Lesson 10: The Genealogy of Jesus Christ
Matthew 1:1-17, Luke3:23-38
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A Blending of The Four Gospel Records.
Lesson # 10. Welcome! As we said before, it is our goal in this lesson to cover 33 verses (17 verses in Matthew and 16 verses in Luke). I'm talking about Matt. 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38. I suggest you re-read these verses one more time. To save time, I'm NOT going to read'em with you. I'm going to let you pronounce all those big names on your own. You see, I trust you! Incidentally, if you ever run out of names for your grandchildren, here are some good ones.
But, first I ask you, why was this big list of names placed here? These lists ARE usually just skipped, when reading the Bible. Mark and John DO NOT have a corresponding section in their books. Is this just wasted space? If you have NEVER taken the time to try to reconcile this section in your mind, you have missed a very important part of the gospel. What was the purpose of the four gospels? John said (20:31) "that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God." Jesus was' NOT just a self-styled prophet, like the prophets of today, who are NOT prophets at all. Jesus Christ IS the fulfillment of hundreds of prophecies in the O.T. Matthew BELABORS that point. The birth and life of Jesus fulfilled prophecy. To miss that point, is to miss the thrust of all four books. The teachings of Jesus and John the Baptist (which make up the remainder of these four books) are predicated upon this point and this understanding. When you lose sight of this, THEN it becomes just another boring study, something to read and talk about in a literary sense. But, I have said before: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are MORE than that. Until you grasp and accept this; you do not have faith in the Bible sense. The H.S. of God is the author of these books. To believe that Jesus lived in a HISTORICAL SENSE in not enough. The faith required in the Bible is in a spiritual sense. Jesus lived, YES! But, he was NOT just an ordinary mortal. Jesus was (and is) God's Son. Do you remember John's prologue? Jesus was the Word (capital "W"). Jesus was with God. Jesus was God! All things were made by Him. He became flesh and dwelt among men. (John 1:1-14). John said in v.12, the first step is to believe this. If we believe THIS, then God will give us "power to become" the sons of God. Now, FAITH ALONE won't make us sons of God. We've covered that. But, you can't become a child of God without faith. John makes this point very clear. And, John said: this is written that you MIGHT believe (John 20:30). Thus, to miss this point is to miss the purpose of these four books.
Now, these two genealogies (i.e. lists of Jesus' ancestors) were recorded as ONE MORE EVIDENCE in establishing this purpose. These two lists ALONE, do NOT establish that Jesus was the messiah. This was ONE qualification. It was a stipulated condition in prophecy. And some of these prophecies had existed more than 1000 years. Every knowledgeable Jew knew from the prophets of old, that the messiah (which they expected) would be a descendant of Abraham. This is stated at the beginning of the Bible: Gen. 12, beginning in v.1-ff. It was confirmed again in Gen. 22:18. Abraham's son Isaac later received the same divine message in Gen. 26:4. Still later God delivered this same divine message to Isaac's son, Jacob. Jacob's name was changed to "Israel" and he became the father of the 12 patriarchs, i.e. the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel. Jacob was told this in Gen. 35:10-11-12. Then Jacob prophesied that: this promise would be fulfilled through his son Judah (Gen. 49:10). Now, look at Matt. 1:2, "Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Judah and his brethren..." Then v.3 continues ON down through Judah and I think you know the list ends in v.16 with Jesus Christ. Jesus was the seed that was promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, etc. Thus, as I said before, Jesus did NOT simply announce himself! He was prophesied more than 1000 years before. Gal. 3:16 is made up of two sentences. And, these two sentences summarize this better than any verse I know. I suggest you turn the tape player off and read that verse about 5 times. It says, "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, WHICH IS CHRIST." Thus, Jesus Christ is referred to in Matt. 1:1 as the son of Abraham, i.e. a descendant of Abraham.
Something else here; notice the word "Christ" in v.16 of Matthew's account. Look at it close! The word "Christ" there is a title. You see, this is NOT his name. The word "Christ" comes from a Greek word "Christos" which literally means, "The Anointed One." It's the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word translated Messiah. So, that was NOT part of Jesus' name. It is like saying King Jesus, you see.
