The first chapter of Matthew traces Jesus' lineage through his father Joseph back to King David through something like 18 generations. But as we know, Jesus was born through the agency of the Holy Spirit meaning that Joseph did not impregnate his mother, the Virgin Mary.

How would Jesus have a bloodline back to King David? Was Mary a cousin (of some degree) to Joseph with similar bloodlines? If not, what doctrine would cause Jesus to be considered descended from King David? Or put another way, are there any sources that describe what bloodline Jesus actually had through Mary?


9 Answers 9


The Old Testament has two distinct methods of claiming kingship. One is by descent from David, and the other is by prophetic or divine appointment. Where did David himself get his kingship? It was by prophetic appointment, through Samuel.

One was applicable to the southern Kingdom of Judah, with its capital in Jerusalem, while the other was applicable to the northern Kingdom of Israel, with its capital in Samaria. The requirement for the throne of Judah was Davidic descendancy. No one was allowed to sit on David’s throne unless he was a member of the house of David. So when there was a conspiracy to do away with the house of David (Isaiah 7:2-6), God warned that any such conspiracy was doomed to failure (Isaiah 8:9-15).

Now, Matthew’s genealogy traces the line of Joseph, the step-father of Jesus. Joseph was a direct descendant of David through Solomon, but also through Jeconiah (see Matthew 1, verses 6-16). Now here, we have a big problem, because Jeremiah 22:24-30 says,

“As I live,” says the Lord, “though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off; and I will give you into the hand of those who seek your life, and into the hand of those whose face you fear—the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the hand of the Chaldeans. So I will cast you out, and your mother who bore you, into another country where you were not born; and there you shall die. But to the land to which they desire to return, there they shall not return. “Is this man Coniah a despised, broken idol—a vessel in which is no pleasure? Why are they cast out, he and his descendants, and cast into a land which they do not know? O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord: ‘Write this man down as childless, a man who shall not prosper in his days; for none of his descendants shall prosper, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah.’ ”

This passage says that no descendant of Jeconiah would have the right to the throne of David. Until Jeremiah, the first requirement for messianic lineage was to be of the house of David. So not only must the Messiah come from the line of David, He must also be apart from Jeconiah. But, as we read in Matthew’s genealogy, Joseph is of the lineage of Jeconiah—meaning, none of his descendants could sit on David’s throne. So then, one must beg the question: how could Jesus be the Messiah, if the Messiah must come from the line of David, but also not be of the line of Jeconiah?

This is where the Virgin Birth comes into play. Remember, Jesus is not Joseph’s biological son, so the Jeconiah curse doesn’t apply to Him. He is, however, Mary’s biological son per the Virgin Birth. But this still doesn’t explain how Jesus is the descendant of David. To answer this, we must discuss Luke’s genealogy.

Unlike Matthew, Luke follows strict Jewish procedure and custom in that he omits no names and mentions no women. However, if by Jewish custom one could not mention the name of a woman, but wished to trace her line, how would one do so? He would use the name of her husband (possible Old Testament precedents for this practice are Ezra 2:61 and Nehemiah 7:63). That would raise the second question: if someone studied a genealogy, how would he know whether the genealogy was that of the husband or that of the wife since in either case the husband’s name would be used? The answer is not difficult; the problem lies with the English language.

In English, it is not good grammar to use a definite article (“the”) before a proper name (“the” Matthew, “the” Luke, and “the” Mary). However, it is quite permissible in Greek grammar. In the Greek text of Luke’s genealogy, every single name mentioned has the Greek definite article “the” with one exception: the name of Joseph (Luke 3:23). Someone reading the original would understand by the missing definite article from Joseph’s name that this was not really Joseph’s genealogy, but his wife Mary’s.

Furthermore, although many translations of Luke 3:23 read: “…being supposedly the son of Joseph, the son of Heli…” because of the missing Greek definite article before the name of Joseph, that same verse could be translated as follows: “Being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph the son of Heli…” In other words, the final parenthesis could be expanded so that the verse reads that although Jesus was “supposed” or assumed to be the descendant of Joseph, He was really the descendant of Heli. Heli was the father of Mary. Ultimately, Joseph was Heli’s “son-in-law.”

Next, remember King David had more than one son. One of them was Nathan. None of Nathan's descendants had any "Jeconiah-like" curses. Mary was a descendant of Nathan (Luke 3:23 and verse 31—remember, as explained above, although the English text says “the son of Joseph, the son of Heli…” since the original Greek says Heli is the father-in-law of Joseph, logically, Heli is the biological father of Mary). Now, Jesus is completely safe from the problem of the Jeconiah curse, all while being from the line of David, and of the Tribe of Judah.

  • What was the purpose of Matthew's genealogy, on this reading? Commented May 1, 2021 at 22:10
  • I really like this answer but why does Luke (1:27) specifically state that Joseph was of the house of David? Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 21:44

I'm not certain whether this will help with your question or not, but this is a small section from Oscar Cullmann's, Christology of the New Testament (page 129):

Hegesippus was the Jewish Christian author of a history of the very early church of which we possess only a few fragments. According to Eusebius he tells the following story: Despite the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Domitian wanted to satisfy himself that the Jews were loyal. So one day he commanded that all of the descendants of David be sought out and brought before him. Apparently he knew that messianic revolts among the Jews were connected with their expectation that a descendent of David would rise against the Romans, claiming to be king. One of those denounced and arrested was the grandson of Judas, a brother of Jesus. The emperor asked the group whether they were of Davidic lineage, and they answered 'Yes'. He then inquired about their financial condition. They answered that they only had 9,000 denarii among them, and that they had to work the land in order to live. To prove that they themselves had to work, they showed him the calluses on their hands. That convinced Domitian that these descendants of David were quite impoverished and harmless, and he contemptuously let them go. I tell the story only to show that the Davidic tradition in Jesus' family was not contested.

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. Thanks for offering an answer here. Is the entire answer after your initial introduction a quote from that book? Or did you add some of your own words at the end? It would be helpful to indicate exactly what is a quote and what is not. Meanwhile, for some further tips on writing good answers here, please see: What makes a good supported answer?. Commented May 15, 2017 at 21:25
  • I put the whole thing in a quotes block. If any of that is your own work, please edit the answer to reflect, in the quote block, Cullman's work, and outside of the block your work. Glad you joined in. Commented May 16, 2017 at 0:38
  • 1
    How does this answer the question? I'm confused.
    – Steve
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 17:43
  • yea, @Steve, it does not really answer it. The original question was that since Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus but more of an "adoptive father", then how could Jesus be considered to have descended from the royal line of David? This answer, on the other hand, concerns Jesus's brother Judas who would actually have been a biological son of Joseph. As to the original question, the answer of BYE provides the information about Mary's background. I am also not sure but perhaps being the adoptive son of Joseph would have qualified Jesus as being of David's blood line in those days(?)
    – x457812
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 3:53

The lineage of Jesus through Mary is given in Luke 3:23 through 38 while the lineage of Jesus through Joseph is given in Matthew 1:1 through 16. A comparison of the two shows that the Joseph in Matthew is not the Joseph of Luke.

  • So Jesus is descended from the royal line through Joseph? Explain how your contribution answers the question.
    – Steve
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 17:44
  • @Steve the question asked **How would Jesus have a bloodline back to King David? Was Mary a cousin (of some degree) to Joseph with similar bloodlines? If not, what doctrine would cause Jesus to be considered descended from King David? Or put another way, are there any sources that describe what bloodline Jesus actually had through Mary? ** so the difference of Joseph in Luke from that in Matthew shows that they are not the same person. Joseph in Luke was Mary's father (daughters were never listed in any lineage, only male offshoots). Isn't that an answer to lineage through Mary?
    – BYE
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 12:16
  • @Steve Given that it's 14 generations, why does that surprise you with the modest population base? Consider the well publicized tid bit about Barack Obama being a 8th cousin of Dick Cheney --they are descended from the same family about 9 generations back Commented May 17, 2017 at 20:26
  • Bye, Mary's Father was Joachim and her mother was Anne. I had not parsed "Joachim" as Joseph. Is that a common translation? Commented May 17, 2017 at 20:28
  • FWIW en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joachim for background. Commented May 17, 2017 at 20:36

Tribal lineage passes only through the father,(Numbers 1:18, Ezra 2:59) while being Jewish passes through the mother. So one cannot claim to be of a certain tribe if there is no earthly father. As someone else stated Jesus claims descent through the mother. Inheritance does go through the male line first, but if there is none then bloodline and inheritance can pass through other relatives. (Numbers 27:6-11). However with king David having so many kids it's very likely the paternal line was established and carried on, which would more than likely leave Jesus with no inheritance, or claim of kingship.

So Inheritance could be argued for (possibly) but tribal affiliation can't be in his case. Historical records of descent of king David were destroyed a long time ago.

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. For more on what this site is all about, see: How we are different than other sites. Meanwhile, I hope you'll browse some of the other questions and answers on this site. Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 2:29

How could Jesus be descended from the royal line of David if he was born of the Virgin Birth?

The answer to this question if in the form of legality that Joseph was indeed of the house of David.

The purpose of the genealogy in Matthew’s gospel is to demonstrate that Jesus is “the son of David, the son of Abraham,” that is, the legal heir of both of these men and thus the beneficiary (and ultimate fulfillment) of the covenant promises that God made to them.

All Jews were descended from Abraham. But Jesus was not descended from David, who was from the tribe of Judah, through his mother Mary, because she was instead a descendant of Aaron from the tribe of Levi. We know this because Luke’s gospel tells us that Mary was a “relative” of Elizabeth, who was a “descendant of Aaron.”

But when Joseph, who was descended from David, married Mary, this also constituted his legal adoption of the son she would bear. The language of Matthew’s genealogy reflects this legal understanding: “Joseph, the husband of Mary . . . the mother of Jesus.”

Later in Matthew’s gospel we see from the narrative that Jesus was considered to be Joseph’s son just as much as the other children that Mary and Joseph had together. The people of Nazareth ask, after Jesus tells a series of parables, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”

So Jesus was the son of Joseph in the full legal sense, because he was adopted when Joseph married Mary, and thus Jesus is also considered to be a legal descendant of David. - How was Jesus from the line of King David if his real father was not Joseph?

The following articles may be of interest to some:

  • adoption does not pass tribal lineage. Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 4:21
  • 2nd Samuel 7:12 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. OWN FLESH AND BLOOD does not equal adoption. Commented May 16, 2022 at 0:08

It is a virtual mathematical certainty that Jesus was a biological descendent of David. Let's consider the genealogist's dilemma.

The Math

  • Go back one generation--your parents--you have 2^1 (2 to the first power) of them
  • Go back 10 generations--your 8th great-grandparents--you have 2^10 of them
  • Go back 20 generations--your 18th great-grandparents--you have 2^20 of them (just over a million)

David lived about a millennium before Jesus. If we allow for 25 years to a generation (not unreasonable for the time period), that's 40 generations. 40 generations back are your 38th great-grandparents and you have 2^40 of them. The trouble is, 2^40 is more than 1 trillion--and it's more than the total number of people who have ever lived on the earth.


1 trillion ancestors--how does that work?? It turns out if you go back far enough on your family tree you'll see the same names showing up on different branches. Your parents may not be closely related, but they are related--they have common ancestors. Those trillion names on the 40th generation branches of the family tree will be repeats of the same names over and over and over and over again.

This is why genealogists believe, for example, that everyone of western European descent is a descendant of Charlemagne. Not only did he have a lot of kids, but he lived almost 1300 years ago--the number of his descendants has multiplied exponentially, such that there came a point where even the handful of people who weren't his descendants would have an awful hard time finding someone to marry (in Europe) who wasn't a descendant of Charlemagne! I am a descendant of Charlemagne (too bad I didn't inherit his fortune though).

People who share a common regional ancestry are all related within 40 generations--and in a community like the Israelites, who tended to intermarry (see Deut. 7:3-4), it would take a lot less than 40 generations.

So yes, Jesus was a biological descendant of David. And so was every other Jew in Galilee.


Aside to guard against counter-arguments

I use 2^40 to make a point, but:

  • The argument will work just fine if we use 2^39 instead (just over 500 billion), since Jesus had only 1 mortal parent.
  • The argument will still work even if we use the condensed genealogy from Matthew, listing only 27 generations from David to Jesus: 2^27 is ~134.2 million. (I'm not suggesting Matthew's genealogy doesn't skip generations, just pointing out that using Matthew's genealogy as a counter-argument won't work)
  • The argument works yet again if we combine both objections above, using 27 generations from Matthew and subtracting 1 from the exponent because Jesus had only 1 mortal parent: 2^26 is ~67.1 million, more than the total population of Jews in the Roman Empire in Jesus' time.
  • Some have suggested a 25-year average generation is too high--that we should use a smaller number because of shorter lifespans. That's fine, it would only strengthen my argument by increasing the exponent.


Jesus' more precise claims

So what was significant about Jesus' claims of David descent? At least 2 things:

  1. He could actually trace His genealogy back to David. For comparison, everybody on earth is descended from royalty somewhere, but most can't trace their lineage back that far.

  2. He had legal, patrilineal claim as an heir of David. As a patrilineal descendant of David, Joseph had a plausible claim on the throne (though admittedly, not entirely without difficulty). As Joseph's adopted son, Jesus had a plausible claim as well (see discussion here). This is why, for example, several of Joseph's descendants were investigated by Emperor Domitian in case they posed a threat of claiming right to rule and thereby threatening Rome's rule over the Jews (see Eusebius, HE 3.19 & 3.20).

Of course being a descendant of David did not automatically make one the Messiah--it was a necessary but not a sufficient condition.


Aside on adoption

Was Joseph Jesus' adopted father? Yes

From his own community we get the following:

And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? (Luke 4:22)

And from Mary herself, after she & Joseph found Jesus (at age 12) in the temple:

thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. (Luke 2:48)

What Matthew & Luke make clear is that Joseph was not Jesus' biological father.


The power of hostile witness

How do we actually know the claim of traceable Davidic descent is true? One of the criteria used to establish historical credibility is the testimony of hostile witnesses. If Jesus' enemies conceded something, that means it was pretty much incontrovertible.

The Gospels record multiple run-ins Jesus had with the religious leaders of His time, and they challenged Him on many points. His trial before the Sanhedrin is multiply attested in detail. And yet amidst their numerous challenges of Jesus' claims, person, and teachings, never do we find anyone challenging His well-known claim to be a descendant of David.

Some have suggested Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah--He does in Matthew 27:64:

63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.

64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. (Matthew 27:63-64)

  • Note that "Christ" is the Greek equivalent of "Messiah"
  • The Greek idiom behind "thou hast said" here has often been garbled in translation. The Greek is Σὺ εἶπας. As explained by Talmage:

This expression "Thou has said" was equivalent to -- I am what thou hast said. (Jesus the Christ pp. 625-626)


The Synoptic Problem and the Genealogies

*[for most this will be the boring section you want to skip =) ]

Many hold that Matthew was not the first Gospel written. I respectfully hold a different view. My study of the Synoptic Problem has led me to the conclusion that both Mark and Luke were dependent upon Matthew. For a much more extended argument (if that's of interest), see my work on Matthean Priority here and the reliability of the Gospels here. (Matthean Priority = Matthew was first)

I recognize that most scholars believe in Markan Priority; I also recognize why they do so. For a brief discussion, see this post under the heading It’s the majority view among New Testament scholars: this is unremarkable given the history of the Synoptic Problem; for a more extensive discussion, see my videos here and here.

But this also creates a conundrum. If Luke used Matthew as a source--and I firmly conclude he did--why are the genealogies different?

As demonstrated on this site and many others, a definite answer on the differing genealogies is not universally acknowledged. But if Luke knew Matthew's Gospel and used a different genealogy anyway, that means one of two things:

  • Luke thought Matthew was wrong (unlikely since he quoted hundreds of verses from Matthew)
  • Luke had access to a different family line

I don't claim to know the answer for certain, but to me the most parsimonious solution is that one evangelist recorded Joseph's genealogy and one recorded Mary's.



That Jesus was a descendant of David we can establish on the math alone. That His genealogy could be traced to David is supported by hostile witness, and that His family could credibly claim patrilineal descent from David is attested by the fact that Emperor Domitian--politically the most powerful man in the world at his time--went to the trouble to track the poor family down.

  • well your math would work but Jesus father was so called God so he didnt have a tribal lineage. Adoption does not carry over tribal lineage. Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 4:22

There are some excellent answers to this question, and my post is simply to keep things simple in an attempt to show, from the Bible, the legitimacy of the claim that Jesus is a descendant from David through his biological mother, Mary.

Matthew 1:1-16 traces Jesus’ genealogy through the line of Joseph (and his father Jacob) to David. Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father, but his adoptive father, and so this establishes the legality of the claim.

Luke 3:23-38 traces Jesus’ ancestry through his biological mother Mary, but via Mary’s father Heli. Heli was Joseph’s father in law. It is true that it was not standard practice to mention women’s names in genealogies, and that is why Luke’s account begins by saying that Jesus “was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli”. There was no expression “son-in-law” so Joseph was a “son” of Heli by virtue of his marriage to Mary, who would have been the daughter of Heli.

Some notable points in Mary’s lineage are that she was a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Luke 3:34); she was specifically of the tribe of Judah (verse 33). She was also a descendant of Boaz (verse 32) and David (verse 31). Significantly, Luke traces Mary’s lineage all the way back to Adam (verse 38). This fits with Luke’s purpose as he wrote to Gentiles and emphasized that Jesus is the Son of God who came to save all people (cf. Luke 2:10–11).

Another issue relating to Mary’s lineage is her relation to Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. Luke says that Mary was related to Elizabeth, who was in the tribe of Levi (Luke 1:5, 36). An argument sometimes put forward by those who deny the credentials of Christ is that, if Mary was Elizabeth’s “cousin,” then Mary must also have been a Levite. Some translations, such as the KJV, do state that Mary was the “cousin” of Elizabeth (Luke 1:36). However, the English word cousin does not have to imply a close relation, and other versions of the Bible translate the word as “relative” (NKJV, ESV, CSB, BSB). Even if Elizabeth and Mary were close relatives, it was still possible for them to be of different tribes, as women were identified with their father’s tribe, not their mother’s. Elizabeth’s father was a Levite, making her a Levite by birth, but her mother may have been of Judah. Conversely, Mary’s mother may have been a Levite and kin to Elizabeth’s family, while Mary’s father was of Judah.

Luke’s genealogy shows that Heli, whom we assume to be Mary’s father, was a direct descendant of Judah, not Levi. In addition, the angel Gabriel affirmed Jesus’ Judean lineage, telling Mary that “he will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David” (Luke 1:32, NLT). David was of the tribe of Judah. Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/Mary-lineage.html

The Bible also confirms that Jesus was a descendant from the tribe of Judah and seventeen verses in the New Testament describe Jesus as “the son of David”. For example:

As to his earthly life [Christ Jesus] was a descendant of David (Romans 1:3).

For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah (Hebrews 7:14).

And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals. (Revelation 5:5).


Here are few thoughts. You can figure the answer for yourselves.

  • There are obvious discrepancies between the Genealogies in Matthew (Matt 1:1-17) and Luke (Luke 3:23-38), both trying to prove Jesus' Davidic lineage, though. The most immediately evident one is that Joseph, the putative father of Jesus, is affirmed to be the son of Jacob in Matt 1:16, but the son of Heli in Luke 3:23.
  • There are various theories on how to reconcile the two genealogies, from affirming that Heli and Jacob refer to the same person, to affirming that Matthew's and Luke's genealogies refer, respectively to Joseph and to Mary.
  • The almost desperate need to reconcile the obvious discrepancies in Matthew and Luke's genealogies is particularly felt in Protestant Christianity, where the total, verbatim inerrance of Scripture is considered absolutely essential and indisputable.
  • Paul, in his epistles, recommended not to "give heed to fables and endless genealogies" (1 Tim 1:4) and to "avoid foolish questions, and genealogies" (Titus 3:9). While Paul does not explicitly refer to genealogies of Jesus, and even if some try to preempt the very possibility that Paul could have in mind genealogies of Jesus, nevertheless Paul certainly affirms that genealogies (including by implication those proposed for Jesus) are not worth delving into.
  • Perhaps Matthew and Luke didn't even realize that when they were quoting Jesus' question to the Pharisees (“If David then calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he [the Christ] be his son?” - Matt 22:45; cp. Luke 20:44), they were relativizing the importance of their own genealogies.
  • 2
    Most of this is reasonable, but loads of Protestants do not in fact teach inerrancy, or even infallibility.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented May 6, 2021 at 12:24
  • @curiousdannii Would you agree if I replaced "in Protestant Christianity" with "among fundamentalist protestant Christians"? Commented May 6, 2021 at 14:01

How would Jesus have a bloodline back to King David?

The OP question isn’t about whether Jesus had a legal right or not to the kingship of David. The question isn’t about Levirate marriage. The question isn’t about the Jeconiah curse. The question is about Jesus’ bloodline; is Jesus descended by blood from David? There is only one answer. Was it through Joseph or Mary?

Although a step-father of sorts, Joseph was not the biological (bloodline) father, regardless of whether or not Joseph descended directly from David’s lineage. We are left with Mary as the descendent of King David via bloodline.

Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: 2 Tim 2:8

So, can this assertion be proven?

Incidentally, in another thread, some incorrectly argue that Mary and Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist) were related by blood cousins. This obfuscates the bloodline question. Elizabeth was of Levi (Luke 1:5). If the two were blood cousins, then Mary would be of Levi by blood, though she could have married legally into the tribe of Judah. So, it is clear enough they were not cousins, but I digress.

