Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 3:38

the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - David;   Enos;   Genealogy;   Jesus, the Christ;   Joseph;   Seth;   Thompson Chain Reference - Genealogies of Christ;   The Topic Concordance - Jesus Christ;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Genealogies;   Human Nature of Christ, the;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Enos;   Father;   Genealogy;   Mary;   Son;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Father;   Son of god;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - God;   King, Christ as;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Angel;   Enos;   Son of God;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Adoption;   Angels;   Matthew, the Gospel According to;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Adam and Eve;   Ancestors;   Jesus, Life and Ministry of;   Luke, Gospel of;   Seth;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Adam in the Nt;   Enosh;   Genealogy;   Man;   Seth;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Adam;   Brotherhood (2);   Cainan;   Cosmopolitanism;   David ;   Enos;   Genealogies of Jesus Christ;   Names and Titles of Christ;   Seth;   Son of God;   Virgin Birth;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Enos, Enosh ;   Seth;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Adam;   Genealogy;   Son of god;   Smith Bible Dictionary - E'nos;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Adam in the New Testament;   Antediluvian Patriarchs;   Anthropology;   Children of God;   Enos;   Genealogy;   Seth;   Son of God, the;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Christianity in Its Relation to Judaism;   Jesus of Nazareth;   Seth;  

The Biblical Illustrator

Luke 3:23; Luk_3:38

Which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God


As we glance through the list of names given in these chapters (Matthew 1:1-25.
Luke 3:1-38.), we see that few could claim a higher descent than could the carpenter Joseph and the gentle woman to whom he was espoused. They were both lineally descended from the ancient kings of the proud tribe of Judah--from Solomon and David--and, going further back, from the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--from Shorn, from Seth, from Adam. Their family tree in one place covered a space of 2,000 years; in another of more than 4,000 years. Yet they were poor, humble, unrecognized. In the lapse of time there are fluctuations and undulations. While some families have their flows, others have their ebbs. While some rise in wealth and consequent honour, others glide into poverty and insignificance. The old stock wears out, the new tree takes its place. The world, constituted as it is, recognizes lineage only when it is accompanied by wealth. By itself it is a voice from the past, and nothing more. Could we read the history of men’s lives, and trace their descent, we should have plenty of examples of this. We see it in our own times. Examples crowd on us without difficulty. It is not long since the gallant son of an emperor died as a simple soldier in the British uniform. It is asserted that the last scion of a kingly race, sprung from the warrior Cid, eked out a miserable existence--neglected, half-starved--in London, where he died a few years ago.The descendants of one of the most remarkable men of the sixteenth century are a poor peasant family in a Midland County to-day--decent folk enough, but certainly “unhonoured and unsung.” Such was the case with the gentle Mary of Nazareth. Some people boast of their patrician birth. The boasting, at least, confers no merit upon them. If Mary wished, she might with reason have boasted too. Though a peasant, she sprang from kings; though poor, her ancestors were wealthy; though humble, one of her forefathers was the wisest of men. But her claim to honour came not from the past--it was reflected back from the future. It was not due to the long line of an unbroken pedigree, but from Him she was to bear … With the exception of the two of our Lord, there are no genealogies in the New Testament, whereas there are several in the Old Testament. Moreover, St. Paul, himself descended from Jacob’s youngest son, wrote this counsel to Timothy, “Neither give heed to endless genealogies,” and to Titus, “Avoid foolish question and genealogies … for they are unprofitable and vain.” Is there no significance in this? Family records were scrupulously guarded under Judaism; they were ignored, even condemned, under Christianity. Why so? Because Christianity’s principle sweeps away all walls of partition, blots out all records, tears down all red lines which may separate man from man. Christianity teaches that each and every man, whoever he be, is a brother; and each and every woman a sister. Christianity abrogates and denounces whatever tends to pride, or assumption, or superciliousness, or self-conceit. It teaches that in God’s sight, prince and beggar, patrician and peasant, are on the same level. It teaches gentleness and thoughtfulness and politeness towards all. It teaches that the highest claim to descent is to be a true child of God; the highest society, true membership with Christ; the highest inheritance, that which we have if we only keep it--the kingdom of heaven. (C. E. Drought, M. A.)

The genealogies in Matthew and Luke

In the first Gospel the genealogy of Jesus is placed at the very beginning of the narrative. This is easily explained. From the point of view indicated by theocratic forms, scriptural antecedents, and, if we may so express it, Jewish etiquette, the Messiah was to be a descendant of David and Abraham (Matthew 1:1.) This relationship was the sine qua non of His civil status. It is not so easy to understand why Luke thought he must give the genealogy of Jesus, and why he places it just here, between the baptism and the temptation. Perhaps, if we bear in mind the obscurity in which, to the Greeks, the origin of mankind was hidden, and the absurd fables current among them about autochthonic nations, we shall see how interesting any document would be to them, which, following the track of actual names, went back to the first father of the race. Luke’s intention would thus be very nearly the same as Paul’s, when he said at Athens (Acts 17:26), “God hath made of one blood the whole human race.” But from a strictly religious point of view, this genealogy possessed still greater importance. In carrying it back not only, as Matthew does, as far as Abraham, but even to Adam, Luke lays the foundation of that universality of redemption which is to be one of the characteristic features of the picture he is about to draw. In this way he places in close and indissoluble connection the imperfect image created in Adam which reappears in every man, and his perfect image realized in Christ which is to be reproduced in all men. But why does Luke place this document here? Because now Jesus enters personally on the scene to commence His proper work. With the baptism, the obscurity in which He has lived until now passes away; He now appears detached from the circle of persons who have hitherto surrounded Him and acted as His patrons--viz., His parents and the forerunner. He henceforth becomes the He (verse 23), the principal personage of the narrative. This is the moment which very properly appears to the author most suitable for giving His genealogy. The genealogy of Moses, in the Exodus, is placed in the same way, not at the opening of his biography, but at the moment when he appears on the stage of history, when he presents himself before Pharaoh. In crossing the threshold of this new era, the sacred historian casts a general glance over the period which thus reaches its close, and sums it up in this document, which might be called the mortuary register of the earlier humanity. There is, further, a difference of form between the two genealogies. Matthew comes down, while Luke ascends the stream of generations. Perhaps this difference of method depends on the difference of religious position between the Jews and the Greeks. The Jew, finding the basis of his thought in a revelation, proceeds synthetically from cause to effect; the Greek, possessing nothing beyond the fact, analyzes it, that he may proceed from effect to cause. But this difference depends more probably still on another circumstance. Every official genealogical register must present the descending form; for individuals are only inscribed in it as they are born. The ascending form of genealogy can only he that of a private instrument, drawn up from the public document with a view to the particular individual whose name serves as the starting-point of the whole list. It follows that in Matthew we have the exact copy of the official register; while Luke gives us a document extracted from the public records, and compiled with a view to the person with whom the genealogy commences. (F. Godet, D. D.)

