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Volume 1/Issue 1/February 2015

Jesus’ Kingly Blessings for the Nations: A Missiological Understanding of Matthew 1:1

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Dieudonné Tamfu holds a PhD in Biblical Studies from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY.

Abstract

This article argues that Matthew 1:1 and Matthew 28:18–20 frame the gospel of Matthew. Both texts portray Jesus as the true seed of Abraham and the true son of David. As the Son of David, Jesus has all kingly authority in heaven and on earth, and, as the offspring of Abraham; Jesus is the one through whom God fulfills his promise to Abraham that through Abraham's offspring all the families of the earth would be blessed. Now, Jesus, with all his kingly authority, blesses all peoples with salvation, as the Church makes disciples of all nations.

In his introduction (Matt 1:1),[1] Matthew portrays a twin ancestry of Christ Jesus as the Son of David and the Son of Abraham. Jesus’ two ancestral links become central themes that Matthew develops throughout the book. Matthew 28:18–20 is the climax of these themes and their missiological application. My aim is to demonstrate that Matthew’s epilogue (28:18–20) is the sum and zenith of the twin ancestry of Christ, as the nations are blessed with the gospel through the divine offspring of David and Abraham.[2] 

To prove this, I must show that Matthew 1:1 corresponds to Matthew 28:18–20, that Matthew concludes (28:18–20) where he began (1:1), showing Christ as the distinct Son of Abraham and divine Son of David through whom the nations are blessed.[3] To make that connection, we will first examine how Matthew develops the theme of Jesus’ ancestral identity, beginning with Christ’s genealogy:

First observation: Note that the genealogy begins (1:1) and ends (1:17) with an intentional focus on David and Abraham as the key figures. The genealogy runs from Abraham to David, to the exile, and then to the Christ (1:17) who is the both the seed of Abraham and the Son of David (1:1).[4] Primarily, Matthew wants us to understand that Christ is the one in whom God fulfills his promises to Abraham and to David.

God called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldeans and promised him that he would bless him and make him a blessing (Gen 12:1–3). Through Abraham all the families of the earth will be blessed (Gen 12:3). After Abraham exhibited his willingness to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to God, God renewed his covenant with Abraham, saying, “In your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice (Gen 22:18).” After Abraham died, God repeated this promise to Isaac (Gen 26:4) and to Jacob (Gen 28:14), implying that there is a future offspring yet to be born.

Jacob’s children lived in Egypt, afflicted for four hundred years (Gen 15:13; Acts 7:6–7). God, through Moses (Exod 3), rescued them and brought them to the Promised Land because of his covenant with Abraham (Gen 15:16; Exod 2:24). While in the Promised Land, God raised judges who led Israel (Judg 2:16–23), until Israel asked for a king, Saul (1 Sam 8). Because of Saul’s sins and failure to obey God, God rejected Saul from being king of his people, removed the dynasty from his house (1 Sam 15:10ff), and chose David to rule Israel (1 Sam 16:1; Acts 13:22). In his reign, David desired to build a house for God to dwell in and God made a covenant with him, promising, “I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever (2 Sam 7:12-13).” After David died, the kingdom was divided (1 Kgs 12), Israel and Judah both going into exile because of sin (2 Kgs 17:7–18; 25:1–30). God continued to speak through the prophets, promising that he would restore his people and David would reign over them (cf. Ezek 34:23; 37:24; Isa 16:5). God promised to raise a new king to David’s throne (Jer 23:5; Jer 33:15). Isaiah identified this king as a divine child who would reign on David’s throne forever (Isa 9:6–7). At the conception of Christ, the angel of God identified Jesus as the son of David whose reign will be eternal (Luke 1:32–33). Matthew calls Christ the son of Abraham and the son of David.[5]

Second observation: Against all human reasoning, through women like Tamar (1:3), a woman of questionable character (Gen 38:12–19), Rahab, a prostitute (Matt 1:5; Josh 2:1; 6:17), Ruth, a gentile (Matt 1:5; Ruth 1:4), Bathsheba, an adulteress (Matt 1:6; 2 Sam 11:3–4),[6] and Mary, a virgin (1:16), God brings forth his Son, the seed of David and Abraham. God shows us his glorious freedom to work all things according to the counsel of his will. The presence of Gentiles (Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, Tamar) in Jesus’ pedigree shows him as the all-inclusive Savior; Jesus saves both Jews and Gentiles.

