The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah. Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon. And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations. Matthew 1:1-17
Do you know your family tree? If you construct one, would it be meaningful for you or is it just recorded names of your ancestry? When we have an understanding of genealogy, we will find richness and fullness in them.
Importance of Genealogy
Bible teacher and pastor, Robert F Deffinbaugh, acknowledged that genealogies were especially important to the Jewish people. Israel’s king had to be a Jew, and not a foreigner (Deuteronomy 17:15). Later on, it was also revealed that he must be a descendant of David (2 Samuel 7:14). When the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity, it was important for these returned exiles to show that their roots were Jewish and could be traced through the genealogies. No one could serve as priest whose name could not be found in the genealogical records.
Observations of Genealogy
“This is the book [record] of the genealogy of Jesus…” (Matthew 1:1).
Looking at different derivatives of the word ‘genealogy’ will give us a better understanding of it. Genealogy is translated from the Greek word ‘geneseos’, whose root verb is ‘ginomai’ – which means to form, to begin, to come into existence. Other derivatives include ‘genea’ which means generations, lineage, race, kind or species and ‘genesis’ which means birth (Matthew 1:18 ). An extension of genealogy is ‘egeneto’ which means ‘to become’. This is clearly seen in John 1:14 – “and the word became flesh” – which tells us how the divinity became flesh and did not start out that way.
Then we have the familiar derivative ‘genesis’ that means origin or beginning. This gives us a clue that Matthew is paralleling “the book of the genealogy of Adam” in Genesis 5:1 with “the book of the genealogy of Jesus” mentioned in Matthew 1:1. We have the exact phrasing in the septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament). From this parallel, we can learn that while there was the first Adam at the beginning of humanity, today Jesus is the last Adam. Jesus is a new genesis or beginning for ‘Adam’ – that refers to mankind or humanity. When we look at Adam, everything falls, but when we look at Jesus, we see a brand-new start “with the book of the genealogy of Jesus”. Matthew was so precise in his recording to give us this understanding.
From genealogy, we also get our understanding of ‘genes’. In the domain of biogenetics today, scientists are trying to manipulate and create a new beginning, back to a genesis. As they modify and try to improve life, the challenge is that genes are now mutating and this is a problem. However, mankind’s hope is not in genetics, it is in Jesus Christ.
In the church, there is teaching on generational curses and sins from our forefathers. Praise the Lord when people are set free from such curses. However, there are those who rationalise that their weaknesses come through their genes. They do not take responsibility for their own lives and decisions but constantly blame someone else. The teaching to note here is that in Adam all die, there is no hope. In Christ, we have a new beginning because He has taken every curse upon Himself. We are a new creation, the old is past. We must not keep looking back. Today we can move forward in Jesus Christ.
This is Matthew’s objective, as he writes to the Jewish Christians who are wondering if Jesus is the Messiah. He does this by writing Matthew 1:1 “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Jesus the Messiah when translated in Hebrew), the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:”. Matthew also summarises in Matthew 1:16 “And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ (the Messiah).” Matthew further states in Matthew 1:17 “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until Christ are fourteen generations.”
Matthew further proves that Jesus is the Son of David and comes from this royal line.
A kingly descendant must come from a kingly line. King David is the reference point for every Jew who knows the Davidic covenant; and Matthew alludes to this in 2 Samuel 7:12-13.
Matthew looks at the Davidic covenant and declares this in the genealogy. This is Jesus the Christ, who is the descendant of King David and His kingdom will last forever.
Matthew also speaks of a prophetic fulfilment about the coming Messiah. It is quoted from Isaiah 11:3a-10 that the Messiah will come and He will be “a shoot from the stump of Jesse”, who is also mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy. Jeremiah 23:5-6 speaks of a ruler who will come as a “Righteous Branch of David” and the book of Ezekiel 37:24-25 points to the Son of David, “My servant David will be king.”
Matthew goes further back to say that Jesus is also the Son of Abraham. If the Son of David would establish the royal line, then the Son of Abraham would establish Jesus’ Jewish family heritage. No foreigner can be the Messiah, he must be Jew and descend from the line of David. Every Jew would know Abraham and the covenant God made with him in Genesis 12:1–3: Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Through this Messiah, all nations will be blessed. There will be a national identity but a global impact. Other nations will be blessed because they will come under his rule and reign – His kingdom influence.
