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Barnes' Notes on the New Testament

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Chapter 2
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In the preparation of the following Notes, free use has been made of all the helps within the reach of the author. The works from which most assistance has been derived are, Walton's Polyglott; the Critici Sacri, particularly the Notes of Grotius; Lightfoot's Works; Macknight and Newcome's Harmony of the Gospels; Jahn's Archaeology; Horne's Introduction; Doddridge's Family Expositor; Calmet's Dictionary; Campbell on the Gospels; the Commentaries of Kuinoel, Rosenmuller Clarke, and Henry; Tittman's Meletamata Sacra on John; the Sacred Geography of Wells, and that prepared for the American Sunday School Union, by Mcssrs J. & J. W. Alexander. The object has been to express, in as few words as possible, the real meaning of the Gospels;--the results of their critical study, rather than the process by which these results were reached.

This work is designed to occupy a place, which is supposed to be unappropriated, in attempts to explain the New Testament. It was my wish to present to Sunday school teachers a plain and simple explanation of the more common difficulties of the book which it is their province to teach. This wish has given character to the work. If it should occur to any one that more minute explanations of words, phrases, and customs, have been attempted than might seem to them desirable, it will be recollected that many Sunday school teachers have little access to means of information, and that no small part of their success is dependent on the minuteness and correctness of the explanation which is given to children.

This work is designed also to be a Harmony of the Gospels. Particular attention has been bestowed, especially in the Notes on Matthew, to bring the different narratives of the evangelists together, and to show that, in their narration of the same events, there is no real contradiction. It will be recollected, that the sacred narrative of an event is what it is reported to be by all the evangelists. It will also be recollected, that the most plausible objections to the New Testament have been drawn from the apparent contradictions in the Gospels. The importance of meeting these difficulties, in the education of the young, and of showing that these objections are not well founded, will be apparent to all.

Particular attention has been paid to the references to parallel passages of Scripture. In all instances, in these Notes, they are an essential part of the explanation of the text. The authority of the Bible has been deemed the only authority that was necessary in such cases; and it is hoped that no one will condemn any explanation offered, without a candid examination of the real meaning of the passages referred to.

The main design of these Notes will be accomplished, if they furnish a just explanation of the text. Practical remarks could not have been more full without materially increasing the size of the book, and, as was supposed, without essentially limiting its circulation and its usefulness. All that has been attempted, therefore, in this part of the work, has been to furnish leading thoughts, or heads of practical remark, to be enlarged on at the discretion of the teacher.

These Notes have been prepared amidst the pressing and anxious cares of a responsible pastoral charge. Of their imperfections no one can be more sensible than the author. Of the time and patience indispensable in preparing even such brief Notes on the Bible, under the conviction that the opinions expressed may form the sentiments of the young on the subject of the Book of God, and determine their eternal destiny, no one can be sensible who has not made the experiment. The great truth is becoming more and more impressed on the minds of this generation, that the Bible is the only authoritative source of religious belief; and if there is any institution pre-eminently calculated to deepen this impression, and fix it permanently in the minds of the coming age, it is the Sunday school. Every minister of the Gospel, every parent, every Christian, must therefore feel it important that just views of interpretation should be imbibed in these schools. I have felt more deeply than I have any other sentiment, the importance of inculcating on the young proper modes of explaining the sacred Scriptures. If I can be one of the instruments, however humble, in extending such views through the community, my wish in this work will be accomplished. I commit it, therefore, to the blessing of the God of the Bible, with the prayer that it may be one among many instruments of forming correct religious views, and promoting the practical love of God and man among the youth of this country. ALBERT BARNES. PHILADELPHIA, August 25th, 1832. ======================================================================= For INTRODUCTION to BARNES See Barnes "Matthew 1:2" ======================================================================= PREFACE


THE word Gospel means good news, or a joyful message.It commonly signifies the message itself. But it is here used to denote the book containing the record of the message. The title "saint," given to the sacred writers of the New Testament, is of Roman Catholic origin, and is of no authority.

It is now conceded pretty generally that Matthew wrote his gospel in his native tongue; that is, the language of Palestine. That language was not pure Hebrew, but a mixture of the Hebrew, Chaldaic, and Syraic, commonly called Syro-Chaldaic, or Aramaean. This language our Saviour undoubtedly used in his conversation; [see instances in Mark 7:34; Matthew 27:46] and his disciples would naturally use this language also, unless there were good reasons why they should write in a foreign tongue. It is agreed that the remainder of the New Testament was written in Greek. The reason for this, in preference to the native language of the writers, was, that Greek was the language then generally spoken and understood throughout the eastern countries conquered by Alexander the Great, and particularly in Judea, and in the regions where the apostles first laboured.

The Christian Fathers, without any exception, assert that Matthew wrote his gospel for the use of the Christians in Palestine, and say that it was written in the Hebrew dialect. It should be remarked, however, that many modern critics of much eminence do not suppose the evidence that Matthew wrote in Hebrew to be decisive; and believe that there is sufficient proof that, like the other writers of the New Testament, Matthew wrote in Greek. See Lardher's works, vol. v. pp. 308-318, London edition, 1829.

The Gospel of Matthew exists now, however, only in Greek. The original Hebrew, or Syro-Chaldaic, if it was written in that language, has been designedly laid aside, or undesignedly lost. The question, then, naturally arises, who is the author of the Greek translation which we possess? and is it to be regarded as of Divine authority?

It has been conjectured by some that Matthew himself furnished a Greek translation of the Hebrew. This conjecture, in itself probable enough, wants human testimony to support it. Athanasius, one of the early Fathers, says that it was translated by "James, the brother of our Lord according to the flesh." Papias, another of the early Fathers, says, that "each one translated it as he was able." If James translated it, there can be no question about its inspiration and canonical authority. Nor does it affect the question of its inspiration, even if we are ignorant of the name of the translator. The proper inquiry is, whether it had such evidence of inspiration as to be satisfactory to the church in the times when they were under the direction of the apostles. That it had such evidence, none acquainted with ancient history will doubt.

Epiphanius says that the Gospel by Matthew was written while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome. This was about the year of our Lord 63, about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. It is now generally supposed that this gospel was written about this time. There is very clear evidence in the gospel that it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem. The destruction of the holy city is clearly and minutely told; but there is not the slightest intimation in it that these predictions had been accomplished; a thing which we should naturally expect if the gospel was not written until after these calamities came upon the Jews. Comp. Acts 11:28. It has been till lately uniformly regarded as having been written before either of the other evangelists. Some of late have, however, endeavoured to show that Luke was written first. All testimony, and all ancient arrangements of the books, are against the opinion; and when such is the fact, it is of little consequence to attend to other arguments. In all copies of the New Testament, and in all translations, this gospel has been placed first. This, it is probable, would not have been done, had not Matthew published his gospel before any other was written.

