Matthew 1:1-25 - Outline of Matthew (Book Notes menu page)
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are referred to as the 'synoptic' gospels, because they report the events of Jesus' earthly life and ministry from a 'common viewpoint.' To a large extent, these three books report the same events, sometimes in nearly identical words, but often supplementing one another with details. The way in which the narrative is organized varies between the three synoptics, since each book emphasizes a specific theme. The Gospel of John, which was written later than the synoptic gospels, further supplements them with material which is unique to that gospel.
     The human authors: Matthew and John were disciples of Jesus and eyewitnesses to these events. Mark and Luke compiled their accounts from Matthew's record and from interviews with other eyewitnesses. The Holy Spirit chose to use these four books together to paint a complete picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, in His work on earth. The chart below shows the theme of each book.
(key vs.)
Theme (OT ref.)Opens with:
(Mat 1:1)
Behold your King (Zech 9:9)
. . . David's righteous Branch (Jer 23:5,6)
-Genealogy of Jesus through Joseph,
establishes His right to David's throne.
(Mar 10:45)
Behold My servant (Isa 42:1)
. . . My Servant the Branch (Zech 3:8)
-Jesus' baptism & entry into ministry.
A servant's credentials are in His work.
(Luk 19:10)
Behold the man (Zech 6:12)
. . . The Man, whose name is the Branch.
-Genealogy through Mary, establishes
His physical descendancy from Adam.
(Joh 20:30,31)
Behold your God (Isa 40:9)
. . . The Branch of the LORD (Isa 4:2)
-A statement of His eternal existence
and role in the Godhead.
Importance of the genealogy of Jesus- (Mat 1:1-17)
It demonstrates that -
  1. Jesus was a real man.-
    Real people are the descendants of other real people who lived before them. Some cultures place more importance on family records than others.
         Illustration: In a third world country, missionaries shared the gospel narrative with a certain group of people who seemed totally unresponsive. Over the course of several years, they labored at translating the New Testament (NT) into their language. When the people received the completed book, suddenly they believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. They explained to the missionaries, that until they heard Jesus' genealogy, they thought He was just a fictitious character. But now they knew He was a real man, just like them.
  2. Jesus was eligible for the throne of David.-
    Matthew presents Jesus as the King of Israel. His genealogy is one of His credentials.
The purpose of the gospel accounts is not to provide a complete biography, but rather to present the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Of neccessity, there are many details of His earthly life which are not recorded. But the record that we have is sufficient for us to identify Him as the Messiah (the One Anointed of God), and to place our trust in Him for salvation. (see John 20:30,31)
1:1. The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
1:2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob;
and Jacob begat Judas
{ie., Judah} and his brethren;
Note that the Old Testament (OT) is foundational to the NT, from its very first verse.
We will pick out a few high points from this list of OT names.
Abraham... Isaac... Jacob...-
God made a covenant with Abraham, and personally confirmed it to his son and grandson.
God promised him a land (the land of Israel), a nation (the people of Israel), and a blessing to all nations (the Messiah, the Savior of the world). cp. Gen 12:1-3,7; 15:1-6; 22:16-18
Jacob - whose name was later changed to 'Israel' had 12 sons
(from whom the 12 tribes of Israel are descended).
Judah - one of Jacob's sons, was promised that the King of Israel would come through his line.
Look at some of the points of this promise, in Gen 49:8-12-
  • 'the sceptre shall not depart from Judah...'
    (A sceptre is a symbol of the King's right to govern.)
  • 'until Shiloh come...' (Shiloh means 'the one whose right it is.' cp. Ezekiel 21:27)
  • 'binding his foal... washed his garments in wine [lit., 'in blood']...'
