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Just a List of Names?

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
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February 5, 2021 7:00 am

Just a List of Names?

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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February 5, 2021 7:00 am

Parts of the Bible are narrative in nature, some are more poetic and others read like a history book. Such is the case with the first chapter of Matthew, where we find a long list of names the genealogy of Christ. During this program, we’ll find out why this historical list is an important, barrier-breaking, conflict-causing introduction to Matthew’s gospel, as we start a new series here on The Bible Study Hour.

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Parts of the Bible are narrative in nature. Some are more poetic and others read like a history book such as the case with the first chapter of Matthew we find a long list of names.

The genealogy of Christ.

Thanks for tuning into the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce together will find out why this historical list is an important barrier breaking conflict, causing introduction to Matthew's gospel welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically what you do when you face a biblical text that just doesn't seem to line up. Let's learn together today from the example of Dr. Boyce as he works through the apparent contradiction that's presented in Christ's genealogy number of years ago when Ashley Everett who is a former Surgeon General of the United States was still living in Philadelphia on a regular attender at 10th church.

He used to kid me about a blatant inconsistency in the way I handled the Bible's genealogies. I had been preaching on the book of Genesis and when I got to the 10th chapter. I made a great point about the importance of the names and all that was true because when I look at the first volume of those published studies.

I find that I had spent three separate studies on the names and just that one chapter but then when I got the chapter 11, though a similar list of names, I dismissed it and a rather easy fashion, calling it just another list of names according to Dr. Koop, it's not exactly the way I remember the story, but it does make a point that I am sure is in most people's minds when we come to something like the opening chapter of Matthew's Gospel. Here is a genealogy a lengthy one at that, is an important or is that as we would tend to say just another list of names since Matthew is giving the genealogy of Jesus Christ, to me describes as the son of David, the son of Abraham. A statement which the genealogy proves is that to be taken seriously.

And above all, is it something that we should really take time to study all part of the answer, of course, comes from who. Matthew is and what he is trying to do in his gospel, who was a well he was Juno's other name is Levi. We know this because of parallel accounts in Matthew and Luke. His book was written chiefly to Jews and its objectives, the Jewish Messiah was name is Jesus all the Gospels, Matthew Mark Luke and John Matthew is certainly the most Jewish each of the Gospels has a common starting point is I'm sure you'd all it begins in each case with the career of John the Baptist or was the forerunner of Jesus Christ. But each of the Gospels also has its own unique introductory material that precedes that and mark the shortest of the Gospels. You just have a simple one line statement. This is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ and Luke you have a very extensive introduction begins with a number of verses in which he dedicates his gospel to well-known and distinguished friend of his was name was Theophilus has a parallel in the book of acts, which is a companion book to the gospel and then having done that in the first four verses or so of Luke. Luke goes on to tell of the birth of John the Baptist to great lengths that mend the birth of Jesus at great length and then other incidents from his early life and it's not until the third chapter and after other material that he eventually got surrounded his genealogy.

John is most unique. John's Gospel is preceded by a prologue in which he traces the origins of Jesus Christ not by Dr. David Abraham, or even back to Adam, which is what you find in Luke, but rather to being with God at the beginning of all things before everything came into being. He was the eternal word here in Matthew his unique approaches to begin with this genealogy. I said it begins with Abraham traces the ancestry to David and then from David down to Jesus Christ starting a book with a genealogy seems very strange to us because as I said it just seems to be a listing of names, but this was. Not true in that day for June was particularly knowing a person by knowing his ancestry was very important and it was so important for all Jews because in order to take part in the temple worship. They had to demonstrate their Jewish ancestry. Matthew's genealogy proves that Jesus had descended from David, and therefore he was qualified to be the Jews Messiah because God had made a promise to David as every Jew knew that it would be a descendent of his would set up on his throne forever and ever. And not only that only does he trace the genealogy of Jesus back to David, thereby proving his right to be the Messiah. He also traces his ancestry back to Abraham out of course shows that he was a Jew, but it's not for that reason that he does it every Jew would be well aware that when God made promises to Abraham it was that through his descendents. Not only all Jews but all nations on earth would be blessed in so Matthew at the very beginning of the gospel is showing that Jesus is both the Jewish Messiah and at the same time. Also the Savior of the world that maybe why Matthew was so popular in the early days of the church. One of the greatest commentators on Matthew DA Carson says that during the first three centuries of the church. Matthew was the most highly revered and frequently quoted canonical gospel. Let's just take a moment and think a bit more about the author was Matthew really the author or are always objections to such things by the critical scholars they object to almost everything and their objection at this point would be that we don't have any explicit identification of Matthew as the author and the book itself.

