Category: Jesus, Word: VIRGIN BIRTH
November 6, 2015 | by: Kendell Easley, prepared by Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: 52 Words
28. VIRGIN BIRTH
“See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel,” which is translated “God is with us.” When Joseph got up from sleeping, he … married her [Mary] but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son.” (Matt. 1:23-25)
DEFINITION: Mary, the mother of Jesus, was sexually chaste both when she conceived Him and when He was born. The Holy Spirit “overshadowed” Mary, bringing about her pregnancy.
The biblical teaching about Mary’s sexual status when Jesus was conceived and born is in Matthew 1 and Luke 1. Matthew regarded the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 about the virgin becoming pregnant as fulfilled in Jesus’ birth. The language used by the Gospel writers is both explicit and discreet. Mary’s status is certain from the word “virgin” (Greek parthenos). Its only possible meaning in Greek was a sexually inexperienced, unmarried woman. To this may be added Mary’s questioning of the angel: “how can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?” (Lk. 1:34). Further, one should consider Joseph’s skepticism about Mary’s pregnancy, which was overcome only by angelic revelation (Matt. 1:18-21). The ancients were not as sophisticated in their understanding of human reproduction as we are today but it would be foolish to suppose that they did not grasp the connection between sexual intimacy and a baby’s conception. (Note: the phrase “immaculate conception,” believed by some, [based on doctrine of the Catholic church] refers not to Jesus’ conception in Mary’s womb but to Mary’s conception in her mother’s womb).
Those whose view of the universe excludes miracles of course have difficulty with the Gospels at many points. But if every miracle is removed from them, an entirely different Jesus emerges. He is reduced, at best, to a great moral teacher with keen insight. Further, if the Gospel writers got the beginning of the story wrong, the rest of their account of Jesus is also suspect.
Many Christians have pondered why the New Testament virgin birth material is so limited. Why are there no references to it in the Epistles if the virgin birth was known from the beginning? First, this teaching more appropriately belongs to Christian instruction than to basic evangelism. (Conversion does not come by believing in the virgin birth.) The gospel message focuses on Christ’s death and deity; the virgin birth is part of Christian education. Second, the Epistles were written mainly to address specific problems. Their silence on the virgin birth is evidence that early churches never had a problem accepting this teaching.
This is confirmed by the fact that all the early Christian confessions included “born of the Virgin Mary” or parallel statements. No early debates on this surfaced (in contrast, for example, to the Trinity). The virgin birth answers the question, “How did god become man?” Throughout the centuries, three Christian teachings have been bound together closely. In most cases, someone who has denied any one of these has ultimately concluded that one of them is true:
- Deity: Jesus is fully the Son of God; therefore, He is Lord and God.
- Incarnation: God the one and only Son (the second Person of the Trinity) became human.
- Virgin birth: Jesus was conceived and born to the Virgin Mary.
REFLECTION: Why do the deity, incarnation, and virgin birth doctrines stand or fall together? How much do you agree that teaching the virgin birth belongs to discipleship rather than evangelism?
PRAYER: Lord Christ, You humbled Yourself to enter the virgin’s womb, taking on human flesh. I confess that You are God incarnate, the Son of God, one with the Father. Yet You ever live as a resurrected and glorified human, whose resurrection likeness I will someday share. Amen.
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.