Matthew 1
Vincent's Word Studies
The Gospel According to Matthew


Concerning Matthew personally we know very little. He was a son of Alphaeus, a brother of James the Little, possibly a brother of Thomas Didymus. The only facts which the gospels record about him are his call and his farewell feast. He had been a publican or tax-collector under the Roman government; an office despised by the Jews because of the extortions which commonly attended it, and because it was a galling token of subjection to a foreign power. When called by Christ, Matthew forsook at once his office and his old name of Levi. Tradition records of him that he lived the life of an ascetic, on herbs and water. There is a legend that after the dispersion of the apostles he travelled into Egypt and Ethiopia preaching the Gospel; that he was entertained in the capital of Ethiopia in the house of the eunuch whom Philip baptized, and that he overcame two magicians who had afflicted the people with diseases. It is further related that he raised the son of the king of Egypt from the dead, healed his daughter Iphigenia of leprosy, and placed her at the head of a community of virgins dedicated to the service of God; and that a heathen king, attempting to tear her from her asylum, was smitten with leprosy, and his palace destroyed by fire.

According to the Greek legend he died in peace; but according to the tradition of the Western Church he suffered martyrdom.

Mrs. Jameson ("Sacred and Legendary Art") says: "Few churches are dedicated to St. Matthew. I am not aware that he is the patron saint of any country, trade, or profession, unless it be that of tax-gatherer or exciseman; and this is perhaps the reason that, except where he figures as one of the series of evangelists or apostles, he is so seldom represented alone, or in devotional pictures. When he is portrayed as an evangelist, he holds a book or a pen; and the angel, his proper attribute and attendant, stands by, pointing up to heaven or dictating, or he holds the inkhorn, or he supports the book. In his character of apostle, St. Matthew frequently holds a purse or money-bag, as significant of his former vocation."

Matthew wrote, probably in Palestine, and evidently for Jewish Christians. There are two views as to the language in which his gospel was originally composed: one that he wrote it in Hebrew or Syro-Chaldaic, the dialect spoken in Palestine by the Jewish Christians; the other that he wrote it in Greek. The former theory is supported by the unanimous testimony of the early church; and the fathers who assert this, also declare that his work was translated into Greek. In that case the translation was most probably made by Matthew himself, or under his supervision. The drift of modern scholarship, however, is toward the theory of a Greek original. Great uncertainty prevails as to the time of composition. According to the testimony of the earliest Christian fathers, Matthew's gospel is the first in order, though the internal evidence favors the priority of Mark. Evidently it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem (a.d. 70). "Had that event preceded the writing of the synoptic gospels and the epistles of St. Paul, nothing is more certain than that it must have been directly mentioned, and that it must have exercised an immense influence on the thoughts and feelings of the apostles and evangelists. No writer dealing with the topics and arguments and prophecies with which they are constantly occupied, could possibly have failed to appeal to the tremendous sanction which had been given to all their views by God himself, who thus manifested his providence in human history, and showed all things by the quiet light of inevitable circumstances" (Farrar, "Messages of the Books").

Matthew's object was to exhibit the Gospel as the fulfilment of the law and the prophecies; to connect the past with the present; to show that Jesus was the Messiah of the Jews, and that in the Old Testament the New was prefigured, while in the New Testament the Old was revealed. Hence his gospel has a more decidedly Jewish flavor than any other of the synoptics. The sense of Jewish nationality appears in the record of Christ's words about the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 15:24); in the command not to go into the way of the Gentiles nor into the villages of the Samaritans (Matthew 10:5); in the prophecy that the apostles shall sit as judges in "the regeneration" (Matthew 19:28). Also in the tracing of the genealogy of our Lord no further back than to Abraham; in the emphasis laid on the works of the law (Matthew 5:19; Matthew 12:33, Matthew 12:37); and in the prophecy which makes the end of Israel contemporaneous with the "consummation of the age" (Matthew 24:3, Matthew 24:22; Matthew 10:23).

On the other hand, a more comprehensive character appears in the adoration of the infant Jesus by the Gentile magi; in the prophecy of the preaching of the Gospel of the kingdom to all the world (Matthew 24:14), and the apostolic commission to go to all nations (Matthew 28:19); in the commendation of the faith of a Gentile above that of Israel (Matthew 8:10-12; compare the story of the Syro-phoenician woman, Matthew 15:28); in the use of the word "Jews," as if he were outside the circle of Jewish nationality; in the parables of the laborers in the vineyard (20:1-16), and of the marriage of the king's son (Matthew 22:1-14); in the threat of taking away the kingdom from Israel (Matthew 21:43), and in the value attached to the moral and religious element of the law (Matthew 22:40; Matthew 23:23). The genealogy of Jesus contains the Gentile names of Rahab the Canaanite, and Ruth the Moabitess. To Matthew Jesus is alike the Messiah of the Jew and the Saviour of the world.

