Matthew 1:1
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
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(1) The book of the generation.—The opening words of the Gospel show that it is written by a Jew for Jewish readers. They are an essentially Hebrew formula (as in Genesis 5:1), and were applied chiefly though not exclusively (Genesis 37:2) to genealogies such as that which follows here.

Jesus Christ.—The collocation of names was not so much a thing of course when St. Matthew wrote as it now seems to us. There were many who bore the name of Jesus—e.g., Jesus the son or Sirach, Jesus surnamed Justus (Colossians 4:11), possibly even Jesus Bar-abbas (Matthew 27:17). It was necessary to state that the genealogy that followed was that of Jesus the Messiah, the true “anointed” of the Lord.

The son of David.—This, of course, was added as the most popular of all the names of the expected Christ, owned alike by scribes and Rabbis (Matthew 22:42), by children (Matthew 21:9), and by the poor (Matthew 15:22; Matthew 20:30).

The son of Abraham.—There is no reason to think that this was ever a specially Messianic title. If there is any special significance in its occurrence here, it is as emphasising that which the Messiah had in common with other Israelites. He was thus as a brother to them all, even to the despised publican (Luke 19:9), as being the seed of Abraham, in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed (Genesis 22:18). The former thought appears in another book specially written, like this Gospel, for Hebrews—“On the seed of Abraham he layeth hold” (Hebrews 2:16).

(1) Nothing can be inferred directly from St. Matthew’s phrase “till she had brought forth” as to what followed after the birth. The writer’s purpose is obviously to emphasise the absence of all that might interfere with the absolutely supernatural character of the birth itself. (2) Nothing can be inferred with certainty from the mention of our Lord’s “brethren” in Matthew 12:46 (see Note there), and elsewhere. They may have been children of Joseph by a former marriage, or by what was known as a levirate marriage with the widow of a deceased brother, under the law of Deuteronomy 25:5, Matthew 22:24, or children by adoption, or cousins included under the general name of brethren. (3) The fact that the mother of our Lord found a home with the beloved disciple (John 19:27) and not with any of the “brethren” points, as far as it goes, to their not being her own children, but it does not go far enough to warrant any positive assertion. Scripture therefore supplies no data for any decision on either side, nor does any tradition that can really be called primitive. The reverence for virginity as compared with marriage in the patristic and mediæval Church made the “ever-virgin” to be one of the received titles of the mother of the Lord. The reaction of natural feeling against that reverence led men in earlier and later times to assert the opposite. Every commentator is influenced consciously or unconsciously by his leanings in this or that direction. And so the matter must rest.

Matthew 1:1. The book — That is, This is the book, the verb being elegantly omitted, according to the custom of the Hebrews, and also of the Greeks and Romans; of the generation — Or, as the Syriac expresses it, The writing, narrative, or account of the generation, or birth of Jesus, &c. The word γενεσις, indeed, here rendered generation, sometimes signifies the history of a person’s life, yet it is much more frequently used for genealogy, or birth; and it seems to be intended to be taken in this restrained sense here. Dr. Macknight renders the phrase, The table of the genealogy of Jesus: observing that the word Βιβλος, book, is used in this limited sense Mark 10:4, where a bill of divorce is so called: and Jeremiah 32:12, where a deed of conveyance is termed ספר, a book. Indeed, the Jews, and also the Greeks, called all writings books, whether short or long. Of Jesus Christ — Jesus is his proper name, given him by God, his true Father, Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31; Luke 2:21. Christ is, as it were, a surname, descriptive of his unction to the prophetic, priestly, and kingly offices. To the name Christ, that of Jesus is often superadded in the New Testament, not only that Christ might be pointed out for the Saviour, as the word Jesus signifies, but that Jesus might be shown to be the true Messiah, or Christ, in opposition to the unbelief of the Jews. The son of David, the son of Abraham — i.e., a descendant of David and Abraham; the word son, in the language of the Hebrews, being put for any descendant, however remote. Here the evangelist proposes what he is going to prove; viz, that Jesus Christ, whose history he is about to give, was the son of David and Abraham, which it was necessary he should show because the grand prophetical character of the Messiah was, that he was to spring from Abraham and David. The sense of the latter clause, indeed, the son of Abraham, is ambiguous: it may mean either that David was the son of Abraham, or, which seems the more probable sense, that Christ, who was the son of David, was also the son of Abraham. This sense accords better both with the following words, and with the design of the evangelist, which was to show, that Christ was descended from both these renowned patriarchs, and that in him was fulfilled the promises made to both. David is first named, 1. That the catalogue, to begin from Abraham, might proceed regularly, without the repetition of his name; 2. Because the memory of David was more fresh upon the minds of the Jews, and his name in greater repute than that of Abraham, especially when the discourse related to the Messiah, John 7:42; more plain and explicit promises of him being made to David, and the prophets having spoken of Christ under the name of David. Add to this, that David was both a prophet and a king, and therefore a more manifest type of the Messiah, who sustains both of these offices, as well as that of a priest. Hence those who had entertained higher conceptions of Christ than others, termed him the son of David, as appears from many passages in the gospels.

1:1-17 Concerning this genealogy of our Saviour, observe the chief intention. It is not a needless genealogy. It is not a vain-glorious one, as those of great men often are. It proves that our Lord Jesus is of the nation and family out of which the Messiah was to arise. The promise of the blessing was made to Abraham and his seed; of the dominion, to David and his seed. It was promised to Abraham that Christ should descend from him, Ge 12:3; 22:18; and to David that he should descend from him, 2Sa 7:12; Ps 89:3, &c.; 132:11; and, therefore, unless Jesus is a son of David, and a son of Abraham, he is not the Messiah. Now this is here proved from well-known records. When the Son of God was pleased to take our nature, he came near to us, in our fallen, wretched condition; but he was perfectly free from sin: and while we read the names in his genealogy, we should not forget how low the Lord of glory stooped to save the human race.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," i. e., 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 the notes at Matthew 1:21.

