God’s Family Tree – One Earthly Family’s (Imperfect) Example


By Steve Nelson 

I knew a man, let’s call him Michael for storytelling purposes, who met his biological father once when Michael was about 40 years old. The father wasn’t involved in Michael’s life. The mother (now a Christian) raised Michael with a stepfather, who became “dad.” Michael knew “dad” was not his “real” father but was never officially told until he was 16. Michael wasn’t surprised since they looked different anyway. It didn’t concern Michael emotionally because he learned something early on, that how a person treats you is more important than having common physical genetics. If only everyone knew this fundamental truth (1 Samuel 16:7). 

After Michael came more kids, first a half-sister and half-brother. Then the parents adopted Michael’s two cousins and these boys each had a different father. Neither of the cousins’ fathers nor their mother were involved in their lives (both of the cousins are Christians now). So in all, five total kids came from four fathers and two mothers. That made an interesting family tree! The awesome mom stayed true to all five children and earned deep respect after all the years. Alongside her, the stepfather “dad” was the only man around. Michael was grateful for the stepfather being a dad to all five kids, even though three of them weren’t even his. He did an admirable job and perhaps the Lord will reward “dad” for the love given in those early years. 

Sadly, after decades, “dad” ended his relationship with Michael. “Wow, was that even possible, for another dad to flake out? Will a person ever keep a solid family to count on?” Michael wondered. See, Michael started believing the Bible when in college, but “dad” wasn’t on board with this new way of thinking and acting, being different than the family’s traditional religious and political attitude. Michael turned toward God’s Word. “Dad” didn’t, but maybe someday? Each man chooses his own destiny. NOTE: Despite troubles in their earthly family, Michael, along with his mom and two cousins, all eventually became part of a spiritual family –  the family of God. 

No perfect families on earth 

This unique family example shows that some parents never do their job (the biological father). Some only a little while (“dad”). Some for a lifetime (“mom”). However, there are no perfect human parents, since there are no perfect people or perfect families on earth. Just think, some have no siblings, or only one parent. Orphans have no parents around. No matter your personal experience, if difficult or excellent, every earthly parent-child relationship is dysfunctional to some degree or non-existent. But there is hope! 

Remember that earthly parents, although important, are temporary, since they’re only in this short life. Someone had to be born in one generation, someone in the next. That’s not something we can choose. Question: How can a family truly be happy together? Answer: To actually live in peace and joy together forever, God Himself must lead the family. NOTE: God wants you to be a part of His family. God made eternal plans to love you forever as a Heavenly Father. This family transcends earthly families. Keep reading. 

Jesus’ earthly family 

Jesus is unique because His biological father was God, not human (Luke 1:26-38 explains Jesus being divinely conceived). Mary was His mother and Joseph His earthly stepfather. Joseph for some reason was not with Jesus at the end. Did Joseph die or walk away from Jesus? We simply don’t know. The silence of God on that subject speaks loudly. 

Jesus was the firstborn of Mary. Later, Joseph and Mary had at least seven other children, making Jesus the oldest of at least eight children. Matthew 13:55 names His four half-brothers. Two of these siblings were later inspired by God to write some of the Scripture. Jesus’ half-brother James wrote the book of James and then half-brother Jude wrote Jude. As for Jesus’ half-sisters, He had at least three. The word “all” in Matthew 13:56 reveals three or more. 

In summary, Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:7), grew up in Nazareth with ten total people living in the house as explained above (Matthew 2:23), then died in Jerusalem (Luke 23:46). Jesus was raised from the dead (Matt 28:6-7), stayed on earth in His new body for 40 days (Acts 1:3), then went to heaven (Acts 1:11). That’s where Jesus is right now, still alive and still in heaven. NOTE: Some of Jesus’ earthly family, like Mary and at least two of His half-brothers, became born again and are also in the spiritual family of God. They, and all of us, will be reunited when Jesus returns. 

Jesus’ heavenly family can be ours too 

Jesus was the firstborn of God. But He was not and is not an only child (Romans 8:29). Logically, if Jesus was the firstborn of God, no person on earth before Jesus could have been a “child of God.” That includes all people across 4,000 years of history, since Adam and Eve up until Jesus. Well, what about people born after Jesus, in the last 2,000 years; could they have the option to become children of God too? If so, when? And how? 

Starting on Pentecost in 28 AD, it was finally available for anyone to become part of God’s family. By confessing Jesus as Lord and believing that God raised Jesus from the dead, a person gets the Holy Spirit and literally becomes a child of God (Romans 8:15-17, 9:26, 10:9). Thus, not every person is a child of God, although people often make that erroneous statement in the world today. 

FYI, the story at the beginning of the article is actually about me. I’m “Michael.” Now I have a second family tree and it’s MUCH BIGGER! God is my forever Dad. As the firstborn, Jesus is my big brother and will be to anyone else who becomes a child of God too. Are you also in God’s family? Accept God’s loving invitation. Get born into His family. God bless you. 


Steve Nelson has been a Bible teacher for over 25 years. This article comes from “First Child of God” Segment 7 of “CORE,” a course for families on how to read and understand the Bible. See T4FAMILYCENTER.COM or reach Steve at [email protected]. 


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