William Kelly Major Works Commentary
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.Matthew Chapter 1
I have thought. it would be profitable to take up one of the Gospels, and to trace, as simply as the Lord enables me, the general outline of the truth revealed there. It is my desire to point out the special object and design of the Holy Ghost, so as to furnish those who value God's word with such hints as may tend to meet some of the difficulties that arise in the minds of many, and also to put in a clearer light great truths that are apt to be passed lightly over. Here I may assume that the Spirit of God has not given us these accounts of our Lord liable to the mistakes of men, but that He has, on the contrary, kept His mighty, unerring hand over those who in themselves were men of like passions with us. In a word, the Holy Ghost has inspired these accounts in order that we might have full certainty that He is their author, and thus they are stamped with His own perfection. As He has been pleased to give us various accounts, so He has had a divine reason for each of them. In short, God has sought His own glory in this, and has secured it.
Now there can be no question, to any one who reads the Gospels with the smallest discernment, that the first is most remarkably adapted to meet the need of Jews, and that it brings out the Old Testament prophecies and other scriptures which found their realization in Jesus. Consequently, there are more scripture citations as applying to our Lord's life and death in this Gospel than in all the others put together. All this was not a thing left to Matthew's discretion. That the Holy Ghost used the mind of man in carrying out His own design is clear; but that He was pleased perfectly to guard and guide him in what he was to give out is what I mean in saying that God inspired Matthew for the purpose.
Besides presenting our Lord in such a way as best to meet the right or wrong thoughts and feelings of a Jew; besides furnishing the proofs more particularly wanted to satisfy his mind, it is evident from the character of the discourses and parables that the rejection of the Messiah by Israel, and the consequences of it to the Gentiles, are here the great prominent thoughts in the mind of the Holy Ghost. Hence there is no ascension scene in Matthew. The Jew, if he had understood the Old Testament prophecies, would have looked for a Messiah to come, suffer, die, and be raised again, "according to the Scriptures." In Matthew we have His death and resurrection, but there He is left; and we should not know from the facts related by him only that Christ went up to heaven at all. We should know it was implied in some of the words that Christ spoke; but in point of fact Matthew leaves us with Christ Himself still upon the earth. The last chapter describes, not the ascension of Christ, nor His session at God's right hand, but His speaking to the disciples here below. Such a presentation of Christ was peculiarly that which the Jews needed to know. It was more suitable to them than to any other people on the earth.
And who was the agent employed, and with what fitness? - one of the twelve who companied with our Lord from the beginning of His ministry till He was taken up from them. So far, of course, he was an evidently competent witness for the Jew, and far more suitable than Mark or Luke would have been, who were not, as far as we know, personal companions of the Lord. But there was this peculiarity - that Matthew was a publican, or tax-gatherer, by profession. Although a Jew, he was in the employment of the Gentiles, which position would make him specially odious to his countrymen. They would look upon him with more suspicion even than upon a stranger. This might make it appear at first sight the more extraordinary that the Holy Ghost should employ such a one to give the account of Jesus as the Messiah. But let us remember that there is another object all through the Gospel of Matthew; that it is not only the record of Jesus as the true Messiah to Israel, but that it shows us His rejection by Israel, and the consequences of their fatal unbelief: - all the barriers which had hitherto existed between Jew and Gentile thrown down - the mercy of God flowing out toward those who were despised, and blessing the Gentile as readily and as fully as the Jew. Thus the admirable propriety of employing Matthew the publican, and its consistency with the scope of his task, are apparent.
These few remarks may help to evince that there was the utmost fitness in the employment of the first of the four Evangelists to do the work appointed for him. If it were our object to examine the rest, it could just as easily be made manifest that each had exactly the right work to do. As we proceed through this Gospel, you will be struck, I doubt not, by the wisdom which chose such a one to give the account of the rejected Messiah, despised by His guilty brethren after the flesh.
But I shall confine myself at present to showing with what wisdom Matthew introduces such an account of the Messiah. For many must have been more or less arrested by the prefatory record of names, and may perhaps have asked, What profit is there to be had from a list like this? But let us never pass over anything in Scripture as a light or even doubtful matter. There is a depth of blessed meaning in the account Matthew gives us of the Lord's genealogy. I must therefore dwell a little on the perfectly beautiful manner in which the Spirit of God has here traced His lineage, and direct attention briefly to the way in which it harmonizes with the divine account of Jesus for the Jew, who would be constantly raising the question whether Jesus was really the Messiah.
