Prologue: The Birth of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth[a]
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
3 Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah, with Tamar[d] being their mother.
Perez was the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab was the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, with Rahab being his mother.
Boaz was the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth.
Obed was the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse was the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.
7 Solomon was the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa.
8 Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Uzziah.
9 Uzziah was the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
10 Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amos,
Amos the father of Josiah.
11 Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
12 After the deportation to Babylon,
Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubabbel the father of Abiud.
Abiud was the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14 Azor the father of Zadok.
Zadok was the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
15 Eliud the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar was the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob.
16 Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus who is called the Christ.[e]
17 Therefore, in total there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David, another fourteen generations from David to the deportation to Babylon, and another fourteen generations from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ.
18 The Birth of Jesus.[f] The birth of Jesus Christ occurred in this way. When his mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they came to live together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph was a just man and did not wish to expose her to the ordeal of public disgrace; therefore, he resolved to divorce her quietly.
20 After he had decided to follow this course of action, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to receive Mary into your home as your wife. For this child has been conceived in her womb through the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you shall name him Jesus,[g] for he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place in order to fulfill what the Lord had announced through the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and give birth to a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
a name that means “God is with us.”[h]
24 When Joseph rose from sleep, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him. He took Mary into his home as his wife, 25 but he engaged in no marital relations[i] with her until she gave birth to a son, whom he named Jesus.
- Matthew 1:1 Who was Jesus? Where did he come from? The prologue of Matthew’s Gospel immediately confronts us with this question. The author has not simply gathered up some scattered recollections to complete his album on the life of Christ; rather, from the very first moment he is transmitting the Church’s testimony of faith.
- Matthew 1:1 To the ancients a genealogical tree was not only a set of data on one’s civil status but also a manifestation of one’s membership in a community and the importance of ancestry (Gen 5:1-11; Ex 6:14-24; 1 Chr 1–9; Ezr 2:59-63). The genealogy of Jesus is drawn up with special care; it is perhaps somewhat artificial, but it is quite solemn. In bringing Jesus on the scene, the entire history of the nation is recapitulated. He is the son of Abraham, in whom all the nations shall be blessed (Gen 18:18); he is the son of David, to whom the future of the people was entrusted (2 Sam 7:13-14); in other words, he is the one who will carry out God’s plan for Israel and the entire human race; he is the One Sent, the consecrated of God (Messiah, Christ).
The opening sentences of the Gospel are thus a “Book of Genesis,” an account of the new beginning of humanity and the world (Gen 2:4; 5:1). Luke will carry the genealogy of Jesus back to Adam himself (Lk 3:23-38). In Matthew’s list Joseph plays a well-defined part: it is by means of him that Jesus is given a de jure place in history. But at this point the Gospel unexpectedly avoids the phrase “the father of” (“begot”), and Joseph is simply the husband of Mary. The entire mystery of Jesus’ origin is already stated in these few words.
- Matthew 1:1 Christ: is the Greek translation of the Hebrew “Messiah,” which means “anointed,” that is, consecrated. Priests were anointed (Lev 4:3, 5; 16:15); so were kings (1 Sam 10:1 [Saul]; 16:11 [David], etc.), so much so that the reigning monarch was sometimes given the title of “Messiah,” or “Anointed One” (see Pss 2:2; 89:38; etc.). The name “Jesus Christ,” which at this point was still an alternative for or associated with “Jesus of Nazareth,” is already to be found in the initial preaching of the apostles (see Acts 3:6).
- Matthew 1:3 The genealogy names four women: Tamar (see Gen 38; 1 Chr 2:4), Rahab (see Jos 2; 6:17), the wife of Uriah, i.e., Bathsheba (see 2 Sam 11; 12:24), and Ruth (see Book of Ruth). These four women were foreigners who in some way became part of the history of Israel. They symbolize the salvation that God intends for all peoples.
- Matthew 1:16 It is important to note that in the case of Christ’s birth, the text uses a formula that is far different from the one used for the other persons in the genealogy. In doing so, the evangelist is paving the way for the teaching of Christ’s virginal conception, which took place without the intervention of any man.
- Matthew 1:18 At the beginning of creation the Spirit made the waters fruitful (Gen 1:2; Ps 33:6-7); the Spirit restored life to a people who had been destroyed and were in exile (Ezek 37:1-14; Isa 44:2-4). Now the Spirit creates the new human being, the new Israel, in the womb of the Virgin. How mysterious the interventions of God that turn upside down the course of events and the ways of human beings! Joseph, who is irrevocably bound to Mary because at that time an espousal was a definitive act, is witness to the incomprehensible; he has too much trust in his wife to abandon her to the sentence imposed by the Law if she were to be thought an adulteress. But who will show him the way out of this impossible situation? A revelation of heaven makes his mission known to him in a dream, as the announcement of angels and messengers had to the patriarchs. Joseph obeys, and through him Jesus finds a place publicly in the dynasty of David.
What will this son become, whose name “Jesus” is already a program, since it means “God saves”? The prophecy of Isaiah, which had remained mysterious to the minds of believers, is now fulfilled. Such is the main message of this text that was originally addressed to Jews, namely, that God is in our midst to give us victory and to live the covenant to the full. “Emmanuel” means “God is with us” (Lk 1:31; Jn 1:14). That is the ultimate message.
- Matthew 1:21 Jesus: is a transcription of the Greek Iêsous, which in turn is a transcription of the Hebrew Jehoshuah (“Joshua” in translations) or Jeshua in its later form. It means “God saves.”
- Matthew 1:23 See Isa 7:14. God’s promise of salvation to Judah in the time of Isaiah is seen to be fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. This is the first of some 60 citations, most of them Messianic, that Matthew takes from the Old Testament.
- Matthew 1:25 Engaged in no marital relations: literally, “did not know,” “know” being the usual word for conjugal relations (see Gen 4:1). The meaning of “he engaged in no marital relations with her . . . ” is: “without his knowing her, she bore a son.” The Hebrew word “until” neither implies nor excludes marital conduct after Jesus’ birth.