v1-17 - Genealogies like the one that Matthew's gospel opens with can be easy to skip over. The names are so hard to pronounce and most of them seem insignificant, as if their lives are just some sort of historical footnote.
Yet Matthew takes the time and precious scroll space to write out this list for a number of reasons, not the least of which is to demonstrate that the birth of Jesus isn't just a legend, but is rooted in history.
Look at the names you recognize in this list. Is that person considered righteous, or rebellious? Notice how most of these names fit into both categories at once!
Find the four women listed.
Why do you suppose Matthew, who lived in a very patriarchal society, included them?
What things to these women have in common? What difference do they have?
Find one name you're totally unfamiliar with. Use the search engine on BibleGateway to find where that person is written about in the Old Testament. How does that person point to Christ?
I chose Zerubbabel, who helped rebuild the temple after the exile.
Those chapters in Ezra and Nehemiah show that God was faithful to the exiles who returned, which in turn allowed Christ to be born in Israel. In the same way, God will be faithful to us, exiles in this world awaiting the coming Kingdom of God.
v18-25 - Matthew doesn't record the details of Jesus' birth, but he does paint a bleak picture of the mess Joseph and Mary found themselves in as a result of Mary's surprise pregnancy.
Joseph initially chose to be "faithful to the law (v19)" rather than remaining faithful to Mary, but he immediately complies with the angel's command to take Mary as his wife.
Although the idea that Mary had become pregnant by means of the Holy Spirit seems confusing and mysterious to us (imagine how confused Joseph and Mary were, and how incredulous their friends and family would be upon hearing this!), the doctrine of the virgin birth is critical to Christian theology.
Jesus is the one name in the opening genealogy that does not have a father listed.
All other people have been sons of Adam, and therefore have been born into sin.
Jesus is the Son of God, who would be called Immanuel, meaning God with us (v23).
He was born sin free, and lived a perfect life. That's why His name is Jesus, meaning Savior, "because he will save his people from their sins (v21)."
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
Genesis 12:3 - God made this covenantal promise to Abraham, whose name is the first to appear in Matthew's genealogy:
"I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: The first part of this chapter is a genealogy of Jesus. Besides Jesus, the names of two outstanding biblical heroes are repeated in both the sentence that introduces the genealogy, and in the summary sentence at the end of the genealogy. Who are these two important men? (For the answer, see verses 1 and 17.)
From what you see in this chapter, how would you describe Joseph’s relationship with God?
Questions taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Rejoice that the sovereign, omnipotent God became Immanuel - God with us (v23).
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that God will use your life to proclaim His salvation the way He used the generations that came before Jesus to showcase His faithfulness.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: