January 26, 2020 Speaker: Paul Mulner Series: Matthew

Passage: Matthew 1:1–1:17

Lesson 2 – Genealogy and Birth Narrative

Warning: Deeper dive into some of the minutia (specific words) in this first part than will come later. What happens here sets up the book and prepares us for Matthew’s emphases.

1:1 - “The book of the origins/genesis

We’ll start with key words.

  • What’s the first question you ask when you pick up a book? “What kind of book is this?” “What is this about?” This is a book of genesis – the origins of something new, that isn’t new.
    • The Greek word “Genesis” is all about beginnings. The first Genesis was about the beginning of all things, this is about a new beginning, the life of the messiah, Jesus Christ.
    • This is something new: Jesus will bring a “new covenant,” as the new Abraham, a “new law,” as the new Moses, he’ll bring a new obedience as the new Adam.
    • But everything new has its origin (genesis, genealogy) earlier – even Jesus. This book is about Jesus, and he is both: the fulfillment of 4000 years of prophecy and waiting, and also the beginning of something totally different and new.
  • Jesus and Christ. (1) “This is the record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ…”
    • “Jesus,” which means Yahweh saves, is a shortened form of “Joshua,” which means “Yahweh is salvation.”
    • “Christ” is not a name, but a title, which bears the connotation of “anointed one.” The “Christ” is the one people were looking forward to. The fulfillment of prophecy. A “christ” character is common to great stories: Aragorn in LOTR. Harry Potter. People don’t know who the Christ is until he comes but the prophecies tell of one for whom we wait and who will do…X
      • This is why a concern of the NT is that we not be led astray by false christs. While Jesus’ victory is sure, it is not yet complete. We’re still waiting for something to happen. There will be many who claim to be “the one” who are liars and will lead people astray.
    • Titles: Son of David. Son of Abraham.
      • (1b) “This is the record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.”
        • “Son of David” is Matthew’s preferred title (17 times; most of any gospel). David was the conquering king, the prophecies pointed to the “son of David” who would sit on his throne and return God’s people to security and glory. This was a messianic promise, misunderstood, but deeply important to Israel. Since this is a gospel directed more at Jews than gentiles, this title is prominent. The genealogy will reveal he is the rightful heir.
        • “Son of Abraham” is the balance to that title, since Abraham (the Father of Israel) was promised to be the father and a blessing to many nations.
        • By invoking these two titles Matthew sets the stakes. If Jesus is who he says he is, he will restore the throne of David, free God’s people from their enemies, and bring hope to the nations.
          • We see from the NT epistles just how much some of these promises were misunderstood by Israel (and still today!).
            • Israel = Israel
            • Enemies = other nations (captivity to them, not sin)
            • Hope = attach ourselves to God’s Israel promises
          • Matthew and Jesus will not participate in this error, yet he will use exactly the same words, calling us to a deeper meaning and understanding.
        • This gospel ends with the Great Commission. Yes, Jesus came from and to the Jews, but this “son of Abraham” will be a blessing to all the nations of the earth.
      • Summary: This book is about Jesus, the chosen one of God, who came in fulfillment of the kingdom promises to David and the expanded-kingdom promises to Abraham.

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

Genealogies are easy to skip over. They’re insignificant if you don’t know what’s important about them and the people included. In fact, if this is a “gospel” to be used for evangelistic purposes, why start here?

  • Audience: Jews – If you’re going to claim that Jesus of Nazareth is “the chosen one,” of whom the prophecies speak, you’d better show your work.
    • There are specific lineage prophecies about the messiah that can be used as indicators to show whether or not it’s possible that this is the one.
    • The way Matthew handles this genealogy also highlights the “promise and fulfillment” aspect of Old and New (covered before). History is important and Jesus should be view within the scope of redemptive history.
    • Also – Jesus has a very impressive genealogical pedigree. Matthew will hit the highlights.
  • Structure: Chiastic X – draws attention to the endpoints and middle. Jesus, David, Abraham. Abraham, David, Jesus. Focus on these three names and you see the structure.
  • Structure: Starts with Abraham: this guy is a real Jew and the seed of Abraham. (Jewish audience.)
    • f. with Luke, who starts with Adam and traces Jesus’ genetics. Matthew traces “legal” standing.
    • “Jacob is the father of Judah, and his brothers.”
      • This overlooks the other 11 sons. Judah wasn’t the oldest, strongest, really anything
      • Except Judah was the tribe from which kings come. His tribe bears the scepter (Genesis 49:10, Hebrews 7:14).
    • Women in a genealogy? Not something you did back then. You traced families through heads of families. Yet: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba.
      • Uh, most of these women were known for immorality (their own or being part of it).
        • Verse 6 – “… the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah
          • Highlights both David and Bathsheba’s sin.
        • Matthew puts a stake in the ground: Jesus came from all (kinds) and came for all (kinds).
      • Uh, these women are not Jewish.
        • Ruth was a Moabitess, and to the tenth generation a Moabite was not to be admitted to the congregation ( 23:3).
        • Matthew puts a stake in the ground: salvation from this messiah is available to all (kinds) who previously had no part in the people of God.
      • Uh, all these people’s stories are weird.
        • Matthew includes reminders of the strange ways that God has worked in the past. Judah and Tamar. Boaz and Rahab. David and Bathsheba.
        • Are you prepared for the strange ways through which God can accomplish his purposes? (Incarnation. Virgin birth.)
      • That’s a lot of “begats.” (ghen-nah’-o)
        • “Begat,” was the father of. From the natural reproductive process of this man, so and so came to be.
        • Notice where this word does not appear (vs 16). Compare 1:15-1:16
        • Joseph didn’t “begat” Jesus, nor did Mary. He was (passively) “born of” her (that whom is feminine) and Joseph was her husband.
        • Big red flashing light here. The rhythm of the begat theme is broken. No one else in this genealogy is like Jesus.
      • Structure: David is the turning point in this genealogy.
        • Isaiah 9:6-7
          • Even though God’s promises had been long delayed (because of the unfaithfulness of Israel) they were not forgotten. These people expected and longed for their messiah, a new Davidic king. Now there is hope. Has God remembered?
        • The “other” kings
          • The kings in verse 7-10 are not all good guys, some were quite evil. But good or evil, they’re all part of the lineage of Jesus and the plan of God. Even wicked, determined, men cannot thwart the plans of God.


Closing Thoughts

  • It’s an incomplete genealogy – some people/generations are skipped.
    • Not a grammar problem: (ghen-nah’-o) doesn’t require a father/son relationship, just a descendent connection. (e.g. Rahab, not immediately the mother of Boaz. Eve, not immediately the mother of all living.)
  • What do we make of the groups of 14?
    • Abraham to David is 14
    • Solomon to Jechoniah is 14
    • Jechoniah to Jesus is 14
  • Why groups of 14? (v. 17)
    • Certain numbers have cultural significance. (e.g. hotel with no room 13) In the ancient world this was true of their multiples as well.
    • 7, in Hebrew culture, is a number of perfection and completion (fullness).
    • Jesus was the first born of the 7th group of 7 (1st in the 3rd group of 14).
    • Hebrew used letters for numbers; the numerical value of “David” is 14.
    • Doesn’t matter to us. Isn’t some secret code. Would be very interesting to a Hebrew hearer thinking about promise and fulfillment. The descendant of David has come.

Matthew is preparing his hearers for the story of Jesus Christ, which is good news (Gospel) for all people. While much about this Jesus is “new,” all of it is rooted in old, old, promises. God has not forgotten.