When the untrained read the two different genealogies for Jesus in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, often they view these two narratives as contradictory or conflicting. In truth, these two lists of descendants exist for a very important and specific purpose: the prove that Jesus is qualified to be the Messiah.
There are two different genealogies for Jesus because one is showing Jesus’ legal right to be Messiah through David (Joseph), the other, Jesus physical right to be Messiah through Mary.
Mary’s Genealogy by Luke
As Matthew gives us the details of Jesus’ genealogy through Joseph, Luke reveals that Jesus is qualified to be the Messiah through Mary’s family line, described in Luke Chapter 3.
Mary’s genealogy is in reverse, with Jesus being named first, going all the way back to Adam:
Notice that Abraham and David’s names are listed in Mary’s line, qualifying Jesus to be the Savior of the world. If Jesus could not prove that He was descended from both Abraham and David, He could not be the Messiah, regardless of the other prophecies He has fulfilled.
The Importance of Jesus’ Genealogy
According to the Gospel of Matthew—through Joseph’s genealogy, Jesus came from Abraham and David. The Messiah must come from the seed of Abraham and be from the house of David. This genealogy in Matthew, showing that Jesus came through Joseph’s line, proves that Jesus has the legal right to the throne of David.
Mary’s genealogy, in the Gospel of Luke, traces Jesus’ line all the way back to Adam, validating that He was qualified to be the second Adam and Savior of all men. Mary’s genealogy proves that Jesus has the physical right to be the Messiah.
Although Joseph was not the physical father of Jesus, he did convey to Jesus the legal right to the throne as the Messiah. Joseph, as His stepfather, was descended from David and Abraham.
If you carefully examine Joseph’s genealogy, which is given by Matthew, you will see a man by the name of Jeconiah.
In the Book of Jeremiah 22:30, the Lord pronounces a “curse” upon the entire line of Jeconiah:
Thus says the LORD: “Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.”
In other words: No descendent of Jeconiah could ever be the Messiah.
This presents a huge problem for the Lord, in that the Messiah must come from the line of David. Jeconiah is from the line of David down to Joseph who is the stepfather of Jesus.
If Joseph had been the birth father of Jesus, then Jesus would have been disqualified from sitting on the throne of David because He is descended from the line of Jeconiah, in whom no one from his line could sit on the throne of David.
In Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, we see this man called “Jeconiah.” Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.
In the Book of Jeremiah, Jeconiah was the king of Israel. He was such an evil king that the Lord cursed his entire line of descendants. As a result of this curse, none of Jeconiah’s future descendants could be the king of Israel.
“As I live,” says the LORD, “though Coniah (nickname for Jeconiah) the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off;” Thus says the LORD: “Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.”
This presented a problem for the future fulfillment of prophecies that concern the Messiah, who comes from one of the descendants of Jeconiah. We notice that Jesus is from Jeconiah’s line, in Matthew 1:11 of this chapter.
Matthew 1:11,16: Josiah begot Jeconiah… And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.
The genealogy that Matthew presents to us is for Joseph, Jesus’ stepfather. According to this curse placed by God upon all of those who come from Jeconiah, neither Joseph nor any of his sons could sit on the throne as the king of Israel. This would disqualify Jesus as the Messiah, except for one important fact: Joseph is not Jesus’ biological father; Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
In this prophecy, we see how important the virgin birth of Jesus truly is. Had Joseph been the source of Mary’s conception, it would be impossible for Jesus to fulfill all of the prophecies of the Messiah. The precision and detail to which God made certain that Jesus is uniquely qualified as the Savior is truly amazing.
It is certain that the reason why the Lord created this scenario in which Jeconiah’s line is cursed—preventing Joseph or one of his sons from being qualified to be the Messiah—is to show us the great power of the Lord to fulfill His word.
The Messiah must prove that He is descended from Abraham and David; God makes prophecies that require this.
- God curses the line of Jeconiah because of his evil; no descendant can be the king of Israel (the Messiah).
- God chooses a line of descendants for the Messiah that includes Jeconiah and Joseph, leading to Jesus.
- Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit, not by Joseph.
- Joseph conveys the legal right for Jesus to be the Messiah as His stepfather while avoiding the curse that comes from the bloodline of Jeconiah.
- Mary’s line of descendants also comes through Abraham and David, but not through Jeconiah.
- Mary’s conception of Jesus is by the Holy Spirit, allowing Jesus to be born without inheriting the sin of Adam as well as following a line of descendants that excludes Jeconiah.
Now that is extreme engineering!
You can see how some have misunderstood these two genealogie and thought they were a contradiction. The truth is, these two prove beyond any doubt, from a Jewish perspective, that Jesus is truly qualified to be the Messiah. This was extremely important to the Jewish readers of the New Testament, later.