History of Interpretation: Aquinas on the star guiding the Magi

In his commentary on Matthew, Aquinas focuses the journey of the Magi as the first fruits of the Gentiles, because they were the first Gentiles to come to Christ.” By recognizing that their wisdom originated in Christ they came to worship Jesus. Because they were Gentiles coming to Christ he gives two reasons why it was a star that guided them:

  1. He (Christ) was made known to the Gentiles by a star, because they came to the knowledge of God through created things; The invisible things of God, by the things that are made, are clearly seen’ (Rom 1:20).
  2. It was appropriate for those to whom it was being shown, namely, the Gentiles, whose calling was promised to Abraham in the likeness of the stars; Look up to the heaven and number the stars, if thou canst.’ (Gen 15:5).

For Aquinas, the story of the Magi, was the story of Gentiles being brought in to Christ because of the promises of Abraham. Since Abraham was to look to the skies and see that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars it was right for God to use a star to guide the magi. And because the Gentiles came to know God by his created things then it was also right for God to use a star to reveal Christ.

Taken from Aquinas’ Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew

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