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Analysis of Matthew 1:18-25

Autor:   •  February 7, 2019  •  2,821 Words (12 Pages)  •  54 Views

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the Messiah’s role as the savior, not of military or political saving, but of spiritual saving.

In accordance with the covenant with David, the Messiah has been brought into the world as fully divine and fully human through his dual paternity. One of the foundational theological themes in the Gospels is that Jesus is fully human and fully divine. This is brought about through the immaculate conception and the Davidic line that Joseph is a direct descendent of. The conception of Jesus with Mary and the Holy Spirit is a directly showing the the full divinity of Jesus as the rightful Son of God. But how could Jesus be both fully divine and fully human if he comes directly from God? A look at 2 Samuel 7:12-16 reminds us of the Davidic Covenant between King David and God. When David was king of Israel, he wanted to created an enduring Temple for the Lord in Jerusalem. Despite the building that David wanted to create, the prophet Nathan knew of god’s intentions to create a more enduring legacy for David’s “House.” The “House of David” is the lineage that will follow David into the future. God promises David that he will have a child in his line that will create an everlasting kingdom.

The fulfillment of this covenant between David and God is explained in Matthew 1:1-17. In this passage of the Gospel, Matthew shows the reader a complete genealogy of the Davidic line from Abraham to Jesus. The triadic genealogy is broken up into three time periods of fourteen generations each; the first the establishment of Israel from Abraham to King David, Israel as a kingdom until the Babylonian Exile, and the Exile to Jesus Christ the Messiah. This line of descendants justifies that paternal lineage of Jesus from David. An interesting point to be made at the end of the lineage can be seen in portion where Joseph is mentioned. Joseph is almost an afterthought in the line because he is mentioned to being the “husband of Mary” (Matthew 1:16a) rather than Mary being the wife of Joseph. One could argue that Joseph was just a “tack on” to God’s plan to use Mary as the mother of Jesus, but looking deeper into verses 21 and 25, we know this is not the case. As Dr. Knox Chambin points out, “while Joseph is not Jesus’s biological father, is just as surely his legal father.” Chambin goes on to explain how the angel that appeared to Joseph in the dream, in Matthew 1:20-22, tells Joseph that he is the sole person to name the child. Despite giving the prescribed name to Joseph, Jesus, he does in fact name the child in verse 25. This action of naming “certifies that Jesus is a true, legal dependent of David. Therefore, God ensures that Jesus not only is of the line of David, in accordance with the covenant made with King David a millennium earlier, but he is both fully divine and fully human. This promise of an everlasting kingdom is fully accomplished through the birth, and eventual ministry, death, resurrection of Jesus.

The character of Joseph in the Gospel of Matthew is one of a righteous servant of God always doing as commanded. In verse 19, Matthew makes sure to explain how Joseph was a righteous man in the community. When he found out of Mary’s pregnancy, he intended to divorce her and head their betrothal because for all that he knew at the time, she had committed a sin against Mosaic Law by committing adultery. But instead of publicly divorcing Mary, he decided to do so quietly so he would not bring disgrace upon her within the community. The initial righteousness that Joseph was showing was of accordance to Mosaic Law and of mercy and compassion for Mary. However, Joseph’s righteousness is much more than just to the Law.

Joseph’s righteousness continues in the presence of the angel who appears to him and through his actions to do as God wishes of him. When Joseph wakes up in verse 24, he does exactly what the angel of God instructed him to do. Joseph is the father of Jesus, his accepted son, and keeps Mary as his betrothed to stay in line with the Davidic Covenant. Joseph is acting out St. Paul’s concept of dikaiosynē. As Leland Jamison explains, dikaiosynē is the Greek word in reference to “moral uprightness or integrity of character and behavior.” Paul understood it in its classical meaning and interpreted it towards Old Testament tradition and the teachings of Jesus. In Jewish tradition, dikaiosynē was about the duty someone has to God. In Pauline themes of dikaiosynē, the word means “human behavior in harmony with God’s will and well-pleasing to him.” Bruce L. McCormack’s, Justification in Perpective, implores that Philippians 3:9, in the King James Translation, is a proper example Paul’s theme of dikaiosynē. “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Paul is stating that righteousness in the eyes of God is by way of faith and obedience in God. McCormack also finds the same theme in Romans 3:26, the King James translation, “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” If you believe in Jesus and God, you will be justly be deemed righteous. Joseph believed the angel of God, that Jesus was divine and the Son of God, and was obedient to God, therefore justifying Matthew’s claim of Joseph’s righteousness.

By continuing the Mary’s betrothal to him, despite the circumstances, Joseph provides a model for Jesus’s teachings as the New Covenant of the people of Israel by being in “harmony with God’s will.” Jesus explains the righteousness in being a servant to God in the King James version of Matthew 5:20, where he says, “for I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus is reiterating what Joseph’s actions shown 30 years before; righteousness is not simply judged by the officials of the faith, it is judged by God himself and your righteousness comes from your harmony with God. Joseph’s righteousness was displayed in the his following of Mosaic Law, his mercy for Mary, and his willingness to be an obedient servant, an instrument, of God.


In the modern media example, the YouTube channel, the Saddleback Kids, which is an interpretation of Bible passages for children, a watered down version of the passage called, The Story of Christmas (Mary and Joseph) is presented. There is a lot of liberty taken with the words spoken in the text and the context of the engagement between Mary and Joseph is made to seem less binding then it was in the historical and cultural context of Matthew. The Story of Christmas (Mary and Joseph) video, on the Saddleback Kids’ YouTube


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