How Luke cometh to make Joseph the son of Heli we shall inquire (if God please) when we come to his third chapter: but from this verse ariseth a very grave question, viz. How, or wherefore, the evangelist, in deriving the pedigree of Christ, bringeth the line down to Joseph, from whom our Saviour did not descend, being no flesh of his flesh. Christ being the promised Messias, the prophecy, Isa_7:14, must be and was fulfilled in him, A virgin shall conceive, andbear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Now if Joseph were not the true, but only the legal or supposed, father of Christ, what had the evangelist to do with his genealogy? Many answers are given to this. Some think that the evangelist accommodates himself to the vulgar opinion; they took him generally for the true and natural son of Joseph; they said, Is not this the carpenter’s son? But then the Holy Spirit must have attempted to have proved a conclusion true from a medium that was false, which must by no means be allowed. Besides, neither could this be Matthew’s design, who afterwards relates the mystery of our Saviour’s incarnation plain enough; and tells us, Mat_1:18, that Mary was found with child beforeJoseph and she came together. Others therefore say that amongst the Jews the genealogies of women use not to be reckoned. How universally true that is I cannot tell; generally it is, (very probably), it being usual almost with all nations to reckon descents from the males. It is granted by most that Luke derives the descent of Mary. In the present case, it seemeth of high concern that the genealogy both of Joseph and Mary should be counted. Though our Saviour’s being the Messias could not have been proved from his being the Son of Joseph, for then he could not have been the Son of a virgin, yet (admitting the Jewish error in that case, not knowing the mystery of Christ’s incarnation) Christ, by their own confession, was confirmed to be the Son of David because Joseph was so. On the other side, Luke deriving Mary’s genealogy from David, and affirming Christ to be born of a virgin espoused, confirmed him to all the world to be both the Son of David, descending from Mary a virgin, that was a daughter to one who was the son of David, and also the true Messiah, in whom the prophecy was fulfilled, of a virgin’s conceiving and bearing a Son. So that by the reckoning of the generation of two persons, both of which were lineally descended from David, he was proved to be the Son of David, both to the generality of the Jews, who could not deny but Joseph was so, and to all believers, both Jews and Gentiles, to whom God should give to believe the mystery of the incarnation by the conception of the Holy Ghost. This to me seems a sufficient reason for the reckoning up our Saviour’s descent from David both by father and mother. Which is advantaged by considering that Joseph was not only the reputed father, but the legal father of Christ; and although his being not the natural but the legal father of Christ will not prove him the Son of David, further than to the Jews who would have him to be the natural son of Joseph, yet the genealogy reckoned from Abraham to Joseph will prove Joseph the son of David; (whom they judged Christ’s natural father), so as they had nothing to say against that and the other parts of this Gospel; and this chapter indeed, with the genealogy of Mary, will prove that he was both the Son of David, and the true Messias, as a Son born of a virgin. Whereas some say that Mary was of the tribe of Levi, and think to prove it by her being cousin to Elisabeth, who is expressly called a daughter of Aaron, Luk_1:5; besides that Luk_3:23-38 plainly proveth her of the tribe of Judah, and of the family of David, the proof is by no means sufficient; for although the law, Num_36:8,9, for the avoiding of a confusion of inheritances, commanded them to marry within their tribes, yet this law concerned not the daughters of the tribe of Levi, for that tribe had no inheritance as the rest. So as that kindred might easily be, though Mary was not of the tribe of Levi, but of Judah, as indeed she was. But leaving this question, let us come to the words of the verse. And Jacob begat Joseph, thehusband of Mary; that is, the espoused husband of Mary. Espousals make a marriage before God: the angel afterward saith to Joseph, (but yet espoused), Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife. And he was soon after the legal, actual husband of Mary.
Of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ; that person who was called Jesus is by the direction of the angel, as we shall by and by see, who was also called Christ, which, as we said, signifieth Anointed, and the same with Messiah. It is observed by some that the name Christ was given to kings of Judah (because of their anointing) before the captivity, but to none after, till he came who was theChrist; God by that providence (if the Jews would have understood it) pointing out to them, that the person was now come who was promised them under the notion of the Messiah, Dan_9:25,26, and whom they expected, as appeareth from Joh_1:41 4:25, and no longer to be expected.