Matthew 1:1 Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

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Verse 1

Matthew 1:1-17. Genealogy of Christ. (= Luke 3:23-38).

The book of the generation — an expression purely Jewish; meaning, “table of the genealogy.” In Genesis 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 Matthew 1:16; see on Matthew 1:21. “Jesus,” the name given to our Lord at His circumcision (Luke 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 (Luke 2:11), and once or twice used in this sense by our Lord Himself (Matthew 23:8, Matthew 23:10; Mark 9:41) - only began to be so used by others about the very close of His earthly career (Matthew 26:68; Matthew 27:17). The full form, “Jesus Christ,” though once used by Himself in His Intercessory Prayer (John 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 Matthew 1:17, Matthew 1:18) 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 (Genesis 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” (Luke 20:41), which was applied to Jesus, either in devout acknowledgment of His rightful claim to it (Matthew 9:27; Matthew 20:31), or in the way of insinuating inquiry whether such were the case (see on John 4:29; Matthew 12:23).

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