Matthew 1:16
And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
Matthew 1:16. Jacob begat Joseph — It is evident that Joseph was properly the son of Jacob, and only the son-in-law of Eli: Luke 3:23. See note on Matthew 1:2. Though Joseph was not the true father of Christ, yet Christ’s pedigree was reckoned by him, because he had no other father as man, and Joseph was his supposed father, being the husband of Mary, his mother; and the mother being transplanted into her husband’s family, the child must go for one of that family. And therefore Joseph’s family was to be set down, lest, if it had not been known, the Jews should have taken occasion to reject Christ on that account, for it was generally received among them that Jesus was the son of the carpenter, Matthew 13:55; the son of Joseph, John 6:42. If, therefore, Joseph had not been acknowledged to have been of the tribe of Judah, and of the family of David, they would undoubtedly have considered this as a strong objection to Christ’s pretences of being the Messiah. Hence the Divine Wisdom was pleased to direct this apostle to remove that stumbling-block. Let it be observed, further, that “it was a received rule among the Jews, that the family of the mother is not called a family; all their pedigrees being reckoned and deduced from the father. This is the reason why Matthew has here set down the genealogy of Joseph; and thus Jesus Christ is the son of David, because Joseph’s marriage with Mary gave to Jesus a right to all the privileges which a child, that is born of strange parents, was entitled to by adoption, and which were granted by law to the posterity of a man who had married his brother’s widow. It is, moreover, very probable, that Mary was an only daughter, and an heiress, and consequently obliged to marry in her own family. See Numbers 36:7-9. So that by giving the genealogy of Joseph, Matthew gives at the same time that of Mary. He is called the husband of Mary; for the names of husband and wife were given by the Jews to persons who were only betrothed. See Genesis 29:21; Deuteronomy 22:24. Some copies, however, read, Joseph, to whom the virgin Mary was betrothed.” Of whom was born Jesus — This is elegantly said, for he was the seed of the woman, not of the man. Who is called Christ — i.e., Who is known by that name, and is really the Christ, or, the anointed one. Matthew adds this that he may distinguish the Saviour from others, who, either then or before, might have been called Jesus. Among the Hebrews, those who were raised, by the singular providence of God, to eminent dignities, were termed משׂיהים, Messiahs, or, anointed persons, even though, strictly speaking, they had not been anointed with oil, as Abraham and Isaac, Psalm 105:15; Cyrus, Isaiah 45:1; and the king of Tyre, Ezekiel 28:14. Much more those who, by an unction, were consecrated to any particular office, as their prophets, high priests, and kings, had that appellation given them. In particular their kings, as long as royalty remained in the family of David, were called Christs, or, anointed ones. But after the destruction of the kingdom, this name, as appears from Daniel 9:25-26, began to be referred to one Redeemer, whom the Jews, encouraged by the predictions of the prophets, and especially of the last named, Daniel, looked for from God, to be their chief ruler and teacher, John 4:25; and by whom a perfect reparation of the breach was expected to be made. That super-eminent and singular Christ, Jesus professed himself to be, and both he and his disciples assigned, as a reason of the appellation, that he was furnished with power manifestly extraordinary and unparalleled, as well for the declaring and confirming his heavenly doctrine, as for the executing of all his other offices. See Luke 4:18; John 3:34; Acts 4:27; and Acts 10:36; Acts 10:38.

As all the offices mentioned above, the prophetic, the priestly, the kingly, were to meet in him, and to be sustained by him in an infinitely higher degree than they were by any persons under the Jewish dispensation, who were no more than types of him, so he is represented as anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows, Hebrews 1:9. He is immeasurably filled with the Holy Ghost, even as to his human nature, and most completely qualified for sustaining every office and character in which we need him. Are we ignorant of God and of divine things? He is a teacher come from God, a prophet like, nay, superior to Moses, and him we are to hear on pain of eternal destruction. He is the truth, and wisdom, and word of God: yea, the light of the world, and they that believe in him shall not abide in darkness, but shall have the light of life. Have we sinned and come short of the glory of God? Are we guilty before God, and subject to his just judgment? He is the high priest of our profession, a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek, a priest possessed of an unchangeable priesthood, and who, by one offering of himself, once made, hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified; having put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, and ever living to make intercession for us. Are we the servants of sin, and therefore the subjects of Satan, captivated by his power, and held under his dominion? Does this present world tyrannise over us, and the law in our members war against the law of our mind and lead us captive to the law of sin that is in our members? And are we subject also to the law of death, and in bondage to the fear of it? He is exalted a prince and a saviour; is a king set upon the holy hill of Zion; and as to this office, also, the Spirit of the Lord God is upon him, because the Lord hath anointed him to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound: to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord; — to deliver us from this present evil world; — to make us free from the law of sin and death; — to destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; — and to deliver them, who, through fear of death, were all their life long subject to bondage.1:1-17 Concerning this genealogy of our Saviour, observe the chief intention. It is not a needless genealogy. It is not a vain-glorious one, as those of great men often are. It proves that our Lord Jesus is of the nation and family out of which the Messiah was to arise. The promise of the blessing was made to Abraham and his seed; of the dominion, to David and his seed. It was promised to Abraham that Christ should descend from him, Ge 12:3; 22:18; and to David that he should descend from him, 2Sa 7:12; Ps 89:3, &c.; 132:11; and, therefore, unless Jesus is a son of David, and a son of Abraham, he is not the Messiah. Now this is here proved from well-known records. When the Son of God was pleased to take our nature, he came near to us, in our fallen, wretched condition; but he was perfectly free from sin: and while we read the names in his genealogy, we should not forget how low the Lord of glory stooped to save the human race.These verses contain the genealogy of Jesus. Luke also Luke 3 gives a genealogy of the Messiah. No two passages of Scripture have caused more difficulty than these, and various attempts have been made to explain them. There are two sources of difficulty in these catalogues.

