Why are the geneologies of Jesus different in Matthew and Luke?

1944-genealogy-jpg__700x320_q95I know that Christmas is still 73 days away, but since Walmart is already putting stuff out I thought I would too!

Have you ever noticed the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke are different? Probably not, and to be honest I didn’t either until a few years ago. The real question is “why?” Why are they different? Shouldn’t the list of ancestors leading up to the birth of Jesus be the same? Does the Bible have a mistake?

The two texts in question are Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-37. Take a moment to read these two passages.


The genealogy of Jesus in relationship to David through Joseph (the Matthew list), most likely has something to do with his adoption by Joseph. Joseph is the “legal” father to Jesus. Thus, Jesus would legally be tied to the throne of David through his father Joseph.

The Matthew account was written to be succinct and balanced which is why there may be some skipping from grandfather to grandson occasionally. Luke was trying to connect Jesus back to the beginning–to creation.

Additionally, the Matthew accounting is indeed Joseph’s direct linage, whereas Luke’s accounting is most likely through Mary. The tipoff is Luke 3:23 with the phrase, “so it was thought, of Joseph.” This gives the reader a clue that this is not Joseph’s linage. As such, scholar’s say that “Heli” is in fact Joseph’s father-in-law, or Mary’s father.

Regardless, Jesus is connected to David through both genealogical lines–Joseph’s and Mary’s.

Another interesting facet is shown concerning the ancestry of Jesus in that Joseph’s genealogy contains the name of Jechoniah. According to Jeremiah 22:30, Jechoniah is cursed by God. Neither he nor his decedents could sit on the throne. Since Jesus will sit on the throne in heaven, the point is that Jesus is not the biological descendent of Jechoniah but is instead connected to the throne through Nathan, in Mary’s line.

Matthew may have been trying to prove a point in his genealogy–that if Jesus was in fact the true son of Joseph then he would have no right to the throne. Thus, Jesus gets the legal rights of the adoption without the biological curse associated with Jechoniah. This is most likely why we have the different genealogies–Mary’s (the actual biological line according to prophecy), and Joseph’s (the legal line).


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