Unit 04 – The Early Years Of Jesus

Unit 04 The Early Years Of Jesus

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 14, 2016  -  Comments Off on Unit 04 The Early Years Of Jesus

Unit 04

The Early Years Of Jesus

04.01 Introduction

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 14, 2016  -  Comments Off on 04.01 Introduction

Chapter 01


 04.01.00.A. CHRIST IN THE GARDEN OF OLIVES by Eugene Delacroix, 1827

04.01.00.A. CHRIST IN THE GARDEN OF OLIVES by Eugene Delacroix, 1827. Jesus, who existed from eternity past, came to earth for the salvation of mankind, to restore man’s image in the likeness of His creator. Jesus is shown in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to becoming the sacrifice for humanity, so mankind can live with Him into eternity future.  He was born for a destiny.

04.01.01 Introduction: The World Stage is Set; John’s Prologue

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 14, 2016  -  Comments Off on 04.01.01 Introduction: The World Stage is Set; John’s Prologue

04.01.01 Introduction: The World Stage is Set; John’s Prologue

John begins his gospel with the eternal nature of Jesus as the Creator who is the Light that brings salvation. The entire Bible is a story of God’s love and salvation for humanity.[1]  To that end, Galatians 4:4 states that in the fullness of time Jesus came. Yet the term “fullness” can be understood only within the cultural context of the first century and the significant people and events that preceded it. There were four major areas of preparation that had to be completed before “fullness” was achieved in preparing the world for coming of the “Anointed One.” They are,

  1. The Greeks: They provided a cultural milieu and language.[2]   
  2.  The Romans: They provided elements of law and order throughout the empire and improved transport. This was a profound accomplishment as the previous two centuries were filled with violence, political and religious chaos, persecution, and assassinations.
  3. The people throughout the Roman Empire and in regions beyond were expecting a messianic figure or king of some kind. From the Roman senate to the common slave, there were expectations of the appearance of a very important person.[3]
  4. The Jewish people provided the religious background and foundation necessary for Jesus to come.

The most important and anticipated life in history was born in Bethlehem some two thousand years ago. Yet John made a distinct point to demonstrate that the life of Jesus did not begin in a Bethlehem manger, but that He existed from eternity past. The theme of his gospel is the deity of Jesus, Who was “from the beginning” and set forth both the divine and human nature of the Messiah. The purpose of His coming was to teach men about the Kingdom of God, as well as to pay the high cost to redeem them from a lost eternity.  John’s point is that only God could have performed such a great task.

For the first term Word, in the first sentence, John used the Greek word Logos that included the Greek concept of reason and speech.[4] God created the world by means of His Logos.[5] The term is the eternal order of all things that is in God, and Jesus is the incarnation of that Logos in history.[6] The definition includes what is said, thought, reasoned, and motivated by Divine expression.[7]  John was not a Greek philosopher, but desired to express the concept that Jesus was the idea and expression of God in human form and was, in fact, God.[8]

[1]. The divine plan of salvation of the Old and New Testament was taught by the Hebrew prophets, as outlined in Appendix 9.


[2]. See 03.05.13.


[3]. For a brief description of those who expressed this anticipation long before the advent of Jesus, see 03.05.15, 03.05.24.

[4]. Barclay, “John.” 1:7-9; Vine, “Word.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:683.


[5].  Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages. 261; Vine, “Matter, Matters.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:396.

[6]. Lee, The Galilean Jewishness of Jesus, 115.


[7]. Brunn, One Bible, Many Versions. 78. Dave Brunn is an excellent resource on developing the skills of Bible translation.


[8]. See Appendix 8 on the Two Natures (human and divine) of Jesus.


04.01.02 The Eternality of God

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 14, 2016  -  Comments Off on 04.01.02 The Eternality of God

04.01.02 Jn. 1:1-2 The Eternality of God (NIV 1984)


A         In the beginning

B                     was the Word,

C                                 and the Word was with God,

C’                                and the Word was God.

B’                    He was with God

A’        in the beginning.

04.01.03 The Word of God Became the Person Jesus

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 14, 2016  -  Comments Off on 04.01.03 The Word of God Became the Person Jesus

04.01.03 Jn. 1:3-18 The Word of God Became the Person Jesus. (HCSB, continued)[1]

3All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men.   5 That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.

 6 There was a man named John who was sent from God. 7 He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. 9 The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not recognize Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. 12 But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.

14 The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory,
the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified concerning Him and exclaimed, “This was the One of whom I said, ‘The One coming after me has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’”) 16 Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness, 17 for the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The One and Only Son—the One who is at the Father’s side — He has revealed Him.


Literary style

John’s gospel was written for a Gentile audience, yet it is in typical Hebraic style, a/k/a “chiastic literary structure,”[2] of poetry that echoes the first sentence of Genesis.  It is a poem of complimenting, repeating, or contrasting ideas, rather than rhyming words. Verses 1 and 2 describe the eternal aspects of Jesus “from the beginning” (lines A and A’) of time with the focus on the Word (of God who was Jesus) being the eternal Deity (line C). In fact, the New Testament repeatedly states divinity of Jesus.[3] The first lines were written with repeating or contrasting ideas, as noted by the similarities between lines A and A’, B and B’, etc.  The focus of this short Hebraic poem is the center line – line C and C’, being Jesus – in human form was God on earth.

“Witness to testify.”  When the New Testament writers used terms such as “testimony,” “bore witness,” or “I have seen and testify,” these are statements of legal terminology. These statements were common in Roman, Greek, and Jewish cultures whereby the author placed himself under an oath concerning the truthfulness of the statement made.[4]

“In the beginning.”  This phrase in the original language did not have the definite article “the.”  In essence, the gospel writer is saying that “in beginning” there never was a beginning point, but there was an eternity past (cf. Jn. 17:5; Col. 1:17). This is a paradox to modern thinking, but understood by his first century audience. Hence, John reflected upon two writings of Moses in Genesis and in Psalm 90.[5]

After the summary account of creation, John discusses the condition of man.  Man, who was and is the supreme creation in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), who fell into sin and is now offered salvation by God through Christ Jesus.  It was Adam who was defeated by Satan in the beautiful Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8), but Jesus came and had victory over the evil one.  Because of Jesus’ sinless life, sacrificial death, and resurrection, eternal life is now available to all men by the One Who existed “in beginning.” While the sacrifices of the Old Covenant covered sin, the work of Christ removed sin.[6] The New Covenant is the fulfillment of the old one and completed the way of salvation for mankind.

Video Insert    >     

04.01.03.V Jesus in the Old Testament and Eternity Past. Professor John Metzger discusses the Deity of Jesus in the Old Testament and in eternity past.


The climax of this gospel is the only true response one can give to Jesus:  “My Lord and my God” (Jn. 20:28).  Since Jesus was with the Father throughout eternity past[7] and was the Creator of all things,[8] He is both the Light and the Life of humanity[9] and the darkness of this world could not extinguish Him. The gospel begins and ends with life.  In fact, the word life is one of John’s key words.  The pre-existence of “God” as Creator is also found in a Dead Sea Scroll document known as the Manual of Discipline.[10] The ancient Essene writer understood this and said,

For judgment is God’s and

from His hand is the way of blamelessness

From His design everything received its origin,

and from His design

Everything that exists was prepared

without Him nothing was made.

-Dead Sea Scroll Fragment, 1QS XI:10[11]


All that is and ever was

comes from the God of knowledge,

Before things came into existence

He determined a plan for them,

And when they fulfilled their appointed roles

it is in accordance with His glorious design,

That they discharge their functions

Nothing can be changed.

