Charles L. Quarles’ commentary on Matthew is the latest in the Evangelical Biblical Theology Commentary (EBTC) series from Lexham Press. At over 800 pages, this is one of the longer commentaries in the series, and it is packed full of insight and illumination.
My favorite part of this series is the section on biblical-theological themes. Quarles begins with Christological titles and the Son of Man. He brought great understanding to Christ’s human appearance, but also his divine revelation as coming with the clouds of heaven. I was most moved to learn of how Christ’s title of Immanuel serves as an inclusio for the book, beginning and ending with the fact that Jesus is God with us.
I appreciated Quarles’ attention to detail throughout the book. He is comprehensive, seeking to help the reader grasp the entirety of the book. He spends a considerable amount of time explaining the genealogy of Jesus, showing how his coming is the pinnacle of Old Testament history. Furthermore, by including four gentile women in his genealogy, he confirms that “Jesus is the son of Abraham, the promised seed in whom all nations will be blessed, even Canaanites, Moabites, and Hittites.” This theme is echoed throughout the Gospel, and how it must be spread to all nations.
True, Everlasting, and Eternal Rest
I was most happy to read in Matthew 11, and how Christ’s invitation to rest comes before the discussion of two Sabbath controversies in Matthew 12. I felt the weight that the Pharisees placed on people, and I saw that Jesus is truly the Lord of the Sabbath in that he provides true, everlasting, and eternal rest for our souls.
Parables are prominent in Matthew, and Quarles’ does an excellent job of addressing them thoroughly. He makes note of representations and symbolisms, bringing in knowledge of Old Testament imagery.
Traditions and Customs
Quarles also has command of traditions and customs in Jesus’ time. When the disciples were questioning who would be greatest in the kingdom of Heaven, most rabbis taught that adults had nothing to learn from children. “Jesus reversed the normal order by turning adults into pupils and little children into teachers. Jesus’ s disciples needed to look to them to learn the lesson of humility.” I was challenged to have child-like faith, wonder, and dependence in my own spiritual life. I was also struck by God’s great love for his children. We need our Heavenly Father more than anything and he is more than happy to help us.
Quarles’ exegesis on The Olivet Discourse is extensive. While there seems to be a delay in Christ’s return, we should still see it as imminent. The proper response is to care for our fellow-servant and actively invest in the kingdom of God.
Get a Closer Look at Jesus
Interestingly, Quarles focuses on the three women who came to watch Christ’s crucifixion: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Salome — the mother of the sons of Zebedee. Christ’s care, love, and honor towards women is an example we still need today.
This book is an outstanding entry in the Evangelical Biblical Theology Commentary series. There is treasure to be found in every section. Get a closer look at Jesus, feel his presence, and be inspired to spread the Good News.
I received a media copy of Matthew and this is my honest review.