The Genealogy of Jesus

by Dr. Samuel Lee   04/09/2000     0 reads



Matthew 1:1-17

Key Verse: 1:1

"A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David,

  the son of Abraham."


1. What were the promises which God gave to Abraham? (Ge 12:2; 15:5,6)

To David? (2Sa 7:12; Ac 13:22) What did each do? (Ro 4:1-8)

2. Read verse 2. Who were the three patriarchs and how did they reveal

their faith in God's promises and in his kingdom? (Heb 11:9)

3. What was God's purpose for Jesus? (Mt 1:1,21,23) What did Jesus do?

(Heb 12:2; 5:8,9) How did God work through him to fulfill his


4. Who are the five women mentioned in the genealogy? How did each one

show herself to be a woman of unique faith and faithfulness? (Gen

38; Jos 2; Heb 11:31; Ru 1:14,16; 1Ki 1:11-17, 28-31; Lk 1:38)

5. What two tragic events does this genealogical history include? (1Ki

12; Mt 1:12) What led to these tragedies? (1Ki 11:1-6; 31-33; Jer

25:6-11) How could the exile to Babylon turn men's hearts to God's

promises? (Mt 1:12-17)




Matthew 1:1-17

Key Verse: 1:1

"A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David,

  the son of Abraham."

Matthew's Gospel is one of the Synoptic Gospels. While Mark saw

Jesus as a servant, and Luke, as an ordinary man, Matthew saw that

Jesus is the King, the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. In

Matthew, the kingdom of heaven is amply repeated compared with the

other Synoptic Gospels. Proportionally, there are also many parables

concerning the kingdom of heaven. This might be the reason Matthew

traces the root of Jesus through Jesus' genealogy. Matthew recorded his

Gospel exclusively for the chosen people Israel. The genealogy of Jesus

included the Jewish patriarchs and kings and the stories of several

women. When we study the genealogy of Jesus, the family tree of Jesus

is deeply planted in the faithfulness of God, from the beginning to the

end. Matthew enjoins how God faithfully kept his promise to send a

Savior of the world, and that the members of Jesus' genealogy were from

God's point of view all faithful people.

I.  Jesus Christ, David and Abraham (1,2)

First, the character of the genealogy of Jesus. Look at verse 1. "A

record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of

Abraham." When the world was first created, it was good; it was

paradise in which man lived for the glory of God and enjoyed utmost

happiness. But through one man Adam's disobedience to the holy command

of God, sin and death came into the world (Ro 5:12). Since then, man

lost paradise. The world became like hell. What did God do in this

situation? God, in his great mercy, made a new plan of world salvation.

God promised to send a Savior from the offspring of a woman (Ge 3:15).

He is Jesus. Before his coming, God established two ancestors of faith,

Abraham and David. There are many patriarchs and kings who could have

been included in the genealogy of Jesus. But Matthew chose three

persons--Abraham, David and Christ--as three posts and main characters

in the genealogy, because God gave each of them special promises and

made them covenant people (Ge12:2,3; 2Sa 7:12-16; Mt1:21). God helped

them to live as a covenant people, who believed his promises that God

would send a Savior of the world (Ge15:6; Ro4:3). 

Second, God chose Abraham to be a blessing. God called Abraham with a

great purpose for him. God wanted to make him into a great nation. Even

if Abraham had 120 sons, they would not be enough to make a nation. But

God promised Abraham to make him into a great nation when he did not

have even one son to inherit his name.  What a difficult promise to


When God called Abraham, he also wanted to make him a source of

blessing so that all peoples of all nations would be blessed through

him (Ge 12:3). At that time Abraham was very fatalistic due to his

childless problem. Because of his burden of life he could be a burden

to others, not to mention be a blessing to others. But God promised to

make him a blessing. In the time of Abraham, there were so many people

who burdened others with their selfishness and ego-centricity until the

people around them became too sorrowful to live in the world. At that

time, the power of sin ruled the world. In that hopeless time, God

called Abraham and said, "I will make you into a great nation and I

will bless you...and you will be a blessing" (Ge 12:2). To Abraham, who

was already 75 years old, it was too great a promise. Anyway, God

promised to give him so many sons that they would eventually establish

a nation. Abraham had no idea to have that many sons; he just wanted

one son to inherit his name. As his name, "Abram," "noble father,"

suggests, he only wanted to be an ordinary man, never be a great man.

Even though God's promise did not match his calculation, he did not

have any second thought. He simply accepted God's promises, because he

honored God as God.

