What does Matthew 12:17 mean?
ESV: This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
NIV: This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
NASB: This happened so that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled:
CSB: so that what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
NLT: This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning him:
KJV: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying,
NKJV: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
Verse Commentary:
Perhaps to explain why Jesus was avoiding contact with the Pharisees during this time and telling people not to make Him known, Matthew will reference a passage from Isaiah 42 and apply it to Jesus. That passage begins by describing a servant refusing to bicker or shout in a public setting (Isaiah 42:19). This begins the longest of Matthew's citations of the Old Testament.

Matthew is clear that Jesus is the fulfillment of this passage. To its original audience, Isaiah's words seem to be about Israel. The fact that Matthew, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, applies it to Jesus fits the idea that Jesus is the ultimate expression of "Israel." He is the best product of the nation and the one in whom the Gentiles will hope (Matthew 12:21).
Verse Context:
Matthew 12:15–21 shows Jesus withdrawing away from the Pharisees, who want to destroy Him. The crowds persist in following Him, though, and He continues to tell those He heals not to make Him known. Matthew declares that Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah 42:1–4. Isaiah quotes God referring to His promised servant using the same terminology God used of Jesus at His baptism. This servant is gentle, refusing to call attention to Himself, but is also the One who will bring justice to victory and in whom the Gentiles will hope.
Chapter Summary:
Matthew 12 features confrontations between the Pharisees and Jesus over several issues. Among these are working on the Sabbath, healing on the Sabbath, and the source of His power to cast out demons. Jesus counters each argument and rebukes the Pharisees sharply for their obstinate unbelief. He even notes that those who maliciously ascribe His miracles to demons are unforgivable. He warns them, and the rest of their current generation, about the judgment to come. Jesus calls the Pharisees a brood of vipers and rejects their demand for another miracle. All they'll be promised is the sign of Jonah. The Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days. Jesus also states that all who do His Father's will are His family.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 11 depicted Jesus preaching and teaching after sending out His chosen disciples in pairs in chapter 10. Chapter 12 immediately picks up with more confrontation with the Pharisees. Jesus responds to those criticisms and rebukes their evil hearts as the source of their evil words. In the following chapter, Matthew will shift His focus onto Jesus' parables.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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