It being his task to show how the law and the prophets were fulfilled in Christ, his allusions are frequent to the Old Testament scriptures. He has upward of sixty references to the Old Testament. His citations are of two classes: those which he quotes himself as fulfilled in the events of Christ's life, such as Matthew 1:23; Matthew 2:15, Matthew 2:18; Matthew 4:15, Matthew 4:16; and those which are a part of the discourse of his different characters, such as Matthew 3:3; Matthew 4:4, Matthew 4:6, Matthew 4:7, Matthew 4:10; Matthew 15:4, Matthew 15:8, Matthew 15:9. He exhibits the law of Christ, not only as the fulfilment of the Mosaic law, but in contrast with it, as is illustrated in the Sermon on the Mount. Yet, while representing the new law as gentler than the old, he represents it, at the same time, as more stringent (see Matthew 5:28, Matthew 5:32, Matthew 5:34, Matthew 5:39, Matthew 5:44). His gospel is of a sterner type than Luke's, which has been rightly styled "the Gospel of universality and tolerance." The retributive element is more prominent in it. Sin appeals to him primarily as the violation of law; and therefore his word for iniquity is ἀνουμία, lawlessness, which occurs nowhere else in the Gospels. He alone records the saying, "Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14), and, as Professor Abbot has acutely remarked, the distinction between the called (κλητοί) and the chosen (ἐκλεκτοί) is the more remarkable, because Paul uses the two words almost indifferently, and Luke, although he too has the parable of the unworthy guests, has not ventured to use κλντοί in Matthew's disparaging signification (Art. "Gospels," in Encyclop. Britannica). To him, also, is peculiar the record of the saying that "Whosoever shall break one of the least commandments, and teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:19). To continue the quotation from Professor Abbot, "Matthew, more than the rest of the evangelists, seems to move in evil days, and amid a race of backsliders, among dogs and swine, who are unworthy of the pearls of truth; among the tares sown by the enemy; among fishermen who have to cast back again many of the fish caught in the net of the Gospel. The broad way is ever in his mind, and the multitude of those that go thereby, and the guest without the wedding garment, and the foolish virgins, and the goats as well as the sheep, and those who even cast out devils in the name of the Lord, and yet are rejected by him because they work 'lawlessness.' Where Luke speaks exultantly of joy in heaven over one repentant sinner, Matthew, in more negative and sober phrases, declares that it is not the will of the Father that one of the little ones should perish; and as a reason for not being distracted about the future, it is alleged that 'sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.' The condition of the Jews, their increasing hostility to the Christians, and the wavering or retrogression of many Jewish converts when the hostility became intensified shortly before and during the siege of Jerusalem - this may well explain one side of Matthew's gospel; and the other side (the condemnation of 'lawlessness') might find an explanation in a reference to Hellenizing Jews, who (like some of the Corinthians) considered that the new law set them free from all restraint, and who, in casting aside every vestige of nationality, wished to cast aside morality as well. Viewed in the light of the approaching fall of Jerusalem, and the retrogression of great masses of the nation, the introduction into the Lord's Prayer of the words 'Deliver us from the evil,' and the prediction that 'by reason of the multiplying of lawlessness the love of many shall wax cold,' will seem not only appropriate, but typical of the character of the whole of the First Gospel."

As related to the other synoptical gospels, Matthew's contains fourteen entire sections which are peculiar to him alone. These include ten parables' The Tares; the Hid Treasure; the Pearl; the Draw-net; the Unmerciful Servant; the Laborers in the Vineyard; the Two Sons; the Marriage of the King's Son; the Ten Virgins, and the Talents. Two miracles: The Cure of Two Blind Men, and the Coin in the Fish's Mouth. Four events of the infancy' The Visit of the Magi; the Massacre of the Infants; the Flight into Egypt, and the Return to Nazareth. Seven incidents connected with the Passion and the Resurrection' the Bargain and Suicide of Judas; the Dream of Pilate's Wife; the Resurrection of the Departed Saints; the Watch at the Sepulchre; the Story of the Sanhedrim, and the Earthquake on the Resurrection Morning. Ten great passages of our Lord's discourses: Parts of Sermon on the Mount (5-7); the Revelation to Babes; the Invitations to the Weary (Matthew 11:25-30); Idle Words (Matthew 12:36, Matthew 12:37); the Prophecy to Peter (Matthew 16:17-19); Humility and Forgiveness (18:15-35); Rejection of the Jews (Matthew 21:43); the Great Denunciation (23); the Discourse about Last Things (25:31-46); the Great Commission and Promise (Matthew 28:18-20).

