Why are Jesus' genealogies in Matthew and Luke so different?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Q jcryle001 JD Abshire
Jeremiah 22:24-30 tells us why the genealogies had to be different. King Solomon's line was cursed. In reference to Jeconiah or Coniah Jeremiah 22:30 states "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." 

In Matthew 1:11 we see that Joseph was descendant of Jechonias, the cursed line of Solomon. 

Luke 3:31 shows that Mary, mother of Jesus came through Nathan, another of David's sons whom he named after the prophet.

This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

"For unto us a child is born" Christ was born of Mary.

"a son is given" Christ was adopted by Joseph.

December 29 2013 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Stringio Phillip Ramirez Actor-Musician-Bible Student
Both of the previous answers were very well put-together and thought out... I commend you both on your research!

Now... to the point. What does this information mean for us on a spiritual level?

Simply put: Matthew was a lawyer, and thus traced Jesus' lineage following the LEGAL line of inheritance. Luke, the good physician, followed the BLOOD LINE of inheritance. These two points are vital in understanding Jesus' role as the Messiah.

If you trace the lineage in both gospel accounts, you'll come to see that there are two names that correspond in both lines: the names of King David and his father Jesse (Matt. 1:6; Luke 3:31, 32). We know this is the same David in both because Jesse's name on both lists qualifies it.

This fulfills the prophecy listed in Isaiah 11:1, 2—"And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit. 2 And the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah." (American Standard Version)

So Jesus had both the LEGAL right as well as the BLOOD right to be the Messiah and king and to sit on the throne of David, which was vacated in the first destruction of the temple and exile into Babylon.

No other human being has ever been able to fill that role, either before or since. And since the second destruction of the temple in 70 C.E. at the hands of the Romans, most genealogical records were destroyed, leaving a complete inability to accurately and truthfully trace the lineage of the Messiah.

Exciting, isn't it...? :-)

February 14 2014 6 responses Vote Up Share Report

Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
Jesus' genealogy is given in two places in Scripture: Matthew 1 and Luke 3:23-38. Matthew traces the genealogy from Jesus to Abraham. Luke traces the genealogy from Jesus to Adam. However, there is...

July 01 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Dscf1720 Myron Robertson Seeking God's heart
There are good and interesting answers here regarding the "legal" and "biological" lineages. Mr. Houdmann speaks of the unusual situation of counting the legal lineage through the mother, but does not discuss the legal basis for this. The legal basis becomes especially important if Luke's account is dealing with Mary's lineage rather than an instance of levirate marriage in Joseph's lineage.

The law that applies in such cases was given in answer to the case of Zelophehad and his daughters (Numbers 27:1-11, Numbers 36:1-12). In this case Zelophehad did not die childless, but he had no sons. A wife and husband are co-heirs and when a wife leaves her father's house to join with her husband she normally loses all right to an inheritance in her father's estate. This is true whether she is a free woman or a bond woman (not a slave -- there is a major difference between these two labels, which I have discussed in other postings.) 

There is nothing in scriptural law dealing with how this works for the free woman as is the case with the bond woman. When a woman is sold as a bond woman there is no right of redemption as is the case with the man. She enters the household of her master for life, and can only be released from this bond by mistreatment by her master, in which case he must release her without payment (without redemption) because of his sin against her or if he simply finds her displeasing he can sell her back to her father's household (allow her to be redeemed).

However, the bond woman is still not a slave. The master may take her as his wife, or he may give her as a wife to one of his sons or any of the servants in his household. If he does not take her as his wife she has full rights as his daughter. This "sale" is either a marriage or a legal adoption. The laws governing this are found in Exodus 21. From this time forward unless she is released or redeemed according to this law she and her children now share in the inheritance of her master. 

If her master gives her as a wife to one of his bondsmen that bondsman must divorce her and return her and her children to the master if he chooses to leave this master when his bond is paid off. If he loves his wife and children (or simply loves his master) and chooses to remain when the bond is paid off he goes through an ear piercing ceremony, showing that his ears are now opened and he will listen to and obey this master for the rest of his life. He is now a son (not a fully mature son, but as a youth) and will eventually share in the inheritance of his master as would a biological son. He has renounced his inheritance from his biological father, and with his wife and children share in the inheritance of the chosen (legal) father.

Free daughters were dealt with in a similar manner if their father has no sons, but this was not clearly stated in the law, and when the matter came to Moses he said, "I don't know what we are to do; let's ask God." God's answer was that these daughters were to inherit. In this case, when they married, their husbands left their father's house, renounce his inheritance and shared in the inheritance of the daughter's father, taking that name as his own and being adopted as a son of her father. It is by this law that Jesus biological connection to David, and through David his connection to Adam is determined, and it is by other adoption laws that Jesus legal connection to David through Solomon (whose entire line was NOT disqualified, only Jehoiachin was declared legally childless and it is not clear in Matthew's genealogy if Shealtiel was the son of Jehoiachin or one of his brothers, despite the footnote that says Jeconiah was Jehoiachin). 

Since the laws of Moses were all prophecy of Jesus (John 5:46) all of these laws will in some way be fulfilled in Jesus genealogy, and any of these variants can cause discrepancies between any two genealogies.

December 13 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Appelt
The two genealogies of Jesus are distinctively different. 
Joseph’s line – Mary’s line
descending line – ascending line
to Abraham through David – to God through Adam
abbreviated – completed/inclusive
3 sets of 14 – one continuous line
royal/legal – human/natural
for the Jews – for the Greeks
Jesus as Messiah/King – Jesus as Son of Man

They are different because the writers were writing from two different perspectives. Matthew, writing to Jews, established Jesus as the Messiah and King, citing the two important individuals, Abraham with whom God made the covenant, and David, the king. Kings have to trace how they are descended. Matthew starts out his gospel with it. Luke wrote to the Greeks to show Jesus was the perfect human. Man traces his ancestry back to Adam and the Creator. Luke places the genealogy at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

As a tax collector or accountant, Matthew purposefully used a stylistic arrangement of abridgment as seen by the pattern with the number fourteen which corresponds numerically with the Hebrew name David, Matthew 1:17. There are gaps, but they are not critical as long as it connects the names of David and Abraham to Jesus, which Matthew does.

As a historian, Luke wanted to trace the genealogy of Jesus back to Adam. He included every individual (although it is recognized that the inclusion of Cainan’s name, Luke 3:36, is a scribal error, as compared to Genesis 11:12). 

Luke 3:23 shows that Jesus was not Joseph’s natural son because of the virgin birth. “Supposed” means Joseph was “regarded” the father. Jews considered Joseph the legal father of Jesus, John 6:42. “Joseph” is the only name without the definite article which indicates that his name is not part of the list, but a parenthetical comment put in at this point. He is called the “son of Heli” or “of Heli,” because in the Greek there is no specific word for “son-in-law.” Mary’s ancestry would have been in her husband’s name. The first two chapters of Luke focus primarily on Mary which suggest this genealogy is hers. As Jesus was virgin born, her genealogy was important.

Efforts have been made to show that Jesus did not qualify to reign due to the curse of Jeconiah, Jeremiah 22:30, Matthew 1:11-12. Supposedly, Mary’s lineage made it possible, but this has no supporting evidence. Mary was descended from another son of David by the name of Nathan who had no right to the throne. Besides, the Jews never raised the issue with Jesus that He could not be the Messiah because of this.

Even though both Matthew 1:12 and Luke 3:27 refer to Shealtiel and Zerubbabel, they are not the same. These individuals just happen to have the same names in the same sequence but in different times and different fathers of Shealtiel. The chances of that happening are great in any genealogy.

The vast differences between the two genealogies are due to the writer’s purpose, the intended audience, and the two different people involved, Mary and Joseph.

September 15 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Kenneth Heck
From the Jewish viewpoint, Jesus was the adopted son of Joseph and his genealogy is shown in Matthew 1. But Jesus’ claim to the throne of David (Luke 1:32) could not pass through Joseph because he came from the cursed line of Solomon (Jer.30:22). The alternative genealogy is presented in Luke 3:23-38 and is presumed to be the line of Mary, but without scriptural confirmation. 

There is a sticky problem with tracing Jesus' genealogy through Mary, because all legal descent must come through the male line in Judaism and most other religions. The male line is preferred because in the fall of Adam and Eve, Adam was not deceived as Eve was (1Tim. 2:13-15). However, Catholics and the Orthodox denominations resolve this problem by claiming Mary was born free of original sin (the "Immaculate Conception"). As a result there is no error in claiming a physical descent through Mary. The Immaculate Conception applied to Mary, not Christ, who was also born without original sin. Jesus inherited all of his physical genes from Mary, but they had been rearranged to conform to the express image of the Father. He was, indeed, a totally new creation and precisely fulfills the prophecy of Jer. 31:22 "...for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man." Since the Immaculate Conception is not found in the Bible, it continues as an item of controversy.

December 13 2014 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

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