MATTHEW 1:1-17

Presenting the Genealogy of Jesus of Nazareth: King!

By Johnny Tatum





That is what Matthew is proving. From Abraham down to the one who had a curse on him — Jeconiah. [None of his descendants will ever rule.]

Going down the list, we will see some names we recognize and some we do not. Zerubbabel is a name many of us recognize, and possibly Zadok, who was a priest. The Matthew text reads:

Shealtiel begat Zerubbabel, who begat Abihud, who begat Eliakim, who begat Azor, who begat Zadok, who begat Achim, who begat Eliud, who begat Eleazar, who begat Matthan, who begat Jacob, who begat Joseph

Look at how the pattern changes. We read begat, begat, begat… Now we read:

The husband of Mary by whom was born - Jesus - who was called Christ. (Matthew 1:12-16)

Notice how this patter of begats stops. Nobody begat Jesus, did they?

Messiah Jesus was not begat

The genealogy in Matthew shows Joseph in the line leading back up to Jeconiah, Solomon and David; however, Jesus was not in the line.

Jacob, who begat Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom

To who does by whom refer? Mary

by whom was born Jesus, who was called Christ. (Matthew 1:16)

Jesus was not physically descended from Joseph; therefore, He was not physically descended from Jeconiah. He satisfies the first requirement for the Messiah. He was not in the royal line that was cursed.

No Problem Here!


Why? Messiah was to be the son of David; that is what Luke proves.

Here is the difference between the two genealogies:

The genealogy presented by Matthew is actually the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph. And the genealogy presented by Luke is actually the genealogy of Jesus through Mary.

That is why they look different, because they are different!

In Matthew, we have the begats— begat, begat, begat —until we come to Jesus. In Luke, we have the son of— the son of, the son of, the son of —until we come to Jesus; and then the pattern changes again—

Jesus was supposedly the son of Joseph.



Matthew gives the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph, because:

Jesus was the Legal Son of Joseph.

What does that mean? Legally, Jesus was in the line that goes up through Jeconiah, Solomon and David. I repeat:

Jesus was Legally in the line of Joseph.

Jesus of Nazareth was not physically in that line, because He was the adopted son of Joseph. So He was legally in the line, meaning:

Jesus had the Legal Right to be the King of the Jews.

In fact, if the kingly line of Judah would have continued on, and if there had been no Babylonian captivity, no Alexander the Great, and no Roman occupation, then who would have been the king of Israel [if the legal pattern would have been continually followed]? It would have been first Joseph and then, since Jesus was Joseph's first-born legal son, Jesus would have been the king of Israel at the opening of the New Testament.

Why did Jesus not have a curse on Him from Jeconiah?

Jesus was not a Physical Descendant of Jeconiah.

Conversely, how was Jesus a physical descendant of David?

Jesus was a Physical Descendant of David through His biological mother.

Matthew presents the genealogy of Joseph (Jesus' legal father), who was a descendant of Solomon. Luke presents the genealogy of Jesus through Mary (Jesus' physical mother), who was a descendant of David through Nathan.



Do you still see a problem? At the very bottom of the listed genealogies, there appears to be a contradiction. Even if we [correctly] grant that Luke gives the genealogy of Mary, and Matthew gives the genealogy of Joseph, there is still a problem. Who is the father of Joseph? Can you tell me? This is where there seems to be a contradiction.

Matthew seems to say:

Joseph's father was named Jacob.

But Luke seems to say:

Joseph's father was named Eli.

So who was Joseph's father?


Avoiding The Issue:

There was an early church father, named John Chrysostom, who wrote long commentaries. He wrote and extremely L-O-N-G commentary on the book of Matthew; it was a real sleeper (reading it induced sleep).

When Chrysostom came to this problem, he said I know exactly why it is written this way, but I do not want to take the time to tell you, because it would be too tedious and it would take us off the main point.

I thought That is a great answer; he just avoided the real issue.

Actually, it is really quite simple…


In the Orient, when genealogies were traced, women were not included except with the word by. For example:

Women were not included in the main genealogical record; instead, the husband would take her place in that genealogy.

In this case, Eli was the father of Mary. Luke replaced her name with:

Supposedly, the son of Joseph.



Actually, God did the impossible, did He not? He produced Somebody who was both a descendant of that kingly line and who was not a descendant of that line. In fact, the genealogies give us three truths about Jesus of Nazareth, Messiah:

  1. He was the legal descendant of David through Solomon and [yes] through Jeconiah.
  2. He was not part of the curse because He was not physically descended from Jeconiah.
  3. He was the physical descendant of David through His mother.