Christ - The word "Christ" is a Greek word, Χριστός Christos, signifying "anointed." The Hebrew word, משׁיח mâshı̂yach, 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. In ancient times, when kings and priests were set apart to their office, they were anointed with oil, Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 6:20; Exodus 28:41; Exodus 29:7; 1 Samuel 9:16; 1 Samuel 15:1; 2 Samuel 23:1. To anoint, therefore, means often the same as to consecrate, or to set apart to an office. Hence, those thus set apart are said to be anointed, or to be the anointed of God. It is for this reason that the name is given to the Lord Jesus. Compare the notes at 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 since God gave him the Spirit without measure John 3:34, so he is especially called "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 that 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; Psalm 132:10-11, compared with Acts 13:23, and John 7:42.

The son of Abraham - The descendant of Abraham. The promise was made to Abraham also. See Genesis 12:3; Genesis 21:12; compare 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 people 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, splendor, dignity, and renown.

The New Testament



The author of this Gospel was a publican or tax gatherer, residing at Capernaum, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. As to his identity with the "Levi" of the second and third Gospels, and other particulars, see on [1198]Mt 9:9. Hardly anything is known of his apostolic labors. That, after preaching to his countrymen in Palestine, he went to the East, is the general testimony of antiquity; but the precise scene or scenes of his ministry cannot be determined. That he died a natural death may be concluded from the belief of the best-informed of the Fathers—that of the apostles only three, James the Greater, Peter, and Paul, suffered martyrdom. That the first Gospel was written by this apostle is the testimony of all antiquity.

For the date of this Gospel we have only internal evidence, and that far from decisive. Accordingly, opinion is much divided. That it was the first issued of all the Gospels was universally believed. Hence, although in the order of the Gospels, those by the two apostles were placed first in the oldest manuscripts of the Old Latin version, while in all the Greek manuscripts, with scarcely an exception, the order is the same as in our Bibles, the Gospel according to Matthew is in every case placed first. And as this Gospel is of all the four the one which bears the most evident marks of having been prepared and constructed with a special view to the Jews—who certainly first required a written Gospel, and would be the first to make use of it—there can be no doubt that it was issued before any of the others. That it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem is equally certain; for as Hug observes [Introduction to the New Testament, p. 316, Fosdick's translation], when he reports our Lord's prophecy of that awful event, on coming to the warning about "the abomination of desolation" which they should "see standing in the holy place," he interposes (contrary to his invariable practice, which is to relate without remark) a call to his readers to read intelligently—"Whoso readeth, let him understand" (Mt 24:15)—a call to attend to the divine signal for flight which could be intended only for those who lived before the event. But how long before that event this Gospel was written is not so clear. Some internal evidences seem to imply a very early date. Since the Jewish Christians were, for five or six years, exposed to persecution from their own countrymen—until the Jews, being persecuted by the Romans, had to look to themselves—it is not likely (it is argued) that they should be left so long without some written Gospel to reassure and sustain them, and Matthew's Gospel was eminently fitted for that purpose. But the digests to which Luke refers in his Introduction (see on [1199]Lu 1:1) would be sufficient for a time, especially as the living voice of the "eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word" was yet sounding abroad. Other considerations in favor of a very early date—such as the tender way in which the author seems studiously to speak of Herod Antipas, as if still reigning, and his writing of Pilate apparently as if still in power—seem to have no foundation in fact, and cannot therefore be made the ground of reasoning as to the date of this Gospel. Its Hebraic structure and hue, though they prove, as we think, that this Gospel must have been published at a period considerably anterior to the destruction of Jerusalem, are no evidence in favor of so early a date as A.D. 37 or 38—according to some of the Fathers, and, of the moderns, Tillemont, Townson, Owen, Birks, Tregelles. On the other hand, the date suggested by the statement of Irenæus [Against Heresies, 3.1], that Matthew put forth his Gospel while Peter and Paul were at Rome preaching and founding the Church—or after A.D. 60—though probably the majority of critics are in favor of it, would seem rather too late, especially as the second and third Gospels, which were doubtless published, as well as this one, before the destruction of Jerusalem, had still to be issued. Certainly, such statements as the following, "Wherefore that field is called the field of blood unto this day" (Mt 27:8); "And this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day" (Mt 28:15), bespeak a date considerably later than the events recorded. We incline, therefore, to a date intermediate between the earlier and the later dates assigned to this Gospel, without pretending to greater precision.

We have adverted to the strikingly Jewish character and coloring of this Gospel. The facts which it selects, the points to which it gives prominence, the cast of thought and phraseology, all bespeak the Jewish point of view from which it was written and to which it was directed. This has been noticed from the beginning, and is universally acknowledged. It is of the greatest consequence to the right interpretation of it; but the tendency among some even of the best of the Germans to infer, from this special design of the first Gospel, a certain laxity on the part of the Evangelist in the treatment of his facts, must be guarded against.

But by far the most interesting and important point connected with this Gospel is the language in which it was written. It is believed by a formidable number of critics that this Gospel was originally written in what is loosely called Hebrew, but more correctly Aramaic, or Syro-Chaldaic, the native tongue of the country at the time of our Lord; and that the Greek Matthew which we now possess is a translation of that work, either by the Evangelist himself or some unknown hand. The evidence on which this opinion is grounded is wholly external, but it has been deemed conclusive by Grotius, Michaelis (and his translator), Marsh, Townson, Campbell, Olshausen, Creswell, Meyer, Ebrard, Lange, Davidson, Cureton, Tregelles, Webster and Wilkinson, &c. The evidence referred to cannot be given here, but will be found, with remarks on its unsatisfactory character, in the Introduction to the Gospels prefixed to our larger Commentary, pp. 28-31.

