What does Matthew 1:18 mean?
ESV: Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
NIV: This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
NASB: Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit.
CSB: The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant from the Holy Spirit.
NLT: This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.
KJV: 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.
Verse Commentary:
Having concluded his genealogy of Jesus, Matthew begins telling the life of Jesus right from the beginning: Jesus' miraculous conception. Matthew does not spend nearly as much time introducing Mary as Luke's Gospel does. Instead, he focuses the story on Joseph and his response to the surprising news.

Betrothal in Jewish culture was a binding agreement, often between the father of the bride and the husband to be. It was far more serious than the modern concept of engagement. If a woman slept with another man during the betrothal period, she was said to be guilty of adultery.

At first, Joseph didn't understand that Mary's pregnancy was the work of the Holy Spirit. He only knew that she was "found to be with child." This put him in the difficult place of deciding what to do about their upcoming wedding. The natural, common sense explanation for that situation is that Mary had been unfaithful. It's only when Joseph is informed by an angelic messenger that he realizes the full truth (Matthew 1:20).

Joseph's first response seems tempered by compassion. Rather than make a spectacle of Mary, his initial thought is to end the betrothal discreetly (Matthew 1:19).
Verse Context:
Matthew 1:18–25 tells the story of the birth of Christ from the perspective of Joseph. This man is betrothed to be married to Mary, but finds out she is pregnant. He does not realize, yet, that this child is Christ, and that she is pregnant by a miracle of the Holy Spirit. God interrupts Joseph's honorable plans to divorce Mary, and tells him through an angel in a dream not to fear taking her as a wife and that the child is from God. Jesus will fulfill Isaiah's prophecy that Immanuel, ''God with us,'' will be born to a virgin. Joseph obeys, demonstrating his faith in God.
Chapter Summary:
The apostle Matthew begins his telling of Jesus' life with a genealogy. This is meant to show that Jesus is directly descended from both Abraham and King David, making Him a legal heir to the throne of Israel. He then tells the story of Jesus' birth from the perspective of Joseph, Mary's husband. Joseph had planned to divorce the woman he was betrothed to marry, once he found out she was carrying a child that wasn't his. God interrupts this plan. An angel tells Joseph in a dream that the child is from the Holy Spirit and commands Joseph to name Him Jesus, since He will save His people from their sins. Joseph obeys.
Chapter Context:
One of the original twelve disciples, Matthew begins his telling of Jesus' life with a genealogy and Jesus' birth. The listing of Jesus' ancestors shows how Jesus is directly descended from both Abraham and King David, but it also includes then-unlikely inclusions, such as women, blatant sinners, and evil kings. Instead of divorcing Mary, Joseph obeys God and takes her home. Isaiah's prophecy of the virgin birth of Immanuel, a term meaning ''God with us,'' is fulfilled. This sets the stage for pivotal events in Jesus' infancy, such as the arrival of wise men and the family's escape into Egypt.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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