The Fourfold Gospel
1:1 The book of the generation1 of Jesus Christ, the son of David2, the son of Abraham3.
GENEALOGY OF JESUS ACCORDING TO MATTHEW.
- The book of the generation. Or genealogy.
- Of Jesus Christ, the son of David. The Messiah was promised to David (2 Samuel 7:16; John 7:42).
- The son of Abraham. Messiah was also promised to Abraham (Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16).
1:2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judah and his brethren1;
- And Jacob begat Judah and his brethren. Mentioned here because they were the heads of the tribes for whom especially wrote his Gospel.
1:3 and Judah begat Perez and Zerah1 of Tamar2; and Perez begat Hezron; and Hezron begat Ram;
- Perez and Zerah. These two were twins.
- Of Tamar. She was the incestuous daughter-in-law of Judah.
1:5 and Salmon begat Boaz of Rahab1; and Boaz begat Obed of Ruth2; and Obed begat Jesse;
- Rahab. She had been a heathen and a harlot of Jericho.
- Ruth. She was a heathen Moabitess.
1:6 and Jesse begat David1 the king. And David begat Solomon of her [that had been the wife] of Uriah2;
These fourteen were patriarchs. The second fourteen were all kings.
- David. We may count David twice, first as a patriarch, second as one of the kings; and thus make up the full number of the second
- Her [that had been the wife] of Uriah. The adulteress Bathsheba.
1:7 and Solomon1 begat Rehoboam2; and Rehoboam begat Abijah3; and Abijah begat Asa4;
- Solomon. A wise but sinful king.
- Rehoboam. A foolish king, from whose kingdom of twelve tribes God cut off ten tribes.
- Abijah. A sinful king, like his father Rehoboam.
- Asa. A godly king who reformed his kingdom of Judah.
1:8 and Asa begat Jehoshaphat1; and Jehoshaphat begat Joram2; and Joram begat3 Uzziah4;
- Jehoshaphat. A good king, much like his father Asa; but he displeased God somewhat by being too friendly with Ahab, the wicked
king of Israel.
- Joram. Married Athaliah, the wicked daughter of Ahab, and followed Ahab in all his ungodly practices.
- And Joram begat. Joram begat Ahaziah, and Ahaziah begat Joash, and Joash begat Amaziah; and Amaziah begat Uzziah. The names of Ahaziah,
Joash, and Amaziah were probably omitted for the sake of symmetry, but
may have been dropped because they were wicked descendants of Ahab
unto the fourth generation (Exodus 20:4,5).
- Uzziah. He was a good king, but smitten with leprosy for presumptuously entering the temple.
1:9 and Uzziah begat Jotham1; and Jotham begat Ahaz2; and Ahaz begat Hezekiah3;
- Jotham. A good king like Uzziah, his father.
- Ahaz. One of Judah's worst kings.
- Hezekiah. A royal, godly king, like David.
1:10 and Hezekiah begat Manasseh1; and Manasseh begat Amon2; and Amon begat Josiah3;
- Manasseh. An evil king, like Ahaz, but, being punished of God, he repented.
- Amon. An evil king like his father Manasseh; who waxed worse and worse till his people conspired against him and slew him.
- Josiah. A good king, much like Hezekiah.
1:11 and Josiah begat1 Jechoniah and his brethren2, at the time3 of the carrying away to Babylon4.
- And Josiah begat. Josiah begat Jehoiakim, and Jehoiakim begat Jechoniah.
- Jechoniah and his brethren. So far as is known, Jechoniah had no literal brothers. We may, therefore, take the word "brethren" as
meaning his royal kindred; viz.: his father Jehoiakim, and his uncles,
Jehoahaz and Zedekiah, the three sons of Josiah.
- At the time. Probably about 599 B.C.
- Of the carrying away to Babylon. Into captivity.
1:12 And after the carrying away to Babylon, Jechoniah1 begat Shealtiel2; and Shealtiel begat Zerubbabel3;
- Jechoniah. If we do not count David twice, as above indicated (as a patriarch and a king), we must count Jechoniah twice (as a king
who became a citizen). But if we count Jehoiakim as properly included
in the phrase "his brethren" at Matthew 1:11, we need count no one twice.
- Shealtiel. Luke calls Shealtiel the son of Neri (Luke 3:27). Jechoniah may have been the natural, and Neri the legal, father of
Shealtiel (Deuteronomy 25:5-10; Matthew 22:24). Or Luke's Shealtiel and Zerubbabel
may have been different persons from the Shealtiel and Zerubbabel of
- Zerubbabel. The governor of Jerusalem, who rebuilt the temple, as told by Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah.
1:16 and Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus1, who is called Christ2.
- Jesus. The name Jesus means Savior.
- Who is called Christ. The word "Christ" is a title. It means the anointed One. Prophets, priests, and kings were anointed; Jesus was all
1:17 So all the generations from Abraham unto David are fourteen generations1; and from David unto the carrying away to Babylon fourteen generations; and from the carrying away to Babylon unto the Christ fourteen generations.
