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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 1

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

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Verses 1-17

V

BEGINNINGS OF MATTHEW AND LUKE

Broadus’ Harmony pages 5-6 and Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 1:5-80; Luke 3:23-38.

We have noted in a previous chapter John’s and Paul’s account of the divine side of our Lord’s existence, personality and activities before he became flesh. Now we consider, in Matthew, Luke, and Paul, his human side, human antecedents, human birth, and early life. We find Matthew’s account in Matthew 1-2, and Luke’s account in Luke 1-2 with the closing paragraph of Luke 3.


Matthew’s incidents are his genealogy, birth, the visit of the magi, the flight into Egypt, the massacre of the babes at Bethlehem, the return to the land of Israel, and resettlement at Nazareth in Galilee.


Luke’s incidents are the announcement to Zacharias of the birth of his son, John the Baptist, our Lord’s forerunner; the announcement to Mary of the birth of our Lord; Mary’s visit to Elisabeth; the birth of John the Baptist according to announcement; the birth of our Lord at Bethlehem; the announcement to the shepherds of that birth; the circumcision of our Lord; his presentation in the Temple with attendant circumstances ; the return to Nazareth; the development there of his childhood; the visit to the Temple when our Lord was twelve years old; the return to Nazareth and his development; into manhood; and his genealogy.


On this entire section we submit several general observations:


1. Matthew’s entire account is written from the viewpoint of Joseph, and for Jews. His genealogy is the genealogy of Joseph according to the legal Jewish method. Gabriel’s appearance to Joseph is to explain Mary’s condition. Indeed, all the four supernatural directions for the family movements come in dreams to Joseph. Every incident and every Old Testament quotation conspire to prove that Jesus of Nazareth is the foretold and long-expected King of the Jews.


2. Luke’s entire account is written from Mary’s viewpoint and to show our Lord’s broader relations to humanity. His genealogy is real, not legal. It is Mary’s genealogy, not Joseph’s, our Lord’s relations to Joseph being only a Jewish, legal supposition. While indeed it shows that Mary was a Jewess) really descended from David and Abraham, yet her genealogy extends back to Adam, in order to prove that her Son was the second Adam, and literally fulfilled the first gospel promise, "The seed of the woman [not of the man] shall bruise the serpent’s head."


It is to Mary, Gabriel announces her conception of a Son, by the Holy Spirit, who because thus sired shall be holy, the Son of God.


It is to Mary the angel announces the condition of Elisabeth, and thus prepares the way for Mary’s visit to Elisabeth. All of Luke’s other incidents are those which Mary "kept in her heart." The conjecture that Luke’s genealogy is also traced through Joseph is puerile in itself, utterly gratuitous, and at war with Luke’s whole plan. It is to invent a difficulty and then invite the harmonists of the two genealogies to settle it. Why should they be harmonized? They have different starting points (a legal son, a real son) and different objectives (Abraham – Adam); they are not even parallel lines, since they meet and part.


3. We here confront what Paul calls "the great mystery of Godliness" – the incarnation of our Lord. Isaiah, who had already foretold his virgin birth, in a clear prophecy concerning him, says, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Quoting Isaiah, and because the virgin mother is with child by the Holy Ghost, Matthew says, "His name shall be called Immanuel (God with us)." In explanation of the way a virgin can become a mother, Luke’s angel says to Mary, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the Holy One who is begotten of thee shall be called the Son of God."


Mark says, "Jesus Christ, the Son of God." John says, "The Logos which was God, was manifested and became flesh." Paul says, "He who was the effulgence of God’s glory and the very image of his substance," (Hebrews 1:3) "who existed in the form of God . . . was made in the likeness of man (Philippians 2:6-8) was born of a woman" (Galatians 4:4). Not otherwise could he escape the hereditary taint of Adam’s sin (Genesis 5:3); not otherwise could he fulfil the protevangel, "the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head" (Genesis 3:15); not otherwise could he be the Second Adam, the second head of the race (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49).


Grant this one miracle, the greatest and most inclusive, and all others naturally follow. Deny this one, and there is no need to deny or even consider others (1 John 4:1-3).


4. Only twice do we find in the Bible the phrase, "The book of the generations" applied respectively to "The first Adam" (Genesis 5:1), and to the Second Adam (Matthew 1:1). And concerning this Second Adam, well might Isaiah inquire: "Who shall declare his generation," (common version, Isaiah 53:8) especially since "His name shall be Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).


5. Nothing more commends the inspiration of the simplicity and reticence of this account of our Lord’s infancy, childhood and growth to manhood, than to contrast it with the silly and incredible fables invented in the early Christian centuries to gratify a prurient curiosity concerning a long period of our Lord’s life on which, beyond the few incidents recorded, our Gospels are silent. Nature, as well as grace, draws a modest veil over the period of conception, gestation, parturition, and development. Not only have these bald inventions concerning the infancy and childhood of our Lord disfigured the image in the mind naturally produced by the simple Bible story, but tradition, ever-increasing in imposture and lying, ad nauseum, has buried the few real incidents recorded under an accretion of fanciful enlargements, e.g., the incident of the magi, and even the blasphemies subverting the gospel and changing the very plan of salvation, e.g., the Mariology and Mariolatry developed from our simple gospel story of Mary by the Romanists of succeeding centuries.


6. Beyond the few incidents recorded of the first thirty years of our Lord’s preparation for his public work, this is every syllable of the gospel history: Luke puts in four pregnant sentences the whole period, (a) concerning the development of his childhood, "And the child grew and waxed strong, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him" (Luke 2:40). (b) After the consciousness of his messiahship in the Temple, when he was twelve years old, "He went down with them (Mary and Joseph) and came to Nazareth; and he was subject to them" (Luke 2:51). (c) Referring back to his habit of attending the house of religious instruction at Nazareth, Luke later says, "He came to Nazareth where he had been brought up: and he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read" (Luke 4:16); (d) Concerning his development to manhood: "And Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52). (e) Mark says that by occupation he was a carpenter (Luke 6:3).


These are all the direct references. But we may easily gather from his subsequent history that he had studied the book of nature in its plants, flowers, fruits, birds, animals, soil and its cultivation, its crops, harvests and vintages; that he was a lover of children and close observer of their plays; that he was familiar with the customs of the family and of society; that he was well acquainted with the religious sects and political parties of his country and its relation of subjection to Rome. It is evident also from his movements that he thoroughly understood all the variations of government in the Herod family.


As to literary attainments, apart from the evident religious training of a Jewish child, we know that he could read and speak fluently in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. He read and quoted at will and discerningly from both the Hebrew and the Greek versions of the Old Testament. Mark preserves and interprets many of his Aramaic expressions.


7. We should commence Matthew’s genealogy thus: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, called Immanuel (God with us)." And, allowing Paul to supplement Luke’s genealogy thus: "The Second Adam, who is the Lord from heaven, Jesus Christ himself (supposed son of Joseph) was the son of Heli," and so on back to the first Adam.


8. In these two accounts of our Lord’s infancy are eight distinct annunciations, adapted in time, place, medium, means, and circumstances to the recipient, together with eight other supernatural events.


(1) The annunciation by the angel Gabriel, in a vision, to Zacharias, ministering in the Temple, of the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner of our Lord, and of Zacharias’ dumbness until the event (Luke 1:5 f).


(2) Gabriel’s annunciation to Mary of the birth of our Lord (Luke 1:26 f).


(3) The annunciation to Elisabeth of the presence of the appointed mother of our Lord, by her unborn baby’s leaping for joy (Luke 1:41 f).


(4) The angel’s annunciation to Joseph, in a dream, of the supernatural conception of Mary (Matthew 1:18 f).


(5) The angel’s annunciation, in a vision, to the shepherds near Bethlehem, of the birth of our Lord (Luke 2:8 f).


(6) The Spirit’s annunciation to Simeon that he should not see death until he had seen the Christ (Luke 2:26).


