The Gospel of Matthew starts out with clear Old Testament allusions in its very first verse. “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1; NASB). I think there at least five allusions here. What are they?
(1.) “The record of the genealogy” is an allusion to or echo of Old Testament genealogies. The book of Genesis, the foundational book of the Old Testament upon which the rest is based, contains several genealogies. The purpose of Matthew’s genealogy is to show the connection between Old Testament redemptive history and our Lord Jesus Christ. The New Testament assumes the Old Testament and builds upon it, fulfilling its promises and pursuing its expectations. The very first words of the New Testament illustrate this.
(2.) “…Jesus” in Hebrew (the language of the OT) is Yeshua, or Joshua in English, and means “the Lord saves.” Joshua is a key figure in the history of the Old Testament people of God and is the title of its sixth book. Joshua took the people of Israel into the Promised Land and conquered many of her enemies. He was the leader of God’s people just after Moses led them out of Egyptian bondage, the exodus. Could it be that Joshua was a type, finding his anti-type in a greater Joshua who would take the people of God into the eternal state, Immanuel’s land, that to which the rest of Canaan pointed?
(3.) “…the Messiah” is an Old Testament concept referring to the Lord’s anointed servant promised in many places in the Old Testament. Matthew later argues that Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. The allusion brings to our mind the promise-fulfillment motif found in many places in Matthew’s Gospel and other books of the New Testament.
(4.) “…the son of David” is a phrase which finds its literary (canonical) taproots in 2 Samuel 7:12ff. and Psalm 89. The New Testament clearly sees a promise-fulfillment motif functioning with reference to David and David’s greater son (cf. Acts 2:22ff.).
(5.) “…the son of Abraham” finds its literary (canonical) taproots in the Old Testament patriarch Abraham and the promises given to him in Genesis 22:18, among other places. This allusion brings to our mind the promise-fulfillment motif functioning with reference to Abraham and Christ elsewhere in the New Testament (cf. Gal. 3:8-9, 16).
The very first verse of the New Testament alerts us to its literary association with and literary-theological dependence upon the Old Testament. This observation is only strengthened as one reads the Gospel accounts and the rest of the New Testament. Just as the New Testament is about Christ, so is the Old Testament.Richard C. Barcellos Grace Reformed Baptist Church Palmdale, CA .