1. Many names that are found in the Old Testament are here omitted; and,

2. The tables of Matthew and Luke appear in many points to be different.

From Adam to Abraham Matthew has mentioned no names, and Luke only has given the record. From Abraham to David the two tables are alike. Of course there is no difficulty in reconciling these two parts of the tables. The difficulty lies in that part of the genealogy from David to Christ. There they are entirely different. They are manifestly different lines. Not only are the names different, but Luke has mentioned, in this part of the genealogy, no less than 42 names, while Matthew has recorded only 27 names.

Various ways have been proposed to explain this difficulty, but it must be admitted that none of them is perfectly satisfactory. It does not comport with the design of these notes to enter minutely into an explanation of the perplexities of these passages. All that can be done is to suggest the various ways in which attempts have been made to explain them.

1. It is remarked that in nothing are mistakes more likely to occur than in such tables. From the similarity of names, and the different names by which the same person is often called, and from many other causes, errors would be more likely to creep into genealogical tables than in other writings. Some of the difficulties may have possibly occurred from this cause.

2. Most interpreters have supposed that Matthew gives the genealogy of Joseph, and Luke that of Mary. They were both descended from David, but in different lines. This solution derives some plausibility from the fact that the promise was made to David, and as Jesus was not the son of Joseph, it was important to show that Mary was also descended from him. But though this solution is plausible, and may be true, yet it wants evidence. It cannot, however, be proved that this was not the design of Luke.

3. It has been said also that Joseph was the legal son and heir of Heli, though the real son of Jacob, and that thus the two lines terminated in him. This was the explanation suggested by most of the Christian fathers, and on the whole is the most satisfactory. It was a law of the Jews that if a man died without children, his brother should marry his widow. Thus the two lines might have been intermingled, According to this solution, which was first proposed by Africanus, Matthan, descended from Solomon, married Estha, of whom was born Jacob. After Matthan's death, Matthat being of the same tribe, but of another family, married his widow, and of this marriage Heli was born. Jacob and Heli were therefore children of the same mother. Heli dying without children, his brother Jacob married his widow, and begat Joseph, who was thus the legal son of Heli. This is agreeable to the account in the two evangelists. Matthew says that Jacob begat Joseph; Luke says that Joseph was the son of Heli, i. e., was his legal heir, or was reckoned in law to be his son. This can be seen by the plan on the next page, showing the nature of the connection.

Though these solutions may not seem to be entirely satisfactory, yet there are two additional considerations which should set the matter at rest, and lead to the conclusion that the narratives are not really inconsistent.

1. No difficulty was ever found, or alleged, in regard to them, by any of the early enemies of Christianity. There is no evidence that they ever adduced them as containing a contradiction. Many of those enemies were acute, learned, and able; and they show by their writings that they were not indisposed to detect all the errors that could possibly be found in the sacred narrative. Now it is to be remembered that the Jews were fully competent to show that these tables were incorrect, if they were really so; and it is clear that they were fully disposed, if possible, to do it. The fact, therefore, that it is not done, is clear evidence that they thought it to be correct. The same may be said of the acute pagans who wrote against Christianity. None of them have called in question the correctness of these tables. This is full proof that, in a time when it was easy to understand these tables, they were believed to be correct.

2. The evangelists are not responsible for the correctness of these tables. They are responsible only for what was their real and professed object to do. What was that object? It was to prove to the satisfaction of the Jews that Jesus was descended from David, and therefore that there was no argument from his ancestry that he was not the promised Messiah. Now to make this out, it was not necessary, nor would it have conduced to their argument, to have formed a new table of genealogy. All that could be done was to go to the family records - to the public tables, and copy them as they were actually kept, and show that, according to the records of the nation, Jesus was descended from David. This, among the Jews, would be full and decided testimony in the case. And this was doubtless done. In the same way, the records of a family among us, as they are kept by the family, are proof in courts of justice now of the birth, names, etc., of individuals. Nor is it necessary or proper for a court to call them in question or to attempt to correct them. So, the tables here are good evidence to the only point that the writers wished to establish: that is, to show to the Jews that Jesus of Nazareth was descended from David. The only inquiry which can now be fairly made is whether they copied those tables correctly. It is clear that no man can prove that they did not so copy them, and therefore that no one can adduce them as an argument against the correctness of the New Testament.

16. And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus—From this it is clear that the genealogy here given is not that of Mary, but of Joseph; nor has this ever been questioned. And yet it is here studiously proclaimed that Joseph was not the natural, but only the legal father of our Lord. His birth of a virgin was known only to a few; but the acknowledged descent of his legal father from David secured that the descent of Jesus Himself from David should never be questioned. See on [1203]Mt 1:20.

who is called Christ—signifying "anointed." It is applied in the Old Testament to the kings (1Sa 24:6, 10); to the priests (Le 4:5, 16, &c.); and to the prophets (1Ki 19:16)—these all being anointed with oil, the symbol of the needful spiritual gifts to consecrate them to their respective offices; and it was applied, in its most sublime and comprehensive sense, to the promised Deliverer, inasmuch as He was to be consecrated to an office embracing all three by the immeasurable anointing of the Holy Ghost (Isa 61:1; compare Joh 3:34).

How Luke cometh to make Joseph the son of Heli we shall inquire (if God please) when we come to his third chapter: but from this verse ariseth a very grave question, viz. How, or wherefore, the evangelist, in deriving the pedigree of Christ, bringeth the line down to Joseph, from whom our Saviour did not descend, being no flesh of his flesh. Christ being the promised Messias, the prophecy, Isaiah 7:14, must be and was fulfilled in him, A virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Now if Joseph were not the true, but only the legal or supposed, father of Christ, what had the evangelist to do with his genealogy? Many answers are given to this. Some think that the evangelist accommodates himself to the vulgar opinion; they took him generally for the true and natural son of Joseph; they said, Is not this the carpenter’s son? But then the Holy Spirit must have attempted to have proved a conclusion true from a medium that was false, which must by no means be allowed. Besides, neither could this be Matthew’s design, who afterwards relates the mystery of our Saviour’s incarnation plain enough; and tells us, Matthew 1:18, that Mary was found with child before Joseph and she came together. Others therefore say that amongst the Jews the genealogies of women use not to be reckoned. How universally true that is I cannot tell; generally it is, (very probably), it being usual almost with all nations to reckon descents from the males. It is granted by most that Luke derives the descent of Mary. In the present case, it seemeth of high concern that the genealogy both of Joseph and Mary should be counted. Though our Saviour’s being the Messias could not have been proved from his being the Son of Joseph, for then he could not have been the Son of a virgin, yet (admitting the Jewish error in that case, not knowing the mystery of Christ’s incarnation) Christ, by their own confession, was confirmed to be the Son of David because Joseph was so. On the other side, Luke deriving Mary’s genealogy from David, and affirming Christ to be born of a virgin espoused, confirmed him to all the world to be both the Son of David, descending from Mary a virgin, that was a daughter to one who was the son of David, and also the true Messiah, in whom the prophecy was fulfilled, of a virgin’s conceiving and bearing a Son. So that by the reckoning of the generation of two persons, both of which were lineally descended from David, he was proved to be the Son of David, both to the generality of the Jews, who could not deny but Joseph was so, and to all believers, both Jews and Gentiles, to whom God should give to believe the mystery of the incarnation by the conception of the Holy Ghost. This to me seems a sufficient reason for the reckoning up our Saviour’s descent from David both by father and mother. Which is advantaged by considering that Joseph was not only the reputed father, but the legal father of Christ; and although his being not the natural but the legal father of Christ will not prove him the Son of David, further than to the Jews who would have him to be the natural son of Joseph, yet the genealogy reckoned from Abraham to Joseph will prove Joseph the son of David; (whom they judged Christ’s natural father), so as they had nothing to say against that and the other parts of this Gospel; and this chapter indeed, with the genealogy of Mary, will prove that he was both the Son of David, and the true Messias, as a Son born of a virgin. Whereas some say that Mary was of the tribe of Levi, and think to prove it by her being cousin to Elisabeth, who is expressly called a daughter of Aaron, Luke 1:5; besides that Luke 3:23-38 plainly proveth her of the tribe of Judah, and of the family of David, the proof is by no means sufficient; for although the law, Numbers 36:8,9, for the avoiding of a confusion of inheritances, commanded them to marry within their tribes, yet this law concerned not the daughters of the tribe of Levi, for that tribe had no inheritance as the rest. So as that kindred might easily be, though Mary was not of the tribe of Levi, but of Judah, as indeed she was. But leaving this question, let us come to the words of the verse. And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary; that is, the espoused husband of Mary. Espousals make a marriage before God: the angel afterward saith to Joseph, (but yet espoused), Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife. And he was soon after the legal, actual husband of Mary.