-Dead Sea Scroll Fragment, 1QS 3:30[12]

“The Word.” John did not speak of a “word” or “words” as spoken by Jesus, but rather, he spoke of “the Word” as being the essence of Jesus – the essential inner mind of Christ.[13] And Christ (Heb. Masiah 4899) was the Anointed One[14] who thousands of people throughout the ancient world expected to come. If the question were asked, “What is in the heart of hearts of Jesus?” the answer is “His Word.” In order to understand the mind of Jesus, one must understand His speech, actions, ministry, and life. John essentially gave two significant points about the Messiah:

  1. The Word was with God.
  1. The Word was God.

Essentially said, calling Jesus “the Word” is a Jewish way of saying He is the God of Israel.[15]  Knowing Jesus was not an either/or choice of these two points, but a combination of both.[16] One cannot understand the Messiah’s Word without understanding His mind and heart.   With this comes the understanding of the essence of the mind of God the Father (Jn. 14:23-24).[17]  Other New Testament writers refer to the essential inner mind of Jesus as being the logos, which is Greek meaning Word, of God. Paul said in Ephesians 4:12 that it was sharper than a two-edged sword, meaning that it can cut to the soul to surgically expose sin. Luke, in his second writing, used it where the “Word” of God is understood to be the “Spirit” of God or the “revealed mind” of God (Acts 13:48; 18:5).  John used logos again in his last work with the Word of God being Jesus Christ Himself (Rev. 19:13). In the Greek, the word logos is an it, but John’s use of the word Logos, which is rooted in his Jewish background and Aramaic language, is He.[18]

In contrast to the Logos, there were the popular Gnosticism[19] and Docetism[20] heresies within the Gentile world that confronted the apostles and other church leaders. These were especially significant outside the Jewish homeland. These theories of knowledge and God confronted both Jews and Christians, and for that reason, the Apostle Paul made these two comments:

16 For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.

Colossians 1:16


Yet for us there is one God, the Father. All things are from Him, and we exist for Him. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things are through Him and we exist through Him.

1 Corinthians 8:6

While the study of the influence of Gnosticism and various cultic beliefs is beyond the scope of this study, it must be stated that John’s gospel is a brief apologetic document that refutes these pagan ideas.

The phrase “No one has ever seen God,” means that no one has ever seen the ultimate glory, majesty, and nature of God. According to Moses, God said “You cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live” (Ex. 33:20).  This is due to mankind’s sinfulness. Yet according to the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), God (Adonai or Elohim) has made Himself known to selected individuals in a limited manner.  Examples are:

  1. To Abraham (Gen. 18)
  1. To Jacob (Gen. 32:25-33)
  1. To Moses (Ex. 3)
  1. To Joshua (Jos. 5:13-6:5)
  1. To the people (ten tribes) of Israel (Jg. 2:1-5)
  1. To Gideon (Jg. 6:11-24)
  1. To the parents of Samson (Jg. 13:2-23)
  1. To Isaiah (Isa. 6:1)

No one in the ancient world ever questioned the existence of God or gods.  To the Greek mind, the universe and the world with all its peoples and gods have always existed.  The Jews, however, had a radically different concept, one in which the earth had a specific beginning point.  John’s purpose is to convince both Jews and Gentiles that Jesus was the expected Anointed One (Jn. 20:31), the predicted Messiah of the Hebrew prophecies, who has always existed.                           

 04.01.03 (2)

While the term “the Word” or “Word of the Lord” is not found in the Old Testament, it certainly was not new to the Jews of the first century. The term is found in the Targums[21] that were recited in every synagogue service throughout the Inter-Testamental Period. Such phrases refer to God’s utter holiness in His creation. For example, the biblical narrative of Genesis 1:27 reads as follows:

“God created man in His own image”

Genesis 1:27


Furthermore, from the thousands of fragments found among the Dead Sea Scrolls is the Targum Fragment of Genesis 1:27 that reads,

“And the Word of the Lord created Adam in His own image.”

Targum Fragment Genesis 1:27[22]


This is one of many Targum examples that clearly reveal the fact that the Jewish people were familiar with New Testament terms not found in their Hebrew Bible.

“With God.”  Throughout history, there have been a few who incorrectly taught that the original law read “with a god” and, thereby they denied the deity of Jesus. This theological discussion is beyond the scope of this work, yet is so significant that the reader is encouraged to study the Granville Sharp Rule[23] concerning this erroneous interpretation. In addition, for an excellent article on the humanity and deity of Jesus, see Bruce A. Ware.[24]

“That light that shines in the darkness.”  The term light (Gk. phos 5457)[25]  was associated with the knowledge of God, while the term darkness (Gk. skotos 4655)[26] was associated with ignorance (Gk. agnosia 56)[27] or rejection of God.  The phrases associated with light and darkness, such as “sons of light,” and “sons of darkness,” were popularized during the Maccabean Revolt and preserved by the Essenes who authored the Dead Sea Scrolls many decades before Jesus was born. Hence, they were in common usage when Jesus came to bring light to all mankind.

“The true light.” The Greek word for true is alethes, which is closely related to alethinos, meaning genuine or real. Jesus alone can bring light to mankind in a world of questionable shadows and illusions.[28] John’s gospel is a proclamation of the messiahship of Jesus, but also a defense against Gnosticism which stated that matter is essentially evil and anything spiritual is essentially good.

“He gave them the right to be children of God.”  While the Old Testament states that one day the Gentiles would become saved, some Jewish leaders rejected that idea. John, however, placed all humanity on an equal plain before the Almighty God.  This was stunning to the Jews, who felt they were selected because they were God’s Chosen People.

“To those who believe in His name.”  The Greek present participle means believing, that is a continuous activity of faith and obedience.[29] To believe is not to merely believe in His historical life or to consider Him to have been an outstanding moral teacher. Even the demons believe that.  But to believe is to accept Jesus as Savior, Teacher, and Lord and to voluntarily be obedient to Him and live according to the instructions within His Word. To believe includes times of prayer and the entire scope of righteous living.[30]

“The law was given through Moses.” A certain measure of grace accompanied the Law of Moses or else no man could have been saved under it. Yet the proper office of the law itself was not grace, but restraint and conviction of sin (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:19).  On an important side note, the Church has adopted a Roman view of Law, in that it means restriction and, is therefore, bad, while the Hebrew Bible views Law as instruction and freedom, and therefore good.

“Grace after grace.”  This phrase literally means that New Testament grace has been added to Old Testament grace (2 Pet. 1:5). The traditional teaching that Old Testament law was replaced by New Testament grace is wrong; grace is woven throughout the Old Testament and Hebrews 11 is the faith chapter of the Bible that upholds that viewpoint.

“The Word became flesh and took up residence among us.” This statement is rather meaningless today, but in the first century it was a powerful statement because a heresy known as Docetism challenged the church. The word Docetism originates from the root word dokein, meaning to seem.[31] Docetism states that Jesus was not a human being, but He only seemed to be human.  For that reason, John said that the Word became flesh (Jn. 1:14).  In his letter to the Colossian church Paul said that the entire fullness of God’s nature, or the Godhead, as some translations say, was in the physical body of Jesus (Col. 2:9). Jesus never surrendered His full deity while among men. John then underscored this fact by saying that anyone who denies that Jesus came in the flesh is of the Antichrist (1 Jn. 4:3).[32]  It was a frontal attack against Docetism.

However, there is another aspect to this statement: Greek poets and philosophers never ever considered that the word of any god could become human.  To them, the human body was a place in which the soul was trapped and confined. The idea that the Word of God became human in the form of Jesus, that He entered the human race as a child, lived as a mortal man, taught and performed miracles so mankind could see into the eyes of God, was stunning and unbelievable, yet believable to the Gentiles. Therefore, the very idea posed by critics who say that the essence of John 1 was borrowed from the Greeks is totally absurd – impossible!                                                                                               

“We observed His glory.”  The phrase glory is not the ultimate glory of the eternal Word, but the term is reflective upon the glory of God as it was manifested several times in the Old Testament. The nature of the glory is often defined by what follows an event, as in these examples:[33]

  1. Divine glory in the desert wilderness (Ex. 16:10; 24:16, etc.)
  1. Glory of God in the temple (1 Kgs. 8:11)
  1. Glory to the prophets (Isaiah 6:3; Ezekiel 1:28)
  1. In the transfiguration of Jesus (Lk. 9:31 cf 2 Pet. 1:16-17)
  1. Divine glory shown in His miracles (Jn. 2:11; 9:4, 40)
  1. Divine glory as demonstrated in His perfect life and character, and
  1. Divine glory in the fulfillment of the absolute idea of manhood
  1. Divine glory shown in the fulfillment of every prophecy concerning His first coming.

