Matthew 1: 16 – Joseph and Mary in the Genealogy of Jesus Christ

Unexpected and incalculable are God’s ways in fulfilling his promises. In Matthew 1: 16 we have yet another example, in fact, the climax of God’s surprising ways. First of all, the names in Matthew 1: 13-15 are not found in any of the Jewish sources and are therefore doubtfully historical. It means then that with verse 13 there is no break in the continuity of the Davidic line. [For Matthew, however, there is no break in the line of succession from David because his concern is to arrive at number 14 and to present Jesus as Son of David (Mt 1: 16)]. This break in the actual continuity takes another turn in (Mt 1: 16). The literary pattern of the genealogy (‘A’ was the father of ‘B’ and ‘B’ was the father of ‘C,’ etc) maintained up to verse 15 is discontinued in verse 16 with the dawning of the final stage in Israel’s history. The evangelist unexpectedly changes the pattern in verse 16 for he does not say that Joseph was the father of Mary, neither does he say that Joseph was the father of Jesus by Mary as in Matthew 1: 3, 5. Instead Matthew says that Joseph was the husband of Mary of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Christ.

We may note here the following: First, verse 16 lists Joseph, Mary, and Jesus separately to arrive at the required number 14. Second, Jesus was born of Mary and nothing is said about Joseph’s role in the generation of Jesus. The expression ‘of whom’ of verse 16 refers only to Mary. That Joseph had no part in the generation of Jesus and that he was planning to divorce his adulterous wife will be abundantly clear in Matthew 1: 18-25. Third, although Joseph is not the father of Jesus, for Matthew it is through Joseph that Jesus is Son of David.

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