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Bible Commentaries

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Matthew 1

 

 

Verses 1-25

Let"s get into the Gospel According To Matthew.

Matthew was a tax collector in Capernaum before he was called by Jesus Christ to be a disciple. He was also called Levi. And he opens his gospel by giving to us the genealogy of Jesus Christ back to Abraham, as he said in chapter one, verse one,

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham ( Matthew 1:1 ).

Now the Lord had promised to Abraham, "through thy seed shall all of the nations of the earth be blessed"( Genesis 22:18 ). By that was understood that from Abraham"s seed the Messiah would come, the one who would be a blessing to all of the nations of the earth. So anyone who would seek to lay claim as the Messiah, would first of all have to be able to prove that he was a descendant of Abraham because God had made that special promise to Abraham.

Later on God promised to David that He would build David"s house and that his seed would sit upon the throne forever ( 2 Samuel 7:12 ). And from that promise, David understood that God was promising that the Messiah should come through his line, through his genealogy. And after David, there were many prophecies that referred to the Messiah as, "the branch out of the root of Jesse," and, of course, He is referred to as, "Sitting upon the throne of David." So it would be necessary for one who would seek to lay claim to being the Messiah to be able to prove that he is a descendent both of Abraham and also of David.

Now it is interesting to me that no longer do the Jews have any accurate genealogical records; so that there is not a Jew in the world today who can actually prove by the genealogical records that he is a descendent of David. They have lost all their books of generations, but no problem because the Messiah has already come. And Matthew points out here that He does fulfill both of the requirements, being a son of Abraham and a son of David, and so he seeks to trace Jesus back to David and to Abraham.

You say but wait a minute; is not this the genealogy of Joseph? And if Jesus was virgin-born, then why would it be necessary to trace Joseph"s genealogy? And it is true when we get to verse sixteen, "And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called the Christ". Notice that it does not say that Joseph was the father of Jesus, but he was "the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ".

Now you are familiar with the fact that in the New Testament we have another line of genealogy that traces the genealogy of Christ back to Adam. And as you read the genealogies in Matthew and in Luke, you"ll find that there are differences in the genealogies. In Matthew"s genealogy we are tracing the line of Jesus back to David through Solomon, but as you read Luke"s genealogy you"ll find that it traces the genealogy, actually not of Joseph but of Mary. She also goes back to David and to Abraham, but she comes through the son Nathan, of David. So that Mary also was of the tribe of Judah and a descendant of David, but not through Solomon and his line, but through David"s other son Nathan and his line.

But in Matthew"s gospel, Joseph is actually a descendant of David through the kingly line. And as you read the kings of Judah, you find that they are listed in the descendants of Joseph, and actually he was of the royal seed of David, and as such, an heir to the throne in Israel. However, there is a real problem to Joseph being king in Israel because his line goes back through the kings of Israel, which includes Joconiah, of whom the Lord cursed through Jeremiah the prophet, saying that "none of his seed would sit upon the throne of Israel forever" ( Jeremiah 22:30 ). So that kingly line that came through Solomon was disallowed from sitting on the throne because of Joconiah"s sin there in Jeremiah 22:30 . So that Jesus, being the son of Mary, still has a claim to the throne of David, but not through Joconiah who was cursed as not being able to rule, or any of his descendants to rule upon the throne.

So if Jesus were the son of Joseph, He could not reign upon the throne of David because of that curse in Jeremiah 22:1-30 . But being the son of David through Nathan, and through a different line, He has the right to the throne, coming from Mary. And yet, as far as the Jewish nation would be concerned, they would recognize Joseph as the kingly line, and thus the eldest son of Joseph, considered to be the eldest son of Joseph, though He was born of the Holy Spirit, would then have a right to the throne. So the Lord put the two things together and it"s quite fascinating the way it happened.

Now there are some interesting things, and I told you, you can skip the first seventeen verses because reading these names can become laborious to a person who is not familiar with the names, and you spend your whole time just trying to pronounce them and they become rather meaningless. But rarely were women named in the genealogical lines, but in tracing Joseph back, there are four women that are mentioned. And it is interesting to me the four women that are mentioned, because they were not, with the exception of one, really virtuous kind of women.

