Matthew 1

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Understanding And Applying the Text

Both Matthew and Luke provide Jesus’ genealogy. Why? What is the value of these genealogies? The genealogies do not even agree. Both contain Joseph in the genealogies. Since Christ was not from Joseph’s seed, why include him at all? And, if you are not into genealogy, you may ask, “Who cares?”

Some believe Matthew provides the genealogy of Joseph. They claim Luke provides Mary’s genealogy. They make the claim to explain the differences in the genealogies. But Luke starts his genealogy with “Joseph the son Heli.” So it appears both are providing a linage through Joseph.

It may be that Matthew is not giving direct ancestors. Rather he is giving the legal line for the throne of David. Both Matthew and Luke emphasize that Jesus was of Davidic descent.

The point of the genealogies is to show Jesus was in the line of David. Both Mary and Joseph were unknowns. There were poor and gave no sign of royalty. They appeared to have no legal claim. They were nobodies, not royalty.

Today we have different assumptions and values than they did in the first century. In the ancient world, adoption was not thought of as it is today. The question of who was your real father was absurd. Your real father was the one who adopted you.

An example of this is the line of Caesars. A Caesar would adopt a son because they needed an err. For example, Julius Caesar adopted his great-nephew Octavius. This change in medieval times. Today you need to be born into the royal line.

What accounts for the difference in the genealogies? While I am not a Hebrew scholar I have studied a little Hebrew. In the Hebrew language, there is no word for grandson or great-grandson. This implies they did not think in those terms. You did not have a grandfather you had fathers. Your grandfather was your father. He was not your grandfather. That may explain the differences. In that neither Matthew nor Luke included every single father. The difference is they chose different fathers.

If we are to understand ancient writings, we must not impose our culture on them. The Bible is an ancient book. We must understand it from the point of its time in history.

The genealogies show Jesus’ linage and claim to the throne. But it also shows this is history. This is not a myth. It is not a made-up story. Jesus’ story relates events that occurred in actual space and time.

The inclusion of the women in Jesus’ linage provides interesting points. Women are not usually named in near-eastern genealogies. But these women played a role in God’s purpose. The five women named in Jesus’ genealogy all remind us that God often does the unexpected. He often chooses the unlikely.

Tamar reminds us of Judah’s failures (Genesis 38:6-30). Tamar gave birth to Perez and Zerah. Tamar was Judah’s daughter-in-law. So this was an incestual relationship. Plus Tamar seduced Judah by playing the role of a prostitute. Nothing in that relationship was according to God’s law.

Rahab was a prostitute from Jericho (Joshua 2). God used a prostitute to bring the messiah. In the ancient world’s thinking, a prostitute was Jesus’ mother.

Ruth was a Moabite (Ruth 1:40) As a Moabite she was subject to a special curse (Deuteronomy 22: 3-5). Ruth displayed many noble traits but she was not a Hebrew. She was a Moabite. Yet she is in the Davidic line.

Bathsheba was Uriah’s wife. She was David’s downfall (2 Samuel 11) She was the mother of Solomon and as a result the mother of Christ.

The fifth woman mentioned is Mary. The Roman Church tries to make Mary out to be perfect. They even claim Mary was born without sin. Mary may have been a good person. She may have been a righteous person. She may have been more righteous than anyone else in her village. Who knows, maybe in the whole world. But the Bible does not say that. As we can see from Jesus’ genealogy God did not require Mary’s righteousness. God chose Mary for His own reason. It had nothing to do with Mary. God works through flawed people. And in some cases deeply flawed people.

Matthew called Joseph a just man. Many assume an incorrect definition of justice. They take justice as another word for humanity or gentle and merciful. That is not the meaning of justice. Others have a more accurate view. They understand Matthew is saying Joseph was torn between two values. Justice required putting Mary away. But mercy required not shaming her. These two values pulled in opposite directions.

He decided to divorce without fanfare. Engagement was as almost binding as marriage. infidelity during betrothal made divorce almost obligatory.

But an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream. The angel called Joseph a son of David. This relates back to Jesus’ linage.

Joseph was perplexed. He could share in Mary’s crime if he let her adultery go unpunished. The angel removes that guilt. The angel’s message allowed Joseph to live with Mary with a safe conscience.

The angel told Joseph he was to name the child Jesus. Jesus is the Greek word for “Joshua.” Joshua means “Yahweh is salvation,” or “Yahweh saves.” In the first century, they often used the first syllable of God’s name in names. It was a common name among Jews in 1st century Palestine. The Septuagint (LXX) referenced several people by that name. Josephus indicates the same thing.

The angel told Joseph the reason for the name. “He will save his people from their sins.” The truth taught here is not a common belief in the church today. Jesus did not come to save everyone. Salvation is not even offered to everyone. Jesus came to save His people.

Second Jesus came to save from sin. He came to accomplish a specific work. He did not come to set an example. He did not come to the show the way. He came to save us from sin. Christ delivers us from sins. This consists of two parts. An atonement, he brings us a free pardon. He delivers us from a death sentence. Next, He reconciles us to God.

Jesus’ conception was miraculous. Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son… .” This is the first of many Old Testament references Matthew will make.

When Joseph awoke he did as the angel told him.

Christ’s incarnation was miraculous. We may marvel at how a virgin conceived. But what is even more amazing is God came to save His people from their sins. The fact He came to save those who rebelled and blaspheme His name. He came to save us. We are undeserving. Yet He loves us.

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