How can Jesus be the Son of David when he's not Joseph's biological son?

by Questioning Christian

As you pointed out, we know for a fact that Jesus is not Joseph's biological son, Luke 3:23, but we cannot overlook the possibility that Joseph and Jesus were distantly related blood relatives through sharing some common ancestors in the lineage of King David. Your question assumes something we don't know and cannot prove, that Jesus was not a blood relative of Joseph. I believe Jesus was related by blood to Joseph although Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus.

Matthew and Luke's genealogies are presented for a practical purpose, to show us the real humanity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He was truly God yet He was also truly human. Matthew 1:1 tells us this is "the book of the generation of Jesus Christ." Although Matthew 1:16 seems to indicate that this is the genealogy of Joseph (the legal but not the biological father of Jesus), we approach the question with God's assurance that this is "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ."

That is enough for us to trust the accuracy of the genealogy, that it IS indeed the genealogy of Jesus' human ancestors. Because of their similarities then, both Matthew and Luke give the genealogy of Jesus.

Luke 3:23 seems to indicate that Dr. Luke is giving the genealogy of Joseph although some understand Luke to be giving Mary's genealogy. Luke carefully parses his words so that readers understand Joseph is not the biological father of Jesus, Luke 3:23.

Matthew, Luke and God were no doubt well aware that presenting these genealogies this way would raise questions. Therefore Matthew and Luke were careful to also indicate that Jesus is Messiah, God in the flesh, Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:35, 47.

Here are the facts we have

  1. God tells us that Matthew's genealogy IS the generation of Jesus Christ, Matthew 1:1.

  2. Since Matthew and Luke's genealogies are similar, we know that both genealogies trace the human Jewish lineage of Jesus based on Matthew 1:1.

  3. Since Joseph is not the biological father of Jesus, Luke 3:23, how do Matthew and Luke's genealogy relate to Jesus?

  4. We know that Jesus is the biological son of Mary, Matthew 1:16, Luke 2:16.

  5. We can't prove that Jesus is not a distant blood relative of Joseph.

  6. The most plausible explanation of the genealogies is that Mary and Joseph were distant blood relatives, related to each other through their common descent from King David.

  7. As blood relatives, they shared some of the same relatives, some of the same bloodlines and therefore similar genealogies. So Matthew 1 and Luke 3 give the genealogy of Mary, Joseph and Jesus as God intended us to have it.

Something to consider: Some Bible teachers work it out this way. God made an unconditional and everlasting covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7:10ff.; see also Jeremiah 33:7ff., Ezekiel 37:14-28, note particularly v. 26. That covenant was temporarily interrupted when God set aside King Jeconiah, Jeremiah 22:28-30, 33:20-26.

Jesus had legal right to the the throne of His father David through his step-father Joseph, via Matthew's genealogy. The covenant right of Jesus to sit on the throne of David is established through Mary, via Luke's genealogy.

These explanations (1) fit all the facts given in scripture without questioning the trustworthiness of scripture, (2) preserve the clear teaching of scripture that Jesus was virgin born without a man being involved, Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:34, and (3) answer your question: How can Jesus be the son of David?

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Jul 28, 2010
Another reason to consider
by: Marc

Joseph's lineage (through King Jeconiah) had a 'curse' on it from God. That's another reason why Jesus had to be born by a miracle (the virgin birth).

A. The last king of Israel to sit on the throne of David, Jeconiah, was so wicked that God promised none of his descendants would sit on David's throne in Jerusalem. - Jeremiah 22:24-30

B. Jesus legal lineage comes through Jeconiah, but his physical lineage comes through David via a different son than produced Jeconiah's line. - Luke 1:32-33

C. Only by adoption could both prophecies come true. Joseph was the adoptive but not the bio father of Jesus.

Being a Hebrew Christian, I use this point when telling fellow Jewish-folk about the Messiah.

Jul 29, 2010
Near L.A.
by: Grant

"I believe that such complicated methods of figuring out the relationship between the two genealogies are unnecessary. An extremely simple explanation is readily available, and it involves no strange customs or textual twists at all. Both genealogies are clearly through Joseph.

