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Matthew 1:1-17


This post begins a series of studies in Matthew. These will be formatted as potential use as class notes. There will be some comments on the text (which I will expect you to be able to read in your own Bible) and some questions for consideration by the class. I anticipate having a new item in this series on a weekly basis each Friday. How long the series will continue, I have no idea at this time.

This first section is the genealogy of Jesus. This is a section that is easy for us to gloss over, yet there are several significant things we need to take note of in this section of Scripture.

Jesus Is the Son of David

Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures. This does not mean He destroyed those writings. In fact, He said He did not come to destroy or abolish; He came to fulfill (Matthew 5:17). The opening lines of Matthew declare He is the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.

As the Son of David, Jesus is the long anticipated Messiah. This was one of the “titles” associated with the Messiah. David was the prototype king of Israel. The first king of Israel was not typical of a godly king in any way at all. In fact, Saul ben Kish was flawed almost from the beginning. On the other hand, David was the man whom God chose because he was a man after God’s own heart. See a contrast of these two leaders in Israel here.

This does not mean that all David did was righteous or that all Saul did was evil. David made grievous mistakes, at least one of which is referenced in this text – his sin with Bathsheba. See a question about this sin answered here. Saul had a (very) few noble moments in his reign. Most of Saul’s reign, however, was devoted to establishing, consolidating, and maintaining his own authority as king. He was jealous of any threat to his throne. Much of what he did was capricious, motivated by a jealous spirit that resented any appearance of disregard of royal prerogatives. On the other hand, David always saw himself as a vassal king whose authority was given him by the Great King, the LORD God of Israel. Yes, David sinned, but when a prophet or someone else would point out his sin he would return to the LORD. He showed a spirit that ultimately wanted to do the will of God. This was the spirit that also motivated the Messiah, the Christ. The difference was that Jesus as the Christ did no sin; He always yielded His will to the will of the Father.

The middle section of this genealogy is a list of the kings of Judah with the exception of a the kings after Jeconiah appointed by Judah’s conquerors. None of them measured up to David but they were all of the family of David. The third section of this genealogy is the legal line of succession from the last king of Judah to Jesus Himself – through Joseph, the husband of Mary.

Jesus Is the Son of Abraham

All of the Jews claimed to be children of Abraham (see Matthew 3:9). Jesus was uniquely the Son of Abraham in His generation because it was in Him that God fulfilled His promises to Abraham. At the very beginning of his gospel Matthew reminds us of the connection between Jesus and the promises to Abraham.

The promises to Abraham had several aspects.

The first was that his descendants would become a great nation. On one level, God fulfilled this in the Hebrew nation descended from Abraham. Yet, “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children” (Romans 9:6-7). In Romans 4, Paul established that the true children of Abraham are those who share Abraham’s faith. It is not physical descent that determines who are Abraham’s seed. The true sons of Abraham are those who by faith are sons of God. This is the kingdom of God today.

The second promise to Abraham was that God would provide this nation with a land. Again, at one level, God fulfilled this promise by giving Canaan to Israel. At a deeper level, God fulfills this promise in the new heaven and the new earth He will give to His children when the Lord Jesus returns at the end of time.

The third promise was never kept until Jesus came, though it should have been. The nation of Israel should have been a blessing to all nations of the earth – but their rebellion against God kept them from becoming what God called Abraham to be. God does fulfill this promise in Jesus, who God sent to bless all nations by turning them away from their sins (see Acts 3:25-26).

Jesus Is the Son of Immoral People

Other than Mary, Matthew mentions four women in this genealogy. Each of the four had tainted lives.

Tamar’s story is in Genesis 38. Though most of the blame for what happened there falls on Judah, her father-in-law and father of her twin sons, she did play the part of a prostitute in this sordid tale of sex and covenant-breaking. Read about this affair here.

Rahab, though she showed great faith and appears in the Hall of Fame of the Faithful (Hebrews 11:31), was a prostitute who became the wife of Salmon and mother of Boaz.

Boaz also married Ruth, the Moabite widow of a refugee from Israel who returned to Judah with her mother-in-law. She apparently tried to seduce Boaz (see Ruth 3:3-9) to get him to marry her.

David’s sin with Bathsheba also brought her into the lineage of Jesus.

Even Mary, His mother, was under a cloud as Joseph, her betrothed, was contemplating divorcing her when he discovered she was with child (Matthew 1:18-19).

Questions for Consideration:

  1. Why does Matthew begin with genealogy?
  2. Why are there differences in Matthew’s genealogy and that found in Luke 3:23-37?
  3. Why is the Messiah called “the Son of David” as opposed to, say, “the son of Josiah” (who was one of the “good kings” of Judah?
  4. How does Jesus as “the Son of Abraham” point to His fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham?
  5. What does the fact that all of the women mentioned in this genealogy were “under a cloud” suggest to us today?
  6. How would the fact Boas’ mother was Rahab have affected his attitude toward another “foreigner” (Ruth) who was the widow of his kinsman? Contrast his attitude with that of the nearer kinsman (see Ruth 4:1-6). Does racial prejudice enter into the decision of the nearer kinsman?
  7. Was this genealogy more important to Matthew’s Jewish readers than it is to us today?
  8. What have you learned from this study?

Next: The Birth of Jesus – Matthew 1:18 – 2:23

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One Response

  1. Excellent work buddy, continue the good work.

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