Since then, ten years had elapsed and God had not given him even one

son. To Abraham, living a life of faith seemed to have been only for

the sake of suffering. After living by faith for ten years, he was

weary and tired. One day Abraham was sitting crouched in his tent in

despair. God visited him and took him outside and said, "Look up at the

heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them...So shall

your offspring be" (Ge 15:5). Wow! This time God's promise was too big

to believe. But Abraham simply believed God's promise because he

honored God as God. God recognized him as a man of faith who had a

right relationship with him (Ge 15:6) and established 12 patriarchs of

faith through one man, Abraham.

After 25 long years had elapsed, finally God gave Abraham a son,

Isaac, as his heir. God also changed his name from "Abram," meaning

"noble father," to "Abraham," meaning "father of many nations." God

made him a blessing to all peoples of all nations because he simply

believed God's promises. Abraham's simple faith was the quality that

made him the ancestor of faith.

Third, God called a shepherd boy David. Around 1,000 B.C. God called

David, a shepherd boy, who was the youngest of the eight sons of Jesse.

When God called David, he had a great purpose for him. It was to

establish through him a kingdom of priests, that is, a shepherd nation,

and a model of the theocratic kingdom of God. 2 Samuel 7:12b says, "I

will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your

own body, and I will establish his kingdom."

In fact, David was a shepherd as the youngest son of his father.

When he was shepherding his father's sheep, many times brutal animals

came to maul and eat the sheep. But David fought them, risking his own

life. Also, he was a shepherd for his people. For the sake of his

country, he risked his life and fought the Philistine general Goliath

and defeated him with one slingshot. Once, when he was running for his

life as a political criminal, many needy people--around 400 of

them--came to him for help. David was in a helpless situation, but he

shepherded them as if they were his own children. Because of his

shepherd's heart, he was known as a man after God's own heart (Ac

13:22). When God called David to establish a united kingdom of Israel,

he had to fight so many battles and wars. His mission demanded his life

every day.  But he obeyed God's purpose absolutely. David's absolute

obedience was the quality that made him the second ancestor of faith.

In a time of prosperity, David should have maintained God's

blessing. But he could not. Once, he sinned greatly against God. David

committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of his loyal general. In

order to cover up his sin, David destroyed General Uriah, the woman's

husband. Since a king was above the law, David had the right to do so.

But David realized that he was not right with God. He realized that he

had sinned greatly against God (Ps 51:4). David confessed his sins and

repented his sin of adultery and murder with many tears, asking God's

mercy and forgiveness (Ps 32:1,2). God was pleased with his repentant

heart. God not only forgave his sin but also restored his joy in his


Look at verse 2. "Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father

of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers." These three

persons of three generations had ups and downs in their lives of faith,

but basically they lived by faith in God's promises. Hebrews 11:9 says

of Abraham, "By faith he made his home in the promised land like a

stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and

Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise." Since God blessed

them abundantly, they could have lived in mansion houses. But they did

not do so. Three generations lived a tent life as the expression of

their faith in God Almighty. They became a good influence to their


Fourth, Jesus is the perfecter of faith (Heb 12:2), while Abraham and

David were models of faith. When God sent Jesus to the world, God had a

definite purpose for him. Matthew 1:21 says, "She will give birth to a

son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his

people from their sins." In order to fulfill God's will, Jesus had to

die on the cross for the sin of the world. Although God made Jesus a

ransom sacrifice (Mk 10:45), Jesus obeyed unto death, death on the

cross. Jesus became a sacrificial Lamb for the sin of the world. On the

cross, while his mother and the others cried endlessly, Jesus said,

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Lk


II.  Women of faith (3-6)

First, Tamar. Like other Jews of that time, Matthew also had no regard

for women.  But Matthew could not but include five women of faith in

the genealogy of Jesus.  Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah (3a).

Judah had three sons by a Canaanite woman. Er, his first son, the

husband of Tamar, died. Judah's second son, Onan, married the widow

Tamar. But he also died. Then Judah sent Tamar to her father's house to

wait for his third son, Shelah, to grow up. When Shelah grew up, Judah

reneged on his promise, for he was afraid that his third son, Shelah,

might die too.  Then one day Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute

and conceived twin sons by Judah, who was seeking comfort after his

wife died. Tamar bore twin sons, Perez and Zerah. In this way she bore

heirs for her dead husband, Er. If she could pass on her husband's

name, she didn't mind sacrificing herself. She was truly faithful to

her dead husband. Because of her faithfulness, the lineage of the

patriarchs was maintained.  God honored her faithfulness and included

her in the genealogy of Jesus.

