on Matthew 1 :1
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ - I suppose these words to have been the original title to this Gospel; and that they signify, according to the Hebrew Phraseology, not only the account of the genealogy of Christ, as detailed below, hut the history of his birth, acts, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension.
The phrase, book of the generation, ספר תולדות sepher toledoth, is frequent in the Jewish writings, and is translated by the Septuagint, βιβλος γενεσεως, as here, by the evangelist; and regularly conveys the meaning given to it above; e.g. This is the book of the generations of Adam, Genesis 5:1. That is, the account of the life of Adam and certain of his immediate descendants. Again. These are the generations of Jacob, Genesis 37:2. That is, the account or history of Jacob, his son Joseph, and the other remarkable branches of the family. And again. These are the generations of Aaron and Moses, Numbers 3:1. That is, the history of the life and acts of these persons, and some of their immediate descendants. The same form of expression is also used, Genesis 2:4, when giving the history of the creation of heaven and earth.
Some have translated βιβλος γενεσεως, The book of the genealogy; and consider it the title of this chapter only; but the former opinion seems better founded.
Jesus Christ - See on Matthew 1:16, Matthew 1:21 (note).
The son of David, the son of Abraham - No person ever born could boast, in a direct line, a more illustrious ancestry than Jesus Christ. Among his progenitors, the regal, sacerdotal, and prophetic offices, existed in all their glory and splendor. David, the most renowned of sovereigns, was king and prophet: Abraham, the most perfect character in all antiquity, whether sacred or profane, was priest and prophet: but the three offices were never united except in the person of Christ; he alone was prophet, priest, and king; and possessed and executed these offices in such a supereminent degree as no human being ever did, or ever could do. As the principal business of the prophet was to make known the will of God to men, according to certain partial communications received from Heaven; so Jesus, who lay in the bosom of the Father, and who was intimately and thoroughly acquainted with all the mysteries of the eternal world, came to declare the Divine nature and its counsels to mankind; see John 1:18. As the business of the priest was to offer sacrifices to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people; so Christ was constituted a high priest, to make, by the sacrifice of himself, an atonement for the sins of the whole world; see 1 John 2:2, and the whole Epistle to the Hebrews. As the office of king was to reign over, protect, and defend the people committed to his care by the Divine Providence; so Christ is set as a king upon Sion, having the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession, Psalm 2:6, Psalm 2:8, etc. Of the righteousness, peace, and increase of whose government, there shall be no end, Isaiah 9:7. This three-fold office, Christ executes not only in a general sense, in the world at large; but, in a particular sense, in every Christian soul. He is first a prophet, to teach the heart of man the will of God; to convict the conscience of sin, righteousness, and judgment; and fully to illustrate the way of salvation. He is next a priest, to apply that atonement to the guilty conscience, the necessity of which, as a prophet, he had previously made known. And lastly, as a king, he leads captivity captive, binds and casts out the strong man armed, spoils his goods, extends the sway of the scepter of righteousness, subdues and destroys sin, and reigns Lord over all the powers and faculties of the human soul; so that As sin reigned unto death, Even so does grace reign through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:21.
It is remarkable, that the evangelist names David before Abraham, though the latter was many generations older: the reason seems to be this, that David was not only the most illustrious of our Lord's predecessors, as being both king and prophet; but because that promise, which at first was given to Abraham, and afterwards, through successive generations, confirmed to the Jewish people, was at last determined and restricted to the family of David. Son of David, was an epithet by which the Messiah was afterwards known among the Jews; and, under this title, they were led to expect him by prophetic authority. See Psalm 89:3, Psalm 89:4; Psalm 132:10, Psalm 132:11, compared with Acts 13:23, and Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5. Christ was prophesied of under the very name of David. See Ezekiel 34:23, Ezekiel 34:24; Ezekiel 37:24, Ezekiel 37:25.
on Matthew 1 :1
The book of the generation - This is the proper title of the chapter. It is the same as to say, "the account of the ancestry or family, or the genealogical table of Jesus Christ." The phrase is common in Jewish writings. Compare Genesis 5:1. "This is the book of the generations of Adam," i. e., the genealogical table of the family or descendants of Adam. See also Genesis 6:9. The Jews, moreover, as we do, kept such tables of their own families. and it is probable that this was copied from the record of the family of Joseph.