It will be observed that the genealogy here differs totally from what we have in Luke, where it is not given at the beginning, but at the end of chapter 3. Thus, in the latter Gospel we learn a great deal about the Lord Jesus before His genealogy appears. Why was this? Luke was writing to the Gentiles, who could not be supposed to be equally, or in the same way, interested in His messianic relations. But when they had learned in some degree who Jesus was, it would be very interesting to see what was His lineage as man, and to trace Him up to Adam, the father of the whole human family. What more suitable than to link Him with the head of the race if the object were to show the grace that would go out toward all mankind, the salvation-bearing grace of God that appears unto all men? One might put that word in Titus 2 as a sort of frontispiece to Luke's Gospel. It is God's grace in the person of His Son, who had become a man, connected as to humanity with the whole family of man, though the nature in Him was ever, only, and altogether holy.
But here, in Matthew, we find ourselves on a narrower ground, circumscribed to a certain family, the royal seed of a certain nation, God's chosen people. Abraham and David are mentioned in the very first verse. "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham," Why are these two names thus selected; and why put together here in this brief summary? Because all the hopes of Israel were bound up with what was revealed to these two persons, David was the great head of the kingdom, the one in whom the true line of Messiah's throne was founded. Saul was merely the fleshly king whom Israel sought passingly for themselves out of their own will. David was the king God chose, and he is here mentioned as the forefather of the Lord's Anointed - "the Son of David." Abraham, again, was the one in whom it was said all the nations of the earth should be blessed. Thus the opening words prepare us for the whole of the Gospel. Christ came with all the reality of the kingdom promised to David's Son. But if He were refused as the Son of David, still, as the Son of Abraham, there was blessing not merely for the Jew, but for the Gentile. He is indeed the Messiah; but if Israel will not have Him, God will during their unbelief bring the nations to taste of His mercy.
Having given us this general view, we come to particulars. We begin with Abraham, tracing Jesus not up to him, but down from him. Every Israelite would begin with Abraham, and would be interested to follow the stages of the line from him on whom they all hung.* "Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren" (ver. 2). This comprehensive notice, "Judas and his brethren," seems to be of importance, and in more ways than one. It does not consist with the notion that our Evangelist in this part of the chapter simply copies the records kept by the Jews. We may be sure that men never register in this fashion. Yet it is evidently in the strictest harmony with this Gospel, for it gives prominence to the royal tribe of whom was the Messiah (Genesis 49:10), while it reminds the most favoured that others, too long out of sight, were not forgotten of God now that He is giving the genealogy of His Messiah.
* Note that it would be an impossibility now for any Jew to produce his genealogy from Abraham or David, as must be to authenticate the Messianic claim This is given us both on the legal, or Joseph's side, and the natural, or Mary's side, in Matthew and in Luke. The Messiah having come, and being rejected by the Jews, the Romans were permitted to come and destroy their temple, city, and nation; and their genealogical records might well come to an end, as they did. [Ed.
