So many English translations insist the phrase “before their coming together” in Matthew 1:18 applies to that which comes after it, but the Greek text tells a different story.
The application of this phrase to the latter part of this verse is needed to prop up the Virgin Birth Doctrinal notion of Joseph not being the biological father of Jesus.
However, an honest look at the Greek text demonstrates this phrase applies to the former part of the verse. See for yourself: http://messyanic.com/before-their-coming-together.pdf
So what’s the big deal?
Why would the author point this detail out?
Doesn’t everyone get betrothed before their coming together?
Let’s back up to the beginning of the chapter…
A roll of the birth of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Judah and his brethren, and Judah begat Pharez and Zarah of Tamar, and Pharez begat Hezron, and Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, and Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, and Salmon begat Boaz of Rahab, and Boaz begat Obed of Ruth, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David the king. And David the king begat Solomon, of her who had been Uriah’s, (Matthew 1:1-6 YLT)
Notice there are four women identified here. Were any of these women betrothed to the men for whom they bore their sons before their coming together? I think not.
It seems to me the author of Matthew chose to reveal that detail surrounding Mary and Joseph to help establish with certainty that the child she was carrying when “she was found with child of holy spirit” was indeed Joseph’s.
Also, from what I have found in the Old Testament, virgins are typically betrothed to men, not widows, harlots, and women already spoken for. This might be what the author was alluding to in saying such about Mary, that she was a virgin before she came together with Joseph. It seems reasonable to me.
Regardless of why he mentioned it, the fact is what the author sought to convey, according to the Greek text, was that Mary was espoused to Joseph before their coming together, not that she was found to be with child before their coming together. That’s a big difference. 😉