Hence Matthew's is pre-eminently the didactic Gospel, one-quarter of the whole being occupied with the actual words and discourses of the Lord.

Matthew is less characteristic in style than in arrangement and matter. The orderly, business-like traits which had been fostered by his employment as a publican, appear in his methodical arrangement and grouping of his subject. His narrative is more sober and less graphic than either Mark's or Luke's. The picture of our Lord's life, character, and work, as Teacher, Saviour, and Messianic King, is painted simply, broadly, and boldly, but without minute detail, such as abounds in Mark. His diction and construction are the most Hebraistic of the synoptists, though less so than those of John's gospel. The following Hebrew peculiarities are to be noted: 1. The phrase, Kingdom of Heaven (βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν), which occurs thirty-two times, and is not found in the other evangelists, who use Kingdom of God. 2. Father in Heaven, or Heavenly Father (ὁ πατὴρ ὁ ἐν οὐρανοῖς: ὁ πατὴρ ὁοὐράνοις). This occurs fifteen times in Matthew, only twice in Mark, and not at all in Luke, Luke 11:2 being a false reading. 3. Son of David, seven times in Matthew, three in Mark, three in Luke 4. The Holy City (Jerusalem), in Matthew only. 5. The end of the world, or consumption of the age (ἡ συντέλεια τοῦ αἰῶνος), in Matthew only. 6. In order that it might be fulfilled which was spoken (ἵνα or ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθέν), eight times in Matthew, and not elsewhere in this form. This is Matthew's characteristic formula. 7. That which was spoken (τὸ ῥηθέν), twelve times; It was spoken (ἐῤῥήθη), six times. Not elsewhere used of scripture, for Mark 13:14 is a false reading. Matthew always uses that which was spoken (τὸ ῥηθέν) when quoting scripture himself. In other quotations he has It is written (γέγοαπται), like the other evangelists. He never uses the singular γραφή (properly a passage of scripture). 8. And behold (καὶ ἰδού), in narrative, twenty-three times; in Luke, sixteen. 9. Heathen, (ἐθνικός), in Matthew only. 10. To swear in (ὀμνύειν ἐν, i.e., by), thirteen times, in Matthew and Revelation 10:6.

A number of words condemned by the grammarians as un-classical or as slang are employed by Mark, and a few of these may be found in Matthew, such as μονόφθαλμος, having one eye; κολλυβισταί, money-changers; κοράσιον, maid; ῥαφίς, a needle. He also uses some Latinisms, three at least in common with Mark: πραιτώριον, praetorium ; κῆνσος, tribute; φραγελλόω, to scourge; also κουστωδία, guard, peculiar to him alone.

He frequently uses the words to come or go (προσέρχομαι, πορέυω) after the oriental manner, to expand his narrative; as, when the tempter came he said (Matthew 4:3); a centurion came beseeching (Matthew 8:5); a scribe came and said (Matthew 8:19); the disciples of John came, saying (Matthew 9:14). The former of these verbs (προσέρχομαι) occurs fifty-one times, while in Mark it is found but six times, and in Luke, ten. The word ὄναρ, a dream, is used by him alone in the New Testament, and always in the phrase κατ' ὄναρ, in a dream. It occurs six times. Τάφος, a tomb, is also peculiar to him, the other evangelists using μνῆμα or μνημεῖον the latter being used also by Matthew. ὁ λεγόμενος, who is called, is a favorite expression in announcing names or surnames (Matthew 1:16; Matthew 10:2; Matthew 26:3, Matthew 26:14). He adds of the people to scribes or elders (Matthew 2:4; Matthew 21:23; Matthew 26:3, Matthew 26:47; Matthew 27:1). He writes, into the name (εἰς τὸ ὄνομα), where the other evangelists have ἐν, in, or ἐπί, upon (Matthew 10:41, Matthew 10:42; Matthew 18:20; Matthew 28:19). His favorite particle of transition is τότε, then, which occurs ninety times, to six in Mark and fourteen in Luke (Luke 2:7; Luke 3:5; Luke 8:26; Luke 11:20, etc.). There are about a hundred and twenty words which are used by him alone in the New Testament. Two instances occur of a play upon words: ἀφανίζουσι φανῶσι, they make their real faces disappear, in order that they may appear (Matthew 6:16); κακοὺς κακῶς, he will evilly destroy those evil husbandmen" (Matthew 21:41).