Now, what we have said about Abraham can essentially be said about David who live almost 1000 years after Abraham and about 1000 years BEFORE Christ. Similar prophecies were made about David. Psalms 132:11 says: "The Lord hath sworn to...David...of the fruit of thy body will I set UPON thy throne.." AND, this is prophesied in Isa. 11:1, Psalm 72, Jeremiah 23:5, II Samuel 7:16 and on and on. Essentially the same thing was said to David's son, Solomon in I Kings 9:5. If we had an exhaustive list of such prophecies, it would amaze you. Matthew wants us to see this. Luke wants you and me to see this.
Alright, I'm NOT going to talk about these scriptures verse by verse, as we usually do. If I did, we would involve ourselves in a complete course in O.T. history before we finished. Matthew starts his list with Abraham and bring it down to Christ. Now, that's because the O.T. story essentially started with Abraham in Gen. ch. 12. The first eleven chapters of Genesis are essentially a preface to Abraham and his descendants. Abraham received the promise. Luke, on the other hand works backward in his list. He starts with Jesus in Luke 3:23 and works back to David, then back to Abraham where Matthew's list started. But, Luke doesn't stop there. Luke goes all the way back to Adam, the first man. In other words, Luke works all the way back through the O.T. and includes those first eleven chapters of Genesis that Matthew omits. Other than this inverted approach, the two lists (the first 17 verses of Matthew and the last 16 verses in Luke ch. 3) are essentially the same lists. But, if you want to get picky; you'll find some glaring differences. For example, Matthew says (v.16) "Jacob began Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ." But, Luke said in v.23 that Joseph's father was Heli (H-E-L-I). Now, how do you explain that? Was Joseph's father Jacob or was Joseph's father Heli? I've never met anybody that had more than one father; have you? I'm talking about a biological father of course. BUT, I'm not so naive as to believe that, if Luke researched those names all the way back to the beginning of time, SURELY he knew who Joseph's father was. Luke and Heli could have been contemporary,(i.e. they lived at the same time.) So, we don't have any reason to doubt this list. Obviously, there is some other explanation. The first that comes to mind is that Jacob and Heli may have been the same person. Surely, you
have met and known people who became widely known by two different names. And, we assumed Luke meant biological father. But some think Heli was Mary's father AND when Luke said Joseph was the son of Heli, the proper translation would be "son-in-law" of Heli. Sons-in-laws were sometimes said to be sons. However, THAT would make Luke's list (here) Mary's pedigree, and NOT Joseph's. Mary was Jesus' mother. But, Joseph was NOT Jesus' biological father. The idea here is a genealogy of Jesus, that's obvious. Romans 1:3 says: "Jesus Christ our Lord, ... was made of the seed of David ACCORDING TO THE FLESH..." Thus, if we take this literally, THEN the genealogy would have to go through Mary and NOT Joseph, i.e. blood kin, as we sometimes say. Thus, it MAY BE that Matthew gave the genealogy of Joseph and Luke recorded the genealogy of Mary. But, since Mary and Joseph were of the same tribe; their genealogies would naturally run together a few generations back. And, IF that be the case, THEN we have an ancestral list of BOTH Joseph and Mary. This thought coordinates with the rest of Luke's book, if you will remember. Luke gave us the details of how the angel, Gabriel, appeared to Mary in Luke ch. 1. But, Matthew told us the story from Joseph's point of view, do you remember? Thus, it would NOT be inconsistent for Matthew and Luke to follow that same literary scheme with reference to these genealogies. And, I might use this opportunity to make another point just here. You see, Matthew and Luke did NOT copy (one from the other) as some assert in a shallow-sort-of-way. The H.S. gave us two accounts because: one compliments the other. You see, it's not just pure duplication as some would imply.
THEN, another factor that MAY muddy the water here is what is known as levirate marriages. According to Deut. 25:5-10, if an Israelite man died, leaving a widow with NO CHILDREN, then the nearest relative of her husband (usually a brother) was to marry and have children by this widow. But, GET THIS, these children were reckoned to be the children of her dead husband, and not their biological father. So, you can see how that would complicate a genealogical list such as these. Now, I don't know if this occurs in these lists at all, or how many times. Also, it has been established these lists are not complete. For example, Matthew says in v.8 that Jehoram begat Uzziah. It can be established using the O.T. books of II Kings and Chronicles that three kings are left out here. But, does that ruin Matthew's genealogy? You see, a hole in a genealogy doesn't invalidate that genealogy from Matthew's point of view. The point is: these tables (or lists) are sufficient to connect Jesus to David and Abraham; such as to show that Jesus WAS a direct descendant, as had been prophesied that the messiah WOULD BE. For example, Jesus was of tribe of Judah. Jacob (who was Abraham's grandson) prophesied on his death bed (Gen. 49:10), that Shiloh (i.e. the messiah) would come through Judah. Thus, you see, Jesus qualifies according to that prophecy. But, by way of example, John the Baptist wouldn't qualify there; because you'll remember John was of the tribe of Levi (Luke 1:5). You see the whole point here is that Matthew and Luke want us to see that Jesus fulfilled EVERY prophecy. Now, NOT all prophecies had to do with family lineage. But, Luke and Matthew want us to see that those prophecies dealing with family lineage DO FIT. That's the purpose of these tables. AND, genealogical tables were important to the Jews. The O.T. contains several such lists. The legal deed (or title) to their land and properties was partly established by their genealogy. Thus, many Jews memorized these tables. That's undoubtedly the thought behind that 14 generation breakdown in Matt. 1:17. It was a memory aid; NOT intended necessarily to mention every person in the lineage.
