Matthew 1

genealogy.jpgGreetings!  Welcome to this study of the Gospel of Matthew. 

Matthew was originally written for a primarily Jewish audience.  It would have been very important for them to know that he descended from Abraham, the father of the faith, and David, the great king.  This family line is that of Joseph, Jesus’ adoptive father.  Jesus’ mother, Mary, also comes from the line of David.  Her ancestral line is recorded in Luke 3

Don’t let the genealogy scare you off.  You don’t need to memorize the names, but there are many interesting points in here. 

Genealogies were very important to Jewish people.  This one starts with Abraham.  If you read along with the Genesis study you’ll recognize him, Isaac, Jacob and many others.  It isn’t a list of saints, either.  There are some deeply flawed people in here. 

On an episode of The Simpsons where Homer complained about how expensive his Bible was he went on to say: “And talk about a preachy book! Everybody’s a sinner . . . except for this guy.”  I know the writers weren’t trying to make a serious theological statement.  But he was right in the sense that everybody in the Bible (and out of it) besides Jesus is a sinner. 

Consider some of the unusual characters in Jesus’ lineage: Jacob was a deceiver.  Judah had sex with his daughter-in-law Tamar when he thought she was a prostitute and fathered Perez.  Ruth wasn’t even an Israelite, but she got her own book of the Bible.  Rahab was a prostitute and not an Israelite. 

David was an adulter, murderer and all-around bad parent, even though he had great faith and God considered him a man after his own heart.  Solomon did some great things but set up the Israelite kingdom for failure. 

1A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
    2Abraham was the father of Isaac,
         Isaac the father of Jacob,
         Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
       3Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
         Perez the father of Hezron,
         Hezron the father of Ram,
       4Ram the father of Amminadab,
         Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
         Nahshon the father of Salmon,
       5Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
         Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
         Obed the father of Jesse,
       6and Jesse the father of King David.
      David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
    7Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
         Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
         Abijah the father of Asa,
       8Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
         Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
         Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
       9Uzziah the father of Jotham,
         Jotham the father of Ahaz,
         Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
       10Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
         Manasseh the father of Amon,
         Amon the father of Josiah,
       11and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
    12After the exile to Babylon:
         Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
         Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
       13Zerubbabel the father of Abiud,
         Abiud the father of Eliakim,
         Eliakim the father of Azor,
       14Azor the father of Zadok,
         Zadok the father of Akim,
         Akim the father of Eliud,
       15Eliud the father of Eleazar,
         Eleazar the father of Matthan,
         Matthan the father of Jacob,
       16and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

 17Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.

The next passage describes how Jesus was born of a virgin.  This is a crucial element of Christianity, because Jesus was born of a human and was also God.  He did not have our sinful nature, so He could live the perfect life in our place and take the punishment for our sins. 

Various people – including some Christians – insist that the virgin birth is too miraculous to have happened.  Yet if God created the universe and every molecule in it along with life as we know it, why is a virgin birth so incomprehensible? 

Some claim the word “virgin” in Isaiah 14:7 is a mistranslation  (“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”)  and that it really meant “young woman.”  The word “Almah” could indeed mean an young woman.  But that would hardly be worthy of a prophecy (A young lady will get pregnant?!  No fooling!).

More importantly, consider that approximately 70 Israelite scholars translated the word as “virgin” in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament completed one hundred years or more before Jesus’ birth.

Mary could have been killed in that culture because she might have been accused of having sex out of wedlock. 

The Birth of Jesus Christ

 18This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

 20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

 22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”

As Christians we are so used to this story that it can lose its special meaning for us.  Yet what could be more phenomenal than the God of the universe stepping into his creation and living as a human?  What could be more spectacular than “God with us?”

 24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

We don’t learn a lot about Joseph in the Bible.  It appears that he died before Jesus began his ministry 30 years later.   Joseph and Mary went on to have “normal” children after Jesus was born. 

What passages stood out to you, and why? 


5 Responses

  1. Verse 16 strikes me as unusal because every vers has the phrase father of except this because Jesus Christ our Lord is not the son of Joseph! Thanks

  2. Hi Bokjae – Excellent point! I didn’t catch that. It was obviously written quite carefully.

  3. How can i now and beleave that jesus is the sevour and the

  4. What is significant about the number 14 in verse 17, or am I reading too much into it?

  5. Interesting question. Here is what my study Bible software said (doesn’t appear to be of much help!):

    Matthew obviously did not list every individual in the genealogy between Abraham and David (vv. 2-6), between David and the Exile (vv. 6-11), and between the Exile and Jesus (vv. 12-16). Instead he listed only 14 generations in each of these time periods (v. 17). Jewish reckoning did not require every name in order to satisfy a genealogy. But why did Matthew select 14 names in each period? Perhaps the best solution is that the name “David” in Hebrew numerology added up to 14. Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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