The Birth of Jesus in Matthew 1

Many Jews in New Testament times were expecting the Messiah to be a king who would lead a revolt against Rome, and make Israel a free nation again. The message of Matthew is that Jesus is the king that you have been looking for.

But if a man suddenly appears and claims to be a king, people ordinarily ask for proof. What is his background? From where did he come? What previous experience does he have?

The Jews put a great deal of emphasis on proper genealogies. The book of Nehemiah, for example, tells how some Levites were dismissed from the priesthood because they could not find their genealogical records (Nehemiah 7:63-65).

Obviously, Jesus would not be received as the Jewish Messiah unless it could be proved (from the genealogical records) that He was the son of David, for the Jews rightly believed that their Messiah would come from the family tree of Israel’s most famous king–King David.

Whenever we come across a genealogy in Scripture (a long list of unfamiliar names), we are tempted to pass over them quickly. Yet these passages are included in the Bible for a purpose. There are some important lessons to be found in the genealogies.

We can tell from the account in Matthew that Jesus was descended from Abraham (verse 2) through the royal house of David (verse 6), and this helps to identify Jesus as the true Messiah, and makes him eligible to be King over Israel. From the list of almost unpronounceable names in Matthew 1, we learn several lessons:

1) Jesus appeared on earth as a historical person. When we talk about Jesus, we are not talking about an imaginary hero, like the gods of the Hindus and the Buddhists. Jesus lived on earth in time and in history.

2) Jesus is from a line of kings of mixed moral character. Some of the kings were as bad as bad could be–for example, Manasseh (verse 10) and Jeconiah (verse 11). It is disgusting to read their history, yet they were in the ancestral line of Jesus.

3) Some in the ancestral line were women noted for loose living. Tamar (verse 3) was involved in incest; Rahab (verse 5) was a notorious harlot; Bathsheba (verse 6) was a partner in adultery. All three women were associated with some kind of moral misconduct, and yet they are listed in the family tree leading up to the birth of Jesus.

4) A few persons in the family tree were Gentile foreigners. Ruth (verse 5), for example, was a Moabite. Deuteronomy 23:3 says that “no Ammonite or Moabite…may enter the assembly of the Lord”–although a female Moabite could marry a male Israelite and be considered part of the congregation.

It is clear that Jesus had a mixture of blood flowing through His veins. Among His ancestors were men and women noted for their piety; but also, among His ancestors, there were foreign Gentiles and some persons who were noted for their loose living. And while Jesus did not inherit their sinful tendencies, He became forever identified with the entire human race, and with sinful men and women for whom He would someday die on the Cross. Jesus died not only for Jews, but also for Gentiles; not only for good people with pleasing personalities, but also for very wicked persons.

If Jesus was not ashamed to be born of a woman (and of ancestors that included harlots and idolaters)–surely He is not going to be ashamed to save us, sinful though we are, and call us “brethren” (Hebrews 2:11), and give us eternal life-if we are willing to meet the conditions of salvation. The conditions include sincere faith, genuine repentance, and a life committed to following Him in obedience, beginning with Christian baptism.

In the last part of Matthew 1, we are reminded that Jesus is not only human–He is also divine-and this further confirms Him as the true Anointed One who was promised in OT times.

Verses 16 and 18 make it clear that the conception and birth of Jesus was different from that of any other Jewish boy named in the genealogy. Joseph did not “beget” Jesus (as was the case in the 40 some ancestors of Jesus) who are named in the earlier part of the first chapter of Matthew. But instead, Matthew says, “Joseph was the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus” (verse 16). And in verse 18, Mary was “found with child” before “they came together.” Jesus was born of a virgin; He had no human father.

By a miracle of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary, as described in Luke 1:26-38. In some miraculous way, the Holy Spirit ushered the life of the eternal Christ into the body of Mary, and from her womb was born a person who is the true expression of God–our Lord Jesus Christ. That little baby in the manger was God’s answer for sin–the eternal Christ in human form. The secret of the Virgin Birth of Jesus is that a great God was behind it all, and there is no need to explain it.

Jesus, the Son of God, by His atoning death and triumphant resurrection, has made possible the removal of guilt for those who believe the Gospel and repent of their sins. That’s why we celebrate Christmas!

–Harold S. Martin


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Luke presents a warmly personal and historically accurate account of Jesus as “the Son of Man.” This course will survey the Third Gospel, with emphasis on the unique events, miracles, and parables of Jesus found in it.


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The goal of this class is to acquire a firm grasp of the teachings and themes of these two general epistles. Peter covers topics from salvation and suffering to spiritual deception and the return of Christ. These letters are packed with warnings and encouragements for Christian living.


A detailed study of Jesus Christ and His relationship to the “I Am” metaphors in John’s gospel. Why did Jesus describe himself in these terms? How do they relate to each other? We will look at spiritual and practical applications to further our Christian growth.


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This course will look at basic principles and polity of leading the local church. We will examine the balance between upholding a spiritually focused organism of ministry and cultivating proper order for effective organization. Practical applications will be emphasized. This is a two-part class. Plan to take both parts.


The Brethren Bible Institute believes in the discipline of the whole person (spirit, soul, and body). We will aim to train students not only about how to study the Bible in a systematic way (2 Timothy 2:15), but also how to live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world (Titus 2:12). God calls Christians to the highest of character when He commands us to be holy (1 Peter 1:15), and holiness requires discipline.

Indulgence in the use of tobacco, alcoholic beverages, drugs, profanity, and gambling are forbidden at BBI. Objectionable literature will be prohibited. Students are asked not to use the college pool during the Institute. Each student must be thoughtful, and respect the rights of others at all times, especially during study and rest periods.

A friendly social group intermingling of students between class periods, and at general school activities is encouraged. Each student should enjoy the friendship of the entire group. At all times, highest standards of social conduct between men and women must be maintained. This means that all forms of unbecoming behavior and unseemly familiarities will be forbidden.

Personal appearance and grooming tell much about one's character. Students are expected to be dressed in good taste. In an attempt to maintain Scriptural expressions of simplicity, modesty, and nonconformity, the following regulations shall be observed while attending BBI.

MEN should be neatly attired and groomed at all times. Fashion extremes and the wearing of jewelry should be avoided on campus. The hair should not fall over the shirt-collar when standing, nor should it cover the ears.

WOMEN should wear skirts cut full enough and of sufficient length to at least come to the knees when standing and sitting. Form-fitting, transparent, low-neckline, or sleeveless clothing will not be acceptable. Slacks and culottes are permitted only for recreation and then only when worn under a skirt of sufficient length. Wearing jewelry should be avoided on campus. Long hair for women is encouraged and all Church of the Brethren girls (and others with like convictions) shall be veiled on campus.

The Institute reserves the right to dismiss any student whose attitude and behavior is not in harmony with the ideals of the School, or whose presence undermines the general welfare of the School, even if there is no specific breach of conduct.

The Brethren Bible Institute is intended to provide sound Bible teaching and wholesome Christian fellowship for all who desire it. The Bible School Committee worked hard and long at the task of arriving at standards, which will be pleasing to the Lord. It is not always easy to know just where the line should be drawn and we do not claim perfection. No doubt certain standards seem too strict for some and too loose for others. If you are one who does not share all these convictions, we hope you will agree to adjust to them for the School period, for the sake of those who do. We are confident that the blessings received will far outweigh any sacrifice you may have to make. If you have a special problem or question, please write to us about it. To be accepted as a student at BBI, you will need to sign a statement indicating that you will cooperate with the standards of the School.