vv. 17-18) and the nature of his six ‘antitheses’ (vv. 21-48) – is often appealed to by New Covenant Theology (NCT) advocates as emphatically supporting their distinctive teachings concerning the moral law of God, and as undermining the traditionally Reformed view of the same.

I regard Carson as in general a fine exegete, and a great blessing to the church. I have profited greatly from several of his books (Exegetical Fallacies, The Gagging of God, etc.). In particular, his commentary upon Matthew combines a cautious spirit with remarkable exegetical skills (including a firm grasp of redactional criticism). However, I was disappointed to find his treatment of this crucial text afflicted with a number of self-contradictions and implausibilities. Since I have lost track of the number of times that NCT advocates have pointed me to Carson’s exegesis as the intellectual foundation of their movement, I felt it was time to make some critical comments, and to defend the traditionally Reformed interpretation of this text as championed by those such as John Murray and Patrick Fairbairn, and encapsulated in the WCF and 2LBCF. Thus, my comments below.

After critiquing Carson, I close by providing a positive account of Mt 5:17-48 which both incorporates one of Carson’s key insights from v. 17, and yet retains the….

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

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