The Son of Adam, the Son of God: Luke 1:23, 38

son of adam son of God (3)

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2) Luke 3:23, 38: Luke wrote for a Gentile audience (Luke 1:1–4), so his inclusion of a genealogy of Jesus in his account may seem rather odd.

However, even Greco-Romans from his era delighted in tracing their ancestry.[1]

For example, Diogenes Laertius (third century AD) began his Life of Plato (427–347 BC) with an account of the philosopher’s maternal and paternal ancestry.[2]

Even Gentile readers appreciated Christ’s ancestral record.[3]

In contrast to Matthew’s genealogy for Jewish readers, which stops with Abraham (Matt 1:1–2), Luke reached back all the way to Adam.

He compared Adam the son of God with Jesus the Son of God,[4] asserting Christ’s qualifications to serve as the mediator between God and humanity (1 Tim 2:5).[5]



Rather than beginning his gospel with Jesus’s ancestry, Luke placed this genealogy immediately after the Father affirmed Christ as the son of God and empowered him by the Spirit (Luke 3:21–22). This genealogy further legitimates Jesus as the son of God.[6]

Luke continued his account with Jesus leaving the Jordan River. The Spirit led Christ into the wilderness to experience the devil’s temptations regarding his status as God’s Son (Luke 4:1–11).[7]

The author did not ignore Christ’s Jewish royal identity, despite the nature of his audience.[8]

Yet, this genealogy includes David’s son Nathan, rather than the messianic line of Solomon in Jesus’s lineage through Mary (Luke 3:31; 2 Sam 7:12–16; 1 Ki 1:39; Matt 1:6).[9]

Most of the men Luke named are otherwise unknown (Luke 3:23–38).[10]



Luke began this genealogy by writing, “And he, namely Jesus, beginning [his ministry] at about thirty years old, being son, as was thought, of Joseph.”

Jewish people of that era considered thirty the appropriate age for a man to enter public service (Num 4:1–3).[11]

Joseph had reached the age of thirty when he entered the pharaoh’s service (Gen 41:46), as did David when he began to reign over Judah (2 Sam 5:4).[12]

The phrase “as was thought” is very important. God had just acclaimed Jesus as his son after his baptism. Therefore, his legal ancestry pales in significance.[13]

This expression also hints at Christ’s miraculous conception within Mary’s womb (Luke 1:26–38).[14]

Luke asserted that Jesus merely appeared to be the son of Joseph (Luke 4:16–22).[15]

Although Jesus was not Joseph’s biological son, as the firstborn, he was Joseph’s legal heir (Luke 2:39–52).[16]

Even Christ needed legal legitimacy to operate within his Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) milieu.[17]



Luke concluded this genealogy with “the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.”

The Lord kept his promise of a redeemer, working his will across thousands of years (Gen 3:15).[18]

While this list asserts that Jesus’s life affects all humanity,[19] Luke did not stop with Adam.

This genealogy terminates with God himself, a feature unparalleled in the ancient world, including the Old Testament.

No ANE sources refer to Adam as a “son of God.” However, the Jewish philosopher Philo, (20 BC–40 AD), touched upon this concept.[20]

He wrote:

But why should I speak of these men, and pass over the first man who was created out of the earth? Who, in respect of the nobleness of his birth can be compared to no mortal whatever, inasmuch as he was fashioned by the hand of God, and invested with a form in the likeness of a human body…

And he was also thought worthy of a soul, which was derived from no being who had as yet come into existence by being created, but God breathed into him as much of his own power as mortal nature was capable of receiving.

Was it not, then a perfect excess of all nobleness, which could not possibly come into comparison with any other which is ever spoken of as favors? For all persons who lay claim to that kind of eminence rest their claims on the nobility of their ancestors…

But the father of his man was not mortal at all, and the sole author of his being was God. And he, being in a manner his image and likeness according to the dominant mind in the soul, though it was his duty to preserve that image free from all spot of blemish, following and imitating as far as was in his power the virtues of him who had created him, since the two opposite qualities of good and evil (what is honorable and what is disgraceful, what is true and what is false) were set before him for his choice and avoidance, deliberately chose what was false, and disgraceful, and evil, and despised what was good, and honorable, and true; for which conduct he was very fairly condemned to change an immortal for a mortal existence, being deprived of blessedness and happiness.[21]



While Adam failed the test (Gen 2:16–17; Gen 3:1–7), Jesus endured Satan’s temptation and remained faithful.