(7) Simeon’s annunciation, by prophetic inspiration, to Mary concerning her Son, and concerning the sword that would pierce her own soul (Luke 2:34-35).


(8) The annunciation to the magi, in the far East, by the appearance of a star, that the foretold and long-expected King of the Jews was born (Matthew 2:1 f).


The eight attending supernatural events are, – the prophetic utterances by Zacharias, Elisabeth, Mary, and Anna, the three additional dreams of Joseph and the one of the magi. Thus there are three vision – to Zacharias, Mary, and the shepherds; five dreams – four of Joseph and one of the magi; one annunciation by the Spirit to Simeon, one of Simeon to Mary by inspiration, one by a star, one by the leaping of an unborn babe, besides the prophetic inspiration of four.


9. In Luke’s account of the beginnings are five famous hymns, or the foundations from which they were later developed;


(1) "The Hail Mary," developed by the Romanists from a combination of the angel’s salutation to Mary (Luke 1:29) and Elisabeth’s salutation to Mary (Luke 1:42), with some extraneous additions.


(2) "The Magnificat," or Mary’s own hymn (Luke 1:46-55).


(3) "The Benedictus," or the song of Zacharias (Luke 1:68-79).


(4) "Gloria in Excelsis," developed from the song of the angels (Luke 2-14).


5) "Nunc Dimittis," developed from the words of Simeon (Luke 2:29-32).


10. The gospel histories teach concerning Mary, the mother of our Lord, that she was a modest, pious, but poor Jewish maiden, of the line of David, betrothed to Joseph, a just man, also of the line of David. She was endued with grace, to become the virgin mother of our Lord, and this supernatural conception was by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Consequently her Son would be God’s Son, and not man’s. Being God’s Son, he would be born holy, unstained through hereditary taint, and as he was the only human being so born, he is called the Only Begotten Son of the Father. Because of her selection to become the mother of our Lord, all generations would call her blessed. Her marriage to Joseph before the birth of this child constituted him legally, though not really, a son of Joseph. In all these things Mary humbly submitted herself to the divine will. She piously kept in her heart all the attending prodigies, circumstances, and prophecies of his nativity and childhood. While married to Joseph, she knew him not until after the birth of her divine Son, but afterward lived with him in all marital relations, bearing four sons, whose names are given, besides daughters not named (Mark 6:3). After Joseph’s death, she followed her son, Jesus, with his younger half-brothers and sisters. From the record it is evident that more than once she was not without fault. On the whole, however, the impression left on the mind by the history is most charming. A maiden, chaste, modest, pious, and meekly submissive to God’s will, a true wife, a devoted, self-denying mother, patiently bearing all the sorrows attendant upon being the mother of her Saviour son. Well might Simeon say to her, "Yea, and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul," on which prophecy has been written a book of merit entitled The Sorrows of Mary.


At the death of Jesus, her other sons being poor and un- believers, she was taken to the home of John the apostle, in Jerusalem. What an unspeakable pity that religious superstition has foisted upon this simple, charming, gospel story of earth’s most honored woman, a monstrous Mariology of human invention, developed later into a blasphemous Mariolatry, which makes her usurp the place of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. As this hideous parasite on the gospel story of Mary roots in our lesson, we here give a summary of the invented.


MARIOLOGY MERGED INTO MARIOLATRY

The exaggeration of the meaning of the words: "All generations shall call me blessed." This blessedness, because a privilege, was declared by our Lord himself to be inferior to the blessings on personal obedience and service (Luke 11:27-28), and because this was a fleshly relation to our Lord, he declared it to be inferior to spiritual relations, which all may share (Mark 3:31-35).


Mary was a perpetual virgin, – that is, never knowing a man, and being the mother of only one child, Jesus. This was the earliest of the doctrines in point of time, and some Protestants today, for sentimental reasons, hold to it.


Mary free from actual sin. This freedom from actual sin, originally at least, was attributed to the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, supposed to be exerted either after she was conceived or before she was born, as Jeremiah and John the Baptist were supposed to be sanctified, or else at the time the Holy Spirit came upon her at the conception of Christ.


Mary free from original sin. This was a late development of doctrine concerning Mary. There was no official and authoritative form of it before the sixteenth century. The Council of Trent, A. D. 1570, closed its decree on original sin with these words: "This same holy synod doth nevertheless declare that it is not its intention to include in this decree, where original sin is treated of, the blessed and immaculate Mary, the mother of God; but that the constitutions of Pope Sixtus IV, of happy memory, are to be observed, under the pains contained in the said constitutions, which it renews." This official deliverance is a positive declaration of Mary’s freedom from original sin, and by the term "immaculate," would seem to declare her exempt from actual sin. The doctrine, however, culminates in positive form in the decree promulgated to the Roman Catholic world by Pope Pius IX, December 8, 1854. In this decree the Pope claims: First, that he pronounces, declares, and defines "under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost;" second, that what he sets forth is by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the blessed apostles, Peter and Paul, and in his own authority. The matter thus decreed and promulgated is as follows:


"The doctrine which holds the blessed virgin Mary to have been, from the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, preserved free from all stain of original sin, was revealed by God, and is, therefore, to be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful." The decree closes with the double anathema: First, that any who presume to even think in their hearts contrary to this deliverance stand self-condemned, have made shipwreck concerning the faith, and have fallen away from the unity of the church. Second, that they subject themselves to the penalties ordained by law, if by word or writing, or any other external means, they dare to signify what they think in their hearts.


You will observe, particularly, that this decree affirms that the doctrine of Mary’s freedom from original sin was revealed by God. The natural presumption is that this revelation is to be found in the Holy Scriptures. In this document the Pope does not claim that it was a special revelation to him, but that he is inspired to pronounce, declare, and define past revelations.


If God revealed it in the Holy Scriptures, it is strange that we cannot find it.


This doctrine of Mary’s freedom from original sin, which thus culminated, historically, December 8, 1854, may be said to have crystallized July 18, 1870, when the Vatican Council thus declared the infallibility of the Pope:


"It is a dogma divinely revealed: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in the discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal church, by the divine assistance promised him in the blessed Peter, he is possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that his church should be endowed for defining doctrines, faith and morals; and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the church."


She is the Mediatrix between Christ and man, as Jesus Christ is the Mediator between God and man. In other words, this element of the doctrines makes Mary take the place of the Holy Spirit) that is, we must reach Christ through Mary The development of the doctrine is shown in various works of art. For example, there are paintings which represent Christ as seated, and Mary below him, then later a painting of Christ and Mary on a level; and finally a painting representing Mary above Christ, who is angry at the world, and Mary is beseeching his favor for the world.


Mary, not Jesus, bruises the serpent’s head, or destroys Satan. As the preceding element of this doctrine puts Mary in the place of the Holy Spirit, so this element makes her take Christ’s office.


Mary the queen of heaven.


Mary the fountain of all grace, received by man and the only hope of salvation. This element puts her in the Father’s place.


Mary an object of worship.


Mary’s body was never allowed to see corruption, but was taken up to heaven, glorified, as the body of Christ, or that of Enoch or Elijah. This last element of the doctrine, the assumption of Mary, has not been formally put forth by Pope or Council, but is propagated and defended in the standard Romanist literature.


Any thoughtful man, considering these doctrines concerning Mary, must see that they made a radical, vital, and fundamental change of the gospel as understood by all Protestants and constitute another gospel, which is not the gospel. It makes the Romanist Church the church of Mary, rather than the church of Christ. Indeed, if we add its traditions concerning the See of Rome and Peter, the name should be: The Romanist Church of the Traditions concerning Mary and Peter. It would be easy to show that each of these elements of doctrine was transferred, for reasons of expediency, from heathen mythology and worship.