04.01.03.Q1 Was/is Jesus God (Jn. 1:1-18)?

The most important question in life pertains to the identity of Jesus. It was the question posed by Jesus when He took His band of disciples to Caesarea Philippi – to the most pagan place in the ancient Middle East – and asked them, “Who do you say that I am?”[34] While this is obviously a theological question, brief biblical identity of Jesus must be given.

  1. God and the Lamb (Jesus) are worshiped (Rev. 5:8-17)
  2. God and the Lamb (Jesus) are the Temple (Rev. 21:22)
  3. Jesus was worshiped on earth (Mt. 2:11; 8:2; Mk. 5:6; etc.)
  4. Jesus was worshiped after the resurrection (Mt. 28:9, 17)
  5. Jesus was worshiped during the Ascension (Mt. 28:9, 17)
  6. Angels worship Jesus (Heb. 1:6)
  7. Multitudes worship God and the Lamb in heaven (Rev. 7:9-10)

Clearly, there are some challenges to understanding the dual nature of Jesus, due primarily to the limited human capacity to understand God. In Luke 4:8 Jesus told the devil to worship the Lord God only. In addition, the first commandment says to have no other god before God. While Jesus is the Son of God and submitted to the Father, the Word was God and became human flesh (Jn. 1:1, 14). Jesus came from the bosom of the Father (Jn. 1:18) to reveal God the Father to humanity.[35]

04.01.03.Q2 How can it be said that no one has ever seen God (Jn. 1:18) when other passages (Ex. 33:11, 19-20; Ezek. 1:26-28) clearly indicate otherwise?

This question is obviously in response to the statement, “No one has ever seen God,” which appears in direct conflict with other biblical passages. For example, Moses and the leaders of the Israelite children “saw God, and they ate and drank” (Ex. 24:11b).  While this verse affirms a visual appearance, it is in the context of Exodus 33:19-20.  They may have seen God, but not His face.  Yet Exodus 33:11 states that “the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face,” but in verse 18, Moses asked God to “show me your glory.” At first God refused, but then conceded and made His “goodness to pass” in front of him (Ex. 33:19), because “you cannot see my face, for no one can see my face and live” (v. 20).  But verse 20 redefines the meaning of the phrase “face to face,” and it obviously was not in the sense of modern interpretation. Therefore, there is no conflict with John 1:18.

Centuries later Ezekiel was granted the unusual opportunity to get a glimpse that was only a vision in which he saw a form on a throne, not a clear image (Ezek. 1:26-28). Therefore, the Old Testament references that seem to conflict with John are, in fact, clarified by Moses.

Elsewhere, Isaiah saw God high and lifted up upon a throne (Isa. 6:1) and the seventy elders of Israel saw God (Ex. 24:9-11). Yet as stated above, Exodus 33:20 reads that no one can see God and live. This passage and John 1:18 mean that the ultimate glory and nature of God are hidden from sinful humanity.  The word seeing in John’s passage is related to seeing the divine essence rather than the divine person, which also is indicated by the absence of the Greek article from Theos, meaning God.[36]

Finally, God was the author of the human body and soul of Jesus Christ. In Him the divine and human natures were united, so that “the Word,” who “was in the beginning with God” and “was God,” “was made flesh and lived among us.” It was on both accounts that Jesus was called “the Son of God.” Therefore, He was also said to be “God manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). Technically, He is Jesus the Messiah, Son of God (Heb. Yeshua Meshiach, ben Elohim).[1]. See also Hebrews 1:1-14.

[2]. See “Chiastic literary structure” in Appendix 26.

[3]. Jn. 1:1; 10:30; 17:5; Phil.2:6; Col. 1:15; 2:9.

[4]. Bookman, When God Wore Sandals. CD Trac 5.

[5]. Moses authored Psalm 90 – 116.

[6]. See Appendix 6 concerning Old Testament sacrifices and Jesus. For the New Testament plan of salvation revealed in the Old Testament, see Appendix 9.

[7]. Prov. 8:22-31; Jn. 17:5, 24.

[8]. Col. 1:16-17; Eph. 3:9; Heb. 1:2.

[9]. Jn. 5:26, 8:12, 9:5, 12:35, 46; I Jn. 5:11.

[10]. See 02.02 Biblical And Extra-Biblical Writings for more information.

[11]. Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament. 65-66.

[12]. Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament. 65-66.

[13]. While this eBook is not intended to be a study of theology, Jesus cannot be studied without the theological element.  Christology is itself imperative rather than historical.  No history of the life of Jesus is possible without some expression of Christology – meaning who Jesus was as a human and as deity.

[14]. Vine, “Messiah.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 1:150.

[15]. Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 6, Session 1.

[16]. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. 154.

[17]. Major, Manson, and Wright, The Mission and Message of Jesus. 679-80.

[18]. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 2, page 6.

[19]. See “Gnosticism” in Appendix 26.

[20]. See “Docetism” in Appendix 26.

[21]. See 02.02.28 “Targum.”

[22]. Cited by Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 6, Session 1.

[23]. Wallace, Greek Grammar. 270-90, 633, 735. The Granville Sharp Rule has become foundational in biblical studies and may also be found in systematic theology textbooks; See also Stanley E. Porter “Granville Sharp’s Rule: A Response to Dan Wallace, Or Why a Critical Book Review Should Be Left Alone.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. March, 2013. 56:1. 93-100; Daniel Wallace, “Granville Sharp’s Rule: A Rejoinder to Stan Porter.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. March, 2013.101-106.

[24]. For an excellent article on the humanity of Jesus, see Bruce A. Ware, in, “The Man Christ Jesus” page 5.

[25]. Barclay, “Light.” Jesus. 264.

[26]. Barclay, “Darkness.” Jesus. 264.

[27]. Barclay, “Ignorance.” Jesus. 264.

[28]. Barclay, “John.” 1:7-9; 54.

[29]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 2:49.

[30]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 2:49-50.

[31]. Barclay, “John.” 1:13, 65.

[32]. See Docetism in Appendix 26.

[33]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 2:52-54.

[34]. 10.01.29; Matthew 16:15.

[35]. See also Appendix 8 “The Two Natures of Jesus.”

[36]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 2:58-59.

04.01.04 Introduction by Luke

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 14, 2016  -  Comments Off on 04.01.04 Introduction by Luke

04.01.04 Lk. 1:1-4 Introduction by Luke 


1 Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us. 3 It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in an orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus,   4 so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.

The gospel of Luke and the book of Acts were addressed to the same individual by the name of Theophilos, whom scholars believe was a wealthy government official in Antioch – obviously an upper-class Greek.[1] Josephus mentioned a Theophilos whose son was given the position of high priest in Jerusalem by King Agrippa.[2]  The name apparently means love of God, and both books were written for an audience faithful to God.  However, this interpretation is a minority viewpoint, since individuals frequently had names that were in some way connected with a deity.

