Why is Jesus’ Genealogy Different in Matthew and Luke? – Danny Zacharias

Commenting on Matthew 1, Matthew Henry says:

In the pedigree of the kings of Judah, between Joram and Ozias (Matthew 1:8), there are three left out, namely, Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah; and therefore when it is said, Joram begat Ozias, it is meant, according to the usage of the Hebrew tongue, that Ozias was lineally descended from him, as it is said to Hezekiah that the sons which he should beget should be carried to Babylon, whereas they were removed several generations from him. It was not through mistake or forgetfulness that these three were omitted, but, probably, they were omitted in the genealogical tables that the evangelist consulted, which yet were admitted as authentic. Some give this reason for it:–It being Matthew’s design, for the sake of memory, to reduce the number of Christ’s ancestors to three fourteens, it was requisite that in this period three should be left out, and none more fit than they who were the immediate progeny of cursed Athaliah, who introduced the idolatry of Ahab into the house of David, for which this brand is set upon the family and the iniquity thus visited to the third and fourth generation. Two of these three were apostates; and such God commonly sets a mark of his displeasure upon in this world: they all three had their heads brought to the grave with blood.

Henry continues:

His pedigree, Luke 3:23, &c. Matthew had given us somewhat of this. He goes no higher than Abraham, but Luke brings it as high as Adam. Matthew designed to show that Christ was the son of Abraham, in whom all the families of the earth are blessed, and that he was heir to the throne of David; and therefore he begins with Abraham, and brings the genealogy down to Jacob, who was the father of Joseph, and heir-male of the house of David: but Luke, designing to show that Christ was the seed of the woman, that should break the serpent’s head, traces his pedigree upward as high as Adam, and begins it with Ei, or Heli, who was the father, not of Joseph, but of the virgin Mary. And some suggest that the supply which our translators all along insert here is not right, and that it should not be read which, that is, which Joseph was the son of Heli, but which Jesus; [another possibility of reconciling Luke 3:23 with Matthew 1:16, which literally says, “Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary,” with great plainness so as to avoid no confusion…Luke 3:23 does allow for some level of confusion or at least misunderstanding, however, because it says of Jesus, “as was supposed, the son of Joseph,” which then afterwards says, “the son of Heli,” which leads the reader to think that Joseph was Heli’s physical son–but it is probably referring to JOSEPH AS HELI’S SON-IN-LAW, because he is a male and it is natural for Jewish genealogy to be male-dominated.–John Boruff, ed.]

  • H. A. Ironside Luke reprint 2007 “Women’s names are dropped out of this genealogy, but here we are told that Joseph was the son of heli. This genealogy then is clearly the genealogy of Mary. Heli was the father of Mary, and Joseph by marrying Mary became the son of Heli …”
  • John Gresham Machen Virgin Birth of Christ 1987 Page 203 “That is, Jesus was supposed to be the son of Joseph, but was really the son of Heli, etc. Heli would then be the father of Mary, and the word “son” would be taken in the wider sense of “descendant,” the name of the mother of Jesus being unrecorded” –Wikipedia: “Heli

…he was the son of Joseph, of Eli, of Matthat, &c., and he, that is, Jesus, was the son of Seth, of Adam, of God, Luke 3:38. The difference between the two evangelists in the genealogy of Christ has been a stumbling-block to infidels that cavil at the Word, but such a one as has been removed by the labours of learned men, both in the early ages of the church and in latter times, to which we refer ourselves. Matthew draws the pedigree from Solomon, whose natural line ending in Jechonias, the legal right was transferred to Salathiel, who was of the house of Nathan, another son of David, which line Luke here pursues, and so leaves out all the kings of Judah. It is well for us that our salvation doth not depend upon our being able to solve all these difficulties, nor is the divine authority of the gospels at all weakened by them; for the evangelists are not supposed to write these genealogies either of their own knowledge or by divine inspiration, but to have copied them out of the authentic records of the genealogies among the Jews, the heralds’ books, which therefore they were obliged to follow; and in them they found the pedigree of Jacob, the father of Joseph, to be as it is set down in Matthew; and the pedigree of Heli, the father of Mary, to be as it is set down here in Luke. And this is the meaning of hos enomizeto (Luke 3:23), not, as it was supposed, referring only to Joseph, but uti sancitum est lege–as it is entered into the books, as we find it upon record; by which is appeared that Jesus was both by father and mother’s side the Son of David, witness this extract out of their own records, which any one might at that time have liberty to compare with the original, and further the evangelists needed not to go; nay, had they varied from that, they had not gained their point. Its not being contradicted at that time is satisfaction enough to us now that it is a true copy, as it is further worthy of observation, that, when those records of the Jewish genealogies had continued thirty or forty years after these extracts out of them, long enough to justify the evangelists therein, they were all lost and destroyed with the Jewish state and nation; for now there was no more occasion for them. [Probably one of the reasons why the Jews were rebuked by John the Baptist, “Do not say to yourselves, “Abraham is our father and that is enough.” PUBLIC RECORDS of Jewish genealogy must have been very carefully preserved by the scribes and Pharisees, not only for family history, but also for the Roman census and taxation.–John Boruff, ed.]

One difficulty occurs between Abraham and Noah, which gives us some perplexity, Luke 3:35,36. Sala is said to be the son of Cainan, and he the son of Arphaxad, whereas Sala was the son of Arphaxad (Genesis 10:24,11:12), and there is no such man as Cainan found there. But, as to that, it is sufficient to say that the Seventy Interpreters, who, before our Saviour’s time, translated the Old Testament into Greek, for reasons best known to themselves inserted that Cainan; and St. Luke, writing among the Hellenist Jews, was obliged to make use of that translation, and therefore to take it as he found it.

The genealogy concludes with this, who was the son of Adam, the son of God. (1.) Some refer it to Adam; he was in a peculiar manner the son of God, being, more immediately than any of his offspring, the offspring of God by creation. (2.) Others refer it to Christ, and so make the last words of this genealogy to denote his divine and human nature. He was both the Son of Adam and the Son of God that he might be a proper Mediator between God and the sons of Adam, and might bring the sons of Adam to be, through him, the sons of God.

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About John Boruff

John Boruff is the founder of WesleyGospel.com, a husband, father, and sometimes an open air preacher. He graduated from UNC Pembroke in 2008 with a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion and views himself as a Wesleyan Pentecostal. As a Christian, he feels connected with all members of the body of Christ, but can identify the most with churches like the Assemblies of God and the Vineyard. In 2015, he released "The Gospel of Jesus Christ," which is meant to be a Bible study for open air preaching. For his other writings, search articles on this site or see the E-Books section.
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