The double genealogies of Christ as the Son of David

The general facts are these--

1. The genealogy in St. Matthew descends from Abraham to Jesus, in accordance with his object in writing mainly for the Jews; whereas St. Luke’s ascends from Jesus to Adam, and to God, in accordance with his object in writing for the world in general.

2. The generations are introduced in St. Matthew by the word “begat”; in St. Luke by the genitive with the ellipse of “son.”

3. Between David and Zerubbabel St. Matthew gives only fifteen names, but St. Luke twenty-one; and they are all different except that of Shealtiel (Salathiel).

4. Between Zerubbabel and Joseph St. Matthew gives only nine generations, but St. Luke seventeen; and all the names are different. The difficulty as to the number of the generations is not serious. It is a matter of daily experience that the number of generations in one line often increases far more rapidly than that in another. Moreover the discrepancies in these two lists may all be accounted for by noticing that Matthew adopts the common Jewish plan of an arbitrary numerical division into tesseradecads. When this system was adopted, whole’ generations were freely omitted, for the sake of preserving the symmetry, provided that the fact of the succession remained undoubted (cf. Ezra 7:1-5 with 1 Chronicles 6:3-15). The difficulty as to the dissimilarity of names will of course only affect the two steps of the genealogies at which they begin to diverge, before they again coalesce in the names of Shealtiel and of Joseph. A single adoption, and a single levirate marriage, account for the apparent discrepancies. St. Matthew gives the legal descent through a line of kings descended from Solomon--the jus successionis; St. Luke the natural descent--the jus sanguinis. St. Matthew’s is a royal, St. Luke’s a natural pedigree. (Archdeacon Farrar.)

Our Lord’s descent

1. These verses completely establish that essential point in the evidence of the Messiahship of Jesus, viz., His descent from David, Judah, and Abraham. Let this confirm our faith in His Divine mission; let us give our careful attention and firm adherence to the exact and particular doctrines which He teaches; and show a ready obedience to the precepts which He enjoins.

2. Among the ancestors of our Lord, there are found persons of various descriptions and characters.

3. A glance at these generations which have passed away, naturally suggests a variety of reflections--plaintive, humble, and instructive.

A binding corner-stone

See what a binding corner-stone the Lord Jesus is, knitting together not man to man only, Gentiles with Jews, but man with God also; and that not by a personal union only, which He hath perfected in Himself, but by a spiritual union also by which He unites all the members of His mystical body in a blessed peace and fellowship with God; and this hath He now begun, and shall perfect in the end. (Bishop Cowper.)

From Christ according to the Spirit

Then our instruction is, that though neither our names nor our fathers, be in the catalogue of Christ’s progenitors; yet if we be in the roll of His children and brethren, we shall have comfort sufficient: though He be not come of us according to the flesh, if we be come from Him, according to the Spirit, as His sons and daughters by regeneration, we shall be blessed in Him, even as they were. (Bishop Cowper.)

The genealogical table

A mournful yet instructive study. Take a few of the reflections arising from such a study.

1. Every individual life belongs to the great whole--the solemn ever-rolling stream of human being. No man liveth unto himself; we transmit power, weakness, even depravity.

2. Though the individual dies, the race moves on; no one being is essential to the continuance of the world; the greatest dies, yet the world hardly misses the service of his industrious hand; the most eloquent ceases his speech, yet the roar in the living air is none the less.

3. How few men of surpassing reputation there have ever been, considering the innumerable hosts of human generations; how few of these names do we know anything about--only one here and there, as David, Abraham, Enoch; but of the mass, who knows anything?

4. Yet there may be great usefulness where there is no renown; our names will perish when we cease to live, yet within the limits of our day, how much good may we do!

5. Even though a great succession may seem to be interrupted, or to have died cut, it may revive again. In this table we come to very low points, yet how the life rises, how the glory returns! “Cast down, but not destroyed.” It is often thus with the spiritual seed of the Messiah, yet there has ever been a seed to serve Him, and a remnant to uphold the honour of His name. (J. Parker, D. D.)

