The Gospels

Advent lessons in a genealogy: Jesus Is for Gentiles too

Reposted from The Cripplegate.

The gospel of of Matthew was the first biblical book to be written in over 400 years. And Matthew breaks the centuries of silence with…a genealogy.

He has a strategic reason for doing so—the goal of his book is to persuasively argue that Jesus is the Messiah, and so he starts by tying the person of Jesus to the history of the Jews, and particularly to the lines of David and Abraham.

Matthew is aware of the end of the story before he pens the beginning. He knows that Jesus was the Messiah, was crucified, resurrected, and ascended into heaven. More importantly, he knows why Jesus was rejected. In fact, the seeds of Jesus’ rejection were already sown in Jewish history. The very reasons the Pharisees, Sanhedrin, et. al., rejected Jesus were already evident in the ancestry of the Savior.

Last week we saw that the Jews rejected Jesus because he taught a salvation by faith apart from works, even though that is the consistent testimony of those in his genealogy. Today, we see a second reason Matthew opens with a genealogy:

The Jews Rejected Jesus because of the global nature of his message.

Jesus intentionally brought his message to outcasts. He preached “the gospel of the kingdom” to sinners, tax collectors, adulteresses, and zealots. But he also brought his message to Gentiles.

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Review of ‘Can We Trust the Gospels?’ by Peter J. Williams

Image of Can We Trust the Gospels?
by Peter J. Williams
Crossway 2018
Paperback 160

This excellent little book by the English biblical scholar Peter J. Williams (not to be confused with the apologist Peter S. Williams) is a readable and informative introduction to some of the main questions people have about the four Gospels. In eight tightly argued but entertaining chapters Williams, who acts as principal of Tyndale House, Cambridge, dispels common myths and furnishes many enlightening facts about Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, avoiding dogmatic overreach but still making a very solid case for their trustworthiness.

Williams’ first chapter surveys external sources such as Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and Josephus to corroborate many features in the Evangelists. Tacitus reported on the “vast multitude” of Christians in Rome in AD 64, the year of the great fire (23). Since there is a distance of over 2,000 miles between Rome and Jerusalem, this testifies to the extent to which the new Faith had spread throughout the Roman Empire in Apostolic times. Incidentally, such witnesses as Tacitus seem to give the lie to the more conservative estimates for the extent of Christianity in the first centuries (cf. also 27). These non-Christian sources also confirm the execution of Jesus in the time of Pontius Pilate.

A real reature of this chapter, which continues throughout the book, is the way Williams appeals to common sense and reasonable expectations to make his points. For instance, on page 34 the author observes,

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