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INTRODUCTION TO ST. MATTHEW'S GOSPEL.
been observed in the Gospels ; and those which, allowing that this order has been more or less neglected, profess, on very different schemes, to correct the supposed irregularity.
Matthew, who had also the name of Levi, was, at an early period of our Lord's ministry, called to follow him, as he was sitting at the receipt of custom at Capernaum, upon the Sea of Galilee. This was called Christ's
own city,” because of his most frequent residence there, after he left Nazareth. Matt. iv. 13. There can be little doubt, therefore, that Matthew, who was also a resident there, had heard his preaching, knew his character, and was already a believer. On this occasion he was, however, bidden to “ follow" him; the import of which command he knew was, to become, in a more formal and intimate manner, his disciple, and to continue with him in all places, as the celebrated Jewish Rabbis were attended by their chosen scholars. It implied, also, his sceking more perfect instruction in Christ's heavenly doctrine. This explains the readiness with which Matthew obeyed the call; and the joy that he felt in being admitted into the number of our Lord's peculiar disciples,—those who were permitted to behold all his works, to hear all his conversations and discourses, and to be trained to teach his doctrines to others,—was expressed by his making a great feast for his fellow-publicans, at which Jesus and his disciples attended. The publicans were odious to the stricter Jews, especially the Pharisees ; not, however, let it be observed, always on account of their rapacity, though that might be chargeable upon many, but because they submitted to collect the Roman imposts,-a mark of subjection which the pride of the Pharisees affected to disown, although their country was, in fact, a Roman province. That there were respectable men among even the publicans, appears from the example of Zaccheus and Levi, or Matthew. When they classed them emphatically with “ sinners,” it was therefore because they thought the office, when held by a Jew, an apostasy from, or at least an offence against, Judaism. In modern language, we should call Matthew a custom-house officer, because his office was to receive the dues paid at the port of Capernaum upon goods landed there; and that he was of the higher rank, may be gathered from his making the great feast just mentioned, at which he entertained a very large company. He was finally made one of the twelve apostles. Of his labours out of Judea we have nothing certain ; but the fathers seem to agree that he left Palestine on some foreign evangelic mission.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW.
1 The genealogy of Christ from Abraham to Joseph. 18 He was conceived by the Holy
Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary when she was espoused to Joseph. 19 The angel satisfieth the misdeeming thoughts of Joseph, and interpreteth the names of Christ.
1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
a Luke iji. 23.
CHAPTER I. Verse 1. The book of the Jesus Christ.-On the name Jesus, see generation of Jesus Christ.-Whether this the note on verse 21. When Matthew title merely introduces the genealogy adds Christ to this name, he declares that which follows, or extends to the whole Jesus was the Messiah; and in proof of account of our Lord contained in this
this his Gospel was written. The word Gospel, is a question disputed by inter- signifies, one anointed ; in allusion to the preters. In Gen. v. 1, “ This is the book
custom of consecrating and inaugurating of the generations of Adam,” the LXX. priests and kings among the Jews, by use the same phrase as that here employed anointing them with oil. The composition by St. Matthew ; and the section which for this purpose, and which was applied it introduces is plainly an account of not only to persons but to things set apart Adam's production, and of the patriarchs for the service of God, was made by Moses who descended from him in the line of under divine direction, and kept in the Seth to Noah. But the word reveois oc- sanctuary. It was typical of the commucurs also in Gen. ü. 4: “ These are the nication of the Holy Spirit with which generations of the heavens and of the
the church is replenished; and for this earth when they were created;" where reason it is, that his sacred influence upon it obviously signifies the history or rela- the minds of believers is called by St. tion of their production, and of the seve
an unction, or anointing, from the ral events which followed. In Greek Holy One.” It was the full effusion of authors yevedis signifies original extract, the Spirit upon our Saviour which condescent, or birth; but the Hebrew mode stituted him the Messiah, or Christ ;” of speaking is here probably the better that is, “the Anointed of the Lord.” rule; and the term may be here extended After the resurrection of our Lord the to the history which follows, as in Gen. term Christ, without the article, passed vi. 9, where, “These are the generations of into a proper name, and, as such, is used Noah,” is the title of a section which to distinguish the divine founder of our says nothing of his descent, but carries us religion. on to the character of that patriarch, and The son of David, the son of Abraham.the events of his life. If this introduc- The terms son and daughter were used by tory clause be limited to the genealogy, the Hebrews to signify grand-children, or it may be translated, as by Campbell,“ the any lineal descendants, however remote. lineage,” if taken in the more extended Thus, our Lord calls the woman whom he sense, “the history, of Jesus Christ.” healed of an infirmity, a DAUGHTER of
2 bAbraham begat Isaac; and · Isaac begat Jacob; and a Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
b Gen. xxi, 3.
