corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary

Matthew 1



Verses 16-25

The Christmas Message

Matthew 1:16-25


We here present one of the great omissions of the Bible, which constitutes one of the great proofs that Christ was virgin born.

The earlier verses of the first chapter of Matthew present the genealogy of Joseph, and husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

1. Since Joseph was not the father of Jesus, why was it necessary for God the Spirit to give us the details of his genealogy? It was for this cause: Joseph, while not actually father to Jesus, was legally father to Him. We mean by that statement that Jesus, being the Son of Mary, was born into the family of Joseph, and that Joseph became, therefore, the recognized father of Jesus. The Bible puts it this way: "Being (as was supposed) the Son of Joseph."

Some of the Jews even said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph?" Now mark the fact that Matthew gives the genealogy of Joseph, showing his direct lineage from Abraham through David and the kingly line. This table, therefore, established that Joseph was the legal heir to David's throne.

In the study of the genealogy you will note that the name of Jechonias occurs in Matthew 1:11 . Now of this Jechonias, known commonly as Coniah, God has said, "For no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah" (Jeremiah 22:30 ). Because of this curse upon Coniah, had Jesus actually been Joseph's son, He could not sit on David's throne and prosper; however, being not actually begotten of Joseph (who was of Coniah's sons), and yet legally Joseph's Heir, He could take David's throne.

Luke 1:31-33 does, however, forever establish the fact that Christ must take David's throne; and the genealogy of Matthew 7:1-29 demonstrates that without actually being Joseph's son, God has proved Christ as eligible to David's throne as his Heir. This is doubly true, because Jesus was not only born of Mary, and under Joseph's "wing," but Mary herself, according to the genealogy of Luke 3:1-38 , was also a seed of David, through Nathan, but not of the kingly line.

2. Since, then, Jesus was not Joseph's son, how is that fact established by the Matthew genealogy? Now we will set before you the great omission which is so revealing, and which establishes Christ as Son of God.

Here is the way the genealogical table runs:

"Abraham begat Isaac"; "Isaac begat Jacob"; "Jacob begat Judas"; "Judas begat Phares"; "Pharas begat Esrom," and so on to David. Then we read:

"David begat Solomon"; "Solomon begat Roboam," and so on until we read:

"Matthan begat Jacob"; "Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ."

In the Record it reads " begat, begat, begat ," for 39 times; then suddenly the word "begat" is dropped out entirely, and not even inferred, as the Bible passes into the birth of Jesus. Reading as all the others read, it would have been "Jacob begat Joseph"; Joseph begat Jesus"; but it does not so read. The rather it reads: "Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus," etc.

It is not difficult to explain this great omission of the word "begat," for the Bible goes on to assert: "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost."

The language above could be neither plainer nor stronger. It establishes the Virgin Birth of our Lord in so concise and clear a fashion that no believer in the truth of the inspired Word can doubt that Jesus was begotten of the Holy Ghost and born of Mary.


The key verse: "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: * * she was found with Child of the Holy Ghost."

1. The Virgin Birth is established by the plain statement of Scripture. The Word of God stands or falls on this one statement: "of the Holy Ghost." The words are true or false. If false, there is no dependency in the Word of God. We are ready to grant that thousands of preachers repudiate the Virgin Birth of Christ. When they do so, however, they leave to themselves a discounted, derided, and defamed Bible. No one can accept any statement of the Bible as inerrant if this statement is untrue.

2. The Virgin Birth is true, or else the world has no Saviour. If Jesus Christ were the son of Joseph and Mary, then His mother was a woman of the street; His father was unclean; and He was a bastard of illegitimate parentage; and, saddest of all, He was, Himself, a sinner.

How shuddering is this to consider! Yet, if Christ were conceived by man, outside of wedlock, each statement is of necessity true. Thus we would have, if the modernist had his way, not only no Bible worth believing, but we would have no Saviour worth trusting. With one stroke of his penknife the modernist would rob himself and all the world of a Saviour, who is Jesus Christ the Lord. Hear the fiat of Scripture: The angel is speaking to Mary, and he says, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."

The Babe did not partake of the nature of His mother, for she gave Him only the body that God prepared; He partook only of the nature of the Holy Ghost.

Christ did no sin, He knew no sin, and in Him there was no sin, all because He was God the Son, and Son of God.


Our text reads: "Then Joseph her husband, being a just man."

1. Joseph was a just man not a man of shame. Instead of being guilty of uncleanness, as the modernist would impugn, God says he was a just man, and when he discovered the condition of his espoused wife to be, he was minded to put her away privately. We accept God's Word as true and final. Joseph is exonerated.