In other words, Matthew is a gospel is anonymous very first reference to Matthew was the author occurs in the words of a man named Pappy is one of the early leaders of the church and we don't even have his direct writing, but rather we have him quoted by the early church historian Eusebius what Pappy has said is that Matthew collected the oracles of Jesus in the Hebrew tongue that leaves all sorts of possibilities open. Does that mean he wrote the gospel meaning merely collected things that somebody else used to write the gospel didn't mean that he wrote his gospel in Hebrew and it was later translated into Greek, which is the form we have all those questions are unanswered, but let me suggest that there's no real reason for questioning Matthew's authorship based on this early tradition of the church because the more you examine it and the more you think about Matthew himself. The more appropriate his authorship becomes already seen that he was a Jew. His occupation was that of a tax collector. I was very despised occupation as we know, but it means that he would've been well qualified to write a gospel. One thing he was probably literary and bilingual, maybe even trilingual. He was a tax collector in the holy land. He had to deal with Jews who spoke Aramaic and with Romans who spoke Latin and with Greeks who spoke Greek so Mobley he had at least a rudimentary knowledge of all those languages and he certainly knew Aramaic well.

Moreover, he had to keep records he may have even been something like a scribe for the apostolic band more than one writer suggests that as a possibility.

And there is also this argument. Matthew was not a prominent disciple you think of the disciples the names that come to your mind most often are those of Peter, James and John. They seem to of been the inner three Matthew's out on the periphery. Somewhere we don't know much about it. Why, if he was not the author of the gospel with this inconspicuous and basically unknown man be assigned as the author. If in fact he actually wasn't Matthew's Jewishness and his scribal interests emerge in another way. Also, and that's his frequent reference to the Old Testament more so than any of the other Gospels's gospel contains at least 40 formal quotations from the Old Testament and the formal introductory formula which we find here in these early chapters which goes like this. All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, when you get the quotation that occurs in a lesson 16 times Matthew records more interaction of Jesus with the Jewish leaders than does any other gospel. Yet at the same time he also has the strongest denunciations of Jewish unbelief.

There's nothing quite like a list of woes. But Jesus pronounces on leaders of Israel in Matthew's gospel in any of the others we see that same kind of interest in this genealogy. This genealogy contains the names of four women and that is most un-Jewish, but at the same time, it said Jewish list. Three of these women were Gentiles. It's a very fascinating thing.

Matthew, I suppose. Should most rightly be called a bridge book because it appears here is the first of the Gospels, the beginning of the New Testament bridging from the expectation of the Messiah, which developed throughout the Old Testament and culminates at the very end of that right testaments with the fulfillment of that in the coming of Jesus Christ and the development of the church night mentioned the fact that Matthew's genealogy contains these women and that some of them were Gentiles and some of them were also notorious sinners. I shows us something interesting at the very beginning it shows.

For example, that certain barriers were being broken down in the work of Jesus Christ. Barriers between men and women. Barriers between Jews and Gentiles barriers between saints and sinners is in Jesus ancestry is any indication in this matter.

It shows that God chooses his servants from a wide spectrum of those from whom the respectably Orthodox would probably turn away in horror as the genealogies also have problems and that's probably where most of our interests lie, especially when we compare this genealogy in Matthew with the genealogy that we have in Luke doesn't require a great New Testament scholar. Only a careful reader of the Gospels to recognize that when we read the genealogy is Matthew gives it and compare it with the genealogy that we have in Luke we are dealing, at least in portions, with two entirely different things. Matthew's genealogy begins with Abraham and moves forward in history to Christ, the traces Jesus descendents from Abraham through 14 generations to David and his descendents through 14 generations to the Babylonian captivity and then 14 more generations from the captivity to the birth of Jesus, who is introduced this way. Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. Luke on the other hand moves backwards.

He begins with Joseph and then he goes back to David to Abraham and then even beyond Abraham to Adam, who he identifies as a son of God, not to of the sections don't present any problems. All final section in Luke is no problem because you don't have a parallel to it in Matthew's gospel middle section which goes from Abraham to David is no problem either because that corresponds exactly the difficulty is in Luke's first section, which is also Matthew's last section because they are all the names are different and I would be all right if we were dealing with ancestries of two entirely different people, but these are both genealogies of Jesus and what is more, they seem to come down to him through his adopted father, Joseph, husband of Mary, of whom are Lord was born Matthew says that Joseph was the son of Jacob who descended from David through David son and successor King Solomon while Luke says that Joseph was the son of Eli who had descended from David through Nathan was also David son and Solomon's brother Nadia's all that kind of problem. A problem like that of course is been known in the church.

Ever since the beginning.

