The Berean Expositor
Volume 51 - Page 54 of 181
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linked with which Gospel. The early fathers differed among themselves. Irenaeus
assigned the eagle to Mark and the lion to John. Augustine assigned the lion to Matthew,
the man to Mark, the ox to Luke and the eagle to John. Ambrose kept to the order of
enumeration in Ezekiel.  If there is any link with the cherubim (and they embody
important doctrine) then the most satisfactory is:
the Lion, the King
the Ox, the Servant
the Man, the last Adam
the Eagle, the Word made flesh Who was God.
The Gospel of Matthew comes first in the N.T. in many manuscripts and this is fitting,
for it is closely linked with the O.T. Scriptures. In the four Gospels there are many
quotations and allusions to the O.T. Absolute accuracy is not possible because some of
these are fused and separation is difficult. In Mark there are 63; in Luke 96; in John 43;
but in Matthew 126. There are some 37 direct quotations by Matthew which is more than
occur in the other Gospels. The quotations are introduced by formulas which are more or
less fixed such as "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the
prophet", or "then was fulfilled that which was spoken" (such as Matt. 1: 22; 2: 15, 17;
3: 3; 4: 14, etc.). "It is written" (Matt. 2: 5; 4: 4, 7, 10; 11: 10, etc.), "it was said"
or "it hath been said" (Matt. 5: 21, 31, 33, 38, 43). This does not give all the variations,
but they illustrate the way O.T. passages are introduced by the Evangelist.
Matthew presents the Lord as the Messiah and Priest-King of Israel and gives witness
to the Messianic Kingdom of the O.T. prophets; hence his close link with the O.T.
Before we go any further it will be as well to consider the break between the Old and
New Testaments. We must realize that when we turn from Malachi to Matthew, some
400 years have passed and that in this period great changes have occurred. At the close
of the O.T., the empire which controlled Palestine was that of Persia.  Persia was
displaced by Alexander the Great, and the Grecian empire arose and dominated the scene
from B.C.330 to B.C.167. At Alexander's death in B.C.323, his empire was divided
between four of his generals. Two of these were Ptolemy and Seleucus and each one
inaugurated a dynasty, Ptolemy in Egypt and Seleucus in Syria. There was continual
contention between them for rule over Palestine, and sometimes one was victorious and
sometimes the other.
The struggle under the Maccabees for Israel's national independence followed
(B.C.167-141), and then a family of Jewish priest-kings, descendants of the Maccabees,
arose and ruled in Palestine. They were known as the Hasmonaeans and they held power
for 78 years, until Pompey conquered the land in B.C.63. This was the beginning of
Rome's domination of the Jewish people. The Herods were of Idumaean descent and
after Caesar Augustus overthrew Mark Antony, the first of the Herods sought and
received from Augustus the governorship of Judaea, Samaria, Galilee, Peraea and