Matthew 1:18
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
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(18) St. Matthew, for some reason or other, omits all mention of what St. Luke relates very fully, as to the events that preceded the birth of Jesus and brought about the birth at Bethlehem. Either he had not access to any document full and trustworthy, like that which St. Luke made use of, or, as every writer of history must fix a beginning more or less arbitrary, he found his starting-point in those facts which took a foremost place in what bore upon the fulfilment of Messianic prophecy. It has been said that the impression left by his narrative is so far misleading, that it suggests the idea that there was no earlier connection with Nazareth than that which we find in 2:23. It must, however, be remembered that even St. Luke’s narrative tells us nothing as to the original home of Joseph, and that one who himself belonged to Bethlehem, as being of the house and lineage of David, might, without any improbability, be betrothed to a maiden of Nazareth, probably of the same lineage. Of the earlier life of Mary the Canonical Gospels tell us nothing, and the Apocryphal Gospels (though they have furnished the groundwork of the treatment of the subject by Christian art—see Notes on Luke 1:27) are too legendary to be relied on. The omission of any mention of her parents suggests the idea of orphanhood, possibly under the guardianship of Joseph. The non-appearance of Joseph in the records of our Lord’s ministry, makes it probable that he died in the interval between the visit to the Temple of Luke 2:42 and the preaching of the Baptist, and that he was older than Mary. Both were poor; Joseph worked as a carpenter (Matthew 13:55), Mary offered the cheaper sacrifice of “two young pigeons” (Luke 2:24). They had no house at Bethlehem (Luke 2:7). Mary was related to Elizabeth, the wife of Zechariah the priest (Luke 1:36). Both were within the circle of those who cherished Messianic expectations, and to whom, therefore, the announcement that these expectations were to be fulfilled would come as the answer to their hopes and prayers.

Was espoused to Joseph.—Betrothal, among the Jews, was a formal ceremony, the usual symbolic act being, from patriarchal times, the gift of a ring and other jewels (Genesis 24:53). The interval between betrothal and marriage was of uncertain length, but among the Jews of our Lord’s time was commonly for a whole year in the case of maidens. During that time the bride-elect remained in her own home, and did not see the bridegroom till he came to fetch her to his own house. All communications in the meantime were conducted through “the friend of the bridegroom” (John 3:29).

Of the Holy Ghost.—To Joseph and those who heard the new report from him, prior to the more precise truths revealed by our Lord’s teaching, the words would at least suggest a divine creative energy, quickening supernaturally the germ of life, as in Genesis 1:2, Psalm 104:30.

Matthew 1:18. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise, ουτως ην, was thus — It was not in the ordinary course of nature, or manner in which children are conceived and born, but in the wonderful manner following. Not only the birth, but the conception of Christ, and what preceded it, are here included in the word γεννησις, which some critics have unwarily confounded with the word γενεσις, used in the first verse of this chapter. When his mother was espoused to Joseph — According to the custom of the Jews, who did not usually marry without previous espousals. This was nothing but a solemn promise of marriage, made by the parties to each other, before witnesses, to be accomplished at such a distance of time as they agreed upon, which, it seems, was sometimes longer and sometimes shorter, according as the age of the persons, or other circumstances, might demand or advise. It was a custom, if not ordained, at least approved of by God, as appears from Deuteronomy 20:7, and had many advantages attending it. The parties had hereby time to think seriously of the great change they were soon to make in their lives, and to seek unto God for his blessing upon them. And they might converse together more freely about their household affairs, and the management of their family, than they could well have done consistently with modesty, without such a previous betrothing. God would have Mary to be espoused, for the safety and honour of Christ in his infancy, and the credit, and comfort of his mother. Before they came together — Viz., to cohabit as man and wife; she was found with child — Very unexpectedly, doubtless; perhaps by Joseph, who, with the care of a husband, observed his intended wife, and from whose sight she did not conceal herself, being conscious she had not dishonoured him. Of, or rather, by the Holy Ghost — Mary knew it was by the Holy Ghost she had conceived with child; both because she was sure she had not known man, as she told the angel, and because the angel had assured her, the Holy Ghost should come upon her, and the power of the Highest overshadow her. This, no doubt, she would reveal to some of her friends, who, considering her great piety, and the testimony borne by her cousin Elizabeth, probably, fully believed her. But certainly she had not mentioned it to Joseph, as despairing, perhaps, of his giving credit to what was so improbable, or judging it better to commit the matter to God, by whom, as she had learned, it had already been revealed to her cousin Elizabeth, and by whom she might hope it would be revealed to Joseph also. Indeed, it is not easy to conceive how he should know or believe it, otherwise than in consequence of some supernatural revelation made to himself. This, therefore, in tenderness to her reputation, and out of regard to their mutual peace when they should come together, as well as to prepare the way for Joseph’s acknowledging Jesus for the true Messiah and his Saviour, God was graciously pleased to grant him. We may observe here, it became Christ to be born thus by the supernatural agency of the Holy Spirit forming his human nature of the body of a virgin, as he formed Adam out of the dust of the earth, 1, that he might have no other father but God: 2, that the womb of the virgin being sanctified by the Spirit of holiness, there might be no traduction of original sin, which would have been contrary both to the majesty of his person, and the execution of his office: 3, that his nativity might be perfectly free from every defilement of lust and impurity. And as it was necessary that he should be born of a virgin that he might be born without sin, and that the ancient promise might be fulfilled, (see Isaiah 7:14,) so it was wisely ordered that he should be born of a betrothed virgin. For hereby he was preserved from coming under the reproach of illegitimacy, and his mother from being subjected to the punishment of the judicial law. And at the same time, by this means she was not destitute of one to take care of her during her confinement, nor Jesus of a guard during his infancy. “Never was a daughter of Eve so dignified as the virgin Mary, yet she was in danger of falling under the imputation of one of the worst of crimes. We find not, however, that she tormented herself about it; but, conscious of her own innocency, she kept her mind calm and easy, and committed her cause to him who judgeth righteously; and, like her, those who are careful to keep a good conscience, may cheerfully trust God with the keeping of their good name.”