In urban all kinds of solutions me suggest two of them to you and especially one that I think is right. The first solution I want to mention is that that was offered by J. Gresham Meacham and his classic study of the virgin birth of Christ. That's an absolute masterpiece of biblical study may can analyze this problem with his customary thoroughness and suggested that these are indeed both genealogies of Joseph, but that Matthew offers what makes and calls the legal descendents of David that is a line that actually sat upon the throne or would have if the line had continued and Luke presents what makes and calls the paternal line that is the line of literal father to son dissent which is mass-produced. Joseph you can understand how you can have a literal line of dissent to get for one reason or another in history that people in that line would not actually take the throne when somebody else might. So that's what he is distinguishing now. He explains the different fathers of Joseph by saying that Matthew's line does not necessarily indicate literal relationships only a list of heirs to the throne, whatever their relationships to their immediate predecessors might've been.

And in this view, Eli would be Joseph literal father Jacob, who presumably had no sons to follow him would have been Joseph's immediate predecessor in the legal line makes good sense because Matthew is certainly talking about heirs to the throne is of the Jewish gospel.

That's an interest that he has. Moreover, he constructs his genealogy from David onward asking who is the next heir I contrast Luke is interested in actual paternity.

So he constructs his genealogy from Joseph back to David asking who was so-and-so's father out so far. I agree with nation that is an excellent explanation. My only reservation is this. According to Meacham's theory loose are the non-literal genealogy that is the one that doesn't deal with actual father-son relationships is Matthew's it's one that's not necessarily talking about a literal dissent from father to son. While on the other hand, Luke's genealogy is that of father to son, but it's a strange thing if that's the case that it's Matthew actually stresses the literal dissent by his choice of words, word Matthew uses as he links these names together is the word begat it has to do with generation it's translated in the new international version. The father, but it literally says so-and-so begat were engendered so-and-so. That's the literal term, while Luke, by contrast, uses very general way of speaking is actually a genitive. It's just so-and-so of so-and-so of so-and-so and that would indicate. Or at least give room for a more loose or nonliteral relationship. So that's the difficulty I have with that solution in my judgment, there is a better solution in which these two lines were viewed as the lines of Joseph and Mary respectively, each, thereby being identified as a descendent of Jacob.

So we have two lines of two different people. This, incidentally, was the view of Bernard Weiss great theologian of the past. Scotland's James or and and received classic expression in some of the early writings of Donald Ray Barnhouse, who was one of my predecessors here attends church according to this view, the distinction between the two lines is not to be thought of as between the legal line in the paternal line, which is what makes you suggest. But between the royal line of those who actually sat on the throne and is what Matthew refers to an the legal line of dissent from one son to the next. Now let me see if I can explore it this way. What this means is that these genealogies contain lists of cousins and his brothers who are related because of a common ancestry. Now the point of the difference is that Solomon's line was the royal line, which is what you have in Matthew and Nathan's line was the legal line, but Nathan was the older brother you go back to study what happened there in the closing years of David's reign, and afterwards you understand how that happened. Solomon actually took the throne, but Nathan was the older brother now Barnhouse gives an example that goes like this, the former king of England had an older brother.

Now the Duke of Windsor, who had a prior claim to the throne of Britain suppose that Windsor had been the father of a son by a real queen before he abdicated can be seen at once such a child might be a strong pretender to the throne in case there was no other heir apparent George VI was in the royal line because he has rained, but any children of Windsor might claim to be in a legal line. That's a situation we have here.

Nathan was the older brother of Solomon with her younger brother took the throne. Nathan's line ran on through the years and ultimately produce the Virgin Mary, Solomon's line ran on through the years and ultimately produce Joseph, Matthew doesn't say the Joseph begat Jesus but that he was the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus and Luke uses a word for son that would include perhaps what we would call a son in law is the basic structure. But here's the greatest proof of all why we need to take the lines.

This way it has to do with the name of one man that appears in Matthew's genealogy. It's the name zirconium's it produce the Joseph could not of been the father of Jesus, or that if he had been Jesus put in the been the Messiah, because of something that is said in the book of Jeremiah on the 22nd chapter of Jeremiah, verse 30. There is a curse pronounced upon this man was man in the royal line descended from King Solomon and it goes like this blessed saith the Lord right this man, childless man that shall not prosper in his days for no man of his seed shall prosper sitting upon the throne of David ruling anymore and Judah. Now that's what happened, but one of the seven sons of this man never succeeded to the throne as a matter fact.

They all died in Babylon and if Jesus had been the son of Joseph, descended from this line.

Then he would've come under the curse is pronounced upon that line in the book of Jeremiah on the other hand line of Nathan wasn't the royal line.

He was descended from Matt with a son of Eli would face the fact that there was a royal line that would've contested any claim that came from the line of Nathan the problem the problem like that be solved.

