Faith Strengthened  Table of Contents Part 2, Introduction Part 2, Chapter 2
 Faith Strengthened Chapter 1  Part 2  

Matthew 1 contains an account of the genealogy of Jesus, and traces back the descent of Joseph, the husband of Mary, to Solomon son of David. The enumeration of his ancestors terminates thus (verses 15, 16, 17), "And Eliud begat Eleazar, and Eleazar begat Matthan, and Matthan begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations."

In Luke 3:23-24, however the genealogy of Jesus differs from that given by Matthew; for he assigns the descent of Joseph, the husband of Mary, to Nathan the son of David. The parentage of Jesus is there described as follows: "And Jesus was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, etc., etc. Thus while, according to Matthew, there are forty-two generations, reckoning back to Abraham, there are twenty-six according to the names mentioned in Luke. Besides this, the list of names given in Matthew is not calculated to afford a correct knowledge of the descendants of David, for three generations, Ahaziah, Jaos, and Amaziah, are omitted, and Uzziah is represented to be the son of Joram. See the correct genealogy in 1 Chronicles 3, and in the historical part of the Second Book of Chronicles beginning at chapter 22, etc.

It appears that the omission of three generations of kings was done advisedly, in order to make out Matthew’s three series of fourteen generations. However, after all it must be owned, that contradictory accounts of the generations have no reference to Jesus, but only to Joseph. For, as Mary is stated to have remained a virgin, even after her marriage with Joseph, we do not see the use of putting forth a long string of names which had no relation to the founder of the Christian religion.

This perplexing matter has not escaped the enquiry of Christian scholars, and they meet it by asserting that Luke does not contradict the account of Matthew, but mentions the same Kings under different names, in the same manner as Solomon is called Uzziah, Azariah, and Jehoiachin. This defense is not admissible, as Luke mentions Nathan, the brother of Solomon, as the ancestor of Jesus; it cannot, therefore, be supposed that Solomon bore the name of Nathan. We further observe that Matthew reckons eighteen generations, and Luke twenty-three, from David to Zerubabel. Again, from Abraham to Jesus, Matthew makes out forty-two, and Luke forty generations. This cannot be reasoned away but by taking various names as the designation of the same person. Besides, we find in our Scriptures only two or three of those contained in the list of the ancestors of Jesus who had several names. And as to those men who lived between Abraham and David, not one is represented in our Sacred Writings as having possessed two names, so that the contradictory enumerations in the New Testament still remain unreconciled. Some scholars have contrived to offer another palliation of the suspicious account. They say Matthew alone gave the ancestral origin of Joseph, but that Luke stated that of Mary, who was also of the seed of David by his son Nathan, and that Mary’s origin was mixed up with that of her husband, because man and wife are one flesh. Such apologies are frustrated by the very words of Luke (chapter 3), who speaks expressly of Joseph to show that through him the royal ancestry of Jesus was established. Those who assert that Jesus took his pedigree from his mother, only ought to find in the genealogy of Jesus the son of Mary, the son of Heli, the son of Matthew, etc.; thus all suspicion of error would have been obviated. Those who make an attempt to defend their position by quoting "Man and wife are of one flesh," [Genesis 2:24] should recollect that this expression has reference only to their conjugal fidelity and affection, but not to their descent.