The genealogy of Christ

We learn:







Sacred and secular Jewish names

The following possible explanation of the divergencies between the two genealogies of our Lord is deserving of consideration. The Jews, like other nations, gave more than one name to each individual. The life of a Jew was essentially twofold: he was a member of a civil state, and he was at the same time a member of a theocracy; his life was both political and religious. This distinction seems to have been preserved in the giving of names. Traces of the double name are found throughout the course of Scripture history. It is highly probable that the sacred name imposed at birth would be entered in a different list from the common name by which a man was known in his civil relationships. The conclusion to which we are brought is that we have before us two such registers, one drawn from public, and the other from private sources; or, as is conjectured above, one from a civil genealogy, the other from writings laid up in the Temple. In support of this view, we may note that in the genealogy in Luke--the evangelist whose opening chapters show a close familiarity with the interior of the Temple, and what took place there--the names appear to have a sacred character. Even an English reader may remark at a glance the different aspect of the two lists. That in Luke contains, with striking frequency, the familiar names of distinguished patriarchs, prophets, and priests, and thus confirms the impression that his genealogy, rather than that of a Matthew, is of a purely religious character. This hypothesis receives a remarkable confirmation by a comparison of the dates of the two lists with the dates of the first building, the destruction, and the second building of the Temple. What, then, is the relation between the two genealogies before Solomon’s time, when there was no Temple? and during the lives of Salathiel and Zorobabel, who flourished at the time of the Babylonish captivity, when again, for seventy years, there was no Temple? It is precisely at these periods that only one list exists. The divergence in Luke’s genealogy from that of Matthew is exactly coincident with the periods during which the Temple was standing. What explanation of this striking fact can be more natural than that at the point where the two genealogies unite there was but one list to refer to, and that the absence of entries in the sacred register required it to be supplemented by a reference to the state chronicles? (Biblical things not generally known.)

Luke carefully guards against the notion of this being the real descent, by introducing the words “as was supposed”; it was the legal descent, Joseph being legally the Lord’s father; and from Joseph as the supposed father, St. Luke carries up the pedigree to the commencement of all things, that is, the creation of the man. Matthew brings down the descent from Abraham; Luke carries it up to Adam and so to God; and as the descent from Abraham was the most important for those children of Abraham who were looking for the fulfilment of the promises made to their forefathers, so the possibility of ascending to Adam and to God was the most important fact for the race of mankind at large, who had all fallen in Adam, and all looked for redemption through Christ. Dry as the long list of names in Luke may seem, it may truly be said that no passage of Scripture contains more of the essence of the gospel; Jesus is the true second Adam, because He is linked with the first; Jesus and Adam are the two heads of the human race, and they are both of them sons of God, Adam by creation, Jesus Christ by eternal generation; and so it may be said that the genealogical chain, by which Luke linked the first Adam and the second Adam together, is that chain upon which the redemption of mankind and all human hopes depend. (Bishop Harvey Goodwin.)

Why have we Joseph’s genealogy, not Mary’s?

If Joseph’s genealogy, as presented in either of the Gospels, determines our Lord’s birth as the lineal descendant of David, and the legal heir to the throne, his genealogy is all-important; while that of Mary, as it would not, according to Hebrew law, have decided the question of descent, would have been invalid as a document. “Familia matris nonfamilia” is an ancient maxim among the Jews, and it has Divine sanction (see Numbers 1:26). The law that descent is reckoned on the father’s side only, “Filius sequitur patrem”--a law recognized by all civilized nations--is not contradicted by the one or two exceptional instances in which the name of a woman’s ancestor was adopted by her husband and transmitted to her offspring (Numbers 32:41; comp. 1 Chronicles 2:21-23; Ezra 2:61). A descent of this kind was not counted a true descent in any case in which the genealogy was sought (see Ezra 2:62), and gave no legal claim. Joseph is distinctly honoured, in the Scripture, with the recognition of his legal parentage of Jesus. (G. W. Butler, D. D.)

The Divine root of the human pedigree

The pedigree of our Lord, as given by the Evangelist of the Gentiles, ends with a wonderful leap, a leap from earth to heaven. Noah was the son of Lamech, &c., &e. Enos was the son of Seth, Seth was the son of Adam, Adam was the son of--God. There is no bolder word in Scripture, none that strikes us with a deeper surprise and awe. Most of us have, doubtless, wondered at times why, when space was so valuable, Luke should have inserted in his Gospel “this barren list of names.” But the pedigree is of immense value, if for nothing else, yet for this, that it connects the second Adam with the first, that it places a son of God at either end of the list; that it makes us out to be the children of God both by nature and by grace, by birth and by second birth. For, of course, if Adam was the son of God, we are all the children of God, since we are all children of Adam; there is a Divine element in our nature as well as a human element, a capacity for life and holiness as well as a liability to sin and death. In the light of our text--

I. EVEN THE MOST PERPLEXING FACTS OF OUR INWARD EXPERIENCE GROW A LITTLE MORE CLEAR TO US. Double or divided nature of which every man is conscious. In worst of men something good; something bad even in best. That which is good we derive from God, our true Father, the sole source and fountain of good; that which is evil in us we inherit not from Adam only, but from all our earthly parents.

II. SO DOES THE DEEPEST TEACHING OF THE NEW TESTAMENT BECOME CLEARER TO US: the philosophy which underlies the teaching of our Lord and of the two greatest of His interpreters, St. Paul and St. John. That teaching may be briefly summed up thus: Christ is the Eternal Word by whom all things were created, by whom therefore Adam, or man, was created. Hence Christ is, as St. Paul calls Him, the Head of every man. It is in Him that we live and move and have our being. Then, too, we begin to understand all those difficult and perplexing passages in the writings of St. Paul, which declare our essential oneness with Christ. The second Adam was before the first Adam, and called Him into being. Hence He could die for all. Hence He lives for all, and we all live in and by Him. In short, all the sentences of the New Testament, which have sounded most mystical and obscure, and which may have seemed too good to be literally true, become true and plain to us so soon as we understand that Adam was the son of God, and that Adam was made by Him without whom nothing was made, and apart from whom nothing can subsist.

