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Peoples New Testament, Matthew 1
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The Genealogy and Birth of Christ
1 The book of the generation. Literally, "the book of birth", or genealogy. This title applies, not to the whole Gospel, but to the table of descent in the first seventeen verses. The title was possibly copied from some Hebrew document compiled from the genealogical tables.
2 Abraham begat Isaac. Matthew begins with Abraham to trace the line down. He was writing for Jews, and Jewish history begins with Abraham. Luke (Lu 3:23-38), writing for Gentiles, goes back to Adam. For the differences between Matthew and Luke, see PNT "Mt 1:16".
3 Tamar. Three women are named in this list: Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth. These were all Gentile women, and are named for this reason, and for their remarkable history. There were stains upon the character of Tamar (Ge 38:11-30) and of Rahab (Jos 2:1), but Ruth is one of the sweetest women of the Bible.
6 David the king. The greatest of line from Abraham to Christ, so exalted that one of the titles of the Messiah was "the Son of David".
8 Joram. Between Joram and Uzziah three names are intentionally omitted. They are found in 1Ch 3:11-12. They were probably omitted to equalize the threefold division of generations from Abraham to Joseph. Such omissions of unimportant links are common in the Old Testament.
16 Jacob begat Joseph. The descendant of a long line of kings was a poor carpenter of Nazareth. As the husband of Mary he was the legal father of Jesus, and Matthew gives his line of descent. A comparison of the table given by Luke will show that it differs in part from that of Matthew. Between David and Joseph the lists are widely different. Several views, all possible, have been presented, but the most probable explanation is that Matthew gives the line of Joseph, the legal line, and that Luke gives the line of Mary, the mother of our Lord. As the Jews regarded only male descent, unless Joseph, the supposed father, was a descendant of David they would not have recognized the genealogy as a fulfillment of the prophecies that Christ should be the Son of David; while Luke, himself a Gentile and writing for Gentiles, was more particular to give the line that shows that Jesus is really the Son of David. If Mary was the daughter of Heli, especially if an heiress, Joseph, by marriage, would become the "son of Heli". That there is no contradiction between the two tables is shown by the fact that the Jews who best understood their genealogies never charged it. These tables were preserved with great care, for various reasons, until Christ was born, but it is asserted that Herod destroyed them. If this is incorrect, they did not survive the destruction of Jerusalem.
17 Fourteen generations. There are exactly fourteen generations from Abraham to David, and two other series made to correspond.
18 The birth of Jesus Christ. The word rendered here "birth" is the same in Greek that is translated "genealogy" in Mt 1:1.
19 Joseph her husband. Betrothal, according to the law (De 22:23,24), made him her husband before marriage.
20 While he thought. Reflected, still in doubt, perplexed.
21 Thou shalt call his name JESUS. That is, Savior. The Hebrew form is Joshua; the full meaning is "Jehovah's salvation".
23 Behold, a virgin. Rather "the virgin", as in the Revised Version. Isaiah had in view a particular virgin, the mother of the true Immanuel (Isa 7:14). Like many other prophecies, it had a double, a typical and a true, fulfillment. The first was in the reign of Ahaz, concerning a temporal deliverance, but the higher reference is to the spiritual Deliverer of the world. The first is the type, the second is the great event that inspired the message.
The People's New Testament commentary by B.W. Johnson (1891), Public Domain