Why Are The Genealogies Of Jesus Different

Why Are Jesus’ Genealogies in Matthew and Luke Different?

When it comes to the issue of “Who is Jesus and where did he originate from,” the birth narratives in both Matthew and Luke provide some answers. For example, one of the ways each book accomplishes this is by telling Jesus’ lineage. The difficulty is that the genealogies are not the same. Because the Messiah would come from the line of David, according to the Old Testament, he would be called the Son of David. As recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus was a descendant of David, and as such, he was recognized as the real Messiah.

There is a significant difference between the two: Matthew follows the line of David’s son Solomon, whilst Luke follows the line of Nathan, who was also a son of David.

How are we going to account for this?

They devised or borrowed a genealogy in order to give Jesus with a genuine line of descent from Abraham.

However, there are three more reasons for the two distinct genealogies that might be considered.

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1. One of the genealogies is actually Mary’s.

The most straightforward explanation is that we have genealogies for both of Jesus’ parents, Joseph and Mary. In this instance, Luke provides us with Mary’s family tree, whilst Matthew provides us with Joseph’s family tree. This makes perfect sense, given that Luke’s birth tale is primarily concerned with Mary. Luke presents the narrative from the perspective of the main character. In certain circles, this suggestion is associated with Jeremiah’s judgment against the family of Solomon, who predicted that no descendant of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 36:30) or his son Jechoniah (Jeremiah 22:24–30) would ever reign on the throne of David.

Matthew, on the other hand, prefers to tell the tale from Joseph’s point of view.

One difficulty with this theory is that throughout Luke’s account of Joseph’s birth, he emphasizes the fact that Joseph is a descendant of King David.

Mary’s Davidic ancestry is never mentioned by him. Given Luke’s emphasis on Mary in his birth myth, it would be unexpected if his genealogy is traced back to her line of descent.

2. One genealogy is a royal or legal genealogy, and the other is a physical genealogy.

According to yet another theory, the differences between the two genealogies can be explained by the fact that Matthew portrays a royal or legal genealogy while Luke presents a physical, or real, genealogy. In other words, Matthew cites the official line of Davidic rulers rather than the line of ancestors of Jesus himself. The purpose of his argument is to demonstrate that Joseph is tied to that phrase. According to this interpretation, Luke would be providing us with the names of actual, physical descendants—in other words, a genealogy in the manner in which we are accustomed to thinking about genealogy.

3. Joseph had two fathers.

How is it possible for someone to have two fathers? That is an excellent question, but the answer is no, it is not physically feasible. However, there are two reasons why the passage might be interpreted in this manner. For starters, some believe that because Mary did not have any brothers to carry on her father’s name after her marriage, Heli (Joseph’s father, according to Luke) adopted Joseph as his own son and named him after him. This would therefore provide Joseph with two genealogies—his own ancestry and Mary’s lineage—to work with.

  • According to Deuteronomy 25:5, a Levirate marriage is characterized as follows: “If two brothers are living together and one of them dies without leaving a son, the widow of the deceased brother is not permitted to marry outside the family.
  • According to the genealogy recorded by Luke, Joseph’s father Heli was either a brother or a half-brother to Jacob, who was either Joseph’s father according to Matthew’s genealogy or Heli’s father according to Luke’s genealogy.
  • As a result, Joseph would have two fathers: Heli and Jacob, each of whom is his natural father, and Jacob, who is his legal father.
  • In this case, the crucial issue is that it may be possible to explain why Joseph may have two dads, and hence two unique genealogies.

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How is it possible for someone to have two biological fathers? The answer is no, it is not physically feasible. That is an excellent question. But there are two reasons why this interpretation of the text is possible. For starters, some believe that because Mary did not have any brothers to take on her father’s name after her marriage, Heli (Joseph’s father, according to Luke) adopted Joseph as his own son after the marriage. After that, he would have two lineages to work with: his own ancestry and Mary’s genealogy.

According to Deuteronomy 25:5, a Levirate marriage is described: “The widow of a brother who dies without having had a son is not allowed to marry someone from another family.

According to the genealogy recorded by Luke, Joseph’s father Heli was either a brother or a half-brother to Jacob, who was either a brother or a half-brother to Joseph according to the genealogy recorded by Matthew.

As a result, Joseph would have two fathers: Heli and Jacob, each of whom is his natural father, and Jacob, who is his legal father, as well.

We can’t tell from the text which of his biological fathers is his biological father and which of his legal fathers is the legal father of the child. This is significant because it might explain why Joseph could have two dads and, as a result, two unique genealogies.