III. THE PRACTICAL OUTCOME OF THESE THOUGHTS IS MOST WELCOME AND MOST PRECIOUS to as many of us as love life and desire to see good. For, however weak and sinful we may be, we have not, as we sometimes fear, to persuade God to enter into a fatherly relation to us, and to begin to love us. He is our Father; He does love us. Nor have we, as we still oftener fear, to ask Him to redeem us from the yoke and tyranny of our sins. He has redeemed both us and all men, once for all, by the incarnation and sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Maker, our Head, and therefore our Representative. We have only to recognize existing and accomplished facts. We bare only to believe that He is our Father, has been our Father ever since we had any being, and can never cease to be our Father. We have only to accept the salvation He has wrought, and which stands waiting for us and urging itself upon us. There need be, there can be, no change in God, or in the Son of God; it is we in whom a change is wanted. They are, they have done, they are doing, all that we can desire them to be or do. And so soon as we know that, and believe it, we shall become all that we desire to be, and receive all that we long to enjoy. (S. Cox, D. D.)

The two genealogies of Jesus Christ

And yet in these very genealogies of Jesus Christ there are hinted profound truths well worthy of our most serious consideration. Let us rapidly glance at some of them.

I. And, first, THE FACT THAT THERE IS ANY GENEALOGY AT ALL IS SIGNIFICANT. For it is conceivable that the Son of God might have descended into the world an unborn Gabriel, or a full-grown, unmothered Adam. The Word has indeed become flesh, bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh.

II. Again, observe THE PEDIGREE ITSELF. How many and striking its vicissitudes! How thrilling some of its names! How momentous some of the events it recalls! Glance for a moment at some of these peculiarities. For example, how profound the obscurity and hinted shame which rested over Bethlehem’s manger, as suggested by the evangelist’s comment: “Being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph.” How homely His descent, as indicated by the fact that eighteen of His immediate ancestors are unknown except by name! How illustrious His descent, as indicated in such names as Zerubbabel, Josiah, Hezekiah, Jehoshaphat, Solomon, David, Boaz, Jacob, Abraham, Noab, Enoch, Seth, Adam! What dark scenes in Hebrew history are recalled by such names as Jehoiachin, Amon, Manasseh, Ahaz, Jehoram, Rehoboam, Bathsheba, Tamar! How thrilling the vicissitudes of David’s line, as vibrating in the stories of Rehoboam, Joash, Esther, the Maccabees, the Virgin Mary! Verily, the genealogy of Jesus Christ is a book of startling providences. And it is a significant fact that, since the birth of the Divine Man, the Davidic pedigree has been hopelessly lost, so that none but Jesus of Bethlehem can claim from the Hebrew genealogical tables to be David’s promised Son, and so David’s Lord, even Jehovah’s very Christ. But Jesus Christ was not only the Son of David and the Son of Abraham, He was also the Son of Adam even that seed of the woman who, as had been foretold by the gates of Eden, would crush the serpent’s head. Thus, the genealogy of Jesus Christ includes all extremes and all vicissitudes, so that he is in very truth the Son of man. And not only is He the Son of man, He is also the Son of God.

III. Lastly, THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS CHRIST IS THE OLDEST IN THE WORLD. Men think it a great thing to have an ancient lineage. But here is a lineage which is older than that of William of Normandy, or Romulus, or Priam, or Nimrod, or Adam. Verily, His goings forth have been from of old--from the days of eternity. Verily, here is the Ancient of Days. Ah! the true heraldry is the device of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world; the true shield is the crimson escutcheon of the Cross. Dost thou, O friend, belong to the lineage of Jesus Christ? If so, thy name has already been entered in the heavenly register, even the Lamb’s roll of life. Live, then, worthily of thy sonship. (G. D. Beardman.)


I. THERE IS MUCH IN GOOD LINEAGE. Virtues and vices are borne along on the current of blood from generation to generation. Such is the energy of moral qualities that they may be modified but rarely eradicated by transmission from parent to child. As surely as the blood of the racer tells in its fleet-footed offspring, the virtues and vices of David are felt down the line of his generation.

II. SIN HAS TAINTED THE BLOOD OF THE BEST RACES OF MEN, and frequently makes itself manifest. All have sinned and have come short of the glory of God. There is no exception.

III. GOD’S GRACE CAN FLOW THROUGH VERY CROOKED HUMAN CHANNELS. Men who are spiritually dwarfed and ill-shaped can be made, in God’s providence, to help along very strait principles and policies. God makes manifest His great wisdom and power by the vastness of the results He works out through weak human instrumentalities. What could be meaner and more cruel than the murder of Uriah by David? Yet God made the wife of this murdered man the channel through which the blood of Abraham flowed into the veins of Joseph.

IV. No MAN STANDS ALONE. We are all parts of a vast organism. Asa and Jothan and Solomon each saw the life which he lived from his birth to his grave; but this was not the most important part of his life. That which followed his death, that which he lived in his descendants, was more far-reaching and wrought still greater results. (American Homiletic Review.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Luke 3:38". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Which was the son of Enos,.... Genesis 5:9

which was the son of Seth, Genesis 5:6

which was the son of Adam Genesis 5:3

which was the son of God: not begotten, as all the rest were, by their immediate parents, but created by God, in a supernatural manner, out of the dust of the earth, and quickened with the breath of God: so Adam is, by the JewsF8Sepher Cosri, orat. 2. Sig. 14. fol. 68. 1. called, בן אלהים, "the son of God": though this may be understood of Jesus; the son of Joseph, of Heli, &c. and so on to this clause, "the son of God"; being so as a divine person, to whom the human nature was united, and on that account so called; see Luke 1:35 Thus, as Matthew gives us the regal line of Christ, showing him to be heir to the throne of his father David, Luke gives the natural line of Christ; and as Matthew traces his genealogy down from Abraham, in a descending line, to Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus, Luke traces it upwards, in an ascending line, from Mary by Joseph, even up to Adam; to whom the Messiah was first promised, and who was a type of the second Adam, from whom he descended, though not by ordinary generation; nay, even to God himself: Christ, according to his divine nature, was the only begotten of the Father; and as to his human nature, had a body prepared by him, and in the fulness of time was God manifest in the flesh.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 3:38". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

son of God — Compare Acts 17:28.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 3:38". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.

