The opening title describes this narrative as an “account” or “book” of the genealogyGenealogy involves the study and tracing of families through the generations - in short, family history. One genealogy in Genesis traces the nations descended from Noah. In the New Testament Matthew traces the ancestry of Jesus back to Abraham, while Jesus' genealogy in Luke goes... More of JesusJesus is the Messiah whose life, death, and resurrection are God's saving act for humanity More the MessiahThe Messiah was the one who, it was believed, would come to free the people of Israel from bondage and exile. In Jewish thought the Messiah is the anticipated one who will come, as prophesied by Isaiah. In Christian thought Jesus of Nazareth is identified... More, the son of DavidSecond king of Israel, David united the northern and southern kingdoms. More, the son of AbrahamGod promised that Abraham would become the father of a great nation, receive a land, and bring blessing to all nations. More, and then works out that genealogy in a carefully structured triad of fourteen generations each, tracing Jesus’ ancestry from Abraham to Joseph.
The genealogy begins Matthew’s unique and distinctive narrative of the birth of Jesus (chapters 1 and 2) that has been added to the beginning of his model Mark and is replete with special Matthean themes and theology. Instead of the word “gospel” or “good news,” used by Mark, MatthewA tax collector who became one of Jesus' 12 disciples More uses the word biblos (“book”) to describe his work, perhaps giving it more rational credibility for the reader. The translation “genealogy” actually represents the Greek word genesis and disguises the immediate literary and thematic connections to the opening book of the Jewish Scriptures, which Matthew’s audience would have read in Greek, and also the connection to Matthew’s use of the same word to begin the next section’s more focused account of the birth of Jesus. The link certainly intends to bind these two stories closely together and to invite the reader to ponder the implications of God’s creative activity that is both a continuation from the beginning and a new event in the birth of Jesus.
The intentional and purposeful design of this creative activity of the plan of God leading to its climax in the birth of Jesus the Messiah (1:16) is underscored in the carefully drawn symmetry of the genealogy, which the author summarizes in 1:17, and by the way in which the literary pattern is broken at the point of its end reference to Jesus. Significantly, the genealogy begins with Abraham, is traced through King David, and, for Jesus to truly be a son of David, depends on Joseph actually being the father of Jesus. In addition to the numerical symmetry, Matthew’s interests have been noted in the choice of details of the genealogy, particularly the naming of four women, whose tainted stories may be intended to point to God’s surprising and sovereign mercyMercy is a term used to describe leniency or compassion. God's mercy is frequently referred to or invoked in both the Old and New Testaments. More in the completion of God’s designs