  • Why it is important that Jesus was born in Bethlehem rather than some other location
  • What the magi were and where they originated from were both unknown. There is evidence to suggest that Matthew and Luke are drawing from historical traditions rather than simply inventing stories to suit their religious agendas. The reason why Mary and Joseph were sent away from the “inn” isn’t what you may expect
  • The backdrop and historical setting of Jesus’ birth, including the Roman census, Herod’s effort to massacre the Bethlehem newborns, John the Baptist, and other events

Sign up for the course, which is completely free. This piece is based from Four Portraits, One Jesus: Jesus’ Birth, Childhood, and Early Ministry, a free online course taught by Dr. Mark Strauss that may be found at www.fourportraitsonejesus.com.

Why are Jesus’ genealogies in Matthew and Luke so different?

QuestionAnswer There are two passages in the Bible where Jesus’ lineage is revealed: Matthew 1 and Luke 3:23-38. Matthew traces Jesus’ ancestors all the way back to Abraham. Luke traces Jesus’ lineage all the way back to Adam. There is, however, compelling evidence to suggest that Matthew and Luke are, in fact, tracing wholly separate lineages from one another. For example, in Matthew 1:16, Joseph’s father is identified as Jacob, yet in Luke, Joseph’s father is identified as Heli (Luke 3:23).

  • (Luke 3:31).
  • Some have argued that these discrepancies are proof that the Bible contains mistakes.
  • It is unthinkable that Matthew and Luke could have constructed two completely incompatible genealogies for the same family.
  • So much so that the mentions of Shealtiel and Zerubbabel are most likely referring to separate persons with the same names.
  • It would be natural for a guy called Shealtiel to name his kid Zerubbabel in honor of the well-known personalities who have those first and last names, respectively (see the books of Ezra and Nehemiah).
  • The custom was that, when a man died without having any sons, his brother would marry the widow and have a son who would carry on the deceased man’s name.
  • Heli (Luke 3:23) and Jacob (Matthew 1:15) would be considered half-brothers in this scenario.
  • In this case, Joseph would be considered the “son of Heli” in legal terms as well as the “son of Jacob” physiologically.
  • Conservative Bible scholars currently have a different point of view, namely that Luke is describing Mary’s lineage whereas Matthew is recording Joseph’s history.
  • Matthew and Luke are both following the line of Joseph (Jesus’ legal father).
  • Jesus is a descendant of David through either Mary’s or Joseph’s line, and as such, he is entitled to be recognized as the Messiah.

According to Luke’s account, Jesus was the son of Joseph, “or so it was assumed at the time” (Luke 3:23). Questions regarding Jesus Christ (return to top of page) What is the difference between Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew and Luke?

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Why is Jesus’ Genealogy Different in Matthew and Luke? — Danny Zacharias

Please have a look at this movie I recently put to YouTube, which explains why the genealogy of Jesus recorded in Matthew and Luke differs. If you loved it and believe others will as well, please spread the word on social media as well! The transcript may be seen below. More details about Matthew’s inventive counting may be found in a previous blog article of mine.


Anyone who has read the Gospels of Matthew and Luke has almost certainly noticed that they each present a distinct family tree for Jesus. If you have read the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, it is probable that you have noticed this at some time. On the surface, it appears to be a strange coincidence that Jesus’ genealogy is distinct from the rest of the Bible. It goes without saying that they cannot both be correct, do they? The first step in understanding why the two genealogies are different is to acknowledge that they both begin from separate places: Luke traces his genealogy all the way back to Adam, but Matthew only traces his genealogy back to Abraham.

  • Even the names of Jesus’ grandparents are not agreed upon throughout Matthew and Luke!
  • It is common for us to conceive of family trees as a chronological enumeration of all of our blood relatives.
  • Genealogies in the Bible were used to tell stories as well as explain facts.
  • In some cases, a genealogy would be exhaustive, as we would anticipate; in other others, it would be less exhaustive and more selective, as if the author wished for readers to concentrate on certain parts of the history that the genealogy was reminding them of.
  • When individuals attempt to make this type of argument, they are committing the error of holding ancient genealogies to a higher standard than they are capable of.
  • Matthew, though, had a more particular narrative in mind.
  • Matthew wasn’t only looking for a way to trace his ancestors.
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Matthew intended to establish Jesus’ lawful rule over Israel from the very beginning of the Gospel of Matthew.

