The Virgin Birth and Biblical Authority

January 6, 2009 at 9:41 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, English Bible Translations, Theology | Leave a comment

For my devotions this year I will be reading through the New Testament twice.  The first time through I am reading the NET Bible.  This translation was developed as a digital Bible from the outset, as it was designed to be a freely-available on-line English Bible.  You can find it at www.bible.org/netbible/index.htm   The translators included thousands of footnotes, which are a great wealth of information for translation and study.

Matthew 1:18-25.  There are many who would discount the virgin birth of Jesus as myth added to the story later.  These pundits will point to the famous virgin passage in Isaiah and remind us that the Hebrew word translated as virgin could mean any young woman, not necessarily a sexual virgin.  But that argument ignores the New Testament evidence from Luke and Matthew.  This passage in the very beginning of Matthew not only supports the virgin birth, but actually emphasizes it.  Notice how often Matthew makes note of it:  1) The very first thing we learn about Mary’s pregnancy is that it happened “before they came together.”   2) In fact, she was “found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.”  3) Joseph “intended to divorce her”  for the very reason that he knew he wasn’t the father of this mysterious baby.  4) However, the angel told him in a dream that the child conceived in Mary “was from the Holy Spirit.”   5) This all happened to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah, “The virgin will conceive and bear a son.”   Matthew’s quotation of the prophecy contains the Greek word which can only mean a sexual virgin, and he applies it to this particular situation for that reason.  6) Even after they were married, Joseph “did not have marital relations with”  Mary until after the child was born.  And finally, 7) Matthew makes it clear in the genealogy that Joseph is the adopted father of Jesus when he says Jacob was “the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born.” (v16)  “Whom” in this verse is the feminine form of the word, so there is no confusion as to Matthew’s meaning.

Matthew clearly teaches the virgin birth and does so emphatically.  The debate over whether Jesus was virgin-born is not a matter of what the Bible says; it is a matter of whether one believes the Bible or not.  It is not a matter of biblical interpretation, but one of biblical authority.  Those who teach the virgin birth as myth simply choose not to believe the clear meaning of the text.

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