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The Gospel of Matthew
Part One. The Coming of the King
Just a List of Names?
The list of names found in Genesis 10 are just as important as the list of names found in Matthew 1:1-17. The names recorded in Genesis reveal the names of the nations. Boice says that his commentary on Genesis 10 is split into three chapters which are found in his first volume. He does not treat the list in Genesis 11 in the same manner. I believe that all biblical generation lists should be viewed as an integral part of the believer's biblical study.
Knowing a man's ancestors opened doors. Knowing a man's ancestry would change how his lifestyle was, and who he would associate with. This how a Jew proved that he was of a tribe of Israel. Note 2 Samuel 7:16.
The general approach to studying these names is whether or not they are important to the chapter and book they are listed in.
Matthew and His Very Jewish Book
First, Matthew was a Jew. Therefore, he directed his gospel to his Jewish brethern. His other name was Levi. [p. 13] Note Matthew 9:9-13 and Luke 5:27-32. He let his Jewish brethren know Jesus was more than just a mere man. Jesus was the Jewish Messiah that they had been looking for down through time.
Each gospel begins with the ministry of John the Baptist. This is not the case with Matthew. Boice makes it clear that each gospel has its own unique introduction. [Ibid.] Luke's genealogical table is seen in Luke 3. John gives "poetical prologue that traces Jesus' origins to eternity past. The narrative continues along the veins of giving a "detailed account" concerning the birth of John the Baptist. Matthew gives us a twofold account of Jesus' ancestry: (1) Matthew traces it back to King David; (2) He traces it back to Abraham. 2 Samuel 7:16. Through Jesus believers would be exposed to the promises and prophetic fulfillment list as we take a deeper search into the mind of God. Note Genesis 12:3
The first three centuries, Matthew was "highly revered and frequently quoted canonical Gospel..." [ D. A. Carson, "Matthew," in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol 8, Matthew, Mark, Luke (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 19.]
Do we know for sure that Matthew was its author? I ask this question because the author is anonymous. From the earliest church history, Matthew was believed to be the author. He is mentioned by Papias. He quoted by Eusebius in his book. See Ecclesiastical History (3.39.16). "Matthew collected the oracles [of Jesus] in the Hebrew tongue," [Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History, trans. Kirsopp Lake (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965), vol. 1, 297.] Boice states there many modern day scholars dispute this fact. It should be taken into account that these same scholar dispute almost everything. There is no solid foundation to reject Matthew.
Matthew was a tax collector. There are references to him in Mark and Luke. He was despised by his fellow brethern because of his job. He worked for the Roman government. He dealt with the Jews, Greeks, and Romans. This fact would reveal his ability to speak more than one language. The fact that he was a record keeper was useful in his investigative research into the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The question then arises if he was the scribe for the apostles. Because he was not as "prominent," how did he obtain his information? We do not know much about him.
The fact that Matthew was a scribe and a Jew, we can easily come to the conclusion that he was acquainted with the Old Testament scriptures. Boice states that there are at least forty references to the Old Testament scriptures. (William Hendriksen, The New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985), 89-81. The phrase "spoken by the prophet saying...is used "no less than sixteen times."[p. 15]
Matthew's gospel contains the most evidence pointing to the Jewishness of Jesus. It is the strongest indictment against the Jews of that time. Here was their Jewish Messiah in the flesh, and yet they rejected Him. It ends by giving a missionary charge to all who read it. Matthew 28:19. The Jews had to mingle with the world telling the revelation of the Son of God.
Matthew's Genealogy of Jesus
As stated earlier, this list is written in a way that meets the requirements of Jewish ancestry. Proof of Jesus' Jewish roots also allowed Jesus to participate in temple worship and service. The Gentiles could not enter. They could only enter the place for Gentiles.
All human barriers are torn down, and all people are seen as one in this "list." There are women listed. This was forbidden in the Old Testament. Jews and Gentiles never mingled, but they are listed here. Saints and sinners were grouped together. There is no difference, or as the scripture says--there is no partiality in God. God does not cast any aside. There is no color, culture or tradition that is cause for separation. The door of salvation is open to all. Note John 3:16.
There are problems in consistency in the list of Matthew 1 with Luke 3. The purpose of these lists are lost to some because of the differences in the two lists. Note Matthew 1:16--"...the later descendants through fourteen more generations to "Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ." Luke goes backward. [p. 15]