I Don’t Believe the Virgin Birth Doctrine

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?

About Messyanic

Homesteading Wife, Homeschooling Mom and perpetual Bible student, continually taking the road less traveled. (@messyanic)
This entry was posted in Jesus / Yeshua, John the Baptist, Virgin Birth Doctrine. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to I Don’t Believe the Virgin Birth Doctrine

  1. shar。 says:

    I want to address some of the verses above you have used to support your story and hopefully, YHUH (Yahuh) willing, change your mind on your story.

    18 ¶ Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
    19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
    20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 1:18-20 KJV 1611 Authorized Cambridge Edition)

    The customs of the Jews back then were quite different than our present-day societal norms. You see, if a spouse or significant was suspected of adultery—which is quite the heinous act—he/she may be sent out with a “bill of divorcement” (Deuteronomy 24:1-3). It is permissible. Elohim himself states it in Jeremiah 3:8—”And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.” That being said, all cases stated in the Bible are, however, are all about an adulteress rather than an adulterer. Another Jewish custom that is foreign to us is that bethrothal is considered a legal marriage, though it is not yet consummated. This custom is further elaborated by Jeffrey J. Harrison from To The Ends of The Earth: “Yoseph and Miriam (Mary) are legally considered a family unit. If accepted by the husband, the child became legally part of the family, which Yoseph did when he “took” Miriam (Mary) as his wife”.

    Now it says Yoseph was a just man and he did not want to make Miriam (Mary) “a publick example” but rather wanted to “put her away privily”, that is, to put her aside privately by canceling their betrothal (archaic term: espoused). Why? Because they had not “come together yet”. He had not, to put it in biblical terms, yet “known” his wife. Note the previous verses above where YHUH (Yahuh) had “put her (Israel) away” for committing adultery by worshipping false idols; the context of the words here is the same as in Yoseph’s scenario. It was (and still is) shameful to be promiscuous, particularly when bethrothed (see Genesis 38:24-26, Tamar was bethrothed to Shelah but was three months later thought to “play the harlot” as she was “found to be with child by whoredom”) or married. Heaps of shame, judgement, and jeering would come to Miriam (Mary) from the community if her alleged promiscuity was made public. Her life would be nearly destroyed, for she would carry that reputation for the rest of her life. In the case of Tamar, her punishment for adultery while betrothed would have been this: “And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt” (Genesis 38:24). This situation was troubling Yoseph so much that an angel of YHUH (Yahuh) came to him in a dream to tell him not to fear taking Miriam (Mary) as a wife. All of this, combined with the statements above that “she was found with child of the Holy Ghost (Ruakh haKodesh) and “that which was conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost (Ruakh haKodesh)” point to a virgin birth. Indeed, if you go a few verses down it reads:

    22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
    23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
    25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. (Matthew 1:22-25 KJV 1611 Authorized Cambridge Edition)

    The dream cleared up Yoseph’s fears about taking Miriam (Mary) as his wife, as he was divinely told that she was innocent of adultery and that the birth of her son was to fulfill Elohim’s prophecy. It was only after this that he took her to be his wife. “And he knew her not”—meaning he did not consummate their marriage until Yahusha was born. The word “knew” used here is G1097 in Strong’s Greek Lexicon, and if you look biblical uses are:
    to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel
    to become known
    to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of
    to understand
    to know
    *Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman
    to become acquainted with, to know

    I have starred the meaning of the word being used in the context here. Yahusha was therefore born of a virgin. This site (http://jaymack.net/genesis-commentary/Jf-Tamar-Birth-Twin-Boys.asp) also has some great analysis on the genealogy of both Yoseph and Miriam (Mary); it shows that there is no possibility that Yahusha could be descended from Yoseph, because if he was, he could not be king due to Jehoakim’s curse that “for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah” (Jeremiah 22:18-30). But however, “the sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Genesis 49:10). Yahusha haMashiakh is indeed from the house of Yahudah (Judah), through Miriam (Mary) and through his adoptive father, Yoseph. Please note also that the genealogy in Matthew 1:1-16 that it does not state that Yoseph “begat” (G1080) Yahusha as it consistently does with Yoseph’s forefathers who begat sons. Begat (G1080) being from a variation of 1085; to procreate (properly, of the father, but by extension of the mother); figuratively, to regenerate:–bear, beget, be born, bring forth, conceive, be delivered of, gender, make, spring. Instead, it states that “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ”—of (G1537) whom (G3739) was born is used, not the begat (G1080) constantly used 39 times in the genealogy. Why the difference, if Yoseph is truly the bilological father? I implore you to rethink your position on this “doctrine” for the Bible points it out to be so. I do not know how you came to the conclusion, perhaps by being disillusioned that the “doctrine” is being distastefully and appallingly applied to the various false religions that have sprung from the pagan triad of Semiramis, Nimrod, and Cush, but I am still a bit curious to see how you did. Shalam!

