Matthew 1:1-17

Sunday, November 29th, 2015

Text: Matthew 1:1-17




I have spent the last year and a half in our morning services going through I & II Samuel. We have now finished these studies, and this morning I wish to introduce you to the Gospel according to Matthew, and in the weeks to come I wish to take you on a verse-by-verse study of the Gospel of Matthew.

We note –



We remind ourselves of what the Scripture has to say about its authorship.


II Timothy 3:15-17 – (15) And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.


II Peter 1:19-21 – (19) We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (20) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (21) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.


Thus, we see that the Divine Author of Matthew is none other than God the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity.


So, what can we learn about the human writer who was led by the Holy Spirit to record the words found in this Gospel?


Nowhere in the Bible are we told who this human writer of Matthew is. According to historical tradition, however, the human writer has been regarded as Matthew from the time of its writing. He is also known as Levi, the son of Alphaeus. Everything we know about him comes from the gospels. He was a Jewish tax collector for the Roman government. As a result he, like all other Jewish tax collectors, was hated by the Jews. One day Jesus passed by the tax office and said to Matthew, Follow me. Matthew did just that. Luke’s Gospel states that Matthew left all and followed Jesus. Matthew also made a great feast in his home to which he invited Jesus and, among others, a great number of tax collectors. Matthew is listed with the twelve apostles in several places, but practically nothing else is known of him.


Let’s look at the actual call of Matthew.


Matthew 9:9-13 – (9) And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom [i.e. sitting at the tax office]: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, And followed him. (10) And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat [i.e. sat at the table, which means that He “ate”] in the house, behold, many publicans [i.e. many tax collectors] and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples [i.e. they sat down to eat]. (11) And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans [i.e. with tax collectors] and sinners? (12) But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. (13) But go ye and learn what that meaneth I will have mercy, and not sacrifice [i.e. what “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice” means]: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.


Mark 2:13-20 – (13) And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. (14) And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom [i.e. sitting at the tax office], and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. (15) And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat [i.e. sat at the table = ate] in his house, many publicans [i.e. tax collectors] and sinners sat also together [i.e. sat also to eat] with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. (16) And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans [i.e. tax collectors] and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans [i.e. with tax collectors] and sinners? (17) When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (18) And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? (19) And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber [i.e. friends (or guests) of the bridegroom] fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. (20) But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.


Luke 5:27-32 – (27) And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom [i.e. sitting at the tax office]: and he said unto him, Follow me. (28) And he left all, rose up, and followed him. (29) And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans [i.e. of tax collectors] and of others that sat down with them [i.e. they sat down to eat with them]. (30) But their scribes and Pharisees murmured [i.e. grumbled, complained] against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans [i.e. tax collectors] and sinners? (31) And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. (32) I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Next, we note –



Matthew is usually dated between A.D. 50 and A.D. 70, but precise dating is almost impossible. In A.D. 70 Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman armies. Since an event of this magnitude is not mentioned anywhere in the Gospel of Matthew, it strongly suggests that Matthew had been written well before A.D. 70.

Thirdly, we note –



From its content it is apparent that Matthew wrote primarily for a Jewish audience in order to present Jesus as the Messiah by linking the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah with their fulfillment by Christ. This is apparent in the opening verse.


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

Furthermore, we note –



In keeping with his overall purpose of presenting Jesus as the Messiah, the King of the Jews, Matthew makes approximately 129 Old Testament references. According to William Graham Scroggie, 53 of these are citations and 76 are allusions. Christ is pictured as the king in such passages as the genealogy, the visit of the wise men, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the judgment of the nations, and the superscription over the cross.


To be the King of the Jews, Jesus had to be descended from David. Matthew 1:1 describes Him as the son of David.


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


The wise men from the east came looking for the King of the Jews.


Matthew 2:2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.


Jesus offered Himself as the King of the Jews in the triumphal entry into Jerusalem.


Matthew 21:5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass [i.e. a donkey], and a colt the foal of an ass [i.e. donkey].


Jesus is pictured as the King of the Jews in the judgment of the sheep and the goats, i.e. the judgment of the Gentile nations.


Matthew 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.


Matthew 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.


Jesus is also described as the King of the Jews in the superscription over the cross.


Matthew 27:37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

In the fifth place, we note –



Matthew’s Gospel is not chronological. Instead, he assembles events into a series of groups. Each group consists of narrative about Christ followed by a discourse and followed in turn by the expression, When Jesus had finished, which marks the end of each major section of the Gospel. This expression is found in the following passages:


Matthew 7:28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine.


Matthew 11:1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.


Matthew 13:53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.


Matthew 19:1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan.


Matthew 26:1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples.


Now, remember, these verses mark the end of each major section of Matthew’s Gospel. Hence, they provide the outline of the Gospel when coupled with the introduction (in Matthew 1:1-4:11 ) and with the two conclusions (in Matthew 26:3-28:15 and Matthew 28:16-20 ).


Thus we have the outline of Matthew’s Gospel. This outline is not original with me. It was published in the book New Testament Survey written by Walter M. Dunnett and published by the Evangelical Teacher Training Association. It is printed on the back of today’s bulletin.


                      I.    The Introduction of the King – 1:1 - 4:11

                     II.    The Demands of the King – 4:12 - 7:29

                    III.    The Deeds of the King – 8:1 - 11:1

                   IV.    The Program of the King – 11:2 - 13:53

                     V.     The Destiny of the King – 13:54 - 19:2

                   VI.    The Problems of the King – 19:3 - 26:2

                  VII.    The Death and Resurrection of the King – 26:3 - 28:15

                 VIII.    The Final Commission by the King – 28:16-20


Remember that each group consists of a narrative about Christ followed by a discourse and followed in turn by the expression When Jesus had finished. The discourses are as follows:


                      1.     The Sermon on the Mount – 5:1 - 7:29

                      2.     The Commission to the Twelve – 10:1-42

                      3.     The Parables of the Kingdom – 13:1-53

                      4.     The Meaning of Greatness and Forgiveness – 18:1-35

                      5.     The Olivet Discourse – 24:1 - 25:46

Finally, we note –



In verse 1 Matthew indicates that Jesus Christ is descended from Abraham through David.


This genealogy begins with Abraham, the founder of the Hebrew nation, and concludes with Joseph, the husband of Mary. What we have in Matthew’s Gospel is Christ’s genealogy through Joseph; whereas, Luke’s Gospel gives Christ’s genealogy through Mary.


You will note that some of these names are spelled differently in Matthew’s Gospel from the way they are spelled in the Old Testament, but they still refer to the same person. The differences are basically because they are Hebrew names which have been translated into Greek and then into English.


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


The book of the generation of Jesus Christ speaks of a composition of the ancestral line of Jesus Christ, a composition of the family line of Jesus Christ, or a composition of the lineage of Jesus Christ.


It is a book providing Jesus Christ’s ancestry. Both uses of son, which refers to Jesus Christ, are used in the sense of offspring or descendant.


Son of David identifies Jesus as the promised Messiah. It ties Jesus Christ to the Davidic Covenant in which God promised David and Israel that the Messiah would come from David’s lineage or descendants and from the tribe of Judah and would establish a kingdom that would endure forever.


By affirming that Jesus is the son of David, Matthew is declaring that Jesus is the Messiah or the Christ. The people of Israel recognized the phrase the son of David as referring to the Messiah. For example, Matthew 21:9 states,


Matthew 21:9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.


By the son of Abraham, Matthew presents Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham in the Abrahamic Covenant. Paul likewise refers to this in Galatians 3:16 ,


Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.


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


Verses 2-17 trace the ancestry of Jesus from Abraham through Joseph in order to establish Jesus’ legal right to be the King of the Jews. Although Joseph was not Jesus’ natural father, he was Jesus’ legal father. This establishes Jesus’ claim and right to the throne of David.


Abraham begat Isaac means that Abraham became the father of Isaac.


Begat appears 39 times in verses 2-16. In all cases it means became the father of. However, father may be understood as referring to the father, the grandfather, the great grandfather, the great, great grandfather, etc.


Isaac begat Jacob means that Isaac became the father of Jacob.


