A Bible Lesson on Matthew 1:1-6

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.  Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Matthew opens with the genealogy of Jesus.  Probably this genealogy (which differs from that in Luke) is intended as the royal genealogy of Jesus, traced through his earthly father Joseph.  The Luke genealogy is rather the legal line (of physical descent) traced through his mother Mary.  The matter of genealogy was very important to the Jews.  It was important for establishing who was really a Jew and for establishing who was qualified for important offices.  Priests were priests by descent (they had to be able to trace their line all the way back to Aaron and their wives had to be able to trace their descent at least 5 generations back in the tribe of Levi).  Legitimate kings were kings primarily by descent.  And the long-awaited Messiah was without doubt to be the descendent of David.

It’s significant that this genealogy could be traced for Joseph, but much beyond Joseph, the possibility was gone.  At this time, the genealogies were maintained by the Sanhedrin.  But Herod the Great was not a full-blooded Jew and was quite unhappy about grief he got for being a mongrel.  As a result, he had the records destroyed, so that no one could prove himself to be more of a Jew than Herod.  Jesus had a sound genealogy reaching back to Abraham.  Beyond that time, no one has that kind of verifiable pedigree.

Matthew 1:1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Matthew pegs Jesus as a descendant of Abraham, a true Jew, and absolutely essentially, in the royal line of king David, one qualified by descent to be Messiah.

Gen 12:1  Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.

3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Jesus, descendent of Abraham, is the One prophesied in the call of Abram, the One through whom all the families of the earth are blessed.

Likewise, Jesus descendent of king David, is the One God promised would sit eternally on the throne of King David.

2Sa 7:11b  … I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house.

12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.

13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

It is Jesus “Christ,” Jesus “anointed One,” Jesus “Messiah” whose genealogy Matthew is giving.  God, true to His promises, in due time and in a most amazing way, is sending His Son, His Messiah.

There is in the wording of verse 1 a most significant point.  Mark Ross points out that the first two Greek words are “… biblos geneseos, which could as well be translated ‘the book of (the) Genesis of Jesus Christ.'”  This is a beginning as profound as the creation.  This is the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise of redemption for His creation.

The genealogy is organized into 3 sets of 14 ancestors selected from the full set tracing back to Abraham.  There is no intent to name absolutely every member of the line, but this is most of them.

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,

3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,

4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon,

5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,

The first section of the genealogy links Jesus with the patriarchs, and does so in a most remarkable way.  Here in this genealogy stand Tamar, Rahab and Ruth.  First, these are WOMEN, and not only women, but all of them are foreigners and two of them have less than perfect moral conduct recorded in Scripture Tamar was a Canaanite who seduced her father-in-law, Judah.  Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho. Ruth was a Moabitess.  In the Jew’s mind of the time, women didn’t count as far as important things went.  And foreigners were absolutely outside the favor of God.  A standard morning prayer included thanks that one had not been born a pagan or a woman.  In the mind of the Jew of this time, there would have been no reason to mention Tamar, Rahab and Ruth here.  But already in his account, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Matthew is telling us something about the kind of Messiah God is sending in Jesus.  Yes, this is a Messiah qualified to hold that office in the Jewish nation.  But He is also a Messiah for ALL people, and He is a Redeemer who will deal with all of our sin and sadness, the kind of sin and sadness that was well known in the lives of Tamar and Rahab.

The next section of the genealogy covers (an abridged version of) the kings.  And it again mentions a woman and reminds us of the sinful situation of mankind.

6 and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,

Here’s David, but here too is reminder of our misery in sin in the person of Solomon, ancestor of Joseph, born through the adulterous act of the great king David whose husband he murdered.

Here is a .pdf of this lesson.

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.  Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

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