“Original eyewitnesses and servants.” Luke assured his readers that his information was from reliable sources. He was by profession a physician and his medical training required him to be observant and dedicated to detail. He researched his material and his writing style reflects a sophisticated style of Greek that is uniquely different from other New Testament authors.  The same care that he would have given to his patients, he exercised in compiling and recording the historical events that pertained to Jesus.  He relied not only on personal interviews, but also on recorded events prepared by other writers (Lk. 1:1). Luke, a highly educated man of his time, wrote according to the highest scholarly standards of his era.  However, a recent observation is to be made, some scholars now believe that some words of Jesus may have been written during His lifetime in the form of notes, possibly on ostraca or pieces of papyrus.[3]

Luke was a traveling companion of the Apostle Paul (Col. 4:14; Phm. 24) and referred to himself and Paul as the “we” statements in the book of Acts.  He met at least one of the original disciples, James, the half-brother of Jesus (Acts 21:18) and was a friend of Mark (Col. 4:10-14; Phm. 23ff) and Barnabas (Acts 4:36).  Luke was with Silas (Acts 15:22, 27, 32) and with Philip, the evangelist (Acts 21:8), with Agabus (Acts 21:10) and with an elderly disciple, Manson (Acts 21:15ff).  Clearly, Luke had an abundance of resources from which to write his gospel, as well as the book of Acts.

“I have carefully investigated.”  The introduction by Luke is the only place in the gospels where the writer identifies himself with the pronoun “I.”  This is similar to the, “I have made it evident” statement by Josephus, which he wrote in defense of his major work on the history of the Jewish people. Both writers underscored the detailed research they performed to insure accuracy for the readers.

I suppose that, by my books of the Antiquities of the Jews, most excellent Epaphroditus, I have made it evident to those who peruse them that our Jewish nation is of very great antiquity. 

Josephus, Against Apion 1.1 (1a) 


Luke said that he carefully (Gk. akribos, 199), meaning diligently,[4] investigated his material prior to writing his two books (Luke and Acts). In fact, he used the term eight times of the thirteen times it is found in the New Testament. Attention should be given to the fact that Jesus had a half-brother named James (Mt. 13:55) who did not believe He was the Messiah until after the resurrection. Therefore, Luke, speaking with the once-skeptical James, understood the questions of skeptics that in turn motivated him to be extremely careful in his research.

Greek and Roman authors recognized the importance of writing so their audiences clearly distinguished the differences between history and biographies. For example, Suetonius (c. A.D. 69-140) wrote The Twelve Caesars, which is considered today as a primary source on Roman history. In it he explains his account of Augustus,

Having given, as it were, a summary of his life, I shall not take up its various phases one by one, not in chronological order, but by classes (categories) to make the account clearer and more intelligible.

Suetonius, The Life of Augustus 9[5]


Suetonius was not the only writer whose literary works survived history. Lucius Mestrius Plutarch,[6] was a Greek historian, biographer and essayist who wrote The Life of Alexander in A.D. 75. Like Luke, Plutarch gave a purpose and framework to his writing.

It being my purpose to write the lives of Alexander the king, and of Caesar, by whom Pompey was destroyed, the multitude of their great actions affords so large a field that I were to blame if I should not by way of apology forewarn my reader that I have chosen rather to epitomize the most celebrated parts of their story, than to insist at large on every particular circumstance of it.  It must be borne in mind that my design is not to write histories, but lives. And the most glorious exploits do not always furnish us with the clearest discoveries of virtue or vice in men; sometimes a matter of less moment, an expression or a jest, informs us better of their characters and inclinations, than the most famous sieges, the greatest armaments, or the bloodiest battles whatsoever.  Therefore as portrait-painters are more exact in the lines and features of the face, in which the character is seen, than in the other parts of the body, so I must be allowed to give my more particular attention to the marks and indications of the souls of men, and while I endeavor by these to portray their lives, may be free to leave more weighty matters and great battles to be treated off by others.

Plutarch, The Life of Alexander 1.2-3[7]


“An orderly sequence.” Luke stated that it was his purpose to record an orderly account or sequence of the events that occurred during the life of Jesus.  As a trained medical physician, he not only focused on accuracy of detail, but also on the meaning of various events.  Furthermore, the definition of the Greek phrase orderly account (Gk. kathexes, 2517)[8] includes a high degree of chronological accuracy. However, scholars have noted that some points of his gospel are not in perfect chronological order, yet the overall tenor of the book is without question very chronological.[9] The reason for the variation is unknown.  But as such, Luke was different from other writers because, to them, it was generally acceptable to compromise on the chronology in order to obtain a deeper understanding and significance of a given message.

04.01.04a (2)

The introduction by Luke was written to convey the high degree of expertise he used to gather information.  Furthermore, he followed the same research methodology used by other classical historians who have not been criticized by today’s critics. The books of Luke and Acts stand as monuments to excellence in ancient documentation and writing.

Likewise, Mark was careful to convey the words and deeds of Jesus. In the second century the bishop of Hierapolis in Asia, Papias, wrote the following of the apostle:

Mark, who was Peter’s interpreter, wrote down accurately what he remembered.  He did not, however, report the sayings and deeds of the Lord in exact order.  For he had not heard the Lord …. Peter adapted his teaching to the needs [of his listeners] making no attempt to give a connected whole of the Lord’s sayings.  Thus, Mark did not act wrongly in writing certain things as he remembered them.  For he had one concern only: to omit nothing of what he had heard and writing nothing untrue.

Eusebius, Church History 3:39, 15[10]


[1]. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 1, page 4.


[2]. Josephus, Antiquities 20.9.7.


[3]. Millard “Literacy in the Time of Jesus.” 37-45.


[4]. Vine, “Accurately.”Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:10.


[5]. Clarification in parenthesis mine.


[6]. Plutarch a/k/a Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, (A.D. 45-120) was a Greek historian, essayist and biographer who is known for two books, Parallel Lives which included the Life of Alexander, and Moralia. His few surviving works appear to have been written in Koine Greek, the common Greek language of the first century. See Warmington, ed. Plutarch’s Lives: Demosthenes and Cicero, Alexander and Caesar, Vol 7.



[7]. Translated by John Dryden.


[8]. Vine, “Order.”Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:450.


[9]. Bock, Jesus According to Scripture. 54.

[10]. This quotation was preserved by Eusebius, a 4th century church historian who also said that Matthew wrote his gospel in the Hebrew language Ecclesiastical History. 3:39, 16. Cited by Bivin, New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus, 35, 37n4.



Unit 04 The Early Years Of Jesus

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 14, 2016  -  Comments Off on Unit 04 The Early Years Of Jesus

Unit 04

The Early Years Of Jesus


Chapter 02

The Genealogies Of Jesus

The following image can be found in the full single-volume eBook of Mysteries of the Messiah as well as in the corresponding mini-volume. Search for the following reference number:  04.02.00.A. AN ANGEL VISITS THE VIRGIN MARY. Artwork by William Hole of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art, 1876.  Mary, who is accurately represented in ordinary attire of a Jewish peasant woman, is shown kneeling in prayer upon a mat or carpet, which also served as her bed.

04.02.01 Introduction

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 14, 2016  -  Comments Off on 04.02.01 Introduction

04.02.01 Introduction

The genealogies of the gospels are generally meaningless to Bible readers today, but it was extremely important for the Jews to know the ancestry of Jesus, because He had prophetic importance. The significance of the genealogies lies in the fact that God had given the Abrahamic Covenant to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants concerning the land (Gen. 12:2-3, 7; 13:14-17) and One who would be sent to bless them (Gen. 15:18; 17:6-8).  This covenant was later reaffirmed to King David (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:1-4) and is known as the Davidic Covenant. Matthew, writing to a Jewish audience, emphasized that the promised Seed would come through Abraham, Isaac (Gen. 17:19; 26:1-5), Jacob (Gen. 28:10-5), Judah (Gen. 49:10), and David (Ruth 4:17-22). The prophet Nathan established the unconditional Davidic covenant in 2 Samuel 7 in which he promised the descendent of David would be seated on the Davidic throne forever (2 Sam. 7:4-17). Therefore, the genealogical record is a logical starting point to document that the messiahship of Jesus is the fulfillment of both the Davidic and Abrahamic Covenants.[1] The New Testament record of genealogies,[2] were presented to prove to the Jewish people that Jesus fulfilled all of the covenant requirements and all the prophecies.

