Matthew 1

The Birth of Jesus

MATT 1:18-25      (also see Luke 1)


MATT 1:18 – Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

[espoused] – G3423 = espouse, to be promised in marriage, be betrothed; this was just as binding as marriage.  It required a bill of divorce to be broken (Matt 1:19).

[came together] – Before being joined together as one flesh in marriage (Matt 19:6).  G4905 means “to gather” but it is also an indirect way to say “sex” as in 1Corinthians 7:5.

[she was found with child of the Holy Ghost] – Before she was “found with child”, and as soon as Mary became pregnant, she left to her cousin Elizabeth’s house for about 3 months (Luke 1:56).  Only Elizabeth (and probably Zacharias) knew that Mary was pregnant at that time.  When she eventually was found with child, it was not evident to anyone that the child was “of the Holy Ghost”.  Joseph didn’t even know that the child was of the Holy Spirit until the angel of the Lord visited him (Matt 1:20).



MATT 1:19 – Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

[a just man] – Greek = dikaios (G1342), righteous, innocent, holy, just.  Joseph was a decent guy that didn’t want to have Mary stoned to death.  People can be just.  God makes rain fall on the just and unjust (Matt 5:45), angels will separate the wicked from the just (Matt 13:49), Jesus was called just (Matt 27:19), John the Baptist was called just (Mark 6:20), the just will be resurrected (Luke 14:14), etc.

[to make her a public example] – To have the public stone her (Deut 22:23–24).  If this happened, Jesus would have been defeated before he could pay for the sins of all men at the cross (1Pet 2:24 & 1Jn 2:22).

[put her away] – To divorce her; to end the espousal agreement.  With modest clothing that covered a woman’s body well, it was probably not easy to see that Mary was pregnant until about the 5th or 6th month.  When Joseph saw her, what would he naturally assume except that she had been with another man?  He was definitely upset to the point of wanting to terminate the relationship.  Divorce was permitted under the law (Deut 24:1-4).

[privily] – G2977 = Privately or secretly.



MATT 1:20 – But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

[while he thought on these things] – Joseph was upset.  He thought about the situation that whole day until he went to sleep.

[the angel of the Lord] – Probably Gabriel (Luke 1:19 & 1:26).

[fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife] – He was afraid she was unfaithful and would continue to be unfaithful if he continued on with her.  This meant, “she’s not an unfaithful cheater who doesn’t love you like you’ve been thinking; she’s been faithful to you.  She’s not pregnant because of her unfaithfulness, but because of her faithfulness.”



MATT 1:21 – And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.

[Jesus] – G2424 = “Jehovah is salvation”.  The name means “Savior”; same as the Hebrew word Yehowshuwa (H3091), which is “Joshua”.

[he shall save his people from their sins] – He shall rescue his people from paying the penalty of their sins in hell (Rom 6:23) by paying the penalty of their sins for them (1Tim 2:5-6).  Who were/are His people?  Jesus said, “Whoever does the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matt 12:50).  Most Jews were cut off like branches of a tree, and some gentiles added on (Rom 11:16-24).  Since the Jews did not repent and were “broken off” and not saved from their sins, I must conclude that “His people” that He came to save weren’t just Jews, but anyone who does God’s will, which includes gentiles.



MATT 1:22 – Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

[all this was done] – Mary becoming pregnant while she was a virgin.

[the prophet] – Isaiah



MATT 1:23 – Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

[a virgin] – Quoted from Isaiah 7:14, the word for “virgin” Isaiah can be translated “virgin” or “maiden”.  Some Jews argue that the messiah didn’t have to come from a virgin because Isaiah could have meant “maiden”…  However, the Septuagint (which is the OT translated into Greek) uses the word which can only mean a virgin woman and not just any woman.  This was the common understanding among the Jews (until forced to apply its meaning to Jesus).  A woman giving birth is a common thing.  A virgin giving birth is a miracle.  It makes sense that Isaiah would note a miracle, not a common occurrence.

[they shall call his name Emmanuel] – No one ever called Jesus Emmanuel by name, but perhaps by title.  Calling Him the Son of God (John 1:49) was the equivalent title of Emmanuel.



MATT 1:24 – Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

[took unto him his wife] – He decided to continue on with the engagement and not “put her away”.  This cannot mean that they were married at this time in Nazareth because they were still espoused, engaged, or betrothed when they arrived at Bethlehem after this (Luke 2:5).



MATT 1:25 – And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.

[knew her not] – He didn’t have sex with her, but this is really a way of saying that they weren’t officially married until after she gave birth to Jesus.  In ancient Jewish culture, when a man married a woman, he took her into his tent (Gen 24:67 & 2Sam 16:22).  Of course, its common sense that when the man and woman go into the tent that they are having sex, thus officially married.  Saying that Joseph didn’t know her is a way of saying they weren’t officially married, though legally they were already bound together through betrothal.  Not only did he not have sex with her until she gave birth to Jesus, but also didn’t touch her until her time of purification was over 40 days after giving birth (Lev 12:1-4 & Luke 2:22).

[her firstborn son] – Mary had other children (Matt 11:46).  She’s called “the virgin Mary”, but she didn’t stay a virgin long after giving birth to Jesus.


Go back to Matthew – Owen’s Bible Study Notes

Kent Owen

Author: Kent Owen

After college I lived in China for 5 years, working as an English teacher and foreign marketing manager. Now i'm an insurance salesman, but my real passion is Christ and learning the bible.

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