The writer is utterly merged in his narrative. The very lack of individuality in his style corresponds with the fact that, with the single exception of the incident of his call and feast, he does not appear in his gospel, even as asking a question. It has been suggested that traces of his old employment appear in the use of the word tribute-money, instead of penny, and in the record of the miracle of the coin in the fish's mouth; but the name "Matthew the publican" serves rather to emphasize his obscurity. The Jew who received the Messiah he portrayed could never lose his disgust for the office and class which he represented. A gospel written by a publican would seem least of all adapted to reach the very people to whom it was addressed. Whether or not the perception of this fact may have combined to produce this reticence, with the humility engendered by his contemplation of his Lord, certain it is that the evangelist himself is completely hidden behind the bold, broad masses in which are depicted the Messiah of Jewish hope, the Saviour of mankind, the consummate flower of the ancient law, and the perfect life and unrivalled teaching of the Son of David.


The Gospel (εὐαγγέλιον)

Signifies originally a present given in return for joyful news. Thus Homer makes Ulysses say to Eumseus, "Let this reward εὐαγγέλιον be given me for my good news" (Od., 14:152). In Attic Greek it meant (in the plural) a sacrifice for good tidings. Later it comes to mean the good news itself - the joyful tidings of Messiah's kingdom. Though the word came naturally to be used as the title of books containing the history of the good tidings, in the New Testament itself it is never employed in the sense of a written book, but always means the word preached.

According to (κατά)

This is not the same as the phrase Gospel of Matthew. The Gospel is God's, not Matthew's nor Luke's; and is substantially one and the same in all the evangelists' writings. The words "according to," therefore, imply a generic element in the Gospel which Matthew has set forth in his own peculiar style. The meaning is, the good tidings of the kingdom, as delivered or represented by Matthew.

Matthew (Ματθαῖον)

The names Matthew and Levi denote the same person (Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27). The name Levi is wanting in all lists of the apostles, but Matthew is named in all these lists. The Jews marked decisive changes in their life by a change of name (compare Simon and Peter; Saul and Paul); so that it is evident that Levi, after his call to the apostolate, styled himself Matthew, a contracted form of the Hebrew Mattathias, meaning gift of God; a name reproduced in the Greek Theodore (θεός, God; δῶρον, a gift). This name so completely displaced the old one that it is anticipated by Matthew himself in Matthew 9:9, where he is called Matthew; whereas Mark and Luke, in narrating his call, more correctly style him Levi (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27); while in their lists of the apostles (Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13) they rightly call him Matthew.

