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. The New Testament record of genealogies, 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. 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.
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.
. 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.
. Dalman, Jesus Christ in the Talmud. 31; Jerusalem Talmud, J’bamoth 49b.
. Bock, Jesus According to Scripture. 55.
. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 1.7.