Have you ever read the gospel of Matthew?
It is the first book in the New Testament. It introduces us to the Savior, Jesus Christ. We would expect the start of the story of Jesus to grip us from the first line much like the beginning of the Old Testament does with the line “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
However, when we open the book of Matthew, the first phrase is “An account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ” (Matthew 1:1a). This is not the exciting introduction we expect but instead the beginning of a long genealogy. And let us face it, most of us think genealogies are boring. They are lists (often long ones) of family lines, and often biblical genealogies are filled with names with which we are unfamiliar. They remind us of sitting in history class as the teacher drones on about a line of kings and the dates of major battles in wars.
We long to skip past genealogies and get to the “good stuff” of Scripture. But, just like the stories of David and Goliath, Jonah and the fish, and Jesus feeding the five thousand, genealogies are part of God’s inspired Word. They have been intentionally included in God’s Word to reveal Himself and His story of redemption to us. Genealogies are sources of hope that remind us that God fulfills His promises and includes people of different cultures, backgrounds, and gender in His story of redemption.
Below we list two out of many reasons that genealogies are important for believers to study.
Genealogies are significant because they point us to God
As we see generation after generation of God’s chosen people listed in the Old Testament, we are reminded that God is always with His people and He knows all of them by name. And we see God working in the lives of real people. The stories of the Bible are not myths but historical events that occurred to people who truly lived.
Genealogies also remind us of God’s promises. When we look through the genealogy of Christ, we can see how He fulfilled the promises of the Old Testament. The mention of Adam reminds us that his descendant is coming to crush the head of the evil serpent (Genesis 3:15), the mention of Abraham and his descendants reminds us that someone from his family line is coming to bless all the nations (Genesis 22:15–18), and the mention of David’s royal line reminds us that a King is coming who will rule eternally (2 Samuel 7:8–16).
Jesus is from the line of Adam and Abraham and will be the One who crushes the head of the serpent and blesses the nations through His life, death, and resurrection. And He is part of the family line of David, who will reign forever. The first verse of the New Testament reveals that Jesus will fulfill God’s promises and that knowledge comes from a genealogy.
Genealogies are important because they remind us that God’s people are not limited to one culture, nation, or gender.
As the genealogy of Christ continues in the book of Matthew, we see a variety of people included in His family line (Matthew 1:2–17). There are good and evil kings. There are men and women. There are Israelites and foreigners. There are powerful rulers and prostitutes. And this reality reflects the composition of God’s people.
Those included in the family line of Jesus were not chosen because they were good, powerful, strong, men, or rich. In the same way, God’s people are not chosen because they are good, powerful, strong, or rich. Instead, we are saved by God’s grace alone. He chooses us out of love for us. Further, the people of God are not limited to one culture, nation, or gender. The good news of the gospel is available to all, regardless of their wealth, circumstances, or nation of origin.
So the next time you stumble across a genealogy in Scripture, consider taking the time to truly study it. There is a purpose behind these family lines being included in Scripture. They may reveal God’s character, point you to Christ, or remind you that God’s people come from different walks of life.
Additional resources for Bible study:
- 6 Practical Tips to Level Up Your Bible Study
- Student of the Word: How Understanding Bible Themes Can Help You Study Scripture