Bible Notes Online - Matthew 1 - ESV

1.1-4.11: ; the introduction to Christ's ministry; the time of personal preparation, and of prophecies fulfilled in His life.

v1-17: The genealogy of Jesus Christ; His Jewish-ness, and His right to be king, are both proved; contrast Neh 7.61-65.

Matthew picks out Abraham and David; in character probably the closest to that of Christ Himself; God's friend, and the man after God's own heart. In Rom 4, they are men of faith, they were saved by faith, they were made righteous by faith, and they lived by faith.

The genealogy falls into three sections;

  • - Abraham to Jesse; Patriarchs and Judges; a pilgrim people, a mobile tabernacle.
  • - David to Jeconiah; period of kings; a settled people, a temple.
  • - Shealtiel to Joseph; exile and declension; a famine of the word of God.

We see God's over-ruling through centuries of Jewish history, and in the details described in the gospel account. Four women are mentioned; Tamar (v3), Rahab, Ruth (v5), and Bathsheba (v6); and behind each is a story of sin and human failure; yet God graciously overruled, and involved these women in the greatest of all stories.

Matthew's own summary is in v17; although he omits some generations, he provides a clear legal line to Christ. In Jewish culture, the genealogy provides Christ's authority.

v18-25: Christ's birth.

Christ's birth is presented from Joseph's point of view, as head of the household; we read of his visions, his decision to take Mary and the child into Egypt, the return to Judea, then to Galilee. Yet Matthew takes care not to describe Joseph as the father of Jesus.

We see here the involvement of the whole Godhead; for Mary is found to pregnant "through the Holy Spirit," and, through Christ, "God with us."

v18: The birth of Jesus Christ centres on divine, not human, 'personnel.' God the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, which Matthew clearly states. His birth fulfils prophecy (from Gen 3.15), and demonstrates God's power to intervene and change human history, and it demonstrates His faithfulness to His own word. We note in particular that Jesus is born of a virgin; no ordinary human conception here.

There is a betrothal ceremony, with witnesses, and the payment of a dowry; there is a benediction, speaking of the Lord our God who sanctifies, followed by a cup of wine. This is serious, and any breach treated as adultery

v19: The plans of a just and faithful man; no one would have criticised his thoughtfulness here. Mary is also presented as godly, although just a teenager. Luke's gospel speaks more of Mary's involvement.

v20: The plan of God becomes Joseph's plan; he hears, understands, changes his mind, and obeys. We must do the same when God speaks to us; we make no plans without God's direction.

The angel addresses Joseph as "son of David," indicating his right to be king.

v21: A special name for a special child; no ordinary son. The specific task ahead, to save His people from their sins, indicating His vicarious death.

v22-23: Matthew is concerned to show that the OT prophecies are fulfilled in Christ, and here Is 7.14 is fulfilled.

v24: Joseph's careful obedience, involving real restraint for a young man newly married. Here is a disciplined life.

v25: Jesus set apart, Ex 13.2; John 17.16.