1:18-25 Let us look to the circumstances under which the Son of God entered into this lower world, till we learn to despise the vain honours of this world, when compared with piety and holiness. The mystery of Christ's becoming man is to be adored, not curiously inquired into. It was so ordered that Christ should partake of our nature, yet that he should be pure from the defilement of original sin, which has been communicated to all the race of Adam. Observe, it is the thoughtful, not the unthinking, whom God will guide. God's time to come with instruction to his people, is when they are at a loss. Divine comforts most delight the soul when under the pressure of perplexed thoughts. Joseph is told that Mary should bring forth the Saviour of the world. He was to call his name Jesus, a Saviour. Jesus is the same name with Joshua. And the reason of that name is clear, for those whom Christ saves, he saves from their sins; from the guilt of sin by the merit of his death, and from the power of sin by the Spirit of his grace. In saving them from sin, he saves them from wrath and the curse, and all misery, here and hereafter. Christ came to save his people, not in their sins, but from their sins; and so to redeem them from among men, to himself, who is separate from sinners. Joseph did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, speedily, without delay, and cheerfully, without dispute. By applying the general rules of the written word, we should in all the steps of our lives, particularly the great turns of them, take direction from God, and we shall find this safe and comfortable.Now the birth of Jesus Christ - The circumstances attending his birth.

Was on this wise - In this manner.

Espoused - Betrothed, or engaged to be married. There was commonly an interval of ten or twevle months, among the Jews, between the contract of marriage and the celebration of the nuptials (see Genesis 24:55; Judges 14:8; Deuteronomy 20:7), yet such was the nature of this engagement, that unfaithfulness to each other was deemed adultery. See Deuteronomy 22:25, Deuteronomy 22:28.

With child by the Holy Ghost - See the note at Luke 1:35.

Mt 1:18-25. Birth of Christ.

18. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise—or, "thus."

When as his mother Mary was espoused—rather, "betrothed."

to Joseph, before they came together, she was found—discovered to be.

with child of the Holy Ghost—It was, of course, the fact only that was discovered; the explanation of the fact here given is the Evangelist's own. That the Holy Ghost is a living conscious Person is plainly implied here, and is elsewhere clearly taught (Ac 5:3, 4, &c.): and that, in the unity of the Godhead, He is distinct both from the Father and the Son, is taught with equal distinctness (Mt 28:19; 2Co 13:14). On the miraculous conception of our Lord, see on [1204]Lu 1:35.

The evangelist prefaceth this extraordinary birth of our Saviour in this manner.

Now the birth or Jesus Christ was on this wise; not in the ordinary course and manner in which children are conceived and brought forth into the world (with child of the Holy Ghost Luke 1:35), but in this wonderful manner.