The first woman that is mentioned is Thamar. And in verse three,

And Judah begat Phares and Zara of Thamar ( Matthew 1:3 );

Now Judah had a son who married Thamar, but his son died before he had any children. So his brother did what was the accepted thing in that culture; he took her as his wife. But he also died before he had any children.

Now Judah had another son. And it was the obligation of the other son to marry her and to raise up a seed, a descendent. But Judah having had two sons die as a result, I don"t know if it was a result of her cooking, but I mean he was suspicious anyhow, was not willing to let the third son marry her and he kept stalling her. He said, Oh, he is too young, he"s too immature, and he kept on stalling her off until it became quite obvious to her that Judah had no intention of allowing his third son to marry her.

So she put on the attire of a prostitute and sat in the path. And when Judah came by he propositioned her, which she accepted. And she said, What will you give me? He said, I"ll give you a goat out of my flock. She said, Well, you don"t have it with you. He said, Well, I"ll give you my ring as a guarantee and I"ll send the goat back. And so he went in unto her. She had a veil on; he didn"t recognize her and she became pregnant by Judah.

Now when word came out to Judah, Thamar, your daughter-in-law is pregnant, he said, put her to death. So she sent his ring. The next day the servant came back with the goat and the gal was gone. And so he said to the people around there, Where is the prostitute that was sitting here? They said, There"s no prostitute here. So the fella came back to Judah and said, Hey, I couldn"t find her; I"ve still got the goat. Judah said, Oh well, let it go. Well, when he found out Thamar was pregnant and ordered her to be put to death, then Thamar sent the ring and she said, The man who owns this ring is the one responsible for me being pregnant. And so Judah was trapped. But isn"t it interesting that Thamar appears in the lineage of the royal seed of David, that God has chosen Thamar with these untoward circumstances?

The second is Rahab. Now when the children of Israel were ready to come into the land that God had promised them, the first city that they came to was Jericho. And they sent spies into Jericho to take a look at the defenses and all. And when the people of Jericho realized that there were spies within their city from the Israelites, they sought to find them to put them to death. But Rahab who was a prostitute, hid them under some sheaves on her roof. And then she let them down over the wall saying, Please, when you take the city, spare my family and myself. And so they said, You let this scarlet cord hang down, and when we take the city everyone that"s in your house will be saved. So the city of Jericho was taken, but they respected Rahab who had sheltered the spies, and those that were within her house were not killed, they were spared ( Joshua 2:1-15 ).

Rahab then married Booz, what we know as Boaz; who was, of course, the one who married Ruth, the Moabitess. And Ruth is the third one that is mentioned. Now Rahab did not come from the line of Israel, but she was of Jericho, a Canaanitess, a prostitute, that the Lord also put in the line.

The next one mentioned is that of Ruth, who was a Moabitess, who were under an eternal curse of God. A Moabite could not come into the temple of the Lord to the tenth generation, or forever, as God had placed a curse on Moab. And yet by the grace of God, Ruth became the wife of Boaz; whose son was Obed, whose son was Jesse, whose son was King David. And so God brought Ruth the Moabitess into the line.

And then, the fourth woman that is mentioned is that one, and it doesn"t name her, but we know who she is.

who was wife of Urias ( Matthew 1:6 );

So Bathsheba is the fourth woman that is brought into the record. And she is the one who had the illegitimate relationship with David, whose husband was subsequently put to death by a conspiracy of David, and then became David"s wife. And from her was born Solomon, who became the king over Israel, and the line comes through Solomon.

So the Lord has put into the genealogy of the line of Joseph these four women, in order to display the grace of God, in order that any of us, through our failures, can still identify with God"s plan of grace and love for men. None of us are excluded. God has already included in His program people who had made a mess out of their lives, people who had had great personal failures in their lives, people who had immoral stains in their lives and still God used them in His total plan. And thus, it encourages us who also have stains, who also have failures, that God can still use us in His plan. And so to me it"s exciting to see the inclusion that God makes in this line coming to Christ.

