The Genealogy of Jesus Christ: Matthew 1:6-17

Matthew continues his genealogy as he moves from the first group of 14 names to the next. The first group culminates in King David, that glorious figure who is “a man after God’s own heart”, with whom God made a covenant that one of his descendants would always be on his throne, and quickly the second group of 14 comes along, ending with no one on David’s throne. This scenario underscores the failure of the people of the Abrahamic covenant, and the lack of fulfillment of their covenant.

We can see Matthew’s historic vision in this sequence, a vision of election and high privilege followed by human failure and lost opportunity. It would seem that this is a preview of what would follow in Matthew’s story as the pattern of Israel’s rebellion and subsequent judgment unfolds in Israel’s rejection of Jesus, and Israel’s loss of kingdom (21:33-22:10) the destruction of the nation (21:41; 22:18; 23:29-24:3)and eschatological destruction (8:10-11; 22:11-14).

The final group of 14 is an interesting one for several reasons. For the most part, the names found in the first two thirds of the genealogy can be found in the Septuagint, but the nine names in vv. 13-15 don’t follow any Old Testament genealogy. In addition, Matthew uses only nine names to cover about 500 years, while Luke uses 18, and of these, only four are in both lists; two of the four are Joseph and Jesus. To be fair, this is not uncommon in comparing genealogies, as we have mentioned, and neither Matthew nor Luke are recording genealogies as  strict historical pedigrees.  Finally, Matthew’s progression from father to son is suddenly broken when there is no direct link between Joseph and Jesus, leaving the father of Jesus not strictly identified (see verse 16). Notice that Matthew instead shifts our attention from Joseph to Mary as “mother of Jesus”.

Matthew will answer the obvious questions about this ambiguity in the next scene, and the implications of that answer will be the subject of the entire story… and to say that those implications are huge, would be an understatement, to say the least.

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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