Because God’s promise to Abraham could not fail, the deportation to Babylon did not thwart his plans (1:11–12). Neither did the failure of a covenant head—David’s adultery with Uriah’s wife from which Solomon came (1:6).[7] Nothing stops God from fulfilling his promises to Abraham and David.   

Third observation: Apart from the genealogy in Luke, Matthew 1:1-17 is the only genealogy in the New Testament. There are no genealogies in the NT except those in Matthew and Luke because all of the OT genealogies were tracing the line of the promised Seed, which has found its ultimate fulfillment in Christ, the Seed of Abraham and the son of David.[8] 

1. Jesus Christ the Son of David

During David’s reign over Israel, Yahweh gives him rest from all his surrounding enemies. David then desires to build a temple for Yahweh (2 Sam 7:1–3). Through the prophet Nathan, Yahweh tells David that he will not build such a temple but his son will because David’s hands are bloody (2 Sam 7:4–11). Yahweh makes a covenant with David:

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David  (2 Sam 7:12–17).

Solomon, David’s son from Bathsheba (1 Kgs 1:11; Matt 12:42), builds a temple for God and rules over Israel, partially fulfilling the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7:13). Yet, he cannot be the son who reigns forever because he sins, marries 700 wives, has 300 concubines, and makes treaties with the nations, contrary to the word of Moses in Deuteronomy 17:14–20. Moreover, in 580 BC Nebuchadnezzar sacks Judah. He takes the Jews captive, and Solomon’s kingdom and temple are left in ruins. After the exile, the kingdom is never fully restored.

Later, through Haggai, God promises that he will make Zerubbabel, who is also listed in the genealogy of Matthew (1:12), a signet ring—that is, Zerubbabel, one from David’s line, will become Yahweh’s authorized representative on earth (Hag 2:23).[9] Like Solomon, Zerubbabel dies, and the promises of the Davidic covenant await fulfillment.

After the exile, when the writer of Chronicles recounts the Davidic covenant, he foresees a Davidic son who will be sinless and thus intentionally leaves out the phrase in 2 Samuel that says “When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men.” The chronicler says:

When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.’” In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David (1 Chro 17:11–15).

Other prophets also foresee that God will raise a new Son of David who will sit on David’s throne (cf. Isa 9:7; 16:5; Jer 33:17; 19–26). After David and Solomon have passed from the scene in Israel’s history, there is still an expectation for a new Son of David who will shepherd God’s people, be a prince over them (cf. Ezek 34:23:24), reign forever, and cause them to walk in the statutes of Yahweh so that they enjoy the promised land forever (cf. Ezek 37:24–25).

1.1. He is King

The son of David was to reign over God’s people (2 Sam 7:12–17) as their king. From beginning to end, Matthew portrays Jesus as this King. Jesus is born King of the Jews (Matt 2:2) and he dies King of the Jews (Matt 27:37). The kingdom that has lacked a king since the deportation to Babylon now has the promised king, Christ. With the coming of Jesus, the hopes and prophecies of Ezekiel are fulfilled (cf. Ezek 34; 37).  

When the wise men from the east (possibly Babylon)[10] come to Bethlehem, they proclaim Christ as the King of Jews (Matt 2:2). That Gentiles are the first to recognize his kingship may hint to the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 12:3; 28:14). Matthew’s amalgamations, “the King of the Jews” (Matt 2:2) and “his star” (Matt 2:2), are reminiscent of Numbers 24:17, which says “a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel” (Num 24:17).[11] Jesus is the star that has arisen out of Jacob, and the scepter, King of the Jews, who has risen out of Israel.[12]

Although death signified that neither Solomon nor Zerubabel was the promised king, Matthew stresses Jesus’ kingship even more at his death than his birth. The phrase “the King of the Jews” occurs four times in Matthew, once in the birth narrative (Matt 2:2) and thrice in the death narrative (Matt 27:11, 29, 37). He is mocked as King of the Jews (Matt 27:28–30) and killed because of this claim (Matt 27:11–12), and on his cross it is written, “This is the King of Jews” (Matt 27:36–38). The way Matthew strategically places this phrase, “King of the Jews,” at the beginning and ending of the Gospel intimates that it helps frame his book around Jesus’ kingship, a theme that begins from the very first verse when Jesus is called the son of David.

