Jesus's Lineage: Tracing the Generations from Noah to Jesus

This comprehensive exploration reveals not just historical lineage but also the intricate interconnectedness of prophecy, purification and promise that binds the figures from Noah to Jesus. 

Last Updated:
April 25, 2024
8 Minutes

Table of Contents

Who are Noah's descendants in the Bible?

The biblical narratives found within the sacred texts of Genesis provide us with an understanding of Noah's descendants, offering a distinct familial lineage that weaves the fabric of history. Noah was a righteous man, set apart in his generation (Genesis 6:9). He had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth, each with unique roles in the narrative of human origin. 

Shem, often mentioned first among Noah's sons, carries a significance that extends beyond the chronology. Shem was the father of the Semitic people, including the Israelites from whom Jesus would eventually descend (Genesis 9:26). Nevertheless, his brothers bore offspring who also played roles in the progression of civilization. Japheth's progeny, for instance, include historically prominent nations such as the Greeks and Medes (Genesis 10:2), while Ham became the ancestor of some African nations and Canaanites (Genesis 10:6)

We must bear in mind, my dear readers, that all Noah's descendants, like Noah himself, were shaped with the same sinful nature inherited from Adam, as portrayed in the narrative where Noah became intoxicated with his vineyard's wine (Genesis 9:20-21). Yet, God's faithfulness resounds, underscoring the divine covenant with Noah and his sons despite human deficiencies. 


  • Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth, whose descendants proliferated the earth after the flood.
  • Shem is of notable significance as the ancestor of the Israelites, and more importantly, Jesus Christ.
  • Japheth and Ham also fathered significant nations, expanding the human family tree.
  • Though stained with sinfulness, the story of Noah and his descendants underscore God's unwavering faithfulness and covenant with humanity.

Which of Noah's sons did Jesus come from?

Jesus, known widely as the Messiah, traces his physical lineage, through Abraham, back to one of Noah's sons - Shem. However, it is not just the matter of genealogy but the spiritual significance it holds. Bible scholars often reference Genesis 9:26-27, where Noah expresses his gratitude for Shem's respectful actions, declaring, "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem," an utterance prophetic in its indication of the lineage of Christ. 

Shem is invariably the first son mentioned among Noah's offspring. This precedence, while indicative in genealogical records, also signifies the revered position Shem holds in the narrative. Shem and his lineage's respect for their patriarch, Noah, is beautifully contrasted with their brother Ham's disgraceful act of disrespect. In this vivid narrative, one can discern the spirit of the law that was later given to Moses - honor one's parents. Is it not highly symbolic then, that from Shem, a man of respect and honor, descended the one who fulfilled the law and brought salvation? 

In the complexity of this lineage, we find an intricate tapestry woven by divine hands. While the relevance of genealogical detail might seem distant to some, such biblical truths bring us closer to understanding the inherent continuity in God's plan and the consistent manifestation of His covenant. So, let us now delve into the lineage of Shem - Noah's obedient son, whose descendants would include Abraham, King David, and ultimately, our Savior, Jesus Christ


  • Jesus' physical lineage can be traced back to Noah's son, Shem.
  • Genesis 9:26-27 is often interpreted as a prophetic indication of Jesus's lineage.
  • Shem's respectful behavior towards Noah indicates a profound spiritual connection to the narrative, drawing parallels to the commandment of honoring one's parents.
  • Understanding Jesus' genealogy from Noah enriches our comprehension of the consistency and continuity in God's plan for salvation.

How does the Bible trace Jesus's lineage back to Noah?

As we navigate through the scriptures, we find the lineage of Jesus meticulously traced back to Noah in two seminal books of the New Testament: the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The matrilineal and patrilineal aspects, respectively, of these two genealogies provide a comprehensive overview of Jesus's divine and human ancestry, that echoes through ages and civilizations. 

Matthew's account highlights Jesus's royal descent from King David, further traced back to the patriarch Abraham. This lineage, navigated through fourteen generations from Abraham to David, another fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile, and yet another fourteen from the exile to Jesus, establishes a legal genealogy of Jesus through Joseph, his earthly father, as per Jewish custom, subtly melding the essence of prophecy and tradition. 

