This last section of Luke 3 provides the genealogy of Jesus back through his generations to Adam who was the first man and son of God. It is interesting to compare this genealogy with that given in Matthew chapter 1 as they are different.
The generations of Jesus are important as they identify his background and proof that he was the one to come to fulfil various of the prophecies in the Old Testament. It was prophesied that the Christ would be the son of David and that he would be of the tribe of Judah, one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Judah was the tribe of the kings, and Jesus was and is the King of kings.
As for the differences in the genealogies done by Matthew and Luke, I believe there is a simple explanation. The two genealogies are the same (essentially) until they reach David the king. We then see one of the genealogies come down through the line of King Solomon and the other through the lineage of his brother Nathan. From this point on they diverge and do not come back together until the Christ is born.
Now it is evident that the lineage of a person can come through both mother and father, for in the law of Moses it was established that this be so under the laws associated with the inheritance that is to be passed from generation to generation. Under the law the inheritance of a family was transferred to the sons of the family at the death of the parents, except where there were no sons to take possession of the inheritance.
There were five daughters of Zelo’phehad who would have received nothing in the division and inheritance of the land when the people came into the promised land, for their father had died in the wilderness and they had no brothers. These five women came before Moses to put their case and Moses took it to the Lord for judgement. The Lord said that they were right and that they should receive an equal share in the inheritance that would have fallen to them as if they were sons. Thus the Lord made them and their claim equal.
But then there was some concern that if they married outside of the tribe (they were of the tribe of Manasseh) that their inheritance would pass to another of the tribes by default and the tribe of Manasseh would lose a portion of their inheritance. So the Lord instructed them that they were free to marry whomever they chose, but to only marry men from the tribe of Manasseh so that the inheritance did not go outside the tribe, and this is what they did.
In the law the provision was made that if a man died with no sons, then his inheritance would go to his daughters, thus giving them the same rights as a son. (Numbers 27:5-11) If there were no daughters or sons the inheritance went to a man’s brothers and then to nearest kin and so on. But the daughters received it first before others if there were no sons. Now what is interesting in this law is what is seen in Numbers 36:7-8 (ESV) which says, “The inheritance of the people of Israel shall not be transferred from one tribe to another; for every one of the people of Israel shall hold on to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. And every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the people of Israel shall be wife to one of the clan of the tribe of her father, so that every one of the people of Israel may possess the inheritance of his fathers.”
Now in the genealogy of Jesus we see there are two different lineages. There is one simple explanation for this being that one is the line of Joseph and the other is the line of Mary. If this is true then there is no possible argument that Jesus was indeed the descendant of David the king for his genealogy on both sides goes back through David’s line. So the inheritance of David fell to Jesus on both sides of his genealogy putting the stamp on his being the Christ so there would be no argument.
There is very little else to add to this section. But it is interesting to see how often the unfolding of events in the New Testament linked back to prophecies and the fulfilling of the law so that the truth could be established.
(Picture sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu/ taken by Franci Strümpfer)