    (These obscure sounding phrases speak prophetically of specific events in the life of 'Shiloh.' cp. Mat 21:1-5; 26:28,29; Isa 63:1-3 )
1:3 And Judas {ie., Judah} begat Phares and Zara of Thamar;
and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
1:4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson;
and Naasson begat Salmon;
1:5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab;
and Booz begat Obed of Ruth;
and Obed begat Jesse;
1:6 And Jesse begat David the king;
and David the king begat Solomon of her [that had been the wife] of Urias;
Four women are included by name in Jesus' genealogy (besides Mary in v.16). This is unusual in itself, since OT Jewish genealogies usually list the males only. Their inclusion is even more remarkable because in each case, there was some sin or stigma that would have excluded them from Israel, or from the line of the righteous King. But their lives serve as illustrations of the grace of God which would come into this sinful world through Him. cp. John 1:16,17
  • Thamar (Tamar)- was the wife of Judah's eldest son, Er, a wicked man, whom the Lord slew.
    According to the practice of Levirate Marriage, she became the wife of Onan, Judah's second son. Onan dishonored her in his self-satisfaction. Therefore, the Lord slew him also. Then, because Judah withheld his third son from her, Tamar played the role of a harlot to force Judah to fulfill customary responsibilities which he had refused. (Read the full account in Gen 38:1-30.)
    Tamar's story speaks of... (cp. the following points with Joh 16:8)-
    1. sin- Judah & his sons lived shamefully, following fleshly lusts.
      It is evident that God did not choose Judah because of his righteousness. Tamar, while seeking to obtain what was justly hers, also acted by fleshly means. cp. Deu 9:5,6
    2. righteousness- Judah declared that Tamar was ''more righteous than I.''
      However, God's standard of righteousness is not relative, but absolute. In His judgment, no one in this story was truly righteous. The same can be said of every human being. Isa 64:6; Rom 3:10,23
    3. judgment- The wages of sin is death (eg., Er & Onan died due to their sin.).
      The same judicial sentence is upon all mankind. Rom 6:23
    4. hope (of salvation for the sinner)- The names of Tamar's twin sons are significant:
      Zara ('Sunrise'), Phares ('Breaking forth'). Only God, in His grace, could make His Light to break forth from a people whose hopes (Sunrise) were so tied to fleshly darkness.
  • Rahab (the gentile harlot)- Joshua 2:1-22; 6:22-25
    Rahab was also a sinner, a prostitute by profession. But she came under conviction that ''the LORD He is God,'' and that His judgment was about to fall upon her and her people. She responded to God by faith, and was spared from the destruction that befell Jericho. Heb 11:31
    Rahab's story speaks of salvation through faith. cp. Joh 6:28,29
  • Ruth (the Moabitess)- the book of Ruth tells her story.
    Both Ruth and Rahab were gentiles. They had no claim to God's covenants with Israel. Yet, by His Grace, God gave them a place among His people. cp. Eph 2:11-13
       Ruth, in contrast to both Tamar and Rahab, was ''a virtuous woman'' (Ruth 3:11). Yet, she was excluded from the congregation of God's people by the Law, because the Moabites had opposed Israel as they returned to their land at the time of the Exodus from Egypt (Deu 23:3; Neh 13:1). She was redeemed by Grace, through no merit of her own, when she was purchased by Boaz, her 'kinsman redeemer,' who became her husband. (See the Book Notes study on 'Ruth.')
    Ruth's story speaks of salvation by Grace. cp. Rom 3:20-24; Titus 3:4-7
  • Bathsheba- is not identified by name, but as ''the wife of Uriah'' (v.6).
    Again, the Holy Spirit is putting the spotlight on sin... not hers, but David's.
    King David committed adultery & then arranged the death of her husband.- 2Sam 11:2-27
       In the stories of Tamar, Rahab and Ruth we see pictures of salvation which is not of works, but by faith, through grace (as described in Eph 2:8-10).
    The story of King David reminds us of...