Matthew also had an intent to show through the genealogy, that from Abraham and Sarah to Judah to David and then to Jesus, a royal decree and royal line cuts right through. This is evident in the following verses:
No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you (Genesis 17:5–6).
Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.” (Genesis 17:15–16)
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people (Genesis 49:10).
Genealogy Summarises the Entire History of Israel
Matthew’s recorded genealogy indicates that everything that the Old Testament foretells points to Jesus. Everything that God gave to Abraham and spoke through the prophets culminates in Jesus. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are the patriarchs of Israel. From Judah onwards, the Israelites went into Egypt and spent 430 years there. After some time in the wilderness, they entered into the promised land. By the time of Jesse, King Saul had made his appearance, which ushered the kingdom era. David would have ushered in the kingdom of God in its full reality. David and Solomon represented the Golden era of Israel. From that time, we have a divided kingdom – the Northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. We can then trace Jeconiah who is carried and deported into exile. The time of Zerubbabel marks the post-exile period and leads up to Jesus.
Matthew organised the genealogy into three groups of 14 generations. According to the Gematria, the Hebrew system of numerology where we attach numerical value to the letter, David’s Hebrew name carries the numerical value 14. This emphasises David in the genealogy, and the Son of David is the fulfilment of the Davidic promise – this is Matthew’s intention. To add, Passover is the 14th day of the first month, a day that represents redemption. This hearkens to Jesus as, as Son of David and the Passover Lamb which brings salvation and deliverance.
Women in the Genealogy
In the genealogy, although a patriarchal society, there were names of women that were mentioned such as Tamar in Genesis 38 Rahab the harlot in Joshua 2, Ruth the Moabite in the book of Ruth and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11. These were women of disrepute, questionable in terms of their sexual relations with the men. Would we want them in our family tree?
In Jewish genealogy, it was unnecessary and unusual to include women. What more, these women were questionable in their sexual relations with men and questionable in their reputation. In their relationships with the people of Israel, there were suspicions of illegitimacy. However, Matthew placed them in. Although we look at their circumstances, Tamar was declared “more righteous” than Judah in Genesis 38:26. Rahab was quoted by the apostle James to be “an example of faith”. Ruth was regarded as a “virtuous woman” by Boaz. Bathsheba was more “a victim” than a seductress of David’s greed and lust. But all these women were definitely misunderstood and great material for “church” gossip.
Perhaps Matthew’s narrative was to prepare the way for Mary, who was also suspected of conception outside wedlock. Mary was betrothed to Joseph then found with child. As best as they tried to keep it a secret, word may have gone out. There was village gossip that Jesus was an illegitimate child. In John 4:41, the Jews looked at Jesus and said in sarcasm, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father – God.” They also suspect Jesus of not being fully Jew, “Do we not rightly say that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (John 8:48)
Matthew had to address this, and introduced the names of four Gentiles into the genealogy of the Jews. Although we are declaring a Jewish Messiah and His kingdom, God includes the Gentiles in His plan. We serve a great and wonderful God. Sometimes we may have a past we are ashamed of and cannot shake it off. However, in Jesus Christ, we have a new start.
Good and Bad Kings
Matthew includes both good and bad kings in the genealogy and is not ashamed to do so. Not every king was a saint, some were diabolical, idolatrous and oppressed the people of God. Jehoshapat, Hezekiah and Josiah were examples of Kings when Israel was experiencing times of revival. In fact, there were more bad kings than good kings. Matthew also left out some names to preserve the number 14. Even in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, there is no perfection. Jesus Himself is perfect. Yet whatever happened in Israel, whether there was a good king or bad king, God works out His purposes, in the person of Jesus Christ.
Kingdom101 Emphases and Key Lessons
Know the King
Genealogies are historical records of real people who lived. There are no myths and tales like other religions. Jesus is included in this historical record. Our King is a real person who walked here on this earth. Jesus is God who became fully man Scripture is rooted in history and not myth. Jesus has Jewish roots, He is the Son of Abraham and He connects the Old Testament with the New Testament.
Matthew is also trying to tell the Jews that Jesus is not only the King of Israel (Son of David), but He is also King of All who is returning to establish His kingdom. His name is mentioned again in the book of Revelations as the Lion of Judah, and referred to as the Root of David in Revelations 5:5. He is the Root and Offspring of David (Revelations 22:16). He comes before as the Son of God and comes after as the Son of Man.
