These questions keep me wondering:

Firstly, how is it possible that Matthew and Luke came up with completely different genealogies of Jesus's ancestors, if they are both following the masculine line?

And more importantly, if I'm overlooking something and both Matthew and Luke were right, how can this 13-generatons gap be justified?

Added later:

Matthew 1   | Luke 3
David       | David
Solomon     | Nathan
Rehoboam    | Mattatha
Abijah      | Menna
Asa         | Melea
Jehoshaphat | Eliakim
Jehoram     | Jonam
Uzziah      | Joseph
Jotham      | Judah
Ahaz        | Simeon
Hezekiah    | Levi
Manasseh    | Matthat
Amon        | Jorim
Josiah      | Eliezer
            | Joshua
            | Er
            | Elmadam
            | Cosam
            | Addi
            | Melchi
            | Neri
Jehoiachin  |            <-- According to Matthew the exile started here
Shealtiel   | Shealtiel  <-- Same names
Zerubbabel  | Zerubbabel <-- Same names
Abiud       | Rhesa
Eliakim     | Joanan
Azor        | Joda
Zadok       | Josech
Achim       | Semein
Eliud       | Mattathias
Eleazar     | Maath
Matthan     | Naggai
Jacob       | Esli
            | Nahum
            | Amos
            | Mattathias
            | Joseph
            | Jannai
            | Melchi
            | Levi
            | Matthat
            | Heli
Joseph      | Joseph
Jesus       | Jesus

2 Answers 2


Matthew and Luke had different purposes for their genealogies. Matthew wrote his gospel to present Jesus as King of the Jews. Therefore, his genealogy traces Jesus' descent from Abraham (father of the Hebrew nation) through the royal line of David and Solomon. Luke presented Jesus as the Son of Man and showed his descent from Adam (the first man).

The difference in purpose explains the answer to both of your questions. The genealogies are different because Matthew gave Joseph's genealogy and Luke gave Mary's. Physically, Jesus was Mary's son, not Joseph's, so it makes sense that Luke, who stressed Jesus' humanity, would show Jesus' physical line in his genealogy. Matthew, presenting Jesus as a Jew and of the kingly line, shows Jesus' adopted father Joseph's genealogy. Wikipedia lists some possible explanations for why Luke says Joseph was the son of Heli.

The gaps are because Matthew only selectively chose noteworthy names for his genealogy; that's how we get exactly fourteen generations between Abraham and David, David and the Captivity, and the Captivity and Christ. Luke lists close to twice as many names in his genealogy because he wanted to show Jesus' humanity by specifically listing all or most of his ancestors.

  • 4
    I'll go read your wiki article, but Luke presents itself as tracing Joseph's line. The Mary line is just one theory of many - another of which is simply "at least one of them was invented" Feb 12, 2012 at 22:21
  • True, the "Mary line" theory is one of many, and I daresay that its supporters are in the minority; however, I do think that it is the best theory, for the reason listed in my answer. I definitely don't accept the "one was made up" theory. First, I believe that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God," and the Holy Spirit/Matthew/Luke wouldn't fabricate a genealogy and present it as truth. Second, given the importance of genealogies to the Jews, I doubt such a fabrication could have been successfully perpetrated. Feb 13, 2012 at 4:29

I think why you are missing the main purpose of Luke's detailed genealogy is that you are under the assumption that Christ came through Solomon. During this time Israel was still under the law of not mixing outside of Israel with foreign wives because the Messiah had to come through a pure line of Israel - Solomon did not fit this requirement as he fell away and loved many women of other lands and sired many different children that were not of pure Israel - he also started worshiping and building temples to other gods, the gods of his many wives. God could not use the line of Solomon for the Messiah to come through. The line from David BRANCHED to Nathan, the third son of David and Bathsheba - that is why Christ is called the BRANCH - He branched off from the Political King line to sit on the Heavenly Throne - come through the Priest Line that would be joined through Nathan - a son of David from which Christ would come through, not mixed and confused with foreign genealogy that were not of Israel - so you have Mary's genealogy you find both the king line and the Priest line joined - which is why Christ is KING of kings (Judah line, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah) and LORD of Lords (Priest line) the title of King and High Priest are legitimately his. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathan_%28son_of_David%29


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