The Matthew Passage
Mat 1:1-17. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. 12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. 17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
What does the genealogy of Jesus mean or reveal to us? Many times as Christians, when we hear someone teach on the genealogy of Jesus, we either hear an analysis of the differences between the genealogy we read in Matthew versus the one we find in Luke, or we hear about some of the people that show up in the genealogy like Rahab the Harlot that rescued some of God’s servants. These are good things to know about the Bible. For instance, it’s important to know that not all of the characters in the Bible were perfect people. They were sinners like you and I that chose to become servants to the Lord. Some of these people are even referred to as heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11. These people give us hope that we too can change and choose to serve God.
But what I want to talk about today is the significance of the genealogy we see here at the beginning of Matthew and what the genealogy of Jesus reveals to us through prophecy.
The Structure Of The Matthew Passage
Who was Matthew? Matthew was a tax collector that became a disciple of Jesus. His gospel was written to the Jews of Jesus’ day. So an even better question for us to start with is what did this beginning of Matthew’s gospel, the genealogy of Jesus, mean to a Jew? What would a Jew of this time period think about Jesus and, even more, what would a Jew have thought about Jesus as Messiah and why the message of the gospel would have changed this thinking and confirmed that, in fact, Jesus was the Messiah they had long been waiting for that had been prophesied about in the Hebrew Scriptures.
So let’s look at some of the structure of this passage and some things we should note.
Matthew opens up the chapter by saying this is the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David and the Son of Abraham. This would be significant to a Jew because they knew that God had promised the Messiah would come through the offspring of both David and Abraham. These were both promises made by God.
Let’s look at the promise to David.
2Sa 7:4-13 But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, 5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. 7 In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”‘ 8 Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9 And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
Now let’s look at the promise to Abraham
Gen 12:2-3 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
The genealogy in Matthew is Joseph’s lineage which is significant because Joseph had priesthood and Kings in his lineage. Jesus is both our High Priest and King.
Also important is the fact that in v. 16 Matthew identifies Jesus as “Jesus the Christ” or in the Hebrew “Jesus the Messiah”. Both of these words whether Hebrew or Greek mean “anointed one”. This is important because the Messiah was anointed of God as being set apart as special and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Mat 3:13-17. Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
The Prophetic Meaning Of The Passage
So the Jews, hearing Matthews gospel, would understand that Matthew was claiming that Jesus was the Messiah and that He fulfilled the specific prophesies about the Messiah they had heard from childhood from the priests. By assigning the title of Messiah to Jesus, it would immediately bring to mind the prophecy found in Daniel 9:24-27.
Dan 9:24-27 “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. 25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”
The Daniel passage says that from the restoration of Jerusalem until the time of the Messiah would be 69 weeks of 7’s.
Most scholars agree now that these “7’s” represent years. So this would mean that there were 483 years prophesied from the restoration of Jerusalem until the time the Messiah was revealed. Historically, we know from the time the decree was given to restore Jerusalem until the appearing of Jesus and His ministry is about 483 years. This shows Jesus fulfilled this prophecy.
This is why Matthew concludes the genealogy of Jesus in v. 17 by stating that from Abraham to David are 14 generations, from Davis until the exile of the Jews to Babylon is 14 generations, and from the exile in Babylon to until the Messiah is 14 generations. He knew the Jewish people of his day would know the prophecy that he was referring.
A generation to the Jews was 40 years. For example, God caused the Israelites to wander in the desert for 40 years until everyone from the generation that had disobeyed Him had died.
If we add up the math with the prophecy in mind (14 generations X 40 years for a generation) we get 560 years. The prophecy actually begins at the end of the exile in Babylon which lasted 70 years, so if we subtract that we end up with 490 years and then we have to subtract one of the weeks or 7 years to account for Jesus’ ministry which would include the years leading up to Pentecost when the Holy Spirt came. That gives us 483 years.
Now let’s look at some of the significant things this prophecy would accomplish.
– Finish the transgression of the people – the Jews
– Make an end to sin
– Provide reconciliation for iniquity – or forgiveness of sins
– Bring in everlasting righteousness
– Seal up the vision and prophecy which is another way of saying fulfill
– Anoint the Most Holy – the Messiah.
In v. 26-27, the passage describes what would happen when the prophecy was fulfilled.
– The Messiah would be cut off from the people
– Jerusalem would be destroyed
– A covenant would be confirmed with the people for one week, but in the middle
of that week there would be an end brought to sacrifice and offering
So how does the prophecy tie in with what Jesus did?
– Jesus came to put an end to sin and provide reconciliation back to God
– 1Jn 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil
has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared
was to destroy the works of the devil
– Joh 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold,
the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
– To bring in everlasting righteousness.
Rom 3:21-25 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
As for the Messiah being cut off from His people, obviously that points to His death on the cross. The city of Jerusalem is destroyed after the death and resurrection of Jesus in 70 AD by the Romans so this prophecy came true as well.
And as for the covenant that is confirmed for 1 week but an end is brought to sacrifice and offering in the middle of the week, that’s exactly what happened in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus confirmed the covenant for the forgiveness of sins with His death.
Mat 26:26-28 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Also, Jesus’ ministry lasted approximately 3 1/2 years which after His death on the cross, there was no longer any need for the sacrifice of animals for atonement in the Temple.
Heb 9:11-15 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. 15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
There was a deliberate intent on the part of Matthew to introduce to the Jewish people of his day to the Gospel. To them, this would mean the fulfillment of God’s promises to send a Messiah that would be a King over His people and it would be an everlasting Kingdom. This message is why many of the people called Jesus the Son of David or the Son of Man because of the prophecies they had been taught since their childhood from the scriptures. They were expecting a Messiah at their time in history.
This is an important message for today because fulfillment of prophecy is how we KNOW Jesus is the Son of God as He claimed. God said it would happen and it did.
If you would like to learn more about the prophecy of Daniel regarding the 70 weeks, you can also google Philip Mauro, a former bible scholar, patent attorney, and Supreme Court justice who also believed this to be the correct interpretation and that it’s the only interpretation that makes sense of the prophecy in Daniel and the timing of the incarnation of Christ.
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