Salvation in Continuity: Reconsidering Matthew's Soteriology
It is clear that according to Matthew's Gospel, Jesus came to save his people from their sins (1:21), to give his life as a ransom for many (20:28), to have his blood poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (26:28). But if salvation as promised in 1:21 is achieved only through Jesus' death, asks Mothy Varkey, are the twenty-five preceding chapters merely preamble? Varkey argues, to the contrary, that the key theme of salvation in the Gospel is presented by Matthew as being in continuity with God's saving acts in the history of the Jewish people. Further, Varkey insists that, as a consequence of this theology of continuity, Jesus' death on the cross represents just one of the many ways in which the Gospel presents God's salvific deeds. The death of Jesus, while unique due to his ontological status as Son of God, should not be distinguished too sharply from his saving acts during his earthly ministry, which took the form of salvific teaching of the Torah, healings, exorcisms, and forgiving of sins. The result is a narrative emphasizing the continuity of salvation throughout Jesus life, reaching into Israel's past, and beyond into the work of the disciples.