- Wesley Bible Commentary
- Matthew 1
John Wesley's Notes on the Bible
Read Matthew 1
Verse 1. The book of the generation of Jesus Christ - That is, strictly
speaking, the account of his birth and genealogy. This title
therefore properly relates to the verses that immediately follow:
but as it sometimes signifies the history of a person, in that sense
it may belong to the whole book. If there were any difficulties in
this genealogy, or that given by St. Luke, which could not easily
be removed, they would rather affect the Jewish tables, than the
credit of the evangelists: for they act only as historians setting
down these genealogies, as they stood in those public and allowed
records. Therefore they were to take them as they found them.
Nor was it needful they should correct the mistakes, if there were
any. For these accounts sufficiently answer the end for which they
are recited. They unquestionably prove the grand point in view,
that Jesus was of the family from which the promised seed was to
come. And they had more weight with the Jews for this purpose,
than if alterations had been made by inspiration itself. For such
alterations would have occasioned endless disputes between them
and the disciples of our Lord. The son of David, the son of
Abraham - He is so called, because to these he was more
peculiarly promised; and of these it was often foretold the
Messiah should spring. Luke iii, 31.
3. Of Thamar - St. Matthew adds the names of those women also,
that were remarkable in the sacred history.
4. Naasson - Who was prince of the tribe of Judah, when the
Israelites entered into Canaan.
5. Obed begat Jesse - The providence of God was peculiarly
shown in this, that Salmon, Boaz, and Obed, must each of them
have been near a hundred years old, at the birth of his son here
6. David the king - Particularly mentioned under this character,
because his throne is given to the Messiah.
8. Jehoram begat Uzziah - Jehoahaz, Joash, and Amaziah coming
between. So that he begat him mediately, as Christ is mediately
the son of David and of Abraham. So the progeny of Hezekiah,
after many generations, are called the sons that should issue from
him, which he should beget, Isaiah xxxix, 7.
11. Josiah begat Jeconiah - Mediately, Jehoiakim coming
between. And his brethren - That is, his uncles. The Jews term all
kinsmen brethren. About the time they were carried away - Which
was a little after the birth of Jeconiah.
16. The husband of Mary - Jesus was generally believed to be the
son of Joseph. It was needful for all who believed this, to know,
that Joseph was sprung from David. Otherwise they would not
allow Jesus to be the Christ. Jesus, who is called Christ - The
name Jesus respects chiefly the promise of blessing made to
Abraham: the name Christ, the promise of the Messiah's kingdom,
which was made to David. It may be farther observed, that the
word Christ in Greek, and Messiah in Hebrews, signify anointed,
and imply the prophetic, priestly, and royal characters, which
were to meet in the Messiah. Among the Jews, anointing was the
ceremony whereby prophets, priests, and kings were initiated into
those offices. And if we look into ourselves, we shall find a want
of Christ in all these respects. We are by nature at a distance from
God, alienated from him, and incapable of a free access to him.
Hence we want a mediator, an intercessor, in a word, a Christ, in
his priestly office. This regards our state with respect to God. And
with respect to ourselves, we find a total darkness, blindness,
ignorance of God, and the things of God. Now here we want
Christ in his prophetic office, to enlighten our minds, and teach us
the whole will of God. We find also within us a strange misrule of
appetites and passions. For these we want Christ in his royal
character, to reign in our hearts, and subdue all things to himself.
17. So all the generations - Observe, in order to complete the three
fourteens, David ends the first fourteen, and begins the second
(which reaches to the captivity) and Jesus ends the third fourteen.
When we survey such a series of generations, it is a natural and
obvious reflection, how like the leaves of a tree one passeth away,
and another cometh! Yet the earth still abideth. And with it the
goodness of the Lord which runs from generation to generation,
the common hope of parents and children. Of those who formerly
lived upon earth, and perhaps made the most conspicuous figure,
how many are there whose names are perished with them? How
many, of whom only the names are remaining? Thus are we
likewise passing away! And thus shall we shortly be forgotten!
Happy are we, if, while we are forgotten by men, we are
remembered by God! If our names, lost on earth, are at length
found written in the book of life!
19. A just man - A strict observer of the law: therefore not
thinking it right to keep her.
21. Jesus - That is, a Saviour. It is the same name with Joshua
(who was a type of him) which properly signifies, The Lord,
Salvation. His people - Israel. And all the Israel of God.
23. They shall call his name Emmanuel - To be called, only
means, according to the Hebrews manner of speaking, that the
person spoken of shall really and effectually be what he is called,
and actually fulfil that title. Thus, Unto us a child is born - and his
name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the
Prince of Peace - That is, he shall be all these, though not so much
nominally, as really, and in effect. And thus was he called
Emmanuel; which was no common name of Christ, but points out
his nature and office; as he is God incarnate, and dwells by his
Spirit in the hearts of his people. It is observable, the words in
Isaiah are, Thou (namely, his mother) shalt call; but here, They -
that is, all his people, shall call - shall acknowledge him to be
Emmanuel, God with us. Which being interpreted - This is a clear
proof that St. Matthew wrote his Gospel in Greek, and not in
Hebrew. Isaiah vii, 14.
25. He knew her not, till after she had brought forth - It cannot be
inferred from hence, that he knew her afterward: no more than it
can be inferred from that expression, 2 Sam. vi, 23, Michal had no
child till the day of her death, that she had children afterward. Nor
do the words that follow, the first-born son, alter the case. For
there are abundance of places, wherein the term first born is used,
though there were no subsequent children. Luke ii, 7.
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