Matthew 1:1-17 “Jesus Is the Rightful Heir to the Throne”

Posted on January 31, 2015. Filed under: Daily Journey |

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Read: The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
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, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
17 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.

Introduction: “It was a dark and stormy night….” is how modern man might prefer a book to begin, but Matthew begins with a list of unfamiliar, hard to pronounce names. Why? When we read through the books of the Bible we come across these lists of names, genealogies, often. And we tend to skip through them. What is the relevance of these genealogies to the gospel message and how can we possibly find some way to apply them to our lives? Why should we study these lists? Shouldn’t we just skip over them and get to the meat of the gospel? Over the next few lessons we will study this genealogy presented by Matthew and see just how relevant it is to our lives and how much it points us to the gospel. The Big Idea of the genealogy for Matthew is that this clearly points out that Jesus is the Rightful Heir of King David and thus He is our Messiah! Jesus did NOT just pop into our world, he is a full participant in the human race and in our history; he is the culmination of God’s redemption history.
I. The Genealogy- Overview
A. Structure
1. Vs. 17- Matthew gives his genealogy in a particular structure and then states his structure in v.17 “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 the Christ fourteen generations.” Why this particular structure?
2. In Hebrew each letter of the alphabet had a numerical value as well. When you add up the numerical values for David, you get 14. This literary device is called gematria. When you compare this genealogy with Luke’s or any of the other biblical genealogies that present the same line you recognize that Matthew leaves some names out in order to reach his goal of three groups of 14. This is an intentional literary device to promote memorization and to tie the entire list to three people: King David (14), Abraham, and Jesus. We live in a technological/scientific age and NOT a poetic age, so things like the artistry of the genealogy we do not get.
3. The obvious problem is that it appears the third set of 14 names is actually only 13 names. While there are various theories about this issue the bottom line is we do not know for sure why there are only 13 names found.
4. The first group of 14 takes us from Abraham to David; from the founder who received the promise of God to be a blessing to the whole world and from whom would come kings, pl., to King David to whom God promised that his descendants would always reign.
5. The second group of 14 takes us from Solomon to the disgraced Jechoniah and the exile.
6. The third group of 14 (13) goes through the Exile to Jesus. Notice, however, the difference in working that Matthew used when it comes to Joseph and Jesus. All throughout the genealogy Matthew had used “was the father of” to translate egennesen- begat- but when he gets to Joseph and Jesus he changes to “Joseph the husband of Mary of whom Jesus was born.”
7. Matthew arranges his genealogy in an ascending sequence, from Abraham to Jesus, while Luke arranges his genealogy of Jesus in a descending sequence from Jesus to Adam. This difference shows Matthew’s concern to primarily show Jesus as the Messiah, the King of the Jews while Luke is showing Jesus as the Son of Man, the Savior of the whole world, thus he takes the genealogy back all the way to Adam. The ascending order which Matthew uses is seen in Genesis 5 which begins with Adam and moves to Noah; this ascending order is typical for the OT (see 1Chronicles 1-8). Luke’s descending genealogy was more familiar to his Greco-Roman readers.
8. Why begin with a genealogy? Green, Michael. The Message of Matthew, The Kingdom of Heaven. p.57 “What an amazing way to start a Gospel- with a great long list of names! But, to Jews, that was not surprising at all, as we shall see. It sets Jesus of Nazareth in the context of what God had been doing for his people from the earliest days. It ushers in the theme of fulfillment, which is so prominent in this Gospel. The climax of God’s work for humankind throughout the centuries is- Jesus.”

B. Matthew’s Plan for This Genealogy
1. Matthew emphasizes God’s covenants with Israel by focusing on Abraham and David from the beginning. Gen. 12:1-3 and 15, 17, show the covenants and promises made to Abraham and with David in 2Sam.7:1-17.
II. Other Bible Genealogies
A. Matthew’s Sources
1. Ruth 4:18-22 Matthew seems to quote this passage closely for the names of Perez to Jesse.
2. 1Chron.3:10-19 This certainly could be where Matthew gets the names from Solomon to Jechoniah. But, some names are left out and do not match what Luke produces. Luke3:33 “the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez” while Matt.1:3-4 has “and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab”
B. Importance of Genealogies
1. Joshua 13-22 Tells the story of the allotments Joshua made for each of the tribes of Israel in the Promised Land. While this is not a genealogy it does demonstrate how the genealogies were useful in distributing the land promised to them by God. Numbers 26 is the final census of Israel before entering the Promised Land and in 26:52 “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying ‘Among these the land shall be divided for inheritance…”
2. Ezra 2:59-63 “The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer, though they could not prove their fathers’ houses or their descent, whether they belonged to Israel:…These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but they were not found there, and so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. The governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food….”
3. After the exiles returned there was an effort to re-establish the priesthood and to determine who the real Israelites were. If there was not a valid entry in the genealogy, they were excluded. This sounds very severe but it clearly shows the importance of the genealogies for determining who Israel was. This points forward to Revelation and the Lamb’s Book of Life in 20:15 “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” In this life, in the visible Church, we do not know for certain who is in the true and invisible Church, whose names are actually written in the Book of Life. Therefore, we judge within the church by actions, behavior and confession. If a professing Believer is contradicting the Word of God with persistent unrepentant sin, believing heresy, and not exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit, then they may be lovingly confronted by the church and given abundant opportunities to repent but ultimately excluded if they fail to repent. The genealogies have lost their expository-gospel value in today’s churches that have an open membership with no standards. Matthew takes the genealogy seriously as a “proof” of Jesus’ legitimacy as King.
4. Herod the Great (reigned in Judea under the Romans 63-4BC) Herod was the son of an Arab (Nabatean) but his family had converted to Judaism. When Herod had the genealogies searched for his ancestors and was told, as the king of the Jews, that his family was not included, he had many of the genealogies destroyed and he tried to create a false one. This false king of the Jews is the one who tried to have Jesus murdered in Matt. 2:1-18.
III. Dealing with the Apologetics Issues of the Genealogy
A. Timing
1. The Dating of Matthew- As mentioned in the Introduction to Matthew last week, establishing the date of writing is important yet difficult. If the prophecy of Matt.24 about the Temple being destroyed is taken literally as miraculous prophecy by Jesus (and I do!) then Matthew is clearly written before A.D.70 and thus had access to the genealogies for the time between the birth of Jesus and the Exile. So the genealogy of Matt.1 supports an early date for Matthew and supports his claim for Jesus being the Christ.

