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Why is Jesus' genealogy traced through Joseph?

Scripture: Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-38
Why is Jesus' genealogy traced through Joseph? Matthew's genealogy traces it through the literal parentage of Joseph. Luke's genealogy through Joseph's father-in-law. Also, Joseph and Mary's genealogy intersect in some places.
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Caller:  Hi.  I’ve been wondering for a long time and I heard your program – I thought I’d call and ask you.  In the Bible, I don’t know exactly where it is because this is on the spur of the moment, but when they talk about when Jesus was born, He was a descendant from David’s line?

Pastor Doug:  Yes.

Caller:  Ok.  I’ve often wondered about this.  It tells about that, but then I wonder if Mary was a descendant of David?  And if she isn’t, why?

Pastor Doug:  Why would it trace the genealogy down to Joseph?

Caller:  Yes.

Pastor Doug:  Ok.  Let me tell you – the understanding I have – and I’ll do my best to explain this.  The two primary genealogies of Christ’s ancestors are found in Matthew chapter 1, it’s the first thing in the New Testament, and then Luke chapter 3.

Both Luke and Matthew trace the genealogy from Jesus to David, so there’s no question that Jesus is the son of David.  Matthew goes through Joseph, and it’s a patriarchal line.

Evidently what Luke does, if you’ll notice the father of Joseph in Luke is different from the father of Joseph in Matthew.  And it says here in Luke chapter 3 verse 23, “And Jesus Himself, being about 30 years of age, being as was supposed the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli.”

Now that’s different from what you’re going to find in Matthew chapter 1 verse 16.  The real father of Joseph is Jacob in Matthew 1:16.  But evidently, Joseph’s father-in-law, Mary’s father, was Heli and it’s tracing the genealogy through Mary’s father on.  So in the Bible it’s not uncommon to call the father-in-law the father.  Ok?

Caller:  Ok.

Pastor Doug:  So that’s what a number of Bible scholars have come to in a way to resolve the distinction here between the discrepancy between Luke and Matthew.  Did you get that?

Caller:  Ok.  Yes.

Pastor Doug:  Matthew’s genealogy traces it directly through the literal parentage and fathers of Joseph.  Luke’s genealogy goes and says Joseph’s – it was always an insult to just go right to the mother – so it talks about Jesus’ father, but it then traces the genealogy through Joseph’s father-in-law, which was Heli.

Now the interesting thing is, there are places where the genealogy of Matthew and Mary merge and they intersect, so Mary and Joseph were related also.  So it doesn’t really matter.  Through either one of their genes, Jesus was the son of David.  See what I’m saying?

Caller:  Yes.  Well, ok.  Thank you.

Pastor Doug:  I hope I helped.

Caller:  You did.

Pastor Doug:  Thanks a lot Kathy.

Amazing Facts’ Resource Number:  800-835-6747

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