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Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent, [1886], at

Matthew Chapter 1

Matthew 1:1

mat 1:1

Christ (Χριστός)

Properly an adjective, not a noun, and meaning anointed (Χρίω, to anoint). It is a translation of the Hebrew Messiah, the king and spiritual ruler from David's race, promised under that name in the Old Testament (Psa 2:2; Dan 9:25, Dan 9:26). Hence Andrew says to Simon, "We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, Christ (Joh 1:41; compare Act 4:27; Act 10:38; Act 19:28). To us "Christ "has become a proper name, and is therefore written without the definite article; but, in the body of the gospel narratives, since the identity of Jesus with the promised Messiah is still in question with the people, the article is habitually used, and the name should therefore be translated "the Christ." After the resurrection, when the recognition of Jesus as Messiah has become general, we find the word beginning to be used as a proper name, with or without the article. In this passage it omits the article, because it occurs in the heading of the chapter, and expresses the evangelist's own faith in Jesus as the Messiah.

Anointing was applied to kings (Sa1 9:16; Sa1 10:1), to prophets (Kg1 19:16), and to priests (Exo 29:29; Exo 40:15; Lev 16:32) at their inauguration. "The Lord's anointed" was a common title of the king (Sa1 12:3, Sa1 12:5; Sa2 1:14, Sa2 1:16). Prophets are called "Messiahs," or anointed ones (Ch1 16:22; Psa 105:15). Cyrus is also called "the Lord's Anointed," because called to the throne to deliver the Jews out of captivity (Isa 45:1). Hence the word" Christ" was representative of our Lord, who united in himself the offices of king, prophet, and priest.

It is interesting to see how anointing attaches to our Lord in other and minor particulars. Anointing was an act of hospitality and a sign of festivity and cheerfulness. Jesus was anointed by the woman when a guest in the house of Simon the Pharisee, and rebuked his host for omitting this mark of respect toward hint (Luk 7:35, Luk 7:46). In the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb 1:8, Heb 1:9), the words of the Messianic psalm (Psa 45:7) are applied to Jesus, "God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."

Anointing was practised upon the sick (Mar 6:13; Luk 10:34 :; Jam 5:14). Jesus, "the Great Physician," is described by Isaiah (Isa 61:1, Isa 61:2; compare Luk 4:18) as anointed by God to bind up the broken-hearted, and to give the mournful the oil of joy for mourning. He himself anointed the eyes of the blind man (Joh 9:6, Joh 9:11); and the twelve, in his name, "anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them" (Mar 6:13).

Anointing was practised upon the dead. Of her who brake the alabaster upon his head at Bethany, Jesus said, "She hath anointed my body aforehand for the burying" (Mar 14:8; see, also, Luk 23:56).

The Son (υἱός)

The word τέκνον (child) is often used interchangeably with υἱός (son), but is never applied to Christ. (For τέκνον, see on Jo1 3:1.) While in τέκνον there is commonly implied the passive or dependent relation of the children to the parents, υἱός fixes the thought on the person himself rather than on the dependence upon his parents. It suggests individuality rather than descent; or, if descent, mainly to bring out the fact that the son was worthy of his parent. Hence the word marks the filial relation as carrying with it privilege, dignity, and freedom, and is, therefore, the only appropriate term to express Christ's sonship. (See Joh 1:18; Joh 3:16; Rom 8:29; Col 1:13, Col 1:15.) Through Christ the dignity of sons is bestowed on believers, so that the same word is appropriate to Christians, sons of God. (See Rom 8:14; Rom 9:26; Gal 3:26; Gal 4:5, Gal 4:6, Gal 4:7.)

Matthew 1:6

mat 1:6

David the king (τὸν Δαυεὶδ τὸν βασιλέα, "the David, the king")

Both words are thus emphasized: the David from whom Christ, if he were the Messiah, must have descended; the king with whom the Messiah's genealogy entered upon the kingly dignity. In this genealogy, where the generations are divided symmetrically into three sets of fourteen, the evangelist seems to connect the last of each set with a critical epoch in the history of Israel: the first reaching from the origin of the race to the commencement of the monarchy ("David the king"); the second, from the commencement of the monarchy to the captivity in Babylon; the third and last, from the captivity to the coming of "the Christ." The same emphatic or demonstrative use of the article occurs with the name of Joseph (Mat 1:16), marking his peculiar relation to Jesus as the husband of Mary: the Joseph, the husband of Mary.