It is important to note how Matthew begins his whole book – the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David and son of Abraham – by introducing the genealogy of Jesus Christ.

Consider the following timeline: Abraham is here; David is here; the babylonian captivity is here; Jesus is here; and so on and so forth.

Let’s put Luke’s name in here as well.

The names of the characters in these two lines are virtually indistinguishable from one another!

And, surprise, surprise, that is precisely what we discover.

Various snippets of remark.

What type of narrative does this set of annotations convey?

Furthermore, in Jacob’s blessing of Judah in Genesis 49, a promise of a future messiah is made clear to us.

When Jechoniah, also known as Jehoiachin in the Old Testament, agreed to take the penalty of the approaching army, he represented the entire country of Israel by going into exile and experiencing his punishment, and then getting reprieve from the sentence.

One well-known aspect of Matthew’s genealogy is the inclusion of women in the annotation – and it is worth noting that the naming of these women accomplishes numerous objectives at the same time.

While traditional genealogies (such as Luke’s) usually traced their roots back to men, Matthew’s brief genealogy includes women.

They and their stories remind us that even within the Old Testament, gentiles were a part of God’s story and even a member of the Davidic lineage!

Tamar’s story is the most soap opera-like of any character in the Bible!

Lastly, just in case we forget, Matthew reminds us of “The woman of Uriah!

As a result of all of this, the reader is prepared for the controversy surrounding Mary, a virgin lady who claims she has conceived her child via the power of the Holy Spirit!

Another factor that contributes to our understanding of Matthew’s selectivity is the method in which he organizes his sentences.

This passage raises two questions: first, why is the number 14 used?

When we arrange the names in columns of 14, we find that we are one name short of the total.

Matthew simply rounded up to the nearest whole number to emphasize the number 142.

Perhaps the exile is being counted as a generation4.

In some circles, it has been suggested that Jesus was an illegitimate child, and as a result, his real father was not recognized6.

This is one of the most prevalent explanations.

Three academics, including myself, have argued in writings that David should be counted twice in the final tally.

First and foremost, it should be noted that David is the only person in the genealogy, aside from Jesus, who is given a title.

We should also keep in mind that the phrase “Son of David” has already been highlighted in the first verse of the chapter.

This is how the genealogy would be formed if we were to read Matthew 17 and count according to Matthew’s instructions.

Finally, the number 14 itself serves as the final piece of proof supporting the practice of numbering David twice.


In this situation, the Hebrew letter dalet is the fourth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, while the letter vav is the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

And it is in this manner that David’s name is frequently spelt in the Bible.

For this reason, the number 14 is highlighted, and it is also the reason why Matthew opted to build his genealogy in the manner that he did. He was meticulous in his selection of names in order for the structure itself to underline Jesus’ Davidic lineage as the messianic Son of David.

Why do Matthew and Luke’s genealogies contradict one another?

The genealogies given by Matthew and Luke are really two separate ones. The genealogy of Jesus is traced down to Joseph, who was the legal, but not the physical, father of Jesus, according to Matthew. Luke, on the other hand, traces Jesus’ lineage back to Mary, from whom he descended physically as well as in terms of humanity. Beautiful fulfillment of prophesy, and it genuinely bears witness to the veracity of the Bible’s claims. Through Joseph, Jesus was recognized as the legitimate heir to the kingdom while also avoiding the curse of Coniah, which had been predicted in Jeremiah 22:24-30.

  • The following is a good explanation of the concerns provided by the Ryrie Study Bible: Despite the fact that Coniah had seven sons (possibly adopted; see 1 Chron.
  • Accordingly, Coniah was regarded “childless” in the context of dynastic continuity.
  • The genealogy of Matthew traces Jesus’ lineage back to Solomon and Jeconiah (Heb., Coniah; Matt.
  • Luke traces Jesus’ bodily descent back via Mary and Nathan to David, avoiding Jeconiah’s line and properly depicting the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophesy.
  • As a result, if Jesus had been born only into the line of Joseph (and hence into the line of Jeconiah), He would not have been eligible to reign on the throne of David during the Millennium.
  • Bible Study Methods,Bibliology (The Written Word),Terms and Definitions are all topics that are related to this one.