List of Greek Words Used by Matthew Only

ἀγγεῖον vessel Matthew 13:48; Matthew 25:4 ἄγκιστρον hook Matthew 17:27 ἀθῶος innocent Matthew 27:4, Matthew 27:24 αἱμοῤῥοέω having an issue of blood Matthew 9:20 αιἱρετίζω choose Matthew 12:18 ἀκμήν yet Matthew 15:16 ἀκριβόω inquire diligently Matthew 2:7, Matthew 2:16 ἀναβιβάζω draw up Matthew 13:48 ἀναίτιος blameless Matthew 12:5, Matthew 12:7 ἄνηθον anise Matthew 23:23 ἀπάγχομαι hang one's self Matthew 27:5 ἀπονίπτω wash Matthew 27:24 Βάρ son Matthew 16:17 Βαρύτιμος very precious Matthew 26:7 Βασανιστής tormentor Matthew 18:34 Βαττολογέω use vain repetitions Matthew 6:7 Βιαστής violent Matthew 11:12 Βροχή rain Matthew 7:25, Matthew 7:27 δάνειον debt Matthew 18:27 δεῖνα (ὁ) such a man Matthew 26:18 δέσμη bundles Matthew 13:30 διακωλύω forbid Matthew 3:14 διαλλάττομαι be reconciled Matthew 5:24 διασαφέω tell Matthew 18:31 δίδραχμον half-shekel Matthew 17:24 διέξοδος parting of the highways Matthew 22:9 διετής two years old Matthew 2:16 διστάζω doubt Matthew 14:31; Matthew 28:17 διΰλίζω strain through Matthew 23:24 διχάζω set at variance Matthew 10:35 ἑβδομηκοντάκις seventy times Matthew 18:22 ἔγερσις resurrection Matthew 27:53 ἐθνικός Gentile Matthew 5:47; Matthew 6:7; Matthew 18:17 ειδέα countenance Matthew 28:3 ἐιρηνοποιός peacemaker Matthew 5:9 ἐκλάμπω shine forth Matthew 13:43 Ἐμμανουήλ Emmanuel Matthew 1:23 ἐμπορία merchandise Matthew 22:5 ἐμπρήθω burn up Matthew 22:7 ἐξορκίζω adjure Matthew 26:63 ἐξώτερος outer Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30 ἐπιγαμβρεύω marry Matthew 22:24 ἐπικαθίζω to set upon Matthew 21:7 ἐπιορκέω forswear Matthew 5:33 ἐπισπείρω sow upon Matthew 13:25 ἐρεύγομαι utter Matthew 13:35 ἐρίζω strive Matthew 12:19 ἐρίφιον goat, kid Matthew 25:33 ἑταῖρος fellow, friend Matthew 11:16; Matthew 20:13; Matthew 22:12; Matthew 26:50 εὐδία fair weather Matthew 16:2 εὐνοέω agree Matthew 5:25 εὐνουχίζω make a eunuch Matthew 19:12 εὐρύχωρος broad Matthew 7:13 ζιζάνια tares 13:25-40 Ἠλί my God Matthew 27:46 θαυμάσιος wonderful Matthew 21:15 θεριστής reaper Matthew 13:30, Matthew 13:39 θρῆνος lamentation Mat 2:18 θυμόομια to be wroth Matthew 2:16 ἰῶτα jot Matthew 5:18 καθά as Matthew 27:10 καθηγητής master Matthew 23:8, Matthew 23:10 καταμανθάνω consider Matthew 6:28 καταναθεματίζω curse Matthew 26:74 καταποντίζομαι sink, be drowned Matthew 14:30; Matthew 18:6 κῆτος whale Matthew 12:40 κουστωδία watch, guard Matthew 27:65, Matthew 27:66; Matthew 28:11 κρυφαῖος secret Matthew 6:18 κύμινον cummin Matthew 23:23 κώνωψ gnat Matthew 23:24 μαλακία sickness Matthew 4:23; Matthew 9:35; Matthew 10:1 μεῖζον the more Matthew 20:31 μεταίρω depart Matthew 13:53; Matthew 19:1 μετοικεσία carrying away Matthew 1:11, Matthew 1:12, Matthew 1:17 μιλιον mile Matthew 5:41 μισθόομαι hire Matthew 20:1, Matthew 20:7 μύλων mill Matthew 24:41 νόμισμα tribute-money Matthew 22:19 νοσσιά brood Matthew 23:37 οἰκἔτεια household Matthew 24:25 οἰκιακός belonging to the house Matthew 10:25, Matthew 10:36 ὄναρ dream Matthew 1:20; Matthew 2:12, Matthew 2:13, Matthew 2:19, Matthew 2:22; Matthew 27:19 οὐδαμῶς by no means Matthew 2:6 παγιδεύω ensnare Matthew 22:15 παραθαλάσιος upon the sea-coast Matthew 4:13 παρακούω neglect Matthew 18:17 παρομοιάζω to be like unto Matthew 23:27 παροψίς platter Matthew 23:25 πλατύς wide Matthew 7:13 πολυλογία much-speaking Matthew 6:7 προφθάνω forestall Matthew 17:25 πυῤῥάζω to be red or fiery Matthew 16:2, Matthew 16:3 ῥακά Raca Matthew 5:22 ῥαπίζω smite Matthew 5:39; Matthew 26:67 σαγήνη drag-net Matthew 13:47 σεληνιάζομαι to be lunatic Matthew 4:24; Matthew 17:15. σιτιστός fatling Matthew 22:4 : στατήρ stater; piece of money Matthew 17:27 συναίρω take (a reckoning) Matthew 18:23, Matthew 18:24; Matthew 25:19 συνάντησις meeting Matthew 8:34 συναυξάνομαι grow together Matthew 13:30 συνάσσω appoint Matthew 26:19; Matthew 27:10 τάλαντον talent Matthew 18:24; Matthew 25:15-28 ταφή burial Matthew 27:7 τελευτή end (in sense of death) Matthew 2:15 τραπεζίτης exchanger Matthew 25:27 τρύπημα eye (of a needle) Matthew 19:24 τυφόω to smoke Matthew 12:20 φράζω declare Matthew 13:36; Matthew 15:15 φυλακτήριον phylactery Matthew 23:5 φυτεία plant Matthew 15:13 χλαμύς robe Matthew 27:28, Matthew 27:31 ψευδομαρτυρία false witness Matthew 25:19; Matthew 26:59. ψύχομαι wax cold Matthew 24:12

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Christ (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.)

Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;
David the king (τὸν Δαυεὶδ τὸν βασιλέα, "the David, the king")

Both words are thus emphasized: the David from whom Christ, if he were the Messiah, must have descended; the king with whom the Messiah's genealogy entered upon the kingly dignity. In this genealogy, where the generations are divided symmetrically into three sets of fourteen, the evangelist seems to connect the last of each set with a critical epoch in the history of Israel: the first reaching from the origin of the race to the commencement of the monarchy ("David the king"); the second, from the commencement of the monarchy to the captivity in Babylon; the third and last, from the captivity to the coming of "the Christ." The same emphatic or demonstrative use of the article occurs with the name of Joseph (Matthew 1:16), marking his peculiar relation to Jesus as the husband of Mary: the Joseph, the husband of Mary.

And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;
And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;
And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;
And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:
And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
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.
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.
Espoused (μνηστευθείσης: Rev., betrothed; Tynd., maryed)

The narrative implies a distinction between betrothal and marriage. From the moment of her betrothal a woman was treated as if actually married. The union could be dissolved only by regular divorce. Breach of faithfulness was regarded as adultery, and was punishable with death (Deuteronomy 22:23, Deuteronomy 22:24), and the woman's property became virtually that of her betrothed, unless he had expressly renounced it; but, even in that ease, he was her natural heir.

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
Not willing (μὴ θέλων) - was minded (ἐβουλήθη)

These two words, describing the working of Joseph's mind, and evidently intended to express different phases of thought, open the question of their distinctive meanings in the New Testament, where they frequently occur (θέλω much oftener than βούλομαι), and where the rendering, in so many eases by the same words, furnishes no clue to the distinction. The original words are often used synonymously in eases where no distinction is emphasized; but their use in other eases reveals a radical and recognized difference. An interchange is inadmissible when the greater force of the expression requires θέλειν. For instance, βαούλεσθαι, would be entirely inappropriate at Matthew 8:3, "I will, be thou cleansed;" or at Romans 7:15.

The distinction, which is abundantly illustrated in Homer, is substantially maintained by the classical writers throughout, and in the New Testament.

Θέλειν is the stronger word, and expresses a purpose or determination or decree, the execution of which is, or is believed to be, in the power of him who wills. Βούλεσθαι expresses wish, inclination, or disposition, whether one desires to do a thing himself or wants some one else to do it. Θέλειν, therefore, denotes the active resolution, the will urging on to action. Βούλεσθαι is to have a mind, to desire, sometimes a little stronger, running into the sense of purpose. Θέλειν indicates the impulse of the will; βούλεσθαι, its tendency. Βούλεσθαι can always be rendered by θέλειν, but θέλειν cannot always be expressed by βούλεσθαι.

Thus, Agamemnon says, "I would not (οὐκ ἔθελον) receive the ransom for the maid (i.e., I refused to receive), because I greatly desire (βούλομαι) to have her at home" (Homer, "II.," 1:112). So Demosthenes: "It is fitting that you should be willing (ἐθέλειν) to listen to those who wish (βουλομένων) to advise" ("Olynth.," 1:1). That is to say, It is in your power to determine whether or not you will listen to those who desire to advise you, but whose power to do so depends on your consent. Again: "If the gods will it (θέλωσι) and you wish it (βούλησθε)" (Demosth., "Olynth.," 2:20).

In the New Testament, as observed above, though the words are often interchanged, the same distinction is recognized. Thus, Matthew 2:18, "Rachael would not (ἤθελε) be comforted;" obstinately and positively refused. Joseph, having the right and power under the (assumed) circumstances to make Mary a public example, resolved (θέλων) to spare her this exposure. Then the question arose - What should he do? On this he thought, and, having thought (ἐνθυμηθέντος), his mind inclined (tendency), he was minded (ἐβουλήθη) to put her away secretly.

Some instances of the interchanged use of the two words are the following: Mark 15:15, "Pilate willing" (βουλόμενος); compare Luke 23:20, "Pilate willing" (θέλων). Acts 27:43, "The centurion willing" (βουλόμενος); Matthew 27:17, "Whom will ye that I release" (θέλετε); so Matthew 27:21. John 18:39, "Will ye that I release" (βούλεσθε); Matthew 14:5, "When he would have put him to death" (θέλων). Mark 6:48, "He would have passed by them" (ἤθελε); Acts 19:30, "Paul would have entered" (βουλόμενος). Acts 18:27, "He was disposed to pass" (βουλόμενος). Titus 3:8, "I will that thou affirm" (βούλομαι). Mark 6:25, "I will that thou give me" (θέλω), etc., etc.

In the New Testament θέλω occurs in the following senses:

1. A decree or determination of the will. (a) Of God (Matthew 12:7; Romans 9:16, Romans 9:18; Acts 18:21; 1 Corinthians 4:19; 1 Corinthians 12:18; 1 Corinthians 15:38). (b) Of Christ (Matthew 8:3; John 17:24; John 5:21; John 21:22). (c) Of men (Acts 25:9). Festus, having the power to gratify the Jews, and determining to do so, says to Paul, who has the right to decide, "Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem?" John 6:67, Others of the disciples had decided to leave Jesus. Christ said to the twelve, "Will ye also go away?" Is that your determination? John 7:17, If any man sets his will, is determined to do God's will. John 8:44, The lusts of your father your will is set to do. Acts 24:6.