B. Issues with the Genealogy
1. The word “the father of” is gennao and means “is the ancestor of” so it is not inconsistent when Matthew skips generations.
2. One way to understand the differences between Luke’s genealogy and Matthew’s is that we think Luke was tracing the actual physical line through Mary while Matthew was tracing the legal line through Joseph. It was not unusual for a father-in-law, i.e. Mary’s father, to adopt his daughter’s husband if he had no sons. Hence the difference between Matthew’s “Jacob the father of Joseph” and Luke’s “Joseph, the son of Heli”.
3. Another big apologetics problem with the genealogy is the Jechoniah issue. In 1Chron.3:16 we see that Jechoniah is a descendant of Jehoiakim and yet in Jeremiah 36:30 there is a prophecy that states that no son of Jehoiakim will sit on David’s throne; he is cursed. Would this curse prohibit the Messiah from coming from Jechoniah’s line? Yes, it would, if the Messiah was an actual physical descendant of Jechoniah’s. But Jesus did NOT have Joseph’s blood because of the virgin birth Matthew will point to later. Thus, the curse of Jehoiakim is avoided and the legal line stands!
4. Including women in the genealogy is unusual for a Jewish genealogy. Mark 6:3, John 8:19,41 may allude to the questions about Jesus’ birth. In discussing the women Matthew included in the genealogy, Green writes, “Why did he choose them? It is clear from Mark 6:3; Galatians 4:4 and Revelation 12:1-5 that people were well aware there was something strange about the birth of Jesus. It was different. The Jews put about the rumor that he was the illegitimate child of a Roman soldier and Mary. Nobody thought he was simply the child of Joseph and Mary. So Matthew may well be alluding to such rumors when he points out that in Jesus’ ancestry there are notorious women. Sinners they may be but God works to rescue sinners and to use them in his service….And the juxtaposition of sinful women like Bathsheba and Tamar with Mary, the gentle mother of Jesus, shows that the barriers between good people and bad people have also come crashing down. As Paul puts it, ‘There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace’ (Rom.3:22-24). At the very beginning of the Gospel the all-embracing love of God is emphasized.” (Green, p.58). The women named here are all gentiles and are linked with gross sin. Matthew is loudly proclaiming that God not only includes sinners in the ancestry of Jesus but that the Kingdom of God includes a high place for women. Including these women prepares the way for the remarkable manner in which God uses the young Mary and answers in advance some of the criticisms of the birth of Jesus by the Pharisees and opponents of Jesus. The way that Jesus and the gospel treats women is the reason why women have been elevated in the Christian West and are treated with equality.
5. The 13 names in the third section-

Conclusion/Application: Studying this genealogy and comparing it with Luke’s is useful for the gospel and our sanctification. The genealogies demonstrate a fulfillment of OT prophecies, showing us that God is in control and that he keeps his covenants with Abraham and David. Jesus is the culmination of all the promises God made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Israel, David, etc. This God who can manage the history of Jesus family tree is also managing yours, bringing you to the point of hearing the gospel and leading you to repent and believe.

Our Christian faith is rooted in historical Judaism and therefore all forms of anti-Semitism and persecution of the Jews is dreadfully wrong and sinful. We should embrace the Jewish people as our spiritual cousins whom God used to bring the Messiah to the whole world and we should joyfully share the gospel with them. Jesus is a descendant of Abraham’s, the father of the Jewish people and all of the Apostles were Jews.

The Christian faith is rooted in historical reality with an abundance of hard evidence. We are a people of the Book, and that Book includes genealogies which root us in real people’s lives, in history. The genealogy points us forward to heaven where the names of the Redeemed are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

The genealogy has a lot of people who were pretty bad sinners whom we shall study next week. This gives me hope for myself! God’s grace really is pretty amazing that he could save a murdering, adulterer with several wives like King David, and he can save you too.


Archer, Gleason L. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Regency Reference Library: Grand Rapids, MI 1982, 476pp. (pp.316-317).

Green, Joel, editor. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. IVP Academic: Downers Grove, IL 2013, 1088pp. (pp.570-584).

Green, Michael. The Message of Matthew, The Kingdom of Heaven. Inter-Varsity Press: Downers Grove, IL. 2000, 343pages (pp.57-59).

Keener, Craig. The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament. Inter-Varsity Press: Downers Grove, IL 1993, 831pp. (pp.43-47).


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