Summit Liveblog: Session 11 (Beale)

Nathan Busenitz | March 5, 2015

Session 10 — Gregory Beale

Note: Throughout the week, as we liveblog the general sessions, we will be using a time-stamp method. This will give readers an approximate sense of key statements that were made throughout the session, as well as allowing them to trace the flow of the argument. (Also, if readers want to listen to any key moments by downloading the audio, these time-stamps will make it easier to track down certain statements in the audio file.) However, what follows is not intended to be a full or exact transcript of what was said.

12:10 Our message is entitled, “Matthew’s use of Hosea 11:1 in Matthew 2:15”

Matthew 2:14 So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. 15 He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

There are three very difficult problems in this text.

1) First, the verse in Hosea 11:1 is a reference to the exodus of Israel from Egypt. How can Matthew take a historic reference and convert it into prophecy?

2) Second, in Hosea 11:1 the “son” refers to the nation of Israel. But Matthew applies it to an individual. How can he do that?

3) Third, Hosea 11:1 is quoted right at the point where Jesus and His family are about to go into Egypt, not when they leave Egypt.

Many modern commentators see this as troubling. Some regard it as a mistake, such that it calls into question the legitimacy of inerrancy.

12:15 Some charge Matthew with manipulating the evidence. Others have understood Matthew to be employing an interpretative method  commonly used in Judaism but which was wrong. According to these commentators, the biblical writers used it anyway because they were products of their time.

Still others, with a postmodern wrinkle, have concluded that Matthew’s interpretation of Hosea 11:1 was strange, but it is a model that we should not critique.

12:20 In Hosea 11, the prophet’s point is that the nation of Israel was not loyal to God. Consequently, judgment would come. Yet, God would not execute full judgment. He would graciously restore that nation of Israel in the future.

The three problems that I gave earlier will serve as a basic outline for the rest of our message.

1) First, the verse in Hosea 11:1 is a reference to the exodus of Israel from Egypt. How can Matthew take a historic reference and convert it into prophecy?

[Editor’s Note: We were able to capture screen shots of a couple of Dr. Beale’s slides.]


12:26 Before we begin to understand the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament, we need to understand the Old Testament’s use of the Old.

In this case, we need to understand how Hosea uses Numbers 23-24.

This is an end-times exodus that is being talked about in Hosea 11, which is based on the first exodus of Numbers 23-24. The first exodus is a foreshadowing of the final, end-times exodus.

This is an example of typology. The first exodus is a type of the final exodus. These types are exemplified by historicity, correspondence, and foreshadowing.

12:30 Our task is to work hard to find the solution to the apparent problems.

The main goal of Hosea 11:1-11 is to indicate that God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt, which resulted in their unbelief, is not the final word about the Israelites. Though they will be judged, they will be restored.

The pattern of the first exodus will be repeated by the future exodus.

First exodus out of Egypt (Hos. 12:9; 13:4)
Future return to and from Egypt (Hos. 1:11; 7:11, 16b; 9:6)

12:35 Matthew would have seen that Hosea was using the first exodus as a type and a foreshadowing of the second exodus. Thus, he was using Hosea 11:1 in a typological way. He understood Hosea 11:1 in the light of the rest of chapter 11 and the whole of Hosea.

Matthew’s use of Hosea was in keeping with Hosea’s exegetical method.

We can summarize Hosea 11 along these three points:

v. 1 — Out of Egypt

v. 5 — Return to Egypt

v. 11 — Out of Egypt again

The past link to the exodus in verse 1 moves toward and is linked to this future exodus.

This is a use of a historical, grammatical method of interpretation on the part of Hosea.

2) Second, Hosea 11:1 is quoted right at the point where the Jesus and His family were about to go into Egypt, not about to leave Egypt.

12:40 Some commentators have suggested that it would have been better to place this quotation later in Matthew 2, at the point when Joseph, Mary, and Jesus left Egypt.

But in Hosea 11, the prophet refers both to Israel’s leaving Egypt and returning to Egypt and leaving again.

The narration of the family going to Egypt is an inauguration, and the leaving from Egypt is the consummation. This follows the pattern established by Hosea.

3) In Hosea 11:1 the “son” refers to the nation of Israel. But Matthew applies it to an individual. How can he do that?

Some suggest that Matthew has violated historical, grammatical hermeneutics by doing this.

But if we go back to Numbers 24, we see that it is about a king coming out of Egypt. If Hosea has this passage in mind in Hosea 11, it is entirely appropriate for Matthew to apply the passage from Hosea 11 to the individual leader. What is true of the people is true of the leader.

In Hosea 1:10-11, we have another reference to a future exodus. There again, the people are linked with the leader (see esp. v. 11).

Hosea 1:10 Yet the number of the sons of Israel
Will be like the sand of the sea,
Which cannot be measured or numbered;
And in the place
Where it is said to them,
“You are not My people,”
It will be said to them,
“You are the sons of the living God.”
11 And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together,
And they will appoint for themselves one leader,
And they will go up from the land,
For great will be the day of Jezreel.



It is natural, then, for Matthew to follow the hermeneutic of Hosea, and to see that what is true of the nation is true of the individual.

At times, Hosea goes from the individual patriarchs to the entire nation of Israel. He goes from the one to the many. Matthew is doing the same in reverse. He goes from the many to the one.

What Israel was supposed to do (be obedient), Jesus did on their behalf.

Matthew portrays Jesus as recapitulating the history of Israel because He represents Israel in Himself. That is why He must start in Egypt and go from there.

12:50 Jesus does what Israel was obligated to do.

The idea that Matthew was using the Old Testament haphazardly falls flat. In fact, Matthew was showing incredible sensitivity to what Hosea was doing throughout his own prophecy.

It is from the quarry of the book of Hosea, and Numbers 23-24, that Matthew gains everything he has expressed in 2:15. But context is the key. Through historical grammatical exegesis, we can see that he is actually following Hosea’s typological approach.

Matthew has learned his method from Hosea and is getting right at the heart of Hosea’s point.

When it is studied carefully, in the context of the Old Testament canon, the supposed problems in Matthew 2:15 vanish and give us greater confidence in the inerrancy of the Bible.

Nathan Busenitz avatar
Nathan Busenitz is the dean of faculty and associate professor of theology at The Master's Seminary. He is also one of the pastors of Cornerstone, a fellowship group at Grace Community Church.

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