Why are the genealogies in Matthew and Luke different? — Wesley Huff

The Old Testament said that the Messiah would be descended from the line of David, and this is what happened (2 Samuel 7:12-15, Isaiah 11:1, and Jeremiah 23:5-6). Neither Matthew (at Matthew 1) nor Luke (at Luke 3:23-38) offer genealogies of Jesus, but both do so to demonstrate that he was a descendant of David and hence, in his claim to be the real successor to the kingdom of Israel, that he was a legitimate Messiah. Each genealogy also brings to light elements that were essential to the gospel writer who wrote that particular genealogy.

  1. As a result of this, Matthew draws attention to Jesus’ Jewishness.
  2. However, while the two genealogies of Matthew and Luke are essentially identical from Abraham to David, they diverge from David to Jesus beyond that.
  3. Matthew and Luke are both descendants of David.
  4. Several skeptical scholars have pointed to this as a point of controversy or contradiction, claiming that Matthew or Luke got it incorrect; they also claim that Matthew or Luke invented or borrowed a genealogy in order to fabricate a Jesus with real ancestors.
  5. It is possible that these genealogies are representations of Jesus’ earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, according to one of the most straightforward explanations.
  6. From a practical standpoint, this makes sense because Luke’s birth narrative is centered on Mary and narrates the tale from her point of view.
  7. Jesus was a descendant of David via both Mary and Joseph’s lineage, making him eligible to be the Messiah in the traditional sense.

In ancient Judaism, the father was regarded as the bearer of the family name, while the son was regarded as the successor (especially which tribe one was descended from).

That is not to say that the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth were without their share of strange incidents to begin with!

The official line of Dividic rulers, rather than Matthew’s real descendants, is believed to be presented in this explanation, rather than Matthew himself.

Luke, on the other hand, would be providing us with a genuine bodily descendancy if this idea were to be correct.

It seems possible that Matthew’s genealogy was edited for symbolic reasons, at the very least.

It turns out that if we count the names, we obtain three perfect sets of fourteen names, for a total of forty-two generations from Abraham to Jesus, which explains the decision.

How? Well, in ancient Judaism, there existed a notion known as Gematria, in which letters were assigned numerical values, and this was utilized to communicate certain thoughts or concepts to the public. David’s given name, for example, appeared as follows in Hebrew:

דָּ (D)+ וִ (V) + ד (D) = 4 + 6 + 4 = 14

Jesus’ genealogy is arranged into three sets of fourteen generations, indicating the significance of David’s name’s numerological meaning while also reinforcing Jesus’ claim to be the “Son of David” (Matthew 1:20). (Matthew 1:1). It was Eusebius of Caesera who addressed the gap between Matthew and Luke by claiming that Matthew was following the biological lineage while Luke was taking into consideration an event known as “levirate marriage” (a marriage between two unmarried women) (Eusebius,Ecclesiastical History1.1.7).

  • Eusebius, on the other hand, regarded Melchi (Luke 3:24) and Matthan (Matthew 1:15) as two men who were married to the same lady at separate periods.
  • If Heli died without leaving a son, and his (half-brother) Jacob married Heli’s widow, Heli’s son would be Joseph, according to the Biblical account.
  • The problem of variations in lineages is thus resolved by this explanation, which states, among other things, that Matthew and Luke are both chronicling Joseph’s familial line, but that Luke follows the legal lineage while Matthew follows the biological one.
  • Ultimately, we come to the same conclusion: Jesus is descended from a genealogical line that can be traced back to King David, and as such, he is a genuine Messiah as well as a legitimate claimant to the kingdom of Israel (Matthew 23:23).

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Do the Genealogies of Jesus Contradict?

Ry Leasure contributed to this article. Those of you who have gone through the gospels have certainly realized that they have a lot in common with one another. In certain instances, the phrasing is identical to the previous one. In other locations, they are so dissimilar that they appear to be in conflict. The synoptic issue is a term that refers to the similarities and contrasts between two things. The word synoptic literally translates as “to view together.” The synoptic dilemma has prompted some scholars to wonder why there are so many parallels between the gospels.

  • One popular argument among researchers is that the similarities between Matthew, Mark, and Luke may be explained by the fact that the authors used the same sources when writing their respective gospels.
  • Their conclusion is based on the fact that about 90 percent of Mark is contained in Matthew, and approximately 60 percent is contained in Luke.
  • This sayings source discusses the common content between Matthew and Luke that is not present in Mark.
  • Luke’s prologue provides us with a little glimpse into the creative process (Lk.
  • To summarize, these many sources provide explanations for both the similarities and the discrepancies.

Some, on the other hand, have been tripped up by the discrepancies. Many people even go so far as to say that the gospels are in conflict with one another. One such example may be found in Jesus’ genealogy, which is what we will now be looking at in more detail.