The question naturally arises, What scriptures do they cite for these stupendous claims? In support of the perpetual virginity of Mary they cite Ezekiel 44:1-3: "Then he brought me back by way of the outer gate of the sanctuary, which looketh toward the east; and it was shut. And Jehovah said unto me, This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, neither shall any man enter in by it; for Jehovah, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it; therefore it shall be shut. As for the prince, he shall sit therein as prince to eat bread before Jehovah; he shall enter by the way of the porch of the gate, and shall go out by the way of the same." They claim that this language is typical of and applicable to Mary’s perpetual virginity. Some of them quote the Song of Solomon 4:12, as follows: "A garden shut up is my sister, my bride; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed." So far as I know, these are the only scriptures cited that seem to have a positive bearing on the doctrine.


Negatively, they contend that the brothers and sisters of Jesus mentioned in Mark 6 and other places were not the children of Joseph and Mary, but of Mary’s sister, hence cousins of our Lord. Some Protestants who hold to the perpetual virginity of Mary claim that these were children of Joseph by a former marriage, therefore older than our Lord. Both Romanists and Protestants who hold to this doctrine cite John 19:25-27, where Christ on the cross consigns Mary to John’s are, and argue from this that Mary had no son of her own other than Christ. They forget the extreme poverty of the family of Joseph, including himself, Mary, and all of the children, and that these younger half-brothers of our Lord were not at this time believers in Christ, as is evident from John 7:5. We have already shown that John possessed wealth and a home of his own at Jerusalem, which Mary and her sons did not have.


Of Mary’s freedom from actual sin, they cite the Song of Solomon 4:7: "Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee," and also from the apocryphal book of Wisdom of Solomon 1:4: "For wisdom will not enter into the malicious soul nor dwell in a body subject to sins."


In support of the theory that Mary mediates between man and Christ, they cite John 2:3, where Mary makes known to her Son the need of wine at the marriage of Cana of Galilee.


To maintain that Mary, not Jesus, bruises the serpent’s head, the Romanist Bible, both the Vulgate and their English version, makes Genesis 3:15 read: "She shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise her heel."


To support the doctrine that Mary is the mother and fountain of all grace to man, they quote Luke 1:28, and render it: "Hail, full of grace!"


In support of the assumption that Mary is the queen of heaven, their commentators cite Revelation 12:1, and claim that it is an allusion to "our blessed lady."


In replying to these various items of Mariology and Mariolatry, it is fairly to be inferred from Matthew 1:25 that Joseph did know Mary as a husband after the birth of Christ, and it certainly best accords with the obvious meaning of Mark 6:3, and various other references, that the four brothers named are real brothers, and not cousins. That Mary was not free from actual sin is evident by our Lord’s rebuke of her at Luke 2:48-49; John 2:4; Mark 3:21 connected with 31-35. There is no scriptural support at all relevant to the matter in hand of Mary’s freedom from original sin. The quotations cited by Romanists are, on their face, irrelevant. The assumption that Mary is the fountain of all grace evidently misinterprets the words of the angel, "Hail, Mary, endued with grace." It is grace then and there conferred, and not original source of grace. It indeed shows that she was a daughter of grace, not its mother. That Mary’s body never saw corruption is a fabrication without any foundation whatever. To make the symbolic woman of Revelation 12:1 to be a real woman, whether Mary or any other woman, is a gross violation of the law of interpretation of symbols. You might just as well make the woman in purple and scarlet riding upon the seven-headed,

THE MEMBERS OF THE HEROD FAMILY NAMED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Herod himself is "Herod the king" named in Matthew 2:3-19, ruler of the Jews at Christ’s birth. He was surname’ "The Great" and was really a man of great capacity in public affairs, and in diplomacy successfully overreached both Pompey and Julius Caesar, and both Anthony and Augustus Caesar and thwarted Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt. But he was . monster in cruelty and as bloody a tyrant as ever sat upon throne. His father was Antipater, the Idumean or Edomite, and his mother an Ishmaelite. Thus in the person of Herod, Ishmael and Esau sat upon the throne of Isaac and Jacob. His death is recorded in Matthew 2. He had about ten wives and many children. By his last will, subject to Rome’s approval, he divided his realm among three sons, disinheriting all his other children whom he had not murdered.


His children. Archelaus, named in Matthew 2:22, his son by his fourth wife, was, according to Herod’s will, made king of Judea and Samaria. Rome did not approve of his title of king, but allowed him to be called ethnarch for nine years, and then for good cause removed and banished him, and converted Judea and Samaria into an imperial province under procurators appointed by Caesar. Pontius Pilate, an appointee of Tiberius Caesar, was procurator during the years of our Lord’s public ministry.


Another son, Herod Antipas, older brother of Archelaus, by the same mother, was made tetrarch of Galilee and Perea. (See Luke 3:1.) This was the Herod that beheaded John the Baptist (Mark 6:17-29), whom Jesus called "that fox," and to whom our Lord was sent for trial by Pilate. He held his office during the whole of our Lord’s life after his return from Egypt. He built the city of Tiberias on the sea of Galilee, and was the second husband of that Herodias who caused the death of John the Baptist. This marriage was a threefold sin - his own wife was yet living, the woman’s husband was yet living, and she was his niece.


The oldest surviving son of Herod was named Herod Philip, disinherited by his father. He lived at Rome. The New Testament makes only an indirect allusion to him as Philip the brother of Herod Antipas, and the husband of Herodias (Mark 6:17-18).


Herod’s son by his fifth wife was also named Herod Philip, and he is the tetrarch of the Northern part of Palestine, called in Luke 3:1 "the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis." He built the cities of Bethsaida-Julius, and Caesarea Philippi. He was the best of all the ruling sons of Herod.


It must be noted how several movements of our Lord were affected by these three sons of Herod. Because of Archelaus his parents took him from Judea to Galilee. Because of the unfriendliness of Herod Antipas he more than once removed from Galilee to the tetrarchy of Herod Philip. This Herod Philip, the tetrarch, married Salome, the dancing girl, who danced off the head of John the Baptist (Mark 6:2-28). She was his niece, the daughter of his brother, Herod Philip I, named above.


Herod’s grandchildren. First, Herod Agrippa 1. This is Herod the king, of Acts 12:1-4, who killed the apostle James, John’s brother, and imprisoned Peter, and whose awful death at Caesarea is described in Acts 12:19-23. This Herod ruled over all Palestine like his grandfather.


Second, Herodias, the wicked woman who left her husband, Philip, and married his brother, Herod Antipas, and brought about the death of John the Baptist because he denounced the iniquitous marriage (Mark 6:17-28). It is said that when the head of John was brought to her by her daughter, she drove her bodkin through the faithful tongue that had dared to denounce the infamy of her marriage.


Herod’s great grandchildren. First, Salome, the dancing girl named in Mark 6. Second, Herod Agrippa II. This is the titular king, Agrippa, before whom Paul spoke (Acts 25:13). Third, Bernice, his sister (Acts 25:23). Fourth, Drusilla, another sister, who married Festus (Acts 24:24). Of these the last six named were descended through Herod’s second wife, Mariarnne, the Maccabean princess.

THE NEW TESTAMENT AND CAESAR
As in the Old Testament "Pharaoh" is a title of all the Egyptian rulers, so always in the New Testament "Caesar" is a title of the Roman ruler. In the New Testament about twenty-seven times "Caesar" is so used, without the name of the particular Caesar. Twelve Caesars ruled at Rome from the birth of Christ to the close of the canon of the New Testament, and perhaps one more, Trajan, when John the apostle died. The names of the twelve in order, and the dates of their reigns, are as follows:

Augustus 31 B.C. to A.D. 14

Tiberius A.D. 14-37

Gaius A.D. 37-41

Claudius A.D. 41-54

Nero A.D. 54-68

Galba A.D. 68-69

Otho A.D. 69

Vitellius A.D. 69

Vespasian A.D. 69-79

Titus A.D. 79-81

Domitian A.D. 81-96

Nerva A.D. 96-98


Three of these are named in the New Testament: Augustus, Luke 2:1; Tiberius, Luke 3:1; Claudius, Acts 11:28; Acts 18:2. Nero is referred to but not named (Acts 25:8).

