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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Matthew 1

Verse 1

1:1 Verse 1. The word book is from the Greek word BIBLOS and Is defined by Thayer, "A written book, a roll or scroll." Generation is from GENESIS which Thayer defines, "used of bIrth, nativity," Book of the generation. This phrase is commented on by the same author as follows: "A book of one's lineage. in which his ancestry or his progeny [ancestors from whom he is a descendant] are enumerated." David; Abraham, etc. Matthew wrote his book for the special benefit of the Jews and this is the reason he did not go any farther back than to Abraham. He was the first patriarch to whom the promise ,of the Messiah was made and their interest in Him would hence not include any earlier ancestors. After Abraham the most important man in the ancestry of Christ was David, so tbe record makes mention of him. Tbe word for book means generally any written document. but in this place it applies only as a title tor tbe family history or the ancestors or Christ which will include verses 1 through 17 (See Mat 1:1-17).

Verse 2

1:2 Verse 2. Abraham had more than one son but the promised seed was to come through his son Isaac (Gen 21:12; Rom 9:7), hence Matthew goes from Abraham to Isaac in the record. Isaac also had more than one son and it was stipulated that Jacob was the one through whom the line was to go (Gen 25:23; Rom 9:12-13) thus the author goes from Isaac to Jacob in his tracing of the blood line. Jacob also had many sons who figure in an important manner in the history, but only one of them (Judah, here called Judas) could be used in the blood line, so the significant wording is Judas and his brethren. This idea of singling out the particular one in each family was observed all down the line. I have gone into de­tail in this verse to set forth the sub­ject, and such details will not need to be repeated in all of the following verses.

Verse 3

1:3 Verse 3. Thamar is called Tamar in Genesis and she was the daughter-in-law of Judah. The account of how she became the mother of his sons is in Genesis 38.

Verse 4

1:4 Verse 4. Aram is in the form of Ram in the^Old Testament account.

Verse 5

1:5 Verse 5. Booz is Boaz in the account found in the Old Testament. His mother Kachab is called Rahab in Jos 6:25; she was the woman in Jericho. This verse names two women who were connected with the blood line of Christ (Rachab and Ruth) who were not direct descendants of Abra­ham. However, this should not con­fuse us because it was customary in ancient times to ignore the daughters in the family registers. But these women were so outstanding in their parts of the great drama that the in­spired writer gives them special men­tion.

Verse 6

1:6 Verse 6. Here the record takes on an additional phase of Importance. In the days of Samuel the prophet the people of Israel clamored for a king in order to he like the nations around them. The Lord was displeased with their request but suffered them to have a king. The first one was Sjiul of the tribe of Benjamin, but he was so un­righteous that God took the throne from him and his family and even shut out that tribe from the royal line. The throne was then given to the tribe of Judah which had possession of the kingdom in Jerusalem until the Baby­lonian captivity. David was the first man to occupy the throne from that tribe, hence the words David the king. All of the rest to be named in the blood line were kings also but the fact will not be mentioned. This special notice was given to David because be was the first man to be in both the royal and blood lines. And in having such a place in the history of Israel he became the most important type of Christ as king, hence the various refer­ences to Him as sitting on the throne of his father David. The term “father" refers to the blood line and the term "throne” refers to the royal line. The mother of Solomon is referred to but not named as were Rachab and Ruth. No reason is given in the Scriptures for this variation in the mention of persons. It is worth considering, how­ever, that of the many wives that David had, this one was the mother of both Solomon and Nathan (1 Chron­icles 3:5). The significance of this is in the fact that both of these sons of David were direct ancestors of Christ; Solomon’s line coming down to Joseph, the (foster) father, and Nathan’s coming down to tell the father of Mary. Hence, the two blood streams from David coming through the two sons who were full brothers, were brought together by the marriage of Joseph and Mary.

Verse 7

1:7 Verse 7. Roboam Is Rehoboam In the Old Testament and Abia is Abijam.

Verse 8

1:8 Verse 8. Joshaphat is Jehoshaphat, Joram is Jehoram, and Ozias is Uzziah in the O.T.

Verse 9

1:9 Verse 9. Joatham is Jotham, Achaz is Ahaz and Ezelcias is Hezekiah for­merly.

Verse 10

1:10 Verse 10. Mamasses is spelled Manasseh and Josias is the same as Josiah.

Verse 11

1:11 Verse 11. Jechonias has three dif­ferent forms in the Old Testament but the one generally used is Jeholachia. He was not the last temporal king that the people of Israel ever bad; there was one more (Zedekiah). But while he was a son of Josiah, he had been placed on the throne in Jeru­salem by the king of Babylon (2Ki 24:17 ). having deposed Jeholachia and taken him to Babylon as a cap­tive. But the blood line remained with him, hence the present verse words: Jechonias and his brethren. Also, the words about the time they were carried away to Babylon are explained by the facts just mentioned in this para­graph.

Verse 12

1:12 Verse 12. After they were brought to Babylon. Family life was not dis­continued even though the Jews were in captivity. The inspired writer is able to give us the names of lineal descendants that he wished to use in connecting the blood line from Abra­ham to Christ. Not all of the succeed­ing names are given nor was that necessary. The present verse virtually covers the 70 years of the captivity, for it was in the days of Zorobabel (Zerubbabel) that they came out of it (Ezr 3:2).

Verse 13

3-15 Verses 13-15. This paragraph covers the space of over four centuries, from the return after the captivity to the time of Jacob, father of Joseph. It is evident that not all of the men in the blood line are named, but only enough of them to show the connection of the list as that would affect the ancestry of Jesus.

Verse 16

1:16 Verse 16. The use of the term "be­gat” Is not used here because Joseph was only the foster father of Jesus. But the verse states that he was the husband of Mary in order to show how the two blood streams from David were Joined. Husband is from aseb which Is the only word for “husband” in the New Testament. It is so ren­dered 50 times and by "man” 156 times. The word cannot hence be known to designate a married man except by the connection in which it is found. Jesus who is called Christ. The specific meaning of the first word is “saviour” and the last is defined “anointed.” The force of the combined title Is "Saviour and King.”

Verse 17

1:17 Verse 17. Generations is from genea and Thayer’s definition at this place is, “The several ranks In the natural descent, the successive members of a genealogy." The three sets of 14 gen­erations are so arranged for the sake of uniformity as an aid to the memory. There are several names omitted and a man may be said to have begotten a person when it really means a genera­tion or more later. This manner of speaking was done before this; for in­stance. in Dan 5:18 Belshazzar is spoken of as the son of Nebuchad­nezzar whereas he was his grandson. The count of the generations is based on the ones named in the chapter. By strict count there are 40 instead of 42 as the three sets of 14 would require; this is because David and Jechonias are each counted twice.

Verse 18

1:18 Verse 18. The meaning of espousal as compared with marriage will be considered at verse 20. Before they came together means before they be­gan living together as husband and wife. Found with child should be con­sidered separately from the words of the Holy Ghost. Joseph did not know that her condition was produced by a miracle but thought she had been im­pure. The Inspired writer adds the italicized words for the information of the reader. The meaning of the clause is as if It said “she was found with child (which later proved to be by the Holy Ghost).”

Verse 19

1:19 Verse 19. Being a just man denotes that Joseph was kind and considerate, yet was conscientious and unwilling to ignore the moral law. Because of this he planned to put her away which means to break the engagement. He had such a personal regard for her that he did not want to expose her to public disgrace, yet he did not think it would be right to live with her.

Verse 20

1:20 Verse 20. While Joseph was ponder­ing, the subject the angel of the Lord appeared and explained the situation. He further advised him to proceed with their plans because Mary was pure from all wrong. She is here called his wife and In Luk 2:5 she is called'his "espoused wife." All this is because In Biblical times an espousal was regarded as binding, as to the obligation, as the actual marriage.

Verse 21

1:21 Verse 21. The angel not only told Joseph the cause of Mary’s condition, but even told him what to call the child when born. Proper names in ancient times usually had some spe­cific meaning, hence the name Jesus, meaning “Saviour,'' was to be given to this son to be born of Mary, be­cause he was designed to save his people from sin.

Verse 22

1:22 Verse 22. The Information was also given Joseph that what was happen­ing was in fulfillment of prophecy, all of which would meet his approval be­cause he was a believer of the inspired word.

Verse 23

1:23 Verse 23. The angel then quoted the prophecy to which he had referred which is in Isa 7:14, The thing of special Importance is that the child was to be born of a virgin, an event that could not occur by the laws of natural reproduction alone. God with us. This signifies that since the body of this child was both divine and hu­man, it meant that It would be virtually the presence of God with man, hence he was to be called by the name of Emmanuel which has that meaning.

Verse 24

1:24 Verse 24. Did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him denotes that what follows in this verse and the next will be in obedience to the command of the angel. Raised from sleep Is explained by the fact that In ancient times God used various means in communicating His will to the people (Heb 1:1) and one of them was by dreams. After the dream bad delivered the desired information to Joseph, it was time for him to arise out of sleep and proceed with the program pointed out by the angel.

Verse 25

1:25 Verse 25, Joseph took Mary into his home in fulfillment of his espousal and on the Instructions of the angel. Knew her not is a Biblical expression for the intimate relation of the sexes. The reason Joseph did not have this relation with Mary now was because the angel had told him that her son was to be born of a virgin, which re­quired that at the time of the birth his mother must never have had inti­mate relations with a man. Till she had brought forth has to mean that after the birth of Jesus, Joseph lived with Mary In the intimate relation of husband and wife, else the language Is meaningless and deceptive. It there­fore proves that Mary did not continue to be a virgin, but lived with her hus­band in the relationship of a wife, and her children by that marriage will be met with in later chapters of this book.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Matthew 1". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/matthew-1.html. 1952.