Matthew 1:18-25

Sunday, December 6th, 2015

Text: Matthew 1:18-25



We are in the process of studying the introduction to the Gospel of Matthew. It extends from Matthew 1:1-4:11 .

I remind you that Matthew presents Jesus as the King of the Jews.

In our last message we studied the genealogy of Jesus where we showed that Jesus is descended from David, which means that He has the legal right to be the King of the Jews. If Jesus were not descended from David, He would be disqualified from ever being the King of the Jews.

There is a problem, however, with Jesus ever being able to be the King of the Jews if he were physically descended from Jeconiah as Joseph, His adoptive father, was. According to Jeremiah 22:30 , Jesus' bloodline could not come through Jeconiah. Jeremiah prophesied,

Jeremiah 22:30 - 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 down through the centuries through David's son Solomon to Joseph, Jesus' adoptive father, Luke's genealogy indicates that Jesus' bloodline passed down through the centuries through David's son Nathan to Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 3:23-38 ). Matthew's genealogy indicates that Jesus was not the physical son of Joseph; so, the statement found in Jeremiah 22:30 does not apply to Jesus. Jesus' bloodline comes from David through the centuries to Mary, the virgin, who would give birth to the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 1:18-25 we see that Jesus was conceived and born of the virgin Mary as predicted in the Old Testament.

Now, the virgin birth is a much criticized belief. The liberal theologians and liberal pastors deny that it happened. We frequently hear of someone publishing a new book seeking to explain away the idea of a virgin birth. You can count on something whenever you hear of someone doing this: the person who writes it is not a Bible believer. The Bible clearly teaches that Christ was born of the virgin Mary. If this is untrue, then the Bible is untrue. If the virgin birth is untrue, then Christ is disqualified as our sin-bearer because he would have inherited his earthly father's old sin nature.

Why should the virgin birth be so hard for someone to believe? Does not the Bible teach it? Of course it does.

The Bible indicates that God brought Adam into existence without using either a man or a woman. It was a miracle.

The Bible furthermore indicates that God brought Eve into existence without using a woman. It was a miracle.

In addition, the Bible indicates that God brings most people into existence by using both a man and a woman, you know, without using both a father and a mother. It is a miracle whenever a baby is conceived.

Why is it so difficult to believe that God could bring about a birth without using a man? Of course, it's miraculous. But so was the creation of Adam, the creation of Eve, and the creation of each of the rest of us.

In Matthew 1:18-25 the Bible clearly states that Christ was born of a virgin.

We see that -


Matthew 1:18 - Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise [i.e. it was in this way or it was as follows]: When [i.e. after] as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together [i.e. before they lived together or before they had a sexual union], she was found with child of the Holy Ghost [i.e. Note that a woman's being pregnant is always referred to as being with child in the Bible and not with a fetus. By not referring to the fetus as a child, the abortionists make it easier for people to accept the deliberate murder of a baby.] . . . she [i.e. Mary] was found with child of the Holy Ghost [i.e. This means that she was pregnant from the Holy Spirit. It means that God the Holy Spirit begat Jesus in the womb of the virgin Mary in that He caused her to conceive the baby Jesus without a human father.].

This is contrary to the Mormon teaching that God the Father (not God the Holy Spirit) engaged in a physical relationship with Mary which resulted in his fathering the baby Jesus. Mormons do not believe in the virgin birth of Christ. They worship a different Jesus than you and I worship. Their God the Father is also a different god than the God the Father found in the Bible.

Matthew's explanation can best be understood in the light of Hebrew marriage customs. Marriages were arranged for individuals by parents, and contracts were negotiated. After this was accomplished, the individuals were considered married and were called husband and wife regardless of their ages when they were espoused. They did not, however, begin to live together. Instead, the woman continued to live with her parents and the man with his parents until they were ready for marriage. Prior to their actual marriage, the bride continued to live with her parents for a period of one year. The waiting period was to demonstrate the faithfulness of the pledge of purity given concerning the bride. If she was found to be with child in this period, it would obviously be thought that she not pure, but had been involved in an unfaithful sexual relationship. Therefore the marriage could be annulled. If, however, the one-year waiting period demonstrated the purity of the bride, the husband would then go to the house of the bride's parents and in a grand processional lead his bride back to his home. There they would begin to live together as husband and wife and consummate their marriage physically. Matthew's story should be read with this background in mind. (Adapted from the Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Mary knew more than is mentioned here in Matthew's gospel.