Luke's list is a fuller list than Matthew's list. For example, Luke lists 41 or 42 people between David and Christ; whereas Matthew listed only 28 persons (i.e. 2 X 14). Matthew and Luke have the same list from David back to Abraham. Thus, Luke and Matthew had a different purpose in mind than the purpose of those lists we have mentioned in the O.T. But, you should remember that these lists have NOTHING TO DO with us today. Other than as I have said, this is JUST one more documentation of evidence that Jesus was (and is) the Christ. The reason I emphasize: THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO with us today IS THAT: some
persons today, try to establish their propriety as God's people today by a process they term "succession." I won't get into that; but, Matthew and Luke established no such precedent with the genealogical lists that we are covering here. That is made very plain in a verse we have already covered (I'm talking about John 1:12). If you believe in Jesus Christ as God's Son, then on the basis of that faith, God extends to you the power-to-become a son of God. We have emphasized before, that faith DOESN'T MAKE YOU a son of God; it only give you the power-to-become. You must exercise that power to become! This is what the N.T. teaches through and through. Let's read about four verses at the end of Galatians ch. 3. It says, beginning in Gal. 3:26: "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, THEN are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Now to save time, let's skip down to Gal. 4:4. (I'm leaving out three verses.) "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that WE might receive the adoption of sons." I.e. that we might be adopted as a son. You see, today (in the Christian age) we become God's children by an adoption process, not by being seed according to the flesh. You see, Israelite babies (i.e. Jewish descendants of Abraham) became heirs of the promise to Abraham BY BIRTH during that period when the 10 commandments were in force. Thus, they were BORN heirs to the Abrahamic promise by a fleshly birth. Boy babies were circumcised the 8th day to show this relationship (read Gen. 17:9-14, read it close). Thus, circumcision IN THAT PERIOD was a fleshly symbol of covenant relationship. Paul said twice in the book of Galatians where we read, and ends the book with this thought: "...in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision" availeth anything - nothing! That time has passed! So, knowing your pedigree (yea or nay) means NOTHING in Christ Jesus. This fleshly relationship has been replaced by a spiritual relationship through FAITH and BAPTISM into Jesus Christ. This applies to Jews, Gentiles, slaves or free, male or female. That's another way of saying it applies to everybody. So, your genealogy won't help your OR hurt you in the Christian age. But, faith in Jesus Christ is what counts. That's why Matthew and Luke gave us these lists, trying to fortify our faith. Now, I don't want to overdo this; but, let me summarize what we have just said with other thoughts. You see, covenant relationship to God with an Israelite depended upon (#1) a fleshly birth AND (#2) circumcision. In our age, God has substituted baptism and faith in Jesus Christ for a fleshly birth and circumcision, i.e. the elements indicating covenant relationship have been replaced. Thus, baptism spiritually stands today where that Israelite fleshly birth once stood, as the action (or the ordinance) to establish covenant relationship with God by obedience. Thus, baptism is sometimes FIGURATIVELY referred to in our age as a BIRTH. John covered that thought (and figure) in John 1:13. Would you read that verse again and see if you can connect up this point? Seeing this will help you to latch on to some important figures of speech, these writers use in future chapters. So, that's the reason I belabor the point here.
Many other things could be (and should be) observed here about these genealogical tables. But, our time is gone. So, I'll have to leave a good bit of the observation to you. Take a little time to comb through these tables. They connect the N.T. to the O.T. like a hand in a glove. I hope you see Matthew and Luke's purpose for including these tables. In our next lesson we'll begin with Luke 3:1. Until then, have a good day!