Two genealogies of Jesus are recorded in the New Testament, one in the first chapter of Matthew and one in the third chapter of Luke. In Luke, the family tree is taken all the way back to Adam, because Luke desired for us to know that Christ is the Savior of all mankind. Luke was a friend and traveling partner of Paul who took the gospel out of Jerusalem and extended it to the whole world. In Matthew, Christ’s ancestry is traced to Abraham. It was his intention to teach that Jesus Christ is the rightful King of Israel and the fulfillment of the prophecies given about the Messiah starting with the blessing God gave to Abraham.
Both genealogies lead to Joseph, which may seem, on the surface, to be problematic, because Jesus is the Son of God. There are also differences between the two lists of names, which causes some to question. The laws considering adoption in the law of Israel are far more serious than our laws today, Jesus would legally have been the firstborn heir to all that belonged to Joseph, because He was adopted into his family. Jesus’ beginnings are not in a stable in Bethlehem, but at the right hand of the Father. Jesus, like any adopted son or daughter was an equal heir with natural born children. It was illegal to treat or consider them in any way less than those born into the family. The genealogy in Matthew traces the direct ancestry of Joseph, which makes clear that Jesus is from the line of Judah. The ancestry in Luke, most scholars agree, traces Mary’s bloodline which Joseph has a claim to through marriage to Mary, which doubly qualifies Jesus to be in the line of the kings. Under Jewish law, if Mary had no brothers, Joseph would be considered son and legal heir to her parents.
1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Jesus is, “the seed of Abraham.” Through Him we inherit the precious promises of God. You’ll remember how after a lifetime of waiting God gave Abraham a son with his wife Sarah. Then astoundingly, God asked Abraham to take his son Isaac and offer him as a burnt offering unto God on Mount Moriah. In obedience to God, Abraham walked up that mountain, reasoning within himself, according to Hebrews chapter 11, that God was able to raise his son from the dead in order to keep His promises. All was made ready, but before Isaac’s life could be taken, God stopped Abraham and told him that He would provide “himself” a sacrifice. Abraham offered a ram that God provided, one caught in a thicket. God did not require Abraham to give his precious son, but was willing to do so himself to redeem the world.
2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
When Jacob was old and dying, cared for by his son Joseph who had ascended to power in Egypt and who had rescued his family, he drew his sons around his deathbed and prophesied to them about their futures. He corrected, harshly, the wicked ways he found in them, warning them of trouble to come. To Judah, he also gave a promise:
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Genesis 49:10
God chose the tribe of Judah to be the line leading to the great King of Kings our Lord Jesus Christ. The books of I and II Kings and I and II Chronicles record the lives of the kings of Judah and how they both triumphed and failed because of their obedience to God or lack of it. All were less than the promise, but reminders of what to look for in the Messiah to come.
3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
If you were writing a mythology or a piece of fiction to create a new religion, I doubt you would highlight Tamar in the genealogy of your hero. The Pharisees would often rail against Jesus because he befriended sinners. Our Lord is not ashamed of us, we are those He came to save. Christ’s line is made of sinners, that’s why to be the Savior, he was born of a virgin through the power of God. Only a sinless sacrifice would be accepted. Tamar played the harlot after the death of her husband, she entrapped her father-in-law Judah with a disguise and bore his son, narrowly escaping death for her deception. The deaths of Judah’s sons came as a result of their sin, but God used even Tamar to preserve the bloodline of Christ and to keep his promise.
4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
Ruth was a Moabitess, not of the nation of Israel. By marriage, and more importantly by faith, she became a part of the family of God. Ruth’s husband and his brother died without an heir, but because of her faithfulness to God and to her mother-in-law Naomi, she was redeemed by Boaz. It has always been God’s plan to bring in all who would put their trust in Him.
6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;
Saul was the first king of Israel, head and shoulders taller than the rest, yet a coward at heart. He tried to manipulate God and his servant Samuel with lies and justifications. We know it was never to be that the messiah would come from Saul’s family because, God who is all knowing, had already given the promise that Judah would be the Messiah’s tribe. Saul served as an example of man’s idea of a king, David was a “man after God’s own heart.” The removal of Saul and the coronation of David is another example of what we might hide, but what God has redeemed. Our father Adam failed us, his disobedience brought death and separation, but the second Adam (a new beginning) Jesus Christ brought us life and reconciliation with God. David’s son Solomon was the product of David’s great sin with Bathsheba, which cost him dearly, but neither Adam’s fall nor David’s foolishness hindered the plans of God.
7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;
During Rehoboam’s reign, the nation of Israel was divided into two kingdoms. Hatred, Idolatry, and abominations such as child sacrifice were allowed to take root. What Rehoboam lost, Christ restored, he did miracle after miracle in the northern kingdom, reminding us that he “came to seek and to save that which was lost.” In the last days, Israel will be united under the reign of Christ.
8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;
Asa and Jehosaphat were two of good kings, bringing the nation back to God.
9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;
Manasses and Amon were two of the worst kings, the Bible says that they did more wickedly than the nations of the promised land that God judged and destroyed before Israel was created. God had every reason to give up on Israel, they had broken every covenant and every commandment He had set for them. Satan’s attacks on the promises of God were intense and unrelenting, but it couldn’t stop the plan of God.
11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:
Babylonian captivity devastated the nation, scattered families, most were never reunited. The world changed as colossal empires rose on the stage of history. Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome and yet, through all the disruptions and the chaos, God preserved the family of the king. Even in exile, records were kept and the promise of the Messiah was treasured by the remnant of believers who trusted His word. When Ezra returned, and Nehemiah also, to rebuild the temple, there was an heir to the throne of David.
12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.
While some of the names are omitted, it’s not because they are lost. We, and those in Matthew’s days, had access to the genealogies in the Old Testament. Matthew is correct in his math. Matthew wrote to a mainly jewish audience, and they would have understood that the reference to these fourteen generations is a fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy of 70 weeks, which are actually weeks of years. Four hundred ninety years would pass between the rebuilding of the temple and the birth of Christ. Four hundred and ninety divided by generations (35 years) equals exactly 14. In other words, a man of God living 500 years before Christ was born in Bethlehem, predicted the exact time when he would arrive.
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. To Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!