- Fourteen generations. The Jews, to whom Matthew wrote his Gospel, were extremely fond of such groupings and divisions as this.
1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise1: When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph2, before they came together3 she was found with child of the Holy Spirit4.
ANNUNCIATION TO JOSEPH OF THE BIRTH OF JESUS.
(At Nazareth, B.C. 5.)
- Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise. The birth of Jesus is to handled with reverential awe. We are not to probe into its
mysteries with presumptuous curiosity. The birth of common persons is
mysterious enough (Ecclesiastes 9:5; Psalms 139:13-16), and we do not well,
therefore, if we seek to be wise above what is written as to the birth
of the Son of God.
- When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph. The Jews were usually betrothed ten or twelve months prior to the marriage. So sacred
was this relationship that unfaithfulness to it was deemed adultery,
and was punishable by death--death by stoning (Deuteronomy 22:23-28; Leviticus 20:10
Ezekiel 16:38; John 8:5). Those betrothed were regarded as husband and
wife, and could only be separated by divorcement. Hebrew betrothals set
the world a good example. Hasty marriage is too often followed by hasty
"No woman of Israel was married unless she had been first
- Before they came together. Before Joseph brought his bride to his own house. An espoused maiden lived in her father's house until the
marriage, as is our own custom.
- She was found with child of the Holy Spirit. The two evangelists (Matthew and Luke) which give the earthly genealogy of Jesus are each
careful to mention his miraculous conception through the Holy Spirit.
Compare Luke 1:35. All the New Testament writers recognized Jesus
as at once both human and divine. Christ's "physical" nature was
begotten of the Holy Spirit, but the Christian's "spiritual" nature is
begotten of him (John 1:13). The act of the Holy Spirit in this case
indicates that he is a personality, and not a mere influence, as some
are disposed to imagine. Influences do not create physical bodies.
1:19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to make her a public example2, was minded to put her away privily3.
- And Joseph her husband, being a righteous [man]. As a righteous man he could not complete his marriage, and thus stain his family name. As
a merciful man he did not wish to openly disgrace the one to whom he
was so fondly attached. He wished to act justly toward his own
reputation, and mercifully toward the reputation of Mary.
- And not willing to make her a public example. He did not wish to expose her to the shame of a public trial before the court, nor to
punish her as the law permitted.
- Was minded to put her away privily. The law of Moses gave the husband the power of divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1). The bill or writing
certifying the divorce usually stated the cause, and was handed to the
wife in the presence of witnesses. Joseph evidently intended to omit
stating any cause in the bill, that there might be no record to convict
her of shame. The law of divorce applied to betrothed as well as to
married persons. In his kindness Joseph anticipates the special
teaching of Christ and the general instruction of Paul (Matthew 19:8
Galatians 6:1). How different the conduct of the innocent Joseph from
that of guilty Judah (Genesis 38:24). Judah needed some one to point
out his unfitness (John 8:7).
1:20 But when he thought on these things1, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared unto him2 in a dream3, saying, Joseph4, thou son of David5, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife6: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
- But when he thought on these things. God guides the thoughtful, not unthinking.
- An angel of the Lord appeared unto him. The Lord looks after the good name of those who honor his name, and he serves those who serve
him (1 Samuel 2:30; John 12:26). The suffering of both Mary and Joseph
must have been very extreme at this time--one being forced to suspect
the chief object of his affections, and the other being compelled to
rest under the unjust suspicions of loved ones, because of a condition
which God alone could explain. But God does explain where we cannot
understand without his revelation, and where we absolutely need to
- In a dream. A mode of communication frequently used by God (Genesis 20:3; Genesis 31:11,24; Genesis 37:5; Genesis 41:1; 1 Kings 3:5; Daniel 7:1; Job 4:13-15). It is
difficult to say how men determined between ordinary and divine
dreams, but doubtless the latter came with a glory and vividness which
gave assurance of their supernatural nature. Matthew mentions four
divine dreams, viz.: (1) this one; (2) the second one given to Joseph
(Matthew 2:13); (3) the dream of the Magi (Matthew 2:12); (4) the dream
of Pilate's wife (Matthew 27:19).
- Saying, Joseph. We are known to angels, and they address us by name (Acts 10:3,13; Acts 27:24). Much more does the Lord know our names
(John 10:3; Luke 19:5).
- Thou son of David. The name of David was calculated to waken the memories of God's promises, and helped to prepare Joseph to receive the
wonderful news that Messiah was about to be born, for Messiah was the
promised heir of David.
- Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife. Have no fear as to Mary's virtue and purity. Fear no disgrace in taking her. Joseph feared as a
son of David that his marriage would sully his genealogy. But it was
that which gave point and purpose to an otherwise barren and
uninteresting record. He feared as a man lest he should share Mary's
apparent disgrace; but he had infinitely more reason to fear his
unworthiness to share with her the exalted responsibilities of
parentage to our Lord. Also see Luke 1:30.
1:21 And she shall bring forth a son1; and thou shalt call his name JESUS2; for it is he that shall save his people from their sins3.
- She shall bring forth a son. The angel does not say "shall bear thee a son", as he said to Zacharias (Luke 1:13).
- And thou shalt call his name JESUS. Joseph was to take the position of a legal father to the child and name it. The name means "Salvation
of Jehovah" or "Jehovah is the Savior". Would we could all bear our
names, such as Christian, pastor, magistrate, father, mother, child,
etc., as Jesus bore that wonderful and responsible name of Savior.
- For it is he that shall save his people from their sins. Thus from before his very birth-hour the nature of Christ's salvation is fully
set forth. He came to save from the guilt of sin by having shed his
blood, his may be remitted or washed clean. He saves from the power of
sin by bestowing the gift of the Spirit, who regenerates, comforts, and
strengthens, and ultimately he saves from the punishment of sin by
giving us a resurrection from the dead, and an abundant entrance into
the home of glory. That is no salvation at all which fails to free us
from this triple bondage of sin.
1:22 Now all this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord1 through the prophet2, saying3,
- Now all this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord. It was not fulfilled because predicted, but was
rather predicted because sure to take place. Prophecies are fulfilled
in four ways, namely: (1) When a thing clearly predicted comes to pass.
(2) When that which has been pictured in type and shadow is at last
shown forth in substance and reality. (3) When an event which has been
described in language more elevated and elaborate than it demands is
followed by another similar event to which the said language is more
perfectly suited. (4) When parabolic or figurative language may be
applied to some subsequent event. The prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled
after the third fashion, which was spoken by the Lord. In innumerable
passages the divine origin and inspiration of the Scriptures are
clearly and unmistakably set forth. The same Spirit which foretold
through the lips of the prophet now interprets the foretelling through
the lips of the angel.
- Through the prophet. See Isaiah 7:14. Isaiah's name is not given. The ancients were studious readers, and had few books, so that there
was little need to cite authors by name.
- Saying. About the year 740 B.C. While Ahaz was king of Judah, his land was threatened with an invasion by the united armies of Syria
and Israel. Isaiah came to frightened Ahaz, promised divine aid, and
told Ahaz to seek from God a sign confirming this promise. This Ahaz
refused to do; whereupon Isaiah replied that God would grant a sign
anyway. The sign was that a virgin should have a son, and before the
son reached the age of discretion, the kingdoms of Syria and Israel
should be destroyed. The sign given Ahaz was one of deliverance, and
prefigured the birth of Christ, the great Deliverer, in four ways: (1)
A virgin bearing a child. (2) A male child (Revelation 12:5). (3) The
divinely ordered naming of the child. (4) The significance of the
name given. Jesus fulfilled in his ministry man predictions; but many
more such as this one were fulfilled upon him without his volition.
1:23 Behold, the virgin shall be with child1, and shall bring forth a son, And they shall call his name2 Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us3.
- Behold, the virgin shall be with child. The Sonship of Jesus demands a miraculous birth. If we doubt the miracle of his conception, we can
never solve the perplexing problem of his marvelous life and death.
- And they shall call his name. Rather, title; under the head of "name" the titles of Jesus are also set forth at (Isaiah 9:6).
- Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us. Nature shows God above us; the Law shows God against us; but the Gospel shows God
with us, and for us. The blessing of the church militant is Christ,
God with us; that of the church triumphant is Christ, us with God. In
this world Jesus walked "with us" in human form (John 1:14); and
because he did so, we, in the world to come, shall walk "with him" in
divine form (1 John 3:2; 1 Corinthians 15:49). In a personal sense Jesus may
fitly be called "God with us", for he was God and man united in one
1:24 And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took unto him his wife2;
- And Joseph . . . did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. Joseph followed the instructions, though contrary to his first inclination.
Blessed are they who permit God to guide them. As Joseph appears to
have acted at once upon the angel's instruction, the marriage must have
taken place several months prior to the birth of Jesus.
- And took unto him his wife. Thus becoming the legally recognized father of Jesus, and though he bestowed upon Jesus but a humble name,
he nevertheless rescued him from the reproach of an illegitimate birth
(Matthew 13:55; Luke 4:22).
1:25 and knew her not till she had brought forth a son1: and he called his name JESUS2.
- And knew her not till she had brought forth a son. Romish teachers contend for the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary, that she
may be regarded as an object of worship. This doctrine cannot be proved
by Scripture. But there are weightier reasons than this which forbid us
to worship her; namely, it cannot be proven from Scripture either that
she was "divine" or that she was "sinless". Moreover, the fact that she
entered the marital state at all, shows that she was perfectly human,
and comported herself as such.
- And he called his name JESUS. Two Old Testament heroes bore the name Jesus under the form of Joshua. One was captain of Israel for the
conquest of Canaan (Joshua 1:1,12), the other was high priest of Israel
for rebuilding the Temple (Zechariah 6:11,12). Christ was both the
Captain of our salvation and the High Priest of our profession.