|Matthew Evangelist. The text also says - Abraham and David (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about Jesus’ ancestry.
Key Verse: Matt 1:1
Pray and Read: Matthew 1:1-17
The Jews kept meticulous records of their family lineages. The scrupulous records of their generations where kept in public registers held as public property for public inspection in which every family member’s name was kept. Nehemiah wrote that God directed him to update and preserve the genealogies of the Jewish people (Neh. 7:5). Priest who could not trace and prove their ancestry were put out of office (Neh 7:64). Every Jew was expected to be able to trace his family line because “all Israel were reckoned by genealogies (1 Chron 9:1). Each Jew’s genealogy constituted his title to land and inheritance. Paul warned Timothy against “endless genealogies” (1 Tim 1:4), but he was not referring to a listing of one’s parentage, but instead to wild Jewish legends attached to those lists.
Some people would say that a long list of names is monotonously boring and incredibly dry, especially when they appear in Scripture, with names no one can pronounce. But we must remember that if it appears in God’s Word, then it is inerrant truth. As such, it not only should not be neglected, but the student of Scripture should meditate on its truth.
So the genealogies found in Scripture from Genesis 10 to 1 Chronicles 1-9 to Ezra 2 to Matthew 1 and Luke 3 are important. They place in perspective each life in the tapestry of Biblical history. The insights which come from the genealogies can be profound.
The Jews carefully preserved its genealogical records as a nation until A.D. 70 when the Roman General Titus destroyed the Temple and the Jews were dispersed. Therefore, no one could dispute the Gospel writers’ claims that Jesus was of the house and lineage of David as He claimed He was, because anyone could check the public registries to refute them. The fact that no Jews did that supports the integrity of Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts. After Titus destroyed and burned Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Israel’s genealogical records were destroyed or confused, so that no one coming afterwards who pretended to be the Messiah could prove his ancestry from David from the public record.
1. Jesus is a descendant of Abraham (Matthew 1:1-6)
2. Jesus is a descendant of David (Matthew 1:7-11)
3. Jesus is a descendant of Zerubbabel (Matthew 1:12-17)
Exposition: Note well,
1. JESUS IS A DESCENDANT OF ABRAHAM (Matthew 1:1-6)
a. There are two genealogies of Jesus in the New Testament – here in Matthew 1 and Luke 3:23-38. There are differences in names between the two genealogies. Skeptics claim there are contradictions that cannot be reconciled, that there are mistakes in the Text. Matthew gives 41 names, but Luke gives 74, the full number following the natural line. But the two lists can be reconciled simply by recognizing some well-known Jewish practices. First of all, Matthew, in order to get his generations into sets of fourteen, omits several names, which was common practice in Jewish genealogies. Both agree up to David, but then they differ. Luke gives us 42 names while David only 27. Matthew is only tracing heirs to the throne. Henry Barclay Swete, a professor at the University of Cambridge in the early 20th century, noted that most of the difficulties are removed by viewing Luke’s purpose in his genealogy as showing the genealogical connection between Mary and Joseph, in other words, that they were both descended from Abraham, David, and Zerubbabel, the governor of Judea after the Exile. Dr. W. Graham Scroggie, pastor of Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, during World War II, suggests that if Matthan, number 38 in Matthew’s list (Matt 1:15), and Matthat, number 71 in Luke’s (Luke 3:24), were the same person, then Jacob and Heli were brothers (or perhaps the same person using a different name). That would mean that Joseph, as was common, married a relation. Thus, Luke was making his point.
b. But why two lists? Wouldn’t one genealogy have sufficed and saved us the trouble of trying to reconcile the lists? The Torah, the first five books of the Bible, tell us that “at the mouth of two witnesses . . . shall the matter be established (Deut 19:15). Job said that “God speaks once, yea, twice (Job 33:14). Psalm 62:11 says, “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this.” Matthew writes from Abraham to Christ, Abraham the natural father of the Jews and the spiritual father of the Gentiles (Gen 17:5; Rom 4:16-17). Matthew shows Jesus to be the legal and royal heir to the promises to Abraham and David. Luke writes his list of names from Christ back to Adam, “the son of God” and father of all nations (Rom 5:19). Luke shows the line of Mary, the “seed of David according to the flesh” (Rom 1:3). Both are agreed on the Virgin Birth. Both are agreed that He is the Son of Mary. Both are agreed on His deity.
c. If Matthew and Luke gave a genealogy, then why didn’t Mark or John give one? Mark wrote from Peter’s perspective, who knew Jesus from the time of his own calling as a disciple of the Lord. John emphasizes the deity of the Lord, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). John goes back to Jesus eternal existence, so a genealogy does not fit nor is it needed in his gospel.
d. But Luke was making another point. Both genealogies were needed to prove that redemption was no afterthought with God, but He had designed it from the beginning. While Matthew established Jesus as the descendant of both Abraham and David, a fulfillment of God’s covenants with them, Luke traced Jesus’ lineage back to Adam. Adam is the father of the human race, and Luke (just like Paul in Romans 5) brings together the first Adam and the last Adam, the two federal heads – Adam, of the human race fallen into the depravity of sin and Christ, the Head of the redeemed, the Church, and all the nations on earth, beginning with Israel. In Adam we die. In Christ we are made alive.
