What Does the Bible Tell Us about Jesus' Family Tree?
The New Testament includes two records of Jesus’ family tree in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38. However, neither list was written to be comprehensive or exhaustive. Instead, both Matthew and Luke included names and details that affirm and, through genealogical evidence, attempt to confirm that Jesus Christ was and is the promised, prophesied Messiah. Matthew, for example, begins his Gospel (and the New Testament) with the proclamation that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah written about in the Old Testament. How does he do this?
To start, Matthew makes an essential connection of Jesus as a descendent of both David and Abraham (Matthew 1:1). As any Jewish scholar knows, any claim of Jesus’ Messianic identity must begin by establishing this relationship. Not only was Abraham promised a family, through whom all the nations of the world would be blessed (Genesis 12:2-3, 22:18), God made clear that the true king of Israel, the one who would sit on His eternal throne, would also be an heir of King David (2 Samuel 7:12; Psalms 89:3-4; Psalms 132:11).
Matthew makes both of these connections, arguing to his Jewish readers that the Jesus they had heard about was in fact the Messiah they had been promised. He makes the claim, verifies his claim through genealogical evidence, then goes on to expand on it through his Gospel. Luke, on the other hand, waits until chapter three of his Gospel to detail the family history of Jesus and does so after Jesus’ baptism and public ministry has begun (Luke 3:23-38). Luke also notes Jesus’ connection to David and Abraham, but unlike Matthew, traces Jesus’ family tree all the way back to Adam, the first man and original “son of God” (Luke 3:38).
Writing to a primarily Greek audience, as opposed to Matthew’s mostly Jewish readership, Luke focused on the humanity of Jesus and His role as a savior for all. In this way, Luke affirms Christ’s role as the “last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45) in whom all the nations of the world are blessed (Genesis 22:18; Genesis 18:18; Galatians 3:7-9) and all things are made new (2 Corinthians 5:17). In Adam, the original son of God, we inherited the curse of sin; in Jesus, the literal Son of God, we inherit the promise of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life.
According to Matthew Henry, tracing Jesus’ genealogy all the way back to Adam was designed to show, “that Christ was the seed of the woman, that should break the serpent’s head” (Genesis 3:15). Both genealogies establish these essential attributes of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, Savior, and Son of God. And though many readers quickly move past biblical genealogies, there are several key aspects of Jesus’ family tree worth knowing.
Here are seven things to know about Jesus' family tree: