Chapter 1, Part 1, Preface
Sometimes the question is asked, "Why are there four gospels?" The answer is that God has given us four different pictures of Christ. Now all four pictures are in perfect harmony. The 4th Chapter of the book of Revelations speaks to us about four beasts. These four beasts were described thusly: Rev. 4:7 "And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle." In the sign language used in the book of Revelation and found throughout the bible, the lion is often used as a figure of a king. Similarly, the calf or ox is used as a figure of a beast of burden or laborer. The third beast represents a man and the fourth beast is a figure of the spiritual. There are four pictures of Christ that answer to the four beasts in Revelation Chapter 4. Matthew gives us a picture of Christ as a King in his Kingdom. The book of Mark gives us a picture of Christ in his labors. The book of Luke gives us a picture of the man Christ Jesus. The book of John gives us a picture of Christ in his deity.
There are more references to Christ as a king in the book of Matthew and more references to the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven in the book of Matthew than there are in the other three gospels combined. It is with this understanding that the gospel of Matthew gives us a view of Christ the king in his kingdom that we study the book of Matthew.
Matt. 1:1 "The book of the generation of Jesus Christů"
While there are numerous genealogies presented in the scriptures, only twice do we read about "the book of the generationů" In addition to Matt. 1:1 we read in Gen. 5:1, "This is the book of the generations of Adam." This invites us to compare Adam with Christ. Genesis chapter 5 is the obituary column of the bible. Everyone in that genealogy, with the exception of Enoch, is concluded with the statement "and he died." The emphasis in the book of the generations of Adam is on death. When Adam transgressed in the Garden of Eden he brought sin into the world, and death by sin and according to Romans chapter 5 verse 12 death passed upon all men. In contrast, the book of the generation of Jesus Christ speaks to us of life.
According to Rom. 5:14 Adam is the figure of Christ: "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come." There are numerous similarities and contrasts between Adam and Christ of which we list seven:
1. Adam was in a Garden when he
transgressed the law of God and brought the curse of the law of sin and death
upon all mankind. Christ was buried in a garden after he became sin for us and
redeemed his elect from the curse of the law and arose the third day in a garden
victorious over death.
Matt. 1:1 "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."
The reference to Jesus Christ being the son of David, the son of Abraham calls our attention to the fulfilled promises God made to Abraham and David. It calls our attention to the fact that Jesus Christ was promised to be the seed of Abraham and the seed of David. He was also the fulfillment of the promise made to David that of his sons would God raise up a King that would sit on an everlasting throne in an everlasting kingdom.
First, God made several promises to Abraham concerning his seed:
1. Gen. 12:1 "Now the LORD had said
unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy
father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: 2 And I will make of
thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou
shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse
him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."
This promise was further expounded unto us in Acts 3:25 "Ye are the children
of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying
unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed."
Abraham's seed is identified for us in Gal. 3:16 "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." Thus the promises concerning the seed of Abraham were promises made concerning Jesus Christ!
We make the following observations concerning the promises made to Abraham and his seed:
1. The seed of Abraham was promised to
be multiplied as the dust of the earth, as the sand upon the seashore and as the
stars of heaven. One thing all three of these (dust, sand, stars) have in common
is that they are numberless. You cannot put a number on them. Likewise, Rev. 7:9
speaks of the seed of Abraham (Jesus Christ): "After this I beheld, and, lo,
a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and
people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with
white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice,
saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb."
The promises made to Abraham and his seed were also confirmed in Isaac and in Jacob as the following verses show:
1. Gen. 26:1 "And there was a famine
in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac
went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. 2 And the LORD
appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I
shall tell thee of: 3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and
will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these
countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;
4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will
give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of
the earth be blessed."
God also promised to David and alluded to in Abraham of a coming King that would sit upon an everlasting throne:
1. God promised to David in 2 Sam.
7:12: "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. 13 He shall build an house for my name, and I
will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his
father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with
the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: 15 But my
mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away
before thee. 16 And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for
ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever." That God had
reference to Christ and not to Solomon as the seed in which he would establish
this everlasting kingdom is brought out to us in Acts 2:29 "Men and brethren,
let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and
buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a
prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit
of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his
throne." Solomon sat on the throne as King of Israel while David was yet
alive. David was dead and buried as according to the promise that God made to
him when Christ, the Son of David, sat upon the everlasting throne of David in
the Kingdom of God.
Matt. 1:11 "And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:"
Beginning with David and down to Jechonias the genealogy follows the line of the Kings. It is to this kingly line that Jesus Christ was promised to come and reign on the throne of David in an everlasting kingdom. From Jechonias down to Joseph there was no king sitting on the throne of David, even though this was the kingly line. There is a reason why no one from Jechonias unto Joseph sat upon the throne of Israel. It was because of a curse that God had placed upon the seed of Jechonias: Jere. 22:28 "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? 29 O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD. 30 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."
In the Old Testament, Jeconiah's name was sometime called Coniah. God placed a curse upon the seed of Jeconias. None of his seed could ever sit upon the throne of David and rule in Judah. Joseph, the husband of Mary was of the seed of Coniah. None of Joseph's seed could sit and rule upon the throne of David because of the curse placed upon the seed of Jeconias.
