Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. One Skeptic asks how, if the wise men came from a place east of Bethlehem, they could follow a star that was in the east to get to Bethlehem. But the words are misleading here; the translation "in the east" should be read "at its rising," a more accurate reflection of the Greek. (See Raymond Brown's Birth of the Messiah and Albright's Matthew commentary, 12.) The Skeptic also thinks it is wrong for Matthew to call Herod a "King" rather than a tetrarch. Herod was given the title "King of Judea" by the Roman Senate in 40 BC, and made good on that when he took over in 37; see Gundry's commentary on Matthew, 26.
Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim... Skeptics using the KJV may say that, if Jesus left Nazareth and went to Capernaum, he was still in Galilee, and so could not have gone to Galilee. The verse actually indicates departure to Galilee, specifically Nazareth, followed by Capernaum.
And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles... Skeptics may object that the lands of Zabulon and Naphtali are on the western side of the Jordan, and so could not be "beyond" the Jordan. But again, let's use a more up to date version than the KJV: "Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles--"
Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. A Skeptic says this teaches us to "cut a deal with an adversary, in spite of the truth, honor, or honesty." Why one cannot deal within truth, etc. while still dealing with an adversary quickly is not explained, but perhaps our critic thinks "agree" means "give in to their point of view." It does not. The Greek word here means "reconcile" and expresses the teaching of reconciling with others found in both Jewish and Greco-Roman teaching [Keener, Matthew commentary, 185]. Furthermore, the word "adversary" is a techinical term for an opponent in a lawsuit.
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy". One Skeptic notes that this statement does not exist in the OT. But those familiar with 1st century rabbinic Judaism know what this is: A reference to saying that was taught by certain rabbis and by the Qumranites. The Manual of Discipline 1:9-11 says, "to love all the sons of light, each according to his lot in the Council of God, and to hate all the sons of darkness, each according to his guilt in the vengeance of God."
Doesn't Paul contradict Jesus here when he tells us to lift up their hands while praying? No, because Jesus' words are an instruction against public prayer, done for the purpose of being noticed ("that they may be seen of men"). This has nothing to do with modes or positions of prayer. See video version:
"For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." One Skeptic pits this against verses saying "No one is good--except God alone," for if there are none good, there are no righteous to call - which is the whole point. With typical rabbinic exaggeration, Jesus has indicated that he is going to
those who need him most. Moreover, Matthew 9:13 is a polemic against the Pharisees and Saducees, who thought they were righteous.
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. What is the meaning of this verse? Bivin and Blizzard (Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus, 123ff) explain that it relates to a rabbinic midrashic exegesis of Micah 2:12-13, "I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men.
The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: and their king shall pass before them, and the LORD on the head of them." The picture is of a shepherd penning his sheep for the night, blocking the exit with stones, which in the morning he opens by tossing some of the stones aside. The sheep are anxious to get out, pushing and shoving and breaking the hole open even more. Rabbinic midrash interpreted the shepherd as Elijah and the king as the Messiah. "Suffereth violence" here means "breaking forth" and "the violent take it by force" means "those who are breaking out, break out by means of it." The verse is therefore saying in essence that John opened the breach and now Jesus the king is leading the people, the sheep, through it. Indeed, one may regard this as a clear claim to divinity, as Jesus identifies himself as the Lord Yahweh.
Did the Transfiguration involve a wait of six days, or eight, per Luke? An interesting note is that Matthew and Mark use says "after six days" only whereas Luke specifies "about an eight days after these sayings..." Not only is Luke estimating where Mark and Matt are not -- but in light of Peter's words about building shacks for Elijah and Moses, the "six days" referred to means "after the six days between the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles". Luke the Gentile writer does not use this method of reckoning time; it would have no meaning for his readers. (For the matter of this being a false idea of the coming of Christ, see here.)
Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. If this is so, a Skeptic asks, what of the Flood, the Amalekites, and other places where children are killed because of God's actions? The word for "perish" is apollumi and it is the word used for eternal damnation, not merely physical death. Note that Matthew 18 deals entirely with the matter of moral behavior and eternal judgment.
And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan... Skeptics using the archaic KJV English may object that the Jordan, being the east boundary of Judea, means that there can be no "coasts" of Judea beyond Jordan. Modern translations capture the sense for our ears thus: "When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan." The word used here means a border or a coast -- the KJV translators may have been wrong, but not Matthew.
Does this contradict Hebrews 6:18, That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie...? Category mistake: the objection confuses God's nature vs. his power to do something. This is basic philosophy in that an all-powerful, all-knowing, etc. being cannot do things that go against his nature. In this case, God can't lie because he is all-Good. God can't destroy himself because he is a necessary being. God can't make 2+2=5 because his own nature follows logic. Such obvious logic is implicity included in statements that "all things are possible" -- philosophical impossibilities are not "things".
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. So does this argue for abandoning family and responsibilities. thus causing pain and suffering for loved ones? No, because it first needs to be read in light of Matthew 10:34-6 (see above). For a follower of Jesus, the family was the original forsaker.
Does 25:34 contradict John 14:2 in terms of when heaven was prepared for us (from the foundation of the world, vs. Jesus going to prepare a place)? John 14:2, however, refers not to the preparation of heaven but the preparation of a place; the Greek word signifies a spot limited by occupancy. John is more specific in locale than Matthew.
On whether this teaches eternal punishment see here.
Was Jesus' robe scarlet as here, or purple as in Mark and John? "Purple" actually refers generically to a type of dye (cf. Acts 16:14) used to make cloth that ranged in color from scarlet to what we call purple.
One Skeptic pits this verse, which refers to the site of Jesus' Crucifixion as Golgotha, against Luke 23:33, which says Calvary -- though he adds that "Some apologists disputably allege Golgotha is the Hebrew rendering while Calvary is Latin." There is no "disputably" about it. Both words mean the same thing ("skull").
All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Isn't this contradictory to 2 Thes. 2:9, which refers to the "coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders"? No -- "all power" in these passages means the ability to do certain supernatural feats. The "lawless one" will be allowed to do when he/she/it comes. Just because two people have the same quality/property does not mean they are the same, nor does the use "all power" by two persons mean the usage is mutually exclusive. Moreover, two different Greek words are in use: exousia in Matthew, which has the connotation of authority, and dunamis in 2 Thess., which merely refers to miracle-working power.