Matthew 1:1 meaning

Matthew begins his Gospel account by sharing the genealogy of Jesus, the Messiah. By beginning with Abraham, Matthew is showing how Jesus is the fulfillment of key provisions of God’s covenant with Abraham.

Genealogies are important to Jewish culture. They provide individual identity and they ground every member into his unique place within the national story of Israel. Genealogies are also useful in establishing royal lineage. Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus demonstrates all three of these things. It identifies Jesus as the Messiah. It establishes his royal lineage to King David. And it grounds his Jewish heritage in Abraham.

Matthew was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, called away from his job as a tax collector to follow Christ (Matthew 9:9). Many Israelites considered tax collectors to be corrupt traitors to the nation for collecting taxes for Rome, which was at that time Israel’s occupying pagan ruler. It is worth reflection that God chose someone with a seedy reputation to redeem and convey the story of His Son, the redeemer of all humanity.

Jesus’s relationship to Abraham was important because Abraham is the founding patriarch of the nation of Israel. It was also important because of the promises God made to Abraham, most particularly the promise that “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). This was a prophecy that the Messiah would come from the lineage of Abraham, and become the savior of all nations. The word translated Messiah is the Greek word “Christos” which means “the anointed one.” Messiah is an English transliteration of a Hebrew word that means “anointed one.”

Jesus was the son of David, which indicates his anointing was kingly. God promised David that He would “establish the throne of [David’s son’s] kingdom forever” (2 Sam 7:13). So Matthew 1:1 opens with a declaration that Jesus is the Messiah God anointed to sit on the throne of David and fulfill the promise God made to Abraham. This opening sets the tone for the entire book, which presents Jesus as the heir to the throne of King David, the promised Messiah of Israel, and the savior of all nations.

Biblical Text:

1The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:

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