Luke 3:23-38


The Glory of Israel and Light for the World

Luke 3:23-38  -  Jesus’ Ancestors

23 Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his work. 

A Jewish man of thirty was regarded as mature, given that the average life-span in the peasant society of the time was between thirty and forty years. 

He was the son (as was thought) of Joseph son of Heli, 
24 son of Matthat, son of Levi, son of Melchi, son of Jannai, son of Joseph,
25 son of Mattathias, son of Amos, son of Nahum, son of Esli, son of Naggai,
26 son of Maath, son of Mattathias, son of Semein, son of Josech, son of Joda,
27 son of Joanan, son of Rhesa, son of Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, son of Neri,
28 son of Melchi, son of Addi, son of Cosam, son of Elmadam, son of Er,
29 son of Joshua, son of Eliezer, son of Jorim, son of Matthat, son of Levi,
30 son of Simeon, son of Judah, son of Joseph, son of Jonam, son of Eliakim,
31 son of Melea, son of Menna, son of Mattatha, son of Nathan, son of David,
32 son of Jesse, son of Obed, son of Boaz, son of Sala, son of Nahshon,
33 son of Amminadab, son of Admin, son of Arni, son of Hezron, son of Perez, son of Judah,
34 son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, son of Terah, son of Nahor,
35 son of Serug, son of Reu, son of Peleg, son of Eber, son of Shelah,
36 son of Cainan, son of Arphaxad, son of Shem, son of Noah, son of Lamech,
37 son of Methuselah, son of Enoch, son of Jared, son of Mahalaleel, son of Cainan,
38 son of Enos, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God. 

Details of the genealogy are eminently forgettable, except for a few points.

Genealogies increased in importance after the return of exiles from Babylon to Judea. Without a king or alternative strong leadership, Jewish identity was maintained by setting clear boundaries. Jews saw themselves as God’s holy people, a royal priesthood, a people set apart. Clear ancestry was the key to claiming membership of the group. Though the exclusiveness of Israel was not totally to Jesus’ liking, Luke obviously believed that a genealogy proved to his contemporaries that he truly belonged.

  • The genealogy stated that Jesus was son of Joseph. In the light of what he had written in his Infancy Narrative, Luke clarified the statement, adding as was thought. However, in Israel, paternity was established by the father’s formally accepting the newborn child as his own. (DNA was not part of the equation!) 
  • Jesus’ genealogy was traced to and through David. This was important in Luke’s scheme of things so that Jesus could personally fulfill messianic prophecy.
  • The line continued to and through Abraham. This mattered so that Jesus could be seen truly to inherit the destiny of Israel.
  • The genealogy did not stop, however, with Abraham. Luke took it right back to Adam. His vision burst beyond the limits of the children of Abraham to take in the whole world. Luke wished to emphasise, right from the start, the solidarity of Jesus with the whole of fallen humanity.
  • Adam in turn was called son of God. Through Adam all people qualified as children of God. This was one factor in Jesus’ insistence on the inclusiveness of God’s love. Though the Jewish nation had a key role in the plan of salvation, they had no monopoly of God’s love.

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