Bible Question:

I am currently studying the Bible and would like to know about the verse in Luke 3:23. Is it not that Jesus was born miraculously and that he was without a human father and that his father was God Almighty? How is it that Joseph is named as his father (even though it states supposed) thereby fulfilling the prophecy of Genesis 28:14 that through the lineage of Abraham, Jesus would be born and all the nations will be blessed? How can Jesus, without a genealogy (except from his mother's side), be given a genealogy?

Bible Answer:

Jesus has a genealogy on His mother’s side and one on His father’s side. Matthew 1:1-16 gives us Joseph’s genealogy and Luke 3:23-38 gives us Mary’s genealogy. The question we are concerned with is how can Jesus have a genealogy from Abraham, if Joseph, Mary’s husband, is not his human father?

Jesus’ Supposed Father

Luke 3:23-38 gives us the ancestry of Mary.  It begins by telling us that it was commonly assumed Joseph was the father of Jesus.

When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, the son of Eli . . . Luke 3:23 (NASB)

Matthew 13:55 and John 1:45; 6:42 reveal that people believed Jesus’ father to be Joseph. The Greek text reveals that each name in the list has a definite article, except for the name of Joseph. This reveals that the name of Joseph was not included in the genealogy. Therefore, the reference to Joseph is an explanation that Joseph was not Christ’s earthly father. It was important that Luke gave us the true genealogy for Christ since the Jews were interested in keeping genealogical records.[1] It was also important for us to understand that Jesus was a descendant of both Abraham and King David. We should also note that it was typical of Jewish genealogies to not include women, except on rare occasions.

The early church fathers of Justin Martyr, Ephraim of Cyrus, Irenaeus and Eusebius all affirm that Mary was of the line of David.[2]

This genealogy does not provide a priestly lineage back to Aaron, as is evident by a casual reading of the individuals in the list. Aaron is never mentioned. Therefore, the evidence strongly suggests that this genealogy traces Jesus to the throne of King David on His mother’s side. The reader is encouraged to read, “Mary’s Genealogy.”

Jesus’ Genealogy

Matthew 1:1-16 gives us the genealogy through Joseph. A comparison of  Luke 3:23-38 to Matthew 1:1-16 reveals that some names in the two genealogies are different. The genealogies of both Matthew and Luke agree tracing Christ’s genealogy from the time of Joseph and Mary back to King David. Matthew’s genealogy is traced to Solomon and then King David. Luke’s genealogy is traced to Nathan and then King David. Both genealogies are identical from King David back to Abraham, except that Luke’s genealogy adds the name of Admin between Ram and Amminadab. Both genealogies agree at Abraham. This is important since this reveals that Jesus is the prophetic fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, which is recorded in Genesis 12:3; 22:16-18 and 28:14 (see Galatians 3:16). Jesus will also be fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:14-17).

Note that Matthew 1:16 clearly states that Joseph was the husband of Mary, Jesus’s mother was Mary. The point is the Joseph was not the earthly father.

Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. Matthew 1:16 (NASB)

Now this might be a problem in some cultures today, but it was a Jewish custom that even when a child was not the direct offspring, the child had the legal right of inheritance. In this case, Jesus had the legal right to the throne of King David. The genealogies demonstrate that Jesus had the right to the throne of David through both Joseph and Mary. He had the legal right through Joseph and the physical right through Mary. The angel Gabriel stated,

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end. Luke 1:31-33 (NASB)

The reader is encouraged to read, “Joseph’s Genealogy.”

Conclusion:

The message of the New Testament is that Jesus had the right to the throne of David and He was the Messiah through Abraham. The genealogies of both Matthew and Luke demonstrate His legal and physical descent from Abraham and King David. The gospels repeatedly declare that He is the Messiah who will rule on the throne of David (John 4:25; 7:42; Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8; Revelation 5:5; 22:16).

The reader is urged to read, “Why are the genealogical records for Jesus different in Matthew and Luke?

 

References:

1. William Barclay. Gospel of Luke. The New Daily Study Bible. Westminster John Knox Press. 2001. p. 48-49.
2. R. C. Foster. Studies in the Life of Christ. College Press Publishing. 2000. p. 268.

Suggested Links:

What do we know about Joseph, the supposed father of Jesus Christ?
What do we know about the life of Joseph?
Who was Mary, the mother of Jesus?
The Gift – The Virgin Birth of Christ
Joseph’s Genealogy
Mary’s Genealogy
Why are the genealogical records for Jesus different in Matthew and Luke?