The Birth and Early Years of Jesus (Chapters 1)
His Genealogy (1:1–17)
The types of people mentioned in this genealogy reveal the broad scope of those who make up the people of God as well as the genealogy of Jesus. Chapter 1:1 reads, “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham.” “The son of David,” is a Messianic title found several times in this Gospel. The term, “The son of Abraham,” is used because Matthew was writing to Jews, it was important to identify Jesus in this way.
Chapter 1:16 – Matthew does not say that Joseph was the father of Jesus but that he was the husband of Mary and that Jesus was born of her. In this genealogy, Matthew shows that, although Jesus is not the physical son of Joseph, he was the legal son and therefore a descendant.
“Thus, there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.” (Matthew 1:17). Fourteen generations…fourteen…fourteen – These divisions reflect two characteristics of Matthew’s Gospel: (1) an apparent fondness for numbers and (2) concern for systematic arrangement. Or, the number 14 may have been chosen because it is twice seven (the number of completeness).
Both Matthew and Luke record genealogies of Jesus. Why was this so important?
In our modern culture—especially in America—many families have little sense of heritage. Many of us don’t even know the names of our great, great grandparents or where they lived, what they did, etc. In contrast, genealogies were a deeply integral part of Jewish society at the time of Jesus. Land was inherited based on family lines, and those who could not prove their ancestry in Israel were considered outsiders.
The genealogies in Matthew and Luke (3:23-37) show Jesus as the descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and eventually David—men to whom these prophecies were made. God promised Abraham that all nations would be blessed through his offspring, which was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:7–9,16).
By reading these genealogies, we also see that Jesus was a direct descendent of King David. This is also a fulfillment of many Old Testament promises.
Therefore, the genealogies of Christ help show that He is the promised Messiah.