Furthermore, Jacob begat Judas and his brethren, which means that Jacob became the father of Judah and of Judah’s eleven brothers.


Matthew 1:3 And Judas [i.e. Judah] begat Phares [i.e. Perez] and Zara [i.e. Zerah] of Thamar [i.e. of Tamar]. . . .


Judah had two sons, Perez and Zerah. Their mother was Tamar. Tamar had been the wife of Er, Judah’s firstborn son (Genesis 38:6 ). This made her the daughter-in-law of Judah. After Er’s death, Judah told Onan, another of his sons, to go in to Tamar, marry her, and raise up a descendant for Er. Onan did indeed have intercourse with her; but whenever he did, he spilled the semen on the ground, thereby preventing her from becoming pregnant. He did this in order not to give an heir to his brother. As a result God killed Onan (Genesis 38:8-10 ). Judah told Tamar that she should return to her father’s house and wait until a third son, Shuah, was grown, and that Shuah would be given to her as her husband. As instructed, she went to her father’s home, and Shuah grew up; but Tamar was not given to Shuah as his wife; so, Tamar took matters into her own hands. When she learned that Judah would be shearing his sheep in Timnath, she went to Timnath and pretended to be a harlot. Judah hired her, but she kept her face covered so that Judah did not realize that she was his daughter-in-law. As a result of their sexual union, Tamar became pregnant with twins Perez and Zerah.


Back to Matthew 1:3

Matthew 1:3 And Judas [i.e. Judah] begat Phares [i.e. Perez] and Zara [i.e. Zerah] of Thamar [i.e. of Tamar]; and Phares [i.e. Perez] begat Esrom [i.e. Hezron]; and Esrom [i.e. Hezron] begat Aram [i.e. Ram].


Matthew 1:4 And Aram [i.e. Ram] begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson [i.e. Nashon]; and Naasson [i.e. Nashon] begat Salmon.


Matthew 1:5 And Salmon begat Booz [i.e. Boaz] of Rachab [i.e. of Rahab, the harlot from Jericho]; and Booz [i.e. Boaz] begat Obed of Ruth [Ruth was the Moabitess in the Book of Ruth]; and Obed begat Jesse [i.e. David’s father].


Rahab was a Gentile harlot in Jericho who received the two spies Joshua sent to spy out the land of Jericho. She hid them and sent them out another way (Joshua 2 ). Although all the inhabitants of Jericho were killed, Rahab and her family were spared because of what she had done for the two spies (Joshua 6:20-25 ). Rahab ended up in the line of Christ as the great, great, grandmother of David.


Ruth was a widowed Moabitess, a Gentile. Boaz played the part of a kinsman-redeemer and became her husband. Boaz and Ruth were great grandparents of David. Thus, Ruth was also in the line of Christ.


Obed begat Jesse who was the father of David.


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


David was the father of Solomon. Solomon’s mother was Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah the Hittite. Bathsheba committed adultery with David, and David had Uriah killed.


It was during Solomon’s reign that the temple was built.


Matthew 1:7 And Solomon begat Roboam [i.e. Rehoboam]; and Roboam [i.e. Rehoboam] begat Abia [i.e. Abijah, also spelled Abijam]; and Abia [i.e. Abijah] begat Asa.


Shortly after Rehoboam became king, the ten northern tribes separated from Judah.


Matthew 1:8 And Asa begat Josaphat [i.e. Jehoshaphat]; and Josaphat [i.e. Jehoshaphat] begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias [i.e. Uzziah, also called Azariah].


Some kings who reigned between Jehoram and Uzziah are not included in this list. They are Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah. No explanation is given why these names were omitted. Ahaziah was the son of Jehoram; Joash was the son of Ahaziah; Amaziah was the son of Joash, and Uzziah was the son of Amaziah. Thus, begat is used here in a sense to which Americans are not accustomed. Jehoram was the great, great grandfather of Uzziah (or Azariah). Of course, Matthew is establishing the ancestry of Jesus Christ; and the omission of these names has no effect on His ancestry.


Matthew 1:9 And Ozias [i.e. Uzziah, also called Azariah] begat Joatham [i.e. Jotham]; and Joatham [i.e. Jotham] begat Achaz [i.e. Ahaz]; and Achaz [i.e. Ahaz] begat Ezekias [i.e. Hezekiah].



Matthew 1:10 And Ezekias [i.e. Hezekiah] begat Manasses [i.e. Manasseh]; and Manasses [i.e. Manasseh] begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias [i.e. Josiah].


1:11 – And Josias [i.e. Josiah] begat Jechonias [i.e. Jeconiah, also referred to as Coniah and Jehoiachin] and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon.


Jechonias was actually the son of Eliakim, whose name was changed to Jehoiakim, which made him the grandson of Josiah. For some reason, Eliakim was omitted from the list.


Who his brethren are is unknown. Attempts to identify them have proven futile.


About the time they were carried away to Babylon is at the time of the deportation to Babylon and refers to the capture and deportation of Jewish people from Jerusalem and Judah which occurred in 586 B.C. when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed.


Matthew 1:12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias [i.e. Jeconiah, also referred to as Coniah and as Jehoiachin] begat Salathiel [i.e. Shealtiel]; and Salathiel [i.e. Shealtiel] begat Zorobabel [i.e. Zerubbabel].


And after they were brought to Babylon is at the time of the deportation to Babylon in 586 B.C.


Although Jeconiah was actually king in Jerusalem, none of his children was ever king in Jerusalem; and none of his descendants could ever be king in Jerusalem because of what Jeremiah wrote about him in Jeremiah 22:24-30 ,


(24) As I live, saith the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet [i.e. the signet ring] upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence [i.e. pull you off];

(25) And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.

(26) And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die.

(27) But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return.

(28) Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not?

(29) O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD.

(30) Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.


This means that if Jesus had been a physical descendant of Jeconiah, as Joseph was, Jesus could not have been King of Israel. This necessitated the virgin birth of Christ. Although the legal right for Jesus to be King of Israel passed through Joseph, Luke’s genealogy indicates that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a descendant of David through David’s son Nathan (Luke 3:23-38 ). However, Jesus was not the physical son of Joseph; so, the statement found in Jeremiah 22:30 does not apply to Jesus.


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


Abiud, Eliakim, and Azor are unknown in the Scripture apart from their listing in this genealogy in this verse.


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


Nothing is known of any of these men from the Scripture other than that they are listed in the ancestry of Christ in this verse.


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


Once again, nothing is known of these men from the Scripture other than what is stated in this verse which lists them in the ancestry of Christ.


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


Nothing is known of Jacob other than what is stated in this verse, but Joseph was a carpenter who lived in Nazareth who was espoused to Mary, the mother of Jesus. He was the father of at least four sons and two daughters of Mary. Although only espoused, Joseph was still regarded as the husband of Mary even before they lived together.


Of whom [i.e. of Mary] was born Jesus identifies this particular Mary as the one who gave birth to Jesus. Here we have an indication that Jesus was not begotten by natural generation by a human father. He was virgin conceived and virgin born.


Who is called Christ identifies Jesus as the One Who was named (or said to be) Messiah, God’s anointed One.


Jesus is His human name. He was called Christ, i.e. Messiah. Matthew, thus connects Jesus with all the Old Testament prophecies of Messiah as a coming prophet, priest, and king.


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.


Verse 17 summarizes the generations in three divisions of fourteen each. the first division lists individuals from Abraham to David, the second lists those from David to the deportation to Babylon, and the third lists those from the deportation to Babylon to Christ. So introduces this inference in the sense of therefore, consequently, or accordingly.


Are fourteen generations is repeated with each group. It is unclear why Matthew chose to list only fourteen generations when, from the Biblical record, it is clear that some were omitted. Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah, and Eliakim were omitted from the second group.


In Jewish thinking it was not necessary to list every name in the genealogy in order to establish the fact that Jesus was descended from David.


The number fourteen may have been chosen because the numerical value of the Hebrew letters spelling the name David adds up to fourteen.


Furthermore, only thirteen new names are listed from the third group. To make fourteen generations, Jechonias (i.e. Jeconiah) is repeated from the second group.