A recorda of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,b the son of David, the son of Abraham. Bible see other translations
Lit. “scroll”
Lit. “the Anointed One”

“a scroll.” For why there are four Gospels, see commentary on Mark 1:1, “gospel.”

“the son of David, the son of Abraham.” The phrase “the Son of David” is a messianic title, and that is why it is listed before “the son of Abraham” even though Abraham lived before King David. God had promised David that his kingdom would never end (2 Sam. 7:16), and as a response to that revelation, David prayed a wonderful and heartfelt prayer to God (2 Sam. 7:18-29).

David’s kingdom would continue forever by way of the reign of the Messiah, who would live forever. People understood this, and so one of the messianic titles was “the Son of David.” When people call Jesus “the Son of David,” they are indicating that he is the Messiah.

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke use the title “Son of David,” but it does not appear in the Gospel of John due to the primacy of Jesus being the Son of God (see commentary on Mark 1:1, “the good news of Jesus Christ”). In fact, Matthew, which portrays Christ as the king, shows people using the title “the Son of David” in six different records, whereas Mark and Luke only record people using the title “Son of David” in one record, the record of the blind men Jesus healed at Jericho. In the Gospels, people used the title Son of David to either indicate they thought Jesus might be the Messiah, or they believed that he was the Messiah (cp. Matt. 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30-31 (cp. Mark 10:47-48; Luke 18:38-39); Matt. 21:9, 15; 22:42; ).

That some people called Jesus the “Son of David” indicates they believed he was the Messiah. They would not have had any other reason to call Jesus “the Son of David” except that they thought Jesus was the Messiah and thus the true Son of David and also the “King of Israel” (John 1:49; 12:13). People would not have had any reason to think that Jesus was the legitimate linear heir to the throne of David even if they knew he was, in fact, an actual descendant of David, which he was through his mother, Mary. There would have been many descendants of David alive at the time of Jesus; Mary herself had five sons including Jesus. Yet only one of all those people could be the true king of Israel during the lifetime of Jesus because there could only be one king reigning at a time. Although Joseph was also a descendant of David, the fact that Joseph adopted Jesus would not make Jesus an actual descendant of David. Many people died very young in the biblical world, and so many children were adopted into other families, but that did not make the adopted child an actual descendant of the people who adopted them.

The Kings of Judah from David to Jeconiah, a period of some 400 years, are listed in 1 Chronicles 3:1-24. But then the kingship stopped due to the Babylonian Captivity. Thus, the descendants of David who reigned as king over Israel (or Judah) stopped with Jeconiah, the last descendant of David to reign as king (Jeconiah is also known in the Bible as “Jehoiachin” and “Coniah”). One king reigned over Judah after Jeconiah, and that was Zedekiah. He was also a descendant of David but was put on the throne illegitimately by Nebuchadnezzar. Furthermore, Zedekiah did not outlive Jeconiah, the legitimate king. In fact, after Zedekiah was dead Evil-merodach, king of Babylon, set Jeconiah on a throne—but in Babylon—where he theoretically reigned until his death as the last king of Judah (2 Kings 25:27-30; Jer. 52:31-34).

After the death of Jeconiah, even if people tried to trace the lineage of King Jeconiah to determine who was the legitimate king of Judah it could not have been done. Jeconiah had seven sons who are listed in the Bible: Shealtiel, Malchiram, Pedaiah, Shenazzar, Jekamiah, Hoshama, and Nedabiah (1 Chron. 3:1-34). But which son was the legitimate heir to the throne of David? No one knew and there was no way to tell. Furthermore, Jeconiah’s sons had sons, who had sons, who had sons, and so on. So in the over 600 years from Jehoiachin to Christ, no one could have possibly known who was the legitimate heir to the throne of David and thus who was the true “Son of David” and king of Israel. Once Jesus was born and recognized as the true king of Israel, his genealogy can be traced backward to discover the line of those who could have been king, but from Jeconiah forward until the time of Christ no one knew the line of the kings of Judah.

After Jechoniah, Judah never had a Davidic king. Judah was ruled by Babylon, then Persia, then Greece, then the Hasmoneans (who were not descendants of David), then the Idumean vassal king of Rome, Herod the Great, then by a combination of Roman governors and Roman vassal kings. In fact, from Jeconiah until this day, no Davidic king has reigned in Judah. The world is awaiting the Second Coming of Christ, who is the true “Son of David” and who will set up his throne in Jerusalem and reign over the whole earth.

Because no one knew who the true Son of David was, if anyone called Jesus “the Son of David,” it was not because they knew from history and genealogy that he was the legitimate lineal heir to the throne of David, it was because they believed he was the Messiah and thus the legitimate heir to David’s throne.

Additional resource:

Video expand/contractThe Son of David (20:03) (Pub: 2021-06-04)

The phrase “the son of David” refers not only to being a lineal descendant of David (Matt. 1:20) but is also a messianic title. At the time of Christ there would likely have been thousands of people who were descended from David, so when people called Jesus “the Son of David,” they meant he was the Messiah. This indicates that God, in His love, revealed who Jesus was to people who needed to know.

Verses: 2 Sam. 7:16, 18, 25-29; Matt. 1:20; 9:27-28; 15:21-22; 20:29-34; 21:9; John 12:13; 1 Chron. 3:10-16

Teacher: John Schoenheit

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Commentary for: Matthew 1:1