However, our quest to uncover Jesus's lineage back to Noah takes a detour when we peruse the Gospel of Luke, wherein the genealogy digresses from the common route after King David, tracing Jesus's lineage through David's son Nathan instead of Solomon, as in Matthew. This lineage, meticulously outlined from Jesus through Abraham and all the way to Adam, and, naturally, Noah, accents the humane and universal aspect of Jesus's heritage. Given the Biblical emphasis on Jesus as the 'Son of Man', this genealogy connects all humankind to the divine, through the conduit of Noah, a righteous man chosen by God amidst a depraved generation. 

These two genealogical narratives interplay like a symphony, orchestrating a unified tale of divine promise, human lineage, and universal redemption. A saga that threads together not merely names and generations, but intertwines prophecy, history, and salvation, all converging in the figure of Jesus, a bridge linking divinity and humanity in an eternal covenant. And yet, isn't it intriguing that all these pulsating strands merge and radiate in the person of Noah, a signpost of both man's transgressions and God's faithfulness? 


  • The genealogy of Jesus is traced back to Noah in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, highlighting both his divine and human hereditary lineages.
  • Matthew's account affirms Jesus's legal genealogy through Joseph, aligning Jesus's lineage with Jewish custom and prophecy.
  • Luke's account emphasizes Jesus's universal lineage, tracing it through Noah, signifying Jesus as the 'Son of Man'.
  • The combined interpretations of these genealogies portray Jesus as a convergence of divinity and humanity in an eternal covenant, signified by the figure of Noah.

What is the Catholic Church's stance on Jesus' lineage from Noah?

The stance of the Catholic Church regarding Jesus's lineage from Noah charts a clear course through the generations, intertwined with reminders of God's faithfulness to his covenant despite human sinfulness. It serves as an affirmation of the belief that God incarnate, true God and true man came from the line of Noah, passing through history's corridors to emerge in the persona of Jesus Christ.  

The church maintains that the lineage of Jesus can be traced back to Noah through his son, Shem. This lineage goes through Abraham and King David, leading to Joseph, the spouse of Mary, and then through the maternal line, Zorobabel, to reach Jesus. This genealogical connection points to the divine plan of salvation that unfolded through the ages.  

As the church sees it, the significance of Jesus being traced back to Noah cannot be overstated. This lineage is a testament to God's purposeful guidance of history and an evidence of the working out of His redemption plan through specific generational bloodlines. Remember Joseph? His parallel journey illuminates how the mundane can dance with the divine in the grand orchestra of redemption's story.  

This lineage isn’t merely informative about the earthly ancestry of Jesus; it is perhaps more so symbolic of the interconnectedness between the physical and spiritual realms. Isn't it intriguing how these genealogical strands weave a narrative that hints at something far more profound—telling a tale of God's persistent work towards the salvation of humankind? 

The Catholic Church, continuing from those apostolic times, has always revered this lineage, acknowledging its significant role in biblical studies. Isn't it remarkable how this ancient genealogical thread can lead us to a renewed understanding of Christ's shared heritage with humanity? 


  • The Catholic Church holds that Jesus's lineage can be traced back to Noah through the line of Shem, a lineage that also includes notable biblical figures like Abraham and David.
  • According to the Church, this lineage is more than a historical record, signifying God's purposeful guidance of history and the evolution of His divine salvation plan.
  • The genealogy serves not just as a testimony to Jesus's humanity, but also as an affirmation of his dual role as the son of man and the son of God, painting a vivid picture of his shared heritage with humanity.

Who are the significant figures in the genealogy from Noah to Jesus?

Making sense of biblical genealogy, my dear reader, is no small task. It is a journey that requires a certain degree of reverence, one that demands a keen understanding of the interweaving narratives spread across different New Testament accounts. Yet, this grand lineage from Noah to Jesus carries its wealth of significant figures that have left their indelible marks on the sands of time. Reliable comprehension then becomes our steadfast ally, and what better guide than the Gospels of Matthew and Luke? Both offer unique insight into the familial trace that found its wellspring in Noah and culminated in Jesus Christ. 

