THE HISTORIC JESUS FULFILS ALL THE GENEALOGICAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE PROMISED MESSIAH, THE SEED OF ABRAHAM, WHO WOULD SIT ON THE THRONE OF DAVID
D. A. Carson: Matthew’s chief aims in including the genealogy are hinted at in the first verse—namely, to show that Jesus Messiah is truly in the kingly line of David, heir to the messianic promises, the one who brings divine blessings to all nations. Therefore the genealogy focuses on King David (1:6) on the one hand, yet on the other hand includes Gentile women. Many entries would touch the hearts and stir the memories of biblically literate readers, though the principal thrust of the genealogy ties together promise and fulfillment.
J. Ligon Duncan: But Gospels are not written simply to give us a biographical account, they are written for a redemptive purpose. A gospel is a record of what God has done to save sinners. Through the incarnation, the earthly life, the mighty acts and the suffering and death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. That is what a Gospel is.
R. T. France: The “book of orgin” thus holds many puzzles, both as to its intended scope and as to how Matthew has arrived at his list of names and its pattern. But its main aim is clear enough: to locate Jesus within the story of God’s people, as its intended climax, and to do it with a special focus on the Davidic monarchy as the proper context for a theological understanding of the role of the person whom Matthew, more than the other gospel writers, will delight to refer to not only as “Messiah” but also more specifically as “Son of David.”
Richard Gardner: The most important thing to note in the list of names in this section is that it is a list of kings. Unlike Luke (cf. Luke 3:23-38), Matthew traces Jesus’ descent from David through a line of royalty. The list begins with the greatest of Israel’s rulers and concludes with the last free king before the exile. Such a lineage serves to underscore the messianic role which Matthew ascribes to Jesus and invites the reader to think of Jesus as one destined for kingship.
Michael Wilkins: The genuineness, and unlikeliness, of this genealogy must have stunned Matthew’s readers. Jesus’ ancestors were humans with all of the foibles, yet potentials, of everyday people. God worked through them to bring about his salvation. There is no pattern of righteousness in the lineage of Jesus. We find adulterers, harlots, heroes, and Gentiles. Wicked Rehoboam was the father of wicked Abijah, who was the father of good King Asa. Asa was the father of the good King Jehoshaphat (v. 8), who was the father of wicked King Joram. God was working throughout the generations, both good and evil, to bring about his purposes. Matthew shows that God can use anyone—however marginalized or despised—to bring about his purposes. These are the very types of people Jesus came to save. . .
Matthew gives a descending genealogy of Jesus in the order of succession, with the earliest ancestor placed at the head and later generations placed in lines of descent. This is the more common form of genealogy in the Old Testament (e.g., Gen. 5:1–32). Luke gives an ascending form of genealogy that reverses the order, starting with Jesus and tracing it to Adam (Luke 3:23–38; cf. Ezra 7:1–5). This reverse order is found more commonly in Greco-Roman genealogies.
Warren Wiersbe: When you read the genealogy in Genesis 5, the repeated phrase and he died sounds like the tolling of a funeral bell. The Old Testament illustrates the truth that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). But when you turn to the New Testament, that first genealogy emphasizes birth and not death! The message of the New Testament is that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). . .
It shows that Jesus Christ is a part of history, that all of Jewish history prepared the way for His birth. God in His providence ruled and overruled to accomplish His great purpose in bringing His Son into the world.
Van Parunak: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ” establishes our Lord as the legal descendant of David, qualified to occupy the throne God promised to his royal ancestor. The whole structure of the list emphasizes this relation to David and his kingdom. That kingdom was the goal to which Israel’s history moved from its beginning with Abraham. Due to the sin of the nation, it unraveled during the very monarchy that should have expanded it, leading to the Babylonian captivity. But now God is raising it up, as the prophets promised, and Jesus the son of Mary is the fulfillment of the ancient promises.
