What Is A Genealogy?
What do you do when you`re reading through the Bible and you come to a list of names? Do you skim over them or do you take the time to figure out why they are there? Many tend to skip the genealogies and don’t even give them a second thought. A genealogy is a “Record or study of descent involving a tracing backward or forward of the ancestry of a nation, tribe, family, or individual (Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible).” Genealogies are part of God`s Word, so they must be significant and worth taking the time to study. Bible genealogies serve several purposes, one of those purposes being the confirmation of Old Testament prophecy.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” -2 Timothy 3:16
Why Study Genealogies?
When I started college in pursuit of my B.A., I had no clue what kind of degree I wanted to get. Most people advised me to pursue a business degree or a generic teaching degree. They would say, “You`ll have an easier time getting a job” or “You`ll make more money if you go into (fill in the blank).” A question I frequently received when I decided to go into history was, “What? Why History?” I realized that history wasn`t being taught as it should be. In this country, the teaching of true history is increasingly under attack. Former president Ronald Reagan said, “If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are.” If we don`t understand where we came from, we won`t know where we are headed or how we got here in the first place. Just as we can look through our own family lines to see who our ancestors were and what they stood for, we can look back and see that Christ came through the line of David just as promised in the Old Testament.
The Genealogy In Ruth And Matthew
God is always faithful to keep His promises. We understand from Genesis 3:15 and throughout the Old Testament that there would be a Messiah who would come through the line of David. Through the genealogies, we are able to trace Jesus` lineage back to David. The genealogy in Ruth fills in the gap between Perez in Genesis 38:27-30 and David in Second Samuel. The genealogy can be seen as the central point of Ruth chapter four, as it reveals the connection between Perez and David. The gospel of Matthew focuses on Jesus as king, this is why Matthew opens up with the official genealogy and birth of the king. The genealogy in Ruth is also restated in the introduction of Matthew`s Gospel to reveal the connection.
“Also, the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.” And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez begot Hezron; Hezron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadab; Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon; Salmon begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Obed; Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David.” -Ruth 4:17-22
“The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king.”-Matthew 1:1-6
Matthew & Luke: Different Genealogies?
Why is the genealogy of Jesus different in Matthew compared to the one in Luke? Some wonder why there is a difference in Jesus` genealogies, but there is a very good reason for the difference. Matthew`s genealogy shows Jesus` relationship to Joseph revealing His legal right to the throne and His messiahship. The book of Matthew is written with a Jewish audience in mind and it connects Jesus to Abraham. The nation of Israel received specific promises from God that they were awaiting the fulfillment of, and Matthew’s genealogy tells us that Christ is seen as the legal and royal heir to the throne. Israel was waiting on a Messiah who was promised to come through the line of David (Isaiah 9:6-7; Is. 11:1-16). In Matthew, the genealogy clearly points to the fact that Jesus Christ is from the line of David and that is significant to a Jewish audience. The genealogy given in Luke (Luke 3:23-38) traces Christ`s lineage all the way back to Adam. Since Jesus` genealogy is traced all the way back to Adam, this displays Christ`s humanity and His relationship to all mankind. Matthew is recording Joseph`s genealogy and Luke is recording Mary`s genealogy. So, while Matthew emphasizes Jesus` legal entitlement to the throne, Luke emphasizes Jesus` human ancestry and Him being the “Son of Man.”
In the Old Testament, the Messiah was promised to come from the line of David (Isaiah 11:1). Through the genealogies presented in the New Testament, God confirms that Jesus is a descendent of David (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38). The genealogies are important to pay attention to because they confirm the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Next time you come across a list of names, know that they are there for a reason and there is much we can learn from them. God has revealed Himself to us through His word and wants us to pay attention to what He has written.
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