1.2. He Has Authority Over All Things

Jesus, the son of David, exercises dominion over sicknesses, diseases, and demons.[13] His authority and his reign know no bounds. His rule is not limited to the Jews; he rules over all things—demons, Satan, and everything under the sun.

The phrase “Son of David,” apart from its first occurrence in 1:1, occurs nine other times in Matthew. The title appears to be used in three ways, giving us a glimpse of the Jewish understanding of who Jesus is as the Son of David. First, as Son of David, Jesus is Lord (Matt 15:22, 25; 20:30, 31). Second, he is merciful (Matt 9:27; 31). “And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’” (Matt 20:30).[14] Third, as Son of David, Jesus has authority to heal all manner of diseases (Matt 9:27–29; 20:29–34) and to free people from demonic oppression (Matt 12:22; 15:21–28).[15]

When Jesus displays his authority over demons and diseases, “all the people [are] amazed, and [say], ‘Can this be the Son of David?’” (Matt 12:22–23). This again shows that the people are still expecting the Son of David to appear after Solomon has passed from the scene. Moreover, they are expecting that the Son of David’s reign will extend beyond Israel to the spiritual realm, even over demons.

As Jesus said (Matt 12:42), something greater than Solomon is here. Jesus, the Son of David par excellence, is not only greater in authority, but also wiser than Solomon whose wisdom amazed the world and attracted the queen of Sheba and others (Matt 12:42). He is the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:30) who draws all nations to himself.

1.3. He Represents David and Yahweh

Jesus’s ascension to the Mount of Olives, as he moves toward the cross, possibly echoes 2 Samuel 15:30. France observes, “While the route over the Mount of Olives was the normal route from the east, Jesus’ use of the donkey at that point may also have been intended to remind the pilgrims of the peaceful yet triumphant return of King David back over the Mount of Olives by which he had fled during Absalom’s rebellion (2 Sam. 15:30), when he too presumably rode on a donkey (2 Sam. 16:1–2).”[16] If Matthew intends to evoke 2 Samuel 15:30, then Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives in his time of trouble—facing the crisis before him in Jerusalem—just like David his father according to the flesh (Rom 1:2; Matt 21:1; 24:3; 26:30). Matthew 21:1 not only evokes 2 Samuel 15:30, but also evokes the messianic prophecy of Zechariah 14:4.[17]

The prophet Zechariah prophesies that in the coming day of Yahweh, Yahweh’s feet “shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward” (Zech 14:4). “The newly formed valley will serve as a means of escape for the remnant in Jerusalem and as a way of Yahweh’s victorious processional to Zion.”[18] Zechariah’s imagery, a valley that provides escape, is reminiscent of the valley that God formed for his people to cross the Red Sea on the day of their redemption. Zechariah foresees a day when Yahweh will reveal his power by striking all the peoples with plagues, as he did when he fought against Egypt in the Exodus (Zech 14:12ff; Exod 15), and “living water” will flow out of Jerusalem (Zech 14:8; cf. John 4:10; Rev 22:1). Then, “Yahweh shall be king over all the earth. On that day Yahweh will be one and his name one” (Zech 14:9).

These prophecies find penultimate fulfillment in Jesus’ first coming and final fulfillment in the second coming. In Matthew, Jesus stands on the Mount of Olives, fights demonic powers for his people, triumphs over them at the cross, paves the way for a new Exodus (the redemption of God’s people from sin),[19] and gives himself as “living water” to his own (John 4:10). This Jesus and Yahweh are one.

Worship also signifies Jesus’ deity in the book of Matthew. Jesus receives worship at his birth, as Gentiles worshipped him (Matt 2:11), and in the city of Jerusalem, as children cry, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt 21:9, cf. v. 15). After Jesus’ resurrection, his followers see him and worship (Matt 28:9,17). Jesus is the Son of David according to the flesh, and the Holy Spirit declares him the Son of God with power (Rom 1:3–4) by his resurrection from the dead. He is the divine Davidic Son, worthy of worship like his Father. As the Son of David, Jesus has all authority, shares in divinity with God, and reigns over all things as King of kings.

