The two genealogies of Jesus Christ are found in Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3: 23-38
How are the two genealogies of Jesus Christ different?
Matthew’s gospel was written for the convincing of the Jewish people that Jesus was the prophesied Messianic king of the Jews. His line traces through Joseph, Christ’s legal father, his line of descent that proves that he would have truly been a King of the Jews had they not been living under Roman rule.
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Matthew starts with Abraham coming forward to Christ in sets of 14 names – a common device in that time. His focus is on the important forbears – i.e., as one might say today “a descendant of King Henry” or “one of the Mayflower” without giving the entire line linking back to that person.
Luke’s gospel is written to converted members of the ancient church both Jewish and Gentile to give background and the story of this man Jesus, son of God. His genealogy begins with Jesus linking him to Joseph as his father (with the qualifier “as was supposed”) since the church knew Christ was the literal son of God. Luke, therefore, traces the genealogy of Christ back to Adam ending with the words “the son of God.”
Why are the two genealogies of Jesus Christ Different?
Here are the common reasons that were given and some arguments for them:
- That as Joseph was the legal father of Christ both genealogies are of Joseph – one of Joseph’s natural father and the other of his legal father -one being from the line of David and the other being from the line of Levi thus giving Christ both priestly and ruling power. A number of writers have suggested that this could have happened through adoption, or through the common practice for a “brother” (a man from the same father but not necessarily the same mother) to marry his deceased brother’s wife to raise up children for his brother.
- One of the genealogies is the genealogy of Mary. Hebrew law did not allow a woman to be in the genealogy (it went from male to male) so that Luke used Joseph’s name instead. This argument also suggests that Mary and Joseph were cousins and shared a maternal ancestor. Most frequently writers argue that Luke’s line is the one of Mary as Luke believed that God was the father of Christ, and, therefore, the genealogy should be traced from her.
- One or the other is incorrect – most likely Luke, who was going by hearsay while Matthew knew Christ and his family.
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We had two beautiful posters of the genealogy of Christ designed. On those posters, we have chosen to reflect the arguments suggesting that Luke’s genealogy traces Mary’s ancestors.
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