No sooner had the ark anchored on Mount Ararat and the dove returned with an olive leaf in its beak, Noah became the progenitor of a new human family that counted Shem as one of his three sons. Now, who was Shem, you might wonder? Shem was the ancestor of all the Semitic tribes, and it is through his bloodline that Jesus can trace his roots to Noah. According to the Jewish custom, which Matthew dutifully adheres to, Joseph was the legal father of Jesus. This fact fortifies the link between Jesus and Shem, as it is through Joseph's lineage that we find our significant figures. 

Among these key figures is Abraham, an epitome of faith and obedience in the biblical narrative, and King David, lauded for ruling with justice and introducing a period of prosperity in the history of Israel. The genealogy also resonates with the names of Abraham's son Isaac, and Jacob the son of Isaac, further contributing to the narrative picture. Luke echoes similar names in his account, choosing to focus on Jesus's biological lineage through Mary for a Gentile audience. 

However, my dear reader, it is notable as pointed out by biblical scholar Raymond Brown, that genealogies in the Bible unveil little about Jesus' immediate predecessors like his grandparents or great-grandparents. Yet, the backdrop set by these significant figures in the genealogy from Noah to Jesus undoubtedly adds color to our theological canvas, providing us a richer insight into Jesus Christ's historicity and therefore, His crucial role in salvific history. 


  • Shem, Noah's son, represents the biblical link connecting Jesus to Noah.
  • Matthew traces Jesus's legal lineage through Joseph while Luke focuses on his biological lineage through Mary.
  • Key figures in this genealogy include: Abraham, known for his faith; King David, renowned for his just rule; Isaac, Abraham's son; and Jacob, Isaac's son.
  • While genealogies provide limited information about Jesus' immediate ancestors, they endow us with a substantial understanding of Jesus' historical and theological position.

What is the connection between Noah's descendants and the prophecy of Jesus?

Within the intricate web of lineage and prophecies in the Bible, a particular thread stands out that connects Noah's descendants and the prophecy of Jesus. It begins with Noah's son Shem, blessed by his father with words, "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem" (Genesis 9:26). These words of blessing over Shem and his descendants have taken on added depth for many theologians, pointing towards an early prophecy of the messianic lineage. 

Shem's descendants are meticulously chronicled in Genesis 11, a lineage that leads to Abram (later called Abraham), believed to be, according to Biblical tradition, a direct ancestor of Jesus. Genesis 22:18 reinforces this connection, stating: "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed," a promise often understood as a prophecy about the Savior's advent through Abraham's lineage. 

Now for the uninitiated, you might ask, “Why does this matter? How does tracing Jesus’ lineage back to Noah enhance our understanding of His ministry?" It's a valid question, dear reader. Beyond a simple family tree, the genealogy from Noah to Jesus represents the instigation and fulfillment of God's divine plan. It was from the lineage of righteous Noah, through the blessed line of Shem, then Abraham and David, that the promise of a Redeemer, our Savior Jesus, was realized. This genealogy isn't only a historical record, but a narrative that reveals the abiding faithfulness of God to His covenant, even in the face of human transgression. 

This lineage has been scrutinized by scholars and theologians for centuries- take Matthew's genealogy that introduces Jesus as "the son of David, the son of Abraham". Here, Matthew is not only confirming Jesus’ royal and ancestral heritage, but also, implicitly reminding his readers of God's covenant with Abraham and David, and how the prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus. This continuity, many believe, underscores the divine legitimacy and prophetic fulfillment embodied in Christ. 

To surmise, dear reader, understanding the connection between Noah's descendants and the prophecy of Jesus invites us to reflect upon the promise woven into the fabric of our humanity from the very beginning. Whether heralded by prophets or traced through genealogies, the story of Jesus’ lineage brings into focus the love and faithfulness of a God who won't break His promises. 


  • According to the Bible, Jesus' lineage can be traced back to Noah, specifically through his son, Shem.
  • The blessings upon Shem from Noah and prophecies towards Abraham are seen as precursors to the promise of a Savior.
  • The genealogy connecting Noah to Jesus not only serves as a historical record but symbolizes the enduring fulfillment of God's covenant.
  • Matthew's genealogy highlights Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, a direct descendant of King David and Abraham, ultimately tracing back to Shem.
  • Understanding this connection invites reflection on God's unbroken promise and His unwavering love for humanity.

Are there any controversies surrounding the genealogy from Noah to Jesus?

We may well ask, why should it be that something as seemingly straightforward as the genealogy of Jesus Christ would stir controversy? Like the storied path of the river that winds its course, the genealogical history of Jesus from Noah, too, takes several intricate twists and turns, which have sparked countless debates throughout the ages. This is not only a theological matter but also involves theological, historical, and textual facets. 

The Gospel of Luke, for instance, provides the biological line of Jesus through Mary for a Gentile audience. This account deviates significantly from that given by Matthew, who narrates the lineage from Joseph's perspective, presenting Joseph as the legal father based on Jewish customs. The divergences raise a serious question: which genealogy is the accurate representation of Jesus's descent from Noah? 

Renowned scholars Raymond E. Brown and Epiphanius of Salamis have given their insights on this matter. Brown suggests that the genealogies tell us nothing certain about Jesus's grandparents or great-grandparents. Meanwhile, Epiphanius highlights the interplay between the genealogy of Jesus and the broader theological implications. Modern scholarship generally views these genealogies as theological constructs. They are not seen as factual history but valuable narratives that express the significance of Jesus in the context of human history and God's salvific plan. 

Ancient authors like Arthur Charles Hervey and Jacques Masson also discuss this matter at length. They recognize the inherent discrepancies between the different biblical accounts but propose that these apparent contradictions are not irreconcilable. By understanding the cultural and historical contexts in which the genealogies were written, we may find that they offer complementary, not conflicting, perspectives. 

In light of these considerations, Victor Paul Wierwille's thorough analysis in his book 'Jesus Christ Our Promised Seed' proves to be most instructive. Wierwille recognizes the interpretive complexities of tracing the lineage of Jesus back to Noah but remains committed to the task of bringing these intricate threads together in a coherent picture. 

In conclusion, the question surrounding Jesus's genealogy from Noah is much more than a genealogical puzzle. It's a multi-faceted debate that digs deep into the very fabric of biblical history, interpretation, and theological meaning. But, isn't it remarkable to think that our understanding profits from this diversity of perspectives, allowing us to appreciate the Bible and Jesus's story in all its depth and richness? 


  • The genealogies of Jesus as presented in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke differ, causing ongoing debates.
  • Modern scholarship primarily views the genealogies as theological narratives and not literal history.
  • Arthur Charles Hervey, Jacques Masson, Raymond E. Brown, Epiphanius of Salamis, and Victor Paul Wierwille have all contributed to the discourse on Jesus's genealogical lineage from Noah.
  • The discrepancies found in the genealogical accounts can be understood better when considering the cultural and historical contexts in which they were written.
  • The investigation into Jesus's descent from Noah reveals broader biblical and theological interpretations.

How does understanding Jesus's genealogy from Noah enhance biblical studies?

In delving into the intricate web that binds genealogy from Noah to Jesus, one becomes aware of the depth and nuances that form the bedrock of Biblical studies. Understanding this narrative thread can enhance our appreciation of the text, as well as deepen our grasp of the wider theological concepts at play. Do we not, after all, stand on the shoulders of giants? The journey from Noah, the ark builder of post-deluvian days, to Jesus, the Savior of mankind, is of no small significance. 

Beginning with Noah, who is often seen as the new Adam after the flood, we discern the promise of a better future through his offspring. Here, pivotal to our understanding is the focus on Shem, from whom Jesus is to come. By tracing this lineage, we perceive the divine's persistent influence on human history—a testament to His everlasting covenant, as evident in God's unwavering faithfulness to Noah. 

