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Learn More About the Genealogy of Jesus this Christmas

Family tree illustration by The Raymon Troup Studio

See the Fulfillment of God’s Covenant in the Names of a Family Tree

From the first chapter of Matthew, the New Testament displays how God keeps the covenants he gives to his people throughout the Old Testament. Matthew 1:1-17 lists the incredible genealogy that stretches from Abraham to the Messiah, outlining the long and breathtakingly complex plan that God fashioned throughout more than 40 generations of broken, sinful people, whom God used for his glory and our salvation.

How many times did individuals fall to temptation or danger or trials? God tested Abraham with Isaac’s life, threatening to end his line almost before it began. He included murderers and prostitutes. He was even willing to incorporate into the decedents of Abraham and David a man whom God himself cursed.

The king, Jeconiah (Matthew 1:11-12) was pronounced cursed in Jeremiah 22:30 by God. Jeconiah (also Jehoiachin) was the last of the Judean kings, ending the royal line until Jesus, who not only restored the line to glory, but also did not inherit God’s curse because of the nature-defying miracle of the virgin birth.

Sometimes it’s easy to overlook how miraculous Jesus’ birth was, even while we celebrate his arrival on Christmas. But the more closely you read into the genealogies in the Gospels (Luke also outlines David’s line), the more fully you can come to appreciate the fulfillment of God’s covenant.

Bible Gateway Has Tools to Help You Read Genealogies with Greater Understanding

Genealogies themselves may be eye-sores to your morning devotions. After all, they’re just lists of names. Anyone familiar with some of the stories from the Old Testament will immediately recognize some of the names listed in Matthew 1:1-17: Isaac, Jacob, David, and Solomon.

Others, however, are harder to identify. Minor characters—we tend to skim. Jeconiah, again, is a good example. Remember him? Nope? Well, you can’t be blamed for that. He happens to have an alternate name—Jehoiachin. Actually, he has two alternate names, which Jeremiah liked to call him (though, in some Bible translations, Coniah is switched to Jehoiachin).

What about Abiud? How about Zadok? If you do recognize the name, he might not be the Zadok you’re thinking of; nine are mentioned throughout the Bible…

Confused yet?

The good news is that you don’t have to be a Bible scholar to obtain this knowledge. You may notice as you click the links throughout this article that the Scripture on Bible Gateway opens next to some preview text of biblical resources. One of the most useful resources when learning about a genealogy is the New International Encyclopedia of Bible Characters, which is available when you upgrade your account to Bible Gateway Plus. There are over 40 study Bible notes, commentaries, encyclopedias, and other resources, like maps and videos, under the blue sidebar to the right of the Bible passage you’re reading on Bible Gateway. Some of them are free—like the Reformation Study Bible—so feel free to explore.

The New International Encyclopedia of Bible Characters is certainly the more effective for tackling genealogies, though, and you can open previews of the material to find out more. Look around using some of the links above, or go here to learn more about Bible Gateway Plus. It’s one of the best tools to have in your pocket if you want to delve deeper into Scripture this Christmas season, and when you sign up you’ll be given a 30-day free trial, so there’s no risk!

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