Contradictions in the Bible (Part 4)

Matthew 1:16 “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”

Luke 3:23 “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli.”

According to 1 Corinthians 14:33 “God is not the author of confusion….” However, these verses appear to be at odds over the lineage of Christ. Surely two men cannot be the father of Joseph. What is going on here? The answer to this supposed contradiction is relatively simple, but requires some explanation. Most scholars today agree that the first seventeen verses in the first chapter of Matthew give the genealogy of Joseph, while Luke gives that of Mary, making Jacob the father of Joseph and Heli the father of Mary. This is shown by the two narrations of the virgin birth. Matthew 1:18-25 tells the story only from Joseph’s perspective, while Luke 1:26-56 is told wholly from Mary’s point of view.

A logical question to ask is why Joseph is mentioned in both genealogies? The answer is again quite simple. Luke follows strict Hebrew tradition in mentioning only the names of males. Therefore, in this case, Mary is designated by her husband’s name. R.A. Torrey stated: “Joseph’s name is introduced into this place in place of Mary’s, he being Mary’s husband. Heli was Joseph’s father-in-law; and so Joseph was called ‘the son of Heli.’ While Joseph was son-in-law of Heli, he was, according to the flesh, actually the son of Jacob.” The term “son” as commonly used in such tables had three different meanings according to James Coffman: “1. son by actual birth; 2. son-in-law, and; 3. son by creation, as in the case of Adam.”

These two separate genealogies of Jesus Christ were, in fact, absolutely necessary in the establishment of Christ as the Messiah. The Messianic title, “Son of David,” that we so frequently apply to Christ required dual proof: (1) that He was entitled to throne, as Matthew’s genealogy indicated; and (2) that He literally descended from David, as Luke’s genealogy demonstrates. The verses in Matthew clearly establish Christ as the legal heir to the throne by tracing His ancestry down through the royal line of the kings of Israel, with Luke’s account demonstrating that He was a descendant of David.

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