MATTHEW 1:18: How could Jesus be born perfect when Mary was an imperfect human?

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot
Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored ninety-two books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

In Short

According to Christian belief, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. This means that Jesus was not born as a result of human procreation and therefore was not subject to the same imperfections and flaws that are passed down through human ancestry. Instead, Jesus is the Son of God and was born without sin, making him perfect and fully divine.

The doctrine of the virgin birth is central to Christian belief and is found in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament. It is an important part of the Christian belief in the incarnationate nature of Jesus, who is believed to be fully human and fully divine.

Mary was an ordinary human being and subject to the same human imperfections as a descendant of Adam and Eve, with limitations and flaws as any other person. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was conceived and born without sin and was, therefore, perfect. This is based on the biblical statements that Jesus was not just a human being but also the Son of God and a divine being.

Digging Deeper

The apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 4:4 that the Father “sent forth his Son, born of a woman.” How did the laws of heredity work with this union of perfection (the life of the Son) with imperfection (the ovum or egg cell in Mary’s womb)?

How was the life of the Son transferred from heaven to earth to be united in the fertilization of an ovum or egg cell in Mary’s womb? How could Jesus, as the actual son of Mary, a genuine descendant of forefathers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and King David, and legitimate heir retain the same identity that he had in heaven? (Gen. 22:15-18; 26:24; 28:10-14; 49:10; 2 Sam 7:8, 11-16; Lu 3:23-34) The Scriptures reveal that the Holy Spirit caused the conception, namely, the fertilization of an egg cell by the transferal of the life of the Son from heaven to Mary’s womb. The Holy Spirit would have canceled out any imperfection in Mary’s ovum, producing a pattern of genes that was perfect from conception. Matthew tells us that Mary “was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.” (1:18) Luke tells us that the angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, and for that reason, the one who is born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Lu 1:35) In other words, the Holy Spirit fertilized Mary’s egg by the life of the Son. At the same time, the Holy Spirit formed what we might call a defensive wall that protected the Son in Mary’s womb so that no imperfection could affect the developing embryo from conception up to the time of birth. When Jesus was born, he was both fully divine and fully human, unified perfectly in one person.

THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy

Matthew 1:18 is a verse in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. It reads as follows in the Updated American Standard Version of the Bible:

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was in this way: When his mother Mary had been betrothed[10] to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.”

This verse describes the circumstances of the birth of Jesus and explains that Mary was found to be pregnant with the child of the Holy Spirit before she and Joseph had consummated their marriage. This event is known as the virgin birth, and it is an important part of Christian belief about the nature of Jesus.

According to Christian doctrine, the virgin birth is a miraculous event that occurred when the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mary. This means that Jesus was not born as a result of human procreation and was, therefore, not subject to the same imperfections and flaws that are passed down through human ancestry. Instead, Jesus is believed to be the Son of God and was born without sin, making him perfect and fully divine.

Was Mary Truly a Virgin When She Gave Birth to Jesus?

The belief that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born is a central doctrine of Christianity and is found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke in the New Testament.

In the Gospel of Matthew, the virgin birth is described as follows: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was in this way: When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:18) This verse suggests that Mary was found to be pregnant with the child of the Holy Spirit before she and Joseph had consummated their marriage, indicating that Mary was a virgin at the time of Jesus’ birth.

The Gospel of Luke also refers to the virgin birth, stating that the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would conceive and bear a son, even though she was a virgin: “26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,[6] 27 to a virgin[7] betrothed[8] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you.”[9] 29 But she was greatly perplexed at the statement and was pondering what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” (Luke 1:26-31 UASV).

In addition to these biblical accounts, the doctrine of the virgin birth is also affirmed by the early Christian church fathers and is included in the Nicene Creed, a statement of Christian faith that is used by many Christian denominations.

Overall, the biblical evidence suggests that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born, and this belief is central to Christian doctrine about the nature of Jesus as the Son of God.

Was Mary Always a Virgin?

The perpetual virginity of Mary is a Christian doctrine that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin before, during and after the birth of Christ. In Western Christianity, the Catholic Church adheres to the doctrine, as do some Lutherans, Anglicans, Reformed, and other Protestants. Is this biblically true?

Matt. 13:53-56, JB: “When Jesus had finished these parables he left the district; and, coming to his home town, he taught the people in their synagogue in such a way that they were astonished and said, ‘Where did the man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? This is the carpenter’s son, surely? Is not his mother the woman called Mary, and his brothers [Greek, a·del·phoiʹ] James and Joseph and Simon and Jude? His sisters [Gr., ἀπόληται adelphai], too, are they not all here with us?’”

Matthew 13:53-56 is a passage in the Gospel of Matthew that describes the reaction of Jesus’ family and neighbors to his ministry. This passage clearly mentions the brothers and sisters of Jesus, which means that Mary had other children besides Jesus.

The New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967, Vol. IX, p. 337) “The family circle of Jesus is further described in Mk 6.3 as composed of His ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters,’ four of the brothers being explicitly named. The Greek words ἀδελφοὶ [adelphoi] and ἀδελφαὶ [adelphai] that are used to designate the relationship between Jesus and these relatives have the meaning of full blood brother and sister in the Greek-speaking world of the evangelist’s time and would naturally be taken by his Greek reader in this sense. Toward the end of the 4th century (c. 380) Helvidius, in a work now lost, pressed this fact in order to attribute to Mary other children besides Jesus so as to make her a model for mothers of larger families. St. Jerome, motivated by the Church’s traditional faith in Mary’s perpetual virginity, wrote a tract against Helvidius (A.D. 383) in which he developed an explanation of the Gospel usage of vἀδελφοὶ [adelphoi] and ἀδελφαὶ [adelphai] for the relatives of Jesus that is still in vogue among Catholic scholars.”

This vogue belief that Jerome was trying to perpetuate that has been a long-standing belief of the Catholic Church but not biblically grounded is that the Greek word for “brothers” can refer to a wider group of people who are related by blood or by a common bond, such as cousins or other close relatives. In this context, they claim it is possible that the brothers and sisters of Jesus mentioned in this passage were actually his cousins or other close relatives rather than his siblings.

Mark 3:31-35, JB: “His mother and brothers now arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, ‘Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.’ He replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’”

In the New Testament, the Greek word “συγγενῶν” (suggenon) is often used to refer to relatives or close kin, rather than siblings. This word is used in several passages in the New Testament, including Luke 21:16, which reads as follows in the Updated American Standard Version:

16 But you will be handed over even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put to death some of you.”

In this passage, the word “brothers” is translated from the Greek word “συγγενῶν,” which can refer to a wider group of relatives or close kin, including siblings, cousins, and other close relatives. When what is meant is not brothers but relatives, a different Greek word [συγγενῶν] is used, as in Luke 21:16.

It is worth noting that the Greek word “ἀδελφοί” (adelphoi) is typically used in the New Testament to refer specifically to siblings or brothers. This word is used in several passages that mention the brothers of Jesus, such as Mark 6:3, which states that Jesus had “four brothers, James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas.”

Overall, the use of different Greek words to refer to relatives or close kin can help to distinguish between siblings and other types of relatives in the New Testament.

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