I believe that one traces the lineage back through Joseph's father, and that the other traces back through Joseph's mother. However, the maternal genealogy drops the name of Joseph's mother, and instead skips back to her father. Which is which?

I believe that the genealogy in Luke is through Joseph's father. I believe the one in Matthew is through Joseph's maternal grandfather."

Another explanation which differs from yours but still upholds the Bible.

Mar 20, 2013
Jesus line comes through Mary not Joseph
by: Anonymous

Excellent analysis; makes sense too. I am a non-Jewish Christian who loves the Jewish people. Kay

Apr 26, 2013
God is real not a spook.
by: Anonymous

Joseph is the father of jesus,matt.1;1.the holy spirit resides in the human-being.mary was a temple"virgin"-like a nun.

Rick's comment: No, not even close.

Jun 19, 2013
Jesus was David reborn!
by: Geta

Jesus was David himself reborn! He didn’t need any genealogy from David because He was David! Check Jeremiah cap 29 vers.9; and from there, check further the Scriptures! He was the Son of man, the King and the Son of God to. John the baptist was also someone else in the Bible.

Rick's comment: Hi Geta - No, I believe you are confused or used the wrong scripture reference. Jeremiah 29:9 says:

"For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD."

It has nothing to do with Jesus being David himself reborn.

May I encourage you to carefully read about how to be saved? Many thanks.

Aug 05, 2015
David's son
by: Renee

Jesus was the biological son of David. Gabriel implanted Mary with David's sperm (DNA) by the Holy spirit (Power of God). Jesus was of the SEED of David out of his own LOINS.

Rick's comment: Hi Renee - That is an interesting view although it is completely without support in the Bible.

Oct 02, 2015
by: John Puffey

This is an interesting question and I would love to know more about the topic.

Feb 26, 2016
Is Jesus Joseph's biological son?
by: mario

If Jesus is not the biological son of Joseph then Jesus could not be a Jew?

Why are there so many uncertainties in your article, if this, if that?

Rick's comment: Hi Mario - No, Jesus is not Joseph's biological son. Matthew 1 makes that abundantly clear. It may help to read the article several times. I don't see "many uncertainties in my article" but instead, my acknowledgement that God hasn't shown us everything about the Jewish genealogies in Matthew and Luke.

If we knew how every human being is born, it would make the understanding of Mathew 1 and Luke 1 very easy.

The Spirit of God will come upon you and God will overshadow you. Does this mean to make Mary pregnant? Or does it mean to form a baby in the mothers womb after conception?

Rick's comment: It means to cause Mary to be pregnant, without having intercourse with Joseph, her betrothed husband - See Matthew 1:18 - "before they came together."

Now Jesus was born like all humans as per scripture. The Spirit and God form all babies in their mothers womb. Nothing supernatural it is done like this for every living being that conceives. Lets look at scriptures:

Rick's comment: No, that is incorrect. Jesus was supernaturally conceived, fulfilling the prophesy of Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23.

"she was found with child of the Holy Ghost," Mt 1:18 and Mt 1:20 - "that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost."

What must I do to be saved?

Job 33:4 The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Job 31:15 Did not he who made me in the womb make him? And did not one fashion us in the womb?

Psalm 139:13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.

Ecclesiastes 11:5 5 As thou knowest NOT WHAT IS THE WAY OF THE SPIRIT, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.

Jeremiah 1:4-5 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."

Palms 139:13-16 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Isaiah 44:24 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: "I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,

Job 10:8-12 Your hands fashioned and made me, and now you have destroyed me altogether. Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese? You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit.

Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Mar 26, 2016
by: Sal

This is complete rubbish. According to the bible (Mathew and Luke), Joseph is a descendant of David. There is no proof or indication that Jesus shares this ancestry. If he had, the bible would have related Jesus's genealogy instead of Joseph's.

Calling Jesus 'son of David' is simply one of the bible's many mistakes. this proves the bible is not the work of God. It is the work of humans that was made divine by a group of Church leaders who used force and the might of the Roman Empire to prosecute people who told the truth about the man called Jesus.

