Matthew 1



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The theme of the book of Matthew is, Jesus is the King of Israel. As you have it in Zechariah 9:9,

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Descending from the tribe of Judah, Jesus is the long awaited ... Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5). As we have it in Genesis 49:9-10,

Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes (this name means rest), and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. (NASV)


Here is an outline of the book that may be helpful:

        The Person of the King             Chapters 1-2                  (lineage and birth)
        The Preparation of the King   Chapters 3-4:16             (baptism and temptation)
        The Preaching of the King       Chapters 4:17-9:35       (including his Sermon on the Mount)
        The Program of the King         Chapters 9:36-16:20     (teaching, rebuking, healing and sending)
        The Passion of the King            Chapters 16:21-27:16   (transfiguration, trials and death)
        The Power of the King              Chapter 28                      (resurrection and parting words)


Now, one of the things about the ancient Jewish people is that they kept very good records. In the book of Ezra, for example, we are told that after the Jews had returned to the land of Israel from their captivity in Babylon, some who were seeking to be priests were disqualified because they couldn't be found in the genealogical records.

These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean." Ezra 2:62

Therefore, because the Jews kept such good records, no Jew questioned the genealogy of Jesus of Nazareth which we are about to study. The genealogy, found here in Matthew 1, establishes Jesus' legal right to the throne of David through the line of his legal father, Joseph. Christ is also established as being of the royal line of David line through his mother Mary's genealogy in Luke 3, as well. She too was a direct descendant of king David.

Now, the Old Testament prophesies that Messiah will one day reign over the whole world sitting upon the throne of his father, King David. Here are a few of those scriptures:

I declare to you (spoken to king David) that the LORD will build a house for you: when your days are over and you go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever. I Chronicles 17:10b-14

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse (king David's father); from his roots a Branch (Jesus) will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD - and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.   He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. In that day the Root of Jesse (Jesus) will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. Isaiah 11:1-10

The LORD swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke: 'One of your own descendants I will place on your throne...' Psalm 132:11

The Apostle Paul says, in II Timothy 2:8a,

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.



A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
    Abraham was the father of Isaac,
         Isaac the father of Jacob,
(I Chron. 1:28)
         Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
(I Chron. 2:1)
    Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
(I Chron. 2:4)
         Perez the father of Hezron
(I Chron. 2:5)
         Hezron the father of Ram
(I Chron. 2:9)
    Ram the father of Amminadab,
         Amminadab the father of Nahshon
(I Chron. 2:10)
         Nahshon the father of Salmon, 
(I Chron. 2:11)
    Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
         Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
         Obed the father of Jesse,
(I Chron. 2:12)
         and Jesse the father of King David.
(I Chron. 2:15)
         David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife, 
(I Chron. 3:1,5)
    Solomon the father of Rehoboam
(I Chron. 3:10)
         Rehoboam the father of Abijah
(I Chron. 3:10)
         Abijah the father of Asa
[NU reads: Asaph
](I Chron. 3:10)
    Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
         Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
         Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
    Uzziah the father of Jotham
(I Chron. 3:11)
         Jotham the father of Ahaz
(I Chron. 3:13)
         Ahaz the father of Hezekiah
(I Chron. 3:13)
     Hezekiah the father of Manasseh
(I Chron. 3:13)
         Manasseh the father of Amon
[NU reads: Amos], (I Chron. 3:14)
         Amon the father of Josiah
(I Chron. 3:14)
         and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. 
(I Chron. 3:15)
     After the exile to Babylon:
         Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel
(I Chron. 3:17)
         Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel
(I Chron. 3:19)
     Zerubbabel the father of Abiud,
         Abiud the father of Eliakim,
         Eliakim the father of Azor,
     Azor the father of Zadok,
         Zadok the father of Akim,
         Akim the father of Eliud,
     Eliud the father of Eleazar,
         Eleazar the father of Matthan,
         Matthan the father of Jacob,
          and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. Thus 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.

These opening verses of Matthew's gospel establish that Christ Jesus is both the son of David and the son of Abraham.
 the son of David, Jesus fulfills the Kingdom program of God ... as we can so clearly see from the scriptures above.
 the son of Abraham, he fulfills the redemptive program of God. As you have it in Galatians 3:14-16,

He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Christ. So, Jesus is both King of Israel and Savior of the world.

Coming back to the genealogy above, please notice that to one side I have given the references to the names of these same people as they are also found in the ancient Old Testament genealogies of First Chronicles. I have done that so that we can check the accuracy of Matthew's genealogy and discuss any interesting points, discrepancies or gaps that we might discover. At verse 13, however, we leave the First Chronicles list since, at that point, Matthew is recording the most recent people in Joseph's line.