QUESTIONS

1. What sections of Matthew and Luke are devoted to our Lord’s early life?

2. What are the incidents given in Matthew?

3. In Luke?

4. From whose viewpoint is written all this section of Matthew?

5. From whose viewpoint Luke’s section?

6. How does this account for the apparent discrepancy between their genealogies?

7. How does Paul characterize the incarnation of our Lord?

8. What passage from Isaiah does Matthew quote and apply to the incarnation?

9. What name of the child does Matthew give as expressive of the mystery?

10. What other passage from Isaiah gives names of the child expressive of this mystery?

11. How does the angel, in Luke, explain the mystery of a virgin becoming a mother and the resultant nature of the child?

12. Give Mark’s name of this wonderful child.

13. How does Paul state the matter?

14. How does such a son escape hereditary depravity?

15. How does this alone fulfil the first gospel promise in Genesis?

16. According to Paul, what is the relation of Adam to Jesus? (See last clause of Romans 5:14.)

17. Give in brief Paul’s argument on this relation in Romans 5:12-21. Ans. As through one trespass (not many) of one man (not one woman) sin, condemnation and death came upon all his fleshly descendants. So through one act of righteousness (death on the cross) of one man (the vicarious Substitute) justification, unto eternal life came upon all his spiritual descendants.

18. How does Paul further contrast the first Adam and his image transmitted to his fleshly descendants with the Second Adam and his image borne by his spiritual descendants? (See 1 Corinthians 15:45-49.)

19. What then may we say of this miracle of the incarnation?

20. Give the significant Bible usage of the phrase "The book of the generation."

21. Contrast the account of our Lord’s infancy and childhood, given by Matthew and Luke, with the human inventions of traditions concerning the same period.

22. What two sentences of Luke, one concerning the development of his childhood, the other concerning his development into manhood, give the record of most of our Lord’s earthly life?

23. What other sentence of Luke tells the whole story of his obedience to the Fifth Commandment?

24. What phrase of Luke discloses a religious habit of all his early life?

25. What question recorded by Mark reveals his occupation in all that early life?

26. What may we gather from the history of his subsequent life, as to his studies, observation and general information?

27. As to his literary attainments, how do you prove that he knew and spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek?

28. How should you commence Matthew’s genealogy (allowing him self to supplement) and Luke’s (allowing Paul to supplement)?

29. In the two accounts of our Lord’s birth and infancy are eight annunciations, with eight other supernatural events, adapted in time, place, medium, means, and circumstances to the several recipients: give them, in order, and then show which three came by vision, which five by dreams, which one by the Holy Spirit, which one by an unborn babe, and which four by inspiration.

30. In Luke’s account alone are five historic hymns, or the foundations from which they were developed. Name them in order.

31. Give the substance of the gospel teaching concerning Mary.

32. Give the several items of the monstrous Mariology and blasphemous Mariolatry developed by Romanists from the simple Bible story of Mary, and the scriptural proof they cite for each, and your reply thereto.

33. If we add to this Mariolatry its inventions concerning the See of Rome and Peter, what should this church be called?

34. Name the member of the Herod family mentioned in the New Testament, citing the passage in each case, and the relationship to Herod the Great, and which of these were descendents of Mariamne, the Maccabean princess?

35. How does the New Testament use the term “Caesar?”

36. How many Caesars ruled at Rome from the birth of Christ to the close of the New Testament canon?

37. Which three are named in the New Testament and where, and which other alluded to and where?

38. It is supposed that John lived to the close of the first century A.D. then what other Caesar must you add to the twelve?

VI

BEGINNINGS OF MATTHEW AND LUKE (CONTINUED)


Scriptures same as for chapter V.


MATTHEW’S Genealogy.

There are three notable peculiarities in Matthew’s genealogy. The first is, he commences with the rare phrase, "The book of the generation," found nowhere else except in Genesis 5:1-3, concerning the first Adam. The uniqueness of this peculiarity and the correspondence between Matthew 1:1 and Genesis 5:1, are of evident design. The proof of the design appears from Paul’s discussion of the matter. First, Paul says there are two Adams, the first a figure or type of the Second (Romans 5:14). The first was created; the Second was the only begotten Son. In Romans 5 Paul adds that as through one trespass of one man (the first Adam), sin, condemnation and death came upon all his descendants, so through one act of righteousness (on the cross) of one man, the Second Adam, justification unto eternal life came upon his descendants. The parallel or contrast between the two Adams he further discusses thus: "So also it is written, the first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. Howbeit, that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; then that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."


The second peculiarity of Matthew’s genealogy consists in his division of the time from Abraham to Christ into three periods thus: From the patriarchy (or family rule in Abraham) , to the theocracy (or national rule at Sinai); second, From Abraham to David; from David to the captivity; from the captivity to Christ. Some have managed to find a difficulty in Matthew’s making three sets of fourteen with only forty-one names. But Matthew does not say that there were three sets of fourteen names, but three sets of fourteen generations. The generations here, as many times elsewhere, mean time periods. It is about equivalent to saying from Abraham to the earthly monarchy, first period; from the earthly monarchy to its downfall, second period; from the downfall of the earthly monarchy to the coming of the spiritual King, third period.


This period division suits Matthew’s plan as the book of the King. David, the typical king, is the central figure of three periods, which terminate in the antitypical or spiritual King. Matthew does not give every name, but according to the established method of Bible genealogies, he sometimes passes over a son to the grandson.


Another writer, with a different plan, might make four periods thus: From the patriarchy (or family rule in Abraham), to the theocracy (or national rule at Sinai); second, from the theocracy to the beginning of the monarchy; third, from the beginning of the monarchy to the hierarchy (or high priest rule); fourth, from the hierarchy to Jesus, the true Patnarches, Theos, basileus, hiereus.


Matthew’s third peculiarity is, that contrary to Jewish custom, he names four women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. As they are not named in the list of fourteen’s, they must be named in this connection for other reasons. Two facts suggest the probable reason for naming these women. First, three of the four at least were Gentiles, and quite possibly the fourth. Tamar and Rahab were Canaanites, Ruth was a Moabite, Bathsheba, the wife of a Hittite, was a granddaughter of Ahithophel, the Gilonite, and counsellor of David, who sided with Absalom, and afterward hanged himself. It is true that Giloh, his home city, was one of the mountain cities assigned to Judah at the conquest, but that does not prove that all of its inhabitants were Jews. Ahithophel does not act as a Jew, but with many other foreigners he accepted office under David. Eliam, otherwise Ammiel, his son, and father of Bathsheba, with Uriah, another foreigner, was one of David’s mighty men. Bathsheba herself does not act like a Jewess, for she married a Hittite, Uriah, the war comrade of her father. So she probably, as the other three women certainly, was a Gentile. The ending "ite," as in Gilonite, usually, not always, indicates a Gentile tribe or nation.


The second fact is that only one of the four, Ruth the Moabite, was chaste in life. Tamar, in the garb of harlot, deceived her father-in-law, Judah. Rahab was an open harlot in Jericho, and Bathsheba was an adulteress. The fact of four such maternal ancestors seems to prophesy, in a way, that their coming illustrious Descendant would preach a gospel of mercy to the foreigner and to the fallen.


Some writers have wasted much energy in endeavoring to reconcile Luke’s genealogy with Matthew’s. There is not the slightest reason to attempt it.


Matthew gives our Lord’s legal descent through Joseph’. Luke gives his real descent through Mary. As both Joseph and Mary were descendants of Abraham and David, they will in part coincide and in part diverge. The extent of the coincidence or the divergence is immaterial.

THE ANNUNCIATION TO ZACHARIAS – Luke 1:5-25

We have already seen that there were eight annunciations, as follows: To Zacharias, Mary, Joseph, Elisabeth, the shepherds, Simeon, Mary again by Simeon, and the magi. Some of these were by the angel Gabriel, some by the Holy Spirit and one by astronomical phenomenon. It is noteworthy that in every case the time, medium, place, and matter of the announcement are all adapted to the recipient and his or her circumstances. Just here we may note the contrast in the Bible between the offices of the angel Gabriel, and of the arch-angel Michael. Gabriel is sent always on missions of mercy; Michael always for the defense of God’s people, for war and vengeance on their enemies.