Matthew, the writer of this gospel, called also Levi, son of Alpheus, was a publican, or tax-gatherer, under the Romans. See Barnes "Matthew 9:9"; See Barnes "Luke 5:27". Of his life and death little is certainly known. Socrates, a writer of the fifth century, says that he went to Ethiopia, after the apostles were scattered abroad from Judea, and died a martyr in a city called Nadebbar; but by what kind of death is altogether uncertain. However, others speak of his preaching and dying in Parthia or Persia, and the diversity of their accounts seems to show that they are all without good foundation. See Lardher's works, vol. v. pp. 296, 297. =======================================================================


1. The book of the generation. This is the proper title of the chapter. It is the same as to say, "The account of the ancestry or family, or the genealogical table of Jesus Christ." The phrase is common in Jewish writings. Compare Genesis 5:1, "This is the book of the generations of Adam," that is, the genealogical table of the family or descendants of Adam. See also Genesis 6:9. The Jews, moreover, as we do, kept such tables of their own families, and it is probable that this was copied from the record of the family of Joseph.

Jesus. See Matthew 1:21.

Christ. The word Christ is a Greek word, signifying anointed. The Hebrew word signifying the same is Messiah. Hence, Jesus is called either the Messiah, or the Christ, meaning the same thing. The Jews speak of the Messiah; Christians speak of him as the Christ. Anciently, when kings and priests were set apart to their office, they were anointed with oil, Leviticus 4:3; 6:20; Exodus 28:41; 29:7; 1 Samuel 9:16; 15:1; 2 Samuel 23:1. To anoint, therefore, means often the same as to consecrate, or set apart to any office. Thence those thus set apart are said to be anointed, or the anointed of God. It is for this reason that the name is given to the Lord Jesus, Daniel 9:24. He was set apart by God to be the King, and High Priest, and Prophet of his people. Anointing with oil was, moreover, supposed to be emblematic of the influences of the Holy Spirit; and as God gave him the Spirit without measure, (John 3:34) so he is called peculiarly the Anointed of God.

The Son of David, The word son, among the Jews, had a great variety of significations. It means, literally, a son; then a grandson; a descendant; an adopted son; a disciple, or one who is an object of tender affection--one who is to us as a son. In this place it means a descendant of David; or one who was of the family of David. It was important to trace the genealogy of Jesus up to David, because the promise had been made that the Messiah should be of his family, and all the Jews expected it would be so. It would be impossible, therefore, to convince a Jew that Jesus was the Messiah, unless it could be shown that he was descended from David. See Jeremiah 23:5 Psalms 132:10,11; compared with Acts 13:23,; John 7:42.

The Son of Abraham. The descendant of Abraham. The promise was made to Abraham also. See Genesis 12:3;; 21:12; comp. Hebrews 11:13; Galatians 3:16. The Jews expected that the Messiah would be descended from him; and it was important, therefore, to trace the genealogy up to him also. Though Jesus was of humble birth, yet he was descended from most illustrious ancestors. Abraham, the father of the faithful--" the beauteous model of an eastern prince,"--and David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, the conqueror, the magnificent and victorious leader of the people of God, were both among his ancestors. From these two persons, the most eminent for piety, and the most renowned for their excellencies of all the men of antiquity, sacred or profane, the Lord Jesus was descended; and though his birth and life were humble, yet they who regard an illustrious descent as of value, may find here all that is to be admired in piety, purity, patriotism, splendour, dignity, and renown.

{a} "generation of Jesus Christ" Luke 3:33
{b} "son of David" Psalms 132:11; Matthew 22:45; Acts 2:30
{c} "son of Abraham" Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16


THE writings which are regarded by Christians as the sole standard of faith and practice, have been designated at various periods by different names. They are frequently called The Scriptures, to denote that they are the most important of all writings; The Holy Scriptures, because composed by persons divinely inspired, and containing sacred truth; and The Canonical Scriptures. The word canon means a rule; and it was applied by the Christian fathers to the books of the Bible because they were regarded as an authoritative rule of faith and practice; and also to distinguish them from certain spurious or apocryphal books, which, although some of them might be true as matter of history, or correct in doctrine, were not regarded as a rule of faith, and were therefore considered as not canonical.

But the most common appellation given now to these writings is THE BIBLE. This is a Greek word signifying book. It is given to the Scriptures by way of eminence, to denote that this is the Book of books, as being infinitely superior to every unassisted production of the human mind. In the same way, the name Koran or reading is given to the writings of Mohammed, denoting that they are the chief writings to be read, or eminently the reading.

The most common and general division of the Bible is into the Old and New Testaments. The word testament, with us, means a will; an instrument in writing, by which a person declares his will in relation to his property after his death. This is not, however, its meaning when applied to the Scriptures. It is taken from the Greek translation of the Hebrew word meaning covenant, compact, or agreement. The word is applied to the covenant or compact which God made with the Jews to be their God, and thus primarily denotes the agreement, the compact, the promises, the institutions, of the old dispensation, and then the record of that compact in the writings of Moses and the Prophets. The name" Old Testament," or" Old Covenant," therefore, denotes the books containing the records of God's compact with his people, or his dispensations under the Mosaic or Jewish state. The phrase New Covenant, or Testament, denotes the books which contain the record of his new covenant or compact With his people under the Messiah, or since Christ came. We find mention made of the Book of the Covenant in Exodus 24:7, and in the New Testament the word is once used, (2 Corinthians 3:14,) with an undoubted reference to the sacred books of the Jews. By whom, or at what time, these terms were first used to designate the two divisions of the sacred Scriptures, is not certainly known. There can be no doubt, however, of the great antiquity of the application.

The Jews divided the Old Testament into three parts, called THE LAW, THE PROPHETS, and THE HAGIOGRAPHA, or the holy writings. This division is noticed by our Saviour in Luke 24:44. See Barnes "Luke 24:44". "All things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me." Josephus, the Jewish historian, also makes mention of the same division. (Against Apion). "We have," says he, "only twenty-two books which are to be believed to be of Divine authority; of which five are the books of Moses. From the death of Moses to the reign of Artaxerxes, son of Xerxes, king of Persia, the prophets who were the successors of Moses have written in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God and documents of life for the use of men." It is probable that precisely the same books were not always included in the same division; but there can be no doubt that the division itself was always retained. The division into twenty-two books was made partly, no doubt, for the convenience of the memory. This was the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The English Bible contains thirty-nine instead of twenty-two books in the Old Testament. The number which Josephus reckons may be accurately made out as follows:

The first division, comprehending the five books of Moses, or THE LAW.

The second, including,

1st, Joshua; 2nd, Judges, with Ruth; 3rd, Samuel; 4th, Kings; 5th, Isaiah; 6th, Jeremiah, with Lamentations; 7th, Ezekiel; 8th, Daniel; 9th, the twelve minor prophets; 10th, Job; 11th, Ezra, including Nehemiah; 12th, Esther; 13th, Chronicles:
these thirteen books were called THE PROPHETS. The four remaining will be Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. In regard to the second division, it is a fact well known, that the twelve smaller prophets, from Hosea to Malachi, were for convenience uniformly united in one volume; and that the small books of Ruth and Lamentations were attached to the larger works mentioned, and Ezra and Nehemiah were long reckoned as one book. The arrangement of the books of the Bible has not always been the same. The order followed in the English Bible is taken from the Greek translation called the Septuagint. Probably the best way to read the Bible is to read the books as nearly as possible in the order in which they were written. Thus Isaiah informs us, (Isaiah 1:1) that his prophecies were delivered in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah; and, to be correctly understood, should be read in connexion with the record of those reigns in Kings and Chronicles.

The names of most of the books in the Bible are taken from the Greek translation above mentioned. The books of the Bible were anciently written without any breaks, or divisions into chapters and verses. For convenience, the Jews early divided the Old Testament into greater and smaller sections. These sections in the law and prophets were read in the worship of the synagogues. The New Testament was also early divided in a similar manner.

The division into chapters and verses is of recent origin. It was first adopted in the 13th century by Cardinal Hugo, who wrote a celebrated commentary on the Scriptures. He divided the Latin Vulgate, the version used in the church of Rome, into chapters nearly the same as those which now exist in our English translation. These chapters he divided into smaller sections by placing the letters A, B, C, etc., at equal distances from each other in the margin.

The division into verses was not made until a still later period. The division of Cardinal Hugo into chapters became known to Rabbi Nathan, a distinguished Jew, who adopted it for the Hebrew Bible, and placed the Hebrew letters, used also as numerals, in the margin. This was used by Rabbi Nathan in publishing a concordance, and adopted by Athias in a printed edition of the Hebrew Bible in 1661.

The verses into which the New Testament is divided are still more modern, and are an imitation of those used by Rabbi Nathan in the fifteenth century. This division was invented and first used by Stephens, in an edition of the New Testament printed in 1551. The division was made as an amusement while he was on a journey from Lyons to Paris, during the intervals in which he rested in travelling. It has been adopted in all the subsequent editions of the Bible.

In regard to this division into chapters and verses, it is clear that they are of no authority whatever. It has been doubted whether the sacred writers used any points or divisions of any kind. It is certain that they were wholly unacquainted with those now in use. It is further evident that, in all cases, these divisions have not been judiciously made. The sense is often interrupted by the close of a chapter, and still oftener by the break in the verses. In reading the Scriptures, little regard should be had to this division. It is of use now only for reference; and inaccurate as it is, it must evidently be substantially retained. All the books that have been printed for three hundred years, which refer to the Bible, have made their reference to these chapters and verses; and to attempt any change now would be to render almost useless a great part of the religious books in our language, and to introduce inextricable confusion in all attempts to quote the Bible.

The first translation of the Old Testament was made about the year 270 before the Christian era. It was made at Alexandria, in Egypt, into the Greek language, and probably for the use of the Jews, who were scattered among pagan nations. Ancient writers inform us, indeed, that it was made at the command of Ptolemy Philadelphus, to be deposited in the Library at Alexandria. It bears internal marks of having been made by different individuals, and no doubt at different times. It came to be extensively used in Judea, and no small part of the quotations in the New Testament were taken from it. There is no doubt that the apostles were familiar with it; and as it had obtained general currency, they chose to quote it rather than translate the Hebrew for themselves. It is called the Septuagint, or the version by the Seventy, from a tradition that seventy elders of Israel, deputed for that purpose, were employed in making the translation.

The language Spoken by our Saviour and his apostles was a corruption of the Hebrew, a mixture of that and the language spoken in Chaldee, called Syro-Chaldaic, or more commonly the Syriac. The reason why the New Testament was not written in this language was, that the Greek had become the common language used throughout the eastern nations subject to the Romans. This general use of the Greek language was produced by the invasion and conquest of those nations by Alexander the Great, about 330 years before Christ. The New Testament was, however, early translated into the Syriac language. A translation is now extant in that language, held in great veneration by Syrian Christians, said to have been made in the first century, or in the age of the apostles, and acknowledged by all to have been made before the close of the second century.

About the beginning of the fourth century, the Bible was translated into Latin by Jerome. This translation was made in consequence, as he says, of the incorrectness of a version then in use, called the Italic. The translation made by Jerome, now called the Latin Vulgate, is the authorized version of the church of Rome. [For an account of this version, See Barnes "Isaiah 1:1".]

The Bible was translated by Luther in the beginning of the Reformation. This translation has done much to fix the German language, and is now the received version among the Lutheran churches.

There have been many other translations of the Bible, and there are many more still in progress. More than one hundred and fifty translations of the whole Bible, or parts of it, have been made during the last half century. Those which have been mentioned, together with the English, have been, however, the principal, and are most relied on as faithful exhibitions of the meaning of the sacred Scriptures.

The English translation of the Bible now in use was made in the reign of James I. This translation was intended only as an improvement of those previously in existence. A short account of the translation of the Bible into our own language cannot fail to be interesting.

It is not easy to ascertain the precise time when the gospel was introduced into Britain, or when the inhabitants were first in possession of the Bible. The earliest version of which we have any account is a translation of the Psalms into the Saxon language, about the year 706. But the principal translation at that early period was made by the "venerable Bede," about the year 730. He translated the whole Bible into the Saxon language.

