Her first - born son - Τον υιον αυτης τον πρω -οτοκον . Literally, That son of hers, the first-born one. That Mary might have had other children, any person may reasonably and piously believe; that she had others, many think exceedingly probable, and that this text is at least an indirect proof of it. However this may be, the perpetual virginity of Mary should not be made an article of faith. God has not made it one: indeed it can hardly bear the light of several texts in the Gospels.
He knew her not - Had no matrimonial intercourse with her - Till she had brought forth that son of hers, of whom the evangelist had been just speaking, the first-born, the eldest of the family, to whom the birthright belonged, and who was miraculously born before she knew any man, being yet in a state of virginity. See on Matthew 13:55; (note). The virginity of Mary, previously to the birth of Christ, is an article of the utmost consequence to the Christian system; and therefore it is an article of faith: her perpetual virginity is of no consequence; and the learned labor spent to prove it has produced a mere castle in the air. The thing is possible; but it never has been, and never can be proved.
He called his name Jesus - This name was given by the command of God, see Matthew 1:16, and was imposed on Christ when eight days old; for then, according to the Jewish law, he was circumcised: thus he had the name of Savior given when he first began to shed that blood without which there could be no remission of sins.
The goodness of God is manifested, not only in his giving his Son to save a lost world, but also in the choice of the persons who were his progenitors: among whom we find, First, Saints, to excite our courage: Abraham, remarkable for his faith; Isaac, for his obedience; and Jacob, for his fervor and constancy.
Secondly, Penitent Sinners, to excite our confidence: such as David, Manasses, etc.
Thirdly, Sinners, of whose repentance and salvation we hear nothing; to put us on our guard. Who can read the account of idolatrous Solomon, who, from the whole evidence of the sacred history, died In his sins, without trembling?
Four Women are mentioned in this genealogy: two of these were adulteresses, Tamar and Bathsheba; and two were Gentiles, Rahab and Ruth, and strangers to the covenant of promise; to teach us that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and that, though strangers to his people, we are not on that account excluded from a salvation which God has designed for all men. He is not the God of the Jews only; he is also the God of the Gentiles.
The state of the royal family of David, the circumstances of the holy virgin and her spouse Joseph, the very remarkable prophecy of Isaiah, the literal and circumstantial fulfillment of it, the names given to our blessed Lord, the genealogical scroll of the family, etc., etc., are all so many proofs of the wisdom, goodness, and providence of God. Every occurrence seems, at first view, to be abandoned to fortuitous influence, and yet the result of each shows that God managed the whole. These circumstances are of the greatest importance; nor can the Christian reader reflect on them without an increase of his faith and his piety.
Knew her not - The doctrine of the virginity of Mary before the birth of Jesus is a doctrine of the Scriptures, and is very important to be believed. But the Bible does not affirm that she had no children afterward. Indeed, all the accounts in the New Testament lead us to suppose that she did have them. See the notes at Matthew 13:55-56. The language here evidently implies that she lived as the wife of Joseph after the birth of Jesus.
Her first-born son - Her oldest son, or the one who had the privilege of birthright by the law. This does not of necessity imply that she had other children, though it seems probable. It was the name given to the son which was born first, whether there were others or not.