Gibbs, Jeffrey A. Matthew 1:1-11:1. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006.
“1:1 Who Is Jesus?” pp. 71-77.
Matthew 1:1 states that this is “the book of the origin of Jesus.” Gibbs asks to what the statement refers. He rejects the idea of it referring to the entire work, since it speaks to more than Jesus’ origin. He also sees that “beginning” is repeated in 1:18, which begins the specific narrative about Jesus’ birth. Gibbs rather sees the phrase referring to 1:1-4:16, which constitutes the first major division (Gibbs 2006, 71). Gibbs finds that the word “origin” does not probably speak primarily of “birth” since the actual birth narrative is relatively brief. However, the matter of his origin in accord with prophecy is a significant concept (Gibbs 2006, 72). Gibbs sees this verse as introducing Jesus in three ways: as the Christ, the Son of David, and at the Son of Abraham. These three concepts will serve as unifiers throughout the entirety of Matthew’s Gospel.
The first of the titles is that of “Christ.” The term is used in the Septuagint of anointed priests or people of God, but more regularly of Kings with an eschatological view. Gibbs notes that there were a variety of views in the first century concerning what a Messianic figure would do (Gibbs 2006, 73). “It is clear that they hoped for the restoration of their sovereignty in the promised lad and that the idolatrous Romans would bedriven out when God came to sve his people. But some also hoped for a Messiah who would ‘gather a holy people whom he will lead in righteousness’ and who would ‘be compassionate to all the nations (who) reverently (stand) before him’ (Pss. Sol 17:26, 34)” (Gibbs 2006, 74). The hope sometimes included a redemption of the spiritual powers of the world and a restoration of the heavens and earth to their original fellowship with God. The ministry of Jesus, as depicted in Matthew’s Gospel, always looks to some end which includes this kind of an eschatological hope. Gibbs finds Matthew to emphasize that Jesus is the very particular Messianic figure who will accomplish restoration, though not in the way the people expected.
The “Son of David” is the fulfillment of the prophecy in 2 Samuel 7:12-16 and 1 Chronicles 17:11-14. Though Gibbs finds Solomon as a proximate fulfiller of the prophecy, the subsequent kings did not seem to have God’s fvor forever. The hope was for another greater king. This hope is fulfilled in Jesus (Gibbs 2006, 75). Though Jesus is acclaimed by many as the Son of David, and though Matthew regularly emphasizes his role as such, he also shows that Jesus was not uniformly recognized in this role (Gibbs 2006, 76).
As the “Son of Abraham,” which Gibbs observes was not considered a Messianic title, Matthew shows Jesus as the descendant of Abraham, the fulfiller of God’s promise to Abraham, and the one through whom all nations are blessed (Gibbs 2006, 77). He did not come only for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles. Gibbs emphasizes that Matthew’s Gospel does not make the ministry to the Gentiles explicitly in many passages, but that it is periodically hinted at. The most explicit mention is in Matthew 28:16-20, the end of the Gospel, and here in the first verse of the Gospel.