Matthew 1.3 – Jesus’ Spiritual Origin (Matthew 1:1-17)

Speaker: Scott Jarrett | Jun 5, 2016

1.1. The genealogical list found in these verses is NOT based on Mary’s bloodline (Jesus’ biological ancestry, Luk 3:23-38[1]), but rather Joseph – His adopted human father (16).

1.2. The reason Matthew starts w/ Jesus’ adopted family tree (versus His biological) is b/c of what it tells us about His spiritual ancestry or origin (“genealogy” = origin). According to the Bible, a person’s adoption into a particular family, meant also the adoption of their ancestors as their new spiritual origin (e.g Rom 2:29-3:2 – being truly Jewish, was ultimately a spiritual designation)[2].

1.3. Why such spiritual origins matter = Just as our biological gene pool (or origin) can give us some idea of what to expect on the road ahead (e.g. athleticism, intellectual aptitude, susceptibility to certain physiological diseases or failures, life-span), so the same is true as it re: to our spiritual gene pool (or origin). It helps us to understand what could be expected in the areas of spiritual potential, purpose, and obligation.

1.4. Matthew’s exclusive (rather than exhaustive) list of names as well as their division into three sets of fourteen (17), are therefore meant to communicate this very thing: what we could expect to find in the life of Jesus as it re: to spiritual potential, purpose, and obligation:

1.4.1. Jesus’ potential (1-6)

Six of the names in this first set represent major players in God’s redemptive plan. As such, they also represent what wb Jesus’ spiritual potential during His earthly life.[3] What (then) could be expected of Jesus in the area of potential based on these particular ancestors? He could be the Messiah/Christ (or Savior) for all mankind. Support: (1,6) “David” = messiah wb David’s ancestor (Isa 9:6-7, 16:16; Jer 23:5, 30:9, 33:15; Eze 34:24, 37:24-25; Hos 3:5) (1-2) “Abraham” = God’s temporal/eternal blessings to Abe wb transferred to his messianic offspring (Gal 5:16) (2) “Isaac” = Like Isaac, messiah would be sin offering to God unto resurrection(Gen 22:1-2, 9-12 w/Heb 11:17-19 w/Zec 13:1) (2) “Jacob” = messiah would reconstitute Israel/people of God/covenant community as her new Jacob (Eze 37:11-38); (5) “Rahab/Ruth” = Like Rahab/Ruth, messiah would include Gentiles in God’s New Covenant (Isa 2:1-5, 11:1-12, 42:1-16, 49:1-6, 52:9-15, 60:1-5, 61:1-11, 62:1-5; Amo 9:11-12 w/Act 15:14-19). How this applies to us (why it sb important to us) = (Two ways). Thru Jesus: God’s plan of salvation wb massively upgraded and expanded

(Eph 2:11-19) = Notice, it goes from “Christ” (or Savior in general – v12) to specific, “Christ Jesus” – i.e. Christ who is Jesus (v13). IOW: before His incarnation, Gentiles essentially had “no hope” (v12). After His incarnation, the Gentiles gain not only equal access to God as the Jews (vv18-19), but better access than what existed in the previous covenants (i.e. now “our peace” w/God comes “by the blood of Christ”, vv13-16) Christians receive similar potential

Though we lack the ability to be the Messiah/Christ/Savior[4], accomplishing great things for the kingdom of God – most especially things related to salvation, is our potential (and calling from God) as well, since by faith we (as Christians) also receive this same genealogical list as our adopted family tree (Gal 3:26, 29; Joh 14:12; Mat 5:13-16 = Christians are tb sources/signals of AL, 28:18-19 = Christians are to be little messiahs/christs/saviors bringing salvation to the world, see Act 11:26 – “Christians” = lit. little Christs. The context behind this verse provides the reason the title was bestowed upon the entire covenant community (Act 11:19-21). No longer was it just apostles, but all of God’s people demonstrating their spiritual potential to act as saviors – i.e. offer salvation. And not just to Jews, but to the world of Gentiles!).