By virtue of his status as God’s son and his obedience,[22] Christ proved that he met the qualifications to serve as the promised messiah (Matt 28:18–20; Heb 5:4–8).[23]

In effect, Luke stated that the one who is really the Son of God is Jesus.[24] As the last Adam,[25] Christ can represent all of humanity (1 Cor 15:20–22, 45–49).

Therefore, the possibility of salvation remains open to people from every tongue, tribe, and nation (Acts 17:22–31; Rev 7:9–10).[26]



Adam began a plague of sin which infected the entire human race. Starting a contagion is simple; ending one proves far more difficult.[27]

On the cross, Jesus took my place and paid the penalty for my sin (Eph 1:7–8; Col 2:13–14). Similarly, God charged his righteousness to me (2 Cor 5:21).[28]

Now when the Father looks at me, he sees Jesus. The blood of Christ covers all my sin (Ps 103:10–13).

Consider the great magnitude of this promise: we can travel to the top of the North and visit the bottom of the South of Earth but can never reach the end of the East or West.

By his one act of sacrifice after a blameless life, Christ reversed the effects of the fall (Rom 5:12–21; Heb 4:14–16).[29]

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Read Luke 3:23, 38. Why did Luke mention Christ’s age? What was his purpose in going back to Adam instead of stopping with Abraham? How does Jesus, the Son of God, differ from Adam, the son of God? What hope does that give to you?





Go to Walking with God (Gen 5:21–24)

[Related web pages include Ancient Near Eastern Genealogies (Gen 5:1); Forbidden Fruit (Gen 2:16–17); Succumbing to Temptation (Gen 3:6); The First Good News (Gen 3:15); Satan Tempts Christ (Matt 4:1–4); A New Mandate (Matt 28:18–20); Effects of the Fall Reversed (Rom 5:12–21 and Rom 16:1–12); Dead in Adam but Alive in Christ (1 Cor 15:20–23); Redemption through Christ’s Blood (Eph 1:7–8); and Our Certificate of Debt (Col 2:13–14)]

[Click here to go to Chapter 4: The Generations of Adam (Genesis 5:1–27)]


[1]Darrell L. Bock, Luke (NIVAC; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 123.

[2]Diogenes Laertius, “Plato (427–347 B.C.),” in Lives of Eminent Philosophers (trans. R. D. Hicks; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972), 3.1–2,

[3]Bock, Luke, 123.

[4]John Nolland, Luke 1:1–9:20 (WBC; Dallas: Word, 2002), 167.

[5]Bock, Luke. 124.

[6]Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 188.

[7]Note that the word “if” (ei) in Luke 4:3, 9 can also be translated as “since.” Satan was well-aware of Jesus’s identity.

[8]David E. Garland, Luke (ZECNT; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 171.

[9]Nolland, Luke 1:1–9:20, 170.

[10]Garland, Luke, 173.

[11]Green, The Gospel of Luke, 188.

[12]Garland, Luke, 170.

[13]Garland, Luke, 171.

[14]Bock, Luke. 124.

[15]Green, The Gospel of Luke, 189–90.

[16]Nolland, Luke 1:1–9:20, 174.

[17]Green, The Gospel of Luke, 190.

[18]Garland, Luke, 173.

[19]Bock, Luke, 123.

[20]Nolland, Luke 1:1–9:20, 173.

[21]Philo, “On the Virtues,” 204–5,

[22]Nolland, Luke 1:1–9:20, 173–4.

[23]Bock, Luke, 123.

[24]Nolland, Luke 1:1–9:20, 173.

[25]G. K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 172.

[26]Garland, Luke, 172.

[27]Garland, Luke, 174.

[28]R. C. Sproul, The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (Great Britain: Christian Focus, 1994), 107.

[29]Douglas J. Moo, “Nature and the New Creation: New Testament Eschatology and the Environment,” JETS 49, no. 3 (9 January 2006): 458,