20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2001
This, and the second volume on Matthew 14-28, is an excellent commentary; detailed, critical, balanced, and comprehensive. In my opinion it is the best commentary at present of Matthew's Gospel, and stands at the head of many other good commentary. I use it as required reading for a graduate course I teach in the Synoptic Gospels.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2008
The author expounds the text from a generally conservative perspective. He does often (and at significant points) depart from traditional evangelical interpretations, but he remains within the broad evangelical tradition. The work is strong on considering structure, but he can sometimes get bogged down in source-critical issues. He argues for Markan priority and sensus plenior fulfillment of Old Testament quotations. It generally considers all the significant issues in interpretation of the text and provides valuable insight, though some more conservative readers may be unsatisfied with some of his conclusions. Sometimes his discussion of interpretive problems is disappointing brief.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2008
I bought this and its companion volume to research "fulfillment theology," especially what Matthew meant by saying Jesus has come to "fulfil" the Law and the Prophets. (5:17) I've written a couple books on the subject (Jesus and the Religions of Man; How Jesus fulfills the Chinese Culture) and am now doing a dissertation exploring it in more depth; and this is the commentary I've found most useful so far. (Allison & Davies are also helpful, as another reviewer said; their analysis of the Sermon on the Mount is very interesting; but I found them unreasonably skeptical a lot of the time.)
What I like about this commentary is its clarity and general good sense. Coming from a comparative or history of religions background, rather than New Testament studies, I'm also using these two volumes to teach myself NT Greek, which works pretty well. (Probably more than 70% of new vocabulary is explained, so I only need to look up 20-30%.) Fulfillment is one of Matthew's most pervasive themes, and it's been an exciting adventure to trace it systematically through the Gospel, and see how Matthew applies it implicitly to Gentile cultures at times, with the help of Hagner and other commentators.
5 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2005
I do not agree with the other reviewers that this is such an excellent commentary. For being a Word commentary it is rather brief. Hagner does not deal with all the issues you wonder about. D.A. Carsons commentary in EBC vol 8 is much better. I also have Davies/Allisons ICC commentary (the first volume) and that is even better if you can take the price and the technical nature of it.
6 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2012
This commentary has 2 faults. As one other reviewer mentioned it is very superficial. It basically tells you what anyone with a third grade reading level could read from the text itself. His structures and outlines are particularly unhelpful. He basically takes the main point from each one and lists it. Something the reader himself could do quickly in no time at all. In addition, many questions that arise in the text are overlooked by the author.
A much bigger problem, however, is his theological presupposition that the Church has replaced national Israel. I assume by the "Church" he is referring to the Body of Christ, the group of believers God is dealing with today. Because of this erroneous theological presupposition he is forced to try to explain away large portions of Jesus and the 12's ministry. When he discusses the healing ministry he insists that this is for the "Church" but then admits the Church today couldn't and isn't doing this today. It is painful to watch him try to explain away Jesus' plain statement that the 12 were NOT to go to the Gentiles. He doesn't know what to do with this. After all, going to the Gentiles is the plain mission of the Church, the Body of Christ. He is so determined to make the Gospel of Matthew fit into his theology that he treats the text dishonestly, saying over and over again that of course Matthew's hearers would not have taken this literally thereby allowing the author to spiritualize away anything that doesn't fit into his theology. There are many other examples that demonstrate when you start with bad theology you end up with bad exegesis.
Of course, the simple solution to this would be for him to "rightly divide" the Word of God. The Church, the Body of Christ, has not replaced national Israel. God's program with Israel had been revealed since the world began whereby He would create national Israel and use her to preach and convert the world in the following order: First the leaders in Jerusalem would be converted; they would then convert all of Judea; they who would then convert the Samaria thereby converting the whole nation of Israel; the whole nation of Isreal would then go out to convert all the nations of the world. That is Israel's prophetic program--Christ would be ruling on His throne in Jerusalem (not heaven) through Israel. This prophetic program, in short, called for God's blessings being dispersed to the world through Israel's RISE. This is what all the Patriarchs and Prophets had spoken about since the world began (Lk. 1:70; Acts 3:21) When Jerusalem's leaders rejected Christ once and for all with the stoning of Stephen and the nation stumbled and fell (Rom. 11), the program came to a standstill, and God temporarily set His prophetic program with Israel aside.
But He did not leave the world helpless or hopeless. He raised up that other Apostle, the Apostle Paul, not one of the 12 and not the 13th apostle, to preach the Gospel of Grace (not the Gospel of the Kingdom) to the world (especially the Gentiles). Paul calls this God's Mystery Program. Contray to Israel's Prophetic Program that had been spoken about since the world began, this program of Paul's had been kept secret since the world began (Rom. 16:24; Eph. 3). In the Mystery Program God is now extending blessings to the world apart from Israel and in spite of her FALL (Rom. 11). We now do NOT live in Israel's Dispensation but in what Paul calls the Dispensation of Gentile Grace. When this dispensation is fulfilled,the Chruch, the Body of Christ, will be called home through the Rapture, and God will restart His program with Israel, beginning with the Tribulation period that ends in the arrival of the King and the Kingdom, at which time the believing remnant will be ushered into the Kingdom on one hand while her enemies are judged on the other. During this time the believing remnant, in Matthew's day and in that future day yet to come, will take recourse to Matthew's instructions as specifically for them, directly applying them to themselves. The Church, the Body of Christ today, however, takes recourse to Paul's writings and now directly applies his instructions to themselves.
Matthew is writing about the King's arrival to begin ushering in Israel's long prophecied earthly Kingdom. Jesus' instructions were for the believing Jewish remnant who were to be persecuted then and in early Acts and to a much larger extent in the Great Tribulation, the Time of Jacob's Trouble. At that time, they will after fleeing from the city and fleeing into the barren mountains, God will miraculously feed them and provide for them. They will ask for what they need and they will receive it. They will seek the long prophecied kingdom of God on earth and they will be given it literally and phsyically. They will be ushered into the Kingdom of Israel with their King, the Lord Jesus Christ, ruling in Jerusalem.
This has nothing to do with the Church, the Body of Christ. Yes, we can learn from it about God's faithfulness and righteousness, but we will not be going through the same situations or be operating with the same divine provisions.
Ok, I said 2 faults but there is really 3. I will end with this. In addition to being dishonest with the text, he is also dishonest with other theologies he disagrees with. Over and over again he says this or that is what the dispensationalists say, saying it in a demeaning way. But he gives no citations nor references nor footnotes. He just shoots it off as a condescending generality. Well, I tend toward the dispensationalist's camp and am very well read in dispensationalist theology, yet I know of absolutely no dispensationist that says the things this author says they say. He sets the dispensationalist up as a straw man...and then knocks him down. Big deal. But it is all smoke and mirrors. No facts. The only reason I can suggest for such dishonesty is meanness of spirit resulting in evil words, which pretty much goes against the whole grain of the Gospel of Matthew (Mat. 12 and 18 would be a good start for him). This author has learned little from his "study" of this gospel and he knows nothing of what dispensationalists teach.