As a general rule, genealogies were important as they provided evidence of a person’s social standing and status.[3] Throughout history the Jews maintained genealogical records, as found in the book of Genesis and 1 Chronicles. While genealogical records were generally kept in the local synagogue and temple, church historian Eusebius noted that Julius Africanus said that some private families kept their own personal genealogical records.[4]

All that said, it is incredible that neither Matthew nor Luke said or even implied that Joseph was the father of Jesus. Rather, both writers give a clear account that Jesus was born of a virgin, then they carefully turn around and provide the genealogical evidence that Joseph was the father. To understand the mystery, both genealogies must be carefully understood.

[1]. For the historical trail of the Davidic Covenant from David to Jesus, see the blue “Mystery Unveiled” boxes in 03.02.01, 03.02.03, 03.02.06, 03.03.01, 04.02.02, and 13.04.05.

[2]. Dalman, Jesus Christ in the Talmud. 31; Jerusalem Talmud, J’bamoth 49b.


[3]. Bock, Jesus According to Scripture. 55.


[4]. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 1.7.



04.02.02 The Genealogy of Jesus as Recorded by Matthew

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 14, 2016  -  Comments Off on 04.02.02 The Genealogy of Jesus as Recorded by Matthew

04.02.02 Mt. 1:1-17 The Genealogy of Jesus as Recorded by Matthew


The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

2 Abraham fathered Isaac,
Isaac fathered Jacob,
Jacob fathered Judah and his brothers,
 3 Judah fathered Perez and Zerah by Tamar,
Perez fathered Hezron,
Hezron fathered Aram,
 4 Aram fathered Amminadab,
Amminadab fathered Nahshon,
Nahshon fathered Salmon,
 5 Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab,
Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth,
Obed fathered Jesse,
 6 and Jesse fathered King David.

Then David fathered Solomon by Uriah’s wife,
 7 Solomon fathered Rehoboam,
Rehoboam fathered Abijah,
Abijah fathered Asa,
 8 Asa fathered Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat fathered Joram,
Joram fathered Uzziah,
 9 Uzziah fathered Jotham,
Jotham fathered Ahaz,
Ahaz fathered Hezekiah,
 10 Hezekiah fathered Manasseh,
Manasseh fathered Amon,
Amon fathered Josiah,
 11 and Josiah fathered Jechoniah and his brothers
at the time of the exile to Babylon.

12 Then after the exile to Babylon
Jechoniah fathered Shealtiel,
Shealtiel fathered Zerubbabel,
 13 Zerubbabel fathered Abiud,
Abiud fathered Eliakim,
Eliakim fathered Azor,
 14 Azor fathered Zadok,
Zadok fathered Achim,
Achim fathered Eliud,
 15 Eliud fathered Eleazar,
Eleazar fathered Matthan,
Matthan fathered Jacob,
 16 and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary,
who gave birth to Jesus
who is called the Messiah.

 17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations; and from David until the exile to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the exile to Babylon until the Messiah, fourteen generations.


04.02.02.Q1 Concerning Matthew 1:9, was Uzziah really the father of Jotham?

Matthew’s genealogical record has been somewhat challenging because Jotham’s father is known as Azariah,[1] as well as Uzziah.[2]  The two names have been a favorite subject for critics.  However, it is also known that people would occasionally change their name when there was a dramatic change in their life. There is no reason given for the name change or if the king maintained two names, but the fact that these refer to the same person has been well established. There are several other examples of name changes in both the Old and New Testaments, as well as in the surrounding cultures. Examples are as follows:

  1. When Gideon destroyed the Canaanite altar to Baal at Ophrah (Jg. 6:32, 7:1), his name was changed to Jerubbaal.
  1. Jehoahaz, who was the son of Josiah, had his name changed to Shallum.[3]
  1. When the famous Saul became the Apostle Paul, he went from a Hebrew name to a Greek name.
  1. Name changes were also common in other cultures, as exemplified by the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho, who changed the name of Eliakim to Jehoiakim (2 Kg. 23:34).[4]
  1. Evidently, a reason for the dual identity of Uzziah/Azariah was not considered significant by the biblical writers.


04.02.02.Q2 Is there a mistake in Matthew 1:11 concerning the name of Jeconiah?

The phrase in question is, “Jeconiah and his brothers.”   The biblical record of Jeconiah (a/k/a Jehoiachin or Coniah)[5] has given critics fuel for their arguments that the Bible contains errors.  At issue is the verse where Matthew states that Salathiel (a/k/a Shealtiel) is the son of Jehoiachin while Luke ascribes him to be the son of Neria. Jeremiah 27:24-30 predicted that Jehoiachin would leave no heirs.  Yet, it is altogether possible for him to have adopted the seven sons of Neria, as implied in Zechariah 12:12. Matthew made a special note of Jeconiah and his brothers because the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had all of them and their wives imprisoned.  But in April, 561 B.C., the Babylonians released them and gave Jehoiachin a lifetime pension.  As a result, the first century Jews were convinced that the Messiah would come through one of Jehoiachin’s descendants, which is precisely what happened.[6]

“Mary, who gave birth to Jesus.”  The importance of this Greek phrase is that it is feminine, and obviously refers to Mary. The significance lies in the fact that in the Jewish culture, the birth of a child was always associated with the father.  However, in this case the gospel writer used a feminine relative pronoun to break the pattern of the genealogy to emphasize that Joseph was not the father and that Mary was indeed a virgin when Jesus was born. The gender is lost in English translations, but the writer underscored the importance of her genealogy.[7]

04.02.02a (2)

“Who is called the Messiah.” The meaning of the word “Messiah” or “Christ” is “Anointed One” (Gk. Christos 5547).[8] The lack of a definite Greek article suggests that the term “Christ” may have been used as a name rather than a title.  The phrase was later repeated by Pilate (Mt. 27:17, 22).[9] Jesus was appointed and consecrated by God the Father to the anointed office of Redeemer, which in the Hebrew language took on the name “Messiah.”  In Jewish history, the term “Messiah” was applied to priests who were anointed with holy oil to perform their sacred duties (Lev. 4:3, 5, 16).


04.02.02.Q3 Why did Matthew omit several names from his genealogical list (Mt. 1:1-17)?

Matthew’s purpose was not to present every single name, but to present a general listing with an emphasis on King David that his Jewish audience clearly understood. But in modern thinking, why did he divide the list of names into three groups?

This is a clear example of how written communication is at times beyond the common definition of words. In this case, there is a mystery of the term “fourteen generations.” In biblical times there was no standardized numerical system of numbers, but rather, alphabet letters also had numeric values.  For example, students today are familiar with the system of Roman numerals.  In this system, I = one, V = five, X= ten, etc.  Letters are combined to create specific numbers, such as XXIV is 24.  Likewise, the Jews had their system.

When Matthew presented his genealogy, he wrote it in a manner so the Jews would recognize the Hebrew numeric value of the most important king in their history, King David. The name “David” spelled with three consonant letters[10] with their corresponding numeric values are as follows: daleth = 4, waw = 6, and daleth = 4. The name of “David” is a simple arithmetic problem of 4+6+4=14.[11] Therefore, to see the written number 14 is also to see the name “David.”[12] Messianic Jews and many other scholars agree on this point, including the fact that the last group has only 13 names, not 14. So why is the last group counted as 14? Jechoniah is named twice, rightly as the last member of the second group.[13] Or perhaps Matthew counted “Jesus” (pre-resurrection name) as number 13 and “Christ” (post-resurrection name) as number 14.[14] It is a bit unnerving to modern readers when names are skipped as in a case like this.  Yet this was part of first century biblical hermeneutics and every Jew understood and accepted it.

To Matthew, the expressed numeric value is of far greater importance than recording every name. In addition, Matthew had no problem skipping names, because a grandson or great-grandson was also considered to be a “son.” No one in Western culture today would consider calling a grandson as a son, but this was typical in the biblical world.  Therefore, there are no mistakes in the genealogical record.  The Hebrew term for this alpha-numeric system is gemetria.[15]  He omitted names in order to have three groups of “14” that spelled “David.”

At this point it is also important to explain why there are three groups of names, not two or four groups. The most emphatic way to say anything in Hebrew was to repeat it three times. In this case, the numerical value of King David was underscored three times to emphasize its importance, and was also a convenient memory technique.  Two other examples are as follows:

  1. When the prophet Isaiah wanted to emphasize the holiness of the Lord, he repeated the word holy three times (Isa. 6:3).
  1. When the apostle John described the future horrible plagues, he said, “woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth” (Rev. 8:13).

There simply was no other way for a Jew to express an idea in the most emphatic way possible but to repeat it three times.  Only a Jewish audience would have understood the numerical meaning of Matthew’s genealogy, and this literary device also implied “holiness” to Jesus.


04.02.02.b (2)


04.02.02.Q4  What was the purpose of a genealogical listing (Mt. 1:1-17; Lk. 3:23-28)?

It was most important for Matthew and Luke to inform their audiences that Jesus was both a physical man and the fulfillment of many messianic prophecies.[16] The genealogical records were important for these reasons:

  1. From the earliest days as a nation, the Jewish people considered their ancestry important. Their promised land was divided into tribal areas. In the course of doing business, at times land was sold or mortgaged. Every fifty years the lands reverted to their original owners, so a record of genealogy was important.
  1. Genealogies gave a clear identity of ancestral and tribal origins,[17] which led to another reason,
  1. Genealogies were critically important for certain religious or political offices. Amazingly, a priest gained his position by birth as proven by the records, but a rabbi owed his position to himself and dedicated study.
  1. The genealogical record demonstrates the divine purpose for the restoration of man from the beginning of Adam.


The promise of the Davidic Covenant was fulfilled by Jesus. The common interpretation is that Jesus received His “blood right” to King David’s throne through Mary and His “legal right” to the throne through His adopted earthly father Joseph.[18] The records of Matthew and Luke reflect not only their Jewishness, but also their commitment to convey information deemed important to Jewish audiences.  Other examples of genealogical records are as follows:

  1. The historian Josephus preserved his genealogy for posterity (Life 1.3).
  1. The Babylonian Talmud records that one rabbi, with a desire that his son would marry only into the right family, traced the genealogy of a prospective daughter-in-law to King David.[19]
  1. There is a reference to genealogical records (presumably military enrollment lists) made in the time of King Jotham of Judah and King Jeroboam II of Israel. This would have been about the year 745 B.C.
  1. In Jewish history, when the Jews returned from Babylon, three families, Hobaiah, Hakkoz and Barzillai, claimed to be of priestly stock, but Nehemiah denied them that privilege of service because no record was found of them (Ezra 2:61-62).
  1. At the time of Ezra, another group of 652 people — apparently Gentiles — wanted to “return” to Jerusalem, but could not prove they were descendants of Israel (Ezra 2:59). They were denied the opportunity because it was uncertain whether their families ever came from Jerusalem or if they were truly Jewish.
  1. The Apostle Paul reflected upon his genealogy when he claimed that he was of the tribe of Benjamin (Phil. 3:5).[20]
  1. Of all people, even Herod the Great was concerned about his genealogical record, for since he had an Idumean father and Nabatean mother, he destroyed those records in the temple. But the account was preserved by Julius Africanus, whose writings were eventually also destroyed, but not until the church historian Eusebius copied some of them. According to the church historian, Julius wrote,


But in the archives were still [to the time of Herod] inscribed [first] Hebrew families and [second] those descended from proselytes, such as Achior the Ammonite and Ruth the Moabitess, and people of mixed blood[21] who came out of Egypt at the same time [as the Jews]. Herod who had no drop of Jewish blood in his veins, was stung by the consciousness of his base origin, and burnt the registers of these families, thinking to appear nobly born if no one else was able by reference to public documents to trace his line back to the patriarchs or [to proselytes and] to whose called [mixed blood].[22]

Julius Africanus, Letter to Aristides[23]


The phrase, “A record of the genealogy,” could also be translated as reading, “the book of the generations of,” or “the book of origin,” and is similar to records found in Genesis 2:4, 5:1, 6:9, and 37:2.[24] Priests and Levites always examined the genealogical records of a future spouse going back five generations, to insure that she met all the requirements of rabbinic purity concerning being a “true Israelite.”[25] Elders and wealthy aristocrats also reviewed the genealogical records before a son or daughter got married. A bride-to-be had to be a virgin, preferably from a priestly or Levitical family, she could not have been a prostitute, divorced, or held captive by an enemy.[26] Likewise, a future son-in-law had to be of “pure Israelite stock” without any proselytes for at least four generations.[27] The Hebrew word kiddushin, means betrothals.[28]

If a man would marry a woman of priestly stock, he must trace her family back through four mothers, which are, indeed, eight: her mother, mother’s mother, and mother’s father’s mother, and this one’s mother; also her father’s mother, and this one’s mother, her father’s father’s mother, and this one’s mother. [If he would marry] a woman of Levitic or Israelitish stock, he must trace the descent back to one mother more.

Mishnah, Kiddushin 4.4[29]


The traditions of the elders, as recorded above in the Mishnah, were essentially confirmed by Josephus in the following statement.

For our forefathers did not only appoint the best of these priests, and those that attended upon the divine worship, for that design from the beginning, but made provision that the stock of the priests should continue unmixed and pure, for he who is a partaker of the priesthood must propagate of a wife of the same nation, without having any regard to money, or any other dignities; but he is to make a scrutiny, and take his wife’s genealogy from the ancient tables, and procure many witnesses to it;  and this is our practice not only in Judea, but wheresoever any body of men of our nation live; and even there, an exact catalog of our priest’s marriages is kept.

Josephus, Against Apion 1.7 (30-32)


The Essenes were also interested in one’s genealogy.  Those who desired to be a member of their exclusive group were recorded according to their racial/ethnic heritage.

They shall be written down by name, each man after his brother, the priests first, the Levites second, the children of Israel third, and the proselytes fourth. 

Dead Sea Scroll, Damascus Document 14.4


And the priests and Levites were not the only ones who searched genealogical records. Scribes and those of wealth did likewise. The famed philosopher, historian, and theologian Philo, who lived in Egypt, made use of the genealogical library.  When he became interested in a certain future wife, he sent someone to the Hall of Pedigrees in the Jerusalem temple and had her genealogy examined.[30]

One’s heritage was always important, not only in the Jewish world, but throughout all ancient cultures in this area.  Lineage was reckoned through the father from whom the son received his heritage.  It made no difference if a father was a biological father or a legal father through adoption or marriage. This is explained in the second century B.C. Apocrypha book of Ben Sirach.

A covenant was also established with David,

the son of Jesse, of the tribe of Judah:

the heritage of the king is from son to son only;

so the heritage of Aaron is for his descendants.

Ben Sirach 45:25                  


This ancient custom continues today among some Muslim leaders, who trace their record of ancestry from Muhammad. Likewise, the Samaritans claim to have their priestly genealogy recorded from Adam to the present day priests. Their genealogical record is known as the Adler Chronicle or Chronicle 7.[31]  Therefore, the genealogy presented by the gospel writers was perfectly in tune with the cultural requirements for anyone functioning in any religious office.

The incredibly amazing feature is that while the genealogical record existed for the purpose of verifying Israelite purity for the priests and Levites, when Matthew wrote his gospel, he completely ignored the purity aspect.[32] No priest or Levite would ever be considered worthy if there was a prostitute or other “impure” woman in his record.  Yet Matthew recorded four of them at a time when doing that would have eliminated Jesus from serious consideration because the son of David was expected to be of pure stock. At a time when skipping a name or two was acceptable, the he could have overlooked these questionable women and given Jesus a genealogy that would have “looked good” to his Jewish audience.  But rather, Matthew wanted to emphasize that Jesus had a “connection” with those whom the Jews despised and considered unworthy.


04.02.02.Q5 Do some biblical genealogies suggest a hidden message?