The first English translation of the Bible was executed about the year 1290 by some unknown individual. About the year 1380, John Wickliffe, the morning star of the Reformation, translated the entire Bible into English from the Latin. The great labour and expense of transcribing books, before the invention of printing, probably prevented a very extensive circulation of the Scriptures among the people. [So great was the expense of transcribing the Bible at that time, that the price of one of Wickliffe's New Testaments was not less than forty pounds sterling, or one hundred and seventy-six dollars and seventy- eight cents of our money. And it should be matter of devout gratitude to God that, by the art of printing, the New Testament can now be obtained for the trifling sum of ten cents, and the entire Bible for twenty-five]. Yet the translation of Wickliffe is known to have produced a vast effect on the minds of the people. Knowledge was beginning to be sought for with avidity. The eyes of the people were beginning to open to the abominations of the church of Rome; and the national mind was preparing for the great change which followed in the days of Luther. So deep was the impression made by Wickliffe's' translation, and so dangerous was it thought to be to the interest of the Romish religion, that a bill was brought into the House of Lords for the purpose of suppressing it. The bill was rejected through the influence of the Duke of Lancaster; and this gave encouragement to the friends of Wickliffe to publish a more correct translation of the Bible. At a convocation, however, held at Oxford, in 1408, it was decreed that no one should translate any text of the Holy Scripture into English, by way of a book, or little book, or tract; and that no book of this kind should be read that was composed in the time of John Wickliffe, or since his death. This decree led the way to a great persecution; and many persons were punished severely, and some even with death, for reading the Bible in English. The Bible translated by Wickliffe was never printed. Some years since the New Testament was printed in England.

For the first printed English translation of the Scriptures we are indebted to William Tindal. He printed this translation at Antwerp, in Flanders; and the copies were brought thence into England. So great was the opposition to this by the Roman Catholic clergy, that the Bishop of London endeavoured to buy up whole editions as fast as they were printed, to burn them. This effort, however, produced little effect. Copies of the New Testament were multiplied. It is said that, on one occasion, Sir Thomas More, then chancellor of England, asked how Tindal contrived to maintain himself abroad. To which it was replied that the Bishop of London supported him by purchasing the Scriptures as fast as they could be printed.

In 1535, the whole Bible, translated into English, was printed in folio, and dedicated to the king, by Miles Coverdale. This was the first English translation of the Bible allowed by royal authority.

Various editions and translations of the Scriptures, with various degrees of correctness, were printed in successive years, till, in 1568, the edition appeared which was called "the Bishop's Bible," or "the great English Bible." This was prepared by royal authority. It was the work of much care. Different learned men undertook to translate different parts of the Bible, and after these persons had been carefully compared, the whole was printed, and directed to be used as an authorized English translation of the Scriptures. This, after being reprinted many times, and after being in use for half an century, was succeeded by the translation at present in use.

* The following is a specimen of this translation:- ======================================================================= Matthew, chap. v.--And Jhesus seynge the people, went up into an hil; and whanne he was sett, his disciplis camen to him. And he openyde his mouthe, and taughte them; and seide, Blessid be pore men in spirit; for the kyngdom of hevenes is hereun [theirs]. Blessid ben mylde men: for thei schulen weelde the erthe. Blessid ben thei that mournen: for thei schal be comfortid. Blessid be thei that hungten and thirsten rightwisnesse [Rightfulnesse, MS, plures]: for thei schal be fulfilled. Blessid ben merciful men: for thei schul gete mercy. Blessid ben thei that ben of clene herte: for thei schulen se god. Blessid ben pesible men: for thei schulen be clepid goddis children. Blessid ben thei that surften persecucioun for rightwisnesse: for the kyngdom of hevenes is hern. Ye schul be blessid whanne men schul curse you, and schul pursue you: and schul seye al yvel agens you liynge for me. Joie ye and be ye glade:for your meede is plenteous in hevenes: for so thei hah pursued also prophets that weren bifore you. Ye ben salt of the erthe, that if the salt vanishe awey wherynne schal it be salted? to nothing it is worth over, no but it be cast out, and be defoulid of men. Ye ben light of the world, a citee sett on an hil may not be hid. Ne me teendith not a lanterne and puttith it under a bushel; but on a candlesfik that it give light to alle that ben in the hous. So, schyne your light bifore men, that thei see youre gode workis, and glorifie your fadir that is in hevenes. Nyle ghe deme that I cam to undo the Lawe or the prophets, I cam not to undo the lawe but to fulfille. Forsothe I sey to you till hevene and erthe passe, oon lettre, or oon title, schal not passe fro the Lawe till alle thingis be don. Therefore he that brekith oon of these leeste maundementis, and techith thus men, sehal be clepid the Leest in the rewme of hevenes; but he that doth, and techith, schal be clepid greet in the kyngdom of hevenes.--Baber's Edition. =======================================================================
As this is in many respects, the most important of all English translations of the sacred Scriptures, it is proper to dwell more fully . on the circumstances under which it was made.

It was undertaken by the authority of King James I. of England. He came to the throne in 1603. Several objections having been made to the "Bishop's Bible," then in general use, he ordered a new translation to be made. This work he committed to fifty-four men; but before the translation was commenced, seven of them had either died, or had declined the task, so that it was actually accomplished by forty-seven. All of them were eminently distinguished for their piety, and for their profound acquaintance with the original languages. This company of eminent men was divided into six classes, and to each class was allotted a distinct part of the Bible to be translated. "Ten were to meet at Westminster, and to translate from Genesis to the end of the second book of Kings. Eight assembled at Cambridge, and were to translate the remaining historical books, the Psalms, Job, Canticles, and Ecclesiastes. At Oxford, seven were to translate the four greater Prophets, the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and the twelve minor Prophets. The four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Revelation, were assigned to another company of eight at Oxford; and the Epistles were allotted to a company of seven at Westminster. Lastly, another company at Cambridge were to translate the Apocrypha."

To these companies the king gave instructions to guide them in their work, of which the following is the substance:-

The Bishop's Bible, then used, to be followed, and to be altered as little as the original would permit.

The names of the sacred writers to be retained as they were commonly used.

When a word had different significations, that to be kept which hath been most commonly used by the fathers, and most eminent writers.

No alteration to be made in the chapters and verses. No marginal notes to be affixed, except to explain the Greek and Hebrew words that could not be briefly and fitly explained in the text. Reference to parallel places to be set down in the margin.

Each man of a company to take the same chapters, and translate them according to the best of his abilities; and when this was done, all were to meet together and compare their translations, and agree which should be regarded as correct.

Each book, when thus translated and approved, to be sent to every other company for their approbation.

Besides this, the translators were authorized, in cases of great difficulty, to send letters to any learned men in the kingdom to obtain their opinions.

In this manner the Bible was translated into English. In the first instance, each individual translated each book allotted to his company. Secondly, the readings to be adopted were agreed upon by that company assembled together. The book thus finished was sent to each of the other companies to be examined. At these meetings one read the English, and the rest held in their hands some Bible, of Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, etc. If they found any fault, says Selden, they spoke; if not, he read on.

The translation was commenced in 1607, and completed in about three years. At the end of that time, three copies of it were sent to London. Here a committee of six reviewed the work, which was afterwards reviewed by Dr. Smith, who wrote the preface, and by Dr. Bilson. It was first printed, in 1611, at London, by Robert Barker.

From this account, it is clear that no ordinary care was taken to furnish to English readers a correct translation of the sacred Scriptures. No translation of the Bible was ever made under more happy auspices; and it would now be impossible to furnish another translation in our language under circumstances so propitious. Whether we contemplate the number, the learning, or the piety of the men employed in it; the cool deliberation with which it was executed; the care taken that it should secure the approbation of the most learned men, in a country that embosomed a vast amount of literature; the harmony with which they conducted their work; or the comparative perfection of the translation, we see equal cause of gratitude to the great Author of the Bible that we have so pure a translation of his word.

From this time the English language became fixed. More than two hundred years have elapsed, and yet the simple and majestic purity and power of the English tongue is expressed in the English translation of the Bible, as clearly as when it was given to the world. It has become the standard of our language; and nowhere can the purity and expressive dignity of this language be so fully found as in the sacred Scriptures.

The friends of this translation have never claimed for it inspiration or infallibility. Yet it is the concurrent testimony of all who are competent to express an opinion, that no translation of the Bible into any language has preserved so faithfully the sense of the original as the English. Phrases there may be, and it is confessed there are, which modern criticism has shown not to express all the meaning of the original; but as a whole, it indubitably stands unrivalled. Nor is it probable that any translation can now supply its place, or improve upon its substantial correctness. The fact that it has, for two hundred years, poured light into the minds of millions, and guided the steps of generation after generation in the way to heaven, has given to it somewhat of the venerableness which appropriately belongs to a book of God. Successive ages may correct some of its few un- important errors; may throw light on some of its obscure passages; but, to the consummation of all things, it must stand, wherever the English language is spoken, as the purest specimen of its power to give utterance to the meaning of ancient tongues, and of the simple and pure majesty of the language which we speak.

These remarks are made, because it is easy for men who dislike the plain doctrines of the Bible, and for those ignorant of the true history of its translation, to throw out insinuations of its unfaithfulness. From various quarters, from men opposed to the clear doctrines of the Scriptures, are often heard demands for a new translation.

We by no means assert the entire infallibility, much less the inspiration, of the English translation of the Bible. Yet, of its general faithfulness to the original there can be no doubt. It would be easy to multiply testimonies of the highest authority to this fact. But the general testimony of the world; the profound regard paid to it by men of the purest character and most extensive learning; the fact that it has warmed the hearts of the pious, ministered to the comforts of the wretched and the dying, and guided the steps of millions to glory, for two hundred years, and now commands the high regard of Christians of so many different denominations, evinces that it is, to no ordinary extent, faithful to the original, and has a claim on the continued regard of coming generations.

It is perfectly clear, also, that it would be impossible now to translate the Scriptures into the English language, under so favourable circumstances as attended the translation in the time of James I. No single set of men could so command the confidence of the Christian world; no convention who claim the Christian name could be formed, competent to the task, or if formed, could prosecute the work with harmony; no single denomination could make a translation that would secure the undisputed respect of others. The probability is, therefore, that while the English language is spoken, and as far as it is used, the English Bible Will continue to form their faith, and direct their lives; and that the words which now pour light into our minds will continue to illuminate the understandings, and mould the feelings, of unnumbered millions, in their park to immortal life.

Verses 2-16. See Barnes "Matthew 1:3".

Verse 2.

{d} "begat Isaac" Genesis 21:2-5
{e} "begat Judah" Genesis 25:26

Matthew Verses 2-16

Verses 2-16. These verses contain the genealogy of Jesus. Luke also (Luke 3:1) gives a genealogy of the Messiah. No two passages of Scripture have caused more difficulty than these, and various attempts have been made to explain them. There are two sources of difficulty in these catalogues: first, many names that are found in the Old Testament are here omitted; and second, the tables of Matthew and Luke appear in many points to be different. From Adam to Abraham, Luke only has given the record. From Abraham to David the two tables are alike. Of course there is no difficulty in reconciling these two parts of the tables. The difficulty lies in that part of the genealogy from David to Christ. There they are entirely different. They are manifestly different lives. Not only are the names different, but Luke has mentioned, in this part of the genealogy, no less than forty-two names, while Matthew has recorded but twenty-seven.

Various ways have been proposed to explain this difficulty; and it must be admitted that none of them are perfectly satisfactory. It does not comport with the design of these Notes to enter minutely into an explanation of the perplexities of these passages. All that can be done is to suggest the various ways in which attempts have been made to explain them.

(1.) It is remarked that in nothing are mistakes more likely to occur than in such tables. From the similarity of names, and the various names by which the same person is often called, and from many other causes, errors would be more likely to creep into the text in genealogical tables than in other writings. Some of the difficulties may have possibly occurred front this cause.

(2.) Most interpreters have supposed that Matthew gives the genealogy of Joseph, and Luke that of Mary. They were both descended from David, but in different lines. This solution derives some plausibility from the fact that the promise was made to David; and as Jesus was not the son of Joseph, it was important to show that Mary was also descended from him. Though this solution is plausible, and may be true, yet it wants evidence. It cannot, however, be proved that this was not the design of Luke.

(3.) It has been said, also, that Joseph was the legal son and heir of Heli, though the real son of Jacob, and thus the two lines terminated in him. This was the ancient explanation of most of the fathers, and on the whole is the most satisfactory. It was a law of the Jews, that if a man died without children, his brother should marry his widow. Thus the two lines might have been intermingled. According to this solution, which was first proposed by Africanus, Matthan, descended from Solomon, married Estha, of whom was born Jacob. After Matthan's death, Matthat being of the same tribe, but of another family, remarried his widow, and of this marriage Heli was born. Jacob and Heli were therefore children of the same mother. Hell dying without children, his brother Jacob married his widow, and begat Joseph, who was thus the legal son of Heli. This is agreeable to the account in the two evangelists. Matthew says that Jacob begat Joseph; Luke says that Joseph was the son of Heli; that is, was his legal heir, or reckoned in law to be his son. This can be seen by the plan on the next page, showing the nature of the connexion.

Though these solutions may not seem to be entirely satisfactory, yet there are two additional considerations which should set the matter at rest, and lead to the conclusion that the narratives are not really inconsistent.

