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Luke 3:23–38

“Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, . . . the son of David, . . . the son of Adam, the son of God.”

Knowing the identity of a person in the fullest sense is impossible without knowing something of his family of origin. Thus, as we are getting to know someone, his family details are often some of the first things we inquire about. Scripture views family history as particularly important for understanding an individual’s identity; consequently, we find many genealogies in the Bible. For instance, Exodus 1 says that the descendants of Israel, or Jacob, were in Egypt because Moses wants us to know that the Israelites in Egypt inherit the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see also Ex. 3).

The New Testament frequently refers to Jesus’ family of origin because it is important to establish that our Lord is the Son of David if we are to understand His vocation as the promised Messiah and King of Israel. Luke has already established that Jesus belongs to the house of David by stressing that His adoptive father, Joseph, is from the lineage of David (Luke 1:26–38; 2:1–7). In today’s passage, Luke gives the fuller genealogy of Jesus to confirm Joseph’s and therefore Jesus’ family ties to David, and he goes even further to establish Jesus’ family connection to Adam, the first man that God created (see Gen. 2).

Luke 3:23–38 is not the only place where we find a listing of Jesus’ ancestors according to the flesh, for Matthew 1:1–17 also provides a genealogy for Jesus. The two lists differ in important ways, and commentators have sought to understand why, for we know that the two genealogies in Matthew and Luke cannot ultimately contradict one another. One popular suggestion is that Luke actually gives the genealogy of Mary, which is possible given that Luke 3:23 recognizes that Jesus was not truly a physical descendant of Joseph but derives His humanity from Mary (see Luke 1:26–38). Nevertheless, Luke never says specifically that he is giving the genealogy of Mary. Another solution is that Matthew gives us the legal genealogy that explains who among David’s descendants had the right to inherit the throne through his son Solomon, whereas Luke tells us the natural, physical parentage of Jesus through David’s other son Nathan. At some point, a descendant of Solomon did not produce a legitimate heir, so the legal right to the throne passed to the descendants of Nathan. Members of Nathan’s family, including Joseph, were legally adopted into Solomon’s line for the purpose of continuing the monarchy, and so Jesus inherited the throne.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Perhaps the most important thing to note about Luke’s genealogy is that it traces Jesus’ lineage all the way back to Adam. This further establishes our Lord’s connection to the human race and points to the fact that His salvation is for all peoples. Because Jesus entered into Adam’s race, albeit without sin, we know that He is the Savior of anyone from Adam’s descendants who believes in Him. If we believe in Him, He died to save us fully and finally.

  • Ruth 4:13–22
  • 1 Chronicles 1–2
  • Romans 5:12–21
  • 1 Corinthians 15:45
  • Leviticus 10–12
  • Matthew 26:1–19

The Baptism of Jesus

Jesus in the Wilderness

Keep Reading Christianity and Liberalism

From the February 2023 Issue
Feb 2023 Issue