Who Was Matthew?

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Matthew 1:1-17
The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham: 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram. 4 Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon. 5 Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. 6 Jesse was the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah. 7 Solomon was the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa. 8 Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah. 9 Uzziah was the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. 10 Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, and Amon the father of Josiah. 11 Josiah became the father of Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. 12 After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel. 13 Zerubbabel was the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor. 14 Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud. 15 Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob. 16 Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. 17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

As we read through this commonly skipped over piece of scripture, we see Matthew accounting the geneology of Jesus through His step-father, who is descended by the line of David. The geneology of people was always traced through the men in the family, however we know that by fulfilling the prophecy of the virgin birth, Jesus could never have followed through the bloodline of Joseph. Yet Matthew annotates this bloodline because his account of the gospel is aimed at the Jews. He set out to prove to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah and by starting out with the lineage, he is revealing the fulfillment of prophecy in Jesus’ birth into this family. If we look at Luke’s geneology account, it seems a bit different (Luke 3). We can see by comparing the lineages of both Mary (revealed in Luke) and Joseph they their lineage split after David. Joseph comes from the line of Solomon and Mary comes from the line of Nathan, both sons of David the King. If you look closely you will see that Luke’s account doesn’t come right out and say that Jesus was the son of Mary as far as the lineage is concerned because as I mentioned before, lineage was accounted through the men. In Luke 3:23, Luke records Joseph being the son of “Eli” who was really his father-in-law, the father of Mary. So Jesus then, was descended from the line of David both in custom (through Joseph) and blood (through Mary).

It will be interesting how Matthew intends to convince his Jewish brothers of Jesus’ messiahship given he was most likely despised by observant Jews of the time. Matthew (aka Levi), before being called into discipleship by Jesus, was a tax collector. He was one who was employed by the oppressive Roman government to collect taxes on their behalf. Tax collectors were known as turn-coats, seemingly betraying the Jewish way of life by working for the political enemy. So then his writing must be convincing not by his own popularity or trustworthiness, but an account of how Jesus fulfilled the messianic prophecies that the Jews had been so eagerly awaiting to be fulfilled. Of the 4 gospels, Matthew was only 1 of 2 (the other being John) that were actually a part of Jesus’ inner circle. So then, we must look at Matthew’s writing not as one that convinces us because he was a well educated and highly respected man, but because of the miracle of grace he received from Jesus by being allowed in to His circle and revealed the fulfillment of scripture right before his own eyes!

As we will see throughout this writing, Jesus chose not only common people to minister to the world with Him, but also the rejected and downcast in society. His constant stand-offs with the religious elite and politicians of the day were not coincidence, but on purpose to show the ignorance of mankind when we think we know what we are talking about. As we read through Matthew’s account of Jesus’ work on earth, let us put aside what we think we know and absorb the account of a man who not only walked with Jesus, but also ate, slept, worked, and ministered with Him.

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1 thought on “Who Was Matthew?

  1. Jesus’ constant stand-offs with the Jewish leaders could be part of Matthew’s motive in his genealogy also. The genealogy comes to focus on David (“the king”) and his royal descendants, whose mostly ungodly reigns ended with exile into Babylon (another focus of the genealogy). So already Matthew is showing the contrast between Jewish leaders, past and present, and this new king, whose kingdom will be very different.

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