"And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar" (ver. 3). What is the reason for bringing in a woman, for naming Tamar here? There were women of great note in the lineage of the Messiah - persons whom the Jews naturally looked up to as holy and honourable. What Jewish heart would not naturally glow with strong feelings of respect in hearing of Sarah and Rebekah, and the other holy and well-known women recorded in Old Testament history? But there is no mention of them here. On the other hand, Tamar is mentioned. Why is it so? Grace lay underneath this, most rebuking to the flesh, but most precious in its way. There are four women, and only four, who appear in the line, and upon every one of them there was a blot. It is not that all the sources of reproach or shame were of the same kind. But to a proud Jew, with all these women there was connected what was humbling - something that he would have kept in the dark. Oh, wondrous way of God! What can He not do? How striking that the Holy Ghost should not here attract attention to those who would have brought honour in the eyes of Israel - nay, that He should single out these that a carnal Israelite would have held in contempt! The Messiah was to spring from a line in which there had been dismal sin. And where all that is in man would try to hide this and keep it back, the Spirit of God brings it plainly out, so that it shall stand not only in the eternal records of the Old Testament history, but here rehearsed. These, on whom there were such foul blots in the judgment of men, are the only women brought specifically before us. What is man? and what is God? What is man that such things should ever have taken place? And what is God that, instead of covering it, He should have drawn the story out of obscurity and set it in full revealed light, emblazoned, if I may so say, on the genealogy of His own Son! Not at all as if the sin were not exceeding sinful; nor as if God thought lightly of the privileges of His people - still less of the glory of His Son, or what is due to Him. But God, feeling the sin of His own people to be the worst of all sin, yet having introduced in this very Messiah the only One who could save His people from their sins, does not hesitate to bring their sin into the presence of the grace that could and would put it all away. Did the Jew think this was a scandal or dishonour done to the Messiah? From that same seed their Messiah must spring, and from no other line. It was narrowed to the house of David, and to the line of Solomon, and they were in the direct line of Judah's son Phares. No Jew could get out of the difficulty. What are we not taught by this! If the Messiah deigns to link Himself with such a family - if God is pleased so to order things that out of that stock, as concerning the flesh, His own Son, the Holy One of Israel, was to be born - surely there could be none too bad to be received of Him. He came to "save His people from their sins," not to find a people that had no sins. He came with all power to save: He showed grace by the very family whereof He was pleased to be a - or rather the - Branch. God is never confounded; neither, through grace, is he that believes, because he rests upon what God is to him. We never can be anything for God till we know that God is everything for us and to us. But when we know such a God and Father as Jesus reveals Him to us, on one side full of goodness, and on the other no darkness in Him at all, what may we not expect from Him? Who might not now be born of God? Who is there that such a God would reject? Such a hint in Matt. 1 opens the way for the wonders of grace which appear afterward. In one sense no man has such a position of ancient privileges as the Jew; yet, even as to the Messiah, this is the account that the Holy Ghost gives of His lineage. No flesh shall glory in the presence of the Lord.
But that is not all. "Phares begat Ezrom and Salmon begat Booz of Rachab" (vers. 3-5). And who and what was she? A Gentile, and once a harlot! But Rahab is taken out of all her belongings - separated from everything that was her portion by nature. And here she is, in this gospel of Jesus written for the Jew - for the very people who despised and hated Him because He would look upon a Gentile. Rahab was named for heaven already, and no Jew could deny it. She was visited of God; she was delivered outwardly and inwardly' by His mighty grace, brought into and made a part of Israel on earth - yea, by sovereign grace part of the royal line out of which the Messiah must come, and out of which, in point of fact, Jesus, who is God over all, blessed forever, was born. Oh, what marvels of grace dawn upon us while we dwell even on the mere list of names that unbelief would disparage as a dry, if not incorrect, appendage to the word of God! But faith says, I cannot do without the wisdom of God. Certainly His wisdom shines in all that He has written here. He that glories must glory in the Lord.
Might it be thought that Rahab was called in at some distant epoch? But no: "Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; and Jesse begat David the king." Ruth, loving as she was, yet to a Jew was from a source peculiarly odious. She was a Moabitess, and thus forbidden by the law to enter the congregation of the Lord to the tenth generation. Even the Edomite or the Egyptian was held in less abhorrence, and their children might enter in the third generation (Dent. 23: 3-8). Thus was given a still deeper testimony that grace would go out and bless the very worst of the Gentiles. Whether the Jews like it or not, God has Rahab, the once immoral Gentile, and Ruth, the meek daughter of Moab, brought, not only into the nation, but into the direct line from which the Messiah was to arise.
"And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her [that had been the wife] of Urias" (ver. 6). With only a few generations intervening, we have these three women, who would, for one reason or another, moral or ceremonial, have been utterly despised and excluded by the same spirit which rejected Jesus and the grace of God. It was, then, no new thought - the divine mercy that was reaching out to gather in the outcast of the Gentiles, that would look upon the vile to deliver and make them holy. It was God's way of old. They could not read the account He gives of their own Messiah's stock without seeing that it was so. And that this was the divinely prescribed channel no Jew could deny. They must all own that the Messiah was to come in no other line than that of Solomon. Oh the grace to us who know what we have been as poor sinners of the Gentiles, what wretchedness was ours, and this because of guilt and sin! "Such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
Hence the first words which introduce the Messiah give the same blessed truth, if there was an ear to hear, or an eye to see, what God had in store and was now pointing to in them. In the case last mentioned there was something more humbling than in any other. For though, of old, Tamar's story had been wretched, yet there were other features, false and lustful and violent, which met in her case that had belonged to Uriah. And this was so much the more dismal because the chief guilt was on that man's part whom God had delighted to honour, even "David the king." Who knows not that it has drawn out the deepest and most touching personal confession of sin ever inspired by the Spirit of God? (Ps. 51) Yet here again we find that he who had to do with this tale of horrors, and who uttered this psalm of sorrowful confession, was the direct forefather of the Messiah. So that, if the Jew looked to those from whom the Messiah had sprung, such must He be according to His earthly ancestors. But God records the blessed display of His ways, both for the winning of the hardest, proudest, and most sinful, and for the unfailing comfort and refreshment of those who love Him.
