This study in Matthew will be a little different than others. In it, I’m answering questions to a Bible study that I prepared several years ago for our home Bible study group. The format will a question that was asked and my answer to that question.
1. What is the purpose of the genealogy in chapter one?
This genealogy is recorded to show that Jesus is the rightful heir of Abraham’s promises. This is the legal genealogy of Jesus showing that, even though Joseph is not Jesus’ biological son, He has the right to the blessings promised to Abraham and the promises that were added along the way. He possess the blessing that eventually lead to the Messiah. The legal blessing is passed from father to son so it is important that Jesus’ legal father, Joseph, had his genealogy listed.
Abraham’s most important blessing is found in Gen 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (KJV) Indeed, all of us are blessed because of Jesus. Without Him we would all be condemned and have no right to eternal life with God. However, we are legally sons of God and have also inherited His blessings. Eph 1:3-6 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (NIV)
The physical genealogy of Jesus is presented in Luke 3:23-38. Since it goes back to Adam, it shows that Adam’s inheritance belongs to Jesus. Gen 2:15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (NIV) The earth originally belonged to Adam but was forfeit to Satan when Adam sinned. This is made clear in Luke 4:5-6. The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. (NIV) Jesus didn’t debate Satan’s ownership of the world. Jesus knew that the time would come when the rightful ownership of the earth would be restored. He didn’t have to bow down to Satan to get it. We will see Jesus retake His position as Sovereign over the earth when the events of Revelation 19 are completed.
The importance of His physical genealogy is to show that not only does Jesus possess the legal title to the earth as a son of Adam but to show that He is fully human. As a human he lived a sinless life and death. Because of that, His sacrifice was acceptable for our sins and we can be made righteous when we turn to Him in faith and repentance. Rom 5:17-19 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. (NIV)
When you read this genealogy, think about our sovereign God who has directed the events over thousands of years so that at the right time, Jesus was born. Satan tried to thwart God’s plan over and over. He led Israel astray hoping that the line of the Messiah would be broken. Even through the Babylonian captivity, the tribe of Judah survived. This is probably why it is specifically mentioned. If our Lord can direct work the events of thousands of years, we should have the confidence that He is also in control of each of your lives.
2. Promises of the Messiah were made to several of the people in the genealogy. List them and provide at least one verse describing the promise.
Abraham has already been mentioned.
Judah - Gen 49:10 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. (NIV)
David - 2 Sam 7:16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever. (NIV)
3. Kingdoms are usually handed down to the oldest son. List several of Jesus' ancestors who were not the oldest son.
The first in the line is Jacob. He obtained the blessing and inheritance by tricking his father, Isaac. Judah was also not the firstborn but Reuben was. David was the youngest of eight sons. Solomon was way down on the list of sons but David received clear instructions from God to put Solomon on the throne instead of the oldest living son.
4. Why do you think the Lord arranged to have ancestors who were the oldest, the youngest and anywhere in between? (Any verses to explain this?)
God knows who will serve Him in the way He wants. He knows everything about us, what we will say next, were we will go and what we will do. (Ps 139 1-5) He chooses the ones that will fulfill His will even though we make mistakes along the way. Jacob is a good example. He was a scoundrel but God used him. In the case of David, God gave a clear reason for choosing him over his oldest brother. 1 Sam 16:6-7 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, "Surely the Lord's anointed stands here before the Lord." But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (NIV)
There are many times when we also judge people by their appearance. I’ve heard many people say that if a certain person became a Christian, God could use him because of his talents. God doesn’t choose because of a person’s talents, He chooses then gives the person the gifts need to carry out his assigned ministry. This prevents the person from getting the glory and instead, giving glory to God. Even Paul experienced this in his life. 2 Cor 12:9-10 but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (RSV) How are we doing in this area? Do we delight in weakness, hardship, and even pain? Do we see what God can do with us rather than what we can do for God?
5. What is the significance of the four women mentioned in the genealogy?
Rahab was not a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In fact, she was supposed to be destroyed along with the rest of the inhabitants of Jericho. Besides that, she was a prostitute.
Tamar was the wife of Judah’s son two eldest sons, both of whom died without leaving children. Tamar pretended to be a prostitute and tricked Judah into an incestuous union which resulted in twin sons.
Ruth was a Moabite. Deut 23:3 No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, even down to the tenth generation. (NIV) So how did David, her descendant become the king over Israel only three generations later? And why did God promise David that the Messiah would come through his descendants?
Bathsheba (Uriah's wife) was an adultery. That should have resulted in her death but God spared her and David.
I think the point of each is that they were either considered outcasts or sinners which we would rather not have show up in our genealogy. God, however, wants to show that there is hope for even the worst of sinners and there is no such thing as an outcast when we turn to Jesus.