Word of the Day: Child (παιδίου)

“The portrayal of Jesus is done in strong contrast with that of Herod. He is presented as the counter king: “the one who has been born king of the Jews” (Matt. 2:2), “the Christ” (Matt. 2:4), “a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel” (Matt. 2:6) and “my Son” (Matt. 2:15).

This King is not to be found in the capital Jerusalem, the city of atrocious king Herod and the deceiving Jewish religious leaders, but in the lowly Bethlehem, the city of David (Matt. 2:5-6).

To emphasize the lowliness of Bethlehem, Matthew makes use of a fulfillment quotation from Micah 5:28 (where Micah described Bethlehem as “small”; the LXX went further and made it “smallest”).

Along with the designator of Jesus as king of the Jews, another term is prominently used. Throughout the narrative Jesus is also called a “child” (παιδίου) (Matt. 2:8, 9, 11, 13 (twice), 14 and 21), which becomes a fixed formula.

This formula clearly implies the helplessness and dependence of Jesus, which stands in strong contrast with the portrayal of the brutal Herod. On the surface level Jesus appears to be powerless while Herod is portrayed as the powerful.”

Source: Viljoen, F. (2011). Power and authority in Matthew’s Gospel. Acta Theologica, 31, 329-345.