Advent Day 7
So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations (Matt 1:17).
The Gospel of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Written to the Jews, the author’s intent was to identify Jesus as the Messiah, the King of Israel. By way of ancestry, Matthew links Jesus with two great figures in the history of Israel: King David and Abraham. These men represent the two major Old Testament covenants, Abrahamic and Davidic. The author supported his Gospel’s theme with this connection by showing throughout that Jesus is the Son who partially fulfilled and will completely fulfill the promises of these two covenants at His first and second comings. His death and resurrection would be the basis for their fulfillment. Next, the genealogy of Jesus not only is a historical fact, but an account with a strong support base in the Scripture. Scripture includes portions of Jesus‘ genealogy throughout select books of the Old Testament. This shows the Messiah’s lineage as part of Scripture. Matthew based his record of the Lord’s genealogy on the inspired Word, and the early church used it as a witnessing tool to both Jews and Gentiles.
The Holy Spirit opened Matthew’s understanding and guided him to find Christ’s genealogy in Scripture. However, Scripture did not record parts of this genealogy. The Jews after their return from the Babylonian exile demonstrates one example. Matthew does, though, connected the vast gap between Zerubbabel and Jacob, the father of Joseph. According to Matthew, this period covers fourteen generations, but what Matthew recorded sufficiently connected Jesus of Nazareth with the Old Testament. Luke, using the genealogy of Mary, traces Christ’s lineage back to David, and then back to Shem, the son of Noah, and then back to Adam. Here, the author identified Jesus with the human race and qualified Him as Savior. Matthew used portions of Scripture along with historical records to establish the royal lineage of Jesus of Nazareth as King of Israel. Matthew divided his genealogy into three periods of fourteen generations each: The first called the period of patriarchs runs from Abraham to David; the second, the period of kings, ranges from David until the last king going into exile in Babylon; and last called the post exile, from Babylon until the birth of Christ. The last period covered the full, 600-year period up to Christ’s birth without mentioning everyone in this line. It stayed silent on the four hundred years between the Old and New Testaments, as well as the partial period of two hundred years after the exile. Matthew’s approach proved the royal lineage of Jesus through Joseph, His legal father.
The Expression Begat
Once Matthew arrived at “Jacob who begat Joseph” (Matt 1:16 KJV), he did not use this expression about Jesus. Instead, Matthew writes “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ” (v. 16). Jesus has no biological father in the natural sense of the term. To prove the virgin birth, Matthew showed that Jesus was not begotten by a human. The Holy Ghost conceived Jesus in Mary’s womb, making Jesus the Son of God (v. 18) and then fulfilling the prophecy that Christ would be born of a virgin (Isa 7:14; Matt 1:21-23). Matthew’s genealogy commonly used begat. The expression [Greek: gennaó, γεννάω] speaks of the procreation of offspring. The names in Matthew’s genealogy are descendants by procreation. Luke dis not use this expression. Instead, Luke featured the form the son of [Greek: huios, υἱὸς’], meaning child by procreation; however, this meaning permits a wider range of kinship. One does not have to be a son by direct generation. Jesus was thought to be Joseph’s actual son (Luke 3:23). Luke’s genealogy traced Jesus’ lineage back to David through Nathan, the son of Bathsheba, called Bathshua (1 Chron 3:1, 5). Jesus had a biological link to King David through His mother. On the other hand, Jesus only had a legal link through Joseph.
Matthew’s presentation of the genealogy of Jesus Christ is unique. He presented Jesus as the Messiah, King of Israel foretold in Scripture. He identified Jesus with the two major covenants God made with Abraham and David. As the promised descendant of both men, Jesus is the Son who fulfills both covenants so that both Jews and Gentiles could be blessed with eternal redemption. Against the Jewish custom of women absent in a man’s genealogy, Matthew recorded the mother of Jesus and four women. Though four of these women have questionable pasts, one sees this as message of God’s grace. Also, the author’s mention of some of Israel’s greatest men and their failures are a testimony to God’s mercy and His willingness to restore sinners and fulfill covenant promises.
Next, this genealogy presented the New Testament truth that the Gentiles also would become part of the family of God. God’s grace has made the new birth a reality for all nations. This fulfilled the promise to Abraham that all nations would be blessed in his seed, Jesus Christ. The gaps in Matthew’s genealogy serve as a reminder that every name was not needed, but the recorded connections identify Jesus as David’s royal heir. The apparent distinction between the way Matthew and Luke list descendants is unique. While begat speaks to biological descent, son of can have a more remote relationship (son-in-law, grandson, etc. speak to this fact). When Matthew arrives to Joseph in his genealogy, the author took care that his words did not obscure one of Christianity’s most important truths, the virgin birth of Christ. Luke’s genealogy identified the Son of God with the human race. Uniquely, the virgin birth makes Jesus a part of the human race. His coming would deliver us from sin, its curse and death by taking these things upon Himself. The Holy Ghost imparts to us all the blessings of eternal life that Jesus died and rose for us to have (Gal 3:13-14). This genealogy was a powerful witness then and is to us today.
Pastor Daryl Cox 12.5.20
Reprinted from All Nations Leadership Institute, Jesus Across the Gospels