But how stand the facts as to our Greek Gospel? We have not a tittle of historical evidence that it is a translation, either by Matthew himself or anyone else. All antiquity refers to it as the work of Matthew the publican and apostle, just as the other Gospels are ascribed to their respective authors. This Greek Gospel was from the first received by the Church as an integral part of the one quadriform Gospel. And while the Fathers often advert to the two Gospels which we have from apostles, and the two which we have from men not apostles—in order to show that as that of Mark leans so entirely on Peter, and that of Luke on Paul, these are really no less apostolical than the other two—though we attach less weight to this circumstance than they did, we cannot but think it striking that, in thus speaking, they never drop a hint that the full apostolic authority of the Greek Matthew had ever been questioned on the ground of its not being the original. Further, not a trace can be discovered in this Gospel itself of its being a translation. Michaelis tried to detect, and fancied that he had succeeded in detecting, one or two such. Other Germans since, and Davidson and Cureton among ourselves, have made the same attempt. But the entire failure of all such attempts is now generally admitted, and candid advocates of a Hebrew original are quite ready to own that none such are to be found, and that but for external testimony no one would have imagined that the Greek was not the original. This they regard as showing how perfectly the translation has been executed; but those who know best what translating from one language into another is will be the readiest to own that this is tantamount to giving up the question. This Gospel proclaims its own originality in a number of striking points; such as its manner of quoting from the Old Testament, and its phraseology in some peculiar cases. But the close verbal coincidences of our Greek Matthew with the next two Gospels must not be quite passed over. There are but two possible ways of explaining this. Either the translator, sacrificing verbal fidelity in his version, intentionally conformed certain parts of his author's work to the second and third Gospels—in which case it can hardly be called Matthew's Gospel at all—or our Greek Matthew is itself the original.

Moved by these considerations, some advocates of a Hebrew original have adopted the theory of a double original; the external testimony, they think, requiring us to believe in a Hebrew original, while internal evidence is decisive in favor of the originality of the Greek. This theory is espoused by Guericks, Olshausen, Thiersch, Townson, Tregelles, &c. But, besides that this looks too like an artificial theory, invented to solve a difficulty, it is utterly void of historical support. There is not a vestige of testimony to support it in Christian antiquity. This ought to be decisive against it.

It remains, then, that our Greek Matthew is the original of that Gospel, and that no other original ever existed. It is greatly to the credit of Dean Alford, that after maintaining, in the first edition of his Greek Testament the theory of a Hebrew original, he thus expresses himself in the second and subsequent editions: "On the whole, then, I find myself constrained to abandon the view maintained in my first edition, and to adopt that of a Greek original."

One argument has been adduced on the other side, on which not a little reliance has been placed; but the determination of the main question does not, in our opinion, depend upon the point which it raises. It has been very confidently affirmed that the Greek language was not sufficiently understood by the Jews of Palestine when Matthew published his Gospel to make it at all probable that he would write a Gospel, for their benefit in the first instance, in that language. Now, as this merely alleges the improbability of a Greek original, it is enough to place against it the evidence already adduced, which is positive, in favor of the sole originality of our Greek Matthew. It is indeed a question how far the Greek language was understood in Palestine at the time referred to. But we advise the reader not to be drawn into that question as essential to the settlement of the other one. It is an element in it, no doubt, but not an essential element. There are extremes on both sides of it. The old idea, that our Lord hardly ever spoke anything but Syro-Chaldaic, is now pretty nearly exploded. Many, however, will not go the length, on the other side, of Hug (in his Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 326, &c.) and Roberts ("Discussions of the Gospels," &c., pp. 25, &c.). For ourselves, though we believe that our Lord, in all the more public scenes of His ministry, spoke in Greek, all we think it necessary here to say is that there is no ground to believe that Greek was so little understood in Palestine as to make it improbable that Matthew would write his Gospel exclusively in that language—so improbable as to outweigh the evidence that he did so. And when we think of the number of digests or short narratives of the principal facts of our Lord's history which we know from Luke (Lu 1:1-4) were floating about for some time before he wrote his Gospel, of which he speaks by no means disrespectfully, and nearly all of which would be in the mother tongue, we can have no doubt that the Jewish Christians and the Jews of Palestine generally would have from the first reliable written matter sufficient to supply every necessary requirement until the publican-apostle should leisurely draw up the first of the four Gospels in a language to them not a strange tongue, while to the rest of the world it was the language in which the entire quadriform Gospel was to be for all time enshrined. The following among others hold to this view of the sole originality of the Greek Matthew: Erasmus, Calvin, Beza, Lightfoot, Wetstein, Lardner, Hug, Fritzsche, Credner, De Wette, Stuart, Da Costa, Fairbairn, Roberts.

On two other questions regarding this Gospel it would have been desirable to say something, had not our available space been already exhausted: The characteristics, both in language and matter, by which it is distinguished from the other three, and its relation to the second and third Gospels. On the latter of these topics—whether one or more of the Evangelists made use of the materials of the other Gospels, and, if so, which of the Evangelists drew from which—the opinions are just as numerous as the possibilities of the case, every conceivable way of it having one or more who plead for it. The most popular opinion until recently—and perhaps the most popular still—is that the second Evangelist availed himself more or less of the materials of the first Gospel, and the third of the materials of both the first and second Gospels. Here we can but state our own belief, that each of the first three Evangelists wrote independently of both the others; while the fourth, familiar with the first three, wrote to supplement them, and, even where he travels along the same line, wrote quite independently of them. This judgment we express, with all deference for those who think otherwise, as the result of a close study of each of the Gospels in immediate juxtaposition and comparison with the others. On the former of the two topics noticed, the linguistic peculiarities of each of the Gospels have been handled most closely and ably by Credner [Einleitung (Introduction to the New Testament)], of whose results a good summary will be found in Davidson's Introduction to the New Testament. The other peculiarities of the Gospels have been most felicitously and beautifully brought out by Da Costa in his Four Witnesses, to which we must simply refer the reader, though it contains a few things in which we cannot concur.


