If Jesus is not the son of Joseph, but the Son of God, why is it said that Joseph is a descendent of David? If Jesus is the Son of God and the son of Mary, then the man who took care of Mary and her baby could be any man (a descendant of David or not).

Hypothetically, if Mary would have been engaged with another man than Joseph, that wouldn't change Jesus, so why does it matter that the "adoptive father" (Joseph) was a descendant of David? In Matthew 1, it says that Jesus is the son of David, because Joseph is the son of David, not because Mary was a daughter of David, as it is stated clearly.

  • 1
    Satisfying the requirement that messiah would have legal right to the throne
    – 007
    Commented Dec 24, 2022 at 20:16
  • Related christianity.stackexchange.com/a/78822/23657
    – 007
    Commented Dec 24, 2022 at 20:18
  • christianity.stackexchange.com/q/4297/23657
    – 007
    Commented Dec 24, 2022 at 20:20
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    The whole history of humanity, and the whole purpose of humanity is expressed in the manner of the coming of Messiah. The answer to this question begins at Genesis 1:1 and ends at Revelation 22:21.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 1:02

2 Answers 2


Son of David prophecies:

Key prophecies of this type include:

  • In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. (Jer. 33:15)

  • A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse (David's forefather); from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1)

  • I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken. (Ezek. 34:23-24)

Luke and Matthew are responding to objections that the messiah must be descended from David. Both of these gospels also admit that Joseph was not the physical father of Jesus, so they needed to show that he nevertheless fulfilled the prophecies of the messiah as David's 'son.' Even though they admit that Jesus is not a literal descendant of David, the genealogies strengthen the connection between David and Jesus. In terms of the Evangelists' thinking in including the genealogies, two possibilities present themselves:

The precedent: John the Baptist as Elijah

Elsewhere in the Gospels, objections are raised to Jesus' Christhood on the grounds that Elijah must return before the messiah arrives (Mal. 4:4). Jesus explains that this criteria was met by John the Baptist's ministry even though John himself denied it. (John 1:21) Thus the Gospel writers had a precedent for depicting Jesus as the "Son of David" even though this is not literally true.

The Son of David by Adoption?

The authors may also have believed that Joseph's acceptance of Mary as his wife constituted and adoption of Jesus by Joseph, and that Jesus thereby inherited Joseph's lineage. There was no known legal tradition of this sort in the Judaism of that time, but Talmudic tradition holds that the person who provides religious instruction to a son becomes, in effect his father. Rabbi Samuel ben Naḥmani says, on the authority of Rabbi Jonathan:

Whoever teaches the son of his companion the Law, has the right, in the sense of Scripture, to be deemed that person's father:

Conclusion: Matthew and Luke may have believed either that Jesus was the Son of David in the same sense that John the Baptist was Elijah; or they may have believed that, since Joseph was Jesus' father in a Scriptural sense, the status of 'Son of David' was inherited by Jesus from Joseph. Either way, the inclusion of the genealogies of Joseph strengthened the claim of Jesus' connection to David.


Our Lord Jesus was truly a biological descendant of David, "out of his loins" (2 Samuel 7:12) through his mother Mary whose father was "Heli" (Luke 3:23).

He was supposedly the son of Joseph but actually of Heli, Mary's father (Luke 3:23).

He inherited the throne of his father David through his adoptive father Joseph, since he was the eldest (adopted) son of Joseph and adoptive sons had all the same legal rights of inheritance as biological sons. Joseph, then, was in direct line of descent from David.

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