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In Matthew 11:10 we read that Christ said of John the Baptist in reference to his role of heralding and preparing the way for Christ:

Matthew 11:7-10 (DRB) 7 And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? 8 But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are clothed in soft garments, are in the houses of kings. 9 But what went you out to see? a prophet? yea I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he of whom it is written: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.

However, the subject of Malachi 3:1 which He is quoting is quite obviously יהוה, God:

Malachi 3:1 (DRB) 1 Behold I send my angel, and he shall prepare the way before my face [לְפָנָ֑י/προσώπου μου]. And presently the Lord, whom you seek, and the angel of the testament, whom you desire, shall come to his temple. Behold he cometh, saith the Lord of hosts.

He apparently without scruple makes Himself the referent of a pronoun referring directly and explicitly to יהוה.

Question

Is Jesus inconspicuously conflating Himself with יהוה? (Cf. Mark 1:2-3).

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    ...as he does, inconspicuously or not, all over (cf. Matt 23:37) – Luke Sawczak May 23 '18 at 19:23
  • It looks more like Exodus 23:20, or a mix between the Exodus and Malachi verse – b a May 23 '18 at 20:04
  • Jesus makes comment about 'Christ' but where does he claim that he and Christ are the same individual ? Quoting texts about the Messiah does not (of itself) imply that he is speaking of himself. Nor was it (yet) revealed that Messiah would be Divine. Only in resurrection is Jesus Christ declared to be the Son of God. – Nigel J May 23 '18 at 20:56
  • Jesus most definitely identifies as the Christ, and the Son of God: Matthew 16:13-20. – Sola Gratia May 23 '18 at 22:57
  • @Ruminator Unfortunately, you've changed my question, not clarified it. – Sola Gratia May 23 '18 at 23:00
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It would indeed be disturbing if Jesus prefaced an intentional misrepresentation of the scriptures, with a view to self-deification, with the solemn invocation, "as it is written"! That would be game over for the Christian faith.

However, it must be admitted that the words Jesus recites do not appear in any extant hebrew or lxx text:

Matthew 11:10

DRB (from Latin Vulgate) Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.

KJV (Masoretic) Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 

Malachi 3:1:

KJV (Masoretic) Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me:

Brenton lxx  Behold, I send forth my messenger, and he shall survey the way before me:

Lexham English Septuagint “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will observe the way before my face.

It appears that Matthew takes "my" from the masoretic "me" and "face" from the lxx. And he takes "prepare" from the masoretic.

All this leads me to surmise:

  • perhaps Matthew/Jesus accurately cites a version of the masoretic or lxx that is no longer extant

  • or, perhaps Matthew's memory was imperfect

  • or, perhaps Matthew/Jesus adapted it, not to claim "deity" but rather to show that it was about himself, the messiah

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He posits Himself on the same level with God not only by interpreting the Old Testament statements as referring to Himself as equal to God, as He evidently does here, or also in Matt 22:45, where He asserts that David the Psalmist regarded Him as his Lord in the verse "Lord said to my Lord: 'sit at My right hand...'" (now, nobody is above King on the earth, and no angel, even the highest among them, can be acclaimed "Lord" without a blasphemy, thus the one acclaimed and worshiped by David as "Lord" is beyond angels and on the same level as Lord, this "on the same level" expressed by the metaphoric saying "at My right hand").

However, He also does not shun to unequivocally posit Himself on the same level with Lord also without any reference to the Old Testament, just asserting authoritatively, as the Fountainhead of truth who does not even require a prophetic authority, as for instance in Matt 11:27 "no one knoweth the Son, save the Father; neither doth any know the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal him" - equality of this exclusive mutual knowledge necessarily implies the equality of their ontological standing.

This may also explain Jesus' freedom in referring to the Old Testament texts: in fact, His words are not like those of pharisees and sadducees who first quote precisely and then interpret, but "by authority" (Luke 4:32), that is to say, He does not slavishly follow the precision of the biblical oracle, but modifies at will this very oracle, never rejecting it, but giving to it a newer twist, and putting there a newer insight. No surprise, because the one who can claim His divinity even without any reference to the Scriptures, as indicated above, how much more can do so by a reference to the Scriptures with a modified text: if He is what He claims Himself to be, then the very Scriptures were inspired by Him in the prophets, and the Inspirer is in not a tiny bit subject to the letter of the inspiration, but has authority to modify it at will. Here also, He interprets and modifies at will the very letter of the Old Testament text, indicating his full equality with the Father, for John is preaching for preparation of people for acceptance of the Messiah Jesus, but the Latter is the one in whom the entire fulness of Godhead is present bodily (Col. 2:9), ergo, who is God incarnate.

Thus, the passage from Malachi is reinterpreted in this new light: if God wills to come to humans in the most intimate relationship so as to become Himself human, and this is to be prefigured and prepared by His angel, it will be furnished through His Son, who, as Son is equal to Him; and therefore, Malachi now is re-interpreted in this new light. To give an analogy: if, say, Roger Federer will write some guys who do not know what tennis is: "I will send my builders to prepare court, then I will come and play a set in front of you", and then when his partner, say, Nadal, arrives together with him, Nadal says: "As is written in the [Federer's] letter: 'I shall send my builders to prepare court, then We will come and play a set in front of you'". Nadal here, by changing the "I" by "we", would simply modify the letter of Federer's letter not only without damaging the meaning of it, but even with filling it with a new necessary insight that it is impossible for Federer to show properly how he plays a set without a partner of his level of play, as it is impossible for the Father to enter into intimate relationships with humans without His Son's becoming a human.

Again: when Jesus changes the wording of the divine oracle in the Holy Scripture, He simply gives a message that He is the master over the oracle and not vice-versa. The change of the wording is never abolishing the wording's essence itself, but only reveals it with a greater clarity. For instance, when He responds to Satan that "it is written 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only'", He misquotes the Deut. 6:13, for there is not "worship", but "fear", and there is not written "only", but just "Lord your God". But can we say such a nonsense that Jesus lies because He says about something that is not written as written, and thus revealing Himself as at best irresponsible quoter, and at worst - a liar and as such an immoral person? Idiocy even to suppose this! Jesus masters the entirety of truth, its very essence, and when He, in this instance adds "only", He reveals the hidden essence of the Deut. 6:13 that God of Israel is such a one that worshiping Him excludes worshiping any other deity, thus addition of "only" is a clarifying one, revealing the essence of reality and truth, not in any way deviation from it, but rather penetrating its depths. The same is true here with the Malachi quotation also: the Father can not, that is to say, is ontologically unable either to create the world (John 1:1-3), or to save humanity without His Only-Begotten Son, and therefore the Son, being necessary for the Father, shares divinity with Him, so that "preparation of ways before Me", can be freely rephrased as "preparation of ways before Him (i.e. My Only-Begotten Son)". This modification does not forfeit in any way the truth of the Malachi, but on the contrary, reveals its hidden depth, leading us to the acknowledgment of Godhead of Jesus Christ.

Thus, yes, in Matt 11:10 He posits Himself on the level of Lord, the one to whom worship pertains, and not all that inconspicuously, but quite conspicuously for Jews versed in the Holy Scriptures.

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