When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph. Betrothing, or espousing, was nothing else but a solemn promise of marriage made by two persons each to other, at such a distance of time as they agreed upon. It was a decent usage, approved of (if not ordained) by God, as appears by Deu 20:7. That we are obliged still to use it I dare not say; it might be a prudential order and constitution of that state. There was nothing in it typical, nothing to bring it under the notion of a carnal ordinance, as the apostle calls some of their ordinances relating to the worship of God. It seemeth equitable, that the parties to be married might have some convenient time to think seriously of the great change they are soon to make in their lives, and more solemnly seek unto God for his blessing upon them; as also that they might more freely discourse together about their household affairs, and the settlement of their families, than the modesty of the virgins of that age would otherwise have allowed them. It made them man and wife before God, though they came not together for some time after. The distance of time seemeth to have been left to the agreement of parties and parents. In this case we cannot certainly assert the distance, but it appeareth to have been such as that she was

found with child before they came together. Mary knew what the evangelist here asserts, that it was by

the Holy Ghost; for as she must know that she had not known man as she told the angel, Luke 1:34; so the angel had satisfied her, saying, Luke 1:35, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. It cannot be doubted but that she revealed this to some of her friends, but how it came to be found, or who found it, we are not told. Joseph as yet had no such revelation.

God would have his Son to be born of a virgin:

1. For the fulfilling of the promise, Isaiah 7:14.

2. Of the Holy Ghost, that the womb of the virgin being sanctified by the Spirit of holiness, there might be no traduction of original sin.

Of a betrothed virgin:

1. That he might not be under the reproach of illegitimacy.

2. Nor his mother subjected to the punishment of the Judaical law.

3. That Mary’s stock might be by her betrothed husband.

4. That Christ might have a guard in his infancy.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ,.... The Evangelist having finished the genealogy of Christ, proceeds to give an account of his birth, which includes both his conception and bringing forth; and which he says

was on this wise, so, "after this manner", and which was very wonderful and astonishing;

when as, for his mother Mary was found with child, not of man, no, not of Joseph her husband; Christ had no real father as man, Joseph was only, as was supposed, his father; but

of the Holy Ghost, according to Luke 1:35. "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee", &c. and this was done that the human nature of Christ might be clear of original pollution; that so being the immediate produce of the Holy Ghost and without sin, it might be fit for union with the Son of God, and for the office of Mediator he had undertook. When Mary is said to be

found with child, the meaning is, it appeared by evident signs, it was observed by Joseph particularly, who might know not only that she was with child, but with child of the Holy Ghost; by conversation with her, who might relate to him what passed between the Angel and her, Luke 1:28 though it looks as if as yet he did not know this, or at least was not fully satisfied about it; since he had a mind to have put her away, before he was assured of the truth of it, by the appearance of an angel to him. Now Mary's being with child, and its being known, were facts, at the time when she was

espoused to Joseph, and thereby the outward credit both of Mary and Jesus were secured; for had this appeared before the espousals, the Jews would have fixed a brand of infamy on them both; and both the espousals and her being found with child, were

before they came together; that is, before they cohabited together as man and wife, before he brought her home to his own house and bed. The espousals were before they thus came together. It was usual with the Jews first to espouse or betroth, and then to marry, or rather consummate the marriage, by bringing the woman home to her husband's house, between which there was some space of time. The account and manner of betrothing is given by Maimonides (y) in the following words.

"Before the giving of the law, if a man met a woman in the street, if he would, he might take her, and bring her into his house and marry her between him and herself, and she became his wife; but when the law was given, the Israelites were commanded, that if a man would take a woman he should obtain her before witnesses, and after that she should be his wife, according to Deuteronomy 22:13 and these takings are an affirmative command of the law, and are called "espousals" or "betrothings" in every place; and a woman who is obtained in such a way is called "espoused" or "betrothed"; and when a woman is obtained, and becomes "espoused", although she is not yet "married, nor has entered into her husband's house", yet she is a man's wife.''

And such a distinction between a married woman and a betrothed virgin, which was Mary's case, may be observed in Deuteronomy 22:22 moreover, her being found or appearing to be with child, was "before they came together"; which it is likely, as Dr. Lightfoot (z) observes, was about three months from her conception, when she was returned from her cousin Elizabeth. It is probable that as soon as she was espoused to Joseph, or quickly after, she went and paid her visit to Elizabeth, with whom she stayed about three months, and then returned home, Luke 1:56. Upon her return home, she appears to be with child, with which she had gone three months, a proper time for the discovery of such a matter, Genesis 38:24 and which is assigned by the Jewish doctors for this purpose. In the Misna (a) such a case as this is put,

"If two men should espouse two women, and at the time of their entrance into the bride chamber, the one should be taken for the other--they separate them for three months, because they may prove with child;''

that is, as Bartenora observes upon it,

"they separate them that they may not return to their husbands; and that if they should be with child, they may distinguish between a legitimate and an illegitimate offspring; and that the children which they may bring forth may not be ascribed to the wrong persons.''

Now Mary being gone three months from the time of her espousals to Joseph, and he and she not being yet come together, it was a clear case, that the child she was gone three months with, was none of his; hence it follows,

(y) Hilchot. Ishot. c. 1. sect. 1, 2, 3.((z) In loc. (a) Yebamot, c. 3. sect. 10.

