It is not enough to simply keep the Law in order to have eternal life:
Matthew 19:16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?"
This man was moral and a law keeper yet he lacked Abrahamic faith. The response of Christ is intertextualy linked with the Abrahamic covenant.
So Law keeping in combination with Abrahamic faith was necessary. But even if the Law keeper failed to keep the whole Law the grace accorded through faith in the Abrahamic covenant would justify the Law breaker. God will justify and forgive the sinner.....the whole Law pointed to Christ and taught the lesson of justification through the sacrafice that God provides.
I have included an article that I wrote for the eJournal (apologies for the Greek font as it has not copied and pasted correctly)The rich young manIntroduction
The gospel story of the rich young man (Mat19:16-26) has been chosen in order to demonstrate the importance of an approach that utilizes ‘inner-biblical exegesis’ – the approach is not a purely academic exercise, but of relevance to anyone that studies or exhorts from the gospels (or for that matter the Bible in general). The charge is sometimes heard that too much
can be read into
(eisegesis) a text, but the truth is that ancient readers and listeners were often far more astute and ‘tuned in’ than their modern counterparts. Biblical texts often carry specific ‘clues’ (markings) – these are few, but significant words
that form the dominant pattern of an allusion. Richard L. Schultz observes; “Yet the comparative material suggests that minimal marking generally is the practice in literature
contemporary to the Old Testament and even later Jewish literature...One is forced to draw one of two conclusions: either the readers or listeners are not expected to identify the verbal parallel or they are considered competent to recognize it despite only minimal marking
.” Benjamin D. Sommer notes that the key component is reader familiarity with the ‘older text’ - “Markers (usually borrowed vocabulary) point the reader to the older text, though only if the reader is familiar with them....In this formal category, the new text reuses vocabulary or imagery from the source...Probably the largest number of cases of what scholars have generally called ‘inner-biblical exegesis’ belongs to this category”.
If these markings are missed then the theme that underlies the narrative is missed and the narrative is therefore subjected to a faulty interpretation. The markers will be ‘special’ vocabulary, but they may not be in the same ‘pattern’ as the original, although the words and phrases might not be organically related to the original they point to an underlying theme or topos. However, as Schultz (1999:228,273) observes, a ‘topos’ is far more difficult to establish; “These passages illustrate the problem of trying to distinguish between quotation and topos. In quotation one is looking for the repetition of significant words and syntactical structures; with topos one simply seeks the repetition of various terms conceptually related to a theme or topic”.
Biblical authors allude to older texts (allusion differs from echo by the absence of the need for reference) in order to argue a specific point. Sommer (1998:15) states; “In other words, allusion consists not only in the echoing of an earlier text but in the utilization of the marked material for some rhetorical or strategic end.”The rich young man and the rich old man
A casual reader of Matthew 19 will encounter a number of seemingly unrelated narratives. The chapter begins with a question about divorce (vv.1-12), followed by the blessing of little children (vv.13-15) and the encounter with the rich young man (vv.16-30). However, once the ‘markers’ are identified the chapter’s cohesiveness will become apparent.
The emphasis in vv.16-30 is on the wealth
of the young man – “he had great possessions” (kth,mata polla) and this prevented him following Jesus, who comments to his disciples; “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich
(plou,sioj) man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (vv. 23). This astounded the disciples for if a man of such apparent moral integrity and wealth (a sign of God’s blessings?) struggled to enter the kingdom- what hope for them? It is at this juncture that the ‘marker’ points us in the right direction. The word rich
is used for the first time
in scripture to describe Abraham’s circumstances; “And Abram was
(plou,sioj) in cattle, and silver, and gold” (Gen 13:2 LXE
). Further investigation discovers other lexical connections with the Abrahamic narrative;
And , behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master (dida,skale) , what good thing shall I do , that I may have eternal life ? (Matt 19:16 KJV)
And he said, Master (de,spota) and Lord, how shall I know that I shall inherit it? (Gen 15:8 LXE)
Even though the KJV and LXE translate the word in question as “master” different Greek words are employed, however, the passages are syntactically similar and both pose questions about gaining/possessing/inheriting something. When investigating shared concepts and themes Andrew Perry notes; “The spread of words and/or phrases from the source text involve the reader/hearer in taking the whole of the source context as the background for the quoting narrative”.
Once the source text is identified (in this case the Abrahamic narrative) the markers become more readily identifiable:
But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, (avdu,nato,n) but with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26 NKJ).
Shall anything be impossible (avdunatei/) with the Lord? At this time I will return to thee seasonably, and Sarrha shall have a son (Gen 18:14 LXE).
Sometimes the texts employ different words but convey the same sense;
Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, (te,leioj) go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matt 19:21 NKJ)
And Abram was ninety-nine years old, and the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, I am thy God, be well-pleasing before me, and be blameless (a;memptoj). (Gen 17:1 LXE)
Together with Matt 19:21, the Modern Greek Bible
translates complete/perfect/whole from the Hebrew tamiym
(~ymiT') of Gen 17:1 as teleios
(te,leioj) instead of amemptos
(a;memptoj) used in the Greek Septuagint (LXX). First century readers and auditors would have recognised the connection with Abraham. Moreover, the injunction to “follow me” echoes the divine calling out of Abraham (Gen 12:1) and the “treasure in heaven”
corresponds with God declaring “I am
your shield, your exceedingly great reward
”(Gen 15:1). Jesus’ advice to the rich young man draws on Yahweh’s assessment of Abraham’s faithfulness:
“But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments (th,rhson ta.j evntola,jÅ)” (Matt 19:17 NKJ).
Because Abraam thy father hearkened to my voice, and kept (evfu,laxen) my injunctions, and my commandments (ta.j evntola,j), and my ordinances, and my statutes (Gen 26:5 LXE).