2. Jesus Christ, the Son of Abraham

When God calls Abram, he promises Abram a blessing and promises that all the families of the earth will be blessed through him (Gen 12:1–3). Later, when Abraham demonstrates his fear of Yahweh through the sacrifice of his son, Isaac, God tells Abraham that it will be through his offspring that God blesses all the families of the earth (Gen 22:17–18). The line of Abraham’s offspring continues from Isaac to Jacob whose sons become an entire nation—Israel (Exod 4:22–23). Israel, Abraham’s corporate seed, does not mediate the blessing of Abraham to the nations. Instead, because of their disobedience, they are kicked out of the Promised Land, just as Adam is kicked out of Eden (Gen 3:23).

God promises Abraham land, seed, and blessing. Not only Abraham, however, will be blessed; all the people groups of the world would be blessed through him. God confirmed this promise to Isaac and Jacob (Gen 26:3–5; 28:13–15; 35:9–12). Isaac and Jacob partially fulfill the promise of the seed. The multiplication of the seed begins with the children of Jacob, the nation Israel, in Egypt. By the hand of Moses, God rescues the multiplied seed of Abraham, Israel, and brings them to the Promised Land. In the land, Saul becomes king over Israel, but God rejects him because of sin and raises David. After David, Solomon reigns but the kingdom divides after him, and the two kingdoms later go on exile (2 Kgs 17:7–41; 25:1–26). The prophets threaten judgment, but also hope for a new covenant (Jer 31:31–34; Ezek 36:26–27) and a universal blessing (Isa 9:2–7; 19:16–25; 55:3–5; Mic 4:1–5; 5:2–4; Ps 22:27), through a future son of David (Isa 9:2–7; Mic 5:2–4). In the NT, Jesus comes as the son of David and son of Abraham, who mediates the universal blessings promised to Abraham (Gen 12:3) and David (Isa 55:3–5).[20]

Jesus Christ, the true and perfect Son of Abraham, comes and succeeds where Israel failed. He does so, while representing the nation of Israel. Following his birth, Jesus descends to Egypt and is “exodused” out of Egypt. Out of Egypt God calls his Son, just as he did Israel (Matt 2:13–15; Hos 11:1). Continuing in his exodus, Jesus goes through the waters at his baptism like the corporate seed of old at the Red Sea (cf. Matt 3:16; Exod 14; 1 Cor 10:1–4). At Jesus’ baptism, God declares from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17), echoing his declaration to Pharaoh, “Israel is my firstborn son” (Exod 4:22).

Just as God leads Israel into the wilderness (Deut 8:2–3), so the Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights immediately after his baptism (Matt 4:1–2; Deut 9:9).[21] Jesus fights temptation when the devil tempts him in the wilderness, just like the corporate seed of Abraham (Israel) (cf. Matt 4:1–11, cf. Ps 106:14; Heb 3:8, 17). Unlike Israel, however, he succeeds in this temptation, as he does not give into the allurement of the devil.[22]

Although Jesus represents Israel and keeps God’s law in their place, Matthew demonstrates that Jesus intends to save not only Israel, but the nations as well. Matthew includes several Gentile women in Jesus’ genealogy: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. This shows God’s kindness towards Gentiles. In Matthew 2, Gentiles (wise men from the east) are the first to worship Jesus. In chapter four, after his temptation in the wilderness, Jesus goes to Gentile lands so that the words of the prophets may be fulfilled which said, “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned” (Matt 4:15–16). Although Jesus asks his disciples not to preach to the Gentiles (Matt 10:5), he gives hints of a Gentile mission when he says “you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles” (Matt 10:18). Shortly afterwards, Matthew reveals that Jesus is Yahweh’s Servant who will proclaim justice to the Gentiles (Matt 12:18; Isa 42:1) and that in his name the Gentiles will hope (Matt 12:21; cf. Isa 42:4; cf. Rom 15:12). Jesus blesses a Canaanite woman with healing (Matt 15:21–26; cf. Matt 8) and heals people in Jericho (Matt 20:29–34). The kingdom of God is open to tax collectors, prostitutes (Matt 21:31), and all who desire to come (Matt 22:9–10). Hence, the gospel of Jesus must be preached to all nations, Israel and all Gentiles (Matt 24:14; cf. Acts 1:8).