Bloodline According to the Flesh

As a bit of background to help understand this issue, in the first few hundred years of the early church, there were two opposing schools about Jesus’ flesh; that is to say, about His birth. One school taught Jesus passed through Mary as water through a straw, that Jesus just appeared at Mary’s side, that Mary remained in the birth state. On the other side of the argument were those who believed Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary in the very normal human way. They believed Jesus was of the seed of David via Mary’s flesh and proved thereby with a very normal human birth.

So, let’s back into the answer starting from a couple of early church Fathers who believed in the very normal human birth, then move to scripture, including the gospel accounts.

that He was truly of the seed of David according to the flesh. Ignatius Epistle to Smyrnians Chapter 1, quoting Romans 1:3

According to the flesh may only mean, after a supernatural conception, via a normal term to a normal birth.

Since Christ has, to our wonder, been made known among us to be the Son of the living God, and to have become man in these last times by means of the Virgin Mary, of the seed of David and Abraham, according to the announcements previously made regarding Him and through Him by the company of the prophets, From Maria of Cassobelae, Chapter I

Again, this is an argument for Mary being of the blood (seed) of David and thus Christ was of the seed of David as prophesied in Gen. 3:15. He took flesh from, was made of His mother Mary.

And again, in his Epistle to the Galatians, he says: “But when the fulness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption;” plainly indicating one God, who did by the prophets make promise of the Son, and one Jesus Christ our Lord, who was of the seed of David according to His birth from Mary; Irenaeus, AH Book III, Chapter XVI

Irenaeus makes it crystal clear. Mary was of Judah, not Levi.

And that the virgin of whom it behoved Christ to be born (as we have above mentioned) must derive her lineage of the seed of David, the prophet in subsequent passages evidently asserts. “And there shall be born,” he says, “a rod from the root of Jesse”—which rod is Mary—“and a flower shall ascend from his root: and there shall rest upon him the Spirit of God, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of discernment and piety, the spirit of counsel and truth; the spirit of God’s fear shall fill Him.” For to none of men was the universal aggregation of spiritual credentials appropriate, except to Christ; paralleled as He is to a “flower” by reason of glory, by reason of grace; but accounted “of the root of Jesse,” whence His origin is to be deduced,—to wit, through Mary. For He was from the native soil of Bethlehem, and from the house of David; as, among the Romans, Mary is described in the census, of whom is born Christ. Tertullian, To the Jews, Of the Prophecies of the Birth of Christ and Achievements

When we turn to the brief history of Jerusalem after Christ’s ascension, we find that James was the first bishop of Jerusalem. But the Roman leaders sought to extinguish all descendants of King David. Their threat they thought was gone, but they wanted to remove all potential descendants.

  1. “Of the family of the Lord there were still living the grandchildren of Jude, who is said to have been the Lord’s brother according to the flesh.
  2. Information was given that they belonged to the family of David, and they were brought to the Emperor Domitian by the Evocatus. For Domitian feared the com149ing of Christ as Herod also had feared it. And he asked them if they were descendants of David, and they confessed that they were. Eusebius History III, 20 , mentioning Africanus

Now, the Lord’s brother by flesh would again, of course, directly relate solely to Mary, not Joseph.

These and others understood Jesus was of Mary, of David by the flesh, proved by a very normal human birth, though miraculous conception. And so, the question now is does scripture assert this? Presumably it must, else there is no explanation for why the early church believed it. So, how and why did they believe this?

Of David’s seed

These writers quote both Old and New Testaments to prove that Jesus was the Christ, son of the Living God, heir by blood to the promised throne of David.

And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a blossom shall come up from [his] root: and the Spirit of God shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and godliness shall fill him; Isa 11:1-2

This is a promise of a direct, bloodline descendant.

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; Rom 1:3

We’ve established the why, it was prophesied, now let’s look at the assertion.

Luke primarily wrote to a Gentile audience. Female bloodlines were not typically mentioned, but he has no problem mentioning two bloodlines Elisabeth and Mary.

There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. Luke 1:5

To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. Luke 1:27

Like with other scripture, comma’s matter. Translators insert them to help readability, but sometimes, it obfuscates the author's point. Given everything else, consider this.

To a virgin, espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. Luke 2:1-7

Basically, Luke is saying, To a virgin of the house of David whose name was Mary.

This verse is the fulfillment of prophecy and what the ancients understood regarding the seed of David, Christ Jesus.

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. Rev 5:5

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