Matthew 1:18

mat 1:18

Espoused (μνηστευθείσης: Rev., betrothed; Tynd., maryed)

The narrative implies a distinction between betrothal and marriage. From the moment of her betrothal a woman was treated as if actually married. The union could be dissolved only by regular divorce. Breach of faithfulness was regarded as adultery, and was punishable with death (Deu 22:23, Deu 22:24), and the woman's property became virtually that of her betrothed, unless he had expressly renounced it; but, even in that ease, he was her natural heir.

Matthew 1:19

mat 1:19

Not willing (μὴ θέλων) - was minded (ἐβουλήθη)

These two words, describing the working of Joseph's mind, and evidently intended to express different phases of thought, open the question of their distinctive meanings in the New Testament, where they frequently occur (θέλω much oftener than βούλομαι), and where the rendering, in so many eases by the same words, furnishes no clue to the distinction. The original words are often used synonymously in eases where no distinction is emphasized; but their use in other eases reveals a radical and recognized difference. An interchange is inadmissible when the greater force of the expression requires θέλειν. For instance, βαούλεσθαι, would be entirely inappropriate at Mat 8:3, "I will, be thou cleansed;" or at Rom 7:15.

The distinction, which is abundantly illustrated in Homer, is substantially maintained by the classical writers throughout, and in the New Testament.

Θέλειν is the stronger word, and expresses a purpose or determination or decree, the execution of which is, or is believed to be, in the power of him who wills. Βούλεσθαι expresses wish, inclination, or disposition, whether one desires to do a thing himself or wants some one else to do it. Θέλειν, therefore, denotes the active resolution, the will urging on to action. Βούλεσθαι is to have a mind, to desire, sometimes a little stronger, running into the sense of purpose. Θέλειν indicates the impulse of the will; βούλεσθαι, its tendency. Βούλεσθαι can always be rendered by θέλειν, but θέλειν cannot always be expressed by βούλεσθαι.

Thus, Agamemnon says, "I would not (οὐκ ἔθελον) receive the ransom for the maid (i.e., I refused to receive), because I greatly desire (βούλομαι) to have her at home" (Homer, "II.," 1:112). So Demosthenes: "It is fitting that you should be willing (ἐθέλειν) to listen to those who wish (βουλομένων) to advise" ("Olynth.," 1:1). That is to say, It is in your power to determine whether or not you will listen to those who desire to advise you, but whose power to do so depends on your consent. Again: "If the gods will it (θέλωσι) and you wish it (βούλησθε)" (Demosth., "Olynth.," 2:20).

In the New Testament, as observed above, though the words are often interchanged, the same distinction is recognized. Thus, Mat 2:18, "Rachael would not (ἤθελε) be comforted;" obstinately and positively refused. Joseph, having the right and power under the (assumed) circumstances to make Mary a public example, resolved (θέλων) to spare her this exposure. Then the question arose - What should he do? On this he thought, and, having thought (ἐνθυμηθέντος), his mind inclined (tendency), he was minded (ἐβουλήθη) to put her away secretly.

Some instances of the interchanged use of the two words are the following: Mar 15:15, "Pilate willing" (βουλόμενος); compare Luk 23:20, "Pilate willing" (θέλων). Act 27:43, "The centurion willing" (βουλόμενος); Mat 27:17, "Whom will ye that I release" (θέλετε); so Mat 27:21. Joh 18:39, "Will ye that I release" (βούλεσθε); Mat 14:5, "When he would have put him to death" (θέλων). Mar 6:48, "He would have passed by them" (ἤθελε); Act 19:30, "Paul would have entered" (βουλόμενος). Act 18:27, "He was disposed to pass" (βουλόμενος). Tit 3:8, "I will that thou affirm" (βούλομαι). Mar 6:25, "I will that thou give me" (θέλω), etc., etc.

In the New Testament θέλω occurs in the following senses:

1. A decree or determination of the will. (a) Of God (Mat 12:7; Rom 9:16, Rom 9:18; Act 18:21; Co1 4:19; Co1 12:18; Co1 15:38). (b) Of Christ (Mat 8:3; Joh 17:24; Joh 5:21; Joh 21:22). (c) Of men (Act 25:9). Festus, having the power to gratify the Jews, and determining to do so, says to Paul, who has the right to decide, "Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem?" Joh 6:67, Others of the disciples had decided to leave Jesus. Christ said to the twelve, "Will ye also go away?" Is that your determination? Joh 7:17, If any man sets his will, is determined to do God's will. Joh 8:44, The lusts of your father your will is set to do. Act 24:6.

2. A wish or desire. Very many of the passages, however, which are cited under this head (as by Grimm) may fairly be interpreted as implying something stronger than a wish; notably Mar 14:36, of Christ in Gethsemane. Our Lord would hardly have used what thou wilt in so feeble a sense as that of a desire or wish on God's part. Mar 10:43, "Whosoever will be great," expresses more than the desire for greatness. It is the purpose of the life. Mat 27:15, It was given to the Jews to decide what prisoner should be released. Luk 1:62, The name of the infant John was referred to Zacharias' decision. Joh 17:24, Surely Christ does more than desire that those whom the Father has given him shall be with him. Luk 9:54, It is for Jesus to command fire upon the Samaritan villages if he so wills. (See, also, Joh 15:7; Co1 4:21; Mat 16:25; Mat 19:17; Joh 21:22; Mat 13:28; Mat 17:12.) In the sense of wish or desire may fairly be cited Co2 11:12; Mat 12:38; Luk 8:20; Luk 23:8; Joh 12:21; Gal 4:20; Mat 7:12; Mar 10:35.

3. A liking (Mar 12:38; Luk 20:46; Mat 27:43). (See note there.)

Βούλομαι occurs in the following senses:

1. Inclination or disposition (Act 18:27; Act 19:30; Act 25:22; Act 28:18; Co2 1:15).

2. Stronger, with the idea of purpose (Ti1 6:9; Jam 1:18; Jam 3:4; Co1 12:11; Heb 6:17).

In most, if not all of these cases, we might expect θέλειν; but in this use of βούλομαι there is an implied emphasis on the element of free choice or self-determination, which imparts to the desire or inclination a decretory force. This element is in the human will by gift and consent. In the divine will it is inherent. At this point the Homeric usage may be compared in its occasional employment of βούλομαι to express determination, but only with reference to the gods, in whom to wish is to will. Thus, "Whether Apollo will (βου.λεται) ward off the plague" ("II.," 1:67). "Apollo willed (βούλετο) victory to the Trojans" ("Il.," 7:21).

To make a public example (δειγματίσαι)

The word is kindred to δείκνυμι, to exhibit, display, point out. Here, therefore, to expose Mary to public shame (Wyc., publish her; Tynd., defame her). The word occurs in Col 2:15, of the victorious Saviour displaying the vanquished powers of evil as a general displays his trophies or captives in a triumphal procession. "He made a show of them openly." A compound of the same word (παραδειγματίζω) appears in Heb 6:6, "They crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."

Matthew 1:21

mat 1:21

Shalt call

Thus committing the office of a father to Joseph. The naming of the unborn Messiah would accord with popular notions. The Rabbis had a saying concerning the six whose names were given before their birth: "Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, Solomon, Josiah, and the name of the Messiah, whom may the Holy One, blessed be His name, bring quickly in our days."

Jesus (Ιησοῦν)

The Greek form of a Hebrew name, which had been borne by two illustrious individuals in former periods of the Jewish history - Joshua, the successor of Moses, and Jeshua, the high-priest, who with Zerubbabel took so active a part in the re-establishment of the civil and religious polity of the Jews on their return from Babylon. Its original and full form is Jehoshua, becoming by contraction Joshua or Jeshua. Joshua, the son of Nun, the successor of Moses, was originally named Hoshea (saving), which was altered by Moses into Jehoshua (Jehovah (our) Salvation) (Num 13:16). The meaning of the name, therefore, finds expression in the title Saviour, applied to our Lord (Luk 1:47; Luk 2:11; Joh 4:42).

Joshua, the son of Nun, is a type of Christ in his office of captain and deliverer of his people, in the military aspect of his saving work (Rev 19:11-16). As God's revelation to Moses was in the character of a law-giver, his revelation to Joshua was in that of the Lord of Hosts (Jos 5:13, Jos 5:14). Under Joshua the enemies of Israel were conquered, and the people established in the Promised Land. So Jesus leads his people in the fight with sin and temptation. He is the leader of the faith which overcomes the world (Heb 12:2). Following him, we enter into rest.

The priestly office of Jesus is foreshadowed in the high-priest Jeshua, who appears in the vision of Zechariah (Zac 3:1-10; compare Ezr 2:2) in court before God, under accusation of Satan, and clad in filthy garments. Jeshua stands not only for himself, but as the representative of sinning and suffering Israel. Satan is defeated. The Lord rebukes him, and declares that he will redeem and restore this erring people; and in token thereof he commands that the accused priest be clad in clean robes and crowned with the priestly mitre.