3. How Matthew 1:1 Relates to 28:18b–20

Jesus is indeed the Son of David, the Son of Abraham. As the Son of David who rules over all things and the Son of Abraham who blesses the nations, Jesus proclaims:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matt 28:18–20).

At this moment, Jesus declares what Matthew announced in the very first verse: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham” (Matt 1:1). He is not just a son, but the awaited son who fulfills the Davidic covenant and the Abrahamic covenant. Since Matthew has already established that Christ is the son of David and son of Abraham, who has authority over all things, when Jesus speaks in Matthew 28:18–20, Matthew’s readers already know his identity. Jesus is the son of Abraham, through whom the universal blessings of Abraham will reach all the families of the earth, and the son of David who has authority over all things.

When Matthew quotes Jesus’ words, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” the passive “given” (ἐδá½¹θη) is a divine passive, assuming God the Father as its subject; God has placed all things under the lordship of Christ. If God shares all authority with Jesus, the assumption is that Jesus is God.[23] God gives Christ authority over all things because he is the King who shares divinity with the Father and inherits the eternal kingdom promised to David’s Son.[24]

Matthew 1:1 and 28:18b–20

Matthew 1:1

Matthew 28:18b–20

Son of David

Jesus shares authority with the Father: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

Jesus has one name with the Father: “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus is omnipresent like the Father: “I am with you always.”

Son of Abraham

In him all the nations are blessed: “make disciples of all nations.”

 

As the Son of David, Jesus has all kingly authority in heaven and on earth, and as the Son of Abraham, he intends to bless the nations through the church’s proclamation of the gospel. Jesus’ resurrection is central to this revelation. The universal mission that Christ commissions is validated by the resurrection, which demonstrates his complete authority.[25] Because Jesus rose from the dead and conquered death, death has no power over him (Rom 6:9). Now exalted in heaven, Jesus says, “I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Rev 1:17-18). Because of Jesus’ victory over sin and death, he alone can free us from the power of sin and death and give us eternal life.

4. Missiological Implications of Jesus as the Son of David and Son of Abraham

Like Israel, we have all fallen short of the glory of God. To be a blessing to the nations, Jesus had to die, taking on our record of debt and bearing the penalty of our sin. Christ Jesus became a curse to free us from the curse of the law “so that in [him] the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith” (Gal 3:13–14). The blessing of Abraham comes to the nations, as we, the church, obey King Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations and the nations put their trust in him.[26]

The Abrahamic blessing that the Church mediates through discipleship is not material and physical betterments; in the present, it is primarily the gift of salvation, eternal life, accompanied by the free gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 3:14). At the heart of the Abrahamic covenantal blessing is intimacy between God and those who have the faith of Abraham. “I will be their God, and they will be my people” (cf. Gen 17:7–8). Believers today enjoy covenant fellowship with God and peace with him through the shed blood of Christ. The physical and material components of the Abrahamic blessing are yet to come. Those who share in the faith of Abraham will become, in the future, heirs of the World (Rom 4:13) and will enjoy perfect rest (Heb 4). We ought to hope for the ultimate and eschatological fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, which includes material and physical blessings for all the redeemed, while we now rejoice that we have received every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph 1:3).[27]

Jesus intends for the church to disciple by “teaching all that I have commanded.” Without a proper understanding and enjoyment of who Christ is, Christ’s teaching cannot be obeyed; “development of character will not happen without knowledge.”[28] Central to the task of teaching all that he commanded is to teach Jesus greatness. “Jesus Christ stands at the center of all humans can know or experience, and from that exalted center he proclaims, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end’ (Rev 22:13).”[29] People must know and treasure Christ as the Seed of Abraham and Son of David in order to obey King Jesus. Theological education serves this purpose by training the mind and feeding the soul with whole-Bible Christology for the transformation of the whole person. Christian character and spiritual flourishing rest primarily on knowledge of and love for Christ. Thus theological education is indispensible for the advancement of the gospel and obedience to Christ.

