Matthew 3:15 reads (emphasis mine):
ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν· ἄφες ἄρτι, οὕτως γὰρ πρέπον ἐστὶν ἡμῖν πληρῶσαι πᾶσαν δικαιοσύνην. τότε ἀφίησιν αὐτόν (NA28).
But Jesus answered him, "Permit it now, for in this manner it is right for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted him/it.
Who is the referent of 'us' (ἡμῖν)? My initial thoughts were simply Jesus and John the Baptist, and this is the 'plain sense' reading of the text. The AMP goes so far as to force this interpretation:
...for this is the fitting way for [both of] us to fulfill all righteousness....
However, it occurred to me that the context may point to another referent altogether. Some additional options I've brainstormed:
- Jesus is referring to the category of Israelites (i.e. 'us' is Jesus and all the people of God under the Old Covenant).
- Jesus is speaking about the New Covenant people of God who enter the kingdom of heaven through baptism.
- Jesus is referring to the people of God (irrespective of covenant).
I understand that the plain sense of the grammar is that the referent is merely Jesus and John (and the use of the first person plural means that Jesus is including himself in whatever group/category is being referenced). I am looking for interpretations of the text that go beyond this and argue that Jesus had a deeper meaning (or a strong argument for the 'plain sense' reading and why Jesus likely was not referring to any other referent than himself and John).
I prefer to hear perspectives from respected, scholarly commentators (I'm not all that interested in hearing a bunch of opinionated rants that are original to users of this site, I'd like to hear well-reasoned responses that argue on the basis of the context for a deeper meaning to this passage that have scholarly support in verifiable and reliable sources). Even so, I am open to any well-supported perspective.