(1.) No difficulty was ever found, or alleged, in regard to them, by any of the early enemies of Christianity. There is no evidence that they ever adduced them as containing a contradiction. Many of those enemies were acute, learned, and able; and they show by their writings that they were not indisposed to detect all the errors that could possibly be found in the sacred narrative. Now, it is to be remembered that the Jews were fully competent to show that these tables were incorrect, if they were really so; and it is clear that they were fully disposed, if possible, to do it. The fact, therefore, that it is not done, is clear evidence that they thought it to be correct. The same may be said of the acute pagans who wrote against Christianity. None of them have called in question the correctness of these tables. This is full proof that, in a time when it was easy to understand these tables, they were believed to be correct.

(2.) The evangelists are not responsible for the correctness of these tables. They are responsible only for what was their real and professed object to do. What was that object ? It was to prove, to the satisfaction of the Jews, that Jesus was descended from David, and therefore that there was no argument from his ancestry that he was not the promised Messiah. Now, to make this out it was not necessary, nor would it have conduced to their argument, to have formed a new table of genealogy. All that could be done was, to go to the family records--to the Public tables--and copy them as they were actually kept, and show that, according to the records of the nation, Jesus was descended from David. This, among the Jews, was full and decided testimony in the case. And this was doubtless done. In the same way, the records of a family among us, as they are kept by the family, are proof in courts of justice now, of the birth, names, etc., of individuals. Nor is it necessary or proper for a court to call them in question, or to attempt to correct them. So the tables here are good evidence to the only point that the writers wished to establish; that is, to show to the Jews that Jesus of Nazareth was descended from David. All that can be asked now is, whether they copied the tables of those families correctly. It is clear that no man can prove that they did not so copy them, and, therefore, that no one can adduce them as an argument against the correctness of the New Testament.

------ DAVID------------ | | | | | | | | ---------- ----------------- |SOLOMON | | NATHAN | ---------- ----------------- | | ----------- ------- ----------- |MATTHAN |------------|ESTHA| -----------|MATTHATT | ----------- | ------- | ----------- | -------------- | JACOB--|----|Wife of Each|-----|----HELI--- ------ | ------------- | | | | | ---------- | |JOSEPH |--- Heir and Legal Son of - -----------

Footnotes for Verse 3.

{g} "Judas begat Phares" Genesis 38:29,30
{h} "Phares begat Ersom" Genesis 46:12

Verse 4. No specific Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 1:3".

{k} "begat Naason" 1 Chronicles 2:10; Numbers 1:7
{l} "begat Salmon" Ruth 4:20

Verse 5: No specific Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 1:3"

{m} "begat Booz of Rachab" Joshua 6:25; Ruth 4:21
{n} "begat Obed of Ruth" Ruth 4:13

Verse 6. No specific Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 1:3"

{o} "Jesse begat David the king" 1 Samuel 17:12
{p} "begat Solomon" 2 Samuel 12:24

Verse 7. No specific Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 1:3"

{q} "Solomon begat Roboam" 1 Chronicles 3:10

Verse 8. No specific Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 1:3"

Verse 9. No specific Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 1:3"

Verse 10. No specific Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 1:3"

{r} "Ezekias begat Manasses" 2 Kings 20:21; 1 Chronicles 3:13

Verse 11. No specific Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 1:3"

{1} "Josias begat Jechonias", some read "Josias begat Jakim, and
Jakim begat Jechonias"

Verse 12. No specific Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 1:3"

{s} "Jechonias begat Salathiel" 1 Chronicles 3:17
{t} "Salathiel begat Zorobabel" Nehemiah 12:1

Verse 13. No specific Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 1:3"

Verse 14. No specific Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 1:3"

Verse 15. No specific Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 1:3"

Verse 16. No specific Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 1:3"

Verse 17. All the generations, etc. This division of the names in their genealogy was doubtless adopted for the purpose of aiding the memory. It was common among the Jews; and other similar instances are preserved. They were destitute of other books beside the Old Testament, and had but few copies of that among them, and those chiefly in their synagogues. They would, therefore, naturally devise plans to keep up the remembrance of the principal facts in their history. One method of doing this was to divide the tables of genealogy into portions of equal length, to be committed to memory. This greatly facilitated the remembrance of the names. A man who wished to commit to memory the names of a regiment of soldiers, would naturally divide it into companies and platoons, and this would greatly facilitate his work. This was doubtless the reason in the case before us. And though it is not strictly accurate, yet it was the Jewish way of keeping their records, and answered their purpose. There were three leading persons and events that nearly, or quite, divided their history into equal portions--Abraham, David, and the Babylonish captivity. From one to the other was about fourteen generations, and, by omitting a few names, it was sufficiently accurate to be made a general guide or directory in remembering their history.

In counting these divisions, however, it will be seen that there is some difficulty in making out the number fourteen in each division. This may be explained in the following manner. In the first division, Abraham is the first, and David the last, making together fourteen In the second series, David would naturally be placed first, and the fourteen was completed in Josiah, about the time of the captivity, as sufficiently near for the purpose of convenient computation, 2 Chron xxxv. In the third division, Josiah would naturally be placed first, and the number was completed in Joseph. So that David and Josiah would be reckoned twice. This may be shown by the following table of the names:

1st division. 2nd division. 3rd divis.

Abraham, David, Josias, Isaac, Solomon, Jechonias Jacob, Roboam, Salathiel, Judas, Abia, Zorobabel, Phares, Asa, Abiud, Esrom, Josaphat, Eliakim, Aram, Joram, Azor, Aminadab, Ozias, Sadoc, Naasson, Joatham, Achim, Salmon, Achaz Eliud, Booz, Ezekias, Eleazar, Obed, Manasses, Matthan, Jesse, Amon, Jacob, David. Josias. Joseph. --14 --14 --14.

Carrying away into Babylon. This refers to the captivity of Jerusalem, and the removal of the Jews to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, 588 years before Christ. See 2 Chron. xxxvi. Josiah was king when these calamities began to come upon the Jews; but the exact time of the seventy years of captivity did not commence until the eleventh year of Zedekiah's reign, or 32 years after the death of Josiah. Babylon was situated on the, Euphrates, and was encompassed with walls which were about 60 miles in circuit, 87 feet broad, and 350 feet high; and the city was entered by a hundred brazen gates, 25 on each side. It was the capital of a vast empire, and the Jews remained there for seventy years. See Barnes "Isaiah 13:1" and following.

Verse 18. On this wise. Thus. In this manner.

Espoused. Betrothed, or engaged to be married. There was commonly an interval of ten or twelve months, among the Jews, between the contract of marriage and the celebration of the nuptials, see Genesis 24:55; Judges 14:8, yet such was the nature of this engagement, that unfaithfulness to each other was deemed adultery. See Deuteronomy 22:25,28.

With child of the Holy Ghost. See Barnes "Luke 1:35".

{u} "birth of Jesus" Luke 1:27
{*} "espoused to Joseph" "Fifth year before the account called A.D."

