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To begin, let’s read Matthew 1:1, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”  The Book of Matthew portrays the Lord as the true king of Israel.  The kings of Israel came through the tribe of Judah as we read in Genesis 49:10, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”  The Lord Jesus is the King of Kings, and in Revelation 5:5 we see him described as, “…the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David…”  It is fitting that Matthew begins his genealogy with David.  He then traces His ancestry back to Abraham to show that the Lord Jesus is in the tribe of Judah, the kingly tribe.

In Luke 3:23-38, Luke gives the genealogy of the Lord.  He also shows that Christ is descended from King David in Luke 3:31, “Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David.”  However, in Luke’s Gospel, the Lord Jesus is portrayed as the Son of Man, so the genealogy there goes all the way back to Adam, as we read in Luke 3:38, “Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.”

There are differences in these genealogies that have caused some confusion among the Lord’s people.  Concerning Joseph, the supposed father of Jesus, Matthew 1:16 says that Jacob was the father of Joseph while Luke 3:23 says that Heli was the father of Joseph.  Matthew 1:6 traces the Lord’s genealogy though David’s son, Solomon, while Luke 3:31 traces the Lord’s genealogy through David’s son, Nathan. Are there mistakes in the Bible?  Did Matthew or Luke give an incorrect genealogy of the Lord Jesus?  To those questions, we affirm without hesitation that according to 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…”  Undoubtedly, the original manuscripts of the Holy Scriptures are completely pure and without error.

Realizing that the scriptures are without error, what other reason could there be for the differences in these genealogies in Matthew and Luke?  Most scholars agree that the genealogy given in Matthew is the Lord’s genealogy through Joseph, while the genealogy in Luke is the Lord’s genealogy through Mary.  It would not be peculiar to refer to Joseph as the son of Heli, although he was actually the son-in-law of Heli.  As an example, let’s look at Ruth 1:11, “And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?”  In this verse, Naomi is speaking to Orpah and Ruth, her two daughters-in-law, yet she refers to them as her daughters.  This explanation, I believe, clearly shows why there are differences in these two genealogies of the Lord Jesus.

Let’s look one more time at Luke 3:23 where we read, “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli.  Notice that the Word says that that Jesus was the ‘supposed’ son of Joseph.  It is vital to the believer that we understand that Joseph was not the actual father of the Lord Jesus.  When the angel, Gabriel, spoke to Mary about the birth of the Lord Jesus, we read in Luke 1:34-35, “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”  Christ was not the son of Joseph; He is the Son of God.  (121.2)