I need not dwell particularly upon the names that follow. We might see sin upon sin, stain upon stain, interwoven into their various histories. It was one continuous tissue of that which would cause a Jew to blush - what a man never would of himself have dared to bring out about a king that he honoured. God, in His infinite goodness, would not permit these things to slumber. Not a word is said of women who came after the Scripture record terminated; but what Jew could gainsay the lively oracles committed to them? To leave out what a Jew gloried in, and to bring in what he would have concealed through shame, and all in tender mercy to Israel, to sinners, was indeed divine. We may see from this that the mention of these four women is particularly instructive. Man could not have originated it: our place is to learn and adore. Every woman that is named is one that nature would have studiously excluded from the record; but grace made them most prominent in it. Thus the truth taught thereby ought never to be forgotten, and the Jew who wanted to know the claims of Jesus to be the Messiah might learn here what would prepare his heart and conscience for such a Messiah as Jesus is. He is a Messiah come in quest of sinners, who would despise no needy one - not even a poor publican or a harlot. The Messiah so thoroughly reflected what God is in His holy love, so true to all the purposes of God, so perfect an expression of the grace that is in God, that there never was a thought, or feeling, or word of grace in His word, but what the Messiah was come now to make it good in His dealings with poor souls, and first of all with a Jew.
This, then, is the genealogy of Christ as given us here. There are certain omissions in the list, and persons of some learning have been alike weak and daring), enough to impute a mistake to St. Matthew which no intelligent Sunday scholar would have made. For a child could copy what was clearly written out before him; and certainly Matthew could easily have taken the Old Testament and have reproduced the list of names and generations given us in the Chronicles and elsewhere. But there was a divine reason for omitting the particular names of Ahaziah, Joash and Amaziah from verse 8 - three generations. Why is it, we may be permitted to ask, that the apostle Matthew drops, of course by inspiration, some of the links of the chain? The Spirit of God was pleased to arrange the ancestry of our Lord into three divisions of fourteen generations each. Now, as there were actually more than fourteen generations between David and the Captivity, it was a matter of necessity that some should be discarded in order to equalize the series, and fourteen only are therefore recorded. Indeed, if you examine the Old Testament Scriptures, you will find that it is not at all uncommon in genealogies to drop some of the links of the chain. More than twice as many as in our verse are omitted in one place (Ezra 7:3). Now it was Ezra himself who wrote that book, and of course he knew his own descent far more familiarly than we do. And if any of us, by comparison with other parts, can find out the missing links, much more could he. And yet, in giving his own genealogy (chap. 7), the Spirit of God is pleased by him to omit no less than seven generations. This is the more remarkable as no one could exercise his rights as a priest unless he could trace his line up to Aaron without any question as to the succession. I have no doubt that there were special reasons for the omission elsewhere no less than in our Gospel; but the motives for it are a very different question. One of them I have named. There were more than twice seven generations in at least the second division; and this may have been one reason why the writer should omit several of them. But why these in particular? Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab, king of Israel, and wife of Jehoram, had thus entered by marriage the royal house of David; and a sorrowful hour it was indeed for Judah. For Athaliah, enraged at the premature end of her son, king Ahaziah, was guilty of a too successful attempt to destroy the seed-royal. But it could not be complete; for that family was selected out of all the families of God's people, never to be entirely extinguished till Shiloh came. There was but a single youthful scion, whom Jehoshabeath saved by concealment in the house of the Lord. The light was covered with a bushel for a time; but it was not put out. The then son of David appeared. It was a time when Judah had fallen into manifold and ever-deepening evil. But as surely as that young Joash was brought out of his darkness, - as truly as the priest was there to anoint the king, and the union of the two things accomplished the great purpose of God,so it will be when the years of man's rebellion against God are full. He will come forth who has been long hidden and forgotten, and all the enemies shall be trampled down; and then will Judah flourish indeed under the King, the true Son of David. For all this was the type of the reappearing of the true Messiah by and by. But my design is not so much to dwell upon that now as to inquire and suggest briefly why it is that we have these few kings omitted. The answer seems to be, that they sprang from Athaliah. Hence they were completely passed over. We find God thus marking His resentment at the introduction of that wicked and idolatrous stock from the house of Ahab. Athaliah's descendants are not mentioned even to the third generation. This appears to be the moral reason why we find three persons left out at this particular point. Then, in verse 11 we read, "And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren at the time of the removal to Babylon." It is evident that the method is summary, Jehoahaz, whom the people made king, and who reigned for but three months, not being specified, and Jehoiakim being often called by the same name as his son Jechonias.