Verse 19. Her husband. The word in the original does not imply that they were married. It means here the man to whom she was espoused.

A just man. Justice consists in rendering to every man his own. Yet this is evidently not the character intended to be given here of Joseph. It means that he was kind, tender, merciful; so attached to Mary, that he was not willing that she should be exposed to public shame. He sought, therefore, secretly to dissolve the connexion, and to restore her to her friends without the punishment commonly inflicted on adultery. The word just has not unfrequently this meaning of mildness, or mercy. See 1 John 1:9.

A public example. To expose her to public shame or infamy. Adultery has always been considered a crime of a very heinous nature. In Egypt it was punished by cutting off the nose of the adulteress; in Persia the nose and ears were cut off; in Judea the punishment was death by stoning, Leviticus 20:10; Ezekiel 16:38; 40; John 8:5. This punishment was also inflicted where the person was not married, but betrothed, Deuteronomy 22:23; 24. In this case, therefore, the regular punishment would have been death in this painful and ignominious manner. Yet Joseph was a religious man, mild and tender; and he was not willing to complain of her to the magistrate, and expose her to death, but sought to avoid the shame, and to put her away privately.

Put her away privily. The law of Moses gave the husband the power of divorce, Deuteronomy 24:1. It was customary, in a bill of divorce, to specify the causes for which the divorce was made, and witnesses were also present to testify to the divorce. But in this case, it seems, Joseph resolved to put her away without specifying the cause: for he was not willing to make her a public example. This is the meaning here of privately. Both to Joseph and Mary this must have been a great trial. Joseph was ardently attached to her, but her character was likely to be ruined, and he deemed it proper to separate her from him. Mary was innocent, but Joseph was not yet satisfied of her innocence. Yet we may learn how to put our trust in God. He will defend the innocent. Mary was in danger of being exposed to shame. Had she been connected with a cruel, passionate, and violent man, she would have died in disgrace. But God had so ordered it, that she was connected with a man mild, amiable, and tender; and, in due time, Joseph was apprized of the truth in the case, and took his faithful and beloved wife to his bosom. Thus our only aim should be to preserve a conscience void of offence, and God will guard our reputation. We may be assailed, or circumstances may be against us; but in due time God will take care to vindicate our character, and save us from ruin.

{v} "to put her away privily" Deuteronomy 24:1

Verse 20. He thought on these things. He did not act hastily. He did not take the course which the law would have permitted him to do, if he had been hasty, violent, or unjust. It was a case deeply affecting his happiness, his character, and the reputation and character of his chosen companion. God will guide the thoughtful and the anxious. And when we have looked patiently at a perplexed subject, and know not what to do, then God, as in the case of Joseph, will interpose to lead us, and direct our way, Psalms 25:9.

The angel of the Lord. The word angel literally means a messenger. It is applied chiefly in the Scriptures to those invisible holy beings who have not fallen into sin; who live in heaven, (1 Timothy 5:21, comp. Jude 1:6) and who are sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation, Hebrews 1:13; 14; Daniel 9:21. The word is sometimes applied to men, as messengers, (Luke 7:24; 9:52; James 2:25) to the winds, (Psalms 104:4); to the pestilence, (Psalms 78:49); or to whatever is appointed to make known, or to execute the will of God. It is commonly applied, however, to the unfallen, happy spirits that are in heaven, whose only dignity and pleasure it is to do the will of God. Various ways were employed by them in making known the will of God, by dreams, visions, assuming a human appearance, etc.

In a dream. This was a common way of making known the will of God to the ancient prophets and people of God, Genesis 20:3; 31:10,11,24; 37:5; Genesis 41:1; 1 Kings 3:5; Daniel 7:1; Job 4:13-16. In what way it was ascertained that these dreams were from God, cannot now be told. It is sufficient for us to know that in this way many of the prophecies were communicated; and to remark, that now there is no evidence that we are to put reliance on our dreams. Dreams are wild, irregular movements of the mind, when it is unshackled by reason, and it is mere superstition to suppose that God now makes known his will in this way. See Barnes "Isaiah 37:1".

Son of David. Descendant of David. See Matthew 1:1. The angel put him in mind of his relation to David, perhaps, to prepare him for the intelligence that Mary was to be the mother of the Messiah--the promised heir of David.

Fear not. Do not hesitate, or have fears about her virtue and purity. Do not fear that she will be unworthy of you, or will disgrace you.

{w} "in a dream" Matthew 1:16
{1} "conceived" or, "begotten"

Verse 21 His name JESUS. The name Jesus is the same as Saviour. It is derived from the verb signifying to save. In Hebrew it is the same as Joshua. In two places in the New Testament it is used where it means Joshua, the leader of the News into Canaan, and in our translation the name Joshua should have been retained, Acts 7:45; Hebrews 4:8. It was a very common name among the Jews.

He shall save. This expresses the same as the name, and on this account the name was given to him. He saves men by having died to redeem them; by giving the Spirit to renew them, (John 16:7; 8) by his power in enabling them to overcome their spiritual enemies, in de- fending them from danger, in guiding them in the path of duty, in sustaining them in trials and in death; and he will raise them up at the last day, and exalt them to a world of purity and love.

His people. Those whom the Father has given to him. The Jews were called the people of God, because he had chosen them to himself, and regarded them as his peculiar and beloved people, separate from all the nations of the earth. Christians are called the people of Christ, because it was the purpose of the Father to give them to him, (Isaiah 53:11; John 6:37) and because in due time he came to redeem them to himself, Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:2.

From their sins. This is the great business of Jesus in coming and dying. It is not to save men IN their sins, but FROM their sins. Sinners could not be happy in heaven. It would be a place of wretchedness to the guilty. The design of Jesus was, therefore, to save from sin;

1. by dying to make an atonement, (Titus 2:14); and,

2. by renewing the heart, and purifying the soul, and preparing his people for a pure and holy heaven. And from this we may learn,

(1.) that Jesus had a design in coming into the world--he came to save his people--and that design will surely be accomplished. It is impossible that in any part of it he should fail.

(2.) We have no evidence that we are his people, unless we are saved from the power and dominion of sin. A mere profession of being his people will not answer. Unless we give up our sins; unless we renounce the pride, pomp, and pleasure of the world, and all our lusts and crimes, we have no evidence that we are the children of God. It is impossible that we should be Christians if we indulge in sin, and live in the practice of any known iniquity.

(3.) That all professing Christians should feel that there is no salvation unless it is from sin, and that they can never be admitted to a holy heaven hereafter, unless they are made pure, by the blood of Jesus, here.