Now, let's look at the differences in Matthew's genealogy and that which is recorded in First Chronicles.

     First, in verse 9, two names are left out that are recorded in I Chronicles 3:12.  The names are Amaziah and Azariah. In Hebrew culture and reckoning, this is not a problem because any single descendant in one's lineage can be referred to as the son of any other ancient ancestor. This is common reconing in Jewish genealogies. For example, that is why Jesus is legitimately called, the son of David here. For what it is worth, Matthew left these two men out of his genealogy in order to round out his three divisions into three equal sets of 14 descendants each (see verse 14).

     Second, in verse 11, Jehoikim is left out. He is found recorded in the genealogy in I Chronicles 3:15-16.

     Third, in verse 12, there appears to be an error.  According to First Chronicles 3:17, Salathiel was not the father of Zorobabel. Rather, his father was Salathiel's brother, Pedaiah. On this one, however, I am going to go with Matthew's account as probably being the correct one because the First Chronicles text, being many hundreds of years older, may contain a copyist's error at that point ... wherein the two names may have been accidentally inverted so that Salathiel was, in fact, Zorobabel's father. We can say that because Matthew's genealogy is also inspired Scripture and was without error in its original manuscript.

Before we move on, let me point out that there are four Gentile women ... distant great-grandmothers of Christ ... who are found here in the genealogy of Jesus. Two were Canaanites, one, a Moabite and one, a Hittite.

     One Canaanite woman is Tamar. Her story can be found in Genesis 38. If you would like to read additional thoughts on that fascinating story, I would invite you to turn to my commentary on Genesis at:

     The second Canaanite woman is Rahab, the harlot. Her story is found in Joshua 2, and she is also recorded in the Bible's great hall of faith chapter, Hebrews 11, at verses 30 and 31.

     Then, there is the Moabite woman, Ruth. An entire book of the Bible is dedicated to her ... the book of Ruth. An interesting side to her story is the fact that anyone from her nation had been barred from the congregation of Israel to the 10th generation because of the way the Moabites treated the people of Israel when they attempted to cross Moabite territory under Moses when they were on their way to the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 23:3-4).

     And last, we find the Hittite woman, Bathsheba. Her story is found in Second Samuel 11, where it is recorded that King David succeeded in having her husband, Uriah, killed in battle in order to get her for himself. It was a great sin and King David paid for it dearly. Subsequently, though, Bathsheba became the mother of the great King Solomon.

I must tell you that I am so very glad that our Lord has these women in his ancestry. Jesus came into our world to identify with and to save sinners, you see. He was no respecter of persons. He brought no prejudices with him. He only brought mercy and grace. He took upon himself human flesh and truly became one of us. As you have it in Hebrews 2:16-17,

For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. (KJV)

And again, as the Apostle Paul so aptly put it, in I Timothy 1:15,

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am the worst.

One last note ... when comparing Joseph's genealogy in Matthew with that of Mary's genealogy in Luke 3 ... at verse 7, above, the two genealogies divide. Mary's line (Luke 3:31), branches off and comes on down through Nathan, Solomon's brother.

To sum up, then, Matthew opens his account of the life of Christ with rock solid proof that Jesus of Nazareth holds the legal right to the throne of David. He proves that Jesus is the son of David and, as such, is undeniably eligible to be the rightful King of Israel.



Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.' So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, 'God with us.' Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth [NU omits: her firstborn son and simply reads: a Son]. And he called His name JESUS.

Matthew writes this to establish that Jesus was not the physical son of Joseph. Now, it is helpful at this point to have some idea of the marriage customs of the Jews. So, let's review that subject for a moment. A Jewish marriage, in Jesus' day, had three parts...

     First, a marriage contract was signed. This was sometimes entered into by the parents of Jewish children as early as their birth or while the prospective bride and bridegroom were still very young. At that point, as far as Jewish law was concerned, they were legally married.

     Next came the retreval of the bride. This took place when the couple became of age or after a reasonable waiting period. Then, the groom and his friends would go to the bride's home to get her and to bring her to her new home where the bridegroom lived.

     The third, and final step, was the marriage supper. This was a great celebration that began when the bride arrived at the groom's home and usually lasted for a week. Jesus was attending one of these feasts at the wedding in Cana when the host ran out of wine and Jesus performed his first miracle ... changing water into wine (John 2).

