January 21, 2018

Continuing with the Genealogy of Jesus from "Did Jesus Just Happen?"

There are many discrepancies in the Genealogies of Jesus.

For the skeptical reader who is looking for a cause of criticism, the two accounts of the ancestry of Jesus, one in Matthew and one in Luke, are quite inviting and stimulating. There appear to be several glaring discrepancies which will be magnified by the skeptical critic. I agree that there are some difficulties, but there are none that cannot be satisfactorily reconciled by a careful study of the text in the light of circumstances.

Matthew traces the lineage of Jesus back to Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation. Luke traces it back to Adam, the first man. The two tables are given in inverse order. Matthew begins with Abraham and follows the lineage to Jesus. Luke begins with Jesus and traces it back to Adam.

The greatest difficulty seems to appear in the actual differences in the names given, especially the ones nearer to Jesus. But a careful study reveals the fact that Matthew seems to trace His lineage through Joseph, the legal father of Jesus. Though he was not the actual father of Jesus, he was the legal father, and the Jews were strong on tracing all ancestry though the father. Therefore, Matthew goes through Joseph in order to accommodate the Jews, however, he is careful to make clear the fact that Joseph was not the actual father of Jesus. Notice how he states it; "And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ." The change in terminology is obvious. He is careful not to say, "Joseph begat Jesus."

Luke, as many assume, being a Gentile, was not concerned about the Jewish legal angel; so naturally he would trace the lineage through Mary, the actual mother of Jesus, since He had no real father in the flesh. Luke , then, goes from Jesus to His maternal grandfather, Heli, since it was not proper to name the mother in a genealogy. Dr. A.T. Robertson, the Greek scholar, points out in his notes on the "Harmony of the Gospels" that a literal translation of Luke 3:23 would read like this: "And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being son (as was supposed of Joseph) of Heli.:" Luke had already clearly stated the manner of Christ's birth, so that no one would think he was the son of Joseph. Jesus would thus be Heli's grandson, an allowable meaning of "son".

Some critics might also discount the validity of these lists because of the fact that in both accounts some names are left out. In some cases there is a skip of two or three generations. But let me point out that neither writer claims to have listed every individual in the lineage, nor was it necessary. Enough names were listed to show the direct descent. It was not incorrect to speak of the grandson or a great grandson as a son. This was often done in Jewish practice and custom. When all of the circumstances and purposes are taken into consideration there can be no just denial of the validity of these genealogical tables. There are apparent discrepancies at a number of places in the certain Bible translations, but these are only apparent and will vanish when proper consideration is given to all the facts and circumstances involved.

Wayne McDoanld, Pastor
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