Adam the son of God — That is, whatever the sons of Adam receive from their human parents, Adam received immediately from God, except sin and misery.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Luke 3:38". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

the [son] of Enos, the [son] of Seth1, the [son] of Adam, the [son] of God.

  1. Seth. The third son of Adam (Genesis 4:25).

  2. Adam, the son of God. Adam was the son of God, being not merely a creature, but a creature made in God's image and likeness (Genesis 1:26,27).

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 3:38". "The Fourfold Gospel". Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

37 Which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan,

38 Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.

Ver. 38. Which was the Son of God] Not by generation, but creation. Therefore the Syriac translator hath it Demen Elaha, A Deo, of God, not Bar Elaha, the Son of God.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 3:38". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Luke 3:38. Adam, who was the son of God. Adam being descended from no human parents, but formed by the immediate power of the divine creating hand, might with peculiar propriety be called the Son of God, in his original state, the heir of immortality and glory. The evangelist might likewise intend by this expression to prove, if needwere, the possibility of Christ's being born of a pure virgin; for if divine Omnipotence could create or produce the first Adam from the dust of the earth, without a parent, it was equally capable of producing the second Adam from the womb of a virgin. Wetstein observes, that St. Matthew, writing for the Jews, deduces our Saviour's pedigree from Abraham to David; but St. Luke, writing for the Gentiles, traces his pedigree as high as Adam, the common father of mankind, to shew that Jesus is the Saviour of the world, born for the common good of the human race: and when he calls Adam the son of God, he means to express that Christ, born of the virgin, is the second Adam, and that his birth, by the Holy Spirit, is a no less singular instance of the divine power, than was the creation of the first Adam.

Inferences drawn from Luke 3:23-38 of this chapter.—We have before observed, that when we survey such a series of generations as this before us, it is obvious to reflect, how, like the leaves of the tree, one passeth away, and another cometh. Of those who formerly lived upon the earth, and perhaps made the most conspicuous figures, how many are there whose names have perished with them! how many, of whom only the name is remaining! and in this view, how vain is the search after posthumous fame, a desire to render ourselves conspicuous to future ages!

It is observable, that all which the divine wisdom has been pleased to tell us concerning Methuselah, the oldest of the sons of men, is, that at the age of 187 he begat a son called Lamech; that after this he begat other sons and daughters; that he lived 969 years, and that he died. Genesis 5:25-27. This is the whole history of his life and actions; and it is a picture of the generality of mankind, who think themselves of great consequence in the world. They marry, and are given in marriage; they perform the common offices of nature; and all that their posterity, is like to know of them is, perhaps, barely their names, in a genealogy like that before us; or, at most, the number of years they lived, the names of the children they begat, and possibly the sum total of the wealth they left behind them, after a painful and penurious life. Now, who would wish for such a fame as this! Or who would desire to be so impertinently remembered for circumstances which do no honour to his memory?

It would be well, therefore, if those who are fond of a posthumous acquaintance with mankind would seriously consider with themselves, from a review of their character, in what light they may suppose posterity will regard them. They should consider and examine, whether they are masters of the amiable and useful qualities of the genuine Christians; and whether, if their actions were drawn out to view, and the sources of them opened, they would appear to flow from pure motives, and tend to promote the glory of God and the good of mankind: if not, their names are not worth preserving, and silence is the best compliment that can be paid them.

There are others, of a more lively and active turn indeed than the former; yet they are as far from entertaining any pious and truly Christian sentiment, or doing any thing more agreeable to their holy calling: I mean those who are led away by their sensitive appetite, and who have a great alacrity in all brutish pleasures; pretenders to wit and humour, ridiculers of the preachers of righteousness, and far gone in those fashionable vices which erewhile caused the universal deluge. What a mortifying reflection must it be to a polite and well-bred sinner, to consider, that even at that awkward age, before the modern arts of gallantry probably were in being, iniquity should be carried to so great a height, that it was very near extirpating the species! surely nothing can give us so mean an idea of the pretensions of our men of pleasure, as to compare them with an antediluvian reprobate.

Whatever we may fancy of our refinements upon wickedness, it will appear that we can no more out-act the vices than the virtues of our predecessors. Some advantages our ancestors before the deluge certainly had above any of their puny successors: they had a long scene of life before them, to perpetrate and lengthen out their pleasures; and as their bodies were more durable than ours, so were they likewise proportionably more robust, since it requires less natural vigour to support a man to the age of eighty or ninety, than eight or nine hundred years. How then must it have moved the scorn of one of these ancient libertines, to see a creature so full of weakness and infirmity, pretending to primitive vigour and activity, and aping his strong progenitors!

If the abandoned could be persuaded to think seriously of their condition; if they would look backward upon what they have been doing, and forward to what they have to do; if they would reflect upon the transitory nature of their enjoyments, and the certainty of either a weak old age, or an immature and hasty death; they could not, if they had the least degree of gracious sensibility, withstand the terrors of so powerful a conviction. Alas! if we speak truth, when we tell one of this stamp and character that he must die at last, what matters it how long his life is? What matters the youth and beauty, the strength and vigour that he enjoys!

