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THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS
MATTHEW’S GENEALOGY OF CHRIST
Victor M. Eskew
A. Genealogies are one of the most challenging portions of Scripture.
1. Oftentimes, the genealogies are long, a chapter or more.
2. The names in them are unfamiliar to us and difficult to pronounce.
3. Some view them as “useless verses.” We must keep in mind that they do serve a purpose (II Tim. 3:16).
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable…
B. Matthew opens his gospel account with a genealogy of Jesus.
1. Many skip the first seventeen verses of the gospel and begin with Jesus’ birth in verse 18.
2. This genealogy is very important.
a. It was important to the Jews who were obsessed with genealogies.
b. It is important because it teaches us some valuable lessons.
C. As we look at this genealogy, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
1. Matthew, a Jew, was writing his gospel to Jews.
2. Matthew’s theme is: “Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
a. NOTE: This was something the Jews denied.
b. In verse 16, he notes that Jesus “is called Christ.” The term Christ involves “the anointed one.”
I. THE OPENING VERSE (Matt. 1:1)
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
A. Matthew immediately connects Jesus to two great men of Israel’s history: David and Abraham.
1. David was the exemplary king of Israel whom all Jews honored. As a descendant of David, Jesus had royal blood flowing through his veins.
2. Abraham was the father of the Jews.
B. This one verse could cause the Jews to at least give ear to Matthew’s account of Jesus. One would be hard pressed to have a more impressive genealogy.
II. THE SECOND VERSE (Matt. 1:2)
Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren.
A. Here, we see that Jesus comes from the lineage of Judah.
B. This was the lineage of the Messiah according to a prophecy found in Genesis 49:10.
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
1. The scepter indicates the Messiah would reign as a king.
2. He would also be a lawgiver.
3. His name would be Shiloh, or, peace.
4. The people would be gathered unto him.
III. THE WOMEN OF THE GENEALOGY
A. Thamar (Matt. 1:3)
And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar…
1. Tamar was originally the wife of Judah’s son, Er (Gen. 38:6).
2. Er died without giving birth to any children. Thus, Tamar was promised that she would be married to Shelah (Gen. 38:11).
3. Jacob, however, did not fulfill his promise to her (Gen. 38:14).
4. Because of this, Tamar played the role of a harlot, seduced Judah, and bore twins to Judah (Gen. 38:27-30).
And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb. And it came to pass, when she travailed, that the one put out his hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first. And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she said, How hast thou broken forth? This breach be upon thee: therefore his name was called Pharez. And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zarah.
B. Rechab (Matt. 1:5)
And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab…
1. Rachab is the Rahab of the book of Joshua.
2. Three prominent things:
a. She hid the spies that searched out the Promised Land (Josh. 2:1-4)
b. She obeyed the words of the spies and stayed in her house marked by the scarlet thread when Israel overthrew Jericho (Josh. 6:22-25; Heb. 11:31; James 2:25).
c. She married Salmon the father of Booz of the book of Ruth. This placed her within the genealogy of Jesus Christ.
C. Ruth (Matt. 1:5)
…and Booz begat Obed of Ruth…
1. Ruth was a Moabitess (Ruth 1:4).
2. Ruth married one of Naomi’s sons, Mahlon (Ruth 4:10).
3. When Mahlon died and Naomi returned to Bethlehem, Ruth chose to go back with her (Ruth 1:16-19a).
4. After returning, Ruth was married to Boaz, a near kinsman (Ruth 4:13).
5. Ruth became the great grandmother of David, the king (Ruth 4:17).
D. Bathsheba (Matt. 1:6)
And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias.
1. It is interesting that the writer does not mention Bathsheba by name. He honors her first husband, Uriah, by mentioning his name.
2. Solomon was born to Bathsheba after the death of the child conceived through David’s and Bathsheba’s adulterous relationship (II Sam. 12:24).
3. God had promised David that his kingdom would continue through Solomon (I Kings 1:30; II Sam. 7:12-16).
E. Mary (Matt. 1:16)
And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
F. Two lessons
1. Women played an important role in the life of our Lord even prior to His early ministry.
2. God can use questionable people and unusual circumstances to bring His will to pass.
IV. GOD ACCOMPLISHED HIS WILL
A. God accomplished His will through knowns (greats) and unknowns.
B. God accomplished His will using both men and women.
C. God accomplished His will though evil was present.
D. God brought His will to pass through difficult circumstances (Matt. 1:11).
And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon.
E. God accomplished His will over a long period of time. This text lists 42 generations (Matt. 1:17).
So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylong are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.
V. THE VIRGIN BIRTH
A. Matthew 1:16 read differently than the rest of the genealogy.
And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
1. Joseph did not “begat” Jesus.
2. Jesus’ birth was miraculous and did not involve a man (Luke 1:34).
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
B. The detail of the Scriptures is always impressive. It does not make mistakes, even in the minute details.
VI. MATTHEW’S GENEALOGY VERSUS LUKE’S GENEALOGY
A. Luke’s genealogy is found in Luke 3:23-38. The two genealogies are quite different.
1. Matthew dies not mention any names from Adam to Abraham, but Luke does.
2. From David to Christ, Matthew records 27 names and Luke mentions 42 names.
B. An important point: “No difficulty was ever found, or alleged, in regard to them, by any of the early enemies of Christianity. There is no evidence that they ever adduced them as containing a contradiction. Many of those enemies were acute, learned, and able; and they show by their writings that they were not indisposed to detect all the errors that could possibly be found in the sacred narrative. Now it is to be remembered that the Jews were fully competent to show that these tables were incorrect, if they were really so; and it is clear that they were fully disposed, if possible, to do it. The fact, therefore, that it is not done, is clear evidence that they thought it to be correct. The same may be said of the acute pagans who wrote against Christianity. None of them have called in question the correctness of these tables. This is full proof that, in a time when it was easy to understand these tables, they were believed to be correct” (e-sword, Barnes).
C. Two plausible explanations:
1. Matthew’s gives Joseph’s genealogy and Luke gives Mary’s genealogy. Since Jesus was not strictly the son of Joseph, it was important to show that Mary was a descendant of both David and Abraham as well.
2. Barnes: “It has been said also that Joseph was the legal son and heir of Heli, though the real son of Jacob, and that thus the two lines terminated in him. This was the explanation suggested by most of the Christian fathers, and on the whole is the most satisfactory. It was a law of the Jews that if a man died without children, his brother should marry his widow. Thus the two lines might have been intermingled, According to this solution, which was first proposed by Africanus, Matthan, descended from Solomon, married Estha, of whom was born Jacob. After Matthan’s death, Matthan being of the same tribe, but of another family, married his widow, and of this marriage Heli was born. Jacob and Heli were therefore children of the same mother. Heli dying without children, his brother Jacob married his widow, and begat Joseph, who was thus the legal son of Heli. This is agreeable to the account in the two evangelists. Matthew says that Jacob begat Joseph; Luke says that Joseph was the son of Heli, i. e., was his legal heir, or was reckoned in law to be his son” (e-sword, Barnes).
A. There are many more things that could be discussed in this text (i.e., difficulties in Matthew 1:11).
B. It is hoped that we have shown that the genealogies, though difficult and laborious at times, can be valuable to us. This one certainly is!