Of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ; that person who was called Jesus is by the direction of the angel, as we shall by and by see, who was also called Christ, which, as we said, signifieth Anointed, and the same with Messiah. It is observed by some that the name Christ was given to kings of Judah (because of their anointing) before the captivity, but to none after, till he came who was the Christ; God by that providence (if the Jews would have understood it) pointing out to them, that the person was now come who was promised them under the notion of the Messiah, Daniel 9:25,26, and whom they expected, as appeareth from John 1:41 4:25, and no longer to be expected. And Jacob begat Joseph,.... According to an old tradition mentioned by (p) Epiphanins, this Jacob, the father of Joseph, was named Panther, and which name perhaps is originally Jewish; and it may be observed, that Joseph is sometimes called by the Jewish writers Pandera (q), and Jesus , the son of Pandira (r). It has created some difficulty with interpreters that Jacob should be here said to beget Joseph, when Joseph in Luke is said to be the son of Eli. Some have thought Joseph's father had two names, one was Jacob, and the other Eli; others take them to be two different persons, and suppose that Joseph was the natural son of the one, and the legal son of the other, either by marriage, or by adoption, or by the law of the brother's wife, Deuteronomy 25:5. But the truth of the matter is, that not Joseph, but Jesus, is by Luke called the son of Eli, as will be made to appear in its proper place. Joseph, who is here called the husband of Mary, because he not only espoused her, but, upon the advice and encouragement of the Angel, took her to be his wife, was, as is evident by this genealogy, of the house and lineage of David; though a mean and obscure person, and by trade a carpenter. Mary, which is the same name with Miriam in Hebrew, was a poor virgin that dwelt at Nazareth, a city of Galilee; yet also of the family of David, and belonged to the city of Bethlehem;

of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ, or Messiah; being that illustrious person, who was spoken of by the Prophets of the Old Testament under that name, and whom the Jews expected. We may learn from hence, what a low condition the family of David was in, when the true Messiah came; according to ancient prophecy, it was like a stump of a tree, or like to a tree cut down to the root, Isaiah 11:1 and Christ who sprung from it was like a root out of a dry ground, Isaiah 53:2. From the whole of this genealogy it appears, that Jesus was of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Judah, and of the family of David; whereby several ancient prophecies have their accomplishment, and therefore he ought to be acknowledged as the true Messiah: and also that he was of the blood royal, and had his descent from the kings of Judah, and was heir apparent to the throne and kingdom of his father David. The Talmudic Jews own that Jesus, or Jesu, as they call him, was put to death because he (s), "was nigh to the kingdom", or nearly related to it. Yea, even in that malicious book (t) they have written of his life, they represent him as akin to queen Helena, who they say, on that account, would have saved his life. And this was so clear a point, and their forefathers were so thoroughly convinced of this matter, that they would have took him by force and made him a king, John 6:15 but his kingdom was to be of another kind, a spiritual, and not a temporal one.

(p) Contra Haeres. l. 3. Haeres. 78. (q) Toldos Jesu, p. 3.((r) T. Hieros. Avoda Zara, fol. 40. 4. T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 14. 2. & Midrash Kohelet, fol. 81. 1.((s) T. Bab. Sanhed. fol. 43. 1.((t) Toldos Jesu, p. 10.

And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
Matthew 1:16. ἸακὼβἸωσήφ] In Luke 3:24, Joseph is called a son of Eli. This variation, also, cannot be set aside. As in the case of most great men who have sprung from an obscure origin, so also in the case of Jesus, the ancestors of no reputation were forgotten, and were given by tradition in varying form. The view, however (Epiphanius, Luther, Calovius in answer to Grotius, Bengel, Rosenmüller, Paulus, Gratz, Hofmann, Olshausen, Ebrard, Lange, Arnoldi, Bisping, Auberlen), that Luke gives the genealogy of Mary, and consequently that in Luke 3:24 Joseph is entered as son-in-law of Eli, or Eli as maternal grandfather of Jesus (Spanheim, Wieseler, Riggenbach in the Stud. u. Kritik. 1855, p. 585 ff., Krafft), is just as baseless and harmonistically forced an invention as that of Augustine, de consen. ev. ii. 3; or of Wetstein, Delitzsch, that Joseph was the adopted son of Eli; or that of Julius Africanus in Eusebius i. 7, that Matthew gives the proper father of Joseph, while Luke gives his legal father according to the law of Levirate marriage (Hug), or conversely (Schleiermacher after Ambrose and others). The contradictions which our genealogy presents to that of Luke are to be impartially recognised. See a more minute consideration of this in Luke after ch. 3.

It is well known that the Jews (the Talmud, and in Origen, c. Celsum, i. 32) call Jesus the son of Pandira[354] or Panthera. See Paulus, exeget. Handb. I. p. 290; Nitzsch in the Stud. u. Kritik. 1840, 1; Keim, Leben Jesu, I. p. 368; Ewald, Gesch. Christi, p. 187, ed. 3.

ἄνδρα] is to be rendered husband, and not (Olshausen, after Theophylact, Grotius) betrothed. For when the genealogist wrote, Joseph had been long ago the husband of Mary; and the signification of ἈΝΉΡ is never that of sponsus.

ἐξ ἧς] see on Galatians 4:4.

