The Genealogy of Jesus in Matthew – 1
Matthew starts his account of Jesus’ life with a detailed genealogy of Jesus starting from Abraham (Matthew 1:1-17).
Luke also gives the genealogy of Jesus starting from Adam (Luke 3:23-38) and the two do not match.
It is interesting to see the number of studies and theories developed to explain and to prove these two genealogies and find the real meaning/importance they have.
Scholars and students from the beginning of Christianity have addressed this problem. I will not give all the arguments proposed, if you want to find out more, you can look up the following references and those mentioned in them:
General references about Bible genealogies
- Five Reasons Why We Should Love the Genealogies of the Bible – Unlocking the Bible
- Genealogy of Jesus – Complete-Bible-Genealogy.com
- Genealogy of Jesus – Wikipedia
- Family Tree of the Bible – Wikipedia
Reference about the fourteen generations cycle mentioned in Matthew 1:17
- Significance of the 14 Generations in Matthew 1 – Biblical Hermeneutics
- Why 14 generations in Jesus’ Genealogy of Matthew 1? – Soli Deo Gloria
- The Historical Meaning of the Forty-two Generations in Matthew 1:17 – Living Tradition
My Observations on the Studies on the Genealogy of Jesus
After reviewing all the arguments, these are my conclusions:
- The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew and Luke evidently relate to the lineage of Joseph and Mary, respectively. I think that this is not controversial.
- I believe that the Holy Spirit inspired both writers. They confirmed God’s promises and the prophecies stating that the Messiah will descend from Abraham and David.
- I find that the suggestions about Matthew’s error in counting generations, and making it an issue about biblical inerrancy is ridiculous.
- The various symbolic interpretations of the cycles of 14 generations according to numerology are only theories that actually have no significant impact on us. The Jews and especially the Pharisees cared about this thing, but there is no evidence that Jesus or the apostles did. Mathew wrote about it because he was addressing the Jews.
- We must be careful not to try to find symbolic spiritual meaning in everything, even when it does not help. All these arguments and theories may satisfy your curiosity but from a spiritual point of view, will do little for you. You will only be more confused than when you started because these are only their opinions.
A Spiritual Perspective of the Genealogy of Jesus
From a spiritual point of view, I find that the following observations are more important:
- The genealogy of Jesus’ included both people who followed God and others who did not, but all of them were sinners. God uses imperfect people to carry out His perfect plan of redemption of the human race. This means that He will also use you and I.
- God intervened supernaturally many times in the redemption plan by communicating and directing men. In this way, He demonstrated His love towards us. He still intervenes in your life even more than in the Old Testament (John 16:13).
- God has no preferences (Acts 10:34-35) but responds to our faith (Hebrews 11:6).
- Both Jesus and His ancestors were human beings (1 John 4:2-3, John 1:14).
Are Genealogies Important for Believers?
I believe that the key issue about genealogies is the answer to this question:
Since Mathew used the genealogy of Jesus’ in the Bible, should we do the same? Should we give importance to our genealogies as the Mormons do? We must find the answer to this question in the Bible because it has spiritual implication for us.
What Jesus Said about Our Descent
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3:3-7)
Although Jesus was born from a physical birth, he came to establish a new type of birth and a new genealogy (John 3:3-7). The birth in the flesh is not as important for us as the birth of the Spirit. When we are born-again, we become children of God. This establishes a spiritual genealogy.
Later, Jesus answered the Jews who said that they were the children of Abraham but their behavior showed that they were children of the devil (John 8:30-41)
Even John the Baptist made a similar statement saying that God was able to raise children of Abraham from the stones (Matthew 3:9, Luke 3:8).
Again Jesus said that his mother and brothers were not those related to Him in the flesh but those who did the will of His Father (Matthew 12:47-50, Mark 3:31-35, Luke 8:19-21).
What Paul Said about Our Spiritual Genealogy
The Apostle Paul expands a few times on spiritual descent.
- Romans 2:28-29 says that a real Jew is not one who is outwardly, by natural descent or circumcision, but one who is inwardly.
- Romans 9:6-8 says that not all Israel and the seeds of Abraham, that is the children of the flesh are children, but only the children of promise who are by faith.
- Romans 4:16-17 says that Abraham is the father of all that believe.
Those who are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh and cannot please God.
Paul concludes that he will no longer knows anyone according to the flesh because who is in Christ is a new creation, and all other things have passed away (2 Corinthians 5:16-18). He applies this to himself and considers his background as loss (Philippians 3:3-7).
More specifically, Paul instructs us not to give importance to genealogies (1 Timothy 1:4) and to avoid them (Titus 3:9) because they produce foolish disputes.
Balancing Our Perspective
God, however, gives great importance to the family.
Without your parents, you would not be here. They exercised their God-given authority and were responsible for your coming into existence (Genesis 1:28, Ephesians 3:15). They were also responsible for raising and for taking care of you. They gave you the opportunity to come into a relationship with God and eternal life through Jesus Christ. This is your life purpose, and for this, you should be grateful.
No matter whether your parents have done a wonderful job in raising you or have come short in many ways, the Bible instructs you to obey and honor them. This is a commandment with the promise of doing well and a long life (Ephesians 6:1-3).
The Believer’s Descent
Finally, born-again believers belong also to another family besides his physical family. They are part of God’s family. They are children of God and joint-heirs with Christ.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:14-17)
In order to reach the Jews, Matthew communicated with them in a way that they could understand. Jesus’ genealogy shows the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies but it does not show that we should focus on genealogies.
Question to Consider
How does the understanding of a spiritual genealogy impact your life?
© 2014 – 2019, Pastor Maurizio. All rights reserved.