Mt 1:1-17. Genealogy of Christ. ( = Lu 3:23-38).

1. The book of the generation—an expression purely Jewish; meaning, "table of the genealogy." In Ge 5:1 the same expression occurs in this sense. We have here, then, the title, not of this whole Gospel of Matthew, but only of the first seventeen verses.

of Jesus Christ—For the meaning of these glorious words, see on [1200]Mt 1:16; [1201]Mt 1:21. "Jesus," the name given to our Lord at His circumcision (Lu 2:21), was that by which He was familiarly known while on earth. The word "Christ"—though applied to Him as a proper name by the angel who announced His birth to the shepherds (Lu 2:11), and once or twice used in this sense by our Lord Himself (Mt 23:8, 10; Mr 9:41)—only began to be so used by others about the very close of His earthly career (Mt 26:68; 27:17). The full form, "Jesus Christ," though once used by Himself in His Intercessory Prayer (Joh 17:3), was never used by others till after His ascension and the formation of churches in His name. Its use, then, in the opening words of this Gospel (and in Mt 1:17, 18) is in the style of the late period when our Evangelist wrote, rather than of the events he was going to record.

the son of David, the son of Abraham—As Abraham was the first from whose family it was predicted that Messiah should spring (Ge 22:18), so David was the last. To a Jewish reader, accordingly, these behooved to be the two great starting-points of any true genealogy of the promised Messiah; and thus this opening verse, as it stamps the first Gospel as one peculiarly Jewish, would at once tend to conciliate the writer's people. From the nearest of those two fathers came that familiar name of the promised Messiah, "the son of David" (Lu 20:41), which was applied to Jesus, either in devout acknowledgment of His rightful claim to it (Mt 9:27; 20:31), or in the way of insinuating inquiry whether such were the case (see on [1202]Joh 4:29; Mt 12:23).

Matthew CHAPTER 1 Summary

Mat 1:1-17 The genealogy of Christ from Abraham to Joseph.

Mat 1:18-25 The miraculous conception of Mary: Joseph's doubts are

satisfied by an angel, who declareth the name and

office of Christ: Jesus is born.

Chapter Introduction

The book of the generation signifieth no more than the writing containing the genealogy or pedigree; for the Jews called all writings books. Thus, Jer 32:10,11, the evidences of a purchase are called the book. So Isa 1:1 Mar 10:4, the writings called a bill of divorce are both in the Hebrew and the Greek called a book of divorce. Thus in ecclesiastical courts still, the term libel (which signifieth a little book) is used. So as these words are not to be looked upon as the title to the whole Gospel according to St. Matthew, but only to the following pedigree of our Saviour's ancestors.

Of Jesus Christ; of that person to whom the name of Jesus was given by the angel, as we shall hear further, Mat 1:20,21, because he should save his people from their sins (for Jesus, as also Joshua, signifies a saviour or deliverer); and who also was the Christ, or the Messiah, prophesied of by Daniel, Dan 9:25,26, expected by the Jews, as doth appear from Joh 1:41 (for Messiah and Christ denoted the same person, Joh 4:25); only Messiah was a Hebrew word, and Christ of Greek extraction, both signifying Anointed, and so God's designation of a person to the office of a priest, a prophet, or a king. The Christ signifieth a designation to all three.

The Son of David, the son of Abraham: not the immediate Son of either, but, by a long traduction, lineally descended from both. Abraham was long before David, but is here put after him, either because he was a king, or because the Jews expected Messiah was to be the Son of David; or because the evangelist's design was to begin the pedigree from Abraham, whom he therefore last mentions. Both are named, because both were concerned in the promise of Christ. It was made to Abraham, Gen 12:3 22:18: and to David renewed and enlarged, Psa 89:36,37. Hence it appeareth that the Jews looked that Christ should be the Son of David, Mat 22:42 Mar 12:35. Hence the evangelist puts David in the front. From Abraham the Jews derived themselves, they usually gloried they had Abraham to their father. The evangelist, by proving Christ to have descended from Abraham by Isaac, proveth him an Hebrew of the Hebrews, and to be descended from the seed to whom the promise was made; and by proving him the Son of David, he proves him David's righteous Branch, or Branch of righteousness, mentioned Jer 23:5,6 Jer 33:15, and so to have descended from the royal family.

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ,.... This is the genuine title of the book, which was put to it by the Evangelist himself; for the former seems to be done by another hand. This book is an account, not of the divine, but human generation of Christ; and not merely of his birth, which lies in a very little compass; nor of his genealogy, which is contained in this chapter; but also of his whole life and actions, of what was said, done, and suffered by him. It is an Hebrew way of speaking, much like that in Genesis 5:1 and which the Septuagint render by the same phrase as here; and as that was the book of the generation of the first Adam; this is the book of the generation of the second Adam. The Jews call their blasphemous history of the life of Jesus, "The book of the generations of Jesus" (o). This account of Christ begins with the name of the Messiah, well known to the Jews,

the son of David; not only to the Scribes and Pharisees, the more learned part of the nation, but to the common people, even to persons of the meanest rank and figure among them. See Matthew 9:27. Nothing is more common in the Jewish writings, than for "the son of David" to stand alone for the Messiah; it would be endless to cite or refer to all the testimonies of this kind; only take the following (p),

"R. Jochanan says, in the generation in which "the son of David" comes, the disciples of the wise men shall be lessened, and the rest, their eyes shall fail with grief and sorrow, and many calamities and severe decrees shall be renewed; when the first visitation is gone, a second will hasten to come. It is a tradition of the Rabbins (about) the week (of years) in which "the son of David" comes, that in the first year this scripture will be fulfilled, Amos 4:7. "I will rain upon one city", &c. in the second, arrows of famine will be sent forth; in the third there will be a great famine, and men, women and children, holy men and men of business will die, and the law will be forgotten by those who learn it; in the fourth there will be plenty and not plenty; in the fifth there will be great plenty, and they shall eat and drink and rejoice, and the law shall return to them that learn it; in the sixth there will be voices (or thunders;) in the seventh there will be wars; and in the going out of the seventh the "son of David" comes. The tradition of R. Judah says, In the generation in which "the son of David" comes, the house of the congregation (the school or synagogue) shall become a brothel house, Galilee shall be destroyed, and Gabalene shall become desolate; and the men of Gabul (or the border) shall go about from city to city, and shall find no mercy; and the wisdom of the scribes shall stink; and they that are afraid to sin shall be despised; and the face of that generation shall be as the face of a dog, and truth shall fail, as it is said, Isaiah 59:15 --The tradition of R. Nehorai says, In the generation in which "the son of David" comes, young men shall make ashamed the faces of old men, and old men shall stand before young men, the daughter shall rise up against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; nor will a son reverence his father. The tradition of R. Nehemiah says, In the generation in which "the son of David" comes, impudence will increase, and the honourable will deal wickedly, and the whole kingdom will return to the opinion of the Sadducees, and there will be no reproof. --It is a tradition of the Rabbins, that "the son of David" will not come, until traitorous practices are increased, or the disciples are lessened or until the smallest piece of money fails from the purse, or until redemption is despaired of.''

In which passage, besides the proof for which it is cited, may be observed, how exactly the description of the age of the Messiah, as given by the Jews themselves, agrees with the generation in which Jesus the true Messiah came; who as he was promised to David, and it was expected he should descend from him, so he did according to the flesh; God raised him up of his seed, Romans 1:3 it follows,

The son of Abraham. Abraham was the first to whom a particular promise was made, that the Messiah should spring from, Genesis 22:18. The first promise in Genesis 3:15 only signified that he should be the seed of the woman; and it would have been sufficient for the fulfilment of it, if he had been born of any woman, in whatsoever nation, tribe, or family; but by the promise made to Abraham he was to descend from him, as Jesus did; who took upon him the seed of Abraham, Hebrews 2:16 or assumed an human nature which sprung from him, and is therefore truly the son of Abraham. The reason why Christ is first called the son of David, and then the son of Abraham, is partly because the former was a more known name of the Messiah; and partly that the transition to the genealogy of Christ might be more easy and natural, beginning with Abraham, whom the Jews call (q) the "head of the genealogy", and the root and foundation of it, as Matthew here makes him to be; wherefore a Jew cannot be displeased with the Evangelist for beginning the genealogy of our Lord at, Abraham.

(o) Apud Wagenseil. Tela Ignea. (p) T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 97. 1. Shir Hashirim Rabba, fol. 11. 4. (q) Juchasin, fol. 8. 1. Tzeror Hammor. fol. 29. 3. & 154. 4.

The {1} {a} book of the {b} generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the {c} son of Abraham.

(1) Jesus Christ came of Abraham of the tribe of Judah, and of the family of David as God promised.

(a) Rehearsal: as the Hebrews used to speak; see Ge 5:1, the book of the generations.

(b) Of the ancestors from whom Christ came.

(c) Christ is also the son of Abraham.

Matthew 1:1. Βίβλος γενέσεως] Book of origin; מֵפֶר תּוֹלְדוֹת, Genesis 2:4; Genesis 5:1, LXX.; comp. Genesis 6:9; Genesis 11:10. The first verse contains the title of the genealogy which follows in Matthew 1:2-16, which contains the origin of Christ from the Messianic line that runs on from the time of Abraham (genitive of contents). So Beza, Calvin, Grotius, Bengel, Wetstein, Paulus, Kuinoel, Gratz, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others. The evangelist adopted the genealogical piece of writing (βίβλος), and which “velut extra corpus historiae prominet” (Grotius), without alteration, as he found it, and with its title also. Others (Bede, Maldonatus, Schleussner) take γένεσις as meaning life, and regard the words as a superscription to the entire Gospel: commentarius de vita Jesu. Contrary to the usage of the language; for in Jdt 12:18, and Wis 7:5, γένεσις denotes the origin, the commencing point of life; in Plato, Phaedr. p. 252 D, it means existence; in Hierocles, p. 298, the creation, or that which is created; and in Jam 3:6, τροχὸς τῆς γενέσεως is the τροχός which begins with birth. And if we were to suppose, with Olearius (comp. Hammond and Vitringa, also Euthym. Zigabenus), that the superscription liber de originibus Jesu Christi was selected first with reference to the commencement of the history, to which the further history was then appended with a distinctive designation (comp. Catonis Censorii Origines), as תּוֹלְדוֹת also confessedly does not always announce a mere genealogy (Genesis 5:1 ff; Genesis 11:27 ff.), nay, may even stand without any genealogical list following it (Genesis 2:4; Genesis 37:2 ff.),—so the immediate connection in which βίβλοςΧριστοῦ stands with υἱοῦ Δαυ., υἱοῦ Ἀβρ., here necessitates us to think from the very beginning, in harmony with the context, of the genealogy merely; and the commencement of Matthew 1:18, where the γένεσις in the narrower sense, the actual origination, is now related, separates the section Matthew 1:18-25 distinctly from the preceding genealogical list, so that the first words of chap. 2, τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ γεννηθέντος, connect themselves, as carrying on the narrative, with Matthew 1:18-25, where the origin of Jesus, down to His actual birth, is related. This is, at the same time, in answer to Fritzsche, who translates it as volumen de J. Christi originibus, and, appealing to the words in the beginning of ch. 2, regards βίβλος γενέσεως, κ.τ.λ., as the superscription of the first chapter (so also Delitzsch), as well as to Olshausen (see also Ewald and Bleek), who takes it as the superscription of the two first chapters.

If the Israelite set a high value, in his own individual instance, upon a series of ancestors of unexceptionable pedigree (Romans 11:1; Php 3:5; Josephus,c. Ap. ii. 7; Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. p. 178), how much more must such be found to be the case on the side of the Messiah!

Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ] The name יְהוֹשׁוּעַ (Exodus 24:13; Numbers 13:16), or, after the exile, יֵשׁוּעַ (Nehemiah 7:7), ܢܶܫܘܶܓ was very common,[350] and denotes Jehovah is helper. This meaning, contained in the name Jesus (comp. Sir 46:1), came to full personal manifestation in Christ, see Matthew 1:21. Χριστός corresponds to the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ, anointed, which was used partly of priests, Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 5:16; Leviticus 6:15, Psalm 105:15; partly of kings, 1 Samuel 24:7; 1 Samuel 24:11, Psalm 2:2, Isaiah 45:1, comp. Daniel 9:25-26; as a prophet also, according to 1 Kings 19:16, might be an anointed person. From the time of the Book of Daniel—for throughout the whole later period also, down to the time of Christ, the Messianic idea was a living one amongst the people[351]—this theocratic name, and that as a king’s name, was applied, according to the Messianic explanation of the second Psalm, to the king of David’s race, whose coming, according to the predictions of the prophets, was ever more ardently looked for, but with hopes that became ever purer, who was to raise the nation to its theocratic consummation, to restore the kingdom to its highest power and glory, and extend his blessings to the heathen as well, while, as a necessary condition to all this, He was, in a religious and moral respect, to work out the true spiritual government of God, and bring it to a victorious termination. See on the development of the idea and hope of the Messiah, especially Ewald, Gesch. Christ. p. 133 ff., ed. 3 [E. T. by Glover, p. 140 ff.]; Bertheau in d. Jahrb. f. D. Th. IV. p. 595 ff., V. p. 486 ff.; Riehm in d. Stud. u. Kritik. 1865, I. and III. [E. T., Clark, Edinburgh, 1876]. According to B. Bauer (comp. Volkmar, Rel. Jesu, p. 113), Jesus is said to have first developed the Messianic idea out of His own consciousness, the community to have clothed it in figures, and then to have found these figures also in the Old Testament, while the Jews first received the idea from the Christians! In answer to this view, which frivolously inverts the historical relation, see Ebrard, Kritik. d. evang. Gesch., ed. 3, § 120 ff. [E. T. 2d ed., Clark, Edinburgh, p. 485 f.]; and on the Messianic ideas of the Jews at the time of Christ, especially Hilgenfeld, Messias Judaeorum libris eorum paulo ante et paulo post Christum natum conscriptis illustratus, 1869; also Holtzmann in d. Jahrb. f. D. Theol. 1867, p. 389 ff., according to whom, however, the original self-consciousness of the Lord had been matured at an earlier date, before He found[352] for it, in His confession of Himself as the Messiah, a name that might be uttered before His contemporaries, and an objective representation that was conceivable for Himself.

The official name Χριστός, for Jesus, soon passed over in the language of the Christians into a nomen proprium, in which shape it appears almost universally in the Epistles and in the Acts of the Apostles, with or without the article, after the nature of proper names in general. In the Gospels, Χριστός stands as a proper name only in Matthew 1:1; Matthew 1:16-18; Mark 1:1; John 1:17; and appropriately, because not congruous to the development of the history and its connection, but spoken from the standpoint of the much later period of its composition, in which ἸΗΣΟῦς ΧΡΙΣΤΌς had been already long established as a customary name in the language of Christians; as here also (comp. Mark 1:1) in the superscription, the whole of the great name Ἰησοῦς Χριστός is highly appropriate, nay, necessary.

Further, Jesus could be the bearer of the idea of Messiah, for the realization of which He knew from the beginning that He was sent, in no other way than in its national definiteness, therefore also without the exclusion of its political element, the thought of which, however,—and this appears most fully in John,—was transfigured by Him into the idea of the highest and universal spiritual government of God, so that the religious and moral task of the Messiah was His clear aim from the very outset, in striving after and attaining which He had to prepare the way for the Messiah’s kingdom, and finally had to lay its indestructible, necessary foundation (founding of the new covenant) by His atoning death, while He pointed to the future, which, according to all the evangelists, was viewed by Himself as near at hand, for the final establishment, glory, and power of the kingdom, when He will solemnly appear (Parousia) as the Messiah who is Judge and Ruler.

υἱοῦ Δαυείδ] for, according to prophetic promise, He must be a descendant of David, otherwise He would not have been the Messiah, John 7:42; Romans 1:3; Acts 13:22 f.; the Messiah is called pre-eminently בֶּן דָּוִד, Matthew 12:23; Matthew 21:9; Matthew 22:42; Matthew 1:1. βίβλος γενέσεως κ.τ.λ. How much does this heading cover: the whole Gospel, the two first chapters, the whole of the first chapter, or only Matthew 1:1-17? All these views have been held. The first by Euthy. Zigab., who argued: the birth of the God-man was the important point, and involved all the rest; therefore the title covers the whole history named from the most important part (ἀπὸ τοῦ κυριωτέρου μέρους). Some moderns (Ebrard, Keil, etc.) have defended the view on the ground that the corresponding title in O. T. (Genesis 6:9; Genesis 11:27, etc.) denotes not merely a genealogical list, but a history of the persons whose genealogy is given. Thus the expression is taken to mean a book on the life of Christ (liber de vita Christi, Maldon.). Against the second view and the third Weiss-Meyer remarks that at Matthew 1:18 a new beginning is made, while Matthew 2:1 runs on as if continuing the same story. The most probable and most generally accepted opinion is that of Calvin, Beza, and Grotius that the expression applies only to Matthew 1:1-17. (Non est haec inscriptio totius libri, sed particulae primae quae velut extra corpus historiae prominet. Grotius.)

Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Christ here is not an appellative but a proper name, in accordance with the usage of the Apostolic age. In the body of the evangelistic history the word is not thus used; only in the introductory parts. (vide Mark 1:1; John 1:17.)

υἱοῦ Δ., υἱοῦ Α. Of David first, because with his name was associated the more specific promise of a Messianic king; of Abraham also, because he was the patriarch of the race and first recipient of the promise. The genealogy goes no further back, because the Gospel is written for the Jews. Euthy. Zig. suggests that David is placed first because he was the better known, as the less remote, as a great prophet and a renowned king. (ἀπὸ τοῦ γνωριμωτέρου μᾶλλον ἀρξάμενος, ἐπὶ τὸν παλαιότερον ἀνῆλθεν.) The word υἱοῦ in both cases applies to Christ. It can refer grammatically to David, as many take it, but the other reference is demanded by the fact that Matthew 1:1 forms the superscription of the following genealogy. So Weiss-Meyer.

Ch. Matthew 1:1-17. The Lineage of the King. The Genealogy. Luke 3:23-381. The book of the generation] i. e. the pedigree extracted from the public archives which were carefully preserved and placed under the special care of the Sanhedrin. The expression recalls, perhaps designedly, Genesis 5:1 : The book of the Generations of Adam.

(1) The genealogy is an answer to the question which would be asked by every Jew of any one who claimed to be the Messiah, “Is he of the house of David?” for by no name was the Messiah more frequently spoken of by Jews and by foreigners (see ch. Matthew 15:22), and designated in the Talmud, than by that of the Son of David.

(2) Both this genealogy and that in St Luke’s Gospel trace Joseph’s descent. But see below, Matthew 1:16.

(3) St Matthew proves that Jesus is the Son of David and of Abraham; St Luke, true to the scope of his Gospel, traces the pedigree from the common Father of Jew and Gentile.

(4) St Matthew traces the royal succession, St Luke, the family lineage. This accounts for many variations in names.

(5) This genealogy descends from father to son, and is therefore probably the most exact transcript of the original document. St Luke’s ascends from son to father.

Matthew 1:1. Βιβλος Γενέσεωςthe Book, or Roll, of the Generation) A phrase employed by the LXX. in Genesis 2:4; Genesis 5:1. The books of the New Testament, however, being written at so early a period, abound with Hebraisms: and the Divine Wisdom provided, that the Greek version of the Old Testament should prepare the language, which would be the fittest vehicle for the teaching of the New. This title, however, the genealogy,[1] refers, strictly speaking, to what immediately follows (as appears from the remainder of the first verse), though it applies also to the whole book, the object of which is to prove that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of David, etc., [in whom, as being the promised Messiah, the prophecies of the Old Testament have received their fulfilment. Hence it is that from time to time the evangelist frequently repeats the formula, “That it might be fulfilled.”—Vers. Germ.] See Matthew 1:20, and ch. Matthew 9:27, etc. For Scripture is wont to combine with genealogies the reasons for introducing them. See Genesis 5:1; Genesis 6:9.—Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, of Jesus Christ) The compound appellation, JESUS-CHRIST, or CHRIST-JESUS, or the simple one of CHRIST, employed by antonomasia,[2] came into use after the Pentecostal descent of the Holy Spirit. The four Gospels, therefore, have it only at their commencements and conclusions, the other writings everywhere.—See Notes on Romans 3:24 and Galatians 2:16. Comp. Matthew 1:16 below.—υἱοῦ Δαυὶδ,[3] υἱοῦʼ Αβραάμ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham) Our Lord is called the Son of David and the Son of Abraham, because He was promised to both. Abraham was the first, David the last of men to whom that promise was made; whence He is called the Son of David, as though David had been His immediate progenitor.—(See Rhenferd[4] Opera Philologica, p. 715.) Both of these patriarchs received the announcement with faith and joy (See John 8:56; and Matthew 22:43). Each of those mentioned in the following list was acquainted with the names of those who preceded, but not of those who came after him. Oh, with what delight would they have read this genealogy, in which we take so little interest! An allusion is here made by anticipation to the three Fourteens (afterwards mentioned in the 17th verse), of which the first is distinguished by the name of Abraham, the second by that of David, whilst the third, commencing, not like the others with a proper name, but with the Babylonian Captivity, is crowned with the name of Jesus Christ Himself: for the first and the second Fourteen contain the promise, the third its fulfilment. The narration, however, in the first verse goes backward from Christ to David, from David to Abraham. And so much the more conveniently is Abraham put here in the second place, because he comes on the scene immediately again in the following verse. St Mark, however, in the opening of his Gospel, calls Jesus the Son, not of David, but of GOD, because he begins his narration with the baptism of John, by whom our Lord was pointed out as the Son of God. Thus each of these evangelists declares the scope of his work in the title. The former part of this verse contains the sum of the New Testament—the latter part, the recapitulation of the Old.

[1] Recensio Ortûs. Tabulæ recensionis was an expression applied to the Censor’s Register. Ortus signifies both origin by descent and birth.—(I. B.)

[2] See Appendix on this figure. The substitution of an appellative term of designation, instead of a proper name.—ED.

[3] E. M. Δαβὶδ.—This variation occurs all through, and will not therefore be noticed again. Bengel alway writes Δαυὶδ.—The Exemplar Millianum always has Δαβὶδ.—Tregelles and Tischendorf prefer Δαυὶδ.—Lachmann Δαυέιδ.—Wordsworth also writes the word Δαυὶδ.—(I. B.)

[4] James Rhenferd, a celebrated Oriental scholar, born at Mulheim, in Westphalia, 1654. Educated at the College of Meurs, in the Duchy of Cleves. Rector of the Latin College in Francker, 1658; removed to Amsterdam 1680. Professor of Oriental languages at Francker, 1683. Died 1712.—(I. B.)

Verse 1. - The book of the generation. As St. Matthew was writing only for Jews, and they, by reason of their Old Testament prophecies, looked for the Messiah to be born of a certain family, he begins his Gospel with a pedigree of Jesus. In this he mentions, by way of introduction, the two points to which his countrymen would have special regard - the descent of Jesus from David, the founder of the royal line, him in whose descendants the Ruler of Israel must necessarily (2 Samuel 7:13-16) be looked for; and also from Abraham, who was the head of the covenant nation, and to whom the promise had been given that in his seed all the nations of the earth should bless themselves (Genesis 22:18; Genesis 12:3). After this he proceeds to fill up the intervening steps in the genealogy. The spelling of the names in the Authorized Version accords with the Greek, and so varies from the Old Testament orthography; but for the sake of the English reader it is certainly advisable to do what has been done in the Revised Version, viz. to conform the spelling to that of the Old Testament, and, where the Greek varies much, to put that form in the margin. It is better to write Rahab than Raehab, and Shealtiel than Salathiel. Those who read the Greek Gospels when these were first written read also the Old Testament in Greek, and so were in no confusion. The first verse of the Gospel is doubtless intended as a preface to what is contained in vers. 2-17. It is, indeed, true that the phrase, "the book of the generation" (βίβλος γενέσεως, equivalent to sepher toledoth, Genesis 5.1), might in itself point rather to events and works connected with the active life of him whose name it precedes (cf. the use of toledoth in Genesis 5:1; Genesis 6:9; Genesis 10:1; even Genesis 2:4, et al.) , and thus might refer to the whole of ch. 1. (Kubel), or even the whole of the First Gospel (Keil); yet the addition of the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, by summarizing the genealogy, limits the reference of ver. 1 to this alone. Observe

(1) that the same word (γένεσις) recurs in ver. 18; but being without βίβλος, has a slightly different meaning;

(2) that the word translated" generation" in ver. 17 is γενέα, and means a single stratum of human life. The evangelist uses the name Jesus Christ here as a proper name, customary in later Christian circles (cf. John 1:17, and especially the traces of development from 1 Corinthians 12:3 and Romans 10:9 to Philippians 2:11). "Christ" is not used in its signification of "Messiah," or "Anointed," till ver. 17, where it would be better rendered "the Christ." Matthew 1:1Christ (Χριστός)

Properly an adjective, not a noun, and meaning anointed (Χρίω, to anoint). It is a translation of the Hebrew Messiah, the king and spiritual ruler from David's race, promised under that name in the Old Testament (Psalm 2:2; Daniel 9:25, Daniel 9:26). Hence Andrew says to Simon, "We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, Christ (John 1:41; compare Acts 4:27; Acts 10:38; Acts 19:28). To us "Christ "has become a proper name, and is therefore written without the definite article; but, in the body of the gospel narratives, since the identity of Jesus with the promised Messiah is still in question with the people, the article is habitually used, and the name should therefore be translated "the Christ." After the resurrection, when the recognition of Jesus as Messiah has become general, we find the word beginning to be used as a proper name, with or without the article. In this passage it omits the article, because it occurs in the heading of the chapter, and expresses the evangelist's own faith in Jesus as the Messiah.

Anointing was applied to kings (1 Samuel 9:16; 1 Samuel 10:1), to prophets (1 Kings 19:16), and to priests (Exodus 29:29; Exodus 40:15; Leviticus 16:32) at their inauguration. "The Lord's anointed" was a common title of the king (1 Samuel 12:3, 1 Samuel 12:5; 2 Samuel 1:14, 2 Samuel 1:16). Prophets are called "Messiahs," or anointed ones (1 Chronicles 16:22; Psalm 105:15). Cyrus is also called "the Lord's Anointed," because called to the throne to deliver the Jews out of captivity (Isaiah 45:1). Hence the word" Christ" was representative of our Lord, who united in himself the offices of king, prophet, and priest.

It is interesting to see how anointing attaches to our Lord in other and minor particulars. Anointing was an act of hospitality and a sign of festivity and cheerfulness. Jesus was anointed by the woman when a guest in the house of Simon the Pharisee, and rebuked his host for omitting this mark of respect toward hint (Luke 7:35, Luke 7:46). In the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 1:8, Hebrews 1:9), the words of the Messianic psalm (Psalm 45:7) are applied to Jesus, "God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."

Anointing was practised upon the sick (Mark 6:13; Luke 10:34 :; James 5:14). Jesus, "the Great Physician," is described by Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1, Isaiah 61:2; compare Luke 4:18) as anointed by God to bind up the broken-hearted, and to give the mournful the oil of joy for mourning. He himself anointed the eyes of the blind man (John 9:6, John 9:11); and the twelve, in his name, "anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them" (Mark 6:13).

Anointing was practised upon the dead. Of her who brake the alabaster upon his head at Bethany, Jesus said, "She hath anointed my body aforehand for the burying" (Mark 14:8; see, also, Luke 23:56).

The Son (υἱός)

The word τέκνον (child) is often used interchangeably with υἱός (son), but is never applied to Christ. (For τέκνον, see on 1 John 3:1.) While in τέκνον there is commonly implied the passive or dependent relation of the children to the parents, υἱός fixes the thought on the person himself rather than on the dependence upon his parents. It suggests individuality rather than descent; or, if descent, mainly to bring out the fact that the son was worthy of his parent. Hence the word marks the filial relation as carrying with it privilege, dignity, and freedom, and is, therefore, the only appropriate term to express Christ's sonship. (See John 1:18; John 3:16; Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:13, Colossians 1:15.) Through Christ the dignity of sons is bestowed on believers, so that the same word is appropriate to Christians, sons of God. (See Romans 8:14; Romans 9:26; Galatians 3:26; Galatians 4:5, Galatians 4:6, Galatians 4:7.)

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