ὁ λεγόμενος Χριστός] if the assumption of Storr (Zweck d. evangel. Gesch. u. d. Briefe Joh. p. 273), that this addition expresses the doubt of the genealogist, an unbelieving relative of Jesus, is a pure imagination, and completely opposed to the standpoint of the evangelist, who adopted the genealogy, still we are not to say, with Olshausen (comp. Gersdorf, and already Er. Schmidt), that λέγεσθαι here means to be called, and also actually to be. This would be to confuse it improperly with ΚΑΛΕῖΣΘΑΙ. See Winer, p. 571 [E. T. 769]. The genealogical source, which found a reception in our Matthew, narrates in a purely historical manner: who bears the name of Christ (Matthew 4:18, Matthew 10:2, Matthew 27:17); for this name, which became His from the official designation, was the distinctive name of this Jesus. Comp., besides, Remark 3, after Matthew 1:17.

[354] פַּנְדִירָא. Epiphanius, Haeres. 78. 7, thus (Πάνθηρ) terms the father of Joseph. John of Damascus, de fide Orthodox. iv. 15, removes this name still further back in the roll of ancestors. The Jewish book, Toledoth Jeschu, calls the father of Jesus, Joseph Pandira. See Eisenmenger, p. 105; Paulus, exeget. Handb. I. p. 156 f.; Thilo, Cod. apocr. I. p. 526 f.Matthew 1:16. Ἰακὼβτὸν Ἰωσὴφ: the genealogy ends with Joseph. It is then presumably his, not Mary’s. But for apologetic or dogmatic considerations, no one would ever have thought of doubting this. What creates perplexity is that Joseph, while called the husband (τὸν ἄνδρα) of Mary, is not represented as the father of Jesus. There is no ἐγέννησε in this case, though some suppose that there was originally, as the genealogy came from the hand of some Jewish Christian, who regarded Jesus as the Son of Joseph (Holtzmann in H. C.). The Sinaitic Syriac Codex has “Joseph, to whom was betrothed Mary the Virgin, begat Jesus,” but it does not alter the story otherwise to correspond with Joseph’s paternity. Therefore Joseph can only have been the legal father of Jesus. But, it is argued, that is not enough to satisfy the presupposition of the whole N. T., viz., that Jesus was the actual son of David (κατὰ σάρκα, Romans 1:3); therefore the genealogy must be that of Mary (Nösgen). This conclusion can be reconciled with the other alternative by the assumption that Mary was of the same tribe and family as Joseph, so that the genealogy was common to both. This was the patristic view. The fact may have been so, but it is not indicated by the evangelist. His aim, undoubtedly, is to set forth Jesus as the legitimate son of Joseph, Mary’s husband, at His birth, and therefore the proper heir of David’s throne.—ἐξ ἧς ἐγεννήθη Ἰ. The peculiar manner of expression is a hint that something out of the usual course had happened, and prepares for the following explanation: ὁ λεγόμενος Χριστός; not implying doubt, but suggesting that the claim of Jesus to the title Christ was valid if He were a legitimate descendant of David, as the genealogy showed Him to be.16. Jacob begat Joseph] “Joseph which was the son of Heli” (Luke), see last note; probably Joseph was the son of Heli and the heir to Jacob. It is conjectured with much probability that Jacob was Mary’s father. In that case, although both genealogies show Joseph’s descent, they are in fact equally genealogies of Mary’s family.Matthew 1:16. Τὸν ἄνδρα Μαρίας, the husband of Mary) This turn of the genealogical line is evidently singular;[18] and in this place, therefore, I must advance and substantiate several important assertions.

[18] ‘Singularis.’ i.e., unique.—(I. B.)

I. Messias or Christ is the Son of David.

This is admitted by all.—See Matthew 22:42, and Acts 2:30.

II. Even in their genealogies both Matthew and Luke teach that Jesus is the Christ.

This is clear from Matthew 1:16, and Luke 3:22.

III. At the time when Matthew and Luke wrote the descent of Jesus from David had been placed beyond doubt.

Both Matthew and Luke wrote before the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, when the full genealogy of the house of David, preserved in the public records, was easily accessible to all: and our Lord’s adversaries did not ever make any objection, when Jesus was so frequently hailed as the Son of David.

IV. The genealogy in St Matthew from Abraham, and that in St Luke from the creation of man, to Joseph the husband of Mary, is deduced, not through mothers but fathers, and those natural fathers.

This is evident in the case of all those ancestors, whose names St Matthew and St Luke repeat from the Old Testament. Wherefore it is not said, whether Ruth had been the wife of Mahlon or Chilion; but Obed is simply said to be the son of his real father Boaz by Ruth [though his legal father was Mahlon.—See Ruth 4:10, etc.] From Abraham to David the same ancestors are evidently mentioned by both Matthew and Luke; so that there can be no doubt but that both Evangelists intend not mothers but fathers, and those, fathers by nature, from David to Joseph. Thus, in the books of Kings and Chronicles, as often soever as the mother of a king is mentioned alone, it is a sign that he whom her son is said to have immediately succeeded was his natural father.

