Genealogy of Jesus Christ Part 2 of 2 (series: Harmony of the Gospels)
by John Lowe
Genealogy of Jesus Christ
23 Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli.
Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age. At the time when Jesus began His public ministry, He was about thirty years old. Joseph was the same age when he stood before Pharaoh (3Gen. 41:46), David began to reign (42 Sam. 5:4) at thirty, and this was also the age when the priests began to fully execute their office (5Num. 4:3). Some Bible scholars believe that it is clear from the expression “about thirty” that He was twenty-nine years old and about to be thirty. After that, He lived three and a half years, and died when he was thirty-two and a half years old.
Being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli. Before taking up the public ministry of our Lord, Luke pauses to give His genealogy. (See Chart #1-Genealogy of Jesus). If Jesus is truly human, then He must be descended from Adam. This genealogy demonstrates that He was. It is widely believed that this gives the genealogy of Jesus through the line of Mary. Note that verse 23 does not say that Jesus was the son of Joseph, but “(as was supposed) the son of Joseph.” If this view is correct, then Heli was the father-in-law of Joseph and the father of Mary.
Scholars widely believe that Luke’s genealogy is the Lord’s genealogy through Mary for the following reasons:
1. The most obvious is that Joseph’s family line is traced in Matthew’s Gospel (1:2–16).
2. In the early chapters of Luke’s Gospel, Mary is more prominent than Joseph, whereas it is the reverse in Matthew.
3. Women’s names were not commonly used among the Jews as genealogical links. This would account for the omission of Mary’s name.
4. In Matthew 1:16, it distinctly states that Jacob begot Joseph. Here in Luke, it does not say that Heli begot Joseph; it says Joseph was the son of Heli. Son may mean son-in-law.
5. It was unusual to pay attention to the genealogy of a woman, which shows Dr. Luke’s concern for neglected people.
Although it is not necessary to examine the genealogy in detail, it is helpful to note several important points:
1. This list shows that Mary was descended from David through his son Nathan (v. 31). In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus inherited the legal right to the throne of David through Solomon. As the legal Son of Joseph, the Lord fulfilled that part of God’s covenant with David, which promised him that his throne would continue forever. But Jesus could not have been the real son of Joseph without coming under God’s curse on Jechoniah, which decreed that no descendant of that wicked king would prosper (6Jer. 22:30). As the real Son of Mary, Jesus fulfilled that part of the covenant of God with David, which promised him that his seed would sit upon his throne forever. And by being descended from David through Nathan, He did not come under the curse, which was pronounced, on Jechoniah.
2. Adam is described as the son of God (v. 38). This means simply that he was created by God.
3. It seems obvious that the Messianic line ended with the Lord Jesus. No one else can ever present a valid legal claim to the throne of David.
4. Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, though that was what people assumed (7John 1:45; 6:42).
Matthew, in his genealogy, goes no higher than Abraham, but Luke brings it as high as Adam. Matthew desired to show that Christ was the son of Abraham, in whom all the families of the earth are blessed, and that he was heir to the throne of David; and therefore he begins with Abraham, and brings the genealogy down to Jacob, who was the father of Joseph, and male-heir of the house of David. But Luke, wanting to show that Christ was the seed of the woman, that should break the serpent’s head, traces his pedigree upward as high as Adam, and begins it with Ei, or Heli, who was the father of the Virgin Mary, not of Joseph. The difference between the two evangelists in the genealogy of Christ has been a stumbling-block to non-Christians and some Christians that quibble over the Bible. Matthew draws the pedigree from Solomon, whose natural line ends with Jechonias. At that point, the legal right the throne of David was transferred to Salathiel, who was of the house of Nathan, another son of David. It is this line, which Luke pursues here, and so, he leaves out all the kings of Judah. I am so glad that our salvation does not depend upon our being able to solve all these difficulties, and that the divine authority of the gospels is not weakened by them. The reason that I can say this is because the evangelists are not supposed to write these genealogies either from their own knowledge or by divine inspiration, but to have copied them out of the authentic records of the genealogies among the Jews. The genealogies were kept in the Temple where they were available to the people.
Genealogies are important, because they are history, and both Gentile history and Jewish history are in the hands of almighty God, fulfilling His purposes.
24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Janna, the son of Joseph,… 38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
25 the son of Mattathiah, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai,
26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Semei, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah,
27 the son of Joannas, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri,
28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er,
29 the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi,
30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim,
31 the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David,
32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon,
33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah,
34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,
35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah,
36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,
37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan,
38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
The genealogy concludes with this, “the son of Adam, the son of God.”
1. Some suggest this refers to Adam; he was in a peculiar manner the son of God, being, more than any of his offspring, the offspring of God by creation.
2. Others refer it to Christ, and so they make the last words of this genealogy communicate his divine and human nature. He was both the Son of Adam and the Son of God that he might be a proper Mediator between God and the sons of Adam, and might bring the sons of Adam, through him, to become the sons of God.
Luke reminded his readers that the Son of God was also the Son of man. He was born into this world and identified with the needs and problems of mankind. And since Joseph and Mary were both in David’s line, these genealogies prove that Jesus of Nazareth has the legal right to David’s throne.
Both Matthew and Luke present genealogies of Jesus (Matt. 1:1–17; Luke 3:23–38), though with some differences. Matthew traces Jesus’ lineage back to Abraham while Luke traces His lineage back to Adam. There are also certain differences in the names; these differences may be explained by what each writer wanted to portray. Both Joseph and Mary were descended from David by different branches of the family. Thus, it may be that Matthew gives Joseph’s descent, which is the legal descent of Jesus, while Luke gives Mary’s descent, which is the actual connection of Jesus with the race that He came to save.
1 (Rom. 5:12). Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. 1
2 (Ruth 4:18-22) “Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez begot Hezron; Hezron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadab; Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon; Salmon begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Obed; Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David.”2
3 (Gen. 41:46) “Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.” 3
4 (2 Sam. 5:4) “David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.”4
5 (Num. 4:3) “From thirty years old and above, even to fifty years old, all who enter the service to do the work in the tabernacle of meeting.5
6 (Jer. 22:30) “Thus says the LORD: ‘Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.’ ” 6
7 (John 1:45; 6:42). “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” : “And they said,“Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”7