Embrace the Kingdom
Whether we like it or not, or are aligned to it or not, God’s rule is sovereign. His kingdom will advance, not just over Israel but over the whole world. This is regardless of good or bad kings, presidents, dictators and political situations. We can get scared when we see troubling world events around us. But God says we who have received the kingdom cannot be shaken. His kingdom will advance whether we are in it or not, with Him or not.
Invitation by Grace
God invites us to be a part of His kingdom by grace, not because of how good we are. This invitation is expressed through the Jews but is extended to the Gentiles. This is a global kingdom, not only for the strong, the rich, the elite. But it includes the oppressed, the outcast, the poor, the needy, the marginalized and the lost. Such as Tamar, Ruth, Rahab and Bathsheba. In a world that elevates the strong and rich, God’s kingdom of grace invites and welcomes the unworthy and any who would acknowledge and believe Jesus as King.
Qualifies Us for Royalty
When we believe in Jesus Christ as our Messiah, we are grafted into this Family Tree even though we do not deserve this. In the New Testament, Paul speaks of our faith that grafts us into this Olive Tree that is symbolic of Israel. But those who do not believe are taken off. Paul also warns us not to be arrogant and complacent like our brothers, the Jews. If we fall into unbelief, we also will be taken off. Faith brought us in and keeps us partaking of “the root and fatness of the olive tree.” (Romans 11:17). We are blessed because Israel was first blessed. So to embrace the kingdom, we need to align with Israel, the people of God. Draw and align from the richness of the heritage of Israel. Align and learn from the good and bad lessons, and do not commit the same mistakes. Whatever our lineage or background, we qualify as royalty.
Individual and Corporate Aspects of the Kingdom
Genealogy is about identity, heritage and belonging. God calls an individual (Abraham) but involves an entire family (Israel) before salvation (Jesus) could arrive. This shows us that both family and corporate identity are key kingdom principles. Each of us have an assignment, we have to fulfil that to the best we can, but we do not do it by ourselves. We must connect in with the church, the body of Jesus Christ as well as the people of God, Israel. This teaching is not about individualism. God calls the individual, blesses the individual, but preserves corporate identity. This is what kingdom living is about, not my own but God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom is about community and family.
Receive Your Assignments
Through this genealogy, we see dysfunctional families, parents, grandparents, kings and governors. Many did not fulfil their assignments. Whether good or bad, it was not perfect. Welcome to the family. Welcome to church.
Jesus’ family tree was not exactly impressive. He came from a dysfunctional family line. But that did not affect Him nor His mission. Ultimately, He knew His heavenly Father’s will. He aligned with the Father and fulfilled His purpose for which He was sent.
What is your family situation? How is your church doing, your spiritual family? Do you have both good and not-so-good characters in your family? Do these define you? You can let the dysfunction in your situations, families, relationships, churches define you. Or you can let the King and His kingdom define you.
In Christ, you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise Galatians 3:29. We are co-heirs with Jesus Christ. What does the promise contain?
Perspective from an earthly to heavenly kingdom paradigm.
Come out of my family, in a symbolic way. Come into the household of God, into royalty. Come out of old understanding and perspective and into God’s promises and align with Him. Start with a perspective and end with a purpose. Start with the alignment and end with the assignment.
The promises also contain:
- Prominence (I Will Make Your Name Great)
- People (You Will Become a Great Nation/multiplication)
- Prosperity (I Will Bless You)
- Protection (I Will Curse Those Who Curse You)
- Platform (I Will Give You Land)
- Purpose (You will be a blessing)
Alignment and Assignment
All these promises are to enable us for our assignment. It is key to align with the King and His kingdom, and with His purposes, our mindsets and His ways to know and fulfil our assignments.
Personal Decision, Responsibility and Accountability
Whether positive or negative examples or influence, every individual has a personal decision to make, whether or not to follow the King and the ways of the kingdom.
We have to move out of a blame mentality. We can keep blaming our heritage, blaming our family line, blaming our circumstances, blaming someone else. Or we can today say, “I will take a personal decision, because everything ended with Christ and begins with Him.”
We have to make a personal decision, whether or not we want to receive our assignment. As people who are in Christ, gathering with all who are in the family, as sons and daughters, with our deepest desire to do the Father’s will, as co-heirs with Jesus Christ, to reign with Him empowered by the Holy Spirit.
The genealogy in Matthew 1:1-17 shows us that everything points to Jesus the Messiah, the new genesis. In Him, we have been grafted into the richness and fullness of this royal heritage. No longer do we need to look backwards and keep blaming our past. We can look forward because of who we are and what we have in Christ.