Now the birth of (2) Jesus Christ was thus: His mother, Mary, that is, having been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit.

(2) Christ is the true Emmanuel, and therefore, Jesus (that is, Saviour) is conceived in the virgin by the Holy Spirit, as foretold by the prophets.

Matthew 1:18. Τοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ] provided with the article, and placed first with reference to Matthew 1:16. “The origin of Jesus Christ, however, was as follows.”

μνηστευθείσης] On the construction, see Buttmann, neut. Gram. p. 270 f. [E. T. 315]. On the betrothal, after which the bride still remained in the house of her parents without any closer intercourse with the bridegroom until she was brought home, see Maimonides, Tract. אִישׁוֹת; Saalschütz, M. R. p. 728 ff.; Keil, Archaeol. § 109.

γάρ] explicative, namely, see Klotz, ad Devar. p. 234 ff.; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 86 ff.

πρὶν ἤ] belongs as much as the simple πρίν to the Ionic, and to the middle age of the Attic dialect; see Elmsley, ad Eur. Med. 179; Reisig, ad Soph. Oed. Colm. 36; it is, however, already found alone in Xenophon (Kühner, ad Anab. iv. 5. 1), as also in Thucydides, v. 61. 1, according to our texts (see, however, Krüger in loc.), but is foreign to the Attic poets. With the aorist infinitive, it denotes that the act is fully accomplished. Klotz, ad Devar. p. 726. Comp. Acts 2:20; Acts 7:2; Mark 14:30; John 4:49; Tob 14:15.

συνελθεῖν] Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Erasmus, Maldonatus, Jansen, Bengel, Elsner, Loesner, and others understand it of cohabitation in marriage. The usage of the language is not opposed to this. See the passages of Philo in Loesner, Obss. p. 2; Joseph. Antt. vii. 9. 5; Diodorus Siculus, iii. 57, Test. XII. Patr. pp. 600, 701. Just as correct, however, in a linguistic point of view (Kypke, Obss. p. 1 f.), and at the same time more appropriate to the reference to Matthew 1:20; Matthew 1:24, is the explanation of others (Luther, Beza, Er. Schmid, Lightfoot, Grotius, Kypke, Kuinoel, Fritzsche, de Wette, Arnoldi, Bleek) of the bringing home and of domestic intercourse. Others (Calvin, Wetstein, Rosenmüller, Olshausen) combine both explanations. But the author in the present case did not conceive the cohabitation in marriage to be connected with the bringing home, see Matthew 1:25.

εὑρέθη] Euth. Zigabenus (comp. Chrysostom and Theophylact) appropriately renders it: ἐφάνη. Εὑρέθη δὲ εἶπε διὰ τὸ ἀπροσδόκῃτον. Εὑρεθῆναι is nowhere equivalent to εἶναι. See Winer, p. 572 [E. T. 769].

ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχειν or φέρειν, to be pregnant, very often in the LXX., also in Greek writers, Herodotus, iii. 32, Vit. Hom. ii.; Plato, Legg. vii. p. 792 E.

ἐκ πν. ἁγ.] without the article, see Winer, p. 116 [E. T. 151]. רוּהַ יְהֹוָה or רוּחַ קֹרֶשׁ יְהֹוָה, πνεῦμα, πν. ἅγιον, πν. τοῦ Θεοῦ, is the personal divine principle of the higher, religious-moral, and eternal life, which works effectually for the true reign of God, and especially for Christianity, which rules in believers, and sanctifies them for the Messiah’s kingdom, and which, in reference to the intellect, is the knowledge of divine truth, revelation, prophecy, etc., in reference to morals is the consecration of holiness and power in the moral life of the new birth with its virtues and world-subduing dispositions, bringing about, in particular, the truth and fervour of prayer, the pledge of everlasting life. Here the πνεῦμα ἅγιον is that which produces the human existence of Christ, through whose action—which so appeared only in this, the single case of its kind—the origin of the embryo in the womb of Mary was causally produced (ἐκ) in opposition to human generation, so that the latter is thereby excluded. It is not, however, that divine power of the Spirit (Luke 1:35), which only concurs in the action of human generation and makes it effectual, as in the generation of Isaac and of the Baptist, and, as the idea is expressed in the Sohar Gen. (comp. Schmidt in the Bibl. f. Krit. v. Exeg. d. N. T. I. p. 101): “Omnes illi, qui, sciunt se sanctificare in hoc mundo, ut par est (ubi generant), attrahunt super id Spiritum sanctitatis et exeuntes ab eo illi vocantur filii Jehovae.” Theodore of Mopsuestia (apud Fred. Fritzsche, Theodori Mops, in N. T. Commentar. p. 2): ὥσπερ γὰρ (τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον) κοινωνόν ἐστι πατρί τε καὶ υἱῷ εἰς τὴν τοῦ παντὸς δημιουργίαν, οὕτω καὶ τὸ ἐκ τῆς παρθένου τοῦ σωτῆρος σῶμα κατεσκεύασε.