These genealogies take us back to Genesis 3. After the fall of Adam and Eve, God proclaimed a promise of hope for all time:

The One Who Was To Come would come from the seed of the woman. (Genesis 3:15)

And why does that strike us as odd to hear seed of the woman? A woman does not have seed; it is the man who provides the seed.

From this point on, it was clear that there was to be something supernatural about the way Messiah was to come into the world. And now we know—

Messiah came into the world by the virgin birth.

Jesus had a human mother, but He did not have a human father. In fact, at the virgin birth—

God crashed into the messianic line – Sovereignly.


Consider This:


We would be very wrong to stop at this point and say What a great feat God accomplished! Was that not impressive how He managed to arrange it so that Jesus could be a descendant of that kingly line and not a descendant of that kingly line?

Actually, it is more important than that because what God did physically in the messianic line is a picture of what He did spiritually.



Why did God have to crash into that messianic line with a virgin birth?

There was sin in that line.

Let us look at that genealogy of the messianic line:

Abraham begat Isaac, Isaac begat Jacob, Jacob begat Judah, Judah begat Perez and Zerah (and then he adds) by Tamar. (Matthew 1:2-3)

If I had been writing this genealogy, I do not think that I would have included by Tamar. I would have left that name out, because that is not a pretty picture on which to reflect:

Judah had his sons by his daughter-in-law, Tamar!

Keep on going—

Salmon begat Boaz by Rahab. (Matthew 1:5)

Who was Rahab?

Rahab was a prostitute.

Is this not a great genealogical line?

What about David?

David begat Solomon by the wife of Uriah. (Matthew 1:6)

We know that story, and it is not a pretty picture — one of adultery and murder. If we were to rank sins, I suppose adultery and murder would have to be two of the top five sins. That is ugly!

Continuing down, we come to Manasseh (see Matthew 1:10).

The most evil and wicked of kings.

In his line is Jeconiah (see Matthew 1:11,12)—

Jeconiah is so evil that God said I am cutting off his line. I am stopping it right here.


All of these ancestors in the messianic line were sinners!


Let Us Think About This:


I read a commentary this week where the author went through the genealogy and picked out all of the flagrant violators of God's law. He identified them as being the sinners in this line. His thinking was only partially right; however, it is a bigger problem than that. Everybody in that line is a sinner

The line was contaminated by sin going all the way back to Adam.

When Adam chose to sin, he plunged the entire human race into spiritual death. That includes you and me. However, there is Good News; God's righteousness is received by faith in Messiah Jesus as your Savior.


It is tempting for me to say there are some good people in this line and there are some bad people in this line. For example, I would pick out Ruth as a good person—

Boaz begat Obed by Ruth (Matthew 1:5)

Ruth was not a vile sinner like the others that were previously mentioned. In fact, she was a real jewel in human terms. However, Ruth was a foreigner; she was from Moab. From where did the Moabites come? From Lot laying with his daughters when he was drunk! That is an ugly picture.

So Ruth was a good person as opposed to someone like Manasseh who was a bad person; however:

Beyond that:




In the whole line presented by Matthew, there was sin and there was a curse pronounced on it. And this is the line that was going to produce Messiah?

Let us think about it.

The messianic line is a small picture of the human race.


The human race is one big line from Adam, and that line is full of sin. Also, the line we are in has a curse on it going all the way back to Adam.



Today many people are compiling their genealogies, generation by generation. Some are finding good news and some are finding bad news. But no matter how far back they are able to trace, ultimately all lines go back to Adam.

All of us are in a line going back to Adam and it is an ugly line, one full of sin and one that is cursed.

A Thought To Ponder:


Unfortunately, all of Adam's descendants inherited his fallen nature. You and I are descended from him; therefore, we inherited his sin nature as well. We are on that list of sinners.

We look at the list of sinners in that messianic line, and it is similar to the list that we are on. We are sinners. And it is not just that we sinned; it is not that we sinned a lot. We do not have any choice by our inherited sin nature. Just as a dog can only do dog stuff, sinners can only do sin stuff!

When I look at this list, I picture us as Ruths. Without a doubt, most of us studying this Matthew series are not gross sinners, though a few of us maybe. Regardless of whether we are fairly good, moral persons or not, we are separated from God because of our sin. We are outsiders who are, of course, cursed.

However, though Adam was spiritually dead, because of God's provision on his behalf, Adam was spiritually restored. And since the human race descended from Adam, we will want to see how.



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