Thus in this priestly Jeshua we have a type of our "Great High-Priest, touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and in all points tempted and tried like as we are;" confronting Satan in the wilderness; trying conclusions with him upon the victims of his malice - the sick, the sinful, and the demon-ridden. His royal robes are left behind. He counts not "equality with God a thing to be grasped at," but "empties himself," taking the "form of a servant," humbling himself and becoming "obedient even unto death" (Phi 2:6, Phi 2:7, Rev.). He assumes the stained garments of our humanity. He who "knew no sin" is "made to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him" (Co2 5:21). He is at once priest and victim. He pleads for sinful man before God's throne. He will redeem him. He will rebuke the malice and cast down the power of Satan. He will behold him" as lightning fall from heaven" (Luk 10:18). He will raise and save and purify men of weak natures, rebellious wills, and furious passions - cowardly braggarts and deniers like Peter, persecutors like Saul of Tarsus, charred brands - and make them witnesses of his grace and preachers of his love and power. His kingdom shall be a kingdom of priests, and the song of his redeemed church shall be, "unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his own blood, and made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father; to him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (Rev 1:5, Rev 1:6, in Rev.).

It is no mere fancy which sees a suggestion and a foreshadowing of the prophetic work of Jesus in the economy of salvation, in a third name closely akin to the former. Hoshea, which we know in our English Bible as Hosea, was the original name of Joshua (compare Rom 9:25, Rev.) and means saving. He is, in a peculiar sense, the prophet of grace and salvation, placing his hope in God's personal coming as the refuge and strength of humanity; in the purification of human life by its contact with the divine. The great truth which he has to teach is the love of Jehovah to Israel as expressed in the relation of husband, an idea which pervades his prophecy, and which is generated by his own sad domestic experience. He foreshadows Jesus in his pointed warnings against sin, his repeated offers of divine mercy, and his patient, forbearing love, as manifested in his dealing with an unfaithful and dissolute wife, whose soul he succeeded in rescuing from sin and death (Hosea 1-3). So long as he lived, he was one continual, living prophecy of the tenderness of God toward sinners; a picture of God's love for us when alien from him, and with nothing in us to love. The faithfulness of the prophetic teacher thus blends in Hosea, as in our Lord, with the compassion and sympathy and sacrifice of the priest.

He (αὐτὸς)

Emphatic; and so rightly in Rev., "For it is He that shall save his people."

Their sins (ἁμαρτιῶν)

Akin to ἁμαρτάνω, to miss a mark; as a warrior who throws his spear and fails to strike his adversary, or as a traveller who misses his way. In this word, therefore, one of a large group which represent sin under different phases, sin is conceived as a failing and missing the true end and scope of our lives, which is God.

Matthew 1:22

mat 1:22

Through the prophet (διά)

So the Rev. rightly, instead of by. In quotations from the Old Testament, the writers habitually use the preposition διὰ (through) to denote the instrumentality through which God works or speaks, while they reserve ὑπὸ (by) to express the primary agency of God himself. So here the prophecy in Mat 1:23was spoken by the Lord, but was communicated to men through his prophet.

Matthew 1:23

mat 1:23

The virgin (ἡ παρθένος)

Note the demonstrative force of the article, pointing to a particular person. Not, some virgin or other.

They shall call (καλὲσουσιν)

In Mat 1:21, it is thou shalt call. The original of Isaiah (Isa 7:14) has she shall call; but Matthew generalizes the singular into the plural, and quotes the prophecy in a form suited to its larger and final fulfilment: men shall call his name Immanuel, as they shall come to the practical knowledge that God will indeed dwell with men upon the earth.

Immanuel (Hebrew, God is with us)

To protect and save. A comment is furnished by Isa 8:10, "Devise a device, but it shall come to naught; speak a word, but it shall not stand, for with us is God." Some suppose that Isaiah embodied the purport of his message in the names of his children: Maher-shalal-hash-baz (speed-prey), a warning of the coming of the fierce Assyrians; Shear-Jashub (a remnant shall return), a reminder of God's mercy to Israel in captivity, and Immanuel (God is with us), a promise of God's presence and succor. However this may be, the promise of the name is fulfilled in Jesus (compare "Lo, I am with you alway," Mat 28:20) by his helpful and saving presence with his people in their sorrow, their conflict with sin, and their struggle with death.

Matthew 1:24

mat 1:24

The or his sleep (τοῦ ὕπνου)

The force of the definite article; the sleep in which he had the vision. So Rev., "Arose from his sleep."

Next: Matthew Chapter 2