Knowing the identity of Jesus, those who are called to preach should lift him up as the central figure in redemptive history. The entire Old Testament and all the promises of God find ultimate and perfect fulfillment in Christ (cf. John 5:35; 2 Cor 2:10). Jesus should be the foundation, content, and the goal of our preaching. We should preach in such away that shows our dependence on Christ’s authority, so that others may see the power of God in Christ and be saved (1 Cor 2:1–5), thus becoming the children of Abraham (Gal 3:29). Whether we preach from the Old Testament or the New Testament, Jesus must be proclaimed as the only means through whom all the nations will find and enjoy the blessings promised to Abraham (cf. Gal 3:9). Preaching that does not have King Jesus at the center is not Christian preaching. “The center and reference point for the meaning of all Scripture is the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God.”[30]

Since Jesus is the offspring of Abraham and David, ruling and blessing all the nations, we should all be bold and courageous to preach the gospel to the unreached nations of the world, understanding that the One who promised to be with us is the risen Christ who rules and exercises authority over all things. There is no Muslim people group that our Christ cannot penetrate with the gospel of the kingdom; there is no closed country for Christ. With his all-encompassing, divine authority, Christ can break into any nation and establish his kingdom, blessing people with the blessings of Abraham through our evangelistic efforts. Let us with courage rise! Let us with confidence go and make disciples because our Christ rules over all and will certainly bless the nations with his gospel through us.


[1] Our main focus here is on Matthew 1:1. This article does not aim to discuss the extent of Matthew’s prologue. For a good discussion on this, see Edgar Krentz, “The Extent of Matthew’s Prologue: Toward the Structure of the First Gospel,” JBL 83, no. 4 (1964): 409–414.

[2] Mounce observes that Matthew’s beginning establishes two significant points about Jesus’ family history when he, Matthew, says Jesus is the Son of David and Son of Abraham, but Mounce does not show how this first verse is developed and how it relates to 28:18–20 (Robert H. Mounce, Matthew, vol. 1, Understand the Bible Commentary Series [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1991], 7). Blomberg also shows that Jesus as son of David is King and as son of Abraham he blesses the nations, but does not relate Matthew’s opening verse to his conclusion (Craig L. Blomberg, G. K. Beale, and D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007], 3, 100). 

[3] Volschenk argues for a chiastic structure for the Gospel of Matthew. After showing the preeminence of chiasm in the Gospel of Matthew, from a theological perspective, he considers the meaning of the house, the land, and topology in Matthew and concludes that the chiastic structure of Matthew and the topological movement of its plot have very close ties (G. J. Volschenk, “Die Plek En Funksie van Topologie as Teologiese Belangeruimte in Die Struktuur van Die Matteus-Evangelie,” HTS 59, no. 3 [2003]: 1007–1030).

[4] For a discussion of these titles from the perspective of second temple Judaism, see Daniel J. Harrington, “‘Jesus, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham . . .’ : Christology and Second Temple Judaism,” ITQ 57, no. 3 (1991): 185–195. 

[5] For careful studies of the relationship between the Abrahamic and David covenants and all the covenants of the OT and NT, see Scott W. Hahn, Kinship by Covenant: A Canonical Approach to the Fulfillment of God’s Saving Promises (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009); Peter John Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum, Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2012); Sandra L. Richter, The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry into the Old Testament (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2008). Although these authors approach their studies of the covenants slightly differently, they all show how all the six key covenants of the OT (Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and the promised new covenant) relate to one another and find their ultimate fulfillment in the new covenant, in Christ.

[6] The inclusion of these women does not mean that God condoned or approves of the moral situations of these women in question. Rather, their inclusion highlights the mercy of God. By his mercy, God sanctifies and uses vessels that were once dirty and useless. The same is true of our salvation. We were once like these women, gentiles, adulterous and even dead in our trespasses and sins, but God, being rich in mercy, saved us by his grace so that we may be to the praise of his glorious grace (Eph 2). 

[7] God shows that he does not condone David’s sins by killing the son that was born from that adulterous relationship. “The LORD afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. On the seventh day the child died” (2 Sam 12:15–18).