Rick's comment: Hi Sal - The truth about Jesus is found in the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (as well as other places in the Bible). Their account is error free and historically factual. I hope you will read it again.

Are you a good person?

Mar 26, 2016
Joseph not Jesus biological son?
by: mario

If Jesus is not fully human then He must have been God. If that be the case then Jesus being tempted by the Devil would be a joke. How could the Devil ever compete with God.

Rick's comment: Hi Mario - Jesus was fully human and fully God. The human part of Jesus was tempted.

Why was John the baptist born with the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb, was He supernaturally also born? Jesus only received the Holy Spirit at his Baptism?

Rick's comment: Jesus was God in the flesh, John 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 1:8. To say that Jesus only received the Holy Spirit at His baptism is to misunderstand the relationships in the Godhead.

Did you read properly how everyone is born by the Spirit and God gives us life. Just like God did for Jesus. The Spirit coming upon someone does not mean that the Spirit is making someone pregnant. God will overshadow you does not mean He is making anyone pregnant. HE overshadowed them at Jesus baptism and also at the transfiguration and NO one got pregnant.

Rick's comment: I believe you will find it helpful to read and reread Matthew and Luke's opening chapters. It sounds like you are repeating an urban myth about the Bible instead of studying the Bible for yourself.

Why would God use a married couple? And cause Mary to have a child from someone other than her Husband Joseph ? Why would God break his own laws? Mary would be an Adulteress and Jesus would be illegitimate. What is the penalty given in the bible?

Rick's comment: Please read the article again. God prophesied that Jesus would be born of a virgin, i.e., that Jesus would not have a human biological father.

God didn't break His own laws. He is God and can do anything He wants to do, consistent with His character, without breaking His holy law.

The virgin birth of Jesus (and the cross of Calvary) was God's way of cleaning up the mess Adam caused when He ate the forbidden fruit. God Himself came to earth to live as a man, to die as the God-man, to pay the penalty for our sins and to rise from the dead.

When we receive Jesus as our Savior from sin, hell and the wrath of God, He saves us and changes us from the inside out.

What must I do to be saved?

Mar 27, 2016
Jesus virgin birth
by: mario

Isaiah 28:10 " For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little."

Rick's comment: Hi Mario - Please read Matthew 1:18-23 and Luke 1:31-35 for God's answer to your question.


Acts 1:8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

Numbers 24:2 And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came upon him.

Judges 14:6 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done.

Judges 14:19 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of their belongings and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he went up to his father's house.

Judges 15:14 As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands.

1 Samuel 10:6 The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.

1 Samuel 10:10 When they arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he joined in their prophesying.

1 Samuel 11:6 When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he burned with anger.

Ezekiel 11:5 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon me, and he told me to say: "This is what the LORD says: That is what you are saying, O house of Israel, but I know what is going through your mind.

Luke 1:15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.

Apr 23, 2019
by: andy

Please do not refer to the gospel writer as Dr Luke. To refer to him as Dr is a clear attempt to give added credibility to his writings. And it is an assignation to him of elite status. Scholars would cringe at hearing somebody refer to Luke as Dr.

Rick's comment: Hi Andy - We refer to Luke as Dr. Luke because that's how the Bible describes him in Colossians 4:14.

"Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings." - NIV

"Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas." - NLT

"Our dear doctor Luke sends you his greetings, and so does Demas." - CEV

"Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you." - KJV

Thayer's Greek Lexicon says:

"ἰατρός, ἰατροῦ, ὁ (ἰάομαι) (from Homer down), a physician: Matthew 9:12; Mark 2:17; Mark 5:26; Luke 5:31; Luke 8:43 (here WH omits; Tr marginal reading brackets the clause); Colossians 4:14; ἰατρέ, θεράπευσον σεαυτόν, a proverb, applied to Christ in this sense: 'come forth from your lowly and mean condition and create for yourself authority and influence by performing miracles among us also, that we may see that you are what you profess to be,' Luke 4:23. "

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