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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Matthew 1

Verse 1

Christ [χριστος]. Properly an adjective, not a noun, and meaning anointed (criw, to anoint). It is a translation of the Hebrew Messiah, the king and spiritual ruler from David 's race, promised under that name in the Old Testament (Psalms 2:2; Daniel 9:25, Daniel 9:26). Hence Andrew says to Simon, "We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, Christ (John 1:41; compare Acts 4:27; Acts 10:38; Acts 19:28). To us "Christ" has become a proper name, and is therefore written without the definite article; but, in the body of the gospel narratives, since the identity of Jesus with the promised Messiah is still in question with the people, the article is habitually used, and the name should therefore be translated" the Christ. "After the resurrection, when the recognition of Jesus as Messiah has become general, we find the word beginning to be used as a proper name, with or without the article. In this passage it omits the article, because it occurs in the heading of the chapter, and expresses the evangelist 's own faith in Jesus as the Messiah.

Anointing was applied to kings (1 Samuel 9:16; 1 Samuel 10:1), to prophets (1 Kings 19:16), and to priests (Exodus 29:29; Exodus 40:15; Leviticus 16:32) at their inauguration. "The Lord 's anointed" was a common title of the king (1 Samuel 12:3, 1 Samuel 12:5; 2 Samuel 1:14, 2 Samuel 1:16). Prophets are called "Messiahs," or anointed one (1 Chronicles 16:22; Psalms 105:15). Cyrus is also called "the Lord 's Anointed," because called to the throne to deliver the Jews out of captivity (Isaiah 45:1). Hence the word "Christ" was representative of our Lord, who united in himself the offices of king, prophet, and priest.

It is interesting to see how anointing attaches to our Lord in other and minor particulars. Anointing was an act of hospitality and a sign of festivity and cheerfulness. Jesus was anointed by the woman when a guest in the house of Simon the Pharisee, and rebuked his host for omitting this mark of respect toward him (Luke 7:35, Luke 7:46). In the Epistle to the Hebrews (i. 8, 9), the words of the Messianic psalm (xlv. 7) are applied to Jesus, "God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."

Anointing was practiced upon the sick (Mark 6:13; Luke 10:34; James 5:14). Jesus, "the Great Physician," is described by Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1, Isaiah 61:2; compare Luke 4:18) as anointed by God to bind up the broken - hearted, and to give the mournful the oil of joy for mourning. He himself anointed the eyes of the blind man (John 9:6, John 9:11); and the twelve, in his name, "anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them" (Mark 6:13).

Anointing was practiced upon the dead. Of her who brake the alabaster upon his head at Bethany, Jesus said, "She hath anointed my body aforehand for the burying" (Mark 14:8; see, also, Luke 23:56).

The Son [υιος]. The word teknon (child) is often used interchangeably with uiJov (son), but is never applied to Christ. (For teknon, see on 1 John 3:1.) While in teknon there is commonly implied the passive or dependent relation of the children to the parents, uiJov fixes the thought on the person himself rather than on the dependence upon his parents. It suggests individuality rather than descent; or, if descent, mainly to bring out the fact that the son was worthy of his parent. Hence the word marks the filial relation as carrying with it privilege, dignity, and freedom, and is, therefore, the only appropriate term to express Christ 's sonship. (See John 1:18; John 3:16; Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:13, Colossians 1:15.) Through Christ the dignity of sons is bestowed on believers, so that the same word is appropriate to Christians, sons of God. (See Romans 8:14; Romans 9:26; Galatians 3:26; Galatians 4:5, Galatians 4:6, Galatians 4:7.)

Verse 6

David the king [τον δαυειδ τον βασιλεα , "the David, the king "]. Both words are thus emphasized : the David from whom Christ, if he were the Messiah, must have descended; the king with whom the Messiah 's genealogy entered upon the kingly dignity. In this genealogy, where the generations are divided symmetrically into three sets of fourteen, the evangelist seems to connect the last of each set with a critical epoch in the history of Israel : the first reaching from the origin of the race to the commencement of the monarchy (" David the king "); the second, from the commencement of the monarchy to the captivity of Babylon; the third and last, from the captivity to the coming of" the Christ. " The same emphatic or demonstrative use of the article occurs with the name of Joseph (ver. 16), marking his peculiar relation to Jesus as the husband of Mary : the Joseph, the husband of Mary.

