Matthew's genealogy traces the ancestors of Joseph, the legal father of Jesus. Matthew wrote to the Jews to present Jesus as King of the Jews. The account is in Matthew 1:1-17.
It begins by showing Jesus was a legal heir to the throne of David, by virtue of his lineage. This fact is immediately set forth in verse one, which states Jesus was the "son of David, the son of Abraham." His kinship to David the King of Israel is mentioned before that of Abraham, the father of Israel.
Structure of Genealogy
Matthew's structure descends from father to son, beginning with Abraham. Additionally, he divides the genealogy into three groups of fourteen generations, separated by important historic points (Matthew 1:17).
Here are the three divisions in Matthew's genealogy.
- Abraham to the reign of King David (Matthew 1:2-6).
- David's kingdom to the Babylonian captivity (Matthew 1:6-11).
- Release from Babylonian captivity to Christ (Matthew 1:12-16).
Names in Matthew's Account
|Abraham to David||David to Captivity||Release to Christ|
An Abridged Genealogy
Matthew abridged the genealogy by omitting some names that appear in earlier records. Some speculate that the abridged arrangement was intended to aid in memorization. Genealogical abridgement has biblical precedent, as was disussed earlier.
It is important to note that Matthew did not say there was a total of 42 generations (i.e. 14 multiplied by 3). He respectively indicated that there were 14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 from David to the Babylonian Captivity, and 14 from the release to Christ.
David's name was repeated because he was alive when the first division ended, and when the second division began.