    1. the depravity of our fleshly hearts.-
      King David is referred to as 'a man after God's own heart' (1Sam 13:14). God placed him in a place of high responsibility. Yet, David fell into sin. Like him, every saved person, has been 'ordained' to good works (Eph 2:10). Yet, we are naturally prone to sin. cp. Rom 8:6-8
    2. the reality of sin's consequences.-
      David's sin brought turmoil into his own life, and the lives of his family and kingdom. cp. 2Sam 12:1-15; Gal 6:7
    3. the availability of restoration.-
      David confessed his sin (Psa 51:1-6), and pled for cleansing by 'hyssop' (ie., on the basis of blood sacrifice, Psa 51:7-12).
      By God's Grace, through the blood of Christ, cleansing and restoration are available to the believer today. 1Joh 1:6-9
David the king begat Solomon...-
God promised David that his son would occupy Israel's throne forever. This promise was based not on David's righteousness, but on God's great mercies. cp. 2Sam 7:8-16; 1Chr 17:7-14
This promise was not fulfilled in Solomon, for his kingdom came to an end. But it will be realized at the return of David's greater son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Luk 1:30-33; Isa 9:6-7; 55:3-7).
The names that follow represent the legal royal line to Israel's throne.
1:7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;
1:8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias
1:9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
1:10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;
1:11 And Josias begat Jechonias
{Jeconiah, also called Jehoiachin} and his brethren,
about the time they were carried away to Babylon:
1:12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel;
and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
Jeconiah (also called 'Jehoiachin') - was one of several kings in the Davidic line who forsook the God of their fathers.
Because of sin, the southern kingdom of Israel, with its king in Jerusalem, was carried away captive into Babylon (586 BC).
King Jeconiah's sin was especially grievous, and the Lord cursed him, pronouncing that none of his offspring would occupy David's throne after him (Jer 22:24-30). In fact, the only historic Davidic king in Jerusalem after Jeconiah was not his son (2Kin 24:15,17).
     Note that the genealogy recorded by Matthew is the line of Joseph, Jesus' stepfather (v.16). It is the line of legal right to the throne, since it descends from the line of sitting kings.
     Luke records Jesus' actual blood line, from David through Mary, but bypassing Jeconiah (Luk 3:23-38). It is a line which satisfies both God's covenant with David and His curse upon Jeconiah. The blood line and the legal line actually diverge directly after David. Jesus is not physically descended from Solomon, but from Nathan (one of David's other sons, Luk 3:31), because the seed of Jeconiah's sin was planted by Solomon himself (cp. 2Chr 7:12-22; 1Kin 11:1-8).
Zerubbabel -- was a greatgrandson of Jeconiah.
-- the last of the kingly line listed in the OT record.
-- led the first expedition of Jews to return to Jerusalem after the captivities.
Through the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, the Holy Spirit presented Zerubbabel as a prophetic picture of the coming King. (eg., Hag 2:1-9,23; Zech 4:6-10, See the Book Notes on Zechariah for more.)
Note that Luke's genealogy mentions a different Zerubbabel ('son of Neri,' who descended from David through Nathan, rather than through Solomon).
1:13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
1:14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
1:15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
1:16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary,
of whom
{GK- feminine singular} was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
Mary of whom was born Jesus...-
As noted above, other women are mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus, but only incidentally to the fact that their husbands 'begat' a son. The wording changes abruptly here, since Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. The grammar here indicates that Jesus was born of Mary, but not of Joseph.
     Luke's genealogy (Luk 3:23-38) does not mention any woman's name, even though it is the genealogy through Mary's blood line. But the formula used there ('... who was the son of...') allows for a broader meaning, and, in the case of Joseph, means he was the 'son-in-law of Heli.'
Mary- did not consider herself worthy of this role.
She recognized her need for a Saviour, and rejoiced in God's faithfulness to His Word, and mercy toward the world. Luk 1:46-55
1:17 So all the generations from Abraham to David [are] fourteen generations;
and from David until the carrying away into Babylon [are] fourteen generations;
and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ [are] fourteen generations.
fourteen generations...- This numbering skips several generations.