ἐκ πνεύμ. ἅγ., moreover, is added, not as an object to εὑρέθη, but from the historical standpoint, to secure at once a correct judgment upon the ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα (ἐθεράπευσε τὸν λόγον, Euth. Zigabenus).


As regards the conception of Jesus by a virgin, we have to notice the following points in their exegetical bearing:—(1) Mary was either a daughter of David (the common view), or she was not. See on Matthew 1:17, Remark 2. In the first case, Jesus, whose divine generation is assumed, was, as Matthew and Luke relate, a descendant of David, although not through an unbroken line of male succession, but in such a way that His mother alone conveyed to Him the Davidic descent. But if Mary were not a daughter of David, then, by the divine conception, the possibility of Jesus being a descendant of David is simply excluded; because, on that view, the Davidite Joseph remains out of consideration, and this would be in contradiction not only with the statements of prophecy, but also with the unanimous testimony of the N. T. (2) As it is nowhere said or hinted in the N. T. that Mary was a descendant of David, we must assume that this is tacitly presupposed in the narratives of Matthew and Luke. But as a consequence of this supposition, the genealogical trees would lose all their importance, in so far as they are said to prove that Jesus was υἱὸς Δαυείδ (Matthew 1:1). Joseph’s descent from David, upon which in reality nothing would turn, would be particularly pointed out; while Mary’s similar descent, upon which everything would depend, would remain unmentioned as being a matter of course, and would not be, even once, incidentally alluded to in what follows, say by θυγάτηρ Δαυείδ, as Joseph is at once addressed in Matthew 1:20 as υἱὸς Δαυείδ. (3) Paul and Peter (Romans 1:3-4; Acts 2:30 : ἐκ σπέρματος, ἐκ καρποῦ τῆς ὀσφύος; comp. 2 Timothy 2:8) designate the descent of Jesus from David in such a way, that without calling in the histories of the birth in the first and third Gospels, there is no occasion for deriving the Davidic descent from the mother, to the interruption of the male line of succession, for which Galatians 4:4[358] also affords neither cause nor justification. Nowhere, moreover, where Paul speaks of the sending of the Son of God, and of His human yet sinless nature (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 8:3; Php 2:6 f.), does he betray any indication that he presupposes that divine conception.[359] (4) Just as little does John, whose expression ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο, although he was so intimate with Jesus and His mother, leaves the question as to the how of this ἐγένετο without a direct answer, indeed; but also, where Jesus is definitely designated by others as Joseph’s son, contributes no word of correction (John 1:46, John 6:42; comp. John 7:27),—nay, relates the self-designation “Song of Solomon of a man” from Jesus’ own mouth (see on John 5:27), where the context does not allow us to refer ἀνθρώπου to His mother. (5) It is certain, further, that neither in Nazareth (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Luke 4:22), nor in Capernaum (John 6:42), nor elsewhere in the neighbourhood (John 1:46), do we meet with such expressions, in which a knowledge of anything extraordinary in the descent of Jesus might be recognised; and in keeping with this also is the unbelief of His own brethren (John 7:3),—nay, even the behaviour and bearing of Mary (Mark 3:21; Mark 3:31; comp. on Matthew 12:46-50; see also Luke 2:50 f.). (6) We have still to observe, that what is related in Matthew 1:18 would obviously have greatly helped to support the suspicion and reproach of illegitimate birth, and yet nowhere throughout the N. T. is there found the slightest whisper of so hostile a report.[360] If, moreover, in the narratives of the first and third evangelists, angelic appearances occur, which, according to the connection of the history, mutually exclude each other (Strauss, I. p. 165 ff.; Keim, Gesch. Jesu, I. p. 362 ff.),—namely, in Matthew, after the conception, in order to give an explanation to Joseph; in Luke, before the conception, to make a disclosure to Mary,—nevertheless that divine conception itself might remain, and in and of itself be consistent therewith, if it were elsewhere certainly attested in the N. T., or if it could be demonstrated as being an undoubted presupposition, belonging to the conception of Christ as the Son of God.

[358] Certainly, in Romans 1:4, Paul expressly refers Christ’s relation to God as His Son to His πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης, not to His σάρξ. See on Romans 1:3. The supernatural generation is not a logical consequence of his system, as Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 315, thinks. If Paul had conceived the propagation of sin as taking place by means of generation (which is probable, although he has not declared himself upon the point), he cannot, in so thinking,—after the history of the fall (2 Corinthians 11:3), and after Psalm 51:7,—have regarded the woman’s share as a matter of indifference.