Jesus - See the notes at Matthew 1:21.
Christ - The word "Christ" is a Greek word, Χριστός Christos, signifying "anointed." The Hebrew word, משׁיח mâshı̂yach, signifying the same is "Messiah." Hence, Jesus is called either the Messiah, or the Christ, meaning the same thing. The Jews speak of the Messiah; Christians speak of him as the Christ. In ancient times, when kings and priests were set apart to their office, they were anointed with oil, Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 6:20; Exodus 28:41; Exodus 29:7; 1 Samuel 9:16; 1 Samuel 15:1; 2 Samuel 23:1. To anoint, therefore, means often the same as to consecrate, or to set apart to an office. Hence, those thus set apart are said to be anointed, or to be the anointed of God. It is for this reason that the name is given to the Lord Jesus. Compare the notes at Daniel 9:24. He was set apart by God to be the King, and High Priest, and Prophet of his people. Anointing with oil was, moreover, supposed to be emblematic of the influences of the Holy Spirit; and since God gave him the Spirit without measure John 3:34, so he is especially called "the Anointed of God."
The Son of David - The word "son" among the Jews had a great variety of significations. It means literally a son; then a grandson; a descendant: an adopted son; a disciple, or one who is an object of tender affection one who is to us as a son. In this place it means a descendant of David; or one who was of the family of David. It was important to trace the genealogy of Jesus up to David, because the promise had been made that the Messiah should be of his family, and all the Jews expected that it would be so. It would be impossible, therefore, to convince a Jew that Jesus was the Messiah, unless it could be shown that he was descended from David. See Jeremiah 23:5; Psalm 132:10-11, compared with Acts 13:23, and John 7:42.
The son of Abraham - The descendant of Abraham. The promise was made to Abraham also. See Genesis 12:3; Genesis 21:12; compare Hebrews 11:13; Galatians 3:16. The Jews expected that the Messiah would be descended from him; and it was important, therefore, to trace the genealogy up to him also. Though Jesus was of humble birth, yet he was descended from most illustrious ancestors. Abraham, the father of the faithful - "the beauteous model of an Eastern prince," and David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, the conqueror, the magnificent and victorious leader of the people of God, were both among his ancestors. From these two persons, the most eminent for piety, and the most renowned for their excellencies of all the people of antiquity, sacred or profane, the Lord Jesus was descended; and though his birth and life were humble, yet they who regard an illustrious descent as of value, may find here all that is to be admired in piety, purity, patriotism, splendor, dignity, and renown.
on Matthew 1 :1
1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ - That is, strictly speaking, the account of his birth and genealogy. This title therefore properly relates to the verse s that immediately follow: but as it sometimes signifies the history of a person, in that sense it may belong to the whole book. If there were any difficulties in this genealogy, or that given by St. Luke, which could not easily be removed, they would rather affect the Jewish tables, than the credit of the evangelists: for they act only as historians setting down these genealogies, as they stood in those public and allowed records. Therefore they were to take them as they found them. Nor was it needful they should correct the mistakes, if there were any. For these accounts sufficiently answer the end for which they are recited. They unquestionably prove the grand point in view, that Jesus was of the family from which the promised seed was to come. And they had more weight with the Jews for this purpose, than if alterations had been made by inspiration itself. For such alterations would have occasioned endless disputes between them and the disciples of our Lord. The son of David, the son of Abraham - He is so called, because to these he was more peculiarly promised; and of these it was often foretold the Messiah should spring. Luke 3:31.