The virgin birth of Jesus (Mt 1:25-1:25)

“Joseph

Had no marital relations

With Mary,

Until she had borne

A son.

He named him

Jesus.”

 

καὶ οὐκ ἐγίνωσκεν αὐτὴν ἕως οὗ ἔτεκεν υἱόν· καὶ ἐκάλεσεν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν

 

Joseph did not have sex or martial relations with Mary until after the birth of his son. The Greek text has the euphemistic term, he did not know her (οὐκ ἐγίνωσκεν αὐτὴν). This of course brings up the question of Mary’s virginity. Clearly, the text indicates that nothing sexual happened prior to the birth or coming forth of her son (οὗ ἔτεκεν υἱόν). Thus, Jesus was clearly born of the virgin Mary. The real questions concerned the word ἕως that means “until the birth of the son”. In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2, the child was called the firstborn child (τὸν πρωτότοκον). The tradition of the Christian community, since the second century, has been that Mary was always a virgin. There is nothing here in this text of Matthew to preclude that. Joseph called the child by the name of Jesus (ἐκάλεσεν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν), just as the angel had asked him to do.

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The fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah (Mt 1:22-1:23)

“All this took place

To fulfil

What had been spoken

By the Lord

Through the prophet.

‘Look!

The virgin young woman

Shall conceive.

She shall bear a son.

They shall name him

Emmanuel.’

This translated means.

‘God with us.’”

 

Τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος

Ἰδοὺ ἡ παρθένος ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει καὶ τέξεται υἱόν, καὶ καλέσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἐμμανουήλ, ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Μεθ’ ἡμῶν ὁ Θεός.

 

This dream with the angelic message took place (Τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν), so that the prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 7, would be fulfilled (πληρωθῇ). Matthew said that these were the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet (τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος), without explicitly naming Isaiah. When you look at the context of this saying in Isaiah, he was talking to King Ahaz and the whole house of David. He said that Yahweh was going to give them a sign that a young woman, who is presumed to be a virgin, would have a child. This child would be called Emmanuel that meant “God is with us.” Christians have used this passage as a prophecy about the virgin birth of Jesus, as here in Matthew. However, the original context in Isaiah seems to indicate that King Ahaz would have a son to carry on his royal name. That son of Ahaz turned out to be the great holy King Hezekiah who ruled Judah from 716-687 BCE. A key to understanding this interpretation of Isaiah is the Greek word ἡ παρθένος. Does this mean a young woman or a virgin? The assumption was that all young women who were not married were virgins, without explicitly saying that this Greek word meant virgin. This young virgin girl had a child in her womb (ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει). She was going to have a son (καὶ τέξεται υἱόν). They were going to name this son Emmanuel (καλέσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἐμμανουήλ,). Matthew seems to imply that this Hebrew word Emmanuel needed to be translated (ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον) into Greek for his readers. Thus, he explained that it meant “God is with us.” This actually was in the original Isaiah statement, but Isaiah never used the word translated (μεθερμηνευόμενον). Thus, God will be with us in the person of Jesus, the Savior, Emmanuel. There is no mention of an anointed one or Christ here.