In the announcement to Zacharias the time is in the days of Herod the king, the scene is the Temple at Jerusalem, the place is the sanctuary or holy place, the hour is the time of the daily sacrifice. The circumstances of this announcement are: Zacharias, as priestly mediator, is burning the incense at the golden altar in the holy place, while the people outside are offering up the prayers represented by the incense. Twice every day, morning and evening, the people thus come to the Temple at the hour of prayer. (Compare Acts 3:1.) Being only a priest, Zacharias could not enter the most holy place; his ministrations stopped at the veil which hides the mercy seat, which is entered only once a year by the high priest on the great day of atonement (Lev. 16). The offering of the incense was the highest honor that could come to a priest, and as it was determined by lot, it might not come more than once in a lifetime to the same man. The perpetuity of these mediatorial ministrations was secured by dividing the descendants of Aaron into twenty-four courses, with fixed dates for one course to relieve another. As we see from the text, Zacharias belonged to the course of Abijah, which was the eighth. This division of the priests into courses was established by David, as we learn from I Chronicles 24. Zacharias himself had a burden. His wife was barren, and both were now old. While burning the incense which represented the prayers of the people, he himself was praying for a son. The medium of the announcement to him was the angel Gabriel, who comes with an answer to his prayer while he is yet praying, as he had come on another great occasion to Daniel (Daniel 9:20-21) The means was a vision. The matter was that not only would a son be born to him and Elisabeth, but his son would be a Nazirite, great in the sight of God, full of the Spirit from his mother’s womb, the forerunner of the Messiah, to make ready a people prepared for him according to prophecy, in the spirit and power of Elijah, turning many of the children of Israel to God and turning the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the justified. This, like the honor conferred on Mary, was unique, occurring only once in the world’s history.


Zacharias was filled with unbelief because of the natural difficulties on account of the impotency of his age and the barrenness of his wife. Why did he not consider the similar cases of Abraham and Sarah, of Isaac and Rebecca, and the case of Hannah, the mother of Samuel? Zacharias might have known from these illustrious incidents of the past history of his people, that the supernatural can overcome the natural. Because of his hesitation to believe the words of the angel, a sign was given unto him – he should be dumb until the promise was fulfilled.

THE ANNUNCIATION TO MARY

The time is six months later than the annunciation to Zacharias.


The place is Mary’s home at Nazareth.


The medium is the same angel, Gabriel.


The matter is that she shall bear a Son, named Jesus, who shall also see the Son of the Most High, and who shall sit on the throne of his father David, ruling over an everlasting kingdom.


The explanation of the prodigy of a birth without a human sire is, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee." Because also, God, not man, is the sire, this offspring shall be “holy” in nature, and shall be called the Son of God. In all the human race this is "the Only begotten of the Father," and hence the only one born in the world without hereditary depravity.


In this way only could be fulfilled the first gospel promise, "the seed of the woman [not of the man] shall bruise the serpent’s head." Had he been the seed of the man he would have been born condemned on account of a depraved nature. He could not have saved himself, much less others. It is true "he was made under the law," but not under its condemnation on his own account. Since he was born holy by nature, and never sinned in practice, and obeyed all its requirements, the law could not condemn him except as a legal substitute for real sinners. It is this that made his death under God’s law vicarious (Isaiah 53:4-12). So that one who rejects his birth of a virgin rejects the whole plan of salvation and the whole. Bible as the word of God. On this point there is not space for compromise as large as the point of a cambric needle, nor as broad as the edge of a razor.


When a man says "NO" to the question, "Do you believe our Lord was born of a virgin?" you need not ask him any other question whatever. And if he says, "Yes," to this incarnation of God, the one supreme miracle, he need not quibble at any other in the gospel record.


This one conceded, the others come like a conqueror, and from necessity. Luke 1:34-35 is the crux, pivot, hinge, and citadel of all controversies on the joined issue, Natural vs. Supernatural; Atheism vs. Christianity. We have already called attention to the monstrous system of Mariology fruiting in Mariolatry. The base of it all is in the angel’s salutation to Mary: "Hail thou that art highly favored – thou that hast favor with God." It is a matter of translation. Shall we render "highly favored" (Greek, kecharitomene) "mother of grace," or "daughter of grace"? Does it mean "fountain of grace," or "endued with grace," i.e., grace conferred or found"? A Pope has said that Mary is the mother and fountain of all grace and our only hope of salvation.

MARY’S VISIT TO ELISABETH

Here we note the reason of Mary’s visit. The angel had informed her of Elisabeth’s condition. In all the world, Elisabeth was the only being to whom the modest Mary could confide her own extraordinary condition. She needed a woman’s sympathy and support. Never before and never again could two such women meet to confer concerning their unique motherhood. In all the history of the race only one woman could be the mother of the harbinger of our Lord, and only one be the mother of our Lord. The honors conferred on them were very high, and could never be repeated. As with the mothers, so with the sons.


They would forever stand apart from all other men – each without a model, without a shadow, without a successor. The visit lasted three months. What the continuation of the intercommunion and holy confidences, what the mutual womanly sympathy and support in these three months we may infer from the beginning.


At the salutation of Mary, -two mighty tokens of recognition came upon Elisabeth. The babe in her womb, the babe who was to be full of the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb, leaped for joy. Upon her also came the power of God and she herself was full of the Holy Spirit. She was thus prepared to give the greeting her visitor most needed to confirm her faith in the embarrassing circumstances of her novel situation: "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a fulfilment of the things which have been spoken unto her from the Lord." After such greeting, the chastity and modesty of the virgin could no more be embarrassed, but upon her came a flame of inspiration that kindled that great song

THE MAGNIFICAT
On this first Christian hymn, note:


Its correspondence with the Old Testament hymn of Hannah, the mother of Samuel (1 Samuel 2:1-10). Hannah’s song is the model of Mary’s. The correspondence is as remarkable in the circumstances as in the matter of the song. Israel under Eli had been brought very low. The barren Hannah prayed for a child and promised that she would dedicate him to Jehovah as long as he lived. Her illustrious son was the last of the judges and the first of the prophets. He reformed Israel and established the monarchy in David. What a solemn historic lesson, God’s preparation of the mothers of the good and the great, and the devil’s preparation of the mothers of the monsters of vice and cruelty! Compare the mothers of Augustine, Washington, Andrew Jackson, S. S. Prentiss, with the mother of Nero. To the question, Where should the education of a child commence, Oliver Wendell Holmes replied, "With his grandmother." Think of the faith of Timothy, "which was first in his grandmother, Lois, and in his mother, Eunice "


Note the three divisions of Mary’s hymn: First as it relates to herself (Luke 1:46-49). Second, as it relates to God’s moral government of the world (Luke 1:50-53). Third, as it relates to Israel (Luke 1:54-55). The blessing on the individual Christian widens into a blessing on the people of God, and enlarges into a blessing on the world. How minute in application, how comprehensive in scope, and how correlated in all its parts, is God’s moral government of the universe!


Dr. Lyman Beecher, the greatest of all the Beechers, when asked, "How long were you in preparing your great sermon on ’God’s Moral Government’ ?" replied, "Forty years." While the hearers were astounded at the greatness of his production, he himself lamented the short time for preparation. Note the expression in Luke 1:50, "and his mercy is unto generations and generations of them that fear him," and mark its origin and import in the Old Testament, to wit: While he visits the iniquity of the fathers on their children to the third and fourth generation, he visits his mercy to the thousandth generation on the children of them that fear him.

THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST – Luke 1:57-66
Observe the naming of a Hebrew child at his circumcision. Hence pedobaptists, contending that baptism comes in the place of circumcision, name the child at its baptism and call it "christening."


The great homiletical theme: "What then shall this child be?" (Luke 1:66.)