Now, we who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ (a Jew) as our personal Savior ... can also expect to experience all three phases of this Jewish wedding ceremony:

    1. When we received the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, we were baptized into the body of Christ by his Holy Spirit (First Corinthians 12:13). At that moment, we literally became one flesh with Christ ... members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones (Ephesians 5:30). That was our marriage contract, signed, sealed and delivered by the Holy Spirit. From that day on, we were formally wed to Christ. Every true believer is married to the Lamb of God (Ephesians 5; Second Corinthians 11).

    2. What remains is the second step of the wedding ... his coming to get us one glorious day when our Bridegroom and his friends will indeed come for us, and escort us to his home in Heaven (First Thessalonians 4:16-17; John. 14:2-3; 17:24).

    3. After that, as we have it in Revelation 19:7-9, we will sit down at the great celebration of the marriage supper of the Lamb ... the third and final phase. There is a place waiting for you at that table, dear believer. Then, we will sit down together and celebrate our betrothal to Christ in our permanent residence above. Won't that be wonderful? I suspect there will be more looking, listening, talking, introducing and rejoicing than eating though, don't you?

Coming back to our text ... before the day had arrived when Joseph was to go and retrieve Mary, his wife, to bring her to his home to the wedding feast ... Joseph discovered that Mary was with child. This discovery probably took place right after Mary returned home from visiting with her also pregnant cousin, Elizabeth, who ... in her old age ... was carrying in her womb Christ's forerunner, John the Baptist (Luke 1:36, 56).

One can only imagine the dismay and emotional trauma that Joseph's discovery must have precipitated! Doubtless, he had a few things to say to Mary. His disappointment and heartache can only be imagined. Mary, on the other hand, was really up against it. Nothing she could have said would have helped. Even if she told Joseph the truth about her condition, who in their right mind would have believed such a story? There was nothing to do for it then ... but for Mary to simply remain quiet. She was in no position to do otherwise. Consequently, our text says, Joseph, being a righteous man, decided on a quiet divorce rather than to publically humiliate his wife. Remember, they were legally married in the eyes of Jewish law, even though the marriage custom had not yet been totally completed. Under Mosaic law, by the way, Joseph had the legal right to have Mary stoned to death, although, at that time, he would have had to have received permission from the Romans to do so. As you have it in Deuteronomy 22:20-21,

If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father's house. You must purge the evil from among you.

Before Joseph could proceed with the divorce, however, God intervened by sending an angel to him in a dream. It was a dream of the nature that left no doubt, whatsoever, that he had received a message from God. In the dream, the angel informed Joseph that his wife, Mary, had conceived the baby by means of the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, the Greek word the angel used to describe Mary's impregnation is the word begotten. It is the same word that is used in John 3:16,

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (NASV)

The angel continued, She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Jesus, ... the song begins ... Oh ... what a name! Jesus ... every day the same. Jesus ... let all earth proclaim. The matchless name ... of Jesus! The name, Jesus, emphasizes his work. It means Savior. As we have it in his own words in Matthew 18:11,

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.

Matthew continues, All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' which means, "God with us". This whole episode, then, occurred in order to fulfill Isaiah's prophecy of the virgin found in Isaiah 7:14, written over 700 years before. That particular prophecy emphasizes Christ's person. Isaiah prophesied that one was coming who would be born of a virgin and would be none other than Immaneul ... God with us. God in the flesh. Amazing. As you have it in John 1:1,14,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Make no mistake about it, it was Immaneul who was born of the virgin, Mary. The tiny baby who was laid in Bethlehem's manger was God with us. The One whose diapers were changed by his mother, was also the One who ... at those exact same moments ... was holding all of the vast universe together by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:1-3)!

When Joseph awoke from his dream, he immediately went and retrieved his wife and brought her home to his house, completing the Jewish marriage custom. The Scripture, here, tells us that this was because he was a righteous man. Joseph was an obedient man of God and, as such, he was fully prepared to pay the cost of being so ... no matter what it might entail. From that point on, he and Mary would suffer together. One can only imagine the snickers and knowing looks they received as they went about their daily business in the tiny village of Nazareth. He got her pregnant! ... was doubtless a constant whisper and the hot topic of many a gossip session.

Last here, notice that our text says that Joseph had no sexual union with Mary until after she gave birth to their firstborn son. Literally, the Greek says, was not knowing her. This matter of fact statement is clearly speaking of the sexual side of their marriage. After the birth of Jesus, however, Mary and Joseph had several more children together (Matthew 12:46; 13:55).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.