The Identity of The Wise Men
Text: Matthew 2:1-23
Matthew did not elaborate on the identity of the Wise Men! He could have, but he did not! Many have speculated concerning their identity. Some have suggested that they came from Persia. Others have even suggested that they came from the Orient. All suggestions are at best hypothetical.
It seems wise to be silent where the Biblical text has not ventured further information. The study of the story of the Wise Men must take another route rather than walk further on the avenue of speculation.
THE PLACE OF GENTILES IN THE MESSIANIC PLAN OF SALVATION
The appearance of foreigners in Palestine was not an uncommon thing. Gentiles traded with the nation of Israel. There was a fair amount of international trade.
However, foreigners asking about the King of the Jews, and speaking of giving worship to Him – that was a different matter entirely. The Jews may tolerate the presence of Gentiles, and some may even allow them to become proselyte Jews, but at best Gentiles were treated as second-class people (actually much worse)!
Matthew included the story of the Gentile Wise Men to demonstrate that there was a new order of things! Gentiles would not be excluded in the plan of salvation that God had devised, involving the Messiah King! That was a startling and powerful truth to proclaim indeed.
Let us take time to examine some very important texts concerning the Messianic plan of salvation that had Gentiles in full view. Let us look at some of these statements from the Book of Isaiah.
1. A Prophetic View of the Messianic Ministry
God Himself spoke of the Full Ministry of the Messiah. It would include Gentiles!
“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.”
2. The New Covenant would include Gentiles
With the Messiah would come the New Covenant. The new one would include Gentiles.
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness,
and will hold Your hand;
I will keep You and give You as a Covenant
to the people,
As a light to the Gentiles.”
“Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the
Thus says the Lord,
The Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One,
To Him whom man despises,
To Him whom the nations abhors,
To the Servant of rulers:
Kings shall see and arise,
Princes also shall worship…”
THE GRACE OF GOD EXTENDED TO THE GENTILE WISE MEN
The knowledge of the Wise Men must have included astronomy. As they studied the stars, they came across an unusual phenomenon. They came to the conclusion that the sighting of a special star must be indicative of something special and wonderful.
It was “common knowledge” in those days to associate the stars with the birth of exceptional people. If a person was destined for supreme greatness, the birth of that person would be heralded by a special star!
This Baby was truly exceptional! The Wise Men felt that they must leave their homeland and make their way to Judea to pay homage to this new King of the Jews. He was no ordinary Person at all. He was worthy of actual WORSHIP!
These Gentile scholars did not seem to have in their possessions the Hebrew Scriptures, or they would have been further enlightened as to the birthplace of the King of the Jews! Despite their lack of Scriptural knowledge, the Wise Men were able to make their way to the land of Israel. However, they must have been given guidance by the Lord Himself, perhaps using the “Star” that had appeared to them in the East. How great was the grace given to them!
THE IRONY OF IT ALL
As we ponder over the way in which the Wise Men took such great pains to go to Israel to offer worship to the Christ-Child, we cannot help but note the irony of it all. Let us ponder over this text found in the Book of Isaiah.
“I was sought by those who did not ask for Me;
I was found by those who did not seek Me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’
To a nation that was not called by My name…”
Isaiah 65:1 (Cf. Roman 10:20)
Gentiles sought the Messiah! God graciously revealed His Messiah to them!