For months now I have been compiling two Biblical Study Guides on “The Birth of Jesus Christ”, one according to Luke-Acts, and the other according to Matthew.
The intent of this project has been to encourage others to study the Bible for themselves regarding this subject. But I’ve been chomping at the bit to talk about what I’m personally seeing in the Bible as it relates to this matter.
I don’t believe the Virgin Birth Doctrine.
So many think the Bible puts forth the notion that Jesus was conceived and born of a virgin, without having been known by a man, but I firmly believe that is not the case at all.
Rather, I believe that it is a teaching of man that has been handed down over the centuries and that notion was worked into various English translations of a few key verses. But the source texts tell a different story.
I believe very few people ever question this doctrine because it is a fundamental tenet of Christianity that must be accepted in order to profess oneself to be a Christian. And if one questions the teaching, he/she is instantly shunned and treated as if he/she has denied Jesus as being the Christ.
But denying the Virgin Birth doctrine does not necessitate a denial of Jesus’ position as the Christ. On the contrary, the most well-known criteria put forth all throughout the Bible is that the Christ is to be a physical seed of David, which naturally occurs by way of a man of the house of David knowing a woman and her conceiving and bringing forth a son.
I believe much of Judaism rejects Christianity primarily due to this one monumental tenet, and sadly, because they think the New Testament purports this notion, many have tossed that testimony out.
But I boldly declare the New Testament does not propose a Virgin Birth as it is taught in mainstream Christianity. Rather, it strongly testifies of a natural born Messiah out of the house of David.
Without going into great detail of the specifics on this post, I’d like to share what I think the nativity passages are actually putting forth.
According to Luke
In the opening chapter of Luke, the author introduces the foretelling of the conception and birth of John the Baptist, stating the mission of this child is to fulfill a greatly anticipated prophecy.
Upon hearing the news, Zacharias, an Aaronic priest, doubts the possibility of his wife conceiving and bringing forth a son at such an advanced age, despite the precedent of Abraham and Sarah conceiving and bringing forth Isaac in their old age.
Then the author segue-ways into the foretelling of the conception and birth of Jesus, stating the destiny of that child to be a fulfillment of an even greater prophecy, the bringing forth of the Messiah.
Unlike Zacharias, the virgin Mary, who was espoused to Joseph of the house of David, receives the news in faith.
While I believe she questions the circumstance surrounding the destiny of this child, I don’t believe she questions how the conception will take place or who the father of this son will be. I believe she understood full well that this child would be that of the man to whom she was espoused.
Mary is told of the circumstance of her kinswoman, Elisabeth being pregnant in her old age, as a sign I believe, to bolster her faith that what the messenger of the LORD said considering her future child’s destiny would indeed come to pass. Then Mary quickly goes to visit the house of Zacharias and stays with Elisabeth for three months.
In that time, I do not believe Mary conceived, since the author never indicated such. Rather, it was some time after Mary returned home, that she conceives. And I believe that conception happened naturally after having been known by her husband, particularly since the author never specifically states otherwise.
According to Matthew
In the opening chapter of Matthew, the author lays the groundwork of his book by stating the physical genealogy of Jesus, identified as the Christ (or Messiah), being the son of David, son of Abraham, by way of his father Joseph.
After singling out several women in the lineage, known for being (1) a widow who disguised herself as a prostitute in order to conceive children for her deceased husband, (2) a harlot rescued from Jericho, (3) a Moabite widow who was redeemed by a kinsman in order to conceive a child for her deceased husband, and (4) another man’s wife, whose husband was killed shortly after she was found to have conceived from being known by the king, the author reveals the mother of Jesus to be one who was espoused to her husband before their coming together…essentially she was a virgin before having been known by her man.
The author proceeds to explain that when Mary, his mother, was found with child of holy spirit, her husband Joseph, being righteous and unwilling to make a show or example of her, minded privately to send her away.
The author was not dropping a bombshell here, suggesting this child Mary was holding in her womb was that of God as opposed to being that of her husband. That makes zero sense. Rather, the child she was carrying was understood to be holy–set apart for a particular purpose, namely to be the greatly anticipated Messiah, son of David.
But while Joseph thought on these things, a messenger of the LORD (YHVH) appeared to him in a dream identifying him as a son of David and telling him to not be afraid to take to himself his wife, for that which is begotten in her of spirit is holy, and that she would bring forth a son and he was to be named “Jesus” (or “Yehoshua”) for he would save his people from their sins.
There was never any question over Joseph and Mary’s marital status. She was betrothed to him before their coming together. And as far as the conception of the child, that naturally took place after they came together.
Then, evidently, the author of Matthew saw a similarity between what was happening with Joseph and what transpired in Isaiah’s day when the LORD God gave a sign to the house of David during the days of King Ahaz, so he called the reader’s attention to Isaiah 7:14.
I do not believe that sign in Isaiah was a messianic prophecy in that the “son” referenced in that sign was to be prophetic of the Messiah. Rather, I believe the author sought to convey how the conception and birth of the Messiah was a demonstration of how God was with His people Israel, by raising up a horn of salvation in the house of David as promised throughout the Prophets would take place following the Babylonian removal.
After Joseph woke from his dream, he did as the messenger instructed and took to himself Mary his pregnant wife but did not know her until the bringing forth of her son, her firstborn. And then he named the child “Jesus/Yehoshua” (or “Yeshua”), which means “YHVH is salvation”.
The author of Matthew states in the next two verses that the child was born in Bethlehem, confirming what the author of Luke stated in chapter 2 of his book. It seems to me that it was possible that when Joseph considered sending his wife away (or dismissing her), this was when he was preparing to travel to Bethlehem for the enrollment.
He was likely concerned for her welfare, knowing it was foretold by the priest Zacharias that a horn of salvation was being raised up in the house of David, and the teachers of the law understood the anticipated Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
This conclusion is based on putting these two accounts together. But even if that is not what was going on in Joseph’s mind when he minded to send her away, I don’t believe he ever questioned who the father of this child was or that his intention was ever to divorce her.
So, there you have it.
I don’t believe the Virgin Birth Doctrine because I’ve studied the Bible (and continue to do so), and the Bible screams of a natural descent for the Messiah.
Now, if those who claim the Bible to be their authority would just test this out for themselves, and then bear witness of their findings, then maybe the tide can be turned on this false doctrinal stronghold.
And those who are still waiting on the Messiah to come will be given a fair opportunity to recognize the Jesus of the New Testament to be that man. At least, that is my hope.
But as for me, this is my story, and I’m sticking to it.
What say you?