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Jesus' Lineage
A Model of Us   

Q. Why is Jesus' lineage different in Matthew and Luke?


Synoptic Gospels

You just asked a really exciting question! And there is a surprising answer! Let's lay down a Biblical foundation first. Matthew, Mark&Luke are sometimes called "synoptic gospels." Synoptic is made up of two words that mean "same view."

Harmonizing Stories Unfruitful

Many scholars try to "harmonize" the Gospels and many pastors try to preach this idea. By "harmonize" I mean they try to make the Gospels tell the exact same story. This is not easy since there are clear differences in these books. They tell similar stories about the same man, from different perspectives, but not always the identical story.

It is sad that some teachers avoid detailed Bible studies because of this so-called "problem." Where the Gospels differ, do not think of it as a problem. Rather, think of it as an opportunity to discover something exciting!

Two Genealogies - Two Purposes

The two genealogies of our Lord are detailed differently in Matthew and in Luke because they serve two different purposes. The Gospel of Matthew shows the genealogy of Joseph. Luke gives us the genealogy of Mary. Both apply to Jesus for different reasons. The two genealogies solve a problem that occurred in Jeremiah 22:30.

Joseph's Lineage - Curse on Jeconiah's blood line

In this account God placed a curse on the royal blood line of Jeconiah saying that no child of his would prosper on the throne of David. The problem is that Jeconiah is in the blood line of Joseph.

Legal line through Solomon

Now in order for Jesus to be the King of Israel he had to be in the royal line of David - he must come from the legal line through Solomon. But the blood curse disqualifies anyone who has blood from Jeconiah to prosper.

Legal rights of King David

Joseph adopted Jesus, thus passing on the royal or legal rights of King David to Jesus without passing on the blood curse of Jeconiah. Jesus is the legal heir to the throne of David because of Joseph's family-tree through King Solomon.

Mary's genealogy

The Gospel of Luke, however, shows the genealogy of Mary - which is the blood line of David but through his other son, Nathan. Thus Jesus has the actual blood of David but without the curse. By the way, the virgin birth was necessary to accomplish this.

Who was Joseph's Father?

One more point to think about: Notice in Luke 3:23 that Joseph's father was Heli. But, Matthew 1:16 says that Joseph's father was Jacob! Jacob was Joseph's biological father. Heli was Joseph's father in-law. The Greek word used in Luke is ennomizeto "reckoned by law."

It was a custom in Israel for the father of the bride to adopt the groom. The legality of this custom was based upon a story in the Torah which tells of the Daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 27:1-11 and Joshua 17:3-6). But, that is another story!

His Lineage Mirrors our "Genealogy" as Believers

The different genealogies in Matthew and Luke do not create a problem. They solve one! What follows opens our eyes to a "type" or model of believers:

In the same way that Joseph's blood was cursed, we also are cursed. In order for us to be accepted into the family of the King, we must be adopted by one who has pure and true blood. There is only one who is qualified to adopt us into the house of Israel: our Kinsman-redeemer who gave His blood for us on a cross two thousand years ago!

Author Ken Emilio holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Louisiana Baptist University and a V.O.M. Certificate in Persecuted Church Ministries from Oklahoma Wesleyan University.

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