Second, Rahab. Look at verse 5a. Rahab was a Gentile prostitute who

lived in the walls of Jericho. But by faith she welcomed the spies of

Israel when they came to Jericho to spy out the land (Josh 2:1-21; Heb

11:31). It was because she had heard that God is the Creator of the

heavens and the earth. She had the absolute fear of God, the God of

Israel, whom she believed to be the Creator of heaven and earth.

Because of her personal faith in the Creator God, the army of Israel

could conquer Jericho, the first invincible fortress in the promised

land. Later, Rahab became the mother of Boaz and the

great-great-grandmother of King David. She was also included in the

genealogy of Jesus.

Third, Ruth (5b). She was a Moabitess, a Gentile woman, and the second

daughter-in-law of Naomi, a Jewess who came to live in Moab to obtain

provisions and whose two sons Mahlon and Kilion died young. Naomi said

to the two daughters-in-law, "Orpah and Ruth! I am too sorrowful even

to look at you. Go please, go please." But Ruth gave up her second

chance to marry and decided to follow her mother-in-law back to the

foreign country Israel, while the other daughter-in-law Orpah went away

to remarry. God honored Ruth's faithfulness as a precious factor in the

history of God and made her the great-grandmother of King David. God

also included her in the genealogy of Jesus.

Fourth, Bathsheba. Look at verse 6. "...and Jesse the father of King

David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's

wife." In this chapter Matthew gives the title "king" only to David,

though there were many kings in the genealogy, in order to stress the

fact that the Messiah would come through David's line. Matthew also

recorded Solomon's mother not as "Mrs. David," but as one who "had been

Uriah's wife," exposing David's great sin. When David was in his

dotage, his first son, Adonijah, plotted to seize the throne. At this

crucial moment Bathsheba remembered what David had promised her. With

faith she went to David and entreated him to make her son Solomon king,

according to the promise God had made to David (2 Sa 7:8-17). Because

of her faith, the promise of God was maintained, and she was included

in the genealogy of Jesus.

Fifth, Mary the mother of Jesus. Mary was a country girl. When she

heard of God's great purpose for her (Lk 1:26-33), by faith she gave up

her beautiful dream of marriage and obeyed God's words (Lk 1:38). God

was pleased with her obedience, and she was included in the genealogy

of Jesus.

III.  Our God is a faithful God (7-17)

First, the division of the kingdom of Israel. Verses 7-15 speak of two

tragic events in the history of Israel. The first tragic event was the

division of the nation. The immediate cause of this division was

Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, who was insolent and treacherous to his

people (1 Ki 12). But the real cause was in Solomon himself. At the

beginning of his reign, Solomon obeyed God. But later, when he had

firmly established his kingdom, Solomon began to indulge in corruption

by having too many foreign women through royal marriages (1 Ki 11:1-6).

Solomon was overly confident about himself; he thought he could control

all the women under his reign. But he could not; instead, he was

influenced by them. As a result, he began to worship many foreign

idols. Thus Solomon became unfaithful to God and a bad influence to his

people. Because of this, God caused the nation to be divided into two.

This division between Northern and Southern Israel caused incessant

war, which made the people miserable. Throughout history, immorality

has been the root cause of the destruction of any nation or

civilization. God can use people who have moral standards in God.

Second, the Babylonian captivity. The Babylonian captivity was the

second tragic event. Whenever God blessed his people, they would

abandon God and his high calling to be a kingdom of priests. They also

would seek after material prosperity and physical pleasure like the

Canaanite people (Jer 25:6-11). They needed divine discipline. So God

sent them into exile in Babylon to purify them. The period of exile was

a time of great distress for the people of Israel. Their captivity in

Babylon is the exact description of man's suffering with no choice. But

God made them suffer to purify them from their sins. This was God's

divine love. In this genealogy, the history of Israel, with its ebb and

flow, shows the triumphs and tragedies of man like the undulating waves

of the sea. But the history of God flows steadily, fulfilling God's

promises, moving forward to the coming of the Messiah (22). To God, his

chosen people were totally useless because of their unfaithfulness. But

God was faithful. God never changed his promises. God kept his promise

to his people for three times of 14 generations. If we count one

generation as 30 years, God persevered with his people's unfaithfulness

for 1,260 years. Finally, according to his promises, God sent his one

and only Son as the Savior of the world. He is Jesus Christ. Though he

is the Almighty God, he humbled himself and came to this world to save

his people from their sins (Jn 1:14).

In this passage we learn God's faithfulness. In spite of the fact

that his people sinned, God had never abandoned them. God was with them

faithfully to the end. We also learn that those who were included in

the genealogy were those who pleased God by their faithfulness. Let's

pray that we may please God with our faithfulness so that we may also

be included in the genealogy of Jesus.