Establishing the True Messiahship of Christ
Matthew 1 – 4
Matthew 1 – 4
Matthew 1 – 4. This first portion of Matthew’s Gospel is dedicated to establishing the true Messiahship of Christ, proven by the fulfillment of many prophetic scriptures. There are at least ten major tenets of messianic prophecy fulfilled by Jesus in the first four chapters of Matthew:
This section of Matthew’s gospel can be divided as follows:
O U T L I N E
The Genealogy and Birth of Christ: His True Glory as Messiah
Matthew 1. Two of the ten major tenets of messianic prophecy are shown to be fulfilled by Jesus in the first chapter:
- His Royal Genealogy (vv.1-17) – Son of Abraham and Son of David
- His Virgin Birth and Divine Nature (vv.18-25) – Jesus and Emmanuel
- The Royal Lineage of the Messiah (1:1-17)
- The Two Great Ancestral Requirements for the Messiah (v.1)
- Fourteen Generations from Abraham to David (1800-1000 B.C.) (vv.2-6a)
- Fourteen Generations from David to Captivity (1000-600 B.C.) (vv.6b-11)
- Fourteen Generations from Captivity to Christ (600-4 B.C.) (vv.12-16)
- Three Divisions within the Generations (v.17)
- The Virgin Birth of the Messiah (1:18-25)
The Royal Lineage of the Messiah (1:1-17)
The Two Great Ancestral Requirements for the Messiah (v.1)
¶ Book of the generation of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham. v.1 There were two great ancestral requirements for the Messiah… He had to be the Son of David to fulfill the Davidic promises (2 Sam. 7:12-13) to inherit the “crown”, and He also had to be the Son of Abraham to fulfill the Abrahamic promises (Gen. 17:19) for the “land”. The number two represents adequate witness according to the Jewish legal system (Heb. 10:28; Matt. 18:16).
Why is the genealogy traced to David and not Adam? In Luke the Lord is presented as a man, and so His genealogy is traced back to Adam, the first man. In Matthew it is Christ presented as the true king of Israel, so His genealogy is traced back to David, the first true king of Israel!
Why is the genealogy traced through Joseph and not Mary? In Luke the Lord’s genealogy is traced back through His human mother. Mothers in scripture bring out the moral side of things, while fathers in scripture bring out the official or administrative side (compare Galatians 3 and 4). In Matthew, the Lord’s genealogy is traced through His natural father, because His royalty is in focus. In a similar way, the angel appears to Mary in Luke, and to Joseph in Matthew (v.20).
Fourteen Generations from Abraham to David (1800-1000 B.C.) (vv.2-6a)
¶ 2 (1) Abraham [‘father of many peoples’] begat (2) Isaac [‘laughter’]; and Isaac begat (3) Jacob [‘supplanter’], and Jacob begat (4) Juda [‘praise’] and his brethren; v.2 The first four generations from Abraham essentially give us the time covered in the Book of Genesis. The royal line came through Judah, because Jacob prophesied; “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Gen. 49:10). Shiloh means “great tranquility, or peace” and it comes from the same root as the name Solomon. It is a clear reference to the Messiah. But it also says, “and his brethren”, because while only Judah was integral to the royal line, God always had in mind all twelve tribes.
3 and Juda begat (5) Phares [‘divisions’] and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat (6) Esrom [‘sure defense’], and Esrom begat (7) Aram [‘exalted’], 4 and Aram begat (8) Aminadab [‘noble nation’], and Aminadab begat (9) Naasson [‘good omen’], and Naasson begat (10) Salmon [‘distinguished garments’], 5 and Salmon begat (11) Booz [‘in him is strength’] of Rachab; and Booz begat (12) Obed [‘serving’] of Ruth; and Obed begat (13) Jesse [‘gift of God’], 6a and Jesse begat (14) David [‘beloved’] the king. vv.2-6 Next we have the period of time covered by the books of Exodus through Samuel. Expositor William Kelly called this portion of Israel’s history “the dawn of glory for the Jews.” During this period we see Jehovah establishing Israel as a kingdom according to His own sovereign will. It was their highest moment in antiquity. Notice that David is called “the king”… this is the official capacity of the Messiah. It is beautiful to see that two Gentile women were brought into the royal line during this period: Rahab and Ruth. One was a harlot, the other was a Moabitess. This went totally against the mindset of the Jewish leaders at the time of our Lord, but it a beautiful testimony to the grace of God.