V. The genealogy in Matthew from Solomon, and that in Luke from Nathan, is brought down to Joseph, not with the same, but with a different view [respectu, relation, regard.]

This is clear from the preceding section.

VI. Jesus Christ was the Son of Mary, but not of her husband Joseph.

This is evident from Matthew 1:16.

VII. It was necessary that the genealogy of Mary should be drawn out.

Without the genealogy of Mary, the descent of Jesus from David could not be proved, as follows from what has just been said.

VIII. Joseph was for some time reputed to be the father of the Lord Jesus.

The mystery of the Redeemer’s birth from a virgin was not made known at once, but by degrees; and, in the meanwhile, the honourable title of marriage was required as a veil for that mystery. Jesus, therefore, was believed to be the Son of Joseph, for instance, after His baptism, by Philip (John 1:45); in the time of His public preaching, by the inhabitants of Nazareth (Luke 4:22; Matthew 13:55), and only a year before His Passion by the Jews (John 6:42). Many still clung to this opinion even after our Lord’s Ascension, and up to the time, therefore, when, a few years subsequently to that event, St Matthew wrote his gospel.

IX. It was therefore necessary that the genealogy of Joseph also should in the meanwhile exist.

It was necessary that all those who believed Jesus to be the Son of Joseph, should be convinced that Joseph was descended from David. Otherwise they could not have acknowledged Jesus to be the Son of David, and consequently could not acknowledge Him to be the Christ. When therefore the angel first appeared to Joseph, and commanded him to take unto him his wife, he called him (Matthew 1:20) the Song of Solomon of David: because, forsooth, the Son of Mary would for a time have to bear that name as if derived from Joseph. In like manner, not only was Jesus in truth the first-born (Luke 2:7; Luke 2:23) of His mother, but it behoved also that He should be reputed to be the first-born of Joseph: those, therefore, who are called the brethren of Jesus, were His first cousins, not His half-brothers. It is needless to attempt, as some have done, to prove the consanguinity of Joseph and Mary from their marriage: for even if David be their nearest common ancestor, St Matthew’s object is attained. St Matthew then has traced the genealogy of Joseph, but still so as to do no violence to truth: for he does not say that Jesus is the Son of Joseph, but he does say that He was the Son of Mary; and in this very sixteenth verse he intimates, that this genealogy of Joseph, which had its use for a time, would afterwards become obsolete. Mary’s descent from David was equally well known at that time, as appears from St Luke.

X. Either Matthew gives the genealogy of Mary, and Luke that of Joseph; or Matthew that of Joseph, and Luke that of Mary.

This clearly follows from the preceding sections.

XI. The genealogy in Matthew is that of Joseph; in Luke, that of Mary.

St Matthew traces the line of descent from Abraham to Jacob: he expressly states that Jacob begat Joseph, and expressly calls Joseph the husband of Mary. Joseph therefore is regarded throughout this genealogy as the descendant of those who are enumerated, not on Mary’s account, but on his own. Matthew, indeed, expressly contradistinguishes Joseph from Mary as the son of Jacob; but in St Luke, by a less strict mode of expression, Heli (Luke 3:23) is simply placed after Joseph. Since, then, Joseph is described in Matthew as actually the son of Jacob, St Luke cannot mean to represent him as actually the son of Heli. The only alternative which remains, therefore, is to conclude that he is the son of Heli, not in his own person, but by virtue of another, and that other his wife. Mary, then, is the daughter of Heli. The Jewish writers mention a certain מרים בת עלי, Mary, the daughter of Heli, whom they describe as suffering extreme torments in the infernal regions.—See Light-foot[19] on Luke 3:23, and Wolfius[20] on Matthew 1:20. St Luke does not, however, name Mary in his genealogy; for it would have sounded ill, especially to Jewish ears, had he written “Jesus was the Son of Mary, the daughter of Heli, the son of Matthat,” etc.—on which account he names the husband of Mary, but that in such a manner that all may be able to understand (from the whole of his first and second chapters), that the name of Mary’s husband stands for that of Mary herself.

[19] John Lightfoot, D.D. Born in Staffordshire, 1602. Educated at Christ Church, Cambridge. One of the Assembly of Divines during the Commonwealth. In 1648 was made Master of Catherine Hall, Cambridge, and served the office of Vice-Chancellor: and died in 1675. He excelled in rabbinical learning.—(I. B.)

[20] John Christopher Wolfius, a learned Lutheran divine, pastor and Professor of Oriental Languages at Hamburgh. Born 1683. Died 1739. Author of Bibliotheca Hebræa, Curæ Philologicæ et Criticæ in Novum Testamentum.—(I. B.)

XII. That in St Luke is the primary, that in St Matthew the secondary genealogy.

When a genealogy is traced through female as well as male ancestors, any descent may be deduced in many ways from one root; whereas a pedigree, traced simply from father to son, must of necessity consist only of a single line. In the genealogy, however, of Jesus Christ, Mary, His mother, is reckoned with His male ancestors, by a claim of incomparable precedence. In an ordinary pedigree ancestors are far more important than ancestresses. Mary, however, enters this genealogy with a peculiar and unrivalled claim, above that of every ancestor whatever of the whole human race; for whatever Jesus derived from the stock of man—of Abraham, or of David—that He derived entirely from His mother. This is the One Seed of Woman without Man. Other children owe their birth partly to their father, partly to their mother. The genealogy of Mary, therefore, which is given in St Luke, is the primary one. Nor can that of Joseph, in St Matthew, be considered otherwise than secondary, and merely employed for the time, until all should become fully convinced, that Jesus was the Son of Mary, but not of Joseph. St Matthew mentions Jechoniah, although he is passed by in the primary genealogy.—See Jeremiah 22:30; and cf. Luke 1:32-33.

XIII. Whatever difficulty yet remains regarding this whole matter, so far from weakening, should even confirm our faith.

The stock of David had, in the time of Jesus of Nazareth, dwindled down to so small a number (see Revelation 22:16), that on this ground also the appellation “Song of Solomon of David” was used by Antonomasia[21] for “The Messiah.” And that family consisted so exclusively of Jesus and His relatives, that any one who knew Him to belong to it could not fail, even without the light of faith, to acknowledge Him as the Messiah, since the period foretold by the prophets for His manifestation had already arrived, and none of our Lord’s relations could be compared with Himself. Our Lord’s descent, therefore, from the race of David, as well as His birth at Bethlehem, were less publicly known; nay, rather He was in some degree veiled, as it were, by the name of Nazarene, that faith might not lose its price.[22]—See John 7:27; John 7:41-42. And thus men, having been first induced on other grounds to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, concluded, on the same grounds, that He must be the Son of David.—See Matthew 12:23. The necessary public documents, however, were in existence, whence it came to pass, that the chief priests, though employing every means against our Lord, never questioned His descent from David. Nay, even the Romans received much information concerning the Davidical descent of Jesus.—See Luke 2:4. Of old the facility with which His descent could be traced, showed Jesus to be the Son of David: now the very difficulty of so doing (caused as it is by the destruction of Jerusalem, and all the public records which it contained), affords a proof, against the Jews at least, that the Messiah must long since have come. Should they acknowledge any other as the Messiah, they must ascertain his descent from David in precisely the same manner that we do that of Jesus of Nazareth. As light, however, advanced, the aspect of the question has not a little changed. Jesus was called, on various occasions, “The Son of David,” by the multitude (ch. Matthew 12:23, Matthew 21:9), by children (Matthew 21:15), by the blind men (Matthew 9:27, Matthew 20:30), by the woman of Canaan (Matthew 15:22): but He never declared to His disciples that He was the Son of David, and they, in their professions of faith, called Him, not “The Son of David,” but “The Son of God;” He invited, also, those who called Him the Son of David, to advance further.—See Matthew 21:42-43, and Matthew 9:28. In the first instance our Lord’s descent from David was rather a ground of faith, afterwards it became rather an obstacle to faith. No difficulty can now be a hinderance to them that believe.—See 2 Corinthians 5:16. Jesus is the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.[23]

[21] The substitution of an appellative designation for a proper name.—ED. See explanation of technical terms in Appendix.—(I. B.)

[22] “Ut pretium fidei maneret.” Faith was allowed to remain attended with seeming difficulties, at the cost of surmounting which, men were appointed to attain to it.—ED.

[23] Revelation 22:16.—(I. B.)

XIV. Matthew and Luke combine ulterior objects and advantages with the genealogy.

If the Evangelists had merely wished to show that Mary and also Joseph were descended from David, it would have been sufficient for their purpose, had they, taking the genealogies as they exist in the Old Testament for granted, commenced at the point where these conclude, namely, with Zorobabel, or at any rate with David himself, and traced the line through Nathan or Solomon down to Jesus Christ. St Matthew, however, begins further off, viz. with Abraham, and descends through David and Solomon. St Luke, on the other hand, ascends to Nathan and David, and thence beyond Abraham to the first origin of the human race. Each of them, therefore, must have had at the same time a further object in view.

St Luke, as is evident at first sight, makes a full recapitulation[24] and summary of the lineage of the whole human race, and exhibits with that lineage the Saviour’s consanguinity to all Gentiles, as well as Jews: St Matthew, writing to the Hebrews, begins with Abraham, thus reminding them of the promise which had been made to that Patriarch. Again, St Luke simply enumerates the whole series, through more than seventy steps, without addition or comment: whereas St Matthew, besides several remarkable observations which he introduces in particular cases concerning the wives and brothers of those whom he mentions, and the Babylonian Captivity, divides the whole series into three periods; and, as we shall presently consider, enumerates in each of these periods fourteen generations. And hence, also, we perceive the convenience of the descent in Matthew, and the ascent in Luke: for in this manner the former was enabled more conveniently to introduce those observations and divisions; the latter, to avoid the stricter word ἐγέννησε, begat, and take advantage of the formula ὡς ἐνομίζετο, as was supposed, and in an exquisite manner to conclude the whole series with God.—ὁ λεγόμενος Χριστός, who is called Christ) St Matthew is dealing with the Jewish reader, who is to be convinced that Jesus is the Christ, by such means as His genealogy. And accordingly he here and there [throughout his Gospel] expresses and establishes what the other Evangelists take for granted. The force of the name Christ recalls especially the promise given to David concerning the Kingdom of the Messiah: and the force of the name Jesus recalls especially the promise given to Abraham concerning the Blessing.[25]

[24] See explanation of technical terms in voc. ANAKEPHALAESOSIS. The word is used by Quintilian.—(I. B.)

