The Genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1-17)
The first passage we read in the first chapter of the first Gospel of the New Testament is the genealogy of Jesus Christ. St Matthew begins his Gospel by calling Jesus the Christ – which means the anointed one – “the son of David, the Son of Abraham” (v1).
The first title, “Son of David” is echoed throughout the Gospel of Matthew, because the Evangelist was writing primarily to the Jewish community to impress the fact that Jesus is a descendant of King David. This would have immediately identified Jesus as this prophesied Messiah, or Christ. That is, the audience of this Gospel would have been familiar with the Psalms (89:3-4) and various prophetic books (Isaiah 16:5 Jeremiah 23:5-6) which recorded God’s promise to establish a righteous King from the house of David on the throne of Israel forever.
The reference to Abraham, who is considered to be the father of the Hebrew people, also links Jesus with the fulfilment of God’s promise to the Patriarch. This promise stated that “in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3), thus Jesus being the “Son of Abraham” is the seed which will bless all the nations.
The Evangelist then starts the genealogy from the Patriarch Abraham, tracing the ancestors of Jesus in three groups of fourteen generations. Much has been debated regarding these generations and what they could mean, but it suffices to say that the genealogy goes from a period of Patriarchs chosen by God, to a period of Kings appointed by God, then to a period of exile and captivity due to the apostasy of the people. The final group leads us to a period of restoration and fulfilment of God’s promises through Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
This is precisely the message of the Gospel, and it is especially evident in the final chapter, just before the Ascension, in the Great Commission where Jesus firstly proclaims his Kingdom having all authority over heaven and earth, and secondly, commands his disciples to baptise all the nations in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit so that all who believe may be blessed forever in his eternal Kingdom.
Source: Lychnos December 2017 / January 2018