Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 25, 1960

Lessons From The Genealogy

Gordon Wilson, Sacramento, California

In making a verse by verse study of the gospel of Matthew, it seems to be customary for teachers and ministers to "skip lightly" over the first seventeen verses in chapter one. Many of the names listed there are difficult to pronounce, a few of the characters referred to are obscure persons, and generally these verses seem to be too dry for profitable study. The custom is to just read the verses, make some trite comment, ("These were the ancestors of Christ"), and pass on to the remainder of the chapter.

We hope to demonstrate in this paper that such an attitude is mistaken; that there is much of interest and spiritual benefit in the genealogy of Christ. There can be no doubting the fact that the genealogy of Jesus is important in showing that the Lord is the son of Abraham, thus his seed, and the fulfillment of the promise recorded in Genesis 12:1-3. The genealogy is Matthew's evidence, also, of the fact that Jesus is the son of David, thus he of whom all the prophets spake in predicting that one of David's seed should sit on his throne; howbeit none on the earth.

The history wrapped up in the genealogy of Christ is a grand survey of God's dealings with Israel, from the time that he separated the family of Abraham, until the time when His purpose in separating Israel was finally consummated in the advent of Christ. Matthew divides this history into three parts; from the call of Abraham to the birth of David is fourteen generations and is the history of the Hebrew race up till the setting up of the monarchy, and nearly every one of the patriarchs mentioned were important leaders in the growth and progress of Jehovah's own people; from David to the Babylonian captivity is likewise fourteen generations and comprises the history of Israel, following the Judean line of royalty until the kingdom was destroyed in effect by the carrying away into Babylon; all of the men listed here were kings of Judah. The final fourteen generations covers the period from the carrying away into Babylon till the birth of Christ. Two of these men are mentioned in the Old Testament, in connection with the restoration of the Jews to Palestine. Nine of them lived in the period between the Old and New Testaments, and are not mentioned anywhere except in this genealogy.

It is suggested that, in teaching the gospel of Matthew, the teacher give a, brief history of the ancestors of Christ, each in turn. Then present the class with some information on the "four centuries of silence," with a quick rundown on Maccabean and Herodian dynasties. This knowledge is important in bringing one up to the birth of Christ. Matthew was writing to Jews who knew this history, so that the genealogy was meaningful to them. It can likewise be meaningful to us if we equip ourselves with the proper historical background.

There are some things of spiritual import in the genealogy:

1. We are assured that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah of the Old Testament. The Jews were acquainted with the scriptures and knew that the expected One must be the seed of Abraham — a pure Israelite, and that he must be the son of David — of royal lineage. Giving his genealogy was Matthew's way of proving that Jesus Christ is "the son of David, the son of Abraham."

2. God sometimes used sinners to accomplish His aims in bringing Jesus into the world. This is emphasized by the mention of four women who overcame the stigma of sin: Tamar, who kept the sceptre from departing from Judah; Rahab, whose courage and kindness had much to do with the children of Israel's success in conquering Canaan; Ruth, who gave up idolatry and adopted Jehovah as her God to become one of His people; and the greatest grandmother of Israel's illustrous king, Bathsheba, who in spite of her shame in the eyes of all the people finally won their respect, and besought the kingdom for her son, Solomon.

3. Matthew's gospel is true, and of necessity inspired. If there had been the slightest flaw in the genealogy, the Jews, to whom most of the records were still available, would have found it and pronounced Matthew's writings untrue. No doubt they tried to pick it to pieces. Matthew knew that they would do this, yet he listed the genealogy which could be verified from public documents. Skeptics have tried every twist and turn to prove the New Testament books false in some details, yet they cannot overthrow the fact that the people of their day did not dare to challenge the facts recorded by the evangelists. If those who lived then could not impeach their testimony, then it shall prove impossible for modern day infidels, who are farther removed from the facts, to accomplish this.

It is hoped that we have here suggested enough thoughts to make a study of Matthew 1:1-17 a more interesting and profitable study for all who cherish the word of God.

Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye are otherwise minded, this also shall God reveal unto you: only, whereunto we have attained, by that same rule let us walk. (Phil. 3:13-16).