For example, in v.8, Joram (also called Jehoram) was actually the great-great-grandfather of Uzziah (ie., Ozias, who is also called Azariah). Three kings, in the historic succession between Jehoram and Uzziah, are not included in the genealogy as given by Matthew: Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah. (See 2Kin 8:25; 11:2; 14:1,21.)
     It is likely that these three groups of '14' were intended as a memory aid, the purpose being to trace the lineage of David to Messiah, not to recite every name. In Hebrew which uses no vowels, the name David would be written as 'DVD.' The Hebrew characters for these letters add up to a numeric value of 14.
Because of the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, and the resulting dispersion,
genealogical records were lost. No modern Jew can trace his lineage to David.
Therefore, the promised Messiah...
  • cannot make his first appearance in our day.
  • must have come before 70 AD.
Yet, false christ(s) will be accepted, though lacking biblical credentials. cp. Mat 24:23,24; Joh 5:43
The final such 'wicked prince' (the Antichrist) will be deposed from power, when He comes 'whose right it is.' Ezek 21:25-27
1:18. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise:
When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph,
before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just [man],
and not willing to make her a publick example,
was minded to put her away privily
1:20 But while he thought
{ie., pondered, deliberated} on these things,
behold, the
{an} angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying,
Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife:
for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
1:21 And she shall bring forth a son,
and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
1:22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled
which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
{Isaiah 7:14}
1:23 Behold, a
{the} virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son,
and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
1:24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him,
and took unto him his wife:
1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son:
and he called his name JESUS.
Joseph, thou son of David (v.20) - Matthew recorded Jesus' genealogy through Joseph,
and narrates the nativity account from Joseph's perspective.
Luke narrates the nativity from Mary's perspective. (See Luk 1:26-56; 2:19)
conceived... of the Holy Spirit.- the Bible clearly teaches the virgin birth of Jesus.
This conception shook Joseph's life (v.18,19).
  • Her story did not seem plausible.
    The text does not reveal the details of the agonized deliberations within Joseph's heart. We are told only that "he thought on these things." But the word chosen for "thought" {GK=enthumeomai} speaks of a mind in turmoil, turning matters over and over, in the heat of fierce passion.
  • He was leaning toward a private divorce {lit., a secret loosing (from their betrothal)},
    as he considered his options under the Law (Deu 22:23-29; 24:1,2).
  • the Lord (through an angel)...
    • calmed his fears (v.20),
    • revealed His working, in accord with prophecy, and
    • gave specific instructions (v.20-23).
  • Joseph obeyed (v.24,25).
that it might be fulfilled...- this is a recurring phrase in Matthew. It emphasizes that...
  • Jesus' person & work fulfilled OT prophecy.
    (cp. 2:15,23; 5:17; 8:17; 12:17-21; 13:35; 21:4,5)
  • The authority of Scripture is the test of every revelation (or, 'apparent word' from the Lord), and the basis of every act of true obedience.
the Lord spoke through an angel and through His written Word, revealing...
  1. Mary's unusual situation- 'the virgin shall conceive and bear a child...' (Isaiah 7:14).
  2. The Child's earthly name - Jesus (GK form of HB 'Yeshua' meaning 'salvation,' or
    GK form of HB 'Jehoshua' meaning 'Jehovah is salvation.' [ScofRB] ) cp. Isa 12:2,3
  3. The Child's true identity - His Name: 'Immanuel,' meaning 'God with us.'
    "He cannot be God with us, unless He is virgin born.
     He cannot be salvation, unless He is God with us." [McGee]
    (In HB usage, a 'name' describes an individual's character. It is more than a mere title. cp. Isa 9:6,7)
  4. The Child's purpose- to save His people from their sins. cp. Isa 12:1-3; Luk 2:30-32
    • save... from their sins - not just from judgment & condemnation
      but from bondage to the power of sin & death. cp. Joh 1:29; Heb 2:14-17
    • 'His people' include...

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