2. Once more the Virgin Birth of Christ is manifested. Therefore if Mary were not a virgin, and Christ were not virgin-born, then God has lied twice. And we cry, "Let God be true, but every man a liar."

We add another infallible proof that Christ was begotten by the Holy Spirit and was virgin born. It is proved by the eternity of Christ. No son of Joseph and Mary or pi any other so begotten after man, could be God the eternal Son. Christ came forth from the Father and came into the world. The only time He spoke of His birth, so far as the Bible records, was when He said about His Kingship, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world." He spoke often about coming from Heaven, coming from the Father, coming into the world. He also spoke of the glory He had with the Father before the world was.

3. Not that alone, but the statement of Holy writ, "Great is the mystery * *: God was manifest in the flesh," makes the Virgin Birth a necessity. If Christ were not God-begotten, He could not be God manifest in flesh. Remember, Jesus Christ was the Word in Heaven: that is the reason He became the Word in flesh tabernacling among us. That is the reason that He was the express Image of the Father, full of grace and truth. That is the reason that He could declare the Father.

III. HIS NAME, JESUS (Matthew 1:21 )

The key verse says, "And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His Name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins."

1. The significance of His preannounced Names, acclaim Christ virgin born. The first Name is that of our text: the Name is Jesus. From the deep meanings of that Name comes forth the word, "He shall save His people from their sins." Mary herself grasped the significance of that Name, when upon her visit to her older cousin, Elizabeth, she said: "My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." Who was God her Saviour? It was none other than the Babe whom she was to mother. Did any mother ever speak in such rapturous terms of her own babe? Impossible! Mary did so only because Gabriel had told her that she was to be mother to Jesus, and she believed the words that were told her (Luke 1:45 ).

That Name Jesus, Saviour, has been a favorite Name among the saved.

2. The significance of the Name "Immanuel." "A virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His Name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14 ).

Here is the Name which suggests, "God with us." This is set forth also in Matthew 1:23 . No wonder that Gabriel said, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee." No wonder that it is written, and written of that Babe, "God was manifest in the flesh."

The Old Testament Scriptures everywhere sustain this truth. For instance in Isaiah 9:6 we read, "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: * * and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." No babe could be so honored or so named unless begotten of the Holy Ghost, and virgin born.

3. The significance of the names, "Lord," and "God." Again in Isa 40:1-31 :3 John, who was the forerunner to Christ, is spoken of as preparing the way of the Lord, and making straight in the desert a highway for our God . Thus the Babe was named both Lord and God. The shepherds heard in the annunciation on the day of Christ's birth, the word, "There is born unto you, a Saviour who is Christ, the Lord." In Isaiah the babe is called (Isaiah 45:21 ), a just God and a Saviour.


1. The authority of the Prophets. Hear the words: "That * * which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet." How else could the Prophet have spoken the story of the virgin-born Son of God, but by the dictation of the Lord? In all history none other was ever announced ahead of His birth as was Christ.

(1) The fact that He was to be born of a virgin was foretold. This is no small matter for your consideration. Who, in the days of intelligent thought, could in himself, have suggested such a marvel? Remember this was no myth, nor mythological fairy story: it was a prediction of 700 years before Christ, fulfilled in actual history.

(2) The fact that He was born in Bethlehem was also foretold. What said the Lord through Micah? "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be Ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."

Thus did the Lord, through His Prophet, declare in one breath how Christ should be born in Bethlehem, and how He was God the Son, with His goings forth from eternity past.

Thus it came to pass that, when Herod the king inquired of the chief priests where Christ should be born, they said, "In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the Prophet." Then they quoted to Herod the words of Micah.

2. The fulfillment of the Prophets. The fulfillment of the words of the Prophets must needs come to pass, because the words of the Prophets were the words of the Lord. Indeed, all that the Prophets have written must have a like literal fulfillment.

V. GOD WITH US (Matthew 1:23 )

We want to enlarge on this wonderful Name given to Christ: Emmanuel God! Yet not God merely, but God with us.

1. The One who was born of Mary was the One who was with God and was God. Let those who think upon the Virgin Birth of our Lord during this Yuletide, remember that He was eternally God. It is written, "In the beginning was the Word." So much from John 1:1-51 . Now let us examine 1 John 1:1-10 . "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life." Is it not a privilege to see and hear and know and handle the One who was God from the beginning?

If someone says, "No man hath seen God at any time," let such a one remember that "the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." Thus "( * * we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." Now we are prepared to hear Christ saying, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father."

2. The One begotten of Mary was God manifesting God unto men.

(1) He did the will of the Father. He said, "I do always those things that please Him." Again He said, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me." He knew no will but the Father's.