Turning our attention to the genealogical accounts found in Matthew and Luke, we unearth distinct perspectives and purposes. Matthew crafts a lineage through Joseph, positioning Jesus as the legal successor in a continuation of royalty, a descendant of no less than King David himself. In contrast, Luke, targeting a Gentile audience, traces Jesus's biological lineage through Mary, thus punctuating the importance of Jesus's humanity as well as His divine origin. 

Revisiting these genealogies, it is impossible to ignore their allegorical significance. As Marshall D. Johnson expounds in his book 'The purpose of the Biblical genealogies,' modern scholars often view these genealogies as theological constructs, rather than a factual succession of fathers and sons. This interpretation enriches our understanding, offering new dimensions to familiar narratives. 

In conclusion, tracing Jesus's genealogy from Noah is not merely an exercise in historical retracing. Rather, it is a spiritual and intellectual exploration into the richness of Biblical truth. It affords us an understanding that transcends literal names and dates, engaging us in a broader conversation about God's promise, faithfulness, and the fulfillment of prophecy. 


  • Understanding Jesus's genealogy from Noah deepens our appreciation of Biblical narratives and theological concepts.
  • The lineage from Noah to Jesus demonstrates God's ongoing involvement in human history and His commitment to His promises.
  • The differing genealogical accounts in Matthew and Luke provide various perspectives highlighting both royal lineage and Jesus's human connection.
  • Modern scholarship often views genealogies as theological constructs, opening new dimensions to our comprehension of Biblical narratives.
  • Exploring this genealogy encourages a more profound understanding of Biblical truth, reaching beyond literal interpretation to the broader message of God's faithfulness and prophecy fulfillment.

What Happened to Shem and His Line?

As we further dive into the lineage of Noah's sons, we find ourselves in the shadow of Shem, regarded as the progenitor of the Semitic people. As the first among Noah's sons, Shem holds a distinctive place in Biblical genealogy. Shem witnessed an extraordinary lifespan of 600 years, an enduring testament to his divine favor. His line was chosen by God, his descendants marching down ten generations to Abram, later named Abraham, whom the Lord entrusted with the hefty task of fathering a nation - the Israelites. 

Shem was blessed and chosen by God, termed as the elect ones, establishing a bloodline that would reach far into the annals of history. This lineage spirals down to a figure you might recognize - Jesus of Nazareth, the Savior of the Christian faith. The traces of Shem's lineage carry us directly to Jesus, as listed in Luke 3:36 and bear witness to the divine orchestration of events. But why, we might ask, should this lineage matter? 

The divine thread that weaves its way from Shem to Jesus transcends mere generations. Each stitch in this generational tapestry brings with it the blessings associated with being in connection with the Lord, a reality reflected in the life of Shem and echoed in the journey of Jesus Christ. It's this divine connection that ties together the legacies of Shem and Jesus Christ, intertwining them in the grand scheme of God's eternal plan. 

The significance of this cannot be understated; the genealogy of Shem serves as a testament to the fulfillment of the divine promise—a promise made real through the lineage of Jesus Christ. It's not just about tracing the ancestry of Christ back to Shem—but understanding the divine plan expressed through this lineage and seeing the promised seed to crush Satan coming through Shem's descendants. 


  • Shem, being the eldest, was blessed by God to father the Semitic peoples, becoming the progenitor of a lineage that spans generations.
  • Mentioned in the genealogy tracing back to Jesus in Luke 3:36, Shem's descendants include Abram (later Abraham), the father of the Israelites.
  • The divine plan and promised seed prophesied in the Bible are fulfilled through Shem's lineage leading to Jesus Christ, revealing the intricate interconnectedness of this genealogical tapestry.
  • The blessing and divine connection Shem enjoyed reflect in the life and ministry of Jesus, affirming the promise of blessings through a connection with the Lord.

Facts & Stats

There are approximately 75 generations from Noah to Jesus.

The Gospel of Matthew lists 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus.

The Gospel of Luke lists 56 generations from God to Jesus, including Noah and his son Shem.

The lineage from Abraham to David, from whom Jesus is also descended, spans 14 generations.

From David until the Babylonian exile, there are another 14 generations.

From the Babylonian exile to Jesus, the Bible lists another 14 generations.


Genesis 9:24

Genesis 5

Genesis 1

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