Sacred and Secular Jewish Names
Luke 3:23-38
And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,…

The following possible explanation of the divergencies between the two genealogies of our Lord is deserving of consideration. The Jews, like other nations, gave more than one name to each individual. The life of a Jew was essentially twofold: he was a member of a civil state, and he was at the same time a member of a theocracy; his life was both political and religious. This distinction seems to have been preserved in the giving of names. Traces of the double name are found throughout the course of Scripture history. It is highly probable that the sacred name imposed at birth would be entered in a different list from the common name by which a man was known in his civil relationships. The conclusion to which we are brought is that we have before us two such registers, one drawn from public, and the other from private sources; or, as is conjectured above, one from a civil genealogy, the other from writings laid up in the Temple. In support of this view, we may note that in the genealogy in Luke — the evangelist whose opening chapters show a close familiarity with the interior of the Temple, and what took place there — the names appear to have a sacred character. Even an English reader may remark at a glance the different aspect of the two lists. That in Luke contains, with striking frequency, the familiar names of distinguished patriarchs, prophets, and priests, and thus confirms the impression that his genealogy, rather than that of a Matthew, is of a purely religious character. This hypothesis receives a remarkable confirmation by a comparison of the dates of the two lists with the dates of the first building, the destruction, and the second building of the Temple. What, then, is the relation between the two genealogies before Solomon's time, when there was no Temple? and during the lives of Salathiel and Zorobabel, who flourished at the time of the Babylonish captivity, when again, for seventy years, there was no Temple? It is precisely at these periods that only one list exists. The divergence in Luke's genealogy from that of Matthew is exactly coincident with the periods during which the Temple was standing. What explanation of this striking fact can be more natural than that at the point where the two genealogies unite there was but one list to refer to, and that the absence of entries in the sacred register required it to be supplemented by a reference to the state chronicles?

(Biblical things not generally known.)Luke carefully guards against the notion of this being the real descent, by introducing the words "as was supposed"; it was the legal descent, Joseph being legally the Lord's father; and from Joseph as the supposed father, St. Luke carries up the pedigree to the commencement of all things, that is, the creation of the man. Matthew brings down the descent from Abraham; Luke carries it up to Adam and so to God; and as the descent from Abraham was the most important for those children of Abraham who were looking for the fulfilment of the promises made to their forefathers, so the possibility of ascending to Adam and to God was the most important fact for the race of mankind at large, who had all fallen in Adam, and all looked for redemption through Christ. Dry as the long list of names in Luke may seem, it may truly be said that no passage of Scripture contains more of the essence of the gospel; Jesus is the true second Adam, because He is linked with the first; Jesus and Adam are the two heads of the human race, and they are both of them sons of God, Adam by creation, Jesus Christ by eternal generation; and so it may be said that the genealogical chain, by which Luke linked the first Adam and the second Adam together, is that chain upon which the redemption of mankind and all human hopes depend.

(Bishop Harvey Goodwin.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,

WEB: Jesus himself, when he began to teach, was about thirty years old, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli,

Our Lord's Descent
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