7606 - Genealogy


Genealogies in the Bible can sometimes be tedious, but they are there for a reason.

Today we complete the third chapter of Luke as we talk about the genealogy of Jesus as recorded by Dr. Luke. We won’t read all the names but we do want to examine certain points of interest.

Luke’s record of the blood-line of Jesus goes all the way back to Adam. Perhaps in a way to emphasize that Jesus is related to all human beings born on earth.

Matthew, also gives a genealogy of Jesus, but his goes from Abraham up to Jesus. Luke’s list begins by saying that Jesus was the son, or so was the perception, of Joseph, and then proceeds back through time to Adam. In the eyes of the world Joseph was Jesus’ legal father, but in truth Joseph never had intimacy with Mary until after Jesus was born. The true father of Jesus was of course God.

Let us note some difference in the parallel of names in Matthew’s and Luke’s lists. The careful student will see that Matthew omits names which Luke includes. This is explained by Matthew’s omitting some names in order to achieve a symmetry of three sets of names with fourteen generations in each set. Some scholars note that not every name must be given in a genealogy. To the Hebrew the words “son of” paralleled “descendant of” so one name might be the grandson, or great-great-grandson of the previous name.

A comparison of the two lists from Abraham to David match. But then we notice that Luke’s list continues from David through the line of Nathan, whereas Matthew’s list continues from David through his son Solomon. However, 1 Chronicles (3:5) tell us that both Solomon and Nathan were sons of David by Bathsheba, so they had the same parents. However, Solomon was the son who inherited the throne and became king. This is the line Matthew follows. It is well accepted that Matthew’s list traces the kingly line of David, which was the legal, royal line.

This heritage of Jesus was very important to the Jewish people, Matthew’s primary audience. To them it was important to prove his standing as one of God’s chosen people, a direct descendant of Abraham and David. This list affirms that Jesus’ heritage fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah’s family line.

Some have asked why Luke even gives a genealogy since to his target audience, the Gentiles, this was not so important as to the Jews.

Two different thoughts are given:

First – It is proposed that Luke’s line of descent is actually the heritage of Mary. Luke would do this to show that she also was of the kingly line of David. This would therefore, authenticate that Jesus was qualified as fulfillment of the Messianic passages.

A second explanation of Luke’s list states that Luke was tracing the actual line of Joseph. This view maintains that the legal line of descent from David and the actual human line of descent met at Joseph, the supposed father of Jesus. Under this view the ancient custom of “levirate marriage” may span the discrepancy. Heli and Jacob may have been half-brothers, having the same mother but different fathers. One may have died and the other married his widow, so the two lines converge.

In either case Luke’s genealogy is included in God’s Word. We know Luke was giving an orderly account after careful investigation. His account shows that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises given to Abraham (3:34), and he was fulfillment of promises given to King David (3:31); but he also embodies perfect humanity –– without sin or blemish. This point is significant to all men, everywhere!

Yet Luke also shows that his son thought by some to be Joseph’s was actually and in truth God’s Son (3:22-23). Thus Jesus is completely divine and at the same time, completely human. A miracle of God.