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THE Gospel according to St. Matthew is the first known record of the ministry of Jesus Christ, and is supposed to have been written about eight years after his ascension. The author was an "eyewitness of his majesty." For that equally applies to him, which St. John writes concerning himself: "We beheld his glory, the glory of the only-begotten of the Father." 2
That he might first behold this glory, and afterwards bear witness to it, Matthew, or as he was also called, Levi, was summoned from a very different occupation. He was a publican, a collector of taxes; and was exercising this secular vocation, "sitting at the receipt of custom," when "Jesus saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him." From that period he attended him throughout his
ministry, and now testifies the things which he had seen and heard.
He begins with an account of the generation or descent of Jesus from Abraham and David.
1. The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
As much as to say, Before relating the history of the Lord Jesus, it is proper to show that his birth agreed with the promise given to our forefathers, to "Abraham and his seed for ever." For to Abraham was the promise made, that in "his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed." And of David it had been declared, "I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations." So that the Jews, expecting the Messiah, always expected him to be "of the house and lineage of David." When the Lord inquired of the Pharisees, "saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him" at once, "The son of David.""
This, therefore, was to be shown, that Jesus was descended from Abraham and from David. And the genealogy here recorded by St. Matthew, proves that Joseph, the husband of Mary, and the reputed father of Jesus, was born in the direct line of Abraham and David. On the other hand, St. Luke, writing afterwards, traces the descent of Mary the mother; and shows that in this respect also the line was exactly kept, and that Jesus Christ, the son
4 Luke i. 55.
5 Gen. xii. 3.
6 Ps. lxxxix. 4, 5. 8 Luke iii. 23—38. See Lightfoot.