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A Year Through the Gospels: Week 9

March 26, 2016

Darryl Sluka

This is the ninth installment in a yearlong series.  You can find the previous installments here.


The first eight posts in this series were dedicated to highlighting the things I noticed for the first time in each of the four gospels as I read them for the first time this year. You can find the introduction to the nature of those posts here. As I am now reading through each gospel for the second time this year, I will be changing the nature of my posts from highlighting new discoveries to highlighting some of the distinct aspects of each book.  The four gospels share similarities, but each one is still made up of themes, features, and stories that are different or unique from the others. Often times, we read over these distinct aspects without realizing how they enrich the text. It is my goal in the upcoming posts to highlight and extract these enriching components so that one can glean more from his or her Bible reading.

Matthew 1 – The Genealogy of Jesus

Matt. 1:1   The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

Matt. 1:2    Abraham fathered Isaac,

Isaac fathered Jacob,

Jacob fathered Judah and his brothers,

3  Judah fathered Perez and Zerah by Tamar,

Perez fathered Hezron,

Hezron fathered Aram,

4  Aram fathered Amminadab,

Amminadab fathered Nahshon,

Nahshon fathered Salmon, 

5  Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab,

Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth,

Obed fathered Jesse,

6  and Jesse fathered King David.

  Then David fathered Solomon by Uriah’s wife,

7  Solomon fathered Rehoboam,

Rehoboam fathered Abijah,

Abijah fathered Asa,

8  Asa fathered Jehoshaphat,

Jehoshaphat fathered Joram,

Joram fathered Uzziah,

9  Uzziah fathered Jotham,

Jotham fathered Ahaz,

Ahaz fathered Hezekiah, 

10  Hezekiah fathered Manasseh,

Manasseh fathered Amon,

Amon fathered Josiah,

11  and Josiah fathered Jechoniah and his brothers

at the time of the exile to Babylon.

Matt. 1:12    Then after the exile to Babylon

Jechoniah fathered Shealtiel,

Shealtiel fathered Zerubbabel, 

13  Zerubbabel fathered Abiud,

Abiud fathered Eliakim,

Eliakim fathered Azor,

14  Azor fathered Zadok,

Zadok fathered Achim,

Achim fathered Eliud, 

15  Eliud fathered Eleazar,

Eleazar fathered Matthan,

Matthan fathered Jacob, 

16  and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary,

who gave birth to Jesus who is called the Messiah.

Matt. 1:17   So all the generations from Abraham to David were 14 generations; and from David until the exile to Babylon, 14 generations; and from the exile to Babylon until the Messiah, 14 generations.

Most people do not pay close attention to the genealogy at the beginning of Matthew. At first glance, it is just a list with a lot of names that are hard to pronounce; it does not seem directly applicable to today’s reader, so she skips over it. However, Matthew’s genealogy sets the tone for one of Matthew’s most distinctive themes: Jesus as the King of Israel.

Distinguishing Features

Jesus’ genealogy appears twice in the New Testament: once in Matthew, and once in Luke. Though Matthew and Luke both show the lineage of Jesus, they each present it differently. Matthew placed his genealogy at the beginning of his gospel so that it would be the first thing the reader read, whereas Luke placed his after the birth narrative in chapter 3. Matthew organized the genealogy in three groups of fourteen, starting with Abraham and progressing through time until Jesus; Luke began with Jesus and worked backwards all the way to Adam. In addition to layout, Matthew’s account differs in purpose. Matthew inserted the genealogy for one main reason: to make the claim that Jesus was not only in David’s royal line, but that he was the rightful heir to David’s throne. Finally, Matthew included five women in his genealogy- Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Uriah’s Wife (Bathsheba), and Mary. Not all of these women were Jewish, and none of them held high ranking positions in society- although Bathsheba eventually became David’s queen, she did not hold a high place within society prior to that, and she had married a Hittite man.


Each gospel captures a different aspect of who Jesus is. Matthew wrote his gospel to a Jewish audience. They were familiar with the Mosaic Law, the history of Israel and its fathers, and the coming Messiah. Matthew’s intent was to write an account of Jesus’ life and ministry so that those who were behind His crucifixion would see that He was in fact the Messiah their nation had been waiting for. Matthew needed to present incontrovertible evidence to Jesus’ rightful place as the Messiah both legally (by being the heir of David) and religiously (by being the one who fulfilled the Mosaic Law). By inserting such a pointed genealogy at the very beginning of his gospel, Matthew set a hard tone and established a strong theme of Jesus’ legitimate claim to the throne of David that is prevalent throughout the rest of his book.

Furthermore, Matthew’s inclusion of women was not an ordinary custom. The first three women listed- Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth- showed staunch faithfulness to God and those around them. Tamar was mistreated by Judah; Rahab was a prostitute in the land of Canaan who believed the Israelites were God’s chosen people and helped them conquer the land; Ruth was a Moabite woman who was fiercely loyal to the mother of her deceased husband and followed her to the land of Judah; she vowed to serve her mother-in-law and her God for the rest of her life. The women in Matthew’s genealogy, especially these first three, were included assert that not only is Jesus the Jewish Messiah, but He is the Messiah for everyone who is faithful to God and others. Jesus cam to preach to Israel, but, as the prophets prophesied, His sacrifice was for all nations. Jesus Himself affirms this throughout Matthew’s gospel.

Matthew’s genealogy, though it seems more applicable in a time now past, is still as significant as it ever was. It starts the story of Jesus with bold claims that appear later in the book as reoccurring themes. It serves as an indicator for the purpose behind Matthew’s entire gospel, which helps us as readers understand and glean from what the verses and passages say in later chapters.

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