But where is the voluptuous libertine that lives out even half his days! how often is he cut off in a midnight revel, or in prosecuting a criminal amour! the pains and infirmities of age are his portion even in the bloom of youth. His vigour is worn out at once, and the rest of his days are but labour and sorrow,—under the fears of quitting even this wretched being, and of entering into another more dreadful and discouraging! Disabled for the pleasures of this life, he has no relish for the happiness of a better; and the most that can be said of him is, that he lives under a perpetual uncertainty whether he should wish to live or die. What an abject state of mind! thus to linger upon the brink of a precipice, when we are sure that we must take the leap at last!

There is not in nature a more melancholy consideration than is afforded to us by a poor wretch of this stamp. His youth is despicable, but his old age is almost beyond contempt. At the same time he sees that he is the jest of fools, and scarcely pitied by the wise and good; the scorn and derision of all around him, and not so much as the favourite of himself. What horror, to be conscious that no one values or esteems him, and, at the same time, to be conscious that he deserves it all! to have out-lived the capacity of enjoying life, and yet to be convinced by every thing he hears and sees, that it is time for him to quit the stage and make room for others!

This indeed is the case of the wicked only—of those particularly who are full of youthful follies. But old age is far from being an object of desire, even in its best and most venerable circumstances. How often do we see the ruins of an excellent understanding, so disfigured and defaced with age as to be a reproach to human reason! and who knows how soon he himself may sink down to circumstances as miserable and disgraceful? Who would accept of life upon such ignominious terms? Surely none can be so fond of this present world, but those who fear to venture upon another!

The happiness and value of human life therefore consists not in the number of years, but in the internal experience of the life of God, and in the outward manifestation of every divine grace and virtue. It is but a passage to a better state; and he who has his eye fixed upon his journey's end, will never be offended at the shortness of it.

Methuselah, we read, lived 969 years; Enoch but 365. One of them secured a blessed immortality; he walked with God, and was translated: concerning the other, we only know that he died. Need I put the question to any one, Whether, at first sight, he would rather be Methuselah or Enoch?

Thus much for human life in general: and as to the titles and marks of honour that distinguish us from each other in it, however they may divide the world, yet how very soon will they be extinguished! what do we know of these patriarchs before us?—And what a poor idea must we form hence of all our little strifes and competitions! Are any of these worthies either the better or the worse for the high or low stations which they possessed in life?—Their fortunes are now determined:—Their love also, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun. Ecclesiastes 9:6.

And such will be the state of all the great ones whose names now fill the world with wonder. They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them. And is it worth while then for an ambitious spirit to rend the world into parties, for the sake of so short-lived a glory?

Vain and despicable indeed is all sublunary glory depending on the breath of men. But religion opens to us a new scene of ambition, in the realms of bliss, by recommending to us beings of a superior character. The time will come, when, if it be not our own fault, we shall be removed from the groveling pursuits of this transitory life, to the society of the glorified saints and angels of God. The reason why we are so apt to be unmoved with these thoughts in our lifetime, is, because they are so refined and abstracted, and we so fallen and carnal. But the day will arrive, when the partition between the two worlds will be broken down, and all the tribes of intellectual beings be laid open to our view; and, if we be faithful to the grace of God, we shall know, even as also we are known: we shall then with ever-waking eyes behold the glories of our blessed Redeemer, who will be the joy of our hearts to all eternity; when the frail monuments of which the world is so proud shall for ever be buried in oblivion.

To conclude. If we desire that our lives here may not be useless, let us, under the aid and blessing of heaven, fill them up with acts of love, charity, and benevolence. If we would avoid being bewitched with pleasure, let us begin to despise it while young: If we will provide against the miseries of age, let us, through the grace of God, arm ourselves with early piety; if we be fond of rank and precedence, let us consider that death will level us; nay, and if we be desirous of fame upon earth hereafter, let us reflect that we shall be incapable of enjoying it. In short, let us all remember, that we are intended for another life, and let us fix all our hopes of happiness, of fame, and of pleasure there; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Great expectations had been raised concerning the son of Zacharias from his infancy; and now he appears to answer them.

1. The time of his entering publicly on his ministry, is here observed. It was in the reign of Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip of Iturea, and Lysanias of Abilene. They were called tetrarchs, either as having each the fourth part of what was under the dominion of Herod the Great, or as standing in the fourth rank of governors, which are reckoned thus; the emperor, proconsuls, kings, tetrarchs. They were all foreigners, a mark of the sad subjection of the Jewish people, now reduced entirely under the Roman yoke, the sceptre being finally departed from Judah, and the very kingly office abolished in Judea:—Annas and Caiaphas being the high-priests, not that they both bore that office at the same time, but Annas had been, and Caiaphas was now in that station; or as some suppose, Annas was the sagan, or chief of the priests, who stood next to the high-priest in rank and honour. See the Annotations.

2. The origin and tendency of his ministry is declared. The word of God came unto John in the wilderness, he was inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to go forth, being endued with extraordinary gifts and graces, and possessed of the spirit of prophesy; and hereupon leaving the solitude where he had hitherto abode, he came into a more populous part of the country near to Jordan, preaching publicly the necessity of repentance, and admitting to his baptism those who made profession of it, as the sign and seal of the remission of their sins. Note; All who repent truly of their sins, and by faith turn to Jesus, are assured of their pardon.