Jesus’ Genealogies

Only the gospels of Matthew and Luke offer information on Jesus’ lineage. Furthermore, a side-by-side examination demonstrates that the genealogies are substantially different from one another. So much so that doubters feel they are incompatible with one another. For your convenience, I’ve included the genealogies from Matthew 1:18 and Luke 3:23-38 in the section below. Please take a brief look at these so that you may better comprehend what the skeptic is complaining about: At first look, there is one significant distinction between Luke’s genealogy and Matthew’s genealogy: Luke’s genealogy is far lengthier.

  • Luke traces Jesus’ lineage all the way back to Adam, but Matthew only goes as far as Abraham in his genealogy.
  • After David, however, the genealogies begin to deviate significantly.
  • Note also that Joseph had a different father in each of the accounts — Jacob in Matthew and Heli in Luke – which is significant.
  • We should not be under the impression that this is a new problem; the church has been dealing with it for over two thousand years.
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Option 1: Joseph vs. Mary’s Genealogy

Some scholars believe that Matthew follows Joseph’s lineage, whereas Luke traces Mary’s lineage. This is one of the most prevalent explanations for the disparities. If this is the case, the divergence in genealogies makes perfect logical sense. For a minute, consider your own family tree and ancestors. Imagine tracing the lineage of your father vs the lineage of your mother and discovering that they are diametrically opposed! The names of your father’s father and your mother’s father are distinct from one another.

The rationale for this method is that Matthew devotes most of his emphasis to Joseph in the birth tales, but Luke devotes more attention to Mary in the same accounts.

Furthermore, even though Mary is not mentioned in the genealogy, Luke qualifies Jesus’ relationship to Joseph by stating, “as it was expected” (Lk.

Taking each of these signs together, we might conclude that Luke did not aim to reveal Joseph’s heritage, but rather Mary’s.

Option 2: Royal vs. Biological Genealogy

The fact that Matthew chronicles Jesus’ royal pedigree with a focus on his Messianic claim to the throne while Luke follows Jesus’ biological line is another possible reason for the discrepancies between the two gospels. According to this viewpoint, Matthew provides us with a number of signs that indicate that he is not providing us with a strictly biological genealogy, but rather a theological genealogy with an emphasis on King David. For starts, Matthew introduces the genealogy by declaring, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham) (Mt.

  1. Well-known is the fact that Matthew speaks to a largely Jewish-Christian readership, who would have been familiar with expectations that the Messiah would come via the line of David (2 Sam.
  2. 9:6-7; 11:1-5; Jer.
  3. As a result, he gives his readers a heads-up about where he’s going with this genealogy right from the start.
  4. Even though many people believe that “Christ” is Jesus’ final name, it is actually a title.
  5. Consequently, when Matthew begins his genealogy by claiming that it is the genealogy of Jesus Christ, he is providing more proof to his readers that his purpose is to establish that Jesus is descended from the kingly line of David (Matthew 1:11).
  6. “So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and all the generations from David to the deportation to Babylon were fourteen generations, and all the generations from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ were fourteen generations,” we read in verse 17.
  7. Scholars of biblical genealogy believe that the phrases “father of” and “son of” in genealogies do not necessarily refer to the same generation as the preceding one.

The phrase merely indicates that one is the ancestor of the individual who comes after him or her in the line.

When it comes to Hebrew letters, gematria was the practice of assigning a numerical value to each one.

David’s numerical value is fourteen, which is a curious coincidence.

D(4) V(6) D(4) – 4 + 6 + 4 = 14.

He is only documenting the biological lineage of Jesus.

According to historical records, the current queen of England descended from her father, who in turn descended from his brother. Furthermore, the next king will very certainly be the queen’s grandson. All of this is to suggest that the royal line frequently deviates from the genetic line.

Option 3: Levirate Marriage

The usage of Levirate marriage as a third reason for the disparities is also possible. A full description of Levirate marriage may be found in Deuteronomy 25:5-10, where it is stated that if a married man dies without leaving a male heir, his brother or closest relative must marry and attempt to propagate with the widow in order to carry on the name of his departed brother. As a result of this process, the Sadducees were able to answer Jesus’ inquiry concerning which man would be a woman’s spouse in heaven after going through seven siblings who had all passed away (Mt.

According to this notion, something along the lines of the following situation takes place: Jacob (Joseph’s father in Matthew’s genealogy) and his wife perished before they could produce a male successor for themselves.