Verse 18

Espoused [μνηστευθεισης : Rev., betrothed; Tyn., maryed]. The narrative implies a distinction between betrothal and marriage. From the moment of her betrothal a woman was treated as if actually married. The union could be dissolved only by regular divorce. Breach of faithfulness was regarded as adultery, and was punishable with death (Deuteronomy 22:23, Deuteronomy 22:24), and the woman 's property became virtually that of her betrothed, unless he had expressly renounced it; but, even in that case, he was her natural heir.

Verse 19

Not willing [μη θελων] - was minded [εβουληθη] . These two words, describing the working of Joseph 's mind, and evidently intended to express different phases of thought, open the question of their distinctive meanings in the New Testament, where they frequently occur [θελω much oftener than βουλομαι] , and where the rendering, in so many cases by the same words, furnishes no clue to the distinction. The original words are often used synonymously in cases where no distinction is emphasized; but their use in other cases reveals a radical and recognized difference. An interchange is inadmissable when the greater force of the expression requires qelein. For instance, boulesqai would be entirely inappropriate at Matthew 8:3, "I will, be thou cleansed;" or at Romans 7:15.

The distinction, which is abundantly illustrated in Homer, is substantially maintained by the classical writers throughout, and in the New Testament.

Qelein is the stronger word, and expresses a purpose or determination or decree, the execution of which is, or is believed to be, in the power of him who wills. Boulesqai expresses wish, inclination, or disposition, whether one desires to do a thing himself or wants some one else to do it. Qelein, therefore, denotes the active resolution, the will urging on to action. Boulesqai is to have a mind, to desire, sometimes a little stronger, running into the sense of purpose. Qelein indicates the impulse of the will; boulesqai, its tendency. Boulesqai can always be rendered by qelein, but qelein cannot always be expressed by boulesqai.

Thus, Agamemnon says, "I would not [ουκ εθελον] receive the ransom for the maid (i. e., I refused to receive), because I greatly desire [βουλομαι] to have her at home" (Homer, "Il.," 1 112). So Demosthenes : "It is fitting that you should be willing [εθελειν] to listen to those who wish [βουλομενων] to advise" (" Olynth., "1 1). That is to say, It is in your power to determine whether or not you will listen to those who desire to advise you, but who power to do so depends on your consent. Again :" If the gods will it [θελωσι] and you wish it [βουλησθε] "(Demosth.," Olynth., " 2 20). 1

In the New Testament, as observed above, though the words are often interchanged, the same distinction is recognized. Thus, Matthew 2:18, "Rachael would not [ηθελε] be comforted;" obstinately and positively refused. Joseph, having the right and power under the (assumed) circumstances to make Mary a public example, resolved [θελων] to spare her this exposure. Then the question arose - What should he do? On this he thought, and, having thought [ενθυμηθεντος] , his mind inclined (tendency), he was minded [εβουληθη] to put her away secretly.

Some instances of the interchanged use of the two words are the following : Mark 14:15, "Pilate willing" [βουλομενος] ; compare Luke 23:20, "Pilate willing" [θελων] . Acts 27:43, "The centurion willing" [βουλομενος] ; Matthew 27:17, "Whom will ye that I release" [θελετε] ; so ver. 21. Joh 18:39, "Will ye that I release" [βουλεσθε] ; Matthew 14:5, "When he would have put him to death" [θελων] . Mark 6:48, "He would have passed by them" [ηθελε] ; Acts 19:30, "Paul would have entered" [βουλομενου] . Acts 18:27, "He was disposed to pass" [βουλομενου] . Titus 3:8, "I will that thou affirm" [βουλομαι] . Mark 6:25, "I will that though give me" [θελω] , etc., etc.

In the New Testament qelw occurs in the following senses :

1. A decree or determination of the will.

(a) Of God (Matthew 12:7; Romans 9:16, Romans 9:18; Acts 18:21; 1 Corinthians 4:19; 1 Corinthians 12:18; 1 Corinthians 14:38).

(b) Of Christ (Matthew 8:3; John 17:24; John 5:21; John 21:22).

(c) Of men (Acts 25:9). Festus, having the power to gratify the Jews, and determining to do so, says to Paul, who has the right to decide, "Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem ?" John 6:67, Others of the disciples had decided to leave Jesus. Christ said to the twelve, "Will ye also go away?" Is that your determination? John 7:17, I any man sets his will, is determined to do God 's will. John 8:44, The lusts of your father your will is set to do. Acts 24:6.