[25] The Greek Χριστός, and the Hebrew משיח, means Anointed, i.e., King. Jesus is the proper name of our Lord: [the] Christ is a surname [cognomen], implying His office. The ancients were expecting the Christ, before the birth of Jesus: when Jesus had been born, a demonstrative proof was given that this very Jesus is the Christ; and when that demonstration of His being the Christ was subsequently made more widely known, the appellation, Jesus Christ, became the prevalent one.—Vers. Germ.Verse 16. - And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary. St. Luke calls Joseph "the son of Heli." There are two ways in which these differing statements may be made to accord. The two sons of Matthan were Jacob the elder, and Heli the younger. It may be that Mary was the only child of Jacob, and Joseph the son of Heli. Then by marriage with his cousin, Joseph would become Jacob's son as well as Heli's. Or it may be that Jacob died without children, and Heli, marrying his widow according to the Jewish usage, became by her the father of Joseph, who hence would be called Jacob's son, that the elder brother's line might not die out. The points noticed above in respect of these varying pedigrees seem to be all those on which anything needs to be said with the view of comparing them. Their variety stands as a constant evidence of the independence of the two evangelists. Had either of them been conscious of the existence of the other's work. it is inconceivable that he would have made no effort to adjust the pedigree, for which he would possess means now lost for ever. They both design to give us the descent of Joseph from David, this being what a Sew would most regard. The descent of Mary from David is nowhere definitely mentioned in the Gospels, but that Jesus was sprung from David on the mother's side too we are warranted in concluding from the words of the angel to Mary (Luke 1:82), "his father David" (cf. also Delitzsch, 'Hess. Proph.,' § 17). But though we ought not to spend vain labour in attempting to reconcile these two genealogies of Joseph, we can see, from what we know of Jewish customs, grounds enough for understanding how these variations came to exist. The same Jew, we find, was often known under two names; of this we have several examples in the lists of the twelve apostles. It is possible, therefore, that in these two pedigrees there may have been more points of union than we are able to detect. Then the rule, before alluded to, by which a man took the childless widow of his deceased brother for his wife and raised seed unto his brother, may also have led to much confusion of names, which we have now no means of unravelling. The evangelists drew each his own list from some authentic source, accessible to others beside themselves, and the record of which could be verified when the Gospels were set forth. This should satisfy us that those we have received were held by the Jews soon after Christ's time to be truthful records, and that each established from a Jewish point of view the descent of the putative father of Jesus from King David. Of whom was born Jesus. This name, which, through Jeshua, is the Greek form of Joshua (for which, indeed, it stands in the Authorized Version of Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8), signifies "Jehovah is help," and was not an uncommon name among the Jews, though given with marked significance at this time (see ver. 21). We find, according to the best texts, that in Luke 3:29 this name occurs in the pedigree of Joseph (where the Authorized Version has Jose), and the Revised Version has adopted that reading. (Of the way in which the name was augmented when given to the famous successor of Moses, see Numbers 13:16.) Who is called Christ. The evangelist here alludes merely to the well-known fact that Jesus was called by this name. The significance of the word, which is a translation of the Hebrew Messiah, is "anointed," and in the Old Testament it is given to priests (as Leviticus 4:3, 5, 16), to a king appointed by Jehovah (1 Samuel 24:6, 10; 2 Samuel 19:21), also to King Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1), and to some unnamed representative of Jehovah (1 Samuel 2:10). It was subsequently applied to Jesus both in the Greek form and in the Hebrew (John 1:41; John 4:25). It must, however, be noticed ( vide Bishop Westcott, Add. Note on 1 John 5:1) that it was not a characteristic title of the promised Saviour in the Old Testament, and was not even specifically applied to him, unless, perhaps, in Daniel 9:25, 26 - a passage of which the interpretation is very doubtful.
Matthew 1:16 Interlinear
Matthew 1:16 Parallel Texts

Matthew 1:16 NIV
Matthew 1:16 NLT
Matthew 1:16 ESV
Matthew 1:16 NASB
Matthew 1:16 KJV

Matthew 1:16 Bible Apps
Matthew 1:16 Parallel
Matthew 1:16 Biblia Paralela
Matthew 1:16 Chinese Bible
Matthew 1:16 French Bible
Matthew 1:16 German Bible

Bible Hub

Matthew 1:15
Top of Page
Top of Page