© 2008, 2015 Bob Freeman

    The Bible prophesies that the Lord someday will sit on the throne of Israel. While we could say that he has the right as God to occupy that position, it's instructive to review the legal implications of that belief. Jesus is referred to in the Bible as the Son of David and it's interesting to see how God managed to authorize him to reign on the throne of David.
    The book of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph and the genealogy of Jesus through Mary begins in Luke 3:23. Joseph was of the royal line of David as a descendant of Solomon; and, Mary was a descendant of David's son Nathan. So, Jesus was a blood descendant of David through the non-royal line and could be properly called the Seed of David. But, since he was not a blood descendant through the royal line, he was not affected by the prohibition that God placed in Jeremiah 22:24-30 on having a seed of Jeconiah sit on the throne.
    Ignorant critics of the Bible have accused the Lord of being illegimate because Mary and Joseph were engaged but had not begun living together when Jesus was conceived. And, there might be some confusion over the word espoused that means engaged. However, in those times, engagement was the equivalent of a legal wedding ceremony today and it was customary for a married couple to remain living separately for some time before the wedding supper was held. The supper was the public announcement that they would begin living together. In Matthew 1:19, we are told that Joseph planned to put her away before he learned that her conception was supernatural and of the will of God. And, the words translated put her away mean divorce her. So, Jesus was conceived by Mary when she was legally married to Joseph.
    We even have a precedent in Abraham's statement concerning his steward when he was lamenting Sarah's lack of ability to bear children. Even though Eliezer was not Abraham's offspring, he said that Eliezer would be his heir because he had been born in his house. If Eliezer could have been Abraham's heir without being born by Sarah, then Jesus certainly was Joseph's heir because he was born of his wife.
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The Authority Of Jesus To Be King (cont)

     An explicit statement as to the relationship of Jesus to Joseph is found in the Lord's genealogy through Mary:

And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,
Luke 3:23 (KJV).

If we delete the parenthetical phrase as was supposed, we have a clear statement that Jesus was the son of Joseph.
     The phrase as was supposed is a translation of the Greek words hos enomizeto. The first Greek word serves to form a proper adverbial clause with an implied subject and a passive verb. If we substitute assumed for supposed and include the implied subject and an infinitive that makes the English translation more readable, we have as (he) was assumed (to be). Even though the clause, as translated in the King James Authorized Version, is true, it is fluff and distracts from the profoundness of the statement that Jesus was the son of Joseph. We don't need the clause to know that, in at least four places, Jesus is referred to by humans as the son of Joseph. An adverbial clause is to tell how, when, where or why the entire sentence is a true statement. In the case under consideration, why is what matters and Jesus is not the son of Joseph merely because some mortals might think so.
     The Greek word enomizeto is a passive verb form of nomos (law). If we translate it literally with only one word, we have to use something like legalized and that implies making legal something that was illegal. Since the clause has to do with the Lord's necessary qualification to be the son of Joseph from his conception, we can translate the verb as legally qualified. With this change, Luke 3:23 reads:

And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being, as legally qualified, the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,

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The Authority Of Jesus To Be King (cont)

     Of twenty-one versions of the New Testament, all except one use a translation of Luke 3:23 that is the same, or very similar to, that of the King James Version. The International Standard Version has (as legally calculated) for the translation of the adverbial clause. There are at least two problems with using the word calculated. It puts emphasis on the legal process. The word qualified puts the emphasis on the honorable position of Jesus. And, saying legally calculated might imply to a reader that some intricate legal maneuver might have been necessary in order to declare legality. Even so, the ISV translation is far superior to the others, since it expresses legality rather than supposition.
     Note that enomizeto is a passive verb form. The same form is used in Acts 16:13:

And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

The word wont means customary and is the translation of enomizeto. In The Scofield Reference Bible (1917), there is a marginal note pertaining to was wont:

might legally, i.e. a legal meeting-place for Jews where there was no synagogue.

If the same editor had developed the notes for Luke 3, we could expect him to include a note for verse 23 that would specify legally as part of a preferable translation for the adverbial clause. But, there is no note at all for enomizeto in that verse.
     The dictionary entry for enomizeto is nomizo and active forms of the word are used in all other places where it occurs in the New Testament. In those cases, an English translation expressing supposition makes sense. However, legality, not supposition, is important when we deal with lineage.
     The book of Matthew begins:

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Matthew 1:1.

And, in order for Jesus to be the son of David, he has to be the son of Joseph. The sixteenth verse ends that genealogy with:

And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

So, the first verse of the genealogy of Jesus through Mary (Luke 3:23) assures believers that Matthew 1:16 is sufficient reason to declare that Jesus is the legal son of Joseph, just in case somebody might try to argue to the contrary as many stupid people do.
    The Lord is the only man qualified to sit on the throne of David because of his unique ancestry. He didn't marry and, of course, had no children. His brothers were all of the natural seed of David through the royal line and were prohibited, along with their descendants, from sitting on the throne. God has taken a seemingly impossible situation because of his curse on the natural descendants of Jeconiah and given us a man that is uniquely qualified not only to save us (since he is God) but also to occupy the throne of David.
    Some Christians might say that any study of the right of Christ to sit on the throne of David constitutes endless genealogies and is a waste of good time. If God didn't think such is important, why did he begin the writings of the New Testament by showing that Jesus is of the royal line of David through Joseph?

Bob Freeman
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