3. John herein eminently fulfilled the prophesy of Isaiah, chap. Isaiah 40:3-5. He was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, loud and vehement, prepare ye the way of the Lord into your hearts; by a deep and humbling sense of your sins make his paths straight; let every obstruction from pride and ignorance be removed, as the harbinger clears the way for the entry of the king. Every valley shall be filled, the lowly and depressed with sin shall be raised up by pardoning grace and divine consolations; and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, the proud and self-righteous shall be humbled into the dust of humiliation, or sunk into the belly of hell; and the crooked shall be made straight, the perverse dispositions and conduct of sinners shall by divine grace be rectified; and the rough ways shall be made smooth, the most untractable spirits softened and subdued, or every difficulty in the way of men's receiving the Messiah shall be removed. And all flesh, not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also, shall see the salvation of God; multitudes of all nations, ranks, and ages, will embrace the gospel of Jesus, and partake of his eternal redemption.

4. He addressed himself with very awakening language to the multitude who came to him. He charges them as a generation of vipers, full of venom, hypocrisy, and Satanical subtilty; and asks, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? from the national judgments ready to descend upon them, or the more terrible and eternal vengeance hanging over every guilty sinner's head? He warns them therefore of the necessity of a speedy and real change of heart and life, evident in the fruits of all holy conversation and godliness; without which, their boasted privilege as Abraham's descendants would profit them nothing, but rather aggravate their guilt. God wanted them not; he could, and would, from stones, from Gentiles, raise up a more illustrious and numerous race, the heirs of Abraham's faith, his spiritual children, who should supply their place, if they continued hypocritical and impenitent: now therefore the call of mercy was sent to them, that they might prevent their impending doom, before the axe of divine vengeance was laid to their roots; and they, as barren trees, were cut down and cast into the fire, utterly destroyed as a nation; and as the sinners of old, suffering also the vengeance of eternal fire. Note; (1.) The sinner has no moment to lose; death and judgment are at his heels. (2.) No outward privilege can profit those whose hearts remain unrenewed and unholy. (3.) True repentance will be seen by its fruits; the change will be internal, universal, evident. (4.) It is a fearful thing for an impenitent soul to fall into the hands of the living God.

5. The Pharisees and Sadducees were probably disgusted at these hard sayings, and left him; but the people, the publicans and soldiers, were deeply affected, and earnestly solicitous to know what those fruits of repentance were, which they were required to produce: and a blessed symptom it is of real penitence, when we are thus diligent to inquire what is the mind of God, and really disposed through grace to follow it. To these, therefore, John directs his instructions, suited to their several circumstances and temptations.

[1.] To the people in general, he recommends a liberal distribution to the necessities of their brethren; supplying them according to their ability with food and raiment; and where the call was urgent, straitening themselves, rather than suffer their neighbours to perish with cold, or be famished with hunger: and a truly charitable soul is not only to its power, but sometimes above its power, willing.

[2.] To the publicans, the collectors of the public taxes, many of whom were Jews, he gave in charge, that they should use no exaction, nor levy more than the government demanded. Their employment, though in general odious to the people, was not in itself unlawful, while they demeaned themselves in it with justice and integrity.

[3.] To the soldiers, who seem to have been also Hebrews, perhaps the guards of Philip, or Herod, he said, do violence to no man, extort nothing from the people by threatening, behave not insolently nor outrageously in your quarters: when employed in war, use no unnecessary devastations, nor wanton cruelty; neither accuse any falsely, neither their comrades to their officers, nor the people where they might be stationed, through malice, or for the sake of money; and be content with your wages, neither increasing them by plunder, nor seeking to advance them by mutiny; a caution well deserving the notice of all servants, who, if once they give way to discontent, will soon be tempted to use unlawful means to gratify their covetousness.

2nd, We have,

1. The general expectations which the people were in of the Messiah. The sceptre was departed from Judah, and the prophesies of Daniel concerning him now required his coming; which made many turn their eyes to John, who appeared with marks of such singular distinction, and spoke with such authority and zeal, that they began to think that this might be the long-expected Messiah.

2. John immediately undeceived them, disclaiming all pretensions to that honour; and directs them to expect shortly the Great Prophet, whose forerunner he was. The meanest office under him he acknowledges himself unworthy to discharge; and his baptism was not worthy to be compared with the more powerful and efficacious influences of that Holy Ghost, which, under the ministry of Jesus, should be abundantly dispensed, and act, like fire, with astonishing energy upon the souls of men. By his gospel he would make a thorough separation between the faithful and the hypocrites; and by his judgments on the Jewish people sweep them away as the chaff before the fan: and, when he has gathered in his saints, the wheat, into his garner; the wicked, the self-righteous, and the apostate, will be cast into the everlasting burnings,—an awful declaration, which deserves the most awakened attention. These and many other things did John with great freedom and fidelity deliver, preaching the glad tidings of the gospel ( ευηγγελιζετο ) to the people, and urging upon their consciences the importance of the truths that he declared. Such ministers ought all who are put in trust with the gospel to be; affectionate, zealous, indefatigable, free, copious, evangelical. Then may we expect to reap the fruit of our labours, in a harvest of immortal souls.

3. After a short but glorious course of about a year and a half, a sudden stop is put to the Baptist's ministry by a most unjust imprisonment. Unable to flatter, yea, zealous to reprove, the most exalted sinners, Herod the tetrarch escaped not his sharp rebukes for the complicated crime of taking his brother Philip's wife, and marrying her during his life; thus joining incest to adultery; and for all the other evils which Herod had done, which were many and notorious. Exasperated at this plain and faithful dealing, he added this to all his other wickedness, that he shut up John in prison, and after a while was prevailed upon to take away his life. Note; (1.) When God's ministers are thus compelled to an involuntary silence, their sufferings speak as loud as their sermons. (2.) Mysterious are the ways of Providence. The excellent of the earth become a prey to persecutors, who triumph at their fall. Where, will some say, is the God of judgment? Wait a moment. The mystery will soon be unfolded.

