Who is Joseph’s Father, Eli or Jacob?

My favorite way to study the Bible is to search out the answers to seemingly contradictory subjects and during the Christmas season there is one that always comes to mind, the genealogy of Jesus. There are two genealogies of Jesus listed in the Gospels. One is in Matthew and the other in Luke. If you place them side by side you end up with different names on each side. When you get down to Jesus’ immediate family, you will see Joseph has two different fathers listed. In Matthew the Bible says Jacob was Joseph’s father, while Luke records Eli to be his father. Matthew 1:16 says, “And to Jacob was born Joseph the husband of Mary, whom by was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” Also in Luke 3:23 it says, “And when He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being supposedly the son of Joseph, the son of Eli…”

How could Joseph have two different fathers? When I discovered this discrepancy, my heart filled with fear. I thought, if the Bible had just one error in it, how can I know if I’m really following the truth? Was everything in the Bible questionable? Suddenly, I found myself at a fork in the road, do I believe the Bible has no error even though I am staring at one? Or, do I discount the Bible entirely, believing those who say the Bible is inaccurate? In the end I chose to search for the truth and not believe there was error and discount it, thinking there must be a reason for this contradiction and after many hours of study, I found the answer.

Since Matthew, in his gospel was writing to the Jewish people, their first question about the Messiah would be His qualifications to be the Messiah, descendant of the throne of David. Matthew answered this question by writing the genealogy from King David, through his son Solomon, in which Joseph was born. Luke, in his gospel was writing to Gentiles. Their question about the Messiah would be, “Is He the promised one?” So Luke wrote the genealogy from King David through his other son Nathan, in which Mary was born. When Joseph married Mary, as was custom, he became the son of Eli.

During the search for the truth I learned a great lesson, God’s word is completely true and it can stand the test of any kind. Even if I cannot understand why the contradiction is there, it does not make the Bible invalid. The reason God chooses not to reveal some things is because it would take away the need for us to have faith.

Hebrews 4:2 proclaims, “For indeed we have had good news preached to us just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united with faith in those who heard.”

May we all be people of faith, believing the true message of the Bible, even if we do not have all the answers.

Father, thank you for revealing the answers to our questions when we search for it, help us to be excited to search for the truth. In the name of Jesus, amen