It’s not uncommon for those that read the Bible to slick over the genealogy portion.
It doesn’t seem to serve a purpose, exactly.
Mostly, these sections – such as the one found at the beginning of Matthew – are a slew of names that connect persons from Biblical times.
But should you be skipping these names? Not entirely. Genealogy in the Bible is very important.
Genealogies in the Bible are important because they give the Bible credibility, make the Bible relatable to modern-day believers, show that God was human, loves His people, values families, and is detail-oriented and invested heavily in people’s lives.
Plenty of people skip over genealogy, but this article might change your mind.
Below, you will find a list of reasons why genealogy is, in fact, a very important part of the Bible.
- Why is Genealogy in the Bible Important?
- Why is the Genealogy of Jesus Important?
- What is the Purpose of the Genealogy in Matthew?
- Where in the Bible Does it Talk About Genealogy?
- How is Jesus the Son of David?
- What is the Significance of 14 Generations in Matthew?
- Final Thoughts
Why is Genealogy in the Bible Important?
There is no one size fits all answer when answering why the genealogy in the Bible is important. There are actually multiple reasons not to skip over the genealogy portions, both in the new and old testament.
1. Gives the Bible Some Credibility
Faith is a major element of Christianity. And while believers have faith, sometimes, there is a thought process of hope rather than faith.
This thought process relies on the fact that they hope what the Bible says is true rather than believing it in its entirety.
So how can Christians combat this thinking process? By finding ways in which the Bible gains some credibility.
Genealogy is one way in which the Bible proves to be actual events in history. But how?
Think about the last time you read a historical book. There were names of individuals from that period.
By reading actual names, it is far more likely to be believed that it was, in fact, a true story that took place. The same is true for the Bible.
Since there is an actual lineage listed, it is easier to believe that the Bible took place in actual human history.
It’s not a made-up story that one should hope to be true. No. Instead, it is a real story with real people who had lengthy genealogies.
2. Makes the Bible More Relatable
Sometimes, it can be hard to imagine that the Bible is real with actual human beings who walked on this earth and breathed the same air breathed today.
However, looking at the genealogy can support the fact that not only is the Bible truth, but it is also relatable.
Genealogies show that real people were living in those times, some with the presence of Jesus and some without.
Regardless of the time, they were alive on earth, they went through real trials and tribulations, just as humans do today.
Why is this important?
By knowing the people of the Bible and their genealogies, the Bible becomes a far more relatable book than how it may have first appeared.
For example – the story about Jonah in the whale might not seem realistic at this point, but knowing other stories and genealogies of these individuals makes it more relatable.
The main benefit of having a relatable Book from God is that human beings can feel that they, too, can become believers of Christ and have eternal life – just like many of those who are found in the genealogies and went through real issues in their lives.
3. Proves God Was Human
There is a lot of confusion around who Jesus, God, and The Holy Spirit are. When speaking of Jesus, it is referring to the trinity in human form.
However, it can be challenging for humans to understand that Jesus was a living, breathing human being, just like them.
That’s where genealogies come into play.
In several books of the Bible, notably Matthew and Luke, you can find Jesus’ genealogy starting with Joseph (His father) dating back to Adam, the first son of God.
Two notable verses that show a clear genealogy for Jesus include:
- Matthew 1:1-25 ESV – “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon, the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed, the father of Jesse..”
- Luke 3:23 ESV – “Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli..”
- Genesis 5:1-32 ESV – “This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female, he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died..”
By looking at these verses, it is clear that Jesus was human during His time here on earth.
This solidifies that the Bible is true and gives humans strength as they know that Jesus also dealt with the daily struggles of man and woman, such as poverty, grief, exhaustion, and temptation.
4. Shows That God Loves Imperfect People
One of the most interesting lessons to be learned from genealogies in the Bible is that God loves and uses imperfect people all the time.
So, as a human living in today’s world, you can feel confident that God can love and use you for His purpose, too.
How do genealogies show this, though? Well, it’s simple.
By looking at certain genealogies, you can find some of the most significant sinners used for positive purposes.
For example, Rahab was a prostitute in Canaanite of Jericho, which was a fairly extreme offense. However, the Lord knew that she was capable of more and used her to defeat pagan Jericho and make a spot in the lineage of Jesus.
Other mentionable ‘sinners’ include David and Solomon, who eventually made a positive impact.
However, don’t think that other people in the Bible were not sinners, just because they weren’t mentioned in the Bible.
It is a well-known fact that every human being on earth (except for Jesus) sins daily. Therefore, everyone is a sinner, and everyone can be used for God’s purpose.
5. Shows That God Values Families
Those who are new to the Faith or interested in it may fear that there are so many people in the world that God would not have time for them.
That there is no way that a busy God could love them and forgive them for their sins.
But this is simply not the case, and looking at genealogies is a great way to prove that.
It’s pretty clear – if God did not value families or people, He would not bother to create genealogies in the first place.
They wouldn’t find themselves in His Book, either.
That said, genealogies are a (less) clear proof that God cares about His people and truly values families.
This can make it easier for those on the fence about Christianity to join the Faith.
In turn, knowing that God values families can also encourage growth in your own family too.
As said in 1 John 2:6 ESV, “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
Christians are called to behave in a Christ-like manner, which means if God values families, so should His followers.
