Difficulties of New Testament Genealogies -- By: R. Larry Overstreet

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 02:2 (Fall 1981)
Article: Difficulties of New Testament Genealogies
Author: R. Larry Overstreet


Difficulties of New Testament Genealogies

R. Larry Overstreet

The genealogies in Matthew and Luke are integral parts of those Gospels. They are remarkably precise documents, each accomplishing the aim of testifying to Gods design in the birth of Jesus Christ. This article presents the purposes and peculiarities of each genealogy, and also examines the difficulties of interpretation attendant to them. Special attention is focused on the difficulties found when Matthew is compared to the OT, and on the difficulties found when Matthew is compared to Luke. Both genealogies are reckoned as accurate in even the smallest details.

* * *

The NT opens with an arresting prefatory record of names. Many readers probably pass over them as being of no practical value. However, this genealogy which opens the NT is, in many respects, one of the most important documents in the Scriptures. Much of the Bible stands or falls with its accuracy. If the Word of God contains mistakes in this section, how is any of it to be trusted, for this is the connecting link between the OT and NT?

Evidently, genealogies were available to the ancient public, and it could be established easily if a person had a legitimate claim to any particular line. For example, Ezra 2:62 states, “These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.” This demonstrates how it was then possible to check the register of the tribe of Levi and remove those that made a false claim. The genealogy given in Matthew was important for the same reason of establishing a legitimate claim to a particular line.

This does not mean, however, that no difficulties exist in Matthew’s genealogy. Some difficulties exist when Matthew is

compared to the OT, and some exist when Matthew is compared to Luke’s genealogy. However,

…allowing the Divine inspiration of the authors, we must grant that they could make no mistakes in any point, and especially on a subject where the truth of the Gospel history, and the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies are so nearly concerned.1

In this article the difficulties between Matthew and the OT and also between Matthew and Luke will be examined closely, the various solutions given, and a conclusion reached concerning each of them. Many of the difficulties can be answered with relative ease. However, some of them present greater problems and must be considered more closely.

Difficulties between Matthew and the OT...
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