Jesus, the Son of Nathan and the Son of Solomon

Mr. Dykstra is a member of Faith PRC, Jenison, MI.

The title of this article might seem absurd at first glance. The fact is, however, it is not as absurd as it looks. Jesus’ name is, listed in the genealogies recorded in both Matthew 1 and Luke 3. The genealogy inMatthew 1 traces the royal line of David through Solomon to the birth of Jesus. The genealogy recorded in Luke 3begins with Jesus and traces the genealogy back through Nathan to David. Jesus’ name is recorded in both genealogies. This is important to note, and we will come back to this later.

As is evident, I am resurrecting an old discussion that appeared in the Standard Bearer about a year ago (cf. Dec. 15, 1991; Feb. 1, 1992; March 15, 1992 issues). In those issues one will discover that Prof. Engelsma takes the position that Christ was a blood descendant of David through Nathan, while Revs. Veldman and Cammenga argue for the position that Christ is of the royal line of David through Solomon. Both sides in the discussion present convincing arguments for their positions.

Prof. Engelsma, in defense of his position, states that “the Bible teaches that the Messiah will not come from the royal line, and may not come from the royal line. The royal line became unfaithful, disobedient, and apostate. The judgment of God upon it was that it would not produce the everlasting King who establishes the kingdom of God. The next to the last king of Judah in the Old Testament was Jehoiachin, called ‘Jechonias’ in Matthew 1:11. Upon him and his descendants fell the judgment recorded in Jeremiah 22:30: ‘Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah.'”

Rev. Veldman contends that Mary was of the royal line of David through Solomon. He calls attention to Psalm 89and reasons from these scriptures to support his position. He writes: “Now notice in this passage inPsalm 89 the, following. First, the Lords mercy Jehovah will keep for David forevermore; the Lord will make his seed to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven (vv. 28, 29). Secondly, this passage speaks of David’s children as forsaking Jehovah’s law, walking not in His judgments,’ the breaking of His statutes, and the keeping not of His commandments (w. 30, 31). …Thirdly, now notice what we read in verses 33-37: The Lord will not forsake his covenant, nor alter the thing that is gone out of his mouth. Once has he sworn by his holiness that he will not lie unto David. David’s seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before him. Indeed, it shall be established for ever as the moon, and as the faithful witness in heaven.”

To support his contention that Jesus is of royal lineage, Rev. Cammenga points out the word of God to David in I Chronicles 22:10: “He (David’s Son) shall build an house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever.” Rev. Cammenga ends his argumentation on this note: “One of the important issues in this whole discussion of the genealogies is Jesus’ right to the throne of His father David. The fart of the matter is that if Christ did not descend from David through the royal line, He has no more right to the throne than any other Israelite. The right to the kingship of Israel belonged only to those who descended through the royal line of David.”

Rev. Cammenga is correct. A most important issue in this discussion is Jesus’ right to the throne of David. But Prof. Engelsma is also correct in his assertion that Gods judgment rested upon the seed royal in regards to that throne. The door to David’s throne had been shut by God to the seed royal. To make matters worse, the throne of David was also off limits to the seed of David through Nathan, as Rev. Cammenga implies. Somehow, however, God unlocked the door to the throne for Christ. Jesus is at this very moment at God’s right hand, “The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David” (Rev. 5:5). The question is, How did God do it?

I began by stating that Jesus’ name is found listed in both genealogies (Matt. 1:1, 16Luke 3:23). In Matthew 1:16Jesus’ name appears in the royal family of Joseph along with Mary His mother: “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” Joseph is listed, for this is his genealogy. Secondly, Mary’s name is listed, for she is the wife of Joseph, part of the royal family through marriage. And, finally, into this royal family Jesus is born. Matthew, in recording this birth, is very exact in noting that Joseph is not the begetter of Jesus. God purposed that a legal relationship be established between Jesus and the royal line of David in Joseph, not a biological one.

That such a legal relationship was established is evident from Luke’s genealogy, where Jesus is listed as the son of Joseph: “And Jesus . . . being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli.” The word “suppose” in this verse means “to reckon as law” (Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible). Verse 23 may be understood this way: “Jesus . . . being (legally reckoned) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli.” By legal adoption, Jesus is the Son of Joseph. Because Jesus is legally adopted into the royal line, he has legal rights to the throne of His father David without the judgment of God upon Him; He is not the seed of Jeconiah or of Joseph. Even though Jesus is not the seed of Joseph, we see how important Joseph is in God’s plan for unlocking the door to the throne of David. Into this royal family Jesus is born, and a legal right to the throne is established.

There is a second important relationship in Luke’s genealogy that is crucial to our discussion. Luke informs us that Joseph is the son of Heli (3:23). This is troubling, for Matthew reveals that Joseph is, on the other hand, the son of Jacob (1:16). Not until we realize that Luke writes the genealogy of Mary from a legal perspective will the difficulty disappear. From Luke’s perspective Jesus is, as we have already seen, reckoned as to law the son of Joseph. Accordingly, Joseph is a son in law, a son-in-law, of Heli.

To sum it up, we conclude that Mary was descended from David through Nathan. Nathan’s line had no right to the throne, but they had the blood of David as truly as Solomon’s line. In Mary Jesus inherited the blood line of David: in Joseph, by legal adoption, Jesus inherited the legal right to the throne without the judgment, because He is not of the seed of Joseph or Jeconiah. Today, Jesus is at God’s right hand, “The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David” (Rev. 5).