But I will not dwell upon the minuter features of the genealogy. The word of God is infinite; and, no matter what we may have learned, it only puts us in a position to find out our ignorance. When persons are altogether in the dark, they think they know all that is to be known. But as we make real progress, we acquire a deeper sense of how little we know, and at the same time more patience with others who may know a little lessand, very possibly, somewhat more. Spiritual intelligence, instead of puffing up the loving heart, produces an increased feeling of our own littleness. Where it is not so, we have reason to fear that the mind outruns the conscience, and that both are far from being subject to the Holy Ghost.
The generations are divided into three different sections. The first is from Abraham to David, the dawn of glory for the Jews. When David "the king" was there, it was noontime in Israel - sadly chequered, it is true, and clouded through sin; but still it was noon of man's day in Israel. The second division is from thence till the carrying away to Babylon. The third is from that captivity until Christ. This last was clearly the evening history of Israel's past. But that evening is not the close. It ends with the brightest light of all - type of the day when at evening-time there shall be light. just as the prophet Haggai speaks of the house of God, as it then was, being as nothing in comparison of its first glory, and says, "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts," so a greater than Solomon was here. Although there had been the decline of the splendour of Israel, and Israel was now broken and subject to the Gentiles, the recorded decline ends in the birth of the true Messiah. Throughout the lingering captivity no persecution could destroy that chosen family; because Jesus, the Messiah of God, was to be born of it. The moment that Jesus concludes His career here below, the chain may seem forever broken as regards the earth, but it is only to be riveted to the throne of God in heaven. Jesus is there, alive again for evermore. And Jesus shall come again, and the Jews shall see and weep, even those written in the book; and Jehovah their King, even Jesus, shall reap in joy what He sowed in tears and His own blood.
But let us look for a little at the remaining view given us of our Lord Jesus in this chapter. Joseph is made very prominent. The genealogy itself is that of Joseph, not of Mary. On the other hand, Mary is the principal figure of the two in Luke, and there it is, I believe, her genealogy. Why is this? It was of necessity, for a Jew, that Jesus should be the heir of Joseph. The reason is that Joseph was the direct lineal descendant of the royal branch of David's house. There were two lines that came down unbroken to those days - the house of Solomon and the house of Nathan. Mary was the representative of Nathan's family, as Joseph was of Solomon's. If Mary had been mentioned without her connection with her husband, there would not have been a legal right to the throne of David. It was necessary that the Messiah should be born, not merely of a virgin, nor of a virgin daughter of David, but of one legally united to Joseph, i.e., in the eye of the law, really his wife. This is carefully recorded here for the special instruction of Israel; for an intelligent Jew would at once have asked that question, and everything must be fenced round with holy jealousy. Let people calumniate as they might, Mary must be espoused to Joseph; else the Lord Jesus would not have a proper title to the throne of David, and therefore the stress here is not laid upon Mary but upon Joseph, because the law would have always maintained the claim of Joseph. On the other hand, had Joseph been the real father, there could have been no Saviour at all. As it is, the wonder of divine wisdom shines most conspicuously, making Him legally the son of Joseph, really the son of Mary, who in the truth of His nature is the Son of God. And all three met and merged in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. He must be the undisputed heir of Joseph according to the law, and Joseph was espoused to Mary. The child must be born before Joseph ever lived with Mary as his wife, and this we are carefully shown here.