Fourteen Generations from David to Captivity (1000-600 B.C.) (vv.6b-11)
6b And David begat (1) Solomon [‘peace’], of her that had been the wife of Urias; v.6b The reign of Solomon was the zenith of Israel’s history. Both Mary and Joseph were descendants from David, but through different sons. Mary was a descendant of Nathan, a son of David and Bathsheba. Joseph was a descendant from Solomon, another son of David and Bathsheba. It is in v.6 that the line of Joseph and Mary diverges. But the genealogy of Joseph is given in Matthew because the purpose is to establish the fact that Christ was the rightful heir to the throne of David, according to Jewish law.
7 and Solomon begat (2) Roboam [‘extending of the people’], and Roboam begat (3) Abia [‘Jehovah a father’], and Abia begat (4) Asa [‘physician’], 8 and Asa begat (5) Josaphat [‘Jehovah judge’], and Josaphat begat (6) Joram [‘Jehovah exalted’], and Joram begat (7) Ozias [‘strength of God’], 9 and Ozias begat (8) Joatham [‘Jehovah is upright’], and Joatham begat (9) Achaz [‘he took’], and Achaz begat (10) Ezekias [‘strength of God’], 10 and Ezekias begat (11) Manasses [‘forgetting’], and Manasses begat (12) Amon [‘very extended’], and Amon begat (13) Josias [‘Jehovah gives’], 11 and Josias begat (14) Jechonias [‘Jehovah establishes’] and his brethren, at the time of the carrying away of Babylon. vv.7-11 Next we have the period of gradual decline of Jewish royalty the followed Solomon, beginning with the rash and foolish Rehoboam. We have already seen two Gentile women brought into the royal line, but if we look at 2 Chron. 12:13 we will find that another Gentile woman, an Ammonitess named Naamah, was the mother of Abia. Why are three kings missing? Between Joram and Ozias there were three kings that are omitted here in the genealogy: Azariah, Joash, and Amaziah… all were the seed of Athaliah. They are left out most likely because they were the progenitors of idolatry. True to Prov. 10:7, “the name of the wicked shall rot”, the Spirit of God would rather take a disgraced Gentile woman (Rahab) than an idolatrous king. Manasseh was the worst of all the kings, even the kings of Israel, but he repented of it. Nevertheless there was a point of no return with Manasseh (2 Kings 21:10-15). We need to understand that v.11 gives a summary. Josiah had three sons: (1) Jehoahaz, (2) Jehoakim, and (3) Zedekiah. “Jechonias” refers to Jehoiakim in v.11, and is also used for his son Jehoiachin in v.12. Therefore, “his brethren” refers to Jehoahaz and Zedekiah. Judah was carried away in three phases (2 Kings 24).
Fourteen Generations from Captivity to Christ (600-4 B.C.) (vv.12-16)
12 And after the carrying away of Babylon, (1) Jechonias begat (2) Salathiel [‘petition of God’], and Salathiel begat (3) Zorobabel [‘dispersion of confusion’], 13 and Zorobabel begat (4) Abiud [‘a father’s glory’], and Abiud begat (5) Eliakim [‘God establishes’], and Eliakim begat (6) Azor [‘strong help’], 14 and Azor begat (7) Sadoc [‘just’], and Sadoc begat (8) Achim [‘wise’], and Achim begat (9) Eliud [‘God is my praise’], 15 and Eliud begat (10) Eliazar [‘God has helped’], and Eliazar begat (11) Matthan [‘gift’], and Matthan begat (12) Jacob [‘supplanter’], vv.13-15 This next group of names covers the inter-testamental period. God was able to maintain the royal line throughout the 400 silent years. The royal line after the captivity were not call “kings” because they lived in the times of the Gentiles. However, the royal line during this dark period ends with the the King of kings, the Lord himself! If we didn’t understand the double use of “Jechonias” (see note on v.11), we might count thirteen generations in this section. The “Jechonias” mentioned in v.12 is Jehoiachin, the grandson of Josiah. But how does that work with Jeremiah 22:30, which says that Jechonias would be childless? We find in 2 Kings 25:27-30 that the Lord allowed Jehoiachin to be partially restored, and this is when he begat Salathiel. “Zorobabel” or Zerubbabel was the governor of Judah when the remnant returned to the land under during the reign of Cyrus.