Now Matthew divides the generations.

fourteen from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the carrying away into Babylonian captivity, and fourteen from the Babylonian captivity unto the time of Christ ( Matthew 1:17 ).

However, it is quite obvious that Matthew has left out some of the names so that, it is in order that he might, to set them in couplets of seven, three couplets of seven, but deliberately leaving out some of the names. And some of the names that are left out, which are quite obvious, in verse eight, Ahaziah. If you go back in the record in Chronicles you"ll find that Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah are left out.

Who were Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah? They were the sons of Athaliah, who was the daughter of Jezebel and Ahab; that wicked king and queen of the Northern Kingdom, whose sin actually sealed the fate of the Northern Kingdom. And Athaliah had sought to kill all the royal seed of David, but one of the children escaped and, of course, later became king. But the descendants of Athaliah are left out of this record and I am certain deliberately so by Matthew.

There are other omissions, but the purpose of Matthew was to set it up in fourteen generations, and surely it was deliberate. I cannot believe that Matthew just made a mistake, but it was a deliberate omission on Matthew"s part in writing the genealogies, because he has the same records that we have of the Old Testament. And He knows good and well these other names fit in there but he deliberately omitted them. And if you want to make a study of the omissions and those persons omitted, I"m sure that you can find the reasons why Matthew chose to omit those names.

Now we get in verse sixteen,

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

So this is the little transition verse. It"s a necessary transition verse, because he is giving the genealogy to Abraham, to show that He comes from Abraham and from David. But yet, Jesus Christ was not born of Joseph, and he is going to explain that in just a moment.

Verse eighteen,

Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened like this: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, [that is, before they had had physical intercourse,] she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit ( Matthew 1:18 ).

Now Luke"s gospel gives to us a little further enlightenment of how that the angel Gabriel came to Mary and informed her of the process when she said, "How can these things be, seeing I"ve not had relations with a man?" ( Luke 1:34 ) The angel told her the process by which the child would be born, and we"ll study that when we get to the Gospel of Luke.

It is necessary that we understand that in that culture there were three relationships that a couple had: first of all, the engagement; secondly, the espousal; and thirdly, the betrothal.

Now the engagement could take place at any time in that child"s life, because marriage was by arrangement. And if your parents had friends, and they had a little daughter born about the same time that their son was born, and they were close friends, they could say, well, let"s have your daughter marry our son. And they would strike an arrangement whereby your daughter would marry my son. Now your daughter may be two years old and my son is three years old, and because we made this arrangement that would constitute engagement. And so the little girl two, and the little boy three would be engaged to be married. So you"d go to kindergarten and you"d say, who"s your girlfriend, oh, I"m engaged to her. So the engagement could come very early in life because marriage was by the arrangement of the parents.

But when they had come to that point of maturity where they could then get married, and usually it was in the early teens, fifteen, sixteen, when a girl was married; they would go through a year of espousal, when they were really separated to each other as far as relationship is concerned. And it is more like what we call engagement today, where they accept the arrangement of the parents, they accept each other, and they set themselves apart for each other for a year of preparation and planning for the marriage.

After the year of espousal, now during the time of espousal you were considered, in a sense, as being married; that is, to break an espousal actually took a writ of divorcement. You were considered to be married, but it was a year in which you were dedicated to each other without physical relationship, the espousal period. And that could not be broken, except by divorce.

After the year"s espousal, then there would be the betrothal, the marriage itself. And on the wedding night the father would take the signs of his daughter"s virginity and keep them in case there was ever any question of her being a virgin. You see, if later on the fellow said, Well, she wasn"t a virgin when I married her, and sought to divorce her, then the father could bring the tokens of her virginity, and this louse of a husband could be prosecuted for falsely accusing his wife. So it was something that the father kept for the protection of his daughter, the tokens of her virginity, on the wedding night after the betrothal and the whole wedding ceremony and all, he would keep these tokens of her virginity.

So there was first of all, the engagement; secondly, the espousal; thirdly, the betrothal. And so it was during this period that Joseph and Mary were espoused, they were committed to each other, without the physical relationship, that suddenly this very difficult problem developed when Mary became pregnant.