{1} "JESUS" or, "saviour"

Verses 22, 23. The prophecy here quoted is recorded in Isaiah 7:14. It was delivered about 740 years before Christ, in the reign of Ahaz, king of Judah. The land of Judea was threatened with an invasion by the united armies of Syria and Israel, under the command of Rezin and Pekah. Ahaz was alarmed, and seems to have contemplated calling in aid from Assyria to defend him. Isaiah was directed in his consternation to go to Ahaz, and tell him to ask a sign from God, (Isaiah 7:10; 11); that is, to look to God rather than to Assyria for aid. This he refused to do. He had not confidence in God; but feared that the land would be overrun by the armies of Syria, (Isaiah 7:12) and relied only on the aid which he hoped to receive from Assyria. Isaiah answered that, in these circumstances, the Lord would himself give a sign, or a pledge, that the land should be delivered. The sign was, that a virgin should have a son, and before that son would arrive to years of discretion, the land would be forsaken by these hostile kings. The prophecy was, therefore, designed originally to denote to Ahaz that the land would certainly be delivered from its calamities and dangers, and that the deliverance would not be long delayed. The united land of Syria and Israel, united now in confederation, would be deprived of both their kings, and thus the land of Judah be freed from the threatening dangers. This appears to be the literal fulfillment of the passage in Isaiah.

Might be fulfilled. It is more difficult to know in what sense this could be said to be fulfilled in the birth of Christ. To understand this, it may be remarked that the word fulfilled is used in the Scriptures, and in other writings, in many senses, of which the following are some:

1st. When a thing is clearly predicted, and comes to pass: as the destruction of Babylon, foretold in Isaiah 13:19-22; and of Jerusalem, in Matthew 24.

2nd. When one thing is testified or shadowed forth by another, the type is said to be fulfilled. This was the case in regard to the types and sacrifices in the Old Testament, which were fulfilled by the coming of Christ. See Hebrews 9.

3rd. When prophecies of future events are expressed in language more elevated and full than the particular thing, at first denoted, demands. Or, when the language, though it may express one event, is also so full and rich as appropriately to express other events in similar circumstances, and of similar import. Thus, e.g., the last chapters of Isaiah, from the fortieth chapter, foretell the return of the Jews from Babylon; and every circumstance mentioned occurred in their return. But the language is more expanded and sublime than was necessary to express their return. It will also express appropriately a much more important and magnificent deliverance--that of the redeemed under the Messiah, and the return of the people of God to him, and the universal spread of the gospel; and therefore it may be said to be fulfilled in the coming of Jesus, and the spread of the gospel. So, if there were any other magnificent and glorious events, still, in similar circumstances, and of like character, it might be said also that these prophecies were fulfilled in all of them. The language is so full and rich, and the promises so grand, that they appropriately express all these deliverances. This may be the sense in which the prophecy now under consideration may be said to have been fulfilled.

4th. Language is said to be fulfilled when though it was used to express one event, yet it may be used also to express another. Thus a fable may be said to be fulfilled when an event occurs similar to the one concerning which it was first spoken. A parable has its fulfillment in all the cases to which it is applicable; and so of a proverb, or a declaration respecting human nature. The declaration "there is none that doeth good," (Psalms 14:3,) was at first spoken of a particular race of wicked men. Yet it is applicable to others, and in this sense may be said to have been fulfilled. See Romans 3:10. In this use of the word fulfilled, it means not that the passage was at first intended to apply to this particular thing, but that the words aptly or appropriately express the thing spoken of, and may be applied to it. We may say of this as was said of another thing, and thus the words express both, or are fulfilled. The writers of the New Testament seem occasionally to have used the word in this sense.

A virgin shall be with child. Matthew clearly understands this as applying literally to a virgin. Comp. Luke 1:34. It thus implies that the conception of Christ was entirely miraculous, or that the body of the Messiah was created directly by the power of God, agreeably to the declaration in Hebrews 10:; 5, "Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me."

Immanuel. This is a Hebrew word, and means, literally, God with us. Matthew doubtless understands this word as denoting that the Messiah was really "God with us," or that the Divine nature was united to the human. He does not affirm that this was its meaning when used in reference to the child to whom it was first applied; but this was its meaning as applicable to the Messiah. It was fitly expressive of his character; and in this sense it was fulfilled. When first used by Isaiah, it denoted simply that the birth--of the child was a sign that God was with the Jews, to deliver them. The Hebrews often used the name of Jehovah, or God, in their proper names. Thus, Isaiah means "the salvation of Jehovah "Eleazer, "help of God;" Eli, "my God," etc. But Matthew evidently intends more than was denoted by the simple use of such names. He had just given an account of his miraculous conception; of his being begotten by the Holy Ghost. God was therefore his Father. He was Divine as well as human. His appropriate name was "God with us." And though the mere use of such a name would not prove that he had a Divine nature, yet, as Matthew uses it, and meant evidently to apply it, it does prove that Jesus was more than a man; that he was God as well as man. And it is this which gives glory to the plan of redemption. It is this which is the wonder of angels. It is this which makes the plan so vast, so grand, so full of instruction and comfort to Christians. See Philippians 2:6-8. It is this which sheds such peace and joy into the sinner's heart; which gives him such security of salvation; and renders the condescension of God in redemption so great, and his character so lovely.

"Till God in human flesh I see, My thoughts no comfort find; The holy, just, and sacred Three, Are terror to my mind.

"But if IMMANUEL'S face appears, My hope, my joy, begins; His grace removes my slavish fears, His blood removes my sins."

For a full examination of the passage, see \\Barnes "Is 7:14"\\.

{y} "saying" Isaiah 7:14

Ver 23. No specific Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 1:22"

{1} "Emmanuel" or, "his name shall be called"
{z} "God with us" John 1:14

Verse 24. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 25. Knew her not. The doctrine of the virginity of Mary before the birth of Jesus is a doctrine of the Scriptures, and very important to be believed. But the Scriptures do not affirm that she had no children afterwards. Indeed, all the accounts in the New Testament lead us to suppose that she had. See Barnes "Matthew 13:55,56". The language here evidently implies that she lived as the wife of Joseph after the birth of Jesus.

Her firstborn son. Her eldest son, or he that by the law had the privilege of birthright. This does not of necessity imply that she had other children; though it seems probable. It was the name given to the son which was first born, whether there were others or not.

His name JESUS. This was given by Divine appointment, Matthew 1:21. It was conferred on him on the eighth day, at the time of his circumcision, Luke 2:21.

{a} "firstborn" Exodus 13:2
{b} "JESUS" Luke 2:21

Copyright Statement
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Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Matthew 1". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". <>.  


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