The ancestry of Jesus Christ is important to the New Testament Gospels. Knowing who Jesus came from helps readers understand who he is. Two of the four Gospels — Matthew and Luke — even include genealogies. Readers of name lists often note famous Old Testament figures like David, Abraham, and Adam. One question people ask about Jesus’ ancestry is what son of Noah is in his family line.
Jesus Christ was a descendant of Noah’s son, Shem. Most Genesis scholars believe Shem was Noah’s secondborn son. While Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus only goes back to Abraham, Luke’s goes back to Adam. Noah and his sons lived between Adam and Abraham, making Jesus’ relationship to Shem evident in Luke.
What exactly does Luke say about Jesus, Noah, and Shem? What does Genesis reveal about Shem? How many other sons did Noah have? Who were they? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
What exactly does Luke say about Jesus, Noah, and Shem?
The New Testament includes two genealogies of Jesus. One is in the first chapter of Matthew, and the other is in the third chapter of Luke. Matthew and Luke’s genealogies of Jesus are similar but not identical.
Noah and Shem lived between Adam and Abraham, which makes Luke’s the more relevant genealogy to address the question of which son of Noah is in Jesus’ line because it goes back to Adam.
The section of Luke’s genealogy that lists the generations between Adam and Abraham is 3:34-38 (see table below). The names on Luke’s list come from Genesis 5:1-32, 11:10-26, and 1 Chronicles 1:1-26.
Luke’s genealogy ties Jesus to all of history. Jesus came from humans, became a human (John 1:14), and died to save humans (John 3:16).
Luke scholar Darrell Bock writes, “Jesus is not some isolated minister to Israel; he does not merely minister to a tiny nation of subjected people seeking political deliverance from a dominating Rome. Rather, he is the culmination of a line of descendants stretching back through the great men of promise like Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David.” 
Bible readers can add Noah to Bock’s list of “great men.” Not only did God start creation over with Noah, but he made a covenant with him at the end of the flood story in which he promised never again to judge the world with a flood. Genesis 8:11 reads, “I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
What does Genesis say about Shem?
Shem was the second son of Noah. He was younger than Japheth and older than Ham. Genesis implies that Shem was 98 years old when the flood occurred. “These are the generations of Shem. When Shem was 100 years old, he fathered Arpachshad two years after the flood” (Gen. 11:10).
After he fathered Arpachshad, Shem lived another 500 years before he died at the age of 600. “And Shem lived after he fathered Arpachshad 500 years and had other sons and daughters” (Gen. 11:11).
The family line of Shem
In his prophecy regarding future generations, Noah revealed that Japheth’s descendants would live in the tents of Shem, while the Canaanites of Ham’s line wouldn’t.
Genesis 9:25-27 read, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers. He also said, Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.”
The Table of Nations mentions Shem’s descendants. Genesis 10:21-22 read,
- 21 To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born.
- 22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram.
- 23The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash.
- 24 Arpachshad fathered Shelah; and Shelah fathered Eber.
- 25 To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother’s name was Joktan.
- 26 Joktan fathered Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah,
- 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah
- 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba
- 29 Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab; all these were the sons of Joktan.
- 30 The territory in which they lived extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar to the hill country of the east.
- 31 These are the sons of Shem, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations.
7 New Testament Reference to Noah
- Matthew 24:37, “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
- Matthew 24:38, “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark”
- Luke 17:26, “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.”
- Luke 17:27, “They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.”
- Hebrews 11:7, “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”
- 1 Peter 3:20, “because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water”
- 2 Peter 2:5, “if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly”
 Luke 1:1-9:50 by Darrell Bock. p. 360.
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