Although there are only a few verbal correspondences the theme for Matt 19:27, 29 also shares the topos of Abraham’s calling:
Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”(Matt 19:27 NKJ)
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life”(Matt 19:29 NKJ).
Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you” (Gen 12:1 NKJ).
Based on what has already been observed the last verse is probably a reference to the right of primogeniture, with the first
being Ishmael (Abraham’s seed after the flesh) and the last
being Isaac (Abraham’s seed after the spirit):
“But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Matt 19:30 NKJ).
As well as correspondences we should also be aware of deliberate contrasts such as the sorrow
of the rich young man (Matt 19:22) and the laughter
(and rejoicing cf. John 8:56) of Sarah/Abraham (Gen 21:6) and the everlasting possession
promised to Abraham in Gen 17:8 and eternal life
of Matt 19:16, contrasted with the great possessions
of the rich young man.Interpretations
Inner-biblical exegesis has identified connections with the Abrahamic narrative and the story of the rich young man is obviously deliberately referenced against Abraham. This should influence the way the narrative is interpreted. Although riches form a key element in the narrative, the story is not per se
a warning against the evils of materialism, for Abraham was extremely wealthy. The incident highlights the danger of a worldview prevalent in Judaism that understands entry into the kingdom as an act of human effort (works). Keeping the commandments (law) was of course critical but (here is the rub) Abraham kept the law before it was even given.
The demands of Christian life seemed impossible to the disciples but (here is the rub) nothing is impossible with God because he is able to make the barren bear fruit.
In fact he has given the means of redemption through the son promised to Abraham and therefore made the impossible, possible. This does not mean that works are unnecessary, for Abraham was willing to give up his prize possession (his son) because he believed that God would provide. However, Abraham’s work was an act of faith not one of self assertion. He is justified by faith and he is “counted righteous” because he believed that God is righteous.
Although he did not know how, his life experiences had taught him that God would keep covenant and therefore he believed that the promise through Isaac would (somehow) be honoured. Instead of Abraham giving up his prize possession, God sacrifices his beloved son. The purpose of the law was to emphasise the righteousness of God......not the (non-existent) righteousness of man. In contrast with the rich old man, the rich young man was unwilling to give up his prize possessions and law keeping became therefore irrelevant. The rich young man failed to recognize that faith in the Messiah (who is the embodiment of the righteousness of God) was the only way to be justified. The conclusion of the story is to respond to the call of God/Jesus in faith (with rejoicing instead of sorrow), like Abraham, knowing that the reward held in store is disproportionate to the response – that it does not rely on human effort but on divine faithfulness which makes the impossible, possible.The cohesiveness of the chapter
Do the connections with Abraham extend beyond the story of the rich young man? This becomes more difficult to establish as lexical and syntactic markers virtually disappear – but thematic connections remain, however this becomes a question of reader perception which can be subjective. For example, the blessing of the “little children” (Abraham’s seed) by Christ is probably meant to parallel the blessing of Abraham by Melchizedek. It also highlights that God keeps covenant and does the impossible – the evidence are the descendants of barren Abraham/Sarah being blessed by the Christ – who is the descendant of Abraham par excellance
. The “little children” become then a metaphor for all disciples who approach Jesus with the faith of Abraham.
At first glance the question on divorce seems completely unrelated to the Abrahamic narrative but rather the settling of a disputed question between different rabbinical schools of thought. The question was posed by the Pharisees as a “test” (vv.3) and raises suspicions that theological concerns were not the primary motivation. If we turn to the Abrahamic narrative we find that he “divorced” his maidservant Hagar at the behest of Sarah. This was done because Hagar encouraged her son to mock the legitimacy of the heir with the charge that he had been conceived in the tent of Abimelech (Gen 20:18-Gen 21:1). Obviously parallel questions existed around the legitimacy of Christ and rumours abounded about his unusual conception.
Relating the Abrahamic narrative to the question of divorce might seem far- fetched but not if the underlying question is one of adultery/legitimacy. This theory is leant support by John chapter 8 which also commences with a question about adultery (John 8:3-11) and Jewish emphasis on Abrahamic status (John 8:33,37) and the reply of Jesus which is based on the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael (John 8:35). The true seed of Abraham has his legitimacy questioned and this is the subtext of divorce/adultery questions in the gospels that are directed at Christ.Conclusion
Scripture interprets itself and ancient readers/hearers of the word deserve more credit than their modern counterparts for recognising complex patterns, allusions and echoes that lie below the surface of the narratives. Good biblical exhortation can only be achieved if inner-biblical exegesis is practised. If exhortation is based on a superficial surface reading then it usually misses the point completely.
 Richard L. Schultz, The Search for Quotation: Verbal Parallels in the Prophets,
 Benjamin D. Sommer, A Prophet Reads Scripture: Allusion in Isaiah 40-66,(Standford:1998),21
 With the NT it is easier to use the Greek of the LXX as a guide to correspondences rather than the Hebrew MT. The LXE is the English translation of the LXX.
 Andrew Perry, Quotes, Allusions and Echoes in The Christadelphian eJournal of Biblical Interpretation, (Willow publications, Annual 2007, 69-74), 72
 There is probably a reference here to Isaac: “Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold
; and the LORD blessed him
” (Gen 26:12 NKJ).
 “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3 NKJ).
 The two rabbinic schools of Shammai and Hillel differed on the grounds for divorce. Shammai was much stricter than Hillel and permitted divorce only in the case of sexual immorality. Hillel permitted divorce for almost any reason (cf. the Mishnah, m. Gittin
Edited by Biblaridion, 20 February 2012 - 01:34 AM.