2. A wish or desire. Very many of the passages, however, which are cited under this head (as by Grimm) may fairly be interpreted as implying something stronger than a wish; notably Mark 14:36, of Christ in Gethsemane. Our Lord would hardly have used what thou wilt in so feeble a sense as that of a desire or wish on God 's part. Mark 10:43, "Whosoever will be great," expresses more than the desire for greatness. It is the purpose of the life. Matthew 27:15, It was given to the Jews to decide what prisoner should be released. Luke 1:62, The name of the infant John was referred to Zacharias' decision. John 17:24, Surely Christ does more than desire that those whom the Father has given him shall be with him. Luke 9:54, It is for Jesus to command fire upon the Samaritan villages if he so wills. (See, also, John 14:7; 1 Corinthians 4:21; Matthew 16:25, Matthew 19:17, John 21:22; Matthew 13:28; Matthew 17:12.) In the sense of wish or desire may fairly be cited 2 Corinthians 11:12; Matthew 12:38; Luke 8:20; Luke 23:8; John 12:21; Galatians 4:20; Matthew 7:12; Mark 10:35.

3. A liking (Mark 12:38; Luke 20:46; Matthew 27:43). (See note there.)

Boulomai occurs in the following senses :

1. Inclination or disposition (Acts 18:27; Acts 19:30; Acts 25:22; Acts 28:18; 2 Corinthians 1:15).

2. Stronger, with the idea of purpose (1 Timothy 6:9; James 1:18; James 3:4; 1 Corinthians 12:11; Hebrews 6:17).

In most, if not all of these cases, we might expect qelein; but this use of boulomai there is an implied emphasis on the element of free choice or self - determination, which imparts to the desire or inclination a decretory force. This element is in the human will by gift and consent. In the divine will it is inherent. At this point the Homeric usage may be compared in its occasional employment of boulomai to express determination, but only with reference to the gods, in whom to wish is to will. Thus, "Whether Apollo will [βουλεται] ward off the plague" (" Il., "1 67)." Apollo willed [βουλετο] victory to the Trojans "(Il.," 7 21).

To make a public example [δειγματισαι] . The word is kindred to deiknumi, to exhibit, display, point out. Here, therefore, to expose Mary to public shame (Wyc., publish her; Tyn., defame her). The word occurs in Colossians 2:15, of the victorious Savior displaying the vanquished powers of evil as a general displays his trophies or captives in a triumphal procession. "He made a show of them openly." A compound of the same word [παραδειγματιζω] appears in Hebrews 6:6, "They crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."

Verse 21

Shalt call. Thus committing the office of a father to Joseph. The naming of the unborn Messiah would accord with popular notions. The Rabbis had a saying concerning the six whose names were given before their birth : "Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, Solomon, Josiah, and the name of the Messiah, whom may the Holy One, blessed by His name, bring quickly in our days."

Jesus [ιησουν] . The Greek form of a Hebrew name, which had been born by two illustrious individuals in former periods of the Jewish history - Joshua, the successor of Moses, and Jeshua, the high - priest, who with Zerubbabel took so active a part in the re - establishment of the civil and religious polity of the Jews on their return from Babylon. Its original and full form is Jehoshua, becoming by contraction Joshua or Jeshua. Joshua, the son of Nun, the successor of Moses, was originally name Hoshea (saving), which was altered by Moses into Jehoshua (Jehovah [ουρ] Salvation) (Numbers 13:16). The meaning of the name, therefore, finds expression in the title Savior, applied to our Lord (Luke 1:47, Luke 2:11; John 4:42).

Joshua, the son of Nun, is a type of Christ in his office of captain and deliverer of his people, in the military aspect of his saving work (Revelation 19:11-16). As God 's revelation to Moses was in the character of a law - giver, his revelation to Joshua was in that of the Lord of Hosts (Joshua 5:13, Joshua 5:14). Under Joshua the enemies of Israel were conquered, and the people established in the Promised Land. So Jesus leads his people in the fight with sin and temptation. He is the leader of the faith which overcomes the world (Hebrews 12:2). Following him, we enter into rest.

The priestly office of Jesus is foreshadowed in the high - priest Jeshua, who appears in the vision of Zechariah (ch. 3; compare Ezra 2:2) in court before God, under accusation of Satan, and clad in filthy garments. Jeshua stands not only for himself, but as the representative of sinning and suffering Israel. Satan is defeated. The Lord rebukes him, and declares that he will redeem and restore this erring people; and in token thereof he commands that the accused priest be clad in clean robes and crowned with the priestly mitre.