16 and Jacob begat (13) Joseph [‘adding’], the husband of Mary, of whom was born (14) Jesus [‘Jehovah saves’], who is called Christ. v.16 Why is “begetting” or “begat” mentioned in every case but here? It is because the Lord was born (became a man) but He was never “begotten” in the sense that every other human person “came into being”. Instead, Jesus is “the only begotten Son of God”. Also, the words “of whom” are in the singular! This is to guard the fact that the only human involved in the birth of Jesus was Mary; there was no human Father.
Three Divisions within the Generations (v.17)
17 All the generations, therefore, from Abraham to David were fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away of Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the carrying away of Babylon unto the Christ, fourteen generations. v.17 Matthew, by the Spirit of God, breaks down the genealogy into three sections for fourteen generations each. These three great sections give us a historical outline of Israel’s history:
This same pattern is repeated in every dispensation: (1) God gives it; (2) man ruins it; and (3) God recovers a remnant in grace. Read more… The expression “the Christ” in the gospels simply means “the Messiah” (see John 1:41). In Paul’s epistles, sometime “the Christ” refers to the mystical union between Christ and the Church (e.g. 1 Cor. 12:12 where clearly “the Christ” is a reference to the one body).
The mention of women in the genealogy. The mention of four women in the genealogy is remarkable on all counts. As the gospel written to the Jewish people, the inclusion of these women is a remarkable testimony to the inspiration of Matthew. Jewish scribes would never have included these women:
By including these women (all of whom were of questionable background) in the genealogy of the Messiah – where traditionally only men mattered – the Spirit is showing that God was now reaching beyond the narrow vision of the Jews. Another woman in the genealogy is Naamah – an Ammonitess, although her name is not mentioned (v.7). The fifth and final woman in the royal genealogy was:
- Mary – she was beyond reproach.
The Virgin Birth of the Messiah (1:18-25)
The Virgin Birth. We have already shown that the royal genealogy of the Messiah was a requirement that the Jews regarded as important for their Messiah. Another requirement was the virgin birth. The Old Testament scriptures spoke of the Messiah as One who would be born of a virgin, and and therefore that He must be a Divine person.
- Isa. 7:14 – the Messiah would be born of a virgin (see also Zech. 6:12, and Gen. 3:15… Mary was the only woman to have seed not by man)
- Isa. 9:6 – the Messiah would be Divine (the names and titles could only be true of God… e.g. “the mighty God”).
Up until the time of Jesus, the rabbis taught these things, and insisted on them as requirements for their Messiah. Later on, they changed their views on the messiah in their writings. Likely this was done to “cover their tracks” due to the nation’s rejecting Jesus, One who truly fulfilled every requirement. One of the reasons Matthew was writing was to establish the guilt of Israel in rejecting their true Messiah. They knew the requirements. They said:
Rabbi Yarchi: “The birth of the messiah alone shall be without any defects”.
Rabbi Moshe Haddarshan: “His birth shall not be like that of other men”.
The Jerusalem Talmud: “The birth of the messiah shall be like the dew of the Lord, as drops upon the grass without the action of man”. 
Mary’s Pregnancy and Joseph’s Consternation (vv.18-19)
¶ 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was thus: His mother, Mary, that is, having been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit. v.18 The virginity of Mary is carefully guarded by the Spirit of God. She was “betrothed” to Joseph, but they had not yet “come together”. There was no cloud of their situation… no behavior that would allow for accusations or questions. The child she carried in her womb was of Divine origin, conceived by the power of “the Holy Spirit”.
