Old Testament texts may both refer (even retrospectively) to an Old Testament event (type) and find fulfillment (prospectively) in a New Testament event (antitype). Matthew’s application of Hosea 11:1, “Out of Egypt I called my son,” to the sojourn of Joseph and Mary with the child Jesus in Egypt is often cited as an egregious example of the irresponsible absurdity of apostolic hermeneutics (Matt. 2:15). Hosea plainly spoke not prospectively of the Messiah but retrospectively of the exodus, say Matthew’s critics. In one sense they are right: Hosea’s text does indeed look back to the exodus. But Matthew’s critics ignore (or simply reject) a more foundational conviction to which Matthew is leading his readers: Jesus is the true Israel, delivered from infant death, brought out of Egypt, tested in the wilderness, and finally exalted as Son of Man, invested with all authority as representative head of the eschatological “saints of the Most High” (Dan. 7:13–14 is echoed in the Great Commission, Matt. 28:18–20). By affirming that Hosea’s words are “fulfilled” in the young Jesus’ return from Egypt with his parents, Matthew is not claiming that Hosea’s words fit Jesus instead of Israel but that they fit Jesus because he is Israel’s fulfillment.
Dennis Johnson | Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures, ed. John J. Hughes (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2007), 207–08.
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