[359] We should all the more have expected this origin to have been stated by Paul, that he, on the one side, everywhere ascribes to Christ true and perfect humanity (Romans 5:15Matthew 1:18-25. THE BIRTH OF JESUS. This section gives the explanation which ἐξ ἧς ἐγεννήθη (Matthew 1:16) leads us to expect. It may be called the justification of the genealogy (Schanz), showing that while the birth was exceptional in nature it yet took place in such circumstances, that Jesus might justly be regarded as the legitimate son of Joseph, and therefore heir of David’s throne. The position of the name Τοῦ δὲ Ι. Χ. at the head of the sentence, and the recurrence of the word γένεσις, point back to Matthew 1:1; γένεσις, not γέννησις, is the true reading, the purpose being to express the general idea of origin, ortus, not the specific idea of generation (ὁ εὐαγγελιστὴς ἐκαινοτόμησε τὸ κατὰ φύσιν ὄνομα τῆς γεννήσεως, γένεσιν αὐτὴν καλέσας. Euthy. Zig. on Matthew 1:1).

18. Jesus] see Matthew 1:21.

Christ (anointed)] The title of Jesus as Prophet, Priest and King; for among the Jews, Prophets, Priests and Kings were anointed on entering upon their office. Christos, very rare as a classical Greek word, is a translation of the Hebr. Mashiach, a term applied to the Saviour in one passage only of the O. T. (Daniel 9:25-26). In the N. T. the Hebrew form is used twice (John 1:41; John 4:25), where it is explained “which is called Christ.” Note that one title—Messiah or Christ—has been adopted almost to the exclusion of others quite as common in the O.T., “The Branch,” “He that cometh” (Habba), “The Prophet.” This is partly due to the great influence of Daniel’s prophecy, partly to the appropriateness of the title to the Son of David.

Mary] The Hebr. form is Miriam; the Greek Maria.

espoused (betrothed)] Among the Jews the betrothal took place a year before marriage, and during the interval the betrothed maiden remained with her own family. But from the day of betrothal the pair were regarded as man and wife.

18–25. The Birth of Jesus Christ. Luke 1:26-56; Luke 2:4-7St Mark and St John give no account of the birth of Jesus, St Luke narrates several particulars not recorded by Matthew, (1) the annunciation, (2) Mary’s salutation of Elizabeth in a city of Juda (or Juttah), and (3) the journey from Galilee to Bethlehem.

Matthew 1:18. Τοῦ δὲ Χριστοῦ ἡ γέννησις οὓτως ἦν, The generation, however, of Christ was on this wise) By this most ancient reading[50] the text refers to Matthew 1:17, and the advent of the Messiah, expected for so many generations, is declared and exhibited (exsertè demonstratur) to the reader. Thus, too, the words, ἐγεννήθη, (was generated), and γὲννησις, (generation), refer mutually to each other. The particle δὲ (however) subserves both references. In like manner, the name “JESUS” is repeated in ch. Matthew 2:1, from ch. Matthew 1:25. In later ages, most of the Greek copyists have added Ἰησοῦ[51] (the genitive case of ἸΗΣΟῦς, Jesus) before Χριστοῦ (the genitive case of ΧΡΙΣΤΌς, Christ), according to which reading, the expression would refer with less force to either the first or sixteenth verse indifferently. It was the CHRIST whom Mary had in her womb by the Holy Ghost, and whom Joseph, afterwards, by the command of the angel, called JESUS. Elegantly, and in accordance with the order of events, the name JESUS is reserved till Matthew 1:21; Matthew 1:25.—Cf. Gnomon on Luke 2:11. The word γέννησις (generation) includes (Matthew 1:18-25) both the Conception (cf. γεννηθὲν, conceived, Matthew 1:20) and the Nativity (cf. γεννηθέντος, having been born, Matthew 2:1). For Matthew 1:18 contains the introductory statement (propositionem)[52] of those matters which follow, to which, also, the οὕτως (thus, or on this wise) refers: and the conjunction γὰρ (for) commences the handling of the subject (tractationem), which corresponds with the introductory statement.—Cf. the use of γὰρ in Hebrews 2:8.[53] The particle οὕτως guards us from thinking, on account of the preceding genealogy, that Joseph was the natural father of Jesus.—μνηστευθείσης γὰρ τῆς μητρὸς Αὐτοῦ Μαρίας, For after His mother Mary had been betrothed) The LXX. render the Hebrew ארש (to betroth) by ΜΝΗΣΤΕΎΟΜΑΙ in Deuteronomy 20:7, etc.—ΠΡῚΝ Ἢ ΣΥΝΕΛΘΕῖΝ ΑὐΤΟῪς, before they came together) Joseph had not yet even brought Mary home (see Matthew 1:20); but in these words, and the more firmly on that account, the commercium tori is specifically denied, in order to assert her pregnancy by the Holy Spirit. Nor does the expression, ΠΡῚΝ Ἤ (before), imply that they came together after our Lord’s birth.—εὑρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα ἐκ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost) There can be no doubt but that Mary disclosed to Joseph (perhaps when he proposed to consummate their marriage) the sacred pregnancy, which she had concealed from every one else.—ἘΚ, of) The expression ἐκ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου (of the Holy Spirit) occurs again at Matthew 1:20. See, also, John 3:6.