No, but a rare exception has been suggested.  For example, Genesis 4:17-18 has the names of six generations that followed Adam; a number that represents mankind.  Genesis 5 has the names of seven generations that followed Seth; a number that represents perfection and wholeness. Jewish readers would have been aware of both the names and what the meaning of the number of names implied.[33] Genealogies were important to identify those who qualified for temple service, and that is all.


04.02.02.Q6 Why did Matthew include four women of unfavorable character (Mt. 1:1-17)?

Men’s opinions of women were not always very good. For example, Josephus and Nicholaus of Damascus seldom mention then names of women.[34] Therefore, it is most unusual that Matthew violated the traditions of every culture in the ancient Middle East by including women. Furthermore, if he wanted to highlight the character of noble women, he could have chosen Sarah, Rebekah, or several other matriarchs. Instead, he chose four who were the shame of Judaism – women with an historic less-than-favorable reputation: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. Genealogies almost never contained the names of women, unless they were significant heroines. However, these women were anything but heroines. Note the brief description of each:

  1. Tamar, according to Jubilee 41:1 was Aramean and not Jewish. After her first two Jewish husbands died, her father-in-law was supposed to provide a husband for her according to the Jewish law (Deut. 25:5-10). However, he abandoned her to poverty. Consequently, she cleverly disguised herself as a prostitute and invited her father-in-law to sleep with her. She became pregnant and later delivered twins.  Her father-in-law eventually admitted to mistreating her.
  1. When Joshua sent two spies into Jericho prior to the Israelite invasion, Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute, provided protection for them. When her neighbors searched for them, she provided a means of their escape (Jos. 2).
  1. Ruth was a pagan Moabite, ancient enemy of Israel. She slipped under the covers of a sleeping man named Boaz, who later married her. The Moabites eventually assimilated into the larger neighboring Arab tribes. But the great-grandson of Ruth was King David. According to the Law of Moses, no Ammonite or Moabite was permitted to enter the assembly of the Lord (Deut. 23:3), yet she was included in this list – amazing.
  1. Bathsheba committed adultery with King David. Since her deceased husband Uriah, was from the pagan Hittite tribe, there is good reason to believe that she was also of the same tribe. Later she gave birth to Solomon.[35]


The focus of Matthew’s gospel is to demonstrate that Jesus had the credentials to bring salvation to humanity and break down ancient cultural and religious barriers; barriers between Jew and Gentile and barriers between male and female. Scholars have concluded the following possibilities of concerning the motive of Matthew to include these women:

  1. These women became part of the written Hebrew Bible in spite of their actions or heritage. In that culture they most certainly suffered discrimination for what they did and who they were. So likewise, Mary, the mother of Jesus, suffered discrimination from her neighbors in Bethlehem and Nazareth for being pregnant while out of wedlock. Matthew demonstrated that Jesus came through and to the lowest, most despised people, as well as those of wealth and esteem. Sexual sin and being a Gentile placed one on the bottom of the Jewish social ladder. The genealogy was a powerful statement of the forgiveness of God and revealed His messianic plans for the Jews and Gentiles.
  1. As foreigners, these women were historic demonstrations of the love of God for the Gentile people. Rahab, Ruth, and possibly Tamar and Bathsheba were of Gentile ancestry.
  1. All these women were eventually vindicated, as would be Mary, the mother of Jesus.


However, there is an amazing feature of this genealogy that challenges critics. If Matthew wanted to show the Jewish “purity” of Jesus, he would never have listed these women. In fact, he should not have chosen any women.  To the religious leaders of the time, nothing was more important than purity as it was a constant point of contention between them and Jesus. And to the subject of the messianic figure, the “impure bloodline” of Jesus would have been reason for condemnation. If he had to list women, at least he could have identified some Jewish heroines. Furthermore, men’s opinions of even good women were not always very good. For example, Josephus and Nicholaus (Nicholas) of Damascus seldom mention the names of any women.[36] But Matthew recorded four women of poor reputation. Only God could have created a literary document as this gospel.

[1]. 2 Kg. 15:1-7, 1 Ch. 3:12.


[2]. 2 Kg. 15:32, 34; 2 Ch. 26:1-23, 27:2; Isa. 1:1, 6:1; 7:1.


[3]. 2 Kg. 23:21, 1 Ch. 3:15, Jer. 22:11.


[4]. Pharaoh Necho is among fifty biblical names whose existence has been verified by archaeological studies in a published article by Lawrence Mykytiuk titled, “Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible.” Biblical Archaeology Review. March/April, 2014 (40:2), pages 42-50, 68.  This archaeological evidence confirms the historical accuracy of the biblical timeline.  For further study, see the website for Associates for Biblical Research, as well as Grisanti, “Recent Archaeological Discoveries that Lend Credence to the Historicity of the Scriptures.” 475-98.


[5]. Franz, http://www.lifeandland.org/2009/02/the-angelic-proclamation-to-the-shepherds-luke-28-15/ Retrieved July 22, 2015.


[6]. Gilbrant, “Matthew.” 27.

[7]. Wallace, Greek Grammar. 336-37; Young, Intermediate New Testament Greek. 76.

[8]. Vine, “Christ.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:101.


[9]. Hagner, “Matthew 1-13.” 12.

[10]. Hebrew does not have vowels. It is a consonantal language although vowel “points” were added to the language in the 9th or 10 century (A.D.), thus making it easier to read.


[11]. See Appendix 14 for the Numerical Values of Hebrew letters.


[12]. Johnson, “Matthew.” 7:252; Hagner, “Matthew 1-13.” 7.


[13]. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 294.


[14]. Smith, Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament: Matthew. 33.   


[15]. Bock, Jesus According to Scripture. 56.


[16]. See 04.02.01 “Introduction.”


[17]. David, Uzziah, Ahaz, Hezekiah and Manasseh are among fifty biblical names whose existence has been verified by archaeological studies in a published article by Lawrence Mykytiuk titled, “Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible.” Biblical Archaeology Review. March/April, 2014 (40:2), pages 42-50, 68.  This archaeological evidence confirms the historical accuracy of the biblical timeline.  For further study, see the website for Associates for Biblical Research, as well as Grisanti, “Recent Archaeological Discoveries that Lend Credence to the Historicity of the Scriptures.” 475-98.


[18].  The messianic title “Son of David” appears in the following three groups of passages in the gospels where it is always reflective of the Davidic Covenant: 1) In various healings by Jesus – Mt. 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30-31; Mk. 10:47-48; Lk. 18:38-39. 2) In connection of the harassment the religious leaders gave Jesus – Mt. 22:42-43, 45; Mk. 12:35, 37; Lk. 20:41, 44, and 3) The praise the crowds gave Jesus at His entry into Jerusalem – Mt. 21:9, 15; Mk. 11:10. See Rogers, “The Davidic Covenant in the Gospels,” Bibliotheca Sacra. Part 1 of 2. 158-78.


[19]. Babylonian Talmud, Ketubot 62b.

[20]. Golub, In the Days. 41.


[21]. Ex. 12:38; Num. 11:4.


[22]. “Mixed blood” meaning “full proselyte.” LXX Ex. 12:19; Isa. 14:1.


[23]. Quoted by Eusebius Ecclesiastical History. I 7.13; Bracketed inserts by Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 281.


[24]. Gilbrant, “Matthew.” 19; Dalman, Jesus Christ in the Talmud. 31; Jerusalem Talmud, J’bamoth 49b.

[25]. For further study on the marriage requirements, see the Mishnah, tractate Kiddushin; See also various chapters in Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus including pages 270-85.


[26]. Lev. 21:13-15; Mishnah, Yebamoth 6.4. It was assumed that if she was held captive by an enemy, that she was no longer a virgin, but was raped by the enemy guards.    


[27]. Some Jewish writings list five generations.


[28]. Danby, ed., Mishnah x.


[29]. Brackets inserted by Danby, ed., Mishnah.


[30]. Mishnah, Hallah 4.10.


