I’m pretty excited to be starting the New Testament finally. It’s been three years and I’ve learned so much it’s insane. In fact, it’s so insane that I don’ know when I’ll be going back to grouped posts but there is so much in the first few chapters that I have a fully post for each one. I’ve also realized that I am not the only person in the world that might benefit from this study, as some followers and friends have asked me to consider putting together a little Bible Study for each one. I’ve worked with my husband, who has been studying theology for some time, to create some study guides. This week and next weeks Bible study guides will be added to the bottom of each post and gathered here. Come back and comment on how it went if you decide to use them!
Let’s get started.
Now that I’ve read through the whole Old Testament, the genealogy of Christ is much more interesting. I do remember a pastor once catching my interest on it when he preached the genealogy and first mentioned that there were some notable women in it but I didn’t get the importance of that inclusion back then. I also didn’t understand who all the men were. Reading it now, things are a little clearer about what he was talking about. It makes a pretty strong case that we are not our parents and that greatness can come from anywhere.
The genealogy begins with Abraham, but we know from Genesis that it could have gone all the way back to Adam. Adam is the first person mentioned in the whole Bible, personally created by God. Genesis 11 has Shem to Abram, Shem being the son of Noah, and chapter 5 has Adam to Noah. Of course, this isn’t a genealogy or story that was to be included in the canonical works of the Israelites and that might have to do with the difference in writing styles. Matthew isn’t trying to just show the descendants of those who came and went into Babylon since the end of the Old Testament. He was specifically giving the genealogy of Jesus to give credence to his claim that Jesus was the Christ that they had been waiting for and all the ways that His birth answered different prophecies, not that I know all the exact prophesies addressed in doing it this way but I do know a few.
I know that it’s important for Jesus to be a part of the covenant with Abraham, which is why it matters that He is a direct descendant of Abraham. I know that it’s important for Jesus to be an Israelite, so it’s important to remember that He is a direct descendant of Jacob. I know it’s important that He is a “son of David”, so it’s important to remember that He is a direct descendant of David’s. Everyone else is just justifying the line. But then there are the women. You might recall from Chronicles that there were occasionally times when a mother or daughter made it into a genealogy.
The women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus are:
All of them should be fairly recognizable at this point. If not, their stories are linked, except for Mary because her story has only just begun. To me, the important thing to remember about the women who are mentioned is that they all had a story. Unlike the Chronicles genealogies, these women aren’t just mentioned without us able to know anything about them. We know their stories. Okay, we know their stories from the male perspective of what they did or was done to them, but we still know them. We know what made them significant players in the coming of Christ.
Bathsheba, however, was not mentioned by name but as “the wife of Uriah”. She was not the wife of Uriah when she got pregnant with Solomon but this still hangs over her. Solomon was the second child she had with David, the first God had told them would not live and died just 7 days after it’s birth. I can’t help but consider “the wife of Uriah” a jab at her after everything she went through. She isn’t even the widow, but the wife, as if they had still been married at the time of conception for this child that is a part of the genealogy. I looked at several translations and only one calls her a widow, several say that she “had been” Uriah’s wife, and a few include her name but all include something about Uriah. Why is this part so important here?
Honestly, I couldn’t really find anything. It still feels to me like Matthew is being petty in calling her out that way, but it also occurs to me that he could be calling out David more than her too. David is the one responsible for the whole thing, since he had her brought to him in what does not seem like a story concerned with consent in any way. Is it really her sexual behavior that should be in question here like so many of the study Bibles I looked at say? She was a military wife brought to the house of the king. Was “no” an option?
Anyway, not to go too far down that rabbit hole again, we are then brought to Mary. Mary, whose story isn’t known yet in the Bible but whose story is just beginning. The genealogy ends with that there are 14 generations between Abraham and David, David and exile, exile and Jesus but there’s a specific way to count it to get that right. It’s more than 14 from Adam to Abraham, by the way. I was pretty amused to find that there are 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus, so maybe it is the answer to the ultimate question after all.
After the genealogy of Jesus, the chapter discusses His birth but without any of the fanfare that we get into during Christmas. Matthew’s account of the birth is simply that Joseph hadn’t been with her before she got pregnant but didn’t want to tarnish her, so he had made plans to “divorce” her quietly. Even though they were only betrothed, there was more to it than an engagement today and so there is more to a breakup too. Some translations do say to “break off the engagement” or “send her away” but most of them use the term “divorce” for this type of break up. Before he can get to it, though, an angel visits him in a dream and tells him what’s going on. The passage quotes Isaiah 7:14 and the prophecy included that is upheld here. Within this is that the child is to be called both Jesus and Immanuel. Jesus is to be the name and I think Immanuel is more of a title, but the text itself isn’t completely clear on that.
Joseph wakes from the dream and goes ahead and marries Mary and “knew her not until she gave birth to a son”. UNTIL. I know there is debate about this and maybe older translations and teachings had it that she was always a virgin, but this says UNTIL. As in, it probably happened after.
For downloadable study guides on the Book of Matthew, click here.
Chapter links go to the ESV translations at Biblehub.com but I’m reading from the ESV Global Study Bible, which is available for free on the Kindle Reading App. ESV.org also has some great material for a small subscription.