The Genealogies of the Gospels


My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,



The Gospels of Saints Matthew and Luke give the genealogies of Joseph: Saint Matthew, in the opening passage of the Gospel, and Saint Luke, after the story of the Baptism. The two lists differ, and various explanations have been given for the discrepancies. Originally written in Aramaic (Hebrew dialect) to the Synagogue community, the Evangelist Matthew's list descends from Abraham, "father of believers," at the origin of the Old Covenant (Testament), to Jesus, Author of the New Covenant (Testament). The Hebrews desired to see a glorious king in the Person of the Messiah; therefore, Saint Matthew cites David the king in His genealogy. King David fathered Solomon, and then a whole line of royal descendants. The Evangelist also introduces women, something that the Evangelist Luke does not do. And what sort of women? Women who could neither be distinguished by descent from Abraham (Rahab of Jericho and Ruth the Moabitess), nor by true integrity of character and righteousness (Tamar the daughter-in-law of Juda and Bathsheba the wife of Urias). According to Hebrew tradition, the holy evangelist did not lose sight either of the fact that all the rights and privileges of a family passed on to the oldest of each generation. In Matthew's listing from Abraham and David, it was precisely the elder line that he had to choose everywhere (with the exception of Solomon). David's family line wends its way through Solomon the king and reaches Zorobabel, in whom both lines, Solomon's and Nathan's, join together, either through adoption or in accordance with the law of levirate marriages [Deuteronomy 25:5, 6]. Further, David's family runs along the time of Abiud (the elder) and reaches Joseph, the putative father of Jesus. Despite the fact that Joseph was not Jesus' natural father, but only his legal one, he could still pass on rights of inheritance and all the privileges of his family to his "adopted Son." For a Hebrew, it was the legal relationship of a son to his father that was important, not the natural one. The sense of the word "begat" which is used in Hebrew genealogies was not exact: it indicated immediate or remote descent, and adoptive relationship, or legal heirship, as well as procreation. The Evangelist Matthew's Gospel was intended for the Jews living in Judaea and Galilee. He also follows at once with the story of the virgin birth, the work of the Spirit, sign of a wholly new world.

On the other hand, writing in Greek, the glorious Evangelist Luke's longer list ascends to Adam, reflecting the "universalisms" which is the feature of his Gospel. The sacred author was writing for both Jews and Greek pagans. Nevertheless, both genealogies contain the name of David, essential to Christ's place among His people. While Saint Matthew traces the genealogy of Christ through the kings, and makes Christ appear as a King, Saint Luke puts the regal dignity of Christ in second place. Luke list the descendants of David's other son, Nathan [2 Kings (2 Samuel) 5:14; 1 Chronicles 14:4], and not of Solomon the king.

While Joseph is called the husband of Mary [St. Matthew 1:19], ο ανήρ αυτής], he is not represented as the father of Jesus. The word "begat" (έγέννηεσεν) is not used in his case with relation to Jesus. Joseph is only the legal father. (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" - Saint John Chrysostomos


With sincere agape In His Holy Nativity,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George