(2) He spoke the words of the Father. He said that His words were not His, but the Father's. He said again, "I have given unto them the words that Thou gavest Me."

(3) He wrought the works of the Father. Here is His statement, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." Then He said, "The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works."

What, then, is the result of all this? Here it is:

"That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him."

Surely we have established the fact that the Christ of Bethlehem and the Father were One. They were one because Christ was God, Emmanuel.


Our Scripture says, "Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife."

1. Joseph believed God. The man who had laid down that night, filled with misgivings and fears, accepted the story of the Divine begetting. He did not, he could not, understand it, yet he believed. He could not grasp the full significance of it all, yet he believed.

The men of today should stop to consider how Joseph at the first thought to put away Mary whom he loved, supposing her to have fallen into sin somewhere or other, with whom, he knew not. Yet Joseph was changed in his ideas after the angel had talked with him, and he married her who was to be mother to Christ, and accepted Him as One begotten of the Holy Ghost.

2. Joseph obeyed God. He took unto him his wife, as the angel of the Lord had bidden him. It was not so long until the Word of God was verified, and Mary brought forth her firstborn Son, and Joseph "called His Name Jesus."

This naming of the Babe adds further light to Joseph's faith and obedience. He was told that Mary's Babe should be called Jesus, "for He shall save His people from their sins." This Joseph accepted at 100 per cent.

Let us also fall down with admiration and worship, and acknowledge that Babe as God our Saviour. The promise is for all. It is for you and for me. The Babe, virgin born, was sent from God to save all who believe on Him.

Even now He is saying, "Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God." Shall we not trust Him, and come to Him? Mark you, "There is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

Once a Babe, then the crucified and buried Son of God; now, exalted at the Father's right hand, and soon coming again in the clouds of Heaven.

VII. THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT (Matthew 2:13-15 )

1. The strategy of King Herod. Under guise of urgent and interested inquiry, Herod, aroused by the visit of the Magi, who had come to worship Him who was born King of the Jews, set in motion the law that would make certain the death of the Infant Christ. His order was that all male sons, two years or under, should be killed. The result was that in Ramah there was weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, for they were not.

2. The warning from God to Joseph. God told Joseph to arise and take the Infant Christ and flee into Egypt. This Joseph at once did. If you ask where Joseph, the carpenter, obtained money for so costly and extensive a trip, we answer God sent it by the Magi who came to worship Christ, bringing gifts of great cost and value in the market of their day.

3. The peculiar wording of God's warning to Joseph. In the second chapter of Matthew we read the following statements, spoken to and about Joseph:

(1) "Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word" (Matthew 2:13 );

(2) "When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt" (Matthew 2:14 );

(3) "But when Herod was dead," the angel of the Lord said, "Take the young Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel" (Matthew 2:19-20 );

(4) "He arose, and took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel" (Matthew 2:21 ).

Mark you that the expression "the young Child and His mother" would have been peculiar if used but once; however, the four-times repetition of the word, for emphasis, makes the statement passing strange.

What does this mean? The natural way of statement would have been, "Take your wife and your child," etc. However, the Babe was not Joseph's child.

Matthew 2:15 gives us the needed light. Observe the words: "When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt: and was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My Son." Thus the expression, "the young Child and His mother" was spoken because God said the Bable was "My Son." On this Christmas Day we fall down, therefore, and worship Mary's Babe as Lord, and Christ, and Saviour, God the Son, and Son of God.


One of the things about the Christmas message that we should not overlook was that Christ came from Heaven to live and die for His enemies.

"During the Revolutionary War there was living in Pennsylvania a faithful preacher of the Gospel named Peter Miller. Near him lived a man who was violently opposed to Miller, and openly abused both him and his followers. The man was found guilty of treason, and sentenced to death. No sooner was the sentence pronounced than Miller set out on foot to General Washington to intercede for the man's life. He was told that his prayer for his friend could not be granted. 'My friend! He is not my friend,' answered Peter Miller. 'I have not a worse enemy living than that man.' 'What,' said Washington, 'you have walked sixty miles to save the life of your enemy? That, in my judgment, puts the matter in a different light. I will grant the pardon.' The pardon was made out, and Miller at once proceeded on foot to the place, fifteen miles distant, where the execution was to. take place. He arrived just as the man was being taken to the scaffold. The traitor, on seeing Miller in the crowd, exclaimed, 'Why, there is old Peter Miller! He has come all the way from Ephrata to have his revenge gratified today by seeing me hanged.' These words were scarcely spoken before Miller stepped forward, produced the pardon and the life of his worst enemy was spared. 'When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son' (Romans 5:10 ). 'Christ died for the ungodly.'"


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Matthew 1:4". "Living Water".

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology