The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia presents an exhaustive listing of forty-one genealogies all of which, excepting two of Christ, are in the Old Testament. To the historian as well as to the theologian these genealogies contribute much, especially in tracing the line of the seed from Adam to Christ. In the wording of these genealogies a phrase like "the son of" should be interpreted according to the custom in force at the time that the genealogy was written. The Jews, for instance, in reckoning a genealogy counted grandsons and great grandsons as if sons. This fact is of real importance when tracing a recorded lineage.
Turning to the all-important genealogies of Christ—one by Matthew (1:1-16) tracing the line of Messianic seed from Abraham to Christ, and one by Luke (3:23-38) tracing the lineage of the seed from Christ back to Adam—it will be seen that the important point is that the virgin birth with its divine character and the fact of Christ's lineage through David are established, whatever may be the variations or omissions in these two records.
In the conclusion of an article on these particular genealogies for the International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia Dr. Louis M. Sweet presents the following pertinent material:
It is clear, therefore, from the general trend as well as from specific state ments of both Gospels, that the genealogies and the birth-narratives were not floating traditions which accidentally touched and coalesced in mid-stream, but that they were intended to weld inseparably the two beliefs that Jesus was miraculously conceived and that He was the heir of David. This could be done only on the basis of Joseph's genealogy, for whatever the lineage of Mary, Joseph was the head of the family, and the Davidic connection of Jesus could only be established by acknowledgment of Him as legal son by Joseph. Upon this basis rests the common belief of the apostolic age (see Zahn, ibid., 567, note references), and in accordance with it all statements (such as those of Paul, Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8) must be interpreted.
For it must be remembered that, back of the problem of reconciling the virgin birth and the Davidic origin of Jesus, lay the far deeper problem—to harmonize the incarnation and the Davidic origin. This problem had been presented in shadow and intimation by Jesus Himself in the question: "David himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he his Son?" It is further to be noticed that in the annunciation (Lk. 1:32) the promised One is called at once Son of God and Son of David, and that He is the Son of God by virtue of His conception by the Spirit—leaving it evident that He is Son of David by virtue of His birth of Mary. With this should be compared the statement of Paul (Rom. 1:3-4): He who was God's Son was "born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." This is at least most suggestive ..., for it indicates that as Paul and Luke were in very close sympathy as to the person of Our Lord, so they are in equally close sympathy as to the mystery of His origin. The unanimity of conviction on the part of the early church as to the Davidic origin of Jesus is closely paralleled by its equally firm conviction as to His supernatural derivation. The meeting-point of these two beliefs and the resolution of the mystery of their relationship is in the genealogies in which two widely diverging lines of human ancestry, representing the whole process of history, converge at the point where the new creation from heaven is introduced.—II, 1198-99
Because of the twofold fact that Christ on His human side was the Son of David and on the divine side was Messiah, Jehovah incarnate, Emmanuel, as such David's Lord, the problem posed to finite minds was beyond solution by the Jewish rulers (Matt. 22:41-46). It may be noteworthy also that the pronoun whom of Matthew 1:16 is feminine in gender, thus relating the child as a son to Mary.
The Apostle Paul warns against inordinate expenditure of time upon genealogies (1 Tim. 1:4; Titus 3:9) as being for the people of little value.
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