2. A wish or desire. Very many of the passages, however, which are cited under this head (as by Grimm) may fairly be interpreted as implying something stronger than a wish; notably Mark 14:36, of Christ in Gethsemane. Our Lord would hardly have used what thou wilt in so feeble a sense as that of a desire or wish on God's part. Mark 10:43, "Whosoever will be great," expresses more than the desire for greatness. It is the purpose of the life. Matthew 27:15, It was given to the Jews to decide what prisoner should be released. Luke 1:62, The name of the infant John was referred to Zacharias' decision. John 17:24, Surely Christ does more than desire that those whom the Father has given him shall be with him. Luke 9:54, It is for Jesus to command fire upon the Samaritan villages if he so wills. (See, also, John 15:7; 1 Corinthians 4:21; Matthew 16:25; Matthew 19:17; John 21:22; Matthew 13:28; Matthew 17:12.) In the sense of wish or desire may fairly be cited 2 Corinthians 11:12; Matthew 12:38; Luke 8:20; Luke 23:8; John 12:21; Galatians 4:20; Matthew 7:12; Mark 10:35.

3. A liking (Mark 12:38; Luke 20:46; Matthew 27:43). (See note there.)

Βούλομαι occurs in the following senses:

1. Inclination or disposition (Acts 18:27; Acts 19:30; Acts 25:22; Acts 28:18; 2 Corinthians 1:15).

2. Stronger, with the idea of purpose (1 Timothy 6:9; James 1:18; James 3:4; 1 Corinthians 12:11; Hebrews 6:17).

In most, if not all of these cases, we might expect θέλειν; but in this use of βούλομαι there is an implied emphasis on the element of free choice or self-determination, which imparts to the desire or inclination a decretory force. This element is in the human will by gift and consent. In the divine will it is inherent. At this point the Homeric usage may be compared in its occasional employment of βούλομαι to express determination, but only with reference to the gods, in whom to wish is to will. Thus, "Whether Apollo will (βου.λεται) ward off the plague" ("II.," 1:67). "Apollo willed (βούλετο) victory to the Trojans" ("Il.," 7:21).

To make a public example (δειγματίσαι)

The word is kindred to δείκνυμι, to exhibit, display, point out. Here, therefore, to expose Mary to public shame (Wyc., publish her; Tynd., defame her). The word occurs in Colossians 2:15, of the victorious Saviour displaying the vanquished powers of evil as a general displays his trophies or captives in a triumphal procession. "He made a show of them openly." A compound of the same word (παραδειγματίζω) appears in Hebrews 6:6, "They crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."

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.
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Shalt call

Thus committing the office of a father to Joseph. The naming of the unborn Messiah would accord with popular notions. The Rabbis had a saying concerning the six whose names were given before their birth: "Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, Solomon, Josiah, and the name of the Messiah, whom may the Holy One, blessed be His name, bring quickly in our days."

Jesus (Ιησοῦν)

The Greek form of a Hebrew name, which had been borne by two illustrious individuals in former periods of the Jewish history - Joshua, the successor of Moses, and Jeshua, the high-priest, who with Zerubbabel took so active a part in the re-establishment of the civil and religious polity of the Jews on their return from Babylon. Its original and full form is Jehoshua, becoming by contraction Joshua or Jeshua. Joshua, the son of Nun, the successor of Moses, was originally named Hoshea (saving), which was altered by Moses into Jehoshua (Jehovah (our) Salvation) (Numbers 13:16). The meaning of the name, therefore, finds expression in the title Saviour, applied to our Lord (Luke 1:47; Luke 2:11; John 4:42).

Joshua, the son of Nun, is a type of Christ in his office of captain and deliverer of his people, in the military aspect of his saving work (Revelation 19:11-16). As God's revelation to Moses was in the character of a law-giver, his revelation to Joshua was in that of the Lord of Hosts (Joshua 5:13, Joshua 5:14). Under Joshua the enemies of Israel were conquered, and the people established in the Promised Land. So Jesus leads his people in the fight with sin and temptation. He is the leader of the faith which overcomes the world (Hebrews 12:2). Following him, we enter into rest.

The priestly office of Jesus is foreshadowed in the high-priest Jeshua, who appears in the vision of Zechariah (Zechariah 3:1-10; compare Ezra 2:2) in court before God, under accusation of Satan, and clad in filthy garments. Jeshua stands not only for himself, but as the representative of sinning and suffering Israel. Satan is defeated. The Lord rebukes him, and declares that he will redeem and restore this erring people; and in token thereof he commands that the accused priest be clad in clean robes and crowned with the priestly mitre.

Thus in this priestly Jeshua we have a type of our "Great High-Priest, touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and in all points tempted and tried like as we are;" confronting Satan in the wilderness; trying conclusions with him upon the victims of his malice - the sick, the sinful, and the demon-ridden. His royal robes are left behind. He counts not "equality with God a thing to be grasped at," but "empties himself," taking the "form of a servant," humbling himself and becoming "obedient even unto death" (Philippians 2:6, Philippians 2:7, Rev.). He assumes the stained garments of our humanity. He who "knew no sin" is "made to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). He is at once priest and victim. He pleads for sinful man before God's throne. He will redeem him. He will rebuke the malice and cast down the power of Satan. He will behold him" as lightning fall from heaven" (Luke 10:18). He will raise and save and purify men of weak natures, rebellious wills, and furious passions - cowardly braggarts and deniers like Peter, persecutors like Saul of Tarsus, charred brands - and make them witnesses of his grace and preachers of his love and power. His kingdom shall be a kingdom of priests, and the song of his redeemed church shall be, "unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his own blood, and made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father; to him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (Revelation 1:5, Revelation 1:6, in Rev.).

It is no mere fancy which sees a suggestion and a foreshadowing of the prophetic work of Jesus in the economy of salvation, in a third name closely akin to the former. Hoshea, which we know in our English Bible as Hosea, was the original name of Joshua (compare Romans 9:25, Rev.) and means saving. He is, in a peculiar sense, the prophet of grace and salvation, placing his hope in God's personal coming as the refuge and strength of humanity; in the purification of human life by its contact with the divine. The great truth which he has to teach is the love of Jehovah to Israel as expressed in the relation of husband, an idea which pervades his prophecy, and which is generated by his own sad domestic experience. He foreshadows Jesus in his pointed warnings against sin, his repeated offers of divine mercy, and his patient, forbearing love, as manifested in his dealing with an unfaithful and dissolute wife, whose soul he succeeded in rescuing from sin and death (Hosea 1-3). So long as he lived, he was one continual, living prophecy of the tenderness of God toward sinners; a picture of God's love for us when alien from him, and with nothing in us to love. The faithfulness of the prophetic teacher thus blends in Hosea, as in our Lord, with the compassion and sympathy and sacrifice of the priest.

He (αὐτὸς)

Emphatic; and so rightly in Rev., "For it is He that shall save his people."

Their sins (ἁμαρτιῶν)

Akin to ἁμαρτάνω, to miss a mark; as a warrior who throws his spear and fails to strike his adversary, or as a traveller who misses his way. In this word, therefore, one of a large group which represent sin under different phases, sin is conceived as a failing and missing the true end and scope of our lives, which is God.

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Through the prophet (διά)

So the Rev. rightly, instead of by. In quotations from the Old Testament, the writers habitually use the preposition διὰ (through) to denote the instrumentality through which God works or speaks, while they reserve ὑπὸ (by) to express the primary agency of God himself. So here the prophecy in Matthew 1:23was spoken by the Lord, but was communicated to men through his prophet.

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.
The virgin (ἡ παρθένος)

Note the demonstrative force of the article, pointing to a particular person. Not, some virgin or other.

They shall call (καλὲσουσιν)

In Matthew 1:21, it is thou shalt call. The original of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14) has she shall call; but Matthew generalizes the singular into the plural, and quotes the prophecy in a form suited to its larger and final fulfilment: men shall call his name Immanuel, as they shall come to the practical knowledge that God will indeed dwell with men upon the earth.

Immanuel (Hebrew, God is with us)

To protect and save. A comment is furnished by Isaiah 8:10, "Devise a device, but it shall come to naught; speak a word, but it shall not stand, for with us is God." Some suppose that Isaiah embodied the purport of his message in the names of his children: Maher-shalal-hash-baz (speed-prey), a warning of the coming of the fierce Assyrians; Shear-Jashub (a remnant shall return), a reminder of God's mercy to Israel in captivity, and Immanuel (God is with us), a promise of God's presence and succor. However this may be, the promise of the name is fulfilled in Jesus (compare "Lo, I am with you alway," Matthew 28:20) by his helpful and saving presence with his people in their sorrow, their conflict with sin, and their struggle with death.

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
The or his sleep (τοῦ ὕπνου)

The force of the definite article; the sleep in which he had the vision. So Rev., "Arose from his sleep."

And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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