Now under the Jewish law, this constituted infidelity, adultery, because they were in the period of the espousal. And under Jewish law she could be stoned to death for her betrayal of Joseph. And so this is the problem that Joseph faced when Mary, who no doubt was an extremely beautiful person, not necessarily physically, but spiritually. A young girl who was so pure, so righteous, that God chose her above all others to be the vessel through which His Son should be brought forth into the earth. Gave her such a high honor that from that time on, all people would call her "blessed". And so we refer to "the blessed mother of Jesus."

And the depth of her spirituality is reflected in the gospel of Luke when she met her cousin Elizabeth. And as they shared their experiences with the Lord and their two sons, John was in Elizabeth"s womb, and Jesus was in Mary"s womb. As they began to share the experiences of their pregnancies and all, and those miracles surrounding them, that Mary burst forth into the glorious Magnificat recorded in Luke"s gospel, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit doth rejoice. For he hath regarded the low estate of his maiden" ( Luke 1:46 ). And she goes on, in this glorious outburst of praise unto God, which expresses really a depth of relationship that Mary had had with the Lord, beautiful in spirit, chosen by God for this high honor.

But Joseph was in a turmoil. He loved her. He didn"t know what to do about it. He really could not in his mind stand the thought of publicly disgracing her by declaring that he was not responsible for the child. And to see her stoned by the angry mobs he could not bring himself to do that and so he was thinking, Well, maybe I can just ship her off someplace, put her away privately and she at least can be spared. And Joseph while he was going over these things in his heart and in his mind, notice that it says,

Joseph, being a just man ( Matthew 1:19 ),

Many times Joseph is pictured as sort of an oaf, but he was a man in contact with God also and the Lord spoke to him. Evidently Joseph died rather early in the life of Jesus. Because after their return from Egypt, the only reference Isaiah 6:42 ,"Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, the carpenter?" And no doubt he was there in Nazareth for a time, but by the time Jesus began His public ministry, Joseph has already departed the scene.

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privately. 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 ( Matthew 1:19-20 ),

We have already seen that he is a descendant of David.

Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife ( Matthew 1:20 ):

Because of their espousal she was considered his wife, though they had not yet been betrothed.

for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Yehshua JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins ( Matthew 1:20-21 ).

That is the interpretation of Yehshua. It means Yahweh is salvation. It is the Hebrew word for what we call Joshua, which is Yehshua and it is Jehovah, or Yahweh, is salvation. Thus, call His name Joshua, because He will save His people from their sins. So his name implies His mission that of the Savior.

Now all this was done, in order that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying ( Matthew 1:22 ),

Notice that Matthew accepts that the words of the prophets were actually inspired by God. One thing the New Testament recognizes all the way through and that is the divine inspiration of Scriptures. As we read, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" ( 2 Timothy 3:16 ).

Peter in referring to the writings of David said, "And David by the mouth of the Holy Spirit spake saying" ( Acts 1:16 ). The New Testament teaches and recognizes that God was behind the writing of the Scriptures, that God is actually the divine author of the Word. So here again is another confirmation that it might be fulfilled, that which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet. As Paul the Apostle said, "That which I have received from the Lord I also delivered unto you." The prophet Isaiah declared in Chapter seven, "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" ( Isaiah 7:14 ), which being interpreted is, "God with us."

Now as we were talking about modern translations and all, and my difficulty with the modern translations, which seek to do away with the deity of Jesus Christ, this is one of those areas where I distrust and despise the Revised Version of the Bible. For when you go back to this prophecy in Isaiah where Isaiah prophesies, "The Lord said to the king Jehosaphat, Ask a sign and I will give it to you." And Jehosaphat said, "I will not ask a sign." And the prophet said, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" ( Isaiah 7:14 ), which being interpreted is God with us. There, the Lord was promising that the Messiah would be born of a virgin.