Heli was a close relative of Jacob.

Matthew then follows Jacob’s lineage all the way back to Abraham, while Luke traces Heli’s lineage all the way back to Adam.

What’s the Best Explanation?

When I think about the three possibilities, one of them appears to be the least viable option. And it is the first of the two options. While many have used this explanation to explain the discrepancies, Luke explicitly indicates that Joseph, not Mary, is the next person in Jesus’ lineage. Because of his understanding of the virgin birth, he qualifies this relationship with the phrase “as it was intended to be.” More than that, ancient Jewish genealogies were always transmitted down through the male line, rather than the female line, to ensure continuity.

The discrepancies in genealogies can only be explained by a mix of possibilities 2 and 3, and my personal view is that a combination of the two is the most plausible explanation.

Furthermore, Matthew attempts to underline the royal quality of Jesus’ lineage by tracing it via king Solomon rather than Nathan, as Luke does.

At the end of the day, we can’t say for certain which choice is the best.

Recommended resources related to the topic:

Frank Turek’s book, The New Testament: Too Embarrassing to Be False, examines the biblical text (DVD,Mp3, andMp4) Frank Turek explains why we know the New Testament writers told the truth in his article Why We Know the New Testament Writers Told the Truth (DVD,Mp3andMp4) His academic credentials include a Master of Arts in English and a Master of Divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, both in Greenville, South Carolina.

He is currently a doctoral candidate at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he is studying ministry. In addition, he is a pastor at Grace Bible Church in Moore, South Carolina.

How Can We Trust the Gospels When the Genealogy of Jesus Is So Different?

Several skeptics have written extensively about the apparently “irreconcilable” disparities in the genealogy of Jesus reported in the gospels of Matthew (Matthew 1) and Luke (Luke 1), which have led to the conclusion that Jesus was not the Messiah (Luke 3:23-38). Even though the authors trace the pedigree from King David all the way down to Jesus, the genealogies appear to be substantially different. While I am aware of the distinctions in this case, I am knowledgeable enough with witness testimonies to see why this may be the case in this instance.

  • In their descriptions of the testimonies that were first provided to them by a witness, they frequently appear to have documented contradicting claims from witnesses who should have witnessed the same occurrence.
  • When I get the opportunity to interview the witness for myself, the issues begin to come to a head and are resolved.
  • This is a crucial second question because it frequently resolves an apparent conflict in the original findings, which may be confusing.
  • If I have access to other archived reports from the detective who did the interview, I may learn something about his approach to report writing that may help me understand why he wrote a particular report in a specific manner.
  • What was the detective’s goal when he produced the report, and what did he achieve?
  • What exactly was he attempting to accomplish?

As a result, I believe that the research that has gone before me has done an outstanding job of identifying two possible contributory elements that might explain the differences: Minor Contributing Factor that is Reasonable: Some theologians and scholars have speculated that one of the authors may simply have been more interested in including members of Jesus’ “legal” lineage who are related to him through “levirate marriage” than in including members of Jesus’ “legal” lineage who are not related to him through “levirate marriage.” At one time, if a man died without leaving any sons, the man’s brother would marry the widow in order to create a son who would be able to carry on the father’s name.

  1. The son might then be included in either his natural father’s ancestry or the genealogy of his legal father’s family.
  2. As a small contributing component, this may account for some of the discrepancies across genealogies; nonetheless, there are far too many variations for this to be considered a thorough explanation.
  3. Matthew appears to be writing to a Jewish audience, according to the context.
  4. He strives to establish a connection between Jesus and the broader Jewish history that preceded the New Testament era as fast as possible.
  5. When he begins his account, he addresses Theophilus directly, and he makes a rapid connection between the story of Jesus and the “days of Herod.” When Luke initially presents Mary and the virgin conception of Jesus, he does not even include the genealogy of Jesus’ forefathers.
  6. When you consider that David’s son Nathan (if he is in the line of Mary) is the ancestor of Jesus, it makes sense that Luke would trace Jesus back through David’s son Solomon (if he is not) (in an effort to track the line of Joseph).
  7. They all relate to, quote from, or make allusions to passages from both gospels.

When I examine a cold-case file and discover an apparent contradiction penned by a detective without making any attempt to reconcile the differences between the accounts, I have to remind myself that the detective who recorded the statements almost certainly recognized the discrepancies between the accounts.

