The first two chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke tell stories of the beginnings of Christianity that are rather similar in some aspects and strikingly different in others. Any of the Gospels may be studied in comparison to others; studying these similarities and differences is perhaps the best way for an individual to come to an improved understanding of any Gospel. In my comparison of the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke, I will examine common features and significant differences in relation to the purpose of each of these gospels. Furthermore, I will show Matthew emphasizes Jesus as the Jewish Messiah as foretold by prophecy of Jewish scripture whereas Luke emphasizes the whole of Jesus life chronologically with emphasis on the Temple's importance in his adolescent life.
The Gospel of Matthew begins with a genealogy of Jesus, which relates back to Abraham, the father of the Jews. Many of the individuals included in the genealogy are important figures in Jewish Scripture such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, King David, Solomon and others. At the end of the genealogy, in verse 16, an interesting problem presents itself: this is the genealogy of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Matthew 1:18-25 states that Joseph was engaged to Mary when she was found to be pregnant. Joseph planned on dismissing Mary, but an angel came to Joseph and told him to marry Mary as she had conceived from the Holy Spirit as a fulfillment of prophesy. In this way, Joseph took Mary as his wife and became the "adoptive father" of her son Jesus. The inclusion of Joseph's (Jesus") genealogy in Matthew makes an interesting statement: even though Joseph is not biologically related to Jesus, Joseph is related to him as an "adoptive father." Jesus therefore has Jewish heritage due to Joseph and his lineage of important figures in the nation of Israel. Continuing in Matthew, 1:17 states the following: "So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.