Thus in this priestly Jeshua we have a type of our "Great High - Priest, touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and in all points tempted and tried like as we are;" confronting Satan in the wilderness; trying conclusions with him upon the victims of his malice - the sick, the sinful, and the demon - ridden. His royal robes are left behind. He counts not "equality with God a thing to be grasped at," but "empties himself," taking the "form of a servant," humbling himself and becoming "obedient even unto death" (Philippians 2:6, Philippians 2:7, Rev.). He assumes the stained garments of our humanity. He who "knew no sin" is "made to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). He is at once priest and victim. He pleads for sinful man before God 's throne. He will redeem him. He will rebuke the malice and cast down the power of Satan. He will behold him "as lightning fall from heaven" (Luke 10:18). He will raise and save and purify men of weak natures, rebellious wills, and furious passions - cowardly braggarts and deniers like Peter, persecutors like Saul of Tarsus, charred brands - and make them witnesses of his grace and preachers of his love and power. His kingdom shall be a kingdom of priests, and the song of his redeemed church shall be, "unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his own blood, and made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father; to him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (Revelation 1:5, Revelation 1:6, in Rev.).

It is no mere fancy which sees a suggestion and a foreshadowing of the prophetic work of Jesus in the economy of salvation, in a third name closely akin to the former. Hoshea, which we know in our English Bible as Hosea, was the original name of Joshua (compare Romans 9:25, Rev.) and means saving. He is, in a peculiar sense, the prophet of grace and salvation, placing his hope in God 's personal coming as the refuge and strength of humanity; in the purification of human life by its contact with the divine. The great truth which he has to teach is the love of Jehovah to Israel as expressed in the relation of husband, an idea which pervades his prophecy, and which is generated by his own sad domestic experience. He foreshadows Jesus in his pointed warnings against sin, his repeated offers of divine mercy, and his patient, forbearing love, as manifested in his dealing with an unfaithful and dissolute wife, whose soul he succeeded in rescuing from sin and death (Hos. i - iii). So long as he lived, he was one continual, living prophecy of the tenderness of God toward sinners; a picture of God 's live for us when alien from him, and with nothing in us to love. The faithfulness of the prophetic teacher thus blends in Hosea, as in our Lord, with the compassion and sympathy and sacrifice of the priest.

He [αυτος] . Emphatic; and so rightly in Rev., "For it is He that shall save his people."

Their sins [αμαρτιων] . Akin to aJmartanw, to miss a mark; as a warrior who throws his spear and fails to strike his adversary, or as a traveler who missed his way. 2 In this word, therefore, one of a large group which represent sin under different phases, sin is conceived as a failing and missing the true end and scope of our lives, which is God.

Verse 22

Through the prophet [δια] . So the Rev. rightly, instead of by. In quotations from the Old Testament, the writers habitually use the preposition dia (through to denote the instrumentality through which God works or speaks, while they reserve uJpo (by) to express the primary agency of God himself. So here the prophecy in ver. 23 was spoken by the Lord, but was communicated to men through his prophet.

Verse 23

The virgin [η παρθενος] . Note the demonstrative force of the article, pointing to a particular person. Not, some virgin or other.

They shall call [καλεσουσιν] . In ver. 21, it is thou shalt call. The original of Isaiah (vii. 14) has she shall call; but Matthew generalized the singular into the plural, and quotes the prophecy in a form suited to its larger and final fulfilment : men shall call his name Immanuel, as they shall come to the practical knowledge that God will indeed dwell with men upon the earth.

Immanuel (Hebrew, God is with us). To protect and save. A comment is furnished by Isaiah 8:10, "Devise a device, but it shall come to naught; speak a word, but it shall not stand, for with us is God." Some suppose Isaiah embodied the purport of his message in the names of his children : Mahershalal - hash - baz (speed - prey), a warning of the coming of the fierce Assyrians; Shear - Jashub (a remnant shall return), a reminder of God 's mercy to Israel in captivity, and Immanuel (God is with us), a promise of God 's presence and succor. However this may be, the promise of the name is fulfilled in Jesus (compare "Lo, I am with you always," Matthew 28:20) by his helpful and saving presence with his people in their sorrow, their conflict with sin, and their struggle with death.

Verse 24

The or his sleep [του υπνου] . The force of the definite article; the sleep in which he had the vision. So Rev., "Arose from his sleep."

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Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 1". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/vnt/matthew-1.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.