[31]. Information obtained during a personal interview with Hosney Kohen, a Samaritan priest in August of 1999; See also Neusner and Green, eds., Dictionary of Judaism. 13.

[32]. It should be noted that scholars have uncovered some falsification of genealogical records as found in some Jewish writings. Apparently, there were those who desired to hide some less-than-desirable forefathers for the purpose of acquiring a good spouse for a child or well-paying employment opportunity. See Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 283-84, 290.    


[33].  See footnote to Genesis 4:17-18 in the New International Version Study Bible.


[34].  For further study on the various opinions concerning the status and influence of women in the Second Temple Period, see the excellent work by Tal Ilan, Integrating Women into Second Temple History, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999. Take note of Chapter 3 on the discussions of two first century historians, Josephus and Nicholaus of Damascus, and their comments about women.


[35]. Notice that Matthew refers to Bathsheba only as “the wife of Uriah,” and not by her name. He evidently had no appreciation for her, yet included her in the genealogy when writing his gospel.


[36].  For further study on the various opinions concerning the status and influence of women in the Second Temple Period, see the excellent work by Tal Ilan, Integrating Women into Second Temple History, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999. Take note of Chapter 3 on the discussions of two first century historians, Josephus and Nicholaus of Damascus, and their comments about women.


04.02.03 The Genealogy of Jesus as Recorded by Luke

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 14, 2016  -  Comments Off on 04.02.03 The Genealogy of Jesus as Recorded by Luke

04.02.03 Lk. 3:23-38  The Genealogy of Jesus as Recorded by Luke


23 As He began His ministry, Jesus was about 30 years old and was thought to be the son 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 Salmon,
son of Nahshon, 33 son of Amminadab,
son of Ram,[s] 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.


“Jesus was about 30 years old.”  Throughout the Hebrew Bible it was always believed that the age of 30 was the age when a man was mature enough to take on the responsibilities of God’s calling.  Note the following examples:

  1. King David became king at age 30.
  1. Ezekiel wrote his prophecy at age 30.
  1. A man who was trained to become a rabbi was ordained at age 30.

Jesus began His ministry when He was about the age of 30, although chronological studies indicate that He was probably about 32 or 34 years of age – clearly beyond the minimum age if anyone would ask. The reason is because He had to wait for John the Baptist to prepare the way for Him, and John had to wait until he was age 30.  Since the two were only six months apart, Jesus probably began His ministry at age 32 or 34.

“The son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel.” The name Rhesa means “Prince” and is not a proper name.  Some scholars believe that it is highly doubtful that these two names represent two different generations, but that Zerubbabel was a prince.[1]

The genealogical records, which were housed in the temple, would become more significant after A.D. 70 when it was destroyed.  Related to this is an interesting letter written about the year 200 by Julius Africanus, a Christian from Emmaus.  He wrote to King Aristides at the house of Edessa informing the monarch that the half-brothers of Jesus had descendants living in the villages of Nazara, Cochaba, and elsewhere.  Fortunately, while the original letter has long been lost, it did not escape the watchful eye of Eusebius (265-340), who was one of the most significant early church fathers and historians. Eusebius noted the significance of family genealogies and the fact that the foreign Jewish people of the Lord (diaspora or desposyni) were deported, possibly due to conflict with the Romans.

A few however of the careful, either remembering the names, or having it in their power in some other way, by means of copies, to have private records of their own, gloried in the idea of preserving the memory of their noble extraction.  Of these were the above mentioned persons called desposyni (meaning Lord’s people)[2] on account of their affinity to the family of our Savior.  These coming from Nazara and Cochaba, villages of Judea to the other parts of the world explained the aforesaid genealogy from the book of daily records as faithfully as possible.

Eusebius, Church History 1.7.14  


Eusebius also mentioned “the book of daily records” which included genealogical records. Regardless of the argument, the entire New Testament abundantly reports the genealogical record.[3] Furthermore, while some Christians may have argued the reliability of the genealogical record, at least one rabbi didn’t. Rabbi Ulla, of the third century identified Jesus as being from the lineage of David (“royal race”) and said,

“Jesus was treated in an exceptional way, because he was of the royal race.”

Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a[4]


04.02.03.Q1 What are the three genealogical interpretations of Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-28)?


Over the years scholars have adopted three views on these two genealogical records. As is at times the case, some opinions may contradict. Note the following which includes a recent fourth viewpoint:

  1. Both genealogies give the descent of Joseph: Matthew’s is real, and Luke’s is legal.
  1. Matthew gives Joseph’s legal descent as successor to the throne of David, and that Luke gives his real parentage, and finally,
  1. Matthew gives the real descent of Joseph and Luke gives the real descent of Mary.[5] Matthew’s genealogical record is traced from David through Solomon, while Luke traced his record from David through Nathan. Both Mary and Joseph are descendants of the King David.[6] Two centuries later Tertullian claimed that the Roman census records listed Mary as being a descendant of David.[7] The common explanation that Matthew’s genealogy traces the lineage of Jesus through Joseph and Luke’s genealogy traces it through Mary, is said to have been originated by Annius of Viterbo in the year 1490.[8]
  1. However, a new interpretation has immerged that should be given serious consideration. The new suggestion is that both genealogies pertain to Joseph,[9] and this writer believes it has the most viable possibilities. Since it was common not to include a woman’s name in a legal document, Matthew’s genealogy is through Joseph’s maternal grandfather and Luke’s genealogy is through his mother whose name was not recorded, but her father was Jacob. The fact that four women were mentioned in Matthew’s gospel was the exception, not the standard. Luke applied the standard practice of Jewish “purity.”


04.02.03a (2)


04.02.03.Q2 Why is Joseph’s father named Heli in Luke 3:23 but is named Jacob in Matthew 1:16?


The issue of Joseph’s father, mainly – who was he – has been a joyful subject of critics. In Matthew 1:16 he is Jacob while in Luke 3:23 he is Heli. Could there have been more than one man in the life of Joseph?  Consider this:  According to the Levitical laws of Moses (Deut. 25:5 ff.) if  a man died without children, his brother must, if he is free to do so, marry his widow and children will be considered a heirs of the deceased brother or of the second husband.  Some scholars have suggested that Joseph’s mother was married twice and that Joseph was the son of Heli (second husband) but legally he was the son of the first husband who passed away. To add to the mystery, Heli and Jacob may have had the same mother, but Heli’s father is a descendent of David through Nathan while Jacob’s father is a descendent through Solomon. There seems to be no end to the many attempts to understand this mystery.[10]



04.02.03.A GENEALOGICAL CHART OF MATTHEW AND LUKE. The two genealogies as shown are typical of the time. Sons were named “ben” or “bar,” meaning “son of” which was followed by the father’s name.  Courtesy of International Mapping and Dan Przywara.


While scholars have made many attempts to reconcile the parental issue of Mary and Joseph, this writer has not found a single commentary that suggests that the mother of Joseph was unlisted, as was often the custom, and the name of the maternal grandfather was. This chart could reveal the solution.

[1]. Graham, A Guide to the Gospels. 505-09.


[2]. Parenthesis mine; Definition found in Pixner, With Jesus through Galilee. 18.

[3]. Mt. 1:1; Acts 2:30; Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8; Heb. 7:14; John. 7:41-42; Rev. 5:5, 22:16.


[4]. Geikie, The Life and Words. 1:555. Geikie claims this passage can be found in older unmutilated editions.


[5]. The interpretation that Luke’s genealogy is the real descent of Mary is not widely accepted today.  See note on Lk. 3:23-38 in the ESV Study Bible.


[6]. Graham, A Guide to the Gospels. 509.


[7]. Tertullian, Against the Jews. 9.


[8]. Nettelhorst. “The Genealogy of Jesus.” 170.


[9].  For further study, see Nettelhorst, R. P. “The Genealogy of Jesus.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 31:2 (June 1988) 169-72.


[10]. A. T. Robertson listed a number of interpretative possibilities in A Harmony of the Gospels. 261-263.


  • Chapters