The Genealogy Of Our Lord Jesus Christ
As an introduction to our study, I think it is important to consider the usage of the word, “Generation” as it occurs in Scripture. The ordinary use conveys the thought of origin, an account of one’s ancestors, but it does not mean this in every instance.
It occurs first in Genesis 2:4, “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth.” (See also chapters 6:9, 10:1, 11:27; 25:12, 36:1, 36:9, 37:2.) In many cases the thought intended is not so much that of “origin,” as it is that of “development,” not a retracing, but an introduction, and I am inclined to believe it is in this manner used of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As God, He has no origin, but as King of Israel it was necessary to establish for Him a link with the lineage of David; that is why Matthew’s Gospel was written. In this Gospel, His genealogy is not only traced to reveal His unchallenged right to the throne of David, but also to emphasize the subsequent development of all that such a relationship means.
In this unique relationship, Christ is presented as the Son of David, and heir to David’s throne; for so it was necessary that Israel’s King be born. Yet we must never forget that He was also the Son of Abraham, and so in Him a Saviour was born. There converges in this remarkable Person, the Davidic covenant of Kingship and the Abrahamic covenant of Promise. See Gal. 3:8-14.
Before we trace this further, may I draw your attention to a rather significant phrase, which occurs only twice in the Bible. In Genesis 5:1, “This is the book of the generations of Adam,” while in Matthew, the similar one appears, “The book of the generations of Jesus Christ.” All other references commence differently; as for example, “These are the generations of.” Now what is the meaning of this significant phrase? Both in the Book of Genesis and in the Gospel according to Matthew, we have the record of the headship of the human race; the former contains the record of Adam’s fallen posterity; the latter that of all who are linked to Christ through sovereign grace. It is interesting to note that Paul in His Corinthian letter speaks of “The First Adam,” and “The Last Adam,” (1 Cor. 15:45). He does not mention the Second Adam as is sometimes incorrectly stated. There never will be another federal head; Christ is “The Last Adam,” and we all stand related either to the “First Adam” in sin, or to the “Last Adam” in grace.
Now to trace this subject may I direct your attention to some Old Testament Scriptures. In 1Chron. 17:11-13, David the king had communicated to Nathan the prophet his desire to build a house for the ark of the covenant, but the word of the Lord came to Nathan telling him to go and to instruct David that he was not to build such a house for the ark of the covenant to dwell in, “And it shall come to pass that when thy days shall be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers that I will raise up thy seed after thee … he shall build Me an house and I will establish his throne for ever.” It is clear, therefore, that David was not to be the actual builder, but instead the builder was to be one of David’s posterity. David accepted all this with humility; listen to his language in 1Chron. 17:16-17, “And David the king came and sat before the Lord and said, who am I and what is mine house that Thou hast brought me hitherto? and yet this was a small thing in Thine eyes, O God, for Thou hast also spoken of Thy servant’s house for a great while to come, and hast regarded Me according to the estate of a man of high degree, O Lord God.” This prophecy was not to have it’s fulfillment in David, nor his son Solomon, but rather in “A man of High Degree,” or as Horsley translates it, “The Man From Above.”
Let us now look at 2 Sam. 7:14, “I will be his Father and He shall be My son… if he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men.” Surely as it appears, such language could not be applied to God’s beloved Son! Horsley, however, translates this passage, “I will be His Father and He shall be My Son, and when iniquity is laid upon Him, I will chastise Him.” Here is the identification of God’s true King, He was to be related to God as Son, and He was to have iniquity laid upon Him, for which He was to be chastened by God.
The genealogies in Matthew and Luke are recorded for the purpose of proving, that legally, Jesus, and not Solomon, was David’s Son and Heir to his throne. Matthew traces the relationship from Abraham through David (Note, David the king, Vs. 6), and proves that Joseph, who was the husband of Mary, of whom Christ was born, was a descendant of David through the house of Solomon. The Gospel of Luke proves that Mary is also a descendant of David, but not through the house of Solomon, but through the house of Nathan, Solomon’s older brother. Solomon’s line produced Joseph, and Nathan’s line produced Mary.
Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah was to be born of a virgin, (Isa. 7:14). Yet as the Son of a Virgin alone He could have no legal right to the throne; it was, therefore, necessary that Mary be linked to one who had a perfect unchallenged right to the throne of David. Thus, Christ at His birth became the legal descendant and Heir of David through Joseph, but never Joseph’s son. Had He been the Son of Joseph, according to the flesh, He could never have been the Saviour of the world. Conversely, had He been the Son of Mary, without he being legally the wife of a son of David, the Jews would have been just in rejecting His claims to Kingship.
Matthew’s account does not suggest that Joseph begat Jesus, but states only that he was the husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus; consequently, the child born to Mary is the legal Heir to the throne of David. Christ, in legal relationship was the Son of Joseph; in human relationship, the Son of Mary; in divine relationship, the Son of God.
In Matthew 1:11, we are introduced to Jechonias whose history shows him to be under the curse of God. None of his sons ever possessed the throne. (See Jer. 22:30; 36:27-32.). If Jesus had been merely the son of Joseph, He would have inherited this curse. On the other hand the line of Nathan was not the royal line. There was a curse upon the line through Jechonias, but a lack of royalty in the line of Nathan; hence, in the purposes of grace, Mary became legally the wife of Joseph, and before they came together, she was with child by the Holy Spirit. Finally, because Mary was married to this one who had a perfect unchallenged right to the throne of Israel, the child born to her was the legal descendant and Heir of David through Joseph; but, never, never Joseph’s Son. Behold, the wisdom of God!