The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
The book of the genealogy, etc. This is not the general title of the First Gospel, but rather the particular title of these sixteen or seventeen verses. The scroll, or writing of divorcement, which the Talmudists say consisted exactly of" twelve lines," is called a biblion, or "book" (Matthew 19:7). So the "book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ" may be understood to describe the single skin on which the words immediately before us were originally written. Vitringa remarks that the expression concerning the "names" in the "book of life," in Revelation 3:5, alludes to the genealogical tables of the Jewish priests (see Ezra 2:62; Nehemiah 7:64), as the "white raiment" mentioned there does to the priestly dress.
I. THIS IS THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS AS THE CHRIST.
1. This is implied in his description. "The Son of David, the Son of Abraham."
(1) David had many sons. So had he very many descendants. Abraham had a still mole numerous posterity. But amidst all the sons of David and of Abraham Jesus is "the Son' (see Bishop Middleton, 'Gr. Art.,' p. 163),. So likewise is he "the Son of man. Here is a mark of surpassing excellence. In the whole human family there is no one to compare with him, personally, officially, relatively.
(2) These titles indicate him to be the Seed" promised in the covenant, and the Seed to whom also the blessings of the covenant are promised. God made his covenant "unto Abraham and his Seed." Mark, "not seeds, as of many; but as of one, which is Christ (Galatians 3:16). In him all the families of the earth are blessed.
2. To assert this is obviously the evangelists intention. So we understand his words, genealogy of Jesus the Christ.
(1) Jesus is the Antitype of all sacredly anointed persons - prophets, priests, kings. He alone united in himself all these offices.
(2) His anointing and Christship were of the Holy Ghost. The oil of anointing typified the Spirit of God.
(a) In its lustre. Hence the unction of the Holy One" is said to convey spiritual teaching and heavenly knowledge (1 John 2:20, 27).
(b) In its softening, mollifying, lubricating influences. So the oil of anointing is put for the graces of the Holy Spirit.
(c) Jesus was "anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows," viz. not only in the kited, but also in the degree. He received the Spirit "not by measure."
(3) How favoured are the sons of Jesus! They are through him the seed of the covenant (see Galatians 3:29). They are Christians, anointed ones, viz. in a spiritual and very noble sense (2 Corinthians 1:21).
II. THE PEDIGREE IS GIVEN FOR OUR BENEFIT.
1. Jesus had no personal glory from it.
(1) Some of the ancestors were princes of the aristocracy of Virtue - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, Zerubbabel. But Jesus himself was immeasurably superior to the best of them.
(2) Some were persons of sullied fame - Rehoboam, Abijah, Uzziah, Ahaz, Manasseh, Amon, Jechoniah. Note:
(a) Virtue does not run in the blood.
(b) Jesus appeared "in the likeness of sinful flesh."
(c) None are too vile to be saved by him.
2. To us it certifies his Messiahship.
(1) The patriarchs from David upwards were common ancestors of Joseph and Mary. The later patriarchs in this list were ancestors of "Joseph the husband of Mary," therefore here, of Jesus putatively, who was "supposed to be the Son of Joseph." Yet as the reputed or adopted Son of Joseph his title to the throne of David was valid.
(2) But that Jesus was also the Son of David in blood as well as in law is evident from the genealogy in Luke, which carries his line up through Mary. Joseph, whose lather was Jacob according to Matthew, is in Luke called "the son of Heli (viz. jure matrimonii) , in compliance with the Jewish custom of tracing all genealogies through males. Every way, then, whether by law or by blood, Jesus is proved to be the Son of David the king" (ver. 67, and entitled to the throne.
(3) In these genealogies there are difficulties which we are now in no position to solve. These, however, were no difficulties to the contemporaries of the evangelists, familiar with Hebrew customs and having access to the national records. It is too late, now the records are lost, for sceptics to make capital out of these difficulties.
(4) But, on the other hand, the records being lost, no pretender to Messiahship can now establish descent from David. Surely the Jews, who require this mark, should be convinced that Jesus, in whom alone it is found, is very Christ (cf. Matthew 12:23; Matthew 21:9; Matthew 22:447.
(5) He is the "Son of David" in the grandest sense, viz. that of being also David's Lord. Attributes of Divinity are ascribed by King David to the "King's Son" (see e.g. Psalm 72.), which by no pretence of "Oriental hyperbole" can be limited to Solomon. These superhuman claims, in which lie the source and secret of all the blessings of salvation, Jesus asserted for himself and fully vindicated.
3. It encourages the hope of the Gentiles.
(1) Significant of this gracious end, we notice that the seed of the covenant was conveyed through younger sons. Abraham himself was a younger son of Terah; so was Isaac of Abraham; so was Jacob of Isaac; so was Judah of Jacob. Phares and Zara are both mentioned in the genealogy, evidently to emphasize this principle; for here Pharos, the younger of the twins, was chosen. David likewise was a younger son of Jesse. And in the family of David, Solomon the ancestor of Joseph, and Nathan the ancestor of Mary, were both younger sons (cf. Luke 15:11-32; also Romans 9:12, 30).
(2) Note, further, that of the four women, beside the virgin, whose names are introduced, two were Gentiles, viz Rahab and Ruth
(3) "The children of the promise" whether Jew or Gentile, ever have been "counted for the seed." It was so in the family of Abraham. It is so in the family of Jesus (Galatians 3:29). Election is "through faith." The Old Testament begins with "the generation of the heartens and the earth;" the New, with the generation of him by whom they were created. The glory of the gospel exceeds not only that of the Law, but that also of the material world. Jesus, in his incarnation, became "the Beginning of the [new] creation of God." He is "the Firstborn of every creature," viz. the Head and Archetype of that new creation which is to consist of those who are "born again" of him. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.