Matthew One

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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

The book. Compare this with “the book of the generations of Adam” (Genesis 5:1), the only other place in the Bible where this phrase is found. This seems symbolic. The Old Testament describes the effect of the first Adam on the human race, whereas the New Testament deals with the “second Adam” and His work for mankind.

generation. This word (Greek genesis) is obviously the word from which we get the title of the first book of the Bible. It is used only this once in the New Testament (the very first verse) except for James 3:6, where it is translated “nature.” However, it is used in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament as the translation of toledoth (“generations”), which is the key word in identifying the different original documents from which Moses compiled Genesis (see note on Genesis 2:4 and note on Genesis 5:1).

Jesus Christ. A few skeptics have questioned the historical existence of Jesus Christ, arguing that the only references to Him are in Christian sources, and these are biased. The fact is, however, that Christ has been mentioned by several secular writers of the time, including Tacitus (a Roman historian), Josephus (the Jewish historian), Suetonius (another Roman historian), Pliny the Younger (a Roman magistrate), Lucian the Cynic (a Greek satirist), and Celsus (a pagan philosopher). There is no doubt whatever that He really lived and that the Christian religion was established on the strong belief that He died for our sins and then defeated death by His bodily resurrection.

the son. The use of “son” in this opening verse of the New Testament reminds us that God had promised a very special son to both David and Abraham (2 Samuel 7:12-16: Genesis 22:18). Note also the promise of Isaiah 9:6.

Matthew 1:2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;

Matthew 1:3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;

Thamar. It is significant that four women are mentioned in this royal genealogy of Jesus—Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the wife of Uriah (Matthew 1:3, 5-6). All four were special trophies of God's grace. Tamar may have been a Canaanite who posed as a harlot to seduce Judah (Genesis 38:13-18); Rahab was also a Canaanite and had been a prostitute (Joshua 2:1); Ruth was a Moabitess (Ruth 1:4), a member of a nation committed to idolatry and opposition to the people of God; and a Hittite woman, Bathsheba, Uriah's wife, committed adultery with King David (2 Samuel 11:2-5). All of these women could, by the law, have been excommunicated from Israel, executed, or both. God, however, not only redeemed them, bringing them to saving faith in Him, but even included (and mentioned) them in the human genealogy of the royal line leading to Jesus.

Matthew 1:4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;

Matthew 1:5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;

Matthew 1:6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;

Matthew 1:7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;

Matthew 1:8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;

begat. At this point, “begat” should be understood in an ancestral, rather than immediate paternal, sense. Three names have been omitted between Jehoram and Uzziah—Ahaziah, Joash and Amaziah (2 Chronicles 22:1, 11; 24:1, 27). The apparent reason for doing this was as a memory device, having three groups of fourteen generations from Abraham to Christ (Matthew 1:17). Some have attempted to justify placing gaps of several thousand years in the genealogies of Genesis 11 on the basis of this three-generation gap in Matthew's genealogy. Such reasoning is indefensible, however, because Matthew's short gap is easily filled in from other Scriptures (see also 1 Chronicles 3:11, 12). The only basis for the arbitrarily assumed huge gaps in Genesis is the supposed need to conform to the secular chronologies proposed by evolutionary archaeologists.

Matthew 1:9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;

Matthew 1:10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;

Matthew 1:11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:?

begat. Jehoiakim is omitted here between Josiah and Jeconiah (2 Chronicles 36:4), who is also called Coniah and Jehoiachin. See note on Matthew 1:8.

Jechonias. It was Jeconiah whose sins caused God to cut his seed off from ever sitting on David's throne (Jeremiah 22:24-30). Yet God had also promised that David would “never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel” (Jeremiah 33:17). Thus, Jeconiah's royal line of descendants is listed here to show the legal right of Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, to David's throne (Matthew 1:16), even though neither Joseph nor any others of Jeconiah's seed could ever have the spiritual right to the throne. That right must be carried through Mary's ancestry (see note on Luke 3:23).

Matthew 1:12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;

Matthew 1:13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;

Matthew 1:14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;

Matthew 1:15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;

Matthew 1:16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

of whom. Note that Matthew was careful here not to say that Joseph “begat” Christ, departing from the formula used for the other ancestors of Jesus. Thus, Matthew shows that Jesus had the legal right to the throne of David, since Joseph was his foster father. The spiritual right to be king of Israel had to come from David by another route altogether.

Christ. The name “Christ,” meaning “anointed,” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew messiah. Christ was not part of Jesus' name (though He is frequently called Jesus Christ), but His title. He is Jesus the Christ, properly speaking.

Matthew 1:17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

espoused. According to Jewish law at the time, the espousal was almost equivalent to marriage, except for the consummation, and could be dissolved only by a legal divorce. Infidelity during that period on the part of the bride might even be punishable by death (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). Joseph, however, was a “just man” (Matthew 1:19), who loved Mary, and was unwilling to have her humiliated even by a public divorce.

before they came together. The miracle of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus was not His virgin birth, for it was a normal human birth in every way, but rather His miraculous conception. This was the woman's seed (Genesis 3:15), the “new thing in the earth” (Jeremiah 31:22) and the prophesied virgin conception of Isaiah 7:14. It is explicitly recorded here in Matthew 1:18-25, and also in Luke 1:26-38, then further implied in John 1:14, Galatians 4:4 and other Scriptures.

Matthew 1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

his name. This is the first of 144 references to the “name” or “names” of Christ. The word (Greek noma) occurs only about 95 times in the New Testament in reference to all other names. His name is indeed “above every name” even in this respect (Philippians 2:9).

JESUS. The Hebrew for “JESUS” is Yehoshua, meaning “Jehovah saves.” The name also may be contracted simply to Yeshua, which is the Hebrew word for “salvation,” frequently used in the Old Testament. It is also equivalent to “Joshua.” Appropriately, this is the first use of “save” in the New Testament.

Matthew 1:22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

a virgin. This is a quotation from Isaiah 7:14, the great prophecy of the virgin birth. The Greek word for “virgin” is parthenos, which never has any other meaning. The Hebrew word is almah, and there has been some unjustified controversy as to whether this word also has only this meaning. Its quotation here by Matthew using parthenos, guided by divine inspiration, settles this question. Isaiah prophesied the virgin birth (or better, the miraculous conception) of Jesus, and Matthew records the fulfillment.

Matthew 1:24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

Matthew 1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

knew her not. Mary remained a virgin after her marriage to Joseph until after the birth of Jesus. Later, however, she did have other sons (Matthew 12:46).