VERSE BY VERSE COMMENTARY
Matthew 1:1 ¶ The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
The book of Matthew begins with a genealogy that begins with Abraham, the father of Israel, continuing through the lineage of David and ending with Joseph, the man recognized as the father of Jesus during his childhood years. Joseph married Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus, and demonstrated great faith in God by choosing to honor his commitment of marriage. I am sure it didn’t hurt that he was given special revelation by an angel (revealed later in the chapter).
The gospel of Matthew is recognized as presenting Jesus as the Messiah, the King of Israel, in fulfillment of God’s promise to David.
2 Samuel 7:12–13 “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.”
This genealogy provides evidence to his legal right to inherit the throne of Israel as a descendant of David through his earthly father. The genealogy in Luke 3 provides the genealogy of Mary that proves Jesus to be a physical descendant of David through his son Nathan.
Matthew 1:2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
Judah is singled out as the tribe through which the kingship would be established.
Matthew 1:3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
It’s information such as this that points to the authenticity of the biblical record. The truth is presented “warts and all” so to speak. The fact that Judah’s son through Tamar (the result of an encounter with one he thought was a prostitute) is identified as the one through whom the Messiah would be descended is just another example of God’s grace.
Matthew 1:4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
Matthew 1:5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
Once again we see an amazing example of God’s grace. Rahab, the great-grandmother of King David, was the prostitute that hid the spies of Israel in Jericho (Joshua 1). Ruth, David’s grandmother, was a Moabitess that chose to follow the God of Israel and honor her mother-in-law by remaining with her and serving her after the death of their husbands (Ruth 1-4). God honors the faith of both women by making them part of the lineage of the Messiah and ensuring that the scripture recorded this truth for posterity.
Matthew 1:6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;
Once again we see an amazing example of God’s grace. In spite of David’s great sin against God due to his relationship with Bathsheba, David is recognized as a man after God’s own heart.
1 Samuel 13:13–14 “And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.”
David never tried to justify his sin; he acknowledged his sin with great humility and repentance (Psalm 51).
Psalms 51:1–4 “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight….”
In His grace, God chose Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba, as the one to succeed David as king.
Matthew 1:7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;
Matthew 1:8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;
Matthew 1:9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
Matthew 1:10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;
Matthew 1:11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:
The interesting take away from this section of scripture is that it includes Jeconiah, also called Coniah, a man that God said would never see his progeny take the throne of Israel.
Jeremiah 22:28–30 “Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not? O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.”
Though Joseph was a blood descendant of this man and legally qualified to assume the throne, Jesus was not of his blood.
Matthew 1:12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
Matthew 1:13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
Matthew 1:14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
Matthew 1:15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
Matthew 1:16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
This completes the genealogy of Joseph from Abraham to Joseph.
Matthew 1:17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.
It must be noted that Matthew specifically identified 14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 generations from David to the Babylonian captivity, and 14 generations from the captivity to the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. Commentators note that this was probably a memory aide that caused a few names to be left out.
Matthew 1:18 ¶ Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
This verse makes it very clear that Joseph did not father Jesus; Mary was pregnant with Jesus before they came together to consummate their marriage. It is clearly stated that her pregnancy was a result of the miraculous work of the Holy Ghost within her.
Matthew 1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Joseph was obviously a man of good reputation who wanted to do what was right before God. He also must have really loved Mary and did not want to bring public attention to her condition, so he decided to discreetly break the engagement. Before he could act on his decision, however, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.
The angel addresses Joseph as a son of David (an acknowledgement of his legal right to the throne of David) and tells him not to hesitate to take Mary as his wife. He tells Joseph that the baby she carries is a miracle conception through God’s Holy Spirit. In fact, the son to whom she gives birth is to be called JESUS, which means savior, deliverer. He will be the Messiah that will provide salvation from sin for His people (all who turn to Him in faith) in fulfillment of the words of Isaiah.
Isaiah 53:5-6 & 10-11 “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all…. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”
Matthew 1:22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
I first thought of Isaiah 53; Matthew quotes from Isaiah 7. The important truth is that the birth of this child will be in fulfillment of prophecy; He will be the promised Messiah.
Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Matthew 1:24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
Matthew 1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Joseph was convinced; he unhesitatingly took Mary as his wife. Adam Clarke notes the following concerning Mary: “Her situation was the most distressing and humiliating that can be conceived. Nothing but the fullest consciousness of her own integrity, and the strongest confidence in God, could have supported her in such trying circumstances, where her reputation, her honour, and her life were at stake." In marrying Mary, Joseph shared in her shame and disgrace.
Scripture is careful to record that they did not consummate their marriage until after Jesus was born (implying that they did consummate their marriage).