[50] In Matthew 1:18, we know how it was read in the second century from Irenæus, who (after having previously cited the words, “Christi autem generatio sic erat”) continues, “Ceterum potuerat dicere Matthæus, Jesu vero generatio sic erat; sed prævidens Spiritus Sanctus depravatores, et præmuniens contra fraudulentiam eorum, per Matthæum ait: Christi autem generatio sic erat.”—(C. H. lib. iii. 16, 2.) TREGELLES.—(I. B.)

[51] Such is the reading of E. M., viz., τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, κ.τ.λ.—(I. B.)

[52] Propositio and Tractatio are terms regularly used by Bengel in his Introductory Synopses in the technical and rhetorical sense.—ED.

[53] Lachmann omits γὰρ with BZabc Vulg. Iren. 204. Tischendorf, with less weight of authorities, retains it viz., of the oldest, Pd.—ED.

PZ and Rec. Text read Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, which, therefore, Lachmann prefers. B, and Origen 3, 965d read Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ. But Iren. 191, 204, and a b c d Vulg. read only Χριστοῦ, which Tischendorf prefers.—ED.

Verses 18-25. - JESUS THE CHRIST BY DIVINE ORIGIN. Recorded by Matthew only. The frequent similarity of language found in Luke 1:26-35 (vide 'Synopticon) is probably due to the fact that Joseph and Mary not unnaturally fell into the way of using the same words to express two messages of similar import. The object of this paragraph is to show that Messiah was in origin not of man but of God. This fact was accepted even by his reputed father Joseph, who was only convinced of it after a special communication by an angel in a dream; giving him the facts of the case, and foretelling that a son would be born, and that this Son would be the expected Saviour; and also showing from prophecy that such union of God with man was no unheard-of supposition, but the fulfilment and completion of ancient thought suggested by God. Joseph at once accepts the communication and takes Mary home, avoiding, however, all cause for the supposition that the child was, after all, of human origin. Verse 18. - Now the birth (ver. 1, note). Γέννησις ("generation") of the received text refers to the causative act, the true reading (γένεσις) to the birth itself (cf. Luke 1:14). Of Jesus Christ was on this wise. The Revised Version margin says, "Some ancient authorities read, 'of the Christ,'" but perhaps the reading, "of Christ Jesus" (B [Origen]), is even preferable, as in no good manuscript of the New Testament is the article elsewhere prefixed to "Jesus Christ," and the easy residing, "of the Christ," would hardly provoke alteration, while it might easily arise from assimilation to the preceding "unto the Christ" of ver. 17 (cf. Dr. Hort, in Westcott and Hort, 'Appendix.' Bishop Westcott, however, seems to prefer the reading. "of the Christ," and so distinctly Irenaeus, 3:16). If the reading, "of Christ Jesus," be accepted, the evangelist purposely repeats his phrase of ver. 17, and then identifies him with the historic Person. When as. The Revised Version omits "as" because obsolete; cf. "what time as." His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph; had been betrothed (Revised Version), the tense clearly showing that the betrothal had already taken place. Betrothal was and is with the Semitic races a much more formal matter than with us, and as binding as marriage; cf. Deuteronomy 22:23, 24; cf. also the words of the angel, "Mary thy wife" (ver. 20). Before they came together; including, probably, both the home-bringing (ver. 24) and the consummation (ver. 25). She was found (εὑρώθη). Although Cureton ('Corp. Ign.,' p. 271) shows that the Aramaic equivalent is used in the sense of "became," and wishes to see this weaker meaning in several passages of the Greek Testament (including, apparently, the present), the references that he gives (Romans 7:10; 2 Corinthians 5:3; 2 Corinthians 11:12) do not justify us in giving up the stronger and more usual sense. On εὑρέθη always involving more or less prominently the idea of a surprise, cf. Bishop Lightfoot on Galatians 2:17. Observe the reverent silence with which a whole stage of the history is passed over. With child of the Holy Ghost (ἐκ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου; cf. ver. 20, without the article in both cases). According to the usual interpretation of these words, "the Holy Ghost" refers to the Third Person of the Trinity, and "of" (ἐκ) is used because the agent can be regarded as the immediate source (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:2). But the questions suggest themselves:

