Scripture Queries and Answers


Q. How is Matthew i. 16, taken in connection with Luke iii. 23, to be explained? Matthew says, "Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary;" and Luke, "being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, which was of Heli, which was of Matthat," etc Matthew in ver. 15 had said, " Matthan begat Jacob."
In Luke iii., I presume, Mary's genealogy is given down to 31, " Nathan (who was) of David," while in Matthew i. 6 " David the king begat Solomon," and so on down to Joseph. But what explains the apparent discrepancy between Matt. i. 16 and Luke iii. 23? O. P.

A. The solution of the difficulty turns on the true marking of the parenthesis in Luke iii. 23 "(being, as was supposed, son of Joseph"). The Revisers are no more right than was the A.V. in limiting it to "(as was supposed)." Christ's being considered son of Joseph is thus intimated to be outside the proper genealogical line which is here traced from Heli or Eli, Mary's father, up to Adam and God Himself. Jesus, reputedly son of Joseph, was really of Heli, &c. Even the unbelieving Jews did not question that Mary, the virgin mother of our Lord, was Heli's daughter; for the Talmud speaks of her thus, and as tormented in the unseen world. The fact is that there is a choice of ways which all remove the apparent discrepancy. On these we need not dwell here, but simply state the one which we believe to be the truth.

The internal evidence entirely sustains this view as intended of God. For as vios was expressed in the parenthetical clause as the reputed relationship, so by a purposely different construction the real natural succession through Mary is traced from her father up to the father of all, a grand fact characteristic of our Evangelist. In Matthew, on the other hand, where it was essential to trace the Messianic title of our Lord legally, we have "Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary." Again both Evangelists are equally careful to repudiate the actual fatherhood of Joseph; and to affirm the divine generation of our Saviour, as well as His eternal being in the Godhead before the Incarnation.

But there is much more in oorroboration, which goes along with the special design of each of the two Gospels. For it will be noticed that only Matthew records the apparitions of Jehovah's angel to Joseph (i. 20, ii. 19) ; whereas in Luke i. 26-38 the angel Gabriel was sent by God not to Joseph but to Mary, even though Jehovah's angel appeared to Zaohariah before (i. 11), and to the shepherds after (ii. 9), the Child was born, the Son was given. Of course, His birth of Mary was of absolute moment for His person as now Man no less than God for ever, and for the infinite work He was about to accomplish. But so far was the legal position of Joseph as His reputed father from being unimportant, that He could not have been indisputably viewed as the promised Son and Heir of David's throne, till Joseph passed away. Hence not a word is said in any one of the four Gospels which supposes Joseph alive, when Our Lord enters on His manifestation as the Messiah, though (as every believer knows) much more than the Messiah. This also disposes of the notion, cherished by not a few ancients and moderns, that Joseph had a family of sons and daughter, before Mary was betrothed to him. For in that case his eldest would have been legally the heir to David's throne. So completely was the law fulfilled, as well as the Prophets and the Psalms. Scripture cannot be broken. FWG

Q. - Does not 1 Cor. vi. 9 with many like scriptures warrant the inference that Christians who fail in faith or fidelity will be excluded from inheriting the kingdom of God, though saved at the end from the second death ? MATHETES.

A. - In no way is this true, but wholly opposed to the mind of God in His word, and productive of nothing but confusion like any other serious error. On the face of this text itself, how can any taught of God allow that one born of the Spirit is to be classed among the unrighteous? Compare also the rest of the verse and the following verses, where not failure in a believer is in question, but unqualifiedly wicked characters are denounced, with the very different statement that "such were some of you, but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord, and by the Spirit of our God." Take the strongest apparently for such a construction - Luke xii. 45, 46, "But if that bondman should say in his heart, My lord delayeth to come", and &c. We may see from the corresponding parable in Matt. xxiv. 48 that it is no case of a believer excluded but of an "evil" servant, a hypocrite. No indeed need we travel beyond the further words of Luke to arrive at the same fact; for his lord is said to cut him in twain and appoint his portiorn with the faithless. Will the Lord so deal with any born of God? It is indeed a far other lot than missing the reign though blessed for eternity, a portion assigned to not a single Christian in a single scripture. That the language of our Lord, and also of the apostle in this Epistle and elsewhere, implies it of professing Christians is true and solemn. "That bondman," in fact, seems expressly intended to warn of this tremendous issue.

But Christians in the genuine sense, as the query supposes, stand on other ground. If they discerned themselves, they should not be judged. If they grow careless in self-judgment, the Lord does not fail to deal with them. Yet when judged in this way, they are chastened by the Lord, that they should not be condemned with the world, as say the scriptures in the text queried. The doctrine behind the query is wholly false and evil.