[8] I owe this insight to Miles Van Pelts lectures, “Seams in the Canonical and Covenantal structure,” https://www.biblicaltraining.org/seams-canonical-and-covenantal-structure/biblical-theology (accessed March 12, 2014). The genealogy sums up and culminates the entire OT and, as Weber observes, “in them are the seeds from which the New Testament plan will grow. The long-awaited, promised Messiah, the restorer of God’s kingdom and the redeemer of his people, is Jesus himself. This is Matthew’s central message, his purpose for writing his book” (Stuart K. Weber, Matthew, ed. Max Anders, vol. 1, Holman New Testament Commentary [Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2000], 16).

[9] Ralph Smith, Micah-Malachi, vol. 32, Word Biblical Commentary (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1984), 163.

[10] Morris observes, “Wise men are not people endowed with wisdom in general, but students of the stars: “a (Persian . . . then also Babylonian) wise man and priest, who was expert in astrology, interpretation of dreams and various other secret arts” (BAGD). REB renders the term “astrologers.” From the East is very general; many interpreters hold that these wise men came from Babylon, and they may have done so, but we cannot be sure. Their study of the stars had led them to believe that a great leader had been born in Judea. Therefore they directed their steps to the capital city of Jerusalem,. These men would have been Gentiles, but Matthew gives this no emphasis” Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, PNTC (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1992), 35–36.

[11] Similarly, Blomberg, Beale, and Carson, “Matthew,” 5.

[12] The promise of a king, a scepter, goes far back to creation when God created Adam to rule (Gen 1:26, 28); back to Abraham from whom God said kings would come (Gen 17:16); back to Jacob’s blessing on Judah (Gen 49:10); back to Moses promise that Israel will have a King (Deut 17:14–20).

[13] Baxter examines the ways that Matthew links the Messianic title “Son of David” with Jesus’ healing ministry and rightly argues that the he based this connection on the Davidic Shepherd of Ezekiel 34 (Wayne Baxter, “Healing and the ‘Son of David’: Matthew’s Warrant,” NovT 48, no. 1 [2006]: 36–50).

[14] Jimenez examines prayers such as “have mercy on me” to Jesus in miracle stories, and argues that these prayers can be interpreted not merely as appeals to a miracle worker for physical healing but as prayers to Jesus Christ to bring about an integral salvation beyond physical healing or rescue (E. C. Jimenez, “‘Jesus, Son of David, Have Mercy on Me!’ Prayers to Jesus in the Miracle Narratives,” Landas 16, no. 1 [2002]: 51–64).

[15] Paffenroth examines anointing, Jesus’ healing ministry, and the title Son of David in Matthew and concludes that Matthew emphasizes and relates these three aspects of Jesus’ ministry so as to represent the Christ as the uniquely anointed Messiah, the Son of David who has authority over all diseases and heals them as he pleases (K. Paffenroth, “Jesus as Anointed and Healing Son of David in the Gospel of Matthew,” Bib 80, no. 4 [1999]: 547–554).

[16] R. T. France, Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 1, TNTC (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2008), 300. This connection may be further supported by Nolland’s argument that Matthew puts extra weight on geographical markers (John Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text, NIGTC [Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2005], 832).

[17] Similarly, Blomberg, Beale, and Carson, “Matthew,” 63; Craig L. Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, NAC (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1992), 311.

[18] Smith, Micah-Malachi, 32:285.

[19] Luke 9:30 euphemistically calls Jesus’ death, the exodus (teÌ„n exodon). Christ’s death is the exodus par-excellence.

[20] This is a very brief summary of the OT. For an indebt study see, N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, vol. 1, Christian Origins and the Question of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), 147–338. Schreiner’s brief summary of the OT is also very insightful: Thomas R. Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2006), 73–85.

[21] For more on the Exodus typology of Matthew 4 see,  Blomberg, Beale, and Carson, “Matthew,” 14–18.

