Luke 2-4

"And Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Christ."  Matthew 1:16, RSV

"Jesus, when He began His ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as it was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli..." Luke 3:23, RSV 

One of the things I love about the Bible, it that it does not contradict itself. Now I know that many so-called "scholars" disagree, but that's okay. Many so-called "scholars" believe in a world that was created by gasses, not God, and are convinced that the ice-caps are going to melt and flood California.

Now, just because people have unsupportable ideas does not mean that they are always wrong, so let's use today's study to view the question of whether the Bible contradicts itself or not, and look specifically at the two genealogies found in Matthew chapter 1 and Luke chapter 3 as a case-study.

If you look at the two genealogies, you see some stark differences. First, Matthew's account only goes back to Abraham, and goes through David's son Solomon for the lineage of Jesus. Luke, on the other hand, goes all the way back to Adam, and goes through David's son Nathan for the lineage of Christ.

So, is this a discrepancy? The answer is no, for there is not only a logical explanation for the differences between the two lineages, but there is also a great revealing of God's plan contained within the two. The most logical explanation for the purported "contradictions" is that the lineages given are from both Joseph and Mary. Since Matthew wrote to the Hebrew people, the line only had to go back to Abraham, the father of the Jewish people. Since Luke's intent behind writing his Gospel was to give an orderly account of everything from the beginning, God had him included Christ's lineage all the way back through Adam.

And, while we can only guess as to which genealogy belonged to Joseph, and which belonged to Mary (there are good arguments for both) it is very clear that both of their lineages are indeed given. Also, it is vital to understand that since Jesus was prophesied to be the son of David for hundreds of years prior to His birth, it was important to show that He was both legally descended from David (through his earthly father) and was physically descended from David (through Mary).

I love studying the Bible with a little common sense. It supports the critical understanding that God did not contradict Himself as His Holy Spirit spoke through the human authors, and, by doing so, it builds our faith.

Some will be quick to point out that there have been some errors in translations of the word of God through the years, and I have no doubt that this is true. But God has been very careful to reveal, exactly, everything He wants us to know. Further, we have so many extant manuscripts (both fragments and full copies of the different books in their original languages) of His word that the translation errors are usually readily detectable, and therefore readily correctable.

And common sense also tells us that the One powerful enough to create the universe has been able to preserve His inspired word, without contradiction, making the Bible the most remarkable and the most reliable book that has ever been written.

 

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."                      II Timothy 3:16-17, RSV