The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

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nick cobb

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Dec 20, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/20/97
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The gospel reading for the divine liturgy on the Sunday before Christmas
is "the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of
Abraham," taken from the gospel according to Saint Matthew. (Mt 1:1-25)
This genealogy lists the generations of people from Abraham to David, to
the Babylonian captivity of the people of Israel, to the birth of Jesus.
It is a selected genealogy, ending in the appearance of "Joseph, the
husband of Mary of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ" (Mt 1:16).
It differs from the genealogy presented in Saint Like's gospel which
begins with Jesus "being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph" and goes
back all the way not simply to Abraham but to Adam (Lk 3:23-38).

There are many purposes for presenting the genealogy of Jesus in the
gospels, chief among which is the affirmation that Jesus, being in truth
the Son of God, as all the gospels testify, has come "in the flesh" as a
real human being. This affirmation was critically important in the time
of the apostles and the first Christian generations because, unlike
today, the temptation of the early period of Christianity was not to
deny Jesus' divinity, but to deny His real and authentic humanity.

As a matter of historical fact, the first Christian heretics were those
who said that Jesus was some sort of divine being (how this was
explained had many variations and versions) who only appeared to be a
true man, but was not really one since "flesh and blood" were taken to
be intrinsically degrading if not downright evil. Thus the apostle Paul
had to insist that in Jesus, who belongs to the Jews "according to the
flesh" (Rom 9:5), the "whole fulness of deity dwells bodily" (Col 2:9),
and that it is the same Jesus who died and was buried and raised in the
flesh as a real man, who is Messiah and Lord (See Cor 15:3-4; Gal 4:4,
Phil 2:6-11)...

[Taken from, "The Winter Pascha" by Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, SVS
Press, 1984; available at: 800-204-book.]

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