1.4.2. Jesus’ purpose (6-11)

The fourteen names in the second set have one thing in common: they all functioned in the role of sacred kings (of Judah). Though not exhaustive, the list nonetheless spans the entire history of Judah’s Jewish monarchy. “David” was her first, and “Jeconiah” (or Jehoiakim) her last as a sovereign nation (i.e. just before “the time of the deportation to Babylon”)[5]. As such, this portion of Jesus’ adopted family tree reveals His purpose in coming to earth: to carry out the role of a sacred king. What (then) is the role of a sacred king? To establish God’s kingdom (on earth) in righteousness/justice (i.e. thru the application/enforcement of God’s Law). Support: This was to be the focus of God’s kings as an imitation of His own kingship (Deu 17:17-20; Jud 21:25; 1Sa 8:5-6, 20; Psa 9:7-8, 72:1-2, 89:14, 97:2, 96:10-13, 98:6-9, 99:4; Pro 16:12, 25:5, 29:14; Isa 5:16 w/26:9-10; Isa 9:7, 11:1-5, 16:5, 32:1; Jer 23:5-6, 33:15-16; Dan 4:27) Deviation from righteousness thru the practice of God’s law always ensured kingdom division/destruction – even when attempts at reform were made by other/latter kings (e.g. 6 – “Solomon”, see 1Ki 11:9-11; 10 – “Manasseh…Amos [Amon]…Josiah”, see 2Ki 21:1-12 w/23:24-27) Jesus’ focus (in both preaching and His cross-work) was the establishing of God’s (new) earthly kingdom (Mat 4:17, 23, 9:35, 10:7, chapter 13 – parables about the kingdom, 18:4, 23, 19:23-24, 24:14, 25:1; Luk 4:43, 8:1, 9:2, 11, 60, 10:9; Act 1:3; Rev 11:15) This is where Jesus’ mission/ministry ends (1Co 15:22-28). How this applies to us (why it sb important to us) = Seeing that this is also our spiritual family tree, means this (too) is to be our focus. We are considered the royal children of God w/the stated purpose of establishing/advancing God’s kingdom (on earth) in righteousness. As such, this is what will be a piece of our final judgment – did we use our lives/resources to advance/establish Christ’s kingdom? (1Pe 2:9; Mat 6:33, 25:14-30).


1.4.3. Jesus’ obligation (12-16)

Similar to the first, this last set of 14 is made up of names whose sole purpose is to act as legitimizing links to and from those which carry the real significance[6]. In this case, it is only one, Zerubbabel. Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar appointed him governor of Judah during its occupation. More importantly, he was (by the Persian king Cyrus and the prophet Haggai) called to rebuild the Temple and city of Jerusalem in the face of foreign threat and strong attempts at discouragement. During his tenure, he not only fulfilled his commission, but also re-established the priesthood and cultic worship (Ezr 3:8, 5:2; Hag 1:12-14, 2:4). As such Zerubbabel rounds out Jesus’ spiritual ancestry as the perfect example of what wb Jesus’ primary obligation during His earthly ministry. What (then) was Jesus’ primary obligation? To be fearlessly faithful to God. Support: This was the key to Zerubbabel’s success: a fearless attitude of faithful obedience to the task appointed by God (Ezr 4:1-6, 5:1-5, 6:13-14; Zec 4:6-10) This was the key also to Jesus success (Phi 2:6-9 w/Luk 9:51). How this applies to us (why it sb important to us) = Fearless faithfulness is the primary obligation of every Christian also! (Phi 2:5ff; 1Co 16:13; Mat 10:27-28. This then is the other important piece related to our final judgment – our obligation. This is Mat 7:21-23. They used their lives/resources to build the kingdom – i.e. they fulfilled their purpose, but failed in their obligations).



[1] Luk 3:23 – “son of Heli/Eli” – literally, the “son-in-law of Heli/Eli”, the father of Mary. Heli/Eli had only daughters (Mat 27:56; Joh 19:25) and so according to the Law, their husbands take the place as sons in carrying the family name. Hence, why it is Joseph that is mentioned – yet it is Mary’s genealogical record that follows.

[2] “Jesus’ spiritual ancestry is more critical for Matthew than His genetic ancestry.” – Craig S. Keener (The Gospel of Matthew, A Rhetorical-Historical Commentary)

[3] The remaining eight names which make up this first set of fourteen serve only to facilitate movement -i.e. to provide the ancestral linkage, between one key name and the next.

[4] Being the messiah requires more than just the right spiritual genes. Being born w/o a sin nature is also necessary. Hence, the reason Jesus’ conception circumvented the seed of the man – the place where such nature is transferred from one human generation to another. Jesus’ miracle conception also avoided the curse placed on Jeconiah (Jer 22:24-30).

[5] The LXX renders both Jehoiakim (father) and Jehoiachin (son, also known as Jeconiah) as Iwakim. Understanding the first reference in Matthew (1:11) as Jehoiakim and the second only as Jeconiah, solves the problem of only 13 original names in the 3rd set of 14. It is supported by the fact that Jeconiah had only one brother  – Zedekiah (versus “brothers”), whereas Jehoiakim was one of four sons (see 1Chr 3:15-16).

[6] Nine of the names (“Abiud” to “Jacob”) exist nowhere else in Scripture and reflect what Matthew must have known through oral tradition. Likewise, little is known about “Shealtiel” and “Joseph” – though mentioned in other Scripture.