However, there is a scholar recognized by those biblical authorities, those men at least who establish themselves as such, who are much like the Pharisees, who established themselves as the biblical authorities that no one could understand or interpret Scriptures except for the Scribes and the Pharisees. And Jesus had much to say about them. We have our modern day Scribes and Pharisees, who sit in their little intellectual circles, looking down upon all of us poor ignorant folk. One of their scholars, Jansenius, who has written this dictionary and so forth, translated that Hebrew word, "alma," as "young maiden." And so these translators, of course, wanting to water things down, pick up Jansenius" "young maiden". They translate this, "Behold the Lord will give you a sign, a young maiden will conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel."

First of all, tell me what kind of a sign is it when a young girl gets pregnant. That"s no sign; that happens all the time. There is nothing unusual or unique about that. It was obvious that the Holy Spirit intended the translation to be "virgin," and every other use of "alma" in the Old Testament is referring to a "virgin." But you know this scholar"s reason for translating it "young maiden," instead of "virgin", now this is scholarship. He declared, "I do not believe in miracles, and for a young virgin to have a child would be a miracle, thus I reject it." And thus he translated it, "young maiden" instead of a "virgin." That"s the kind of scholarship that I have absolutely no respect for, because it has already taken a presupposition that God doesn"t really exist. That God isn"t able to transcend the natural laws that He has established in the Universe. I thoroughly, totally reject such stupidity, and I don"t have to accept it, thank God.

Now some two hundred years before Jesus was born, there were seventy scholars who felt that the people should have Scriptures in a language they could understand, because the Hebrew language was pretty much lost during the Babylonian captivity. And after they had returned from Babylon, the majority of the people did not speak Hebrew. It was a language then that was only for the biblical scholars in those days. The people had to depend upon the scholars to teach them the Scriptures, because they did not have them in their own language any longer.

And because of Alexander the Great"s influence and the Grecian influence through that territory when Alexander the Great conquered, these men decided to translate the Hebrew Bible, Old Testament, into Greek, in order that the people might be able to read their own Scriptures. Because there were seventy scholars who gave themselves to this task of translation, they called the translation the Septuagint, for the seventy scholars. Thus, when you read of the Septuagint, it is a Greek translation made approximately two hundred years before the birth of Christ, in order that the people might have their Scriptures again in a language that they could read and understand for themselves.

So it is interesting that when these Greek scholars, two hundred years before Mary had this experience of bearing the child Jesus as a virgin, that these Greek and Hebrew scholars, understanding the prophecy of Isaiah when translating that Hebrew word "alma" into Greek, used then a Greek word that is only used of "a virgin". And of course, Matthew copies here in his Greek their translation from the Septuagint. And inasmuch as the New Testament is recognizing that the Old Testament is inspired of the Lord, and Isaiah, when he said this, was inspired of the Lord and it translates it "virgin"; it"s really tampering with the Scriptures and blasphemous for man to take upon himself to translate that passage in Isaiah "a young maiden" by translating the passage, "a young maiden will conceive."

That"s just one of my cases, of which I have hundreds, against the modern translations. That"s why I am so glad that the Lord has finally provided us a new translation which sticks to the Majority Text and to the fundamental truths that God has declared. So that is just a little aside, but it is something that I am rejoicing in.

Then Joseph when he awoke from his sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took Mary as his wife: And he did not know her until she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name [Yehshua] ( Matthew 1:24-25 ).

The dogma that was developed in the Catholic Church of the perpetual virginity of Mary, is sheer poppycock. It is the invention of man who have sought to elevate Mary to the status of deity. The obvious is here, "And did not know her until," but obviously afterwards he did have the normal husband-wife relationships with Mary, or else the other sons that were born of Mary and the daughters were also virgin-born, and that throws the whole story in disarray. For Mark"s gospel names the brothers of Jesus: James, Joses, Simon, and his sisters. So to declare perpetual virginity of Mary is not a scriptural truth. It is a dogma developed by the church without scriptural foundation, as is so much dogma. Beware of dogma. Jesus said, Beware of the dogs. "

 


Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.

Bibliography Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Matthew 1:4". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/matthew-1.html. 2014.


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Saturday, July 22nd, 2017
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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