(:1) INTRODUCTION TO THE INCARNATION OF JESUS THE SON OF GOD
A. Record of His Origins
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,”
D. A. Carson: The first two words of Matthew, biblos geneseōs, may be translated “record of the genealogy” (NIV), “record of the origins,” or “record of the history.” The NIV limits this title to the genealogy (1:1–17), the second could serve as a heading for the prologue (1:1 – 2:23), and the third as a heading for the entire gospel. . . Matthew rather intends his first two chapters to be a coherent and unified “record of the origins of Jesus Christ” (rightly, Blomberg [NAC]).
R. T. France: The first two words of Matthew’s gospel are literally “Book of genesis”. The effect on a Jewish reader is comparable to that of John’s opening phrase, “In the beginning…” The theme of the fulfillment of Scripture is signaled from the very start, and these opening words suggest that a new creation is now taking place. That particular concept of fulfillment is not clearly developed elsewhere in the gospel, which is concerned rather with how Jesus brings the history of God’s people to its climax, but this passing echo of the beginning of the world’s history adds a further allusive dimension for those who wish to think it through, perhaps particularly in the light of the creative act of God which will result in Jesus’ birth. . .
The colorless translation “Jesus Christ” here and in v. 18 in many English versions does not do justice to the excitement in Matthew’s introduction of Jesus under the powerfully evocative title “Messiah,” the long-awaited deliverer of God’s people, in whom their history has now come to its climax. In v. 16 he will draw attention to the titular force of Christos by using the phrase “Jesus who is called the Messiah.”
David Platt: By applying this title to Jesus, Matthew is telling us that He is the Messiah. It is important to keep in mind that “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name. No, “Christ” literally means “Messiah” or “Anointed One.” Throughout the Old Testament there were promises of a coming anointed one, a Messiah, who would powerfully deliver God’s people. Here Matthew says of Jesus, “This is He, the One we’ve waited for!”
Grant Osborne: Vv. 1 and 17 frame the genealogy and center on the three names in a chiastic arrangement (Christ/David/Abraham in v. 1; Abraham/David/Christ in v. 17; see Hagner, 5). The phrase in 1:1a is taken from Gen 2:4; 5:1 (cf. Gen 6:1; 10:1; 11:10, 27 etc.), where it introduces genealogies or historical narrative and hints here that Jesus fulfills these events and brings a new beginning or new creation.
B. Relation to David
“the son of David,”
D. A. Carson: “Son of David” is an important designation in Matthew. Not only does David become a turning point in the genealogy (1:6, 17), but the title recurs throughout the gospel (9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30–31; 21:9, 15; 22:42, 45). God swore covenant love to David (Ps 89:28) and promised that one of his immediate descendants would establish the kingdom—even more, that David’s kingdom and throne would endure forever (2Sa 7:12–16).
S. Lewis Johnson: It’s evident as you compare these four Gospels that they are not contradictory to one another, but they are complementary. And the purpose of the genealogy of the Gospel of Matthew is to present to us the Lord Jesus as a royal figure connected by blood and by life with the line that has gone before him. Now we shall see that the Lord Jesus Christ’s connection with the regal line is not by blood, because he is connected with Joseph. And it’s Joseph who possesses the regal rights to the throne of David, and the Lord Jesus is not the natural son of Joseph the carpenter. . .
So, the Lord Jesus, then, is legally of Joseph, physically of Mary. Because he is legally of Joseph who had the legal right to the throne, he is able to sit upon the throne and inherit that throne. Because he is of Mary, he possesses his rightful relationship to David physically through her. So he is truly Son of David, both physically and legally. Physically of Mary; legally of Joseph—he is the one, of whom, was born Jesus.
C. Relation to Abraham
“the son of Abraham.”
D. A. Carson: “Son of Abraham” may have been a recognized messianic title in some branches of Judaism (cf. T. Levi 8:15). The covenant with the Jewish people had first been made with Abraham (Ge 12:1–3; 17:7; 22:18), a connection Paul sees as basic to Christianity (Gal 3:16). More important, Genesis 22:18 had promised that through Abraham’s offspring “all nations” (panta ta ethnē, LXX) would be blessed; so with this allusion to Abraham, Matthew is preparing his readers for the final words of this offspring from Abraham—the commission to make disciples of “all nations” (Mt 28:19, panta ta ethnē). Jesus the Messiah came in fulfillment of the kingdom promises to David and of the Gentile-blessings promised to Abraham (see Mt 3:9; 8:11).