(1) whether Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον is here used in a strictly Christian or in a pre-Christian sense? and

(2) if the latter, what was this pre-Christian sense? As to (1), it may be argued that the evangelist himself, writing long after Pentecost, and recording sayings taught among Christians only alter Pentecost, would naturally wish his words to be understood in a Christian sense; and hence that Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον here has at least that comparatively developed doctrine of the Personality of the Holy Ghost which we find indicated in the New Testament; e.g. Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:13; John 14-16. It may, however, be justly replied that the words are in themselves rather a record of the feelings of Joseph and Mary about the Incarnation, and are merely a translation of the phrase Ruah-hakodesh (or its Aramaic equivalent, Ruah Kudsha) , which they themselves used; and that hence its true meaning here must be rather sought in the meaning of the Semitic phrase in pre-Christian times. In other words, Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον here means neither more nor less than Ruah-hakodesh meant on the lips of a godly and instructed Jew before the teaching of Christ, and especially before Pentecost.

(2) What was this pre-Christian sense? What did Ruah-hakodesh mean? To answer this fully would be to compile a treatise on one of the most difficult and disputed points of Old Testament and early Jewish theology. But a cursory comparison of passages in the Old Testament and the pre-Christian writings seems to show that, though there are many places which quite fall in with the Trinitarian view, and which are often marked by strong personification of the Spirit (e.g. Isaiah 63:10-14; cf. further App. A. in Dr. Sharpe's 'The Tree of Life,' Cambridge, 1889), religious Jews did not understand by Ruah-hakodesh a permanent and distinct hypostasis in the Deity, but rather the Deity itself in relation to the world as the Source and Maintenance of its life (Job 33:4; Psalm 104:30; Job 34:14; Psalm 139:7; Isaiah 63:10; cf. Wisd. 1:7 Wisd. 12:1), in contrast to the Deity absolutely and as the object of worship. Pre-Christian thought, that is to say, used the term "Holy Spirit" as designating the One God in a certain relation to the world, not as designating a permanent and real distinction in the Godhead. If this be so, we must understand the phrase here to mean that Christ was conceived of God (not of any Person in the Godhead) in contrast to man. We may, perhaps, even give to ἐκ its fullest meaning of" origin" (cf John 1:13, οὐκ ἐξαἱμάτων... ἀλλ ἐκ Θεοῦ). The phrase as a whole thus only insists that the Child was by origin Divine. It will be noticed that Luke 1:35 is then closely parallel, "the Holy Ghost" (Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον) there apparently connoting an outpouring of life; "the power of the Most High" (δύναμις ὑψίστου), an outpouring of strength. Dorner ('System.,' 3:343; cf. 162, etc.) says that the expression in our text is "the less precise ancient Christian designation of the Divine Essence generally, out of which ( de quo) Christ has come. To the Holy Spirit in the Trinitarian sense is only to be ascribed, according to the Scriptures, first, the internal preparation of humanity for the Divine Incarnation, and, secondly, after the Unio the animation of the humanity of Christ by the Divine power issuing from the Logos." The passage in Martensen's 'Dogmatics,' § 139, so well known for its latter part, apparently agrees with this: "He is born not of the will of a man, nor of the will of the flesh; but the holy will of the Creator took the place of the will of man and of the will of the flesh, - that is, the creating Spirit, who was in the beginning, fulfilled the function of the plastic principle. He was born of the Virgin Mary, the chosen woman in the chosen people. It was the task of Israel to provide, not, as has been often said, Christ himself, but the mother of the Lord; to develop the susceptibility for Christ to a point when it might be able to manifest itself as the pro-foundest unity of nature and spirit - a unity which found expression in the pure virgin. In her the pious aspirations of Israel and of mankind, their faith in the promises, are centred; she is the purest point in history and in nature, and she, therefore, becomes the appointed medium for the new creation." Observe that the Greek Creeds (σαρκωθέντα [γεννηθέντα, Marcellus] ἐκ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου καὶ Μαρίας τῆς Παρθένου) , by not inserting the article (contrast afterwards καὶ εἰς τὸ Πςεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον) , probably intended only to reproduce St. Matthew's language. The Latin could not fail to be ambiguous (de Spiritu Sancto) . If, however, we divest ourselves of considerations directly derived from exegesis, and, turning to the theological side, ask which Person of the Blessed Trinity, in fact, prepared Mary for the Incarnation of the Second Person, we must undoubtedly answer that it was the Third Person. For this is his peculiar function, uniting alike the Persons in the Godhead and also the Godhead to creation (cf. Dorner, 'System.,' 1:425,437; 4:159, etc.). Matthew 1:18Espoused (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.

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