The Genealogy of Jesus - Matthew 1:1-17

Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Matthew 1:1-2:2

<< Previous Note(s)Matthew Main PageNext Note(s) >>

The Genealogy of Jesus - Matthew 1:1-17

The Gospel of Matthew is a biography and so it begins with a genealogy that explains Jesus' origins and traces his ancestors. This is very common in ancient biographies. Jesus' genealogy is broken into three groups – the time from Abraham to David (around 1000 BC), the time from David to when the Jewish people were conquered by the Babylonians (585 BC), and the time from this conquest until Jesus' birth. Matthew observes that in the providence of God, these three sections each had fourteen generations of ancestors (Matt. 1:17). This number fourteen is highlighted to connect Jesus with David, whose name is equivalent to fourteen in the Hebrew numbering system. The three sections of the genealogy emphasize that Jesus is central to God's work in the world, starting with Abraham as a blessing to all the world, through David who was the greatest Jewish king, and through the Babylonian exile, which came upon the Jews as God's judgment on their faithlessness. Jesus came to complete this story and fulfill God's work in the world.

She was found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit – Matthew 1:18

She was found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit. There are several times in the OT where a married woman unexpectedly became pregnant by a direct intervention of God (Gen. 18:10-12; Gen. 21:1-13; Gen. 25:21; 1 Sam. 1:20; cf. also Luke 1:24). But never before had a virgin (like Mary) become pregnant directly by the Holy Spirit. This is an important part of the Christian faith that Jesus was truly human, born of a woman, but was also divine in nature by the Holy Spirit, unlike any other human. The meaning of the reference to a young woman virgin (Heb. 'almah) in Isa 7:14 is debated, but undoubtedly Matthew understands Mary to be a virgin until after Jesus is born (Matt. 1:25).

Joseph was a righteous man – Matthew 1:19

Her husband, Joseph, was a righteous man, and he did not want to disgrace her publicly. One of the most important themes in the Gospel of Matthew is righteousness (Matt. 5:20; 6:1). Joseph is the first person in Matthew to be described as righteous. He is called righteous because he showed compassion to Mary by planning to divorce her mercifully without shaming her, even though it seemed clear that she has wronged him. Showing mercy or compassion for others is what Jesus describes as true righteousness (Matt. 5:7; 9:13; 18:21-35).

You will call his name Jesus - Matthew 1:21

You will call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. Jesus' name is the Greek equivalent of Joshua and both names mean "God saves." Jesus saving people from their sins is the biggest idea in the Gospels. This is why each of the Gospels puts a lot of emphasis on Jesus dying on the cross and rising from the dead as the means of salvation. See WLC 40,41; BC 21,22; HC 29

All this happened to fulfill what was spoken – Matthew 1:22

All this happened to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord. After giving Jesus' genealogy, Matthew tells five stories about Jesus' birth and childhood, each of which has a "fulfillment quotation" (Matt. 1:23; 2:5-6; 2:15; 2:17-18; 2:23). These are quotations from the OT that connect Jesus' story with God's work in Israel's history, illustrating the inner-connections. God is doing something new through Jesus, but it is built on and completes everything he did before.

Where is he who was born King of the Jews? - Matthew 2:2

Where is he who was born King of the Jews? These learned, non-Jewish men who probably came from Babylon in the East, correctly identified who Jesus was – the Jewish King whom God had promised to send to bring his kingdom to the world. The learned men came to Jerusalem, the Jewish capital, because they assumed this is where the infant king would be. Instead they found a false and evil king, Herod, who will try to kill the infant Jesus (Matt. 2:16).

Related Resources

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

<< Previous Note(s)Matthew Main PageNext Note(s) >>