Leon Morris: Jesus was also the son of Abraham, “to whom the divine promises were first given and with whom ‘sacred history’ may be said to have begun” (Tasker). It was Abraham with whom God made the covenant that set Israel apart in a special sense as the people of God (Gen. 12:2-3; 15:17-21; 17:1-14). All Israelites took pride in being descendants of the great patriarch, and the Christians were especially fond of him as the classic example of one who believed (Paul brings this out particularly in Romans). His Hebrew name means “father of a multitude” (Gen. 17:5), and it had been prophesied that all nations would be blessed through him (Gen. 12:3). We find the idea of a universal blessing at the end of this Gospel as well as at the beginning (28:19). In combining David and Abraham Matthew is drawing attention to two strands in Jesus’ Hebrew ancestry and implying that he fulfilled all that would be expected in a Messiah with such connections.
I. (:2-6a) GENEALOGY FROM ABRAHAM TO DAVID
A. (:2) From Abraham to Judah
“To Abraham was born Isaac;
and to Isaac, Jacob;
and to Jacob, Judah and his brothers;”
B. (:3) From Judah to Ram
“and to Judah were born Perez and Zerah by Tamar;
and to Perez was born Hezron;
and to Hezron, Ram;”
D. A. Carson: Probably Perez and Zerah (v.3) are both mentioned because they are twins (Ge 38:27; cf. 1Ch 2:4); Judah’s other sons receive no mention.
Grant Osborne: Matthew mentions both Perez and Zerah because they were twins (Gen 38:27–30). The book of Ruth ends with the genealogy of Perez to David (Ruth 4:18–22), showing that a major purpose of that book was to trace the Davidic line and to show that Ruth through her faithful devotion was a worthy ancestress to David.
C. (:4) From Ram to Salmon
“and to Ram was born Amminadab;
and to Amminadab, Nahshon;
and to Nahshon, Salmon;
Grant Osborne: Approximately four hundred years are covered from Perez to Amminadab, demanding the omission of several names from the list. This follows the genealogical lists in 1 Chr 2:10–11; Ruth 4:19–20.
D. (:5) From Salmon to Jesse
“and to Salmon was born Boaz by Rahab;
and to Boaz was born Obed by Ruth;
and to Obed, Jesse;
Grant Osborne: Rahab was the prostitute who saved the spies at Jericho by hiding them in her house (Josh 2; 6), and this is almost certainly the same Rahab. The problem is that she lived two hundred years earlier, but as in vv. 3–4 there are likely several generations omitted from the list. It means she is the ancestress of Boaz.
E. (:6a) Birth of David the King
“and to Jesse was born David the king.”
II. (:6b-11) GENEALOGY FROM DAVID TO THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY
A. (:6b-7) From David to Asa
“And to David was born Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah;
7 and to Solomon was born Rehoboam;
and to Rehoboam, Abijah;
and to Abijah, Asa;”
S. Lewis Johnson: And furthermore, you’ll also notice that not only is it taught here that the Lord Jesus Christ’s coming is no unpremeditated accident, but we are also taught that man’s willfulness cannot hinder the purposes of God. One of the things that we are told in the Old Testament is that the Israelite should not marry outside of Israel, but we see that in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus, there is that violation of the Word of God. And furthermore, we are also taught—in the Old Testament as well as the New—that adultery is one of the heinous sins of Holy Scripture. And yet, our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming is related to the act of adultery of David and Bathsheeba, because the Lord Jesus has his right to the throne through Solomon, who was the product of that union. Man’s willfulness cannot hinder the purposes of God. How important that is to remember.
