Luke 3:23-38 – Jesus’ Genealogy



Jesus’ ancestry traced through his (adoptive) father, Joseph, extends back through King David, through Abraham, and all the way to Adam.


It is impossible to offer an endorsement of this genealogy’s historical accuracy. Because it differs so sharply from the genealogy given in Matthew 1:1-17 and includes many names that are mentioned in no other documents, it is best not to give it too much significance as a definitive record. What is important about the genealogy, however, is the way in which it locates Jesus firmly within the history of God’s relationships with the people of Israel. This Gospel makes its readers aware that Jesus stands within the same story as the ancestors Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. It is important to note that Luke extends Jesus’ genealogy all the way back to Adam, God’s first human creation. (By contrast, the genealogy in Matthew’s Gospel links Jesus only as far back as Abraham.) This is consistent with Luke’s outlook on the entire world and Luke’s insistence that Jesus has relevance for all humanity, not merely for the Jewish people alone.

The genealogy traces Jesus’ lineage through his male ancestors, which was common for the time. It is a legal genealogy. Jews did not widely adopt the practice of tracing Jewish ancestry through mothers until after the first century CE. By noting that Joseph’s fatherhood of Jesus is only “as was thought,” the author seems intent to make sure that the genealogy does not contradict the previous account (1:35) that describes the power of the Holy Spirit in Mary’s pregnancy.