"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. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream," etc. (vers. 18-20). Here the angel appears to Joseph in a dream. In Luke the angel appears to Mary. It is thus in Matthew because Joseph was the important person in the eye of the law; and yet the Messiah must not be, in point of fact, the son of Joseph. All the wit of man could not have understood these ways beforehand; all his power could not have arranged the circumstances. If the law demanded that Jesus should be the heir of Joseph, the prophet demanded that he should not be the son of Joseph, but of a virgin. God humbling Himself was the need of man; man exalted was the counsel of God. How was this, and far more, to be united and reconciled in one person? Jehovah Jesus is the answer. "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" (ver. 20).
* Many ancient versions omit "Jesus" from this verse.
God meets the scruples of the godly Israelite, and signifies that most distinguished honour which He had put upon Mary under a guise which for a season had clouded and distressed her. She was the very virgin God had predicted hundreds of years before - " She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus." Here again Joseph was to be the one who publicly acts, while in Luke (Luke 1:31) Mary names. The difference arises from the point of view the Holy Ghost gives us of our Lord's person in the two Gospels. In Luke He was proving that Jesus, though divine, was very man - a partaker of humanity apart from sin. In our case it is sinful human nature; in His case it was holy. Therefore, in speaking of Him simply as man, it is said in Luke, "Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." So He was most truly and properly a man - the child of His virgin mother; and as such, too, He is called the Son of God. In that Gospel one great point was to prove His holy manhood; to show how fully and fitly He could be a Saviour of men, and take up the woes and wretchedness, and on the cross suffer for the sinfulness of others - Himself the Holy One. He was the Son of God, who had actually taken human nature into His own person, who was perfectly and really a man as much as any of us; but a man without sin, yet holy, and not merely innocent. Adam was innocent; Jesus was holy. Holiness does not mean mere absence of evil, but inward power according to God, and so power to withstand evil. When Adam was tempted, he fell. Jesus was tried by every temptation, and Satan exhausted his wiles in vain. All this, however, is most suitable to the Gospel of Luke, where it is accordingly shown that the proper humanity of Jesus flowed from His birth (i.e., from His mother). His legal right to the throne of David flowed from Joseph, and Joseph accordingly is the prominent personage in the Gospel of Matthew.
But He had a title greater than any which Joseph could transmit even from David or Abraham; and this was to be attested in His name, His lowly name of Jesus, Jehovah, the Saviour. "Thou shalt call His name JESUS; for He shall save His people from their sins." Jehovah's people were His people; and He should save them, not merely from their enemies, but from their sins. What a testimony to Him and for them! Blessed for any sinful soul to hear; how especially needed for a people then inflated with boundless hopes of earthly aggrandizement in their expected Messiah!
Here, too, alone in any of the Gospels, it is that we hear of Jesus as "Emmanuel." This is equally instructive and beautiful, because the Jew was apt to forget it. Did he look for a divine Messiah - for one who was God as well as man? Very far from it. Comparatively few of the Jews expected anything so astonishing as this. They craved and looked for a mighty king and conqueror, yet still a mere man. But here we find that the Holy Spirit, by their own prophet Isaiah, besides speaking of Him as man, takes care to show that He was much more than man, that He was God (vers. 22, 23). Matthew alone brings out this clear testimony of the great evangelical prophet - "God with us." So perfectly did God provide for these poor Jews, and develop the neglected seeds of their prophecies, and reflect light on the obscure parts of their law; so that if a Jew rejected the Messiah, he did it to his own eternal ruin. Besides being the son of David and Abraham, then, He was God with us. Such was the true Messiah, and such the witness produced to Israel. Could they reject Matthew's history, if they received Isaiah's prophecy? In vain they worshipped God, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
"Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife, and knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born son; and he called His name JESUS" (vers. 24, 25). Some of the best authorities (the Sinai., Vat., etc.) omit "her first-born," and so present simply "a son." But there is no doubt that these words are genuine in Luke 2, whence they may have been introduced here. The shorter form appears to me sufficient for the purpose of our Evangelist.
We have been tracing what would have been of peculiar interest for a Jew; but may we also find the blessing of these truths for our own souls. Whatever exalts Jesus, whatever displays the grace of God and puts down the pride of man, is pregnant with blessing for us. By the blessing of God, pursuing these lessons still farther, we shall find how the wisdom of every word of His is justified as we wait on this most illustrious testimony to Jesus the Messiah, to His rejection by Israel, and to the blessings which thence flow out to us once poor Gentiles.
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;
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.
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
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.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
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.
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.