e. The Old Testament’s first book, Genesis, means beginning, or generations and ends with a curse, symbolized with thorns, the curse of sin on Adam, the serpent, and the earth (Gen 3:14, 17; 4:11; Deut 21:23), and with death in a coffin (Gen 50:26). In fact, the last book of our Old Testament ends with a curse (Malachi 4:6). The New Testament’s first book, Matthew, opens with the genesis, or the generations of Jesus Christ. He came, Paul says to redeem us from the curse of the law (Gal 3:13). Thorns were woven into a crown and placed upon his strong brow, and the Lord became a curse for us, being “numbered with the transgressors, for He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12). So that the last book of the New Testament says that there shall be no more curse (Rev 22:3).
f. The Old Testament requires the Messiah to be a descendant of
i. Shem (Gen 9:26-27; Luke 3:36), one of Noah’s three sons (Gen 6:10). Shem may have first written the genealogy in Gen 11:10-26 because he lives 98 years before the Flood until the age of 502 after the Flood, which means he lived 75 years after Abraham entered Canaan. His name means “name,” or the one of note or the greater of the three sons. From him came Abraham, and our word anti-Semitic, “against Semites,” means anti-Jewish.
ii. Abraham (Gen 12:1-3; Gal 3:16). From Ur of the Chaldees, the land of the Tower of Babel, originally a Gentile, God made him the first Hebrew (Gen 14:13), meaning “one who has passed over or beyond the river.” What a blessing has come through the covenant with Abraham. Paul tells us in Galatians, “And Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, ‘In thee shall all nations be blessed’” (Gal 3:8). From Abraham came Messiah’s seed through Isaac and the modern Arabs through Ishmael.
iii. Isaac (Gen 26:2, 4; Rom 9:4-5, 7; Heb 11:18). “And the Lord appeared unto [Isaac] and said, . . . In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”
iv. Jacob (Num 24:17, 19)
v. Judah (Gen 49:10; Psalm 78:67-68; Luke 3:33; Heb 7:14; Rev 5:5). His name means, “Praise.” His descendant, Jesus, is worthy of all praise. Shiloh means, “Peace.” Authority will remain with Judah until the Prince of Peace comes.
vi. Jesse (Isaiah 11:1; Luke 3:23, 32)
2. JESUS IS A DESCENDANT OF DAVID (Matthew 1:7-11)
a. Jesse (Isaiah 11:1; Luke 3:23, 32)
b. David (2 Sam 7:13-16; Psalm 132:11; Amos 9:11; Isaiah 9:7; Dan 7:27; Micah 5:2, 4; Jer 23:5; Zech 12:8; 13:1; Luke 1:32-33; 2:11; Matt 22:42; Rom 1:3; John 7:42; Rev 22:16).
3. JESUS IS A DESCENDANT OF ZERUBBABEL (Matthew 1:12-17)
i. Zerubbabel (Haggai 2:22-23)
b. Matt 1:17 – fourteen generations: Notice Matthew’s highlighting of the number fourteen (Num 29:13; 1 Kings 8:65). It is double seven, the number of completeness, and there are three sets of fourteen, a picture of the Trinity. From Abraham to David is the period of the patriarchs and prophets, a period of Promise. Jesus fulfilled that promise as the greatest prophet and the Everlasting Father. From David to the Exile is the period of the Kings. Jesus is the King of Kings. From the Exile to Christ is the period of the common people, oppressed by sin. This is the period of expectation. “How Long, O Lord? How long?” Jesus is the Son of Man who came to Bethlehem to overthrow the oppression of sin and the captivity of rebellion, to set the prisoners free.
c. Joseph’s father: Jacob or Heli? Luke has in his genealogy the phrase, “Jesus . . . being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph (Luke 3:23). This indicates only a reputed or alleged sonship to Joseph, not a real one. Jesus was God’s extraordinary gift to Joseph through his proper wife Mary, the supernatural fruit of his marriage while not his natural offspring. Joseph’s ancestry draws attention to Jesus’ being the “Son of David,” a Messianic title and “of the house and lineage of David” (Matt 1:20; Luke 1:32; 2:4).
d. Also, the son of Heli while Matthew says that Joseph’s father was Jacob. So which is it? Luke, writing of Jesus as the Son of Man, from Mary’s viewpoint, gives His genealogy on His mother’s side through Heli, Mary’s father. Luke does not say Heli begat Joseph, but that he became the son (in-la) of Heli upon his marriage to Mary. Faussett says that by law (Num 36:8), Mary was required to be of the same tribe and family as Joseph. Isaiah implied that Messiah was the seed of David by natural as well as legal descent (Isaiah 11:1). Probably Matthan of Matthew is the Matthat of Luke, and Jacob and Heli were brothers. So Joseph married his first cousin Mary. Joseph, the legal male heir of his uncle Heli, whose only child Mary, married her according to the law. Thus the genealogy of inheritance is found in Matthew while that of natural descent is found in Luke.
e. APPLICATION: Once again we see the magnificent fulfillment of Scripture. Isaiah said 700 years before Christ’s birth that “unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6). On that Bethlehem night, the Child Jesus was born, Mary’s firstborn, but as a Son He was given by His Father. As a Child born, He was fully human; as the Son given, He was fully God.
Herbert Lockyer, All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973), 48-57.
 T.M. Lindsay quoted in Herbert Lockyer, 49.
 Moses omitted Simeon from Moses’ blessing because of his cruelty (Deut 33) and Dan for his idolatry (Rev 7:4-8).