Let us summarize the things promised of God concerning the one who was to reign on the everlasting throne of David in an everlasting kingdom. First, he was to be the seed of David. Second, he was to be the son of David and have right to the throne of David. Third, the throne of David descended through Solomon. Fourth, he was not to be the seed of Coniah or Jeconiah. This raises and interesting question, how could Christ be the seed of David and a son according to the Kingly line through Solomon and not be a seed of Jeconiah? How could this roadblock be overcome? The answer comes through another promise of God.
God promised concerning the serpent and the woman in the Garden of Eden after the transgression: Gen. 3:15 "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." This promise involved the woman's seed bruising the head of the serpent's seed. Throughout the scriptures we read of different men's seed. Only in the Garden do we read of a woman's seed. The scriptural use of the word seed is to imply the germ that comes from the man to fertilize the woman's egg. To have a woman's seed is to say that the man's seed is absent. Of course, this points to the virgin birth. That Christ would be conceived in the womb of a virgin is prophesied in Is. 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."
We might ask ourselves, "How does the virgin birth overcome the roadblock requiring that Christ be of the seed of David and be the son of David through the kingly line of Solomon and yet not be of the seed of Jeconiah?" To answer this question we need to look at the genealogy given to us in the third chapter of the book of Luke.
According to Matthew Chapter 1, we read that Jacob begat Joseph. In Luke Chapter 3, we read that Joseph is the son of Heli. Now Joseph can not have two biological fathers. It is apparent that Jacob is the biological father of Joseph. The genealogy in Luke chapter 3 also differs from the one in Matthew chapter 1 in that David begat Solomon in Matthew chapter 1 and Nathan is the son of David in Luke chapter 3. Of course David had several sons including both Solomon and Nathan. Solomon is the son of the kingly line, whereas Nathan is not of the kingly line. Being of the lineage of Nathan does not qualify one to sit upon the throne of David.
Joseph is the son of Heli because he is the husband of Mary. Heli is the biological father of Mary. Joseph is Heli's son-in-law. The term son-in-law simply means that he is a legal son because of his marriage to Mary.
Now let us see if we can answer the question of how that Christ could be the seed of David and the son of David through the kingly line through Solomon and yet not the seed of Jeconiah. Christ is the seed of Mary through the virgin birth who conceived of the Holy Ghost. Mary is the seed of David through Nathan. Thus, Christ is the seed of David. Second, Luke chapter 3 tells us that Christ, "being as was supposed the son of Joseph." Now Jesus Christ was not the biological seed of Joseph, but he was legally the son of Joseph because Joseph was the husband of Mary. Thus, Christ was legally the son of David through the lineage of Solomon. Christ was not the seed of Jeconiah, however, as he was not the seed of Joseph. Therefore, Christ fulfilled all the requirements to be the promised Son of David who would sit upon the throne of David in an everlasting Kingdom. He alone could fulfill those requirements as he was born of the virgin.
In the genealogy listed in Matthew chapter 1 there are four women that are mentioned either by name or by reference. Obviously, there is significance to these particular women being mentioned as there is a mother to all that are begotten in the chapter.
These four women are:
1. Thamar: "And Judas begat Phares
and Zara of Thamar"
Thamar was Judah's daughter in law and had been married first to Judah's oldest son and then to the middle son. After Judah's two oldest sons had done wickedly in the eyes of God and God had slain them, Thamar had been promised to the youngest of Judah's sons. However, when Judah had failed to keep his promise, Thamar disguised herself as a harlot and went out to meet Judah. They agreed to have sexual relations for a price that Judah was to pay and for which he gave Thamar a token. Thamar conceived and had twins which were Phares and Zara.
Rachab was a harlot of Jericho who had hidden the spies of Israel who had come to search out the land prior to Israel invading Jericho. In order to save her own life and that of her family she entered into a covenant with the spies. Later Rachab married Salmon and begat Booz.
Ruth was a Moabitess and was married to one of the sons of Naomi. When her husband died and Naomi's husband died, she journeyed with Naomi to the land of Israel and ultimately married Booz and beget Obed.
During the time of war David had spied a beautiful woman bathing and sent for her. This woman was the wife of Uriah the Hittite. David committed adultery with her and she conceived with child. To cover up his sin David had Uriah the Hittite killed in battle and then married Bathsheba his wife.
All of the above illustrate the wickedness in man and the wickedness of the genealogy presented here. First, Thamar acted as a harlot and committed incest with her father-in-law. Second, Rachab was a harlot and was of the people that God told the children of Israel they were not to take for wives. Third, Ruth was a Moabite, though she was a godly woman, yet no seed of the Moabites were to come unto the congregation until the tenth generation. Fourth, David committed both the sin of adultery and of murder in the matter of Urijah and his wife. This also illustrates the mercy of God in forgiving the sins of his people. Also, this illustrates that the stream leading up to the conception of Christ was a polluted stream, yet God through the virgin birth was able to bring forth a child who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.