1. Mary knew the prediction of Jesus' birth

Isaiah 7:14 - Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

2. Mary knew about the announcement of Jesus' birth. The angel Gabriel announced it to her personally.

Luke 1:26-33 - (26) And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, (27) To a virgin espoused [i.e. betrothed] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David [This means that Joseph was a descendant of King David.]; and the virgin's name was Mary. (28) And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail [i.e. greetings, rejoice], thou that art highly favoured [i.e. you who have been highly favored. This has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action. Mary was highly favored in the past and remained highly favored.], the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women [It suggests that Mary had the highest (or ultimate) blessing that all the women in the world could possibly have. She was to be the mother of the Messiah. No other woman would ever have such a privilege. Can you ladies imagine being the mother of a sinless child?]. (29) And when she saw him [i.e. when Mary saw the angel Gabriel], she was troubled [i.e. she was greatly confused or she was greatly perplexed] at his saying, and cast in her mind [i.e. considered, wondered] what manner of salutation [i.e. what manner of greeting] this should be. (30) And the angel said unto her, Fear not [i.e. stop fearing, stop being afraid], Mary: for thou hast found favour [or grace] with God. (31) And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth [i.e. bear, give birth to] a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. (32) He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest [i.e. the Son of the most high God, which means that He will be the Messiah]: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David [i.e. This was another promise that Mary's son Jesus is the Promised Messiah]: (33) And he shall reign over the house of Jacob [i.e. over Israel] for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

3. Mary knew about the miraculous conception of Jesus. She could not help but realize that she was pregnant, and she knew that she had not been unfaithful to Joseph.

Luke 1:34-38 - (34) Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? [i.e. since I am not having a sexual relationship with a man. She is not doubting what Gabriel said to her as John the Baptist's father had doubted what Gabriel said to him. She was simply inquiring how this would happen.] (35) And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (36) And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. (37) For with God nothing shall be impossible. (38) And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word [This indicates that Mary accepted the fact that, within the will of God, she as a virgin would eventually give birth to the promised Messiah.]. And the angel departed from her.

In Matthew 1:19 , as a result of learning that Mary was expecting a baby, we see that -


What would you think if your fiance were pregnant and you knew that you weren't the father? It would be natural to draw the conclusion that she had been unfaithful to you. Wouldn't you then break off the engagement? I would.

Matthew 1:19 - Then Joseph her husband, being a just man [i.e. a righteous man], and not willing to make her a publick example [i.e. not wanting to disgrace her publicly, not wanting to expose her to public disgrace, or not wanting to make an example of her. (Of course, we know that Mary was not an adulteress; but Joseph did not yet know this.)], Joseph . . . was minded [i.e. Joseph intended, Joseph planned] to put her away privily [i.e. to divorce her secretly].

Espousal or betrothal is stronger than engagement. It means that Mary had already been bound to Joseph, and unfaithfulness after espousal or betrothal was regarded as adultery.

Two courses of action were open to Joseph by Jewish law and custom:

1. He could make her a public example by having her stoned, or

2. He could divorce her secretly

Joseph loved Mary and did not want to report her pregnancy to the elders at the city gate because this could be expected to create a public scandal and might also have resulted in her being stoned in accordance with Deuteronomy 22:23-24 .

Deuteronomy 22:23-24 - (23) If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; (24) Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

Next, while Joseph was contemplating what he should do, we see that -


Matthew 1:20-23 - 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 [i.e. do not begin to fear] to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth [i.e. she will bear, she will give birth to] a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet [i.e. the prophet Isaiah], saying, 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.

No husband could be expected to believe the fact of the virgin conception unless the truth were revealed to him supernaturally.

To summarize, Joseph was told:

1. that he should not even begin to fear to take Mary as his wife - v. 20

2. that the child conceived in Mary was of the Holy Spirit - v. 20

3. that Mary would bear a son - v. 21

4. that he should call the son's name Jesus - v. 21

5. that Jesus will save His people from their sins - v. 21

6. that all this has happened in order that Isaiah 7:14 might be fulfilled - vv. 22-23

In New Testament Greek there are no quotation marks. Although it is possible to discern where a quotation begins, it is not always possible to discern where it ends. This passage provides a good example of this. Did the angel actually say verses 22-23 to Joseph, or are these verses Matthew's comments? The truth is that it does not really make any difference except to a curious mind.

Finally, after he awoke from his sleep -


Matthew 1:24-25 - 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden [i.e. commanded, ordered] him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son [i.e. he had no sexual relations with her until after she had given birth to Jesus, her firstborn son]: and he called his name JESUS.

To summarize:

1. Joseph took unto him his wife - v. 24

2. Joseph had no sexual relations with Mary until after she had given birth to her first-born son - v. 25

3. Jesus was Mary's firstborn son - v. 25

The implication is clear that Mary eventually gave birth to other children. There is no such doctrine taught in the Bible as the Roman Catholic doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary.

Four brothers of Jesus are mentioned by name in Matthew 13:55 ,

Matthew 13:55 - Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?

Mary also gave birth to at least two daughters who are mentioned, but not named, in the Scriptures.

4. Joseph called his name Jesus - v. 25


What can we learn about Jesus?

1. Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit.

Thus, He had no earthly father.

Thus, He had no sin nature passed on to him by an earthly father.

Thus, the curse against Coniah's descendants sitting on the throne of David did not pass on to Jesus.

2. Jesus' mother was a virgin until after His birth

3. Jesus will save His people from their sins

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.

4. Jesus is God

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.


Jesus died to save his people from their sins. Are you aware that He died to save you from your sins? He not only died in the cross, shedding His blood in payment for all the sins you have ever committed or will ever commit, but He was also raised again from the dead in order to show that God the Father had accepted His sacrifice on your behalf.

Romans 10:9 - That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Romans 10:13 - For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.