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Matthew’s Interesting Genealogy Of Jesus

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Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
(Matthew 1:2-16 ESV)


Today we read the genealogy of Jesus as recorded by Matthew. The Greek word for “genealogy” here is γένεσις (pronounced: ghen’-es-is) which means “origin”.

This genealogy is very interesting for a few reasons. First, all the people in this list are real. They are human. Hence, Jesus was human. He has His origins in humanity. Interestingly, in a couple of days we’ll read that Jesus has a second γένεσις (origin) that is not human but is divine. Jesus was both man and God.

Notice also that Jesus’ ancestors are all sinners. David, while being a good king, was a seducer, an adulterer, and a murder. Solomon had a sex addiction. Rehoboam was a tyrant. There’s not one person in this list whose hands are clean. Jesus descended from sinners, just like all of us.

Surprisingly Matthew’s genealogy also includes four women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba (not named, but referred to as the wife of Uriah). It would have been very unusual for a Jewish genealogy to include women. Even more unusual is the fact that three of these women – Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth – were Gentiles. Matthew seems to be telling us that no one is outside of God’s plan. Although women and Gentiles were looked down upon in this culture, God did not look down upon them. He used them to bring Jesus into the world.

It’s well known that Luke also gives a genealogy of Jesus in his gospel [Luke 3:23-38]. Luke and Matthew both trace Jesus’ ancestry back to David but through two different sons, Solomon and Nathan respectively. Many skeptics will claim that the differences in these two genealogies is a contradiction in the Bible and, therefore, the Bible must be dismissed. But a careful study shows this is not true.

Matthew’s goal was to demonstrate Jesus’ legal lineage. This lineage came through Joseph. Matthew carefully tells us that each man in this genealogy is the “father” of the next, until he gets to Joseph. Rather than call Joseph Jesus’ father, Matthew refers to Joseph as the husband of Mary. Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father, as we will learn tomorrow. Instead he was Jesus’ adoptive father. Adopted children back then, just like today, had the same legal rights and privileges as natural-born children. The fact that Jesus was ‘adopted’ by Joseph gives Him (Jesus) the legal right to be called the son of David.

On the other hand, Luke’s goal was to demonstrate Jesus’ blood lineage which did not come through Joseph but through Mary who was Jesus’ biological mother. Two parents, two genealogies. Nothing in these two differing accounts suggests an inexplicable discrepancy.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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