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Matthew 1:16: "Jacob begot Joseph, the husband of Mary,
of whom was born Jesus"

R. C. H Lenski

V 16: And Jacob begot Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, the one called Christ. Through the entire line runs the verb "begot - begot - begot." Significantly it makes a halt when it reaches Joseph. He, the husband of Mary, did not beget Jesus, the Messiah. In marked contrast with this regular begetting one ancestor by another we are told by Matthew that the last thus begotten was Joseph, "the husband (Greek aner)) of Mary, and that Jesus "was born," (Greek egennethe), used also regarding the mother alone, as here) of her. How this happened follows at once. Since "Jesus" was a name frequently found among the Jews, the participial statement is added: Greek, "o legomenos Christos," which means that Jesus rightfully bore this second official name "Christ"; on which see v. 1. Thus Matthew's genealogy presents Joseph as the legal father of Jesus, which makes Jesus legally the heir of David and of Abraham. If Jesus had been born without a legal father, of Mary without a legal husband, his legal right to the inheritance from Abraham and David by virtue of the divine promise would have been void. In addition to the legal standing of Jesus as the rightful, legal son of Joseph we may note the protection this standing secured for his mother and for himself. The two records of Matthew (v. 18, etc.) and Luke (2:4, etc.) vividly bring out this point.

[See Lenski for more discussion about alleged contradictions between Matthew and Luke. Lenski's lengthy discussion is summarized here. He states that Matthew is questioned by appealing to (1) an old Syriac version and (2) by claiming] that Matthew's genealogy is "meaningless if it does not contemplate Joseph as the actual father of Jesus." Here we meet a typical example of "critical" methods. Of all the ancient texts in existence, including all the ancient versions, one (usually identified by the system Ss) is singled out . . . to rid themselves of the virgin birth. All Greek texts and all other versions are set aside, for this one Syriac translation, the codex Ss and its reading, is made "the original reading."

. . . . But the alleged contradiction between the genealogy and the following narrative is found equally in Luke - and so in both of the only old Christian writings extant trace the Davidic of Jesus in a genealogy."

[Later Lenski wrote] this one text (Ss) . . . [is] highly inferior does not say or intend to say what the critics would have it say.

[Some try to create doubt by twisting the sentence structure of Matthew 1:16. In light of the following verses there can be no doubt about a Son, Jesus Christ, was born to Virgin Mary.

Matthew 1:18-24: 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; 19 and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; 21 she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.]


From Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel, The Wartburg Press, Columbus, Ohio, copyright 1943, pp. 35, 36

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December 29, 2004