  1. What was he thinking when he didn’t at least address the glaring inconsistencies?
  2. No apparent conflict could be seen in his eyes.
  3. It suggests that the first scholars of the gospel authors (Ignatius, Polycarp, and Clement) had access to both Matthew and Luke’s reports as they were written simultaneously in their respective languages.
  4. They must have observed the apparent inconsistencies, no doubt.
  5. The reason for this might be as simple as the fact that, like the initial investigators in my cold cases, they were more aware of the original aims of the writers than we are now.
  6. You may learn more about the credibility of the New Testament gospels and the argument for Christianity in the book Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels if you read Cold-Case Christianity.
  7. The book is complemented by an eight-sessionCold-Case Christianity DVD Set (as well as a Participant’s Guide) that may be used to assist individuals or small groups analyze the evidence and make their case for Christianity.
  8. Warner Wallace has been featured on Dateline NBC.

Originally from New York City, he now lives in Los Angeles. Sign up for J. Warner’s Daily Email Updates.

Why Are Matthew’s and Luke’s Genealogies Different?

The genealogies ofJesusmay seem uninteresting (and perhaps even contradictory) at a glance, but they serve an important role in establishing His claim as the promised Messiah (Christ) (Christ). When considered together, the two genealogies (Matthew 1:1-17;Luke 3:23-28) reveal both His legal and physical descent according to the three Old Testament promises:

  1. The Messiah must be the seed of Woman (Genesis 3:15)
  2. The Messiah must be the descendant of Abraham, through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3)
  3. The Messiah must be the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15)
  4. The Messiah must be the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15) (2 Samuel 7) states that the Messiah must be a descendant of King David.
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In this respect, Matthew’s genealogy supplies us with information on Christ’s legal lineage. Because of His names, we can see how He meets the qualifications to be David’s legitimate heir and seize the kingdom. Matthew did not want to include all of the people in the lineage, but simply those who were required to establish the relationship from Abraham to David to Christ, and he did it in groups of fourteen names each, which was likely to make memorizing easier for the audience. Despite the fact that Jesus was not Joseph’s biological son according to his lineage, he became the legal heir when Joseph married Mary and adopted Him.

  • Possibly via Mary’s line, but because Matthew leaves out several names, Luke’s genealogy could be that of Joseph from a different branch.
  • What we may deduce from this lineage is that the relationship extends from Adam through Judah to David to Christ and back again (called the Second Adam by Paul).
  • As a result, when taken together, they demonstrate Jesus’ valid claim to David’s kingdom and his right to be called the Messiah (Yeshua).
  • Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary, and published with permission (used by permission).

The Genealogies of Jesus

The date of publication is April 18, 2020. Douglas Bookman, Ph.D. is the author. The New Testament has two genealogies of Jesus of Nazareth, one in Matthew 1:1-17 and another in Luke 3:23-38. Both are found in the book of Matthew. They are extremely significant to the New Testament’s argument about the person and claims of Jesus, even if these lists of names do not appear to be particularly exciting to the contemporary reader. These paragraphs, which appear to be antiquated and technical in nature, demand further examination.

  1. The goal of Matthew’s genealogy Matthew wrote his gospel in order to establish that Jesus of Nazareth is in fact the long-awaited Messiah of Israel, as prophesied by the prophets.
  2. (1:1).
  3. David had made a pact with Yahweh, in which He promised him that “your house and your kingdom shall remain before Me forever; your reign shall be maintained forever” (2 Samuel 7:6, KJV).
  4. In a nutshell, the Jewish spirit was inspired by the hope of the coming of Messiah, but that Messiah had to be the son of David, and as such “the son of Abraham.” Priority must be given to the question of Jewish identity and hope stemming from these two major sources of inspiration.
  5. First and foremost, it is symmetrically organized into three portions of fourteen generations each.
  6. Perhaps Matthew left them out because they were the closest living descendants of Ahab and Jezebel!

Furthermore, the word “begat” (which is rendered “was the ancestor of” in the KJV) is used throughout the list, which more properly means “was the ancestor of.” Matthew has concluded that the first condition of a Messianic claimant (descent from David) is met by Jesus, and that he would do so in a style that can be easily recalled by the audience.