c Gen. xxv, 26.
d Gen. xxix, 35.
Abraham.” The Messiah was to be a de circumstance that the Jewish Rabbins in scendant of Abraham, through Isaac, not their writings call Mary the daughter of Ishmael ; through Jacob, not Esau ; and Eli. This distinction in the genealogies was to be of the tribe of Judah, and of also serves to explain the reason why St. the house and lineage of David. Thus Luke begins his genealogy with stating was fulfilled in our Lord the promise made that Jesus was the supposed son of Joto Abraham, “ that in his seed all the seph, “who was the son of Eli.” The families of the earth should be blessed ;” natural father of Joseph was, as Matthew and the covenant with David, “ that of states, Jacob; but Mary being the daughthe fruit of his body he would raise up ter of Eli, Joseph became his son-in-law; the Christ to sit upon his throne.” The or simply, according to the vague way in name, “Son of David," appears con
which the llebrews used such relative stantly in the later Jewish writings for terms, his son; which is further con“the Messiah ;” and that it was so used firmed by another instance of a son-in-law in common language in the time of our being called a son in the same table, Lord appears from several passages of namely, Salathiel, who is called “the son the Gospels :
Hosannah to the Son of of Neri,” that is, his son-in-law; his naDavid ;” “ Have mercy upon us, thou tural father being Jechonias, 1 Chron. Son of David,” &c. St. Matthew there- iii. 17. The only point of real importance, fore proves from the Jewish genealogies, however, in this question is, whether Mary that our Lord was descended from David
as well as Joseph was of the house of and Abraham. This was sufficient for the David, because the Christ was indubitably purpose of this evangelist, who wrote im- to be of the seed of David “according to mediately for the use of the Jews; but the flesh,” which our Lord was not by St. Luke, who wrote his Gospel for the mere virtue of his being the adopted son Gentile churches, carries up the genealogy of Joseph, and entered as such in the from Abraham to Noah and Adam; and Jewish genealogies. Now, though there thereby put them in possession of the Old seems sufficient reason to conclude that Testament account of the origin and de- Mary married Joseph as next of kin; and scent of mankind, and corrected their vain though the very silence of the Jews, who, traditions and absurd fables.
upon the promulgation of the doctrine of Verse 2. Abraham begat Isaac.-For a Christ's miraculous conception, at whatfull investigation of the questions which ever period that was first made known, have been raised on the genealogies of whether during our Lord's life, or imChrist given by St. Matthew and St. Luke, mediately after his ascension, must have recourse may be had to Grotius, Ham- raised this fatal objection, if Mary had mond, Le Clerc, Lightfoot, Bishop Kidder, not been a descendant of David as well as Whitby, Dr. Barrett, and others who have Joseph, proves that this fact was a subject written at large upon them. The genealo- of public notoriety; yet the matter is gies coincide from Abraham to David; settled by a passage in the Gospel of St. and then so entirely differ, except in two Luke, which those who have investigated descents, that they must be regarded as this question of the two genealogies have two distinct tables ; and the opinion now generally overlooked. In Luke i. 32, generally admitted is that of Lightfoot, when the angel makes the annunciation that St. Matthew gives the genealogy of to Mary that she should become the moJoseph, whose adopted son Jesus was; ther of the Messiah, he says, “ He shall and St. Luke, that of his virgin mother. be great, and shall be called the Son of This derives strong confirmation from the the llighest : and the Lord God shall give
3 And e Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and * Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram ;
4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon ;
5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth ; and Obed begat Jesse ;
6 And & Jesse begat David the king; and h David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;
7 And i Solomon begat Roboam ; and Roboam begat Abia ; and Abia begat Asa;
8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat began Joram ; and Joram begat Ozias ;
9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias ;
10 And · Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;
e Gen. xxxviii. 27.
h 2 Sam. xii. 24.
f 1 Chron. ii. 5; Ruth iv. 18.