[22] Jesus constantly quotes from Deuteronomy as he resists the devil in the wilderness (cf. Matt 4:4; Deut 8:3; Matt 4:7: Deut 6:16; Matt 4:10; Deut 6:13). In Deuteronomy 6:16, the words refer to the incident at Massa, where Israel grumbled against God because they did not have water, testing God (Exod 17:2). Whereas Israel tested God by demanding water, Jesus denies making the same demand. Jesus would rather trust his Father than demand from him to intervene miraculously. Morris rightly observes, “The servants of God cannot demand that God should keep on intervening with miraculous provision for their needs. To jump from a height and then look to God to avert the natural consequences of such an act is just such an offense. Furthermore, it is worse than what happened at Massah, for at least the people there were in real need of water. What Satan is suggesting is that Jesus should needlessly thrust himself into danger; he would be creating a hazard where none previously existed. And for what? To compel God to save him miraculously. It is a temptation to manipulate God, to create a situation not of God’s choosing in which God would be required to act as Jesus dictated. Jesus rejects the suggestion with decision. He prefers the way of quiet trust in the heavenly Father, a trust that needs no test, and a ready acceptance of his will. He refuses to demand a miracle even if from the perspective of someone on earth that might seem desirable, even compelling” (Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, 76). For an excellent discussion of the temptations of Jesus, see Theodore J. Jansma, “The Temptation of Jesus,” WTJ 5, no. 2 (1943): 166–181.

[23] Klassen–Wiebe astutely argues that Matthew 1:18-25 depicts Jesus as both the Son of God and the Son of David. She maintains that there is a danger in tracing Jesus’ lineage to David because it can be misconstrued that he was born of a human sexual relation. She argues that according to Matthew, Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and that Jesus’ roots were in God and that he was simply adopted into the Davidic lineage (Sheila Klassen-Wiebe, “Matthew 1:18-25,” Int 46, no. 4 [1992]: 392–394.).

[24] For different approaches to the structure of Matthew, see Warren Carter, “Kernels and Narrative Blocks : The Structure of Matthew’s Gospel,” CBQ 54, no. 3 (1992): 463–481; Christopher R. Smith, “Literary Evidences of a Fivefold Structure in the Gospel of Matthew,” NTS 43, no. 04 (1997): 540–551; Nils Wilhelm Lund, “The Influence of Chiasmus upon the Structure of the Gospel according to Matthew,” ATR 13, no. 4 (1931): 405–433; David E. Garland, “The Structure of Matthew’s Gospel: A Study in Literary Design,” Int 44, no. 1 (1990): 89–89; H J B. Combrink, “The Structure of the Gospel of Matthew as Narrative,” TynBul 34 (January 1, 1983): 61–90; B. R. Doyle, “Matthew’s Intention as Discerned by His Structure,” RB 95, no. 1 (1988): 34–54. Doyle view is a slight modification of Bacon’s, who argues that the Gospel of Matthew has a prologue (chap 1–2) and an epilogue (chaps 26:3–28:20). In between the prologue and the epilogue, he argues, Matthew has five unites analogous to the five books of the Pentateuch. These five unites are marked by the formulaic saying, “And when Jesus finished  . . .” (Matt 7:28–29; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1) (see B. W. Bacon, “The ‘Five Books’ of Matthew against the Jews,” Exp 15 [1918]: 56–66). In examining the structure of Matthew, Kingsbury finds the basic formula in 4:17 and 16:21: “From that time Jesus began....” as significant. This formula, he argues, divides the gospel into three main sections which “set forth (a) the genesis and significance of the person of Jesus, (b) the nature and effect of his proclamation, and (c) the reason and finality of his suffering, death and resurrection” (Jack Dean Kingsbury, Matthew: Structure, Christology, Kingdom [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975], 36). Thus Mathew’s structure highlights his Christology.

[25] Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew, 1266.

[26] “All nation” in Matthew refers to all the tribes of the world, all of humanity (cf. Matt 24:9, 14; 25:32; 28:19).  

[27] This is contra the prosperity gospel, which advocates for physical and material blessings now as part of the Abrahamic blessing. The prosperity gospel advocates an over-realized eschatology, asserting blessings of the future for the present.

[28] Ellen T. Charry, By the Renewing of Your Minds: The Pastoral Function of Christian Doctrine (New York: Oxford University, 1999), 43. Charry examines key classical theologians, beginning with Paul and other New Testament writers. She selects theologians from the patristic period, the medieval and the seventeenth century reformation periods and shows that all of them believed that knowing God is the foundation of Christian character.

[29] Duane Litfin, Conceiving the Christian College (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2004), 43.

[30] Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2000), 16. Helpful works on preaching Christ from all of the Scriptures include, Sidney Greidanus, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1999); Edmund P. Clowney, Preaching Christ in All of Scripture (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2003).

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