So all the generations from Abraham to David are FOURTEEN generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are FOURTEEN generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are FOURTEEN generations. – Matthew 1:17
Skeptics see this as a mistake in the Bible because when you actually count the generations from the exile (to Babylon) to Christ, there are only thirteen generations, instead of fourteen.
True, but is it really a mistake?
It’s always better to ask before making any assertion. Proverbs 18:17 says, “He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.”
The Bible is the Word of God and 1 Corinthians 2:11-14 says,
11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. 13 And we speak about these things, NOT WITH WORDS TAUGHT US BY HUMAN WISDOM, but with THOSE TAUGHT BY THE SPIRIT, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 THE UNBELIEVER DOES NOT RECEIVE THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD, for they are foolishness to him. And HE CANNOT UNDERSTAND THEM, because they are spiritually discerned.
Now, the word ‘Christ’ in Matthew 1.17 plays a big role in understanding this. He didn’t say ‘Jesus Christ’ but, ‘Christ’.
Who and what is Christ?
Christ is God’s anointed one(s). It is clearly stated in the Bible that Jesus is THE Christ, but the word ‘Christ’ also is used in the Bible to describe Christians:
6:14 Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 And what agreement does CHRIST have with Beliar? Or what does a BELIEVER share in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what mutual agreement does THE TEMPLE OF GOD have with idols? For WE are the temple of the living God, just as God said: “I will live in them and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” – 2 Corinthians 6:14-16
In context, we see that the word ‘Christ’ here is not used to refer to Jesus but His church (Christians).
25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 26. The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. – Acts 4:25-26
Christ here, if we go to the Old Testament where Peter quoted it from, refers to the Messiah, Jesus:
2:1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. – Psalm 2:1-3
Now let’s connect the dots:
Christ (Jesus) and Christ (the Church) are one (but two different generations). This is why Jesus told Saul (Paul) that it was He (Jesus) that he was persecuting; though it was the Church that Paul persecuted (Acts 9:4-5).
2 Timothy 2:19 – Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let EVERYONE that nameth THE NAME OF CHRIST depart from iniquity.
Certainly, he didn’t refer to Jesus in here, since he said, ‘everyone’ (that’s the Church); to depart from iniquity. Jesus never sinned the Bible records (2Corinthians 5:21). So I don’t see Paul talking about Jesus here.
James 2:7 – Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which YE (Christians) are called?
Colossians 1:18 calls Jesus the head of the Church (the body of Christ). And you and I know that the head and the body are called by the same name.
As stated above, Jesus said Paul (Saul) persecuted Him, though it was the Church that Paul persecuted:
Acts 9:1 – And Saul (Paul), yet breathing out threatening and slaughter against THE DISCIPLES OF THE LORD, went unto the high priest. 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou ME (Jesus)?
And Paul knowing the one who persecutes Christians persecutes the Lord tells us, ‘He therefore that despiseth, despiseth NOT MAN, but GOD, who hath also given unto US his Holy Spirit.’ – 1 Thessalonians 4:8
So we see that ‘Christ’ is counted twice (Two generations) in Matthew 1:17, not just once. Christ, the Man (Jesus) and Christ (the Church).
The Church is called the seed or descendant of Christ:
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see HIS SEED, he shall PROLONG HIS DAYS, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. – Isaiah 53:10
This means that His seed (The Church – 1Peter 1:23; John 1:12-13) is another generation:
30 A SEED shall serve him; IT (a seed – the Church) shall be accounted to the Lord FOR A GENERATION. 31 THEY shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this. – Psalm 22:30-31
There you have it, Psalm 22:30 says it all, that this seed (the Church) is accounted for another generation apart from the generation of Jesus. This means that Jesus’ and the Church’s generations are two different generations. After all, Jesus was not in the earth under the New Testament but under the Old Testament (Matthew 5:17; Galatians 4:4).
Remember, Psalm 22, contextually, is prophecy about the death of Jesus. And Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but IF IT DIE, IT BRINGETH FORTH MUCH FRUIT” (John 12:24). The Church is the fruit of His death.
Verse 31 is a prophecy about what the Church is doing for Christ Jesus today – preaching His glorious Gospel to the world. This is why, Jesus is one generation and the Church is another. That makes Christ counted twice. Remember that Jesus died, and His resurrection gave birth to a new generation (1Corinthians 15:36-37; John 12:24) that lasts until today which calls the Church.
Click here if you aren’t part of this Christ generation yet. God bless you.