The inspired song of the father. This is called THE BENEDICTUS from the first word, "blessed." This is the second Christian hymn. It is divided into two distinct parts:


First, the ascription of praise to God for his continued mercy to his covenant people, Israel, according to promise and prophecy from Abraham’s day (Luke 1:68-75).


This promise was messianic – "to raise up a horn of salvation in the house of David," "horn" meaning a king or kingdom of power, as in Daniel’s apocalypses, and in Revelation. Daniel 8:3, the ram with two horns of unequal length, represented Persia united with Media. Daniel 8:5-9, the one "notable horn" of the he-goat was Alexander the Great, and the "four horns" his four successors. The "little horn" rising later was Antiochus Epiphanes. Daniel 7:7-8, the "ten horns" of this fourth beast were the ten kingdoms into which the fallen Roman empire was divided, and the "little horn" was the papacy.


So when Zacharias says, "Thou hast raised up a horn of salvation in the house of David," it means the Messiah, David’s greater Son. One of the prophecies to which Zacharias refers is 2 Samuel 7:12-13, with which compare Isaiah II. It is evident, therefore, that Zacharias speaks his benediction on God because of spiritual messianic mercies.


The second part of the benediction (Luke 1:76-79) is spoken to his son, John, because of his relation to the Messiah of the first part. John was to be (1) the prophet of the Most High. (2) He was to go before the coming Messiah and prepare the way for him. (3) His ministry was to give the people "The knowledge of salvation in the remission of their sins." We shall have much use later for this last item, when we devote a special chapter to John the Baptist, defining his place in the Christian system.


For the present we note that a true disciple of John was saved. He had "knowledge" of his salvation. This knowledge is experimental since it came through the remission of sins. We are not surprised, therefore, that his candidates for baptism "confessed their sins," nor that his baptism was "of repentance unto remission of sins," as Peter preached at Pentecost (Acts 2:38) and was in harmony with our Lord’s great commission given in his gospel: "Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all nations beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47).


"The Dayspring from on High" (Luke 1:78) is our Lord himself, the Sun of righteousness, in the dawn of his rising.

QUESTIONS

1. What is the first peculiarity of Matthew’s genealogy?

2. Give proof that this correspondence with Genesis 5:1 was designed.

3. His second peculiarity?

4. Explain three sets of fourteen with only forty-one names.

5. How might another writer, with a different plan, divide the three from Abraham to Christ into four periods, and give their fulfilment in Christ in four Greek names?

6. Matthew’s third peculiarity, and account for it?

7. How do you reconcile Luke’s genealogy with Matthew’*?

8. Including Paul’s contributions, how should Luke’s genealogy com mence? Ans. Jesus himself, the Second Adam, who was the Lord from heaven (supposed son of Joseph) was the son of Heli.

9. Including a statement from Matthew himself, how should his genealogy commence? Ans. "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, called Immanuel (God with us), the son of David, the son of Abraham."

10. How many annunciations, to whom, by whom or what, and how?

11. How are all these annunciations adapted to the receivers?

12. Contrast the respective missions of Gabriel and Michael.

13. In the annunciation to Zacharias, give time, scene, place, medium, means, and circumstances.

14. Where was the golden altar of incense, the brazen altar of sacrifice, what was their relation to each other, and what was the doctrine?

Ans. The brazen altar of sacrifice was in the outer court, the golden altar of incense in the holy place before the veil hiding the mercy seat in the most holy place. The relation was that expiatory sacrifice must precede offering up incense representing prayer based on expiation. First expiation of sin, then prayer. The incense was kindled by fire from the brazen altar. To kindle the incense with other fire was punished with death (see Leviticus 10:1-11; Numbers 3:4; Numbers 26:61; 1 Chronicles 24:2). The doctrine is that prayer must be offered in the name of Jesus the expiatory victim.

15. Why should the people offer their prayers through the medium of a priest? Ans. Being sinners they must approach God through a mediator.

16. Who these mediators? Ans. The sons of Aaron.

17. How was perpetuity in mediation secured and by whom established?

18. Of which course of the twenty-four was Zacharias?

19. Why could not Zacharias offer the incense in the most holy place, who alone could, and when?

20. What prayer did Zacharias offer for himself, was it answered, and how?

21. Crucial test question: Is it the design of prayer to influence God or merely to reflexively influence the petitioner? (Before you answer read Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 18:1-14; John 16:23-24; and the author’s interpretation of the trumpets of Revelation 8:2-10:1. See his book on Revelation, pp. 131-159.)

22. Give time, place, medium, means, and matter of the annunciation to Mary.

23. How does the angel explain a virgin’s giving birth to a child?

24. How does such a birth alone fulfill the first gospel promise?

25. How does it insure the child against hereditary depravity?

26. What three proofs must be made in order that Jesus escape condemnation on his own account? Ans. (1) He must be born holy – holy in nature. (2) He must be free from actual sin in life. (3) He must perfectly obey all the law.

27. These proofs conceded, then if he yet be condemned and die, what follows? Ans. His death was vicarious – a substitute for sinners (Isaiah 53:4-12).

28. What then is the effect of denying the virgin birth of our Lord?

29. What is the virtual relation of the incarnation to all other miracles?

30. How then must we regard Luke 1:34-35?

31. What is the base of all the Romanist Mariolatry?

32. Does the Greek word rendered "endued with grace," convey the idea that Mary was the mother of grace or a daughter of grace – in other words, that she is the fountain of all grace or the subject of grace conferred?

33. What has a Pope said of Mary?

34. Why did Mary visit Elisabeth?

35. How was it announced to Elisabeth that the mother of our Lord was present?

36. How naturally would Elisabeth’s inspired response comfort and confirm the modest virgin?

THE MAGNIFICAT

37. What is its Old Testament model?

38. What historic lesson suggested, and illustrate.

39. Point out the three divisions of Mary’s hymn.

40. Who preached a great sermon illustrating the second division?

41. What is the origin and meaning of "unto generations and generations" v.50?

BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

42. On what occasion did Hebrews name their male children and why do pedobaptists in imitation christen their children?

43. What great sermon theme here?

THE BENEDICTUS

44. Why song of Zacharias, so called?

45. What two divisions of the song?

46. What the nature of the first part and the relation of second thereto?

47. Meaning of "horn of salvation in the house of David"? Illustrate by "horn" from Daniel and cite two pertinent Old Testament messianic promises.

48. What three things in the second part of the Benedictua said of John the Baptist?

49. What does the last prove of a true disciple of John?

Verses 18-25

VII

BEGINNINGS OF MATTHEW AND LUKE (CONTINUED)

Broadus’ Harmony pages 7-8 and Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-20.

THE ANNUNCIATION TO JOSEPH – Matthew 1:18-25

On this paragraph of Matthew I desire to commend in the highest possible terms the critical and elaborate discussion by Dr. Broadus in his peerless Commentary on Matthew, pages 8-13. You will not be kind and fair to yourself if you fail, in this connection, to read every word of it. And having read it, you do not need any other exegesis of the passage. In the fear, however, that you may not read it now, I submit a few brief observations:


While betrothal among the Jews preceded the consummation of marriage, it was an essential part of it, and just as binding as the consummation itself (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:23 f). A man might put away his betrothed for infidelity to her betrothal vows, either publicly, thereby necessitating her open condemnation under the laws cited above, or he might, at his own option, privately give her a bill of divorcement without assigning the cause. Or, as putting her away at all was not mandatory, he might forgive her and consummate the marriage.


Joseph, being a righteous, not a vindictive, man when Mary’s condition became obvious, was compelled to think on these things and determine his own course in the matter. Just at this juncture of his perplexity came the revelation which justified him in completing the marriage, without any necessity for forgiveness.


It is easy to see why Mary needed the revelation at the beginning, while it was unnecessary for Joseph to understand until later, when he must take some step in the matter. The means of annunciation in the two cases indicate Mary’s superior spiritual state, as open vision is a higher order of revelation than by dreams. In no case was Joseph endowed with open vision, but four times God directs him by dreams (Matthew 1:20; Matthew 2:13; Matthew 2:19; Matthew 2:22).


