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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Matthew 1

 

 

Verses 1-25

The genealogy of the King of Israel must be clearly established as from Abraham, the original father of the nation, and from David, the first king of God's choice, who is in many ways a type of Christ. This would be of vital importance to every orthodox Jew. Therefore Matthew begins with the genealogy, and as it descends from Abraham to Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Christ Was born. This is the official genealogy.

Luke, on the other hand, after describing the events leading to and connected with the birth of the Lord Jesus, then gives a genealogy from the reverse viewpoint (Ch.3:23-38), from Jesus back to Adam and God. In this case the genealogy is totally different as dating from David to Christ, for the line is through Nathan, David's son, rather than through Solomon. But it appears evident that, though Joseph is mentioned in verse 23, the line is that of Mary, of whom Jesus Was actually born. For Luke emphasizes the reality of the Manhood of Christ, therefore the actual line is important in this case. Luke also, a Gentile, wrote to a Gentile, and therefore: shows the Lord's connection with all mankind, not only Israel.

Verses 3, 5 and 6 are most striking as introducing the names of women into the genealogy; and more striking still is the fact that these four women were not of Israel. In the first case the history of Tamar and Judah (Genesis 38:1-30) is a blot of sinful shame in the genealogy, which the Jews would rather have forgotten. But God reveals it fully. In the case of Rachab (Rahab), she was saved only by pure grace from a life of shame (Joshua 6:25), then has her place of the genealogy of the King of Israel. The third is Ruth, a Moabitess, who had no right to any part in Israel (Deuteronomy 23:3), but by a Kinsman redeemer (Boaz) was brought also by grace into this favoured place. The fourth (Bathsheba) is spoken of as "her that had been the wife of Urias," a plain reminder of David's dreadful sin in taking her and having Urias killed.

Certainly the King of Israel did not come from a sinless nation! Nor did He come to enforce the law. He came in marvellous grace, linking Himself in lowly humiliation with a sinful notion. The insertion of these four names is certainly intended to bring down Israel's pride as well as to emphasize the greatness of the grace of God.

In verse 8 three kings are omitted, after Joram, evidently because Ahaziah's mother was Athaliah, the wicked daughter of Ahab, and God expunges her seed from the genealogy to the third generation (2 Kings 8:16-24)

There are several cases in Scripture in which people are deleted, or time deleted from the history, in order to show God's thoughts as to refusing recognition when His rights have been violated. Jehoiakim, son of Josiah is omitted in verse 11. He was the immediate father of Jeconiah (Jeremiah 24:1). Jeconiah's brethren are mentioned because several of his close relatives were briefly put on the throne of Judah about the time of the captivity (2 Chronicles 36:1-10). Jeconiah himself Was later liberated and treated kindly by the king of Babylon (2 Kings 25:27-30), a picture of the fact that Judah's royalty would be revived. Yet Jeremiah 22:30 prophesies of him, "Write ye this man childless, a man that shell not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shell prosper sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah." Not that Jeconiah (or Coniah) had no child, for he "beget Salathiel" but no child of his could succeed him on the throne, and none of his seed could ever rule in Judah.

How then could it be accomplished that the Messiah must be of this line? Only by a man of this line (Joseph) marrying a virgin of another line from David, and that virgin bearing the Messiah, who was conceived in her by the Spirit of God. Officially therefore Christ came from the line of Jeconiah, but not actually. He was actually the child of Mary, who descended from Nathan, son of David. Wonderful is the wisdom of God, so high above all that men could have conceived.

When Joseph, before marriage, found that Mary was pregnant, his natural thoughts inclined him to quietly terminate his betrothal to her. But an angel appeared in a dream to him, bidding him not to fear to take Mary as his wife, assuring him that Mary's conception has been by the Spirit of God. The angel Gabriel had appeared personally to Mary, not in a dream (Luke 1:26-38); but in every case mentioned of an angelic message to Joseph, it is in a dream (Ch.2:13, 19-22). This implies greater distance, for Joseph was not the actual father.

The name of Mary's child has been decided beforehand by God. Jesus means "Jehovah Saviour," for, it is added, "He shell save His people from their sins." How much more important was this than His saving Israel from Roman bondage! He is King, for He has "his people"; but He is more than this: He is Saviour: and yet more, He is Jehovah.

We are told that all of this was done in view of the fulfilling of God's prophecy. Matthew uses expressions of this kind often, for it was imperative that the advent of the Messiah should be seen to correspond perfectly with Israel's Old Testament Scriptures. Also, just as certainly as His name is Jesus, so also it is Emanuel, "God with us." Indeed, Jehovah must come in saving character ("Jehovah Saviour") if He is to be with us at all; and it is pressed upon us that He is Jehovah: He is God.

Joseph, obedient to the heavenly vision, took Mary as his wife, yet they refrained from all sexual intercourse until after the birth of her divine child, her firstborn, for she later had at least seven others (Psalms 69:8; Matthew 13:55-56).

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Matthew 1:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/matthew-1.html. 1897-1910.


Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 23rd, 2017
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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