19 But Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man, and unwilling to expose her publicly, purposed to have put her away secretly; 20 but while he pondered on these things, vv.19-20a These verses give us something of Joseph’s character. The situation appeared as though his fiancée had been unfaithful to him. Joseph was:
These three characteristics are very necessary in any husband. Perhaps God gave this to us as an example for godly husbands.
The Angelic Appearance to Joseph (vv.20b-21)
Four dreams or visions given to Joseph. In Luke, several visions are given to Mary. But in Matthew, several visions are given to Joseph. As we already remarked, mothers in scripture bring out the moral side of things, while fathers in scripture bring out the official or administrative side. Look at the things that God revealed to Joseph:
In any marriage, the husband needs to be dependent on the Lord for guidance and direction.
20b behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, fear not to take to thee Mary, thy wife, for that which is begotten in her is of the Holy Spirit. v.20b Joseph’s first dream. The Lord addresses him as “Joseph, thou son of David”, because He is bringing out the royal connection that the Messiah would have to David. It is in keeping with the whole character of this chapter and book. What a trial for Joseph to pass through! He went through it with God, and what a reward! Not only was his betrothed pure, but she had been given “the desire of women” (Dan. 11:37), the greatest privilege a Jewish woman could have. We read in Luke 1:35 that at her conception, the Holy Spirit came upon her and overshadowed her to protect both the mother and fetus.
Begotten in her of the Holy Spirit. The pregnancy began through the Spirit of God. The origin was holy. It would appear that every mortal receives a human nature through their mother, and a sinful nature from their father. Jesus’ birth was not through a mere natural conception. The corruption of the human nature did not perpetuate to Jesus. But, by the power of the Holy Ghost He alone was born of woman without a human father! Consequently, while He had the human nature from His human mother, He had a Divine nature by the Holy Ghost. In the incarnation, both the divine and the human natures were joined together in one inscrutable union, and they remain forever joined in that one Person. The incarnation is one of the greatest events in time. The Son of God took manhood into His Person, forming a permanent union between His divine nature and His human nature. He became a man, spirit-soul-body, but did not give up anything He had as God. Read more…
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for “he” shall save his people from their sins. v.21 Her son would be called “Jesus” which means “Jehovah saves”. It is the Greek form of the name “Joshua”. Far more than a military leader, this Man would save His people from their sins. When would He save His people (the Jews) from their sins? He was rejected by the Jews, and so this national salvation was postponed until His second coming (see Rom. 11:25-27), but the foundation price for their salvation was paid at the cross.
The Fulfillment of Messianic Prophecy (vv.22-23)
22 Now all this came to pass that that might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord, through the prophet, saying, 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel,” [Isa. 7:14] which is, being interpreted, ‘God with us.’ vv.22-23 This is the first of many Old Testament prophecies quoted in the New Testament (perhaps some 695 times). See helpful encyclopedia entry on Old Testament prophecies quoted in the New Testament. The quotation is from Isa. 7:14, and was fulfilled completely here. We have the Lord Jesus presented in three ways in this chapter: (1) the Christ, v.16; (2) the Savior, v.21; and now (3) God with us, v.23. Jesus is His manhood name. Without any other titles, the name Jesus refers to the Son as a man. Christ is His official title as Messiah of Israel. Emmanuel brings in His divine nature. Though a man in this world, He was a Divine Person! Until this moment, God had not come down to meet man’s need. Now God was here… we did not go to God, but He came to us! The story would not be complete without the cross. The cross was the necessary price to bring us to God.
The Marriage of Mary and Joseph and Birth of Jesus (vv.24-25)
24 But Joseph, having awoke up from his sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had enjoined him, and took to him his wife, 25 and knew her not until she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus. vv.24-25 Joseph was obedient to the Lord, not like Peter, who said four times “not so, Lord”. Contrast this with Adam and Eve, who named their firstborn son “Cain” or, “a possession”. Mary and Joseph realized that this child was a Divine gift, and not a possession. Joseph and Mary’s marriage was about the will of God, not their own will. This should be the purpose of every Christian marriage. We are not our own; our homes, our marriages, our children, all belong to God.
- Gaebelein, Arno C. The Gospel of Matthew, An Exposition.