  • Although it is hard to know for definite that this was Matthew’s reasoning (and other theories have been advanced), the notion is noteworthy since it positions David even more prominently at the center of this genealogy.
  • On two grounds, the Gospelist appears to view those four as foreshadowing Mary, according to him: In bringing forth the Messiah 2, each of these women “took the initiative.
  • As a result, these ladies foreshadowed Mary, who replied to the angel’s message with modest yet apprehensive trust, and who bravely suffered the nasty rumors about the birth of her first Son.
  • The aim of Luke’s genealogy Luke’s gospel was written for a Greek audience, and his genealogy serves that function.
  • He therefore traces Jesus’ pedigree back to “Adam, the son of God,” not merely through David (3:31) and Abraham (3:34), but all the way back to “Adam, the son of God” (3:38).
  • Registries of births and deaths record individuals as they are born, allowing them to be traced back through time from earlier to later generations.
  • Once again, Luke begins his genealogy at the beginning of Christ’s mission rather than at the beginning of the Gospel, as is customary.
  • It is necessary to say something in support of the historical authenticity of the genealogies recorded in both Matthew and Luke’s gospels.
  • However, Josephus, a late contemporary of Jesus, makes no mention of such devastation, and he even publishes his own genealogy to back up his claims.
  • Finally, if the genealogies were not true, or even if their authenticity could not be verified in the first century, they would almost definitely have been assailed by nonbelievers from the beginning of the Christian era.
  • However, no such attempt to invalidate the genealogies appears to have been made.

BRINGING THE TWO GENEALOGIES TOGETHER At one point, reconciling the genealogies becomes particularly problematic, because they are so unlike from David to Christ, and yet they both appear to track the line of Jesus’ adopted father, Joseph (compare Matthew 1:16, “to Jacob was born Joseph,” and Luke 3:23, “Joseph, the son of Eli”).

  1. Suppose, for example, that both genealogies do in fact trace Joseph’s pedigree, but that one follows his physical ancestors while the other records his legal lineage.
  2. He contends that Joseph’s mother had been widowed without children, had married a brother of her deceased husband (a levirate marriage, according to Deuteronomy 25:5-6), and then had borne Joseph by that second spouse, which he believes to be the case.
  3. This argument is plausible, but it is predicated on the idea of a levirate marriage, which raises a number of crucial concerns that must be addressed.
  4. Three factors stand out as compelling arguments in support of this method.

(Each name in Matthew’s genealogy is likewise accompanied by the corresponding article.) Because of this, it is clear that this name should not be interpreted as part of Luke’s genealogical list, but instead as part of the parenthetical remark that has been added to the beginning of the chapter.

being the son (as was supposed to be the case with Joseph) of Eli.” 5 It is Jesus, not Joseph, who is referred to as “the son of Eli.” Eli is well known as the biological father of Mary.

The line of descent of a man was not to be traced via his mother, but rather through his father.

As a result, his physical ancestry had to be traced back to his maternal grandpa, who was the closest male related to him.

Secondly, in his first two chapters of his Gospel (1:26-35; 2:19, 51), Luke has already paid major emphasis to Mary, in contrast to Matthew’s nativity tale, which just refers to Mary as Joseph’s wife and nothing more.

Finally, there are two incredibly significant repercussions of this view of the genealogies that should not be overlooked.

Aside from the fact that he was the promised heir to David (2 Samuel 12:25), the legal power to take that kingdom had to pass via him as the heir apparent to David.

As a result of the Davidic covenant, God vowed that no one other than David’s offspring — his actual descendent – would ever rule on the throne of Israel (Psalm 89:4).


The centrality of the Davidic covenant in the fabric of Messianic expectancy woven throughout the Old Testament makes it logical to expect such an affirmation–and indeed, to find it in the genealogy given by Luke.

As punishment for Jeconiah’s sin, Jeremiah pronounced a curse on him, declaring that “no man of seed shall prosper, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling any longer in Judah” (22:30).

If Jesus had been Joseph’s biological son, he would have inherited the curse that afflicted him.

“Jesus, who is legitimately a son of David via Mary according to the flesh (cf.

END NOTES One of the most influential works on the subject of the gospels is A.

Robertson’s Harmony of the Gospels (New York: HarperRow, 1922), p.

743 in Raymond E.

The book of Luke, by J.

Van Oosterzee (Edinburgh: T.T.

I.7.5 of Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiastica (Eusebius’ History of the Church).


Lewis Johnson published “The Genesis of Jesus,” which was published on page 341 of the journal Bibliotheca Sacra.

Doug Bookman is a Professor of Old/New Testament and Bible Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary in Shepherdstown, Pennsylvania.

During the last decade, he has devoted a significant portion of his ministry to both Israel and the life of Christ. He enjoys leading numerous study trips to Israel, including an annual trip specifically designed for STS students. He has led numerous study trips to Israel.

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