“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (2 Peter 1:16)
One of the seemingly contradictory subjects of the Bible is the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ. It seems that one cannot accept both the record of Matthew and accept the record of Luke at the same time. Some say that the genealogy in one Gospel refered to the lineage of Mary, while the other refered to that of Joseph. But the two records say that they refered to that of Joseph. We needn’t assume contrary to what is obvious that the two Gospels’ genealogical records of Jesus were in any way for each of the parents of Jesus.
Here I seek to present to us why the two genealogical records are in total agreement.
Why Genealogies Should Not Bother Us
“Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.” (1 Timothy 1:4)
Genealogy has little bearing on the Christian faith. What should bother us the most is our understanding of the Christian doctrine and things that are edifying. The verse above tells us plainly that we shouldn’t give heed to endless genealogies, saying they only minister questions and don’t edify. So genealogies on general grounds are not important to us.
Why The Genealogy Of Christ Should Be Of Concern To Us
“Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” (Romans 1:3)
The Bible tells us that Jesus is of the seed of David according to the flesh. What then is this than a little genealogy? If Jesus is of the seed of David, it can only be confirmed through his genealogy. If we can’t confirm this, we can’t really prove his messiahship for the messiah must of necessity be in the lineage of David. He must also not just belong to David’s lineage, he must also be heir of the throne of David.
Secondly, the Bible says to us, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15). If a man ask you for a reason of your hope, seeing the seemingly contradictory record of the genealogy of Christ, would you be ready to give him an answer? We ought always to be ready to give an answer no matter how the question about our hope is put forward to us.
Therefore, my aim is to provide sufficient evidences that we have concrete reasons to affirmatively say that the genealogy of Christ recorded in Matthew does not contradict the record in Luke.
Biological Children And Spiritual Children
“Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.” (Mark 12:19)
It is the Jewish tradition that if a man dies without having children, his brother, or closest willing kin, should take his wife and raise children for him. From this we understand that he who says the child given birth to in such a manner is the son of the dead, and the son of the brother of the dead too are both correct. For easy understanding in this article, I’d like to say that the child given birth to in this manner is the spiritual son of the dead, and the biological son of the brother or closest kin of the dead.
The Genealogy Of Our Lord
“Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel.” (2 Timothy 2:8)
In the genealogy of Jesus, there are people who were both spiritual sons and biological sons. We can’t merely assume that a person had died childless in the genealogy of Christ, we know for sure that this happened at least once. It is written, “Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not? O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.” (Jeremiah 22:28 – 30). The man referred to here as Coniah is the king of Israel Jechoniah.
Despite the great divide in the record of the two Gospels on the genealogy of Christ, both of them had two names in common, which are “Salathiel,” and “Zorobabel.” Zorobabel was the son of Salathiel. This Salathiel is the same one referred to as “Shealtiel” in most of the Old Testament books like Ezra, Nehemiah, and Hagai. His son Zorobabel was a great man who is the Zerubbabel to whom God made abundant promises to by the mouth of Hagai and Zachariah including this, “This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.” (Zechariah 4:6 – 7). This is that Zorobabel.
Matthew recorded “Salathiel,” to be the son of Jechoniah, while Luke recorded him to be the son of Neri. Since Jeremiah prophesied that Jechoniah shall be childless, we can safely come to the conclusion that Matthew’s record was affected by these spiritual sons, while Luke was strictly biological. For this reason we can see that Neri and Jechoniah were connected only in David. Neri descended from Nathan the son of David and Jechoniah descended from Solomon the son of David, and king of Israel. Nathan and Solomon were very close kinsmen and were direct brothers and sons of the same mother as we can see in 1Chronicles 3:5.
From this also, it is most probable that Joseph, the father of Jesus, according to the flesh, was both a spiritual son and a biological one. This is why we see the differences in the names of the grandparents of Jesus.
We can notice that between David and Salathiel, we have about fifteen people according to Matthew, and about twenty according to Luke. So we understand that the royal lineage was shorter and had fewer people than that of their brethren. Though I have not adequate information to say this in regards to the Jewish people in particular, I think this is so because generally, amidst the people who are privileged to be able to afford to themselves a life of luxury, as we would expect of the royal family, the life expectancy is relatively longer, and child birth rate is directly proportional to the level of poverty in a society. This should explain why the list of people between David to Joseph was longer in Luke than in Matthew.
Both these genealogies are important. That of Matthew proves that Jesus is heir to the throne of David. And that of Luke proves that he is the biological son (seed), of David. Both these qualities must the messiah have. Thank God for the two records.
I sincerely hope you find this useful. Thank you and God bless you for making time to read.