B. (:8) From Asa to Uzziah
“and to Asa was born Jehoshaphat;
and to Jehoshaphat, Joram;
and to Joram, Uzziah;”
C. (:9) From Uzziah to Hezekiah
“and to Uzziah was born Jotham;
and to Jotham, Ahaz;
and to Ahaz, Hezekiah;”
D. (:10) From Hezekiah to Josiah
“and to Hezekiah was born Manasseh;
and to Manasseh, Amon;
and to Amon, Josiah;”
E. (:11) From Josiah to the Babylonian Captivity
“and to Josiah were born Jeconiah and his brothers,
at the time of the deportation to Babylon.”
Craig Blomberg: The Babylonian exile appears centrally as well, perhaps because Jesus is seen as the climax of the restoration of the nation of Israel from exile.
E. Michael Green: Just as David represented the high-water mark of Israel’s hopes and development and pointed forward to his descendant, Jesus, so the Babylonian captivity represented the nadir of Israel’s fortunes, the frustration of her hopes, and the end of the royal line; and it too points forward to Jesus the Messiah and his people in whom those fortunes will be restored and those promises fulfilled.
III. (:12-16) GENEALOGY FROM THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY TO CHRIST
A. (:12) From the Babylonian Captivity to Zerubbabel
“And after the deportation to Babylon, to Jeconiah was born Shealtiel;
and to Shealtiel, Zerubbabel;”
B. (:13) From Zerubbabel to Azor
“and to Zerubbabel was born Abihud;
and to Abihud, Eliakim;
and to Eliakim, Azor;”
C. (:14) From Azor to Eliud
“and to Azor was born Zadok;
and to Zadok, Achim;
and to Achim, Eliud;”
D. (:15) From Eliud to Jacob
“and to Eliud was born Eleazar;
and to Eleazar, Matthan;
and to Matthan, Jacob;”
S. Lewis Johnson: And as we look at this genealogy, we should reflect upon the fact that that is precisely our destiny. We shall soon be but names in the memory of our posterity, and then less than names. It brings home to us and points out to us the fact that we are here for a limited time.
E. (:16) From Jacob to the Birth of Jesus, called Messiah
“and to Jacob was born Joseph the husband of Mary,
by whom was born Jesus,
who is called Christ.”
Leon Morris: Matthew will tell us a little later that the child was conceived as a result of the activity of the Holy Spirit (v. 20). The passive form here is probably the “divine passive,” indicating an activity of God; it certainly points to something different from what precedes and it prepares us for the narrative of the virgin birth. That the virginal conception is in mind in the genealogy is probably another way of bringing out the truth that Jesus was the “son of David.” There is another passive in verse 20, and twice Matthew speaks of Jesus’ conception as due to the Holy Spirit (vv. 18, 20). He also cites prophecy to show the real significance of the child who was to be born (vv. 22-23); further, he tells us that Mary was a virgin (v. 23) and that Joseph had no sexual relations with her before the birth of Jesus (v. 25). All this combines to make it clear that Matthew is writing about the coming into the world not simply of another baby, but of the very Son of God.
(:17) SUMMARY – 3 GROUPINGS OF 14 GENERATIONS EACH
A. From Abraham to David
Therefore all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations;”
Michael Wilkins: The number fourteen may be a subtle reference to David, because the numerical value of the Hebrew consonants of his name is fourteen (d w d = 4+6+4). The Jewish practice of counting the numerical value for letters is called gematria. Some forms of Jewish mysticism took the practice to extremes, but its most basic form helped in memorization and for encoding theological meaning.
David Platt: In addition, David’s name is the fourteenth in Matthew’s list (Blomberg, 53)! Clearly, Matthew intended to connect Jesus to King David.
B. From David to the Babylonian Captivity
“and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations;”
C. From the Babylonian Captivity to Christ
“and from the deportation to Babylon to the time of Christ fourteen generations.”
Leon Morris: A feature of Matthew’s genealogy is his arrangement, as he tells us, in three groups of fourteen (v. 17). The reason for this is not clear, but it must have been important because Matthew has to omit some names to get his numbers. His second group lacks Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah after Joatham (v. 9), and his third group has only thirteen (since it covers some 500 years, there have clearly been omissions). The omissions need not worry us since “father” might be used when speaking of any descendants and not only those in the immediate family (e.g., 3:9).