The Genealogy of Jesus Christ "This is the record of the genealogy[a] of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" Net Matthew 1:1 tn Grk “the book of the genealogy.” The noun βίβλος (biblos), though it is without the article, is to be translated as definite due to Apollonius’ corollary and the normal use of anarthrous nouns in titles.

In the minds of the Jews to which the gospel of Matthew was addressed, what did hearing the first king next to the first patriarch mean?

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The simple answer here is probably best: "Son of Abraham, son of David" would be understood by Jewish readers/hearers to mean "a Jew in the line of David, and therefore qualified to be the Messiah." Some additional considerations:

Messianic expectations had been brewing for centuries under various regimes since the Jews returned to Judea from Babylon. The last hope for a Davidic king had been placed in the person of Zerubbabel (Haggai 2:23), who was the grandson of a Davidic king. When Judea finally became independent under the Hasmoneans, however, they established a royal line that did descend from David. For many Jews this was disqualifying and did not fulfill their messianic hope. Matters became worse under the Herodian rulers since they ruled on behalf of Rome and were ethnic Idumeans (Edomites) who had converted to Judaism rather than being lineal Jews. Although the Edomites were technically "sons of Abraham" too, there is no indication historically that they claimed this title (as Muslims do today).

The term "son of Abraham" in the OP also indicates "Israelite." It is used in a similar way to Paul in Romans 11:1.

I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.

Similarly, in Acts 22:3, when Paul wished to establish his credentials as a Pharisee he is quoted as saying:

I am a Jew born in Tarsus in Cilicia but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today.

So, Paul established his bona fides by identifying himself as a son of Abraham (a Jew) who was also a member of the tribe of Benjamin: someone who took his Jewish ancestry seriously. In Acts, he is both Jew and Pharisee in the spiritual lineage of the famous teacher Gamaliel, thus able to give well-founded rabbinic opinions. Similarly, Matthew established Jesus' messianic credentials by showing him to be a descendant of Abraham who was in the line of King David, the progenitor of the Messiah.

The phrase "son of Abraham, son of David" thus qualified Jesus on two important bases that were missing from recent occupants of the Jewish throne. The Hasmoneans were not descended from David, and the Herodians were not even ethnic Jews.


In the Scripture, there are five important Covenants

  1. The Noahic Covenant - that God promises the preservation of humanity.
  2. The Abrahamic Covenant - that God promises a land to Abraham's seed (Jesus)

Galatians 3:16 - The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. (NIV)

  1. The Mosaic Covenant - a conditional covenant defined blessings and curses based on obedience or disobedience (Deuteronomy 28-29)

Galatians 3:24 - So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. (NIV)

  1. The Davidic Covenant - that God promises a seed of David to reign on the throne eternally. This covenant is the basis for hope of a Messiah.

2 Samuel 7:16 - Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’” (NIV)

  1. The New Covenant - Fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, Mosaic Covenant and the Davidic Covenant.

As Jesus is the fulfillment to the blessing from God promised to Abraham and David, it is essential to emphasize that Jesus is the seed (the offspring) of Abraham and David, particularly it is essential to the Jewish readers, and therefore the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew begins with "the son of David, the son of Abraham" to indicate Jesus is the legitimate heir.

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