1 Sam. xvi. 1; xvii. 12. i l Chron. iii. 10. j 2 Kings xx. 21; 1 Chron. iii. 13.
unto him the throne of his father David,” Lord would have been reckoned in the -terms which could not have been used
Jewish genealogies as of the tribe of Levi, unless Mary herself had been David's de- and his legal claim to the throne of David scendant. It may be added to this, that could not have been maintained on the unless it had been a matter sufficiently ground of descent; but, having married well known and acknowledged, that Mary into her own tribe, our Lord was the and Joseph were of the same house and descendant of David, both in law and by lineage, it could have answered no end for nature. Matthew to have copied from the public With respect to other difficulties in genealogical tables of the Jews the de. these tables of descent, they are to be rescent of Joseph from David, since he him- ferred to the Jewish records, and not to self closes the list of descents with an the evangelists who copied them. As, account of the conception and birth of however, the Jews exerted particular care Jesus, which declares that he was not the in preserving the pedigree of their priests, son of Joseph, but of Mary only. But the and also the line of David, in which they family relationship of Mary and Joseph expected the Messiah, the discrepancies being well known, the one genealogy was are probably apparent only, and the obas well suited to his purpose as the other. scurity arises from the circumstance that Besides that, it had also this advantage, their mode of keeping them, as being that it established our Lord's legal right affected by their changes of name, or the to the throne of David, through Joseph, practice of bearing double names, and by of whom he was the son by adoption. their laws of succession, is now but parAnd this was of importance in arguing tially known. The tables are, however, with the Jews; for, although Mary was sufficiently clear to prove the only point descended from David, yet, had she mar- for which they were introduced, that Jesus ried into the tribe of Levi, under the same was the son of David, and the son of circumstances as she married Joseph, our Abraham.
11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon
12 And after they were brought to Babylon, * Jechonias begat Salathiel ; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel ;
13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor ;
14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud ;
15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise : When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Some read, Josias begat Jakim, and Jakim begat Jechonias.
1 Luke i. 27.
Verse 16. Joseph the husband of Mary, of ty to Christ. The Greeks as well as Jews whom, &c.—Here it is to be observed, that reckoned by generations. So Pausanias : the evangelist in giving the natural line of “From Thanypus to Pyrrhus, the son of descent from David to Joseph uses the Achilles, σεντε ανδρων και δεκα εισι γενεαι, term eyerinoe, begat, in each instance; but were fifteen generations of men.”
So instead of saying that Joseph begat Jesus, also Herodotus and Polybius. he turns the phrase by saying, “ Jacob Verse 18. Now the birth of Jesus, &c.begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, OF The birth of our Saviour is now placed by whom was born Jesus ;” thus intimating chronologers in about four years before the what he afterwards more fully states, that common era from which we reckon. In Jesus was not begotten of Mary by her the first ages of Christianity the practice husband, Joseph.
of dating from the birth of Christ was unVerse 17. Fourteen generations.—Light- known; and, in fact, was not generally foot has shown, by a number of instances, adopted among Christians till about A.D. that it was usual with the Jews to reduce 730; and it is now generally agreed that an things or numbers nearly alike to the same error of four years was then made in fixing term, for the sake of aiding the memory. Here, therefore, are three regular classes, Was espoused to Joseph.—Maimonides formed by unimportant omissions : the says, that “before the giving of the law, first, under the Patriarchs and Judges, if a man met a woman in the street, he from Abraham to David; the second, un- might take her home and marry her ; but derthe Kings; the third, under the Govern- when the law was given, the Israelites ors and Asmonean priests, from the captivi- were commanded that if a man would take