The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Matthew 1:1

The opening sentence of the Gospel According to Matthew contains an eternity’s worth of theology in the meaning of Jesus’ name and titles. The first clue to the intended weight of this sentence is found in the Greek word translated “genealogy.” It can also be translated as “origin” or “genesis” which calls to mind the story of Creation in Genesis 2.[1] This tells us that Matthew 1:1 is not merely a brief introduction to the genealogy that follows; instead, it reveals that the Gospel According to Matthew tells the story of the origin or genesis of a new creation in and through the person and work of Jesus the Christ, the eternal Davidic King who has come to establish His Kingdom for the glory of God.

candle-1416106 - Ase Meistad SkjellevikThe name Jesus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Joshua which means “Yahweh saves.”[2]  By name alone, the advent of Jesus proclaims the presence of the covenant Lord who has Himself come to faithfully fulfill His promises of salvation for His people. The term Christ (a title and not Jesus’ last name) calls to mind for Matthew’s Jewish audience visions of the Messiah or the Anointed One as promised throughout the Old Testament (see Daniel 9 for example). The advent of this Messiah, this Anointed One, would signal at long last the deliverance of God’s people from the oppression and tyranny of earthly kings and their brutal earthly kingdoms. Yet, God wants more for His people than just an earthly deliverance. He longs to be Immanuel, God with us, so that we can worship as an unhindered chorus of diverse voices in eternal joy and peace in His presence. Daniel M. Doriani writes, “The title ‘Christ’ signifies a man who is anointed with oil to consecrate him for a special office. He is commissioned by God for a special task. It is vital that we let God define what that task is.”[3] We must not seek to reduce Christ to a subject of our limited, petty tasks. This only serves to reduce us to less than what God intends for us to be. In the name and title Jesus the Christ, we receive comfort and assurance that our covenant Father has inaugurated our redemption from sin and death and ushered in the transforming process of new creation. In the name and title Jesus the Christ, we learn that we are being saved to God who loves us and not from a tyrannical god who would take pleasure in our destruction.

To be called son of David and son of Abraham carries the whole of this covenantal and re-creative freight. As the son of David, Jesus fulfills God’s promise in 2 Samuel 7:16 of an eternal Davidic King who will rule with wisdom, power, mercy, grace, and justice. As the son of Abraham, Jesus fulfills God’s promise of an eternal kingdom in Genesis 12:1-3 and 17:6-8 in which every tongue, tribe, and nation will be represented and blessed. Matthew declares simply and emphatically that Jesus has come to reign eternally as King of a diverse Kingdom that will never fail. As a result of our union with Christ, we become ambassadors and image bearers of Jesus the King and His unfolding Kingdom.

Consider how this affects many of the current topics that have the potential to radically transform our views, loves, hopes, and culture. How does the reality that Jesus is truly the eternal Davidic King of a gloriously diverse kingdom affect how we think about and frame our views on politics, foreign affairs, immigration, race, refugees, gender, marriage, and so on? How should we as ambassadors and image bearers of this King and Kingdom respond to and engage in these topics in a way that brings honor and glory to Christ the King and participates in this Kingdom? The fact that Jesus the Christ is both Yahweh incarnate for the purpose of saving us and the promised Messiah who has come to deliver us from the greatest tyranny and oppression of all, sin and death, should warrant our allegiance to Him as King. We should desire and work for what He desires and continues to work for– the expansion of His Kingdom through the redemption and flourishing of His people from every nation on earth. In so doing, we would live out the true spirit of the Advent Season.

May we all grow together in our love for our faithful covenant God who sent Jesus, the Messiah and the eternal Davidic King to establish an unfailing Kingdom through the salvation of His people from every tongue, tribe, and nation! May we all grow in our desire to participate in the growth of this Kingdom by proclaiming and displaying Jesus, the incarnation of the God who came to save us and dwells with us!


Cameron Barham is the Lead Pastor of Christ Community Church in Kennesaw, GA.

Images: Hallerfelt, Asa Meistad Skjellevik

[1] R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew: The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007), 26-29. The same Greek word is used in Genesis 2:4 in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) to tell the story of the origin or genesis of Creation.

[2] D.A. Carson, “Matthew” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke,  ed. by Frank E. Gabelein  (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2007), 75-76.

[3]Daniel M. Doriani, Matthew, Volume 1:Chapters1-13 (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2008), 8.