6. Determined Roles
This next reason may not be relevant to some, but it is still an important reason to mention in regards to why genealogy is important in the Bible.
The truth is, genealogies in the Bible were used to determine who was able to serve particular roles.
For example, Levites were only to work in the tabernacles and temples.
Many activities found in the Mosaic Law were also only open to those who could prove their Jewish heritage through genealogy.
7. Shows God is Detail-Oriented
Another interesting reason why you should not skip over genealogies is that it is a clear picture of how detail-oriented God is.
He has invested his time and interest into the people He has created.
Why else would he make a special note to create genealogies and have them written down in his Word?
By showing that God is detail-oriented, believers can feel confident that God values them and will not overlook them.
It shows that God will be invested in their lives just as much as they are invested in Him.
Why is the Genealogy of Jesus Important?
By now, you know why genealogies in the Bible are important.
But does the genealogy of Jesus himself play a more significant role?
Yes, they do.
Here are a few reasons why.
- Shows Him as a real human – Jesus’ genealogy shows connections to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and King David. This shows that Jesus was, in fact, a human that came from real human descendants.
- Shows prophecies being fulfilled – One significant role the genealogy of Jesus plays is showing that God holds to His word and fulfills prophecies. For example, God promised Abraham that nations would be blessed through His offspring, which proved to be true.
What is the Purpose of the Genealogy in Matthew?
There are multiple key purposes for Matthew starting with genealogy, including:
- Matthew 1:1 shares the whole story of the Bible – The beginning of Mattew shares the genealogy of Adam, Abraham, David, and Jesus. If we reference these key people in the Old Testament and what promises were given to them, you can learn the whole story of the Bible quickly and effectively.
- It is a record of truth – Like other history books, adding historical names is a way to make the book valid and truthful. Beginning with genealogy, the book of Matthew proves that the Bible is a real book with real stories inside.
- It shows Jesus is inclusive – Some people think that Jesus might shy away from them due to their sins, but this could not be further from the truth. Even Jesus had individuals, such as Tamar and Bathsheba, who sinned with a high offense, and Jesus never looked down on them.
- Lastly, it displays hope – At the time Matthew was written, it was not an enjoyable time for the people. However, things take a turn for the best when Jesus is born. That said, adding Jesus to the lineage shows that people could, and should still have, hope for the future.
You can read the genealogy of Jesus as it is written in the book of Matthew here.
Where in the Bible Does it Talk About Genealogy?
Genealogies are mentioned heavily in the New Testament, but where specifically can you find the Bible talking about genealogies?
Is the New Testament the only place to find records of lineage? No, not at all. There are a few options.
The first mention of genealogies is found in the book of Genesis. Here, the record of descendants from Adam and Eve are mentioned. More specifically, you can find the descendants of Abraham in chapters 4, 5, and 11.
Here, you can also find the age at which the patriarch fathered his son and how long they lived together.
In Genesis chapter 4, you can find specific genealogy information related to Cain. In chapter 5, you can find the genealogy for Seth. Lastly, you will find the genealogy of Noah in chapter 10, otherwise known as the Table of Nations.
Of course, the book of Matthew and the book of Luke are the two notable books containing the genealogy of Jesus specifically.
However, they differ slightly in that Matthew starts the lineage from Abraham and Luke goes back to Adam.
A few other mentions of genealogies can be found in other areas of the Bible, including:
- Ruth 4:18-22
- 1 Chronicles 1-10
- Ezra 2:1-67
- Nehemiah 7:5-69
- Numbers 26:1-62
Keep in mind that when searching for genealogies, there may be certain people “missing” because fathered and fathered an ancestor of are used interchangeably, although it may appear that way.
How is Jesus the Son of David?
Reading the beginning of the book of Matthew (Matthew 1:1, to be exact), it clearly states that Jesus is the son of David.
But how is this possible, considering Jesus was born 1,000 years after David has passed?
Well, there is a literal and theological interpretation for this. Literally, Jesus is a descendent of King David.
Matthew decided to summarize the lineage to show that Jesus was related to David and Abraham rather than go through thousands of years of names and individuals.
In a spiritual sense, showing that Jesus is the son of David proves a promise being fulfilled.
In 2 Samuel 7:15-16, God tells David, “but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.”
That said, Jesus is descended from David shows that God keeps his promises.
What is the Significance of 14 Generations in Matthew?
When reading the book of Matthew, it will become clear that Matthew relays the genealogies using 14 specific generations.
Is there a purpose behind this, or is this just a coincidence? No, there are actually a few reasons why Matthew created the 14 generations.
Matthew designed his genealogy to have three sections, each relaying a piece of history: Abraham to David, David to exile, exile to Jesus.
Doing so, Matthew wanted to make it clear that Jesus had a direct connection to these individuals and that He ended the exile.
Aside from this, Matthew also ordered the 14 generations numerically too. By looking at the numbers, you can count three separate sets that create 14 generations.
While it might not appear that genealogies have a specific role in the Bible, they do.
So, the next time you’re reading through your Bible, pay extra close attention to the genealogies, and you may end up learning a lot about who God really is.
For example, you might be able to see more clearly that the Bible is a true historical event or that Jesus does not judge you – even He had sinners in his lineage, and He never judged or turned His back on them.
It also proves just how detailed-oriented God is and how you can relate to Jesus and the entire Bible in your day-to-day life (which may make for a valuable Bible study theme!)