3rdly, The evangelist finishes the history of John's ministry, which continued near a year after Christ's baptism, before he enters upon the public appearance of Jesus.

1. After a multitude of others had been baptized, at last Jesus also comes to John, and is baptized of him in Jordan: when, looking up in prayer to his Father, instantly the heavens were opened, and the Holy Ghost in a bodily shape descended upon him, both to qualify him for his mediatorial work, and to be a sign to John that he was the Messiah; which was farther confirmed by an audible voice from heaven, God the Father testifying his delight in this Son of his love, and his perfect satisfaction in his undertaking. Note; (1.) Christ prayed, to set us the example. In this way the communion between earth and heaven is to be maintained. (2.) If God be well pleased in his Son, then may we confidently rest our souls on him as our Saviour, and never doubt of his willingness and power to save to the uttermost.

2. The age and pedigree of Jesus are recorded by the evangelist. He was about thirty years of age when he entered on his public ministry, descended from David by his mother's side, as well as by Joseph's his reputed father. See the Annotations.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 3:38". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary


Reader! where are all those proud monarchs, in the Cesars, and Pilates, and Herods, of the day; whose looks frowned men for the moment into fear; and whose words, and actions, made men tremble throughout the earth? The flood of time hath gone over them, and they are no more! But He, who as a little stone cut out without hands, hath broken them all in pieces, and, as foretold, is become a mountain, and hath filled and is filling the earth. Behold the humbleness and austerity of his herald the Baptist. Then see the low estate of the Son of God. And in the midst of all that debasement, poverty, and meekness of character, hear the voice from heaven attesting to the glories of his person, while the Holy Ghost bore testimony to the same; Thou art my beloved Son! In thee I am well pleased. Oh! for grace to be well pleased also with his person, work, offices, character, and relations! Precious Lord Jesus! truly thou art the seed of the woman; and in thee shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory!

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Luke 3:38". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Luke 3:38. [ τοῦ ἀδὰμ, of Adam) All the posterity of Adam have a natural tie of connection with Jesus Christ.—V. g.] Luke wisely adds this clause. Adam was the first man. He was not sprung of himself, nor of a father and mother; but from God, not only as the sons of Adam are, but in a way altogether peculiar to his case: for whatever the sons of Adam owe to their parents by the bounty of their Creator, this Adam himself received from God. On this account Luke does not stop short with Adam, but adds that crowning point of the series, the Son of God. And here, at last, there is a terminus, beyond which there is none. Luke carries up his genealogy, from the second Adam to the first, in the same way as Moses himself describes “the generations of man,” Genesis 5:1, etc. Man was altogether a creation made by God, not merely as all creatures are, but in a peculiar manner so; Genesis 1:26 [Let us make man in our image]. If the genealogy had stopped at Adam it would have been abrupt, and not completed. As it is, it is carried up from Jesus Christ to God. The birth (descent) of Jesus from Mary is beautifully compared with the descent (origination) of Adam from God. The origination of Jesus from God has some likeness to both, but yet far exceeds both; it is in some measure mediate, or coming through the intervention of the intermediate fathers, but is much rather immediate and direct, as He is the Son of God. All things are of God through Christ: all things are brought back to God through Christ. Scripture, even in what belongs to the origin of the human race, fixes our knowledge on a firm footing, and makes it sufficiently complete: they who despise or ignore it are in utter doubt and error as to the boundaries between the ante-mundane and the post-mundane times.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 3:38". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

See Poole on "Luke 3:24"

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 3:38". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 3:38. The son of God. Luke does not add this, to prove that Jesus was the son of God. It implies that Adam was created directly by God, also that he stood in a closer relation to God than other creatures. This relation stands in close connection with the fact of the Nativity. The appearance of the Son of God in the highest sense, to redeem, as the second Adam, the fallen race which sprang from the first, proves the exalted position of unfallen man. ‘If man were not the offspring of God, the incarnation would be impossible.’ (Godet.)

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 3:38". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Luke 3:38. Adam, which was the son of God — Adam, being descended from no human parents, but formed by the power of a divine creating hand, might with peculiar propriety be called the son of God, having, in his original state, received immediately from God, whatever the sons of Adam receive from their parents, sin and misery excepted.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Luke 3:38". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

could be more beautiful, than that this holy race should begin from the Son of God, and be continued up to the Son of God; that the creature might go before in figure, and the Son of God might follow after in reality; that he who was made after the image of God, might first appear, that the true image of his eternal Father may descend from his glory. Thus did St. Luke mean to refer the origin of Christ to God, of whom he was the true and eternal Son. To shew this still more evidently, the evangelist had before introduced the Almighty speaking from heaven: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (St. Ambrose)


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Luke 3:38". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

the son of God. Because created by God; the angels are so called, for the same reason. See App-28.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 3:38". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(38) Which was the son of God.—The whole form of the genealogy leads us to apply these words to Adam. Humanity as such, as the result of an immediate creative act, was the offspring of God (Acts 17:28), and the words of the angel (Luke 1:35) imply that it was because the human nature of our Lord originated in a like creative act, that it was entitled, not less than by its union with the Sonship of the Eternal Word, to be called the Son of God. What was true of the second Adam was true also partly, though in different measure, of the first.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 3:38". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.
which was the son of Adam
Genesis 4:25,26; 5:3
of God
Genesis 1:26,27; 2:7; 5:1,2; Isaiah 64:8; Acts 17:26-29; 1 Corinthians 15:45,47 Reciprocal: 1 Chronicles 1:1 - Sheth;  Job 1:6 - the sons;  Acts 17:28 - we are

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 3:38". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".