The name "Jesus" means Saviour, and the salvation to be achieved by him was not political deliverance of his people from Roman rule, but salvation "from their sins." What a pity that his own disciples were so slow to understand the nature of the salvation, and how readily even Pontius Pilate acquitted him by the verdict, "I find no fault in him," when he understood that our Lord’s kingdom was not of this world, and hence not a revolt against Caesar. Had the suspicious, bloody-minded old tyrant, Herod, understood, there would have been no massacre of the babes at Bethlehem. And even in our late day we need to be continually reminded of the real mission of our Lord.


Let us make no mistake about this "salvation from sins." It is salvation through the vicarious expiation of sins satisfying the claims of justice. It is salvation from the guilt of sin by justification, through faith. It is salvation from the defilement of sin by the cleansing blood of Christ applied by the Holy Spirit. It is salvation from the love of sin through regeneration. It is salvation from the dominion of sin through sanctification. It is the salvation of the body through resurrection and glorification. We may not stop at salvation done for us, but must include the salvation wrought in us. Salvation has the legal aspects expressed by the appropriate words, expiation and justification. And further expressed in a commercial legal sense by redemption and ransom (1 Peter 1:18-19; Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:6). Woe to the teacher or taught who leaves them out I It has its biological aspect, expressed by birth from above, or a new creature, and life more abundant, expressed by sanctification. Woe to the teacher or taught who leaves these out or magnifies these by decrying the legal aspects!


It has its human or experimental side, as expressed in contrition, repentance, faith, confession, reformation and all those fruits of the Spirit, love joy, hope, peace, as we walk in new- ness of life from grace to grace, from faith to faith, from strength to strength, perfecting ourselves in holiness, being changed more and more into the image of Christ, from glory to glory.


And just as surely must we admit into this idea of salvation God’s foreknowledge) election, and predestination. It is salvation from the power of Satan, the usurping de facto prince of this world.


This name, "Jesus" is the same as "Joshua," who was a type of our Lord as captain general of the army of God, and as the one who would lead the people into the Promised Land of rest. This feature of the name "Jesus" is not discussed here, but is emphasized in the letter to the Hebrews and again in Revelation. Another feature of the name is brought out by Paul where, after and because of his expiation of sins on the cross, his name is exalted above every name (Philippians 2:9-11).


Well might Peter say, "And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein ye must be saved" (Acts 4:12). All who heard or read it will cherish as a precious memory Dr. Winkler’s great sermon before the Southern Baptist Convention on "The Name Above Every Name."


We need to consider just here, in part, Matthew’s application of Old Testament quotations. It is a broad and complex question extending to all other New Testament quotations from the Old Testament, as finding fulfilment in New Testament events.


The case before us is an extreme one, and so if Matthew he-justified here in his construction of the quoted passage from Isaiah, the battle need not be fought over on cases not extreme. We cannot justify Matthew by an attempt to modify the obvious and natural force of his words, "Now all this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (God with us)." Matthew evidently conveys the impression that the author of the prophecy looked to the virgin birth here recorded as the fulfilling event. I say the author of the prophecy; I do not mean the prophet Isaiah. Matthew distinctly affirms that the prophecy "was spoken by the Lord." True, it was "through the prophet." But it was not necessary that Isaiah should understand. Isaiah might have seen only the child of the days of Ahaz concerning whom it is there said, "For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land whose two kings thou abhorrest shall be forsaken." (See Isa. 7:13-8:4.)


Just here comes in the much disputed double sense of prophecy. The double sense is not real, but is in the nature of an optical illusion which blends into one apparent mountain of several separate peaks which lie in one line of vision. A side view, from a different angle of vision, differentiates the peaks. The first and lowest peak in the line of vision is not really the last and highest peak. True, to the eye, looking at them afar off, they apparently blend into one. This limitation is in the nature of prophecy, which has no perspective, as in the nature of optics.


New Testament interpretation is the later side view that differentiates the blended objects. For example, the Holy Spirit inspires David to speak of his great successor. David himself may understand that all of it applies to his immediate successor, Solomon. But the Spirit means his great, remote successor, Jesus. The vision does touch the foothill, Solomon, but goes on to rest on the higher peak, Christ, far beyond. There is no double sense. That is, what refers to Solomon does not mean Christ, and what refers to Christ does not mean Solomon. As seen afar off it appears to be one thing, but when the intervening distance is traversed the Solomon foothill is found to be quite a distinct and small affair compared with the mountain peak, Christ, which stood behind it and was optically blended into one view with it.


Often, in the West, have I seen what appeared to be a single far-off blue mountain. But when approached nearer, and seen from a different angle of vision, as the road would turn, my one mountain became a whole range of separate, distinct peaks with intervening valleys.


Mark my words: Only a very shallow truth lies in the catchword of the radical critics, ’’The prophets speak to their own times." They indeed teach their own times, but they do not and cannot foretell their own times. (See 1 Peter 1:10-12.) In the very nature of the case, foretelling looks beyond the present. Two great tests apply to all foretelling in the name of Jehovah:


(1) The thing foretold must come to pass (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).


(2) Though it come to pass it cannot, as a sign, authenticate a violation of revealed law (Deuteronomy 13:1-3).


In the light of these tests, Matthew’s "fulfillments" of prophecy are all justified. He recorded his facts by inerrant inspiration. He interpreted his facts by adequate illumination. And that Matthew gets the true interpretation of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 is evident if we look on to Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 11:1 f.


Observe the last line of our paragraph: "And knew her not till she had brought forth her Son." Add to this Luke 2:7: "And she brought forth her firstborn Son." Add yet Mark 6:3 – “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us?" To this add Mark 3:31-35, "And there came to him his mother and brethren; and standing without, they sent unto him, calling him. And a multitude was sitting about him; and they say unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, and saith, Who is my mother and my brethren? And looking round on them that sat about him, he saith, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother." The natural, obvious import of these passages is that Mary, after the birth of Jesus, bore children to Joseph. Only strained, unnecessary, sentimental quibbling can break the obvious natural sense. We are more inclined to suspect the quibbling, when we consider the air castle superstructure erected on this foundation of quicksand.

THE BIRTH OF JESUS – Luke 2:1-7
Dr. Broadus’ footnote in his harmony is much to the point: "Observe how the ruler of the civilized world is unconsciously bringing it about that the Messiah, the son of David, shall be born at Bethlehem, though the mother’s home was Nazareth. All the previous history of Rome and of Israel gathers about this manger." We may add, all their subsequent history also. Indeed, we may say that Jesus is the key to the philosophy of all history. Daniel’s five world empires is an illustration; Revelation expands the thought to the end of time. Luke, in his Gospel and Acts, more than all the other historians, connects his story, at almost countless points of contact, with the history, geography, navigation, trade, chronology, religions, laws, customs, philosophies, literature, and games of both nations and localities, without the thought that he might be convicted of an anachronism. The most searching examination known to literature has never proved him at fault in the minutest detail of his story, by land or sea. Hasty criticism has indeed objected here and there to some detail, but has perished in the light of more elaborate research. Our short paragraph furnishes three cases in point:


(1) A worldwide enrolment, by order of Augustus Caesar. It has been objected, first, that there is no historical proof of such decree, and second, that if decreed it could not apply to dependent kingdoms like Herod’s. It is now conceded that Augustus did issue this decree, and according to Tacitus, the Roman historian, it did include the "Regna," or dependent kingdoms. This census was with a view to taxation. The evidence is abundant in the later history that the tax based upon the census was imposed and collected.


(2) But, second, it is objected that Luke times the enrolment when Quirinius was governor of Syria, which was ten years later, and that only after Herod’s death was Judea subordinate to Syria. This objection is far more plausible. See partial or possible explanation in Dr. Robertson’s note (appendix to Broadus’ harmony, pp. 239-240).


