Matthew 1:18-25 (The Genesis of Jesus Christ, Part 2)

Mat 1:18-19: What do Mat 1:18-19 teach us about the binding nature of betrothal in the Jewish culture?  Cf. Deut 22:23-27.  Why was Joseph going to divorce Mary?  Consider the emotions of betrayal and the threat to Mary’s marriage relationship with Joseph that her miraculous conception would cause, as well as the shame and humiliation she would face from others; what does her response to the angel in Luke 1:38 indicate about the nature of this one who would be the mother of our Savior?  See Mat 16:24.  Are we as willing to take up our cross and subject ourselves to the consequences of marred relationships, shame and reproach for the sake of our Savior?

Mat 1:20-21: How was Mary’s humble faith in God rewarded in regard to her marriage to Joseph?  See also Mat 1:24.  How was her faith rewarded in regard to the shame and reproach of being identified as a harlot and adulteress?  See Luk 1:41-48.  What is the central importance of the miraculous conception and the virgin birth of Christ to our Christian faith?  See Luk 1:35, Rom 5:12,19, 1Co 15:21-22, Joh 1:29, 1Pe 1:18-19, 2Co 5:21, Lev 22:20, Deut 17:1.  How did the angel’s appearance to Joseph differ from the way the angel appeared to Mary?  Cf. Luk 1:26-38; see also Mat 2:13,19,22.  In what other instances did God speak to men in a dream?  See Gen 20:3, 28:12, 31:24, 37:5, 40:5, 41:1, Num 12:6, Jdg 7:13, 1Sa 28:6, 1Ki 3:5, Job 33:14-15, Dan 2:1, 4:5, 7:1, Mat 2:12, 27:19.  Might the Lord still speak to His servants in dreams?  See Acts 2:17.  What does this teach us about the importance of listening for the voice of the Lord in our dreams and praying for wisdom and understanding about what our dreams mean?  Cf. Jer 23:25-32.  In light of the low esteem held for marriage and fatherhood in our modern age, what do these verses teach us about the importance God places upon mothers having a husband and children having a father in the home?

Mat 1:22-23: Which prophet prophesied the virgin birth?  See Isa 7:14.  Did his prophecy refer primarily to the birth of Christ?  See Isa 7:15-16, 8:3, and observe that the Hebrew word hm’l.[; translated as “virgin” may also refer simply to a young woman[1].  What does this teach us about the nature of Biblical prophecy and when its fulfillment is understood?  In what sense was Jesus’ name also Immanuel?  See Mat 1:23.  How would Matthew’s use of Isaiah’s prophecy have answered the slander of the unbelieving Jews who argued that Jesus could not be the Messiah because He was the illegitimate son of an immoral woman?  What does their argument teach us about the way unbelievers seek to justify their unbelief when the light of the truth exposes their darkness (Joh 3:19-20)?  What do such arguments indicate about the paternity of those who make them?  See Job 1:9-11, 2:3-4, Psa 109:6, Zec 3:1, Joh 8:44, and 1Ti 3:11, 2Ti 3:3, Tit 2:3 where the Greek word for devil (dia,boloj)is translated as malicious gossip (NASB) or slanderer (NIV).  What does this teach us about the great evil of gossip and slander?

Mat 1:24-25: Had Joseph not been “a righteous man” (Mat 1:19) might he have been tempted by his own emotions of betrayal to disregard his dream, because it was only a dream?  How did his obedience to the message in the dream confirm his righteousness?  What does Matthew mean that Joseph “kept her a virgin (lit. was not knowing her) until she gave birth to a Son”?  How does Matthew’s use of the word until contradict the Roman Catholic teaching that Mary remained a perpetual virgin and never had other children?  See also 12:46, 13:55-56.  Note: The New American Bible (not the NASB) bearing the official imprimatur of the Roman Catholic church translates Mat 1:25 as “he had no relations with her at any time before she bore a son” and adds the explanatory note: “the evangelist emphasizes the virginity of the mother of Jesus from the moment of his conception to his birth.  He does not concern himself here with the period that followed the birth of Jesus, but merely wishes to show that Joseph fully respected the legal character of the paternity imposed on him by the divine will.  Moreover the New Testament makes no mention anywhere of children of Joseph and Mary.”  However, the Greek word e[wj that Matthew uses is the specific temporal conjunction used to denote the time up to or until some event at which time there is a change, as it is nearly always translated, and as every other translation so renders it here in Mat 1:25; see also Mat 2:13,15 where the NAB translates it correctly as “until”.  If Matthew had wanted to communicate simply “before” without regard to the time after, he would had to have used the Greek word pri.n as he did in 1:18 or pro. as he did in 6:8.  A note on Mat 13:55 refers the reader to a note on the parallel passage in Mar 6:3 that says, “The question about the brothers of Jesus and his sisters cannot easily be decided on linguistic grounds.  Greek speaking Semites used the terms adelphos and adelphē, not only in the ordinary sense of blood brother and sister, but also for nephew, niece, half-brother, half-sister, and cousin.  The question of meaning here would not have arisen but for the faith of the church in Mary’s perpetual virginity.”  However, this too is very misleading, since Mark was writing to a Gentile audience, and the Greek words mentioned do refer primarily to a blood brother or sister in such contexts since other Greek words existed and were used to express other relations (see for example Acts 23:16, Col 4:10).  Observe also that Luk 2:7 records that Mary gave birth to a firstborn son (ui`o,n prwto,tokon), not an only son (ui`o,n monogenh/), in complete agreement with Matthew’s word choice in Mat 1:25 and the natural meaning of Mat 12:46 and 13:55.  See also Acts 1:13-15 which clearly distinguishes between the apostles, Jesus’ half-blood brothers, and the Christian brethren, as well as Gal 1:19 and 1Co 9:5.



[1] Despite its primary fulfillment in the days of Isaiah, the Jews understood Isa 7:14 as Messianic in scope, and when translated into Greek the translators used the word parqe,noj which does refer unambiguously to a virgin; they would not, however, have foreseen or had any notion of what we think of as the virgin birth, only that the young woman would be chaste.

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