While it was sold in a manner that is so simple that it's the utter confusion of the skeptic of those who try to tear the Bible increases answer is this line that had no curse upon it produced Eli and his daughter the Virgin Mary and her son, Jesus Christ, is therefore eligible by the line of Nathan and he exhaust outline the line that had a curse on it produce Joseph and exhaust the line of Solomon because Joseph's other children now have an elder brother who legally by adoption is the royal air. So how can the title be free in any cases that person. The one line and the lack of raining royalty on the other and God the Holy Spirit begat the Lord Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mary without any use of a human father the child that was born is the seed of David according to the flesh when Joseph married Mary and took the unborn child under his protecting care giving him the title that come down to him through his ancestor Solomon or Jesus became legal Messiah, the royal Messiah, the un-cursed Messiah, the true Messiah. The only possible Messiah.

All the lines are exhaust anyone. Whoever comes in the world. From that time forth, claiming to fulfill these conditions will by definition be a liar and deceiver were only at the beginning of what I trust is going to be a long study of Matthew, but there are already a few conclusions that we can draw. First of all, the problem with these genealogies teaches us how to deal with difficulties in Scripture, we come to a problem like this on which sometimes even conservative scholars are not agreed we tend to think that the problem is unsolvable, but that isn't true.

As we work on it and think about it. We often discover that the difficulties are resolved and it encourages us to be patient when we come up with other difficulties years ago was a Bible teacher who was riding on a train through New York State on his way to New England for some speaking and he went into the dining car for dinner. Man that sat down next to him began to talk turned out that that man was proclaimed atheist and as soon as he discovered the his companion was a Bible teacher, he began to throw up all kinds of difficulties that he proceed with the Bible Bible teacher just went on eating. He was eating New England Claude it's very bony fish so is he a did he push the bones aside and his companion finally said well what are you doing that what you do with all those difficulties in the Bible. The Bible teacher said I do with the difficulties just as I am doing with this fish eat the meat. I put the bones aside for some fool to choke on.

Well, a story like that can be wrongly used if what we mean by it is that we don't ever have to face up to the goalies. We do we have to work with that we have to come up with what solutions we can find it. I think we have a perfectly good solution when were talking about the genealogies but if if we come to a difficulty that we can't resolve.

It's not a mark of dishonesty merely a mark of humility to lay it aside for a time until more data comes in which it tends to do problem will be solved eventually and often quite soon on the second lesson that we draw from this is patience in waiting for the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Down through the years of Old Testament history, men and women look forward to the coming of the Messiah. Every child of David was a potential Messiah on the people kept their genealogies straight because they wanted to know who might possibly rain on the throne generation after generation went by and yet Messiah did not come was only after a long wait. Jesus was, at last, born at Bethlehem and those who would been waiting people like Simeon and Anna saw him and rejoiced at his coming out in a similar way in our day. The second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ seems delayed in the skeptic say where is this coming he promised ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation is think Peter quotes it in the third chapter of his second letter, Rawlings would not continue unchanged as they have from the beginning Christ came once and he will come again and so knowing this, we should be patient and trust God to work in his own way and time and then here's 1/3 lesson, the final one is the value of all Scripture. Second Timothy 316 and 17 says all Scripture is useful.

All Scripture that includes even the genealogy.

Sometimes we say possible value.

Can these things out but they do have value and even the problem genealogies have been used bring people to faith in Christ give you one example Ron Blankley was a former area director of campus Crusade for Christ, and he was walking through the student union at the University of Pennsylvania. One day when he saw a student reading his Bible.

He remembered Philip's approach to the Ethiopian slowly walked over to him and said do you understand what you're reading and the student said no as a matter of fact I don't I reading the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke and I don't understand them because they seem to be different now. Blankley had just been at 10th Presbyterian Church the Sunday immediately preceding this when providential AI had just explained the genealogies as I've done here was fresh in his mind and so he sat down with the student and explain them to him.

As a result of which a young man came to faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior world has no use for Jesus Christ, even at Christmas time, and because it has no use for Jesus Christ world has no use for his words either but we do we know his word. We know the power of his word and we shouldn't be afraid to proclaim it, allowing the Holy Spirit to work through even the alleged problems to bring people to faith in Jesus as the Savior, and he certainly does spray our father, we thank you for this great demonstration of the truth of the claims that have been made concerning Jesus Christ to be the Messiah, not just Messiah the only possible Messiah, one who has been promised throughout all of the Old Testament. But who is now, and who has the Messiah of his people has also died upon the cross to be the Savior of the world was us as we continue to study this gospel in these days use it. We pray to bring many to faith in him.

We pray in Jesus name. You are listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview.

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