We may add that Luke was well aware of the enrolment ten years later, for he himself discusses it in Acts 5:37. And no historian contradicts his explicit statement in our paragraph. Nor is there evidence that any heathen historian was so devoted to accuracy as Luke. No one of their histories, nor even Josephus, could bear the test of accuracy to which Luke has been subjected.


(3) It is objected that a Roman census would require enrolment at the place of residence and not of personal or family nativity. The answer is every way sufficient that dependent kingdoms would be allowed to follow their own established methods. It was the settled policy of Rome to interfere as little as possible with the fixed customs of these kingdoms.


Note the last clause of our paragraph: "there was no room for them in the inn." Upon this, one of the most touching gospel hymns was written, in which the line occurs, "There is room in my heart for thee, Lord Jesus." In my choir at Waco was a brilliant young lady who could out sing the birds, and especially in singing this hymn could make the stars sparkle. She was not a Christian. At a gathering of ladies in a private home she sang it with unusual power. I leaned over and whispered to her, "My child, you sing it beautifully with your lips, but is there room in your heart for the Lord Jesus?" She was instantly convicted of sin, and the following Sunday came with face illumined, as the shining of the faces of Moses and Stephen, saying with joy and tears, "I have not only given him a room in my heart, but all of it as his residence forever." Years later when, a happy wife and mother, she was dying, she took my hand and said, "He is still in my heart, and has called me to a room in his Father’s house of many mansions."


"No room for him in the inn" at his birth! The feeding trough of domestic animals his cradle. "With the wild beasts of the desert" in his temptation. In his life, while "the foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, the Son of Man had not where to lay his head."


A fish contributed his temple-tax, the gold of Gentile magi paid the expenses of his flight into Egypt, his own labor as a carpenter supported the family after Joseph’s death, and sympathetic women ministered to him of their substance in his public ministry, at his death "a cross between two thieves" while his crucifiers gambled for his vesture, a borrowed tomb his place of sepulcher!


Augustus Caesar, claiming divine honor, ruled the world, but his apostle John lived to see twelve "divine Caesars" come and go, with the thirteenth on the throne, and then to foreshow the downfall of them all Rome itself, like a volcano in eruption, overturned and swallowed up in the sea of nations.


Very wisely the providence of God has left uncertain the exact date of his birth. We cannot determine with certainty the year or the month or the day in the terms of our era. We know that Augustus ruled at Rome, and Herod, the king of the Holy Land, was just about to pass away.


The argument is very convincing that our present era, due to the Abbot Dionysius Exiguus, in the sixth century, is at least four years too late. But we do not deem the matter of sufficient importance to attempt the reform of our calendar another time. For centuries Christmas, on December 25, new style, has been fixed in the customs and literature of all nations west of Russia and Constantinople. And if the Greek church prefers the old style, what signifies a difference of twelve days? The Christ was born, and salvation does not consist in the observance of days and festivals (Galatians 4:10 f; Colossians 2:16-23).


We do know that he came in the fulness of time (Galatians 4:4), when the world was ripe for his advent, when "Great Pan" and all other heathen gods were dead and their oracles were dumb, when their philosophies had failed to alarm, comfort or save, when their civilizations had rotted, when good men despaired, when Rome united the world in government, when the hierarchy at Jerusalem and the ritual in the Temple were but sounding brass and tinkling cymbals and when the dispersion and the synagogue throughout the world were ready to supply the firstfruits of the gospel.


Note very carefully that though impatient thousands had in every intervening age been shaking the hour glass of time to make its sands run faster (Luke 10:24), and confident interpreters insisted that this first advent was always imminent, that is, liable to happen any time from Eve’s too hasty joy over the birth of Cain till Judas Maccabeus, God himself had fixed an unalterable day and kept narrowing the converging lines of all prophecies until they focused in one blended blaze of light on the new-born Babe in the manger at Bethlehem. From this great example, why cannot we learn that his final advent is not imminent, that is, liable to happen any day or hour, but like the first, must wait "the fulness of time" and the fixed, unalterable day, for Paul says, "Inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead."

THE ANNUNCIATION TO THE SHEPHERDS – Luke 2:8-20


The birth of our Lord was not divinely announced to Augustus, Herod or the Sanhedrin – they would not have welcomed it – but to shepherds, who like David, watched the flocks of Bethlehem. Those who looked, longed, and waited for his first coming, were not left in the dark, nor will those like them be left in the dark at his final advent (1 Thessalonians 5:4). These shepherds of Bethlehem cared for the sacrificial flocks that were to be offered in the Temple. It was fitting, therefore, that they should know of the coming of the antitype, the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world. The time is the night of the very day of Christ’s birth, the medium is an angel, the means – open vision. The glory of the Lord is the Shekinah or halo-symbol of the Divine Presence, well known in the tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon.


Notwithstanding the awe naturally excited by this glorious visitation, they, like Zacharias and Mary, are exhorted to "fear not." The angel’s mission is mercy, not wrath. The character of the message is good tidings of great joy to all the people. "To bring good tidings" means the same as to evangelize or proclaim the gospel. "The people" means strictly the Jewish people, but of course through them all other peoples. The message itself is: "There is born to you this day, in the city of David, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord."


We have seen that Saviour means a Saviour from their sins. Christ is his official name and means the Anointed One. The Hebrew word is Messiah, Greek transliteration, Messias; Greek translation, Christos; English, Christ. Jesus was to be anointed to qualify him as prophet, priest, sacrifice, and King. We come to the anointing on the day he was inducted into his public ministry. (See in the author’s first volume of sermons, The Anointed One.)

THE SIGN OF HIS FIRST ADVENT


"Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger." How appropriate the sign of him who comes disrobed of heavenly glory to enter on his life of humiliation, poverty, and sacrifice! When the apostles later ask for the sign of his final advent, in his glory, how appropriately different the sign, the appearance in world darkness of a "great white throne" of eternal judgment. (See Matthew 24:3; Matthew 24:30; Matthew 25:31; Revelation 20:11.) From the manger to the throne!

HOW HEAVEN INTERPRETS THE COMING


Here we have the foundation of the third historic Christian hymn, "Gloria in Excelsis." In this hymn is a triple contrast, God – men; heaven – earth; glory – peace. This coming will make for glory to God in heaven, peace to men on earth. But the peace is not to all men – only to men in whom he is pleased.


We note here how this child in his coming affects three worlds. In heaven every bell is ringing and every angel singing. Earth, in its humbler classes, is rejoicing and singing hymns. Its kings and senates’ are indifferent, soon to be hostile. Hell is moved with fear and hate, stirring up the three Herods to kill – its old Herod (Matthew 2:16) ; his son, Herod (Mark 6:17-28); and his grandson, Herod (Acts 22:1-3).

QUESTIONS

1. What special comment on Matthew 1:18-25 commended?

2. Explain the relation of Jewish betrothal to marriage and what the Old Testament law on violation of betrothal vows?

3. Meaning of the word "Jesus"?

4. Full meaning of the salvation, from sin?

5. What Old Testament name is the same as "Jesus," and in what New Testament books is the relation between the two discussed?

6. Explain and justify Matthew’s application of the Old Testament quotations.

7. Explain and illustrate the apparent double sense of prophecy.

8. What the two tests of prophecy?

9. Collate the two passages indicating that Mary bore children to Joseph.

10. What does Dr. Broadus ask us to observe on the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem?

11. What are the characteristics of Luke’s history?

12. What are the three criticisms on his account of the birth of Christ, and your reply?

13. What is the gospel hymn written on "No room for them at the inn," and the incident given?

14. With what other expressions in his life does the "no room at the inn" correlate?

15. What can you say of the date of Christ’s birth, our era and calendar?

16. Compare the first and final advent as to their alleged imminence.

17. In the message of the angels to the shepherds, what means "good tidings," "people," "Christ"?

18. What is the sign of the first advent? The second.

19. What is the triple contrast in the song of the angels?

20. Show how Christ’s coming affected three worlds.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Matthew 1". "Carroll's Interpretation of the English Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bhc/matthew-1.html.
 
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