    • Messyanic says:

      Hi Shar,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Taking into account what you are saying, I think there are a couple of points that I think are worth considering:

      First, the phrase “before they came together” is directly linked to all that came before it, and not to what came after it, which is what many in the VB doctrinal claim camp understand it to be. See what I shared here: http://messyanic.com/2017/09/13/before-their-coming-together/ and more specifically here: http://messyanic.com/before-their-coming-together.pdf

      Secondly, the phrase “to take unto thee Mary thy wife” is not the same as “to take a wife”, or “to take unto thee Mary as thy wife”, which again is what many in the VB doctrinal claim camp understand it to be. Here is what I’ve found in my study on this particular point: http://messyanic.com/to-receive-mary-thy-wife.pdf

      I don’t believe Matthew 1:18-20 is speaking about Mary while she was simply espoused to Joseph, as if it was at that time he was thinking of divorcing her before ever having had a marriage ceremony with her.

      Rather, I believe this passage is speaking about Mary *after she and Joseph consummated their marriage*, as evidenced not only by her pregnancy and a more proper understanding of the Greek text, but also by the author referring to Joseph as her “husband/man” and the messenger referring to her as Joseph’s “wife/woman” at this point in time.

      Third, as far as there being any impropriety or perceived impropriety on Mary’s part, there is nothing in the text that says such. Joseph does not question who the father of the child is that Mary is carrying, and the author never states Joseph is not the father.

      While there may be hints of impropriety given by the author when he mentioned Tamar, Rahab and the wife of Uriah in the lineage, there is none given that I can tell when it comes to Mary. On the contrary, the author is clear in stating Mary was espoused to Joseph before their coming together, establishing the fact that she belonged to him, and that she was pregnant with child out of holy spirit, while clearly identifying Joseph and Mary as being husband/man and wife/woman. And then of course, the elephant in the room is that the author lays out a physical genealogy of Jesus being a descendent of Abraham and David by way of Joseph.

      I understand the rationale for believing this portion of Matthew to be supporting the virgin birth doctrine, but that is all with the understanding that this event is taking place without Mary ever having been known by Joseph in order to become pregnant.

      But the natural order established by the Creator dictates that she got pregnant by way of being known by a man, and clearly the author is identifying Joseph to be that man.

    • Messyanic says:

      Regarding your last comment and the word most often translated as “begat” (G1080). A variation of that word is used in verse 16, it is translated as “was born”.

      It seems to me that the Greek word pertained to the subject of the sentence in the previous 39 uses, and therefore was translated as “begat” as an active verb, but since there was a change in the order of words concerning the last generation of the genealogy, it was translated as “was born” as a passive verb.

      This does not mean that the child was only born of the mother without having been begotten of a father. It’s a grammatical thing.

    • Messyanic says:

      As far as coming to the conclusion that Joseph is the biological father of Jesus, for me it’s rather simple when you stop and think about it:

      The Natural Order established from the beginning is that the man knows the woman and with the help of the Creator, she conceives and brings forth life.

      Also, there are so many prophecies all throughout the Old Testament that pertain to the physical seed of men, and specific prophecies concerning a physical seed of David being the Messiah.

      And the Old Testament clearly reckons children through by way of their father, and when kings in the Davidic dynasty in particular took the throne, they were always sons of David, by way of their father.

      Another thing is that while the Virgin Birth Doctrinal claim camp insists Jesus’ conception/birth was miraculous, the New Testament never makes that declaration. In fact, nobody in the NT writings ever refers to Joseph as being anything other than his father/parent. (In other words nobody ever says anything about him having adopted Jesus.)

      In the book of Acts and Romans where you see people talking about the origin of Jesus, he is clearly identified as being the physical seed of David, with no mention of him being so through any unusual experience like the “virgin birth doctrine” purports.

      The natural conclusion is that Jesus is begotten of Joseph by way of Mary.

  2. Carl says:

    Hello. The early Hebrew and Aramaic transcripts show that Joseph was Mary’s Father and not Husband. In Mathew 1:16. Her Fathers name was Joseph and she also had a husband named Joseph. I would suggest if you already haven’t to research the earliest Hebrew and Aramaic transcripts which say in 1:16 that Joseph the father of Mary.
    … The Peshitta Aramaic texts of Matthew 1:16 (which was translated from a latter Greek text) indicates that Miriam’s ‘gevra’ (mighty man) was named Yoseph, and Matthew 1:19 specifies that Miriam’s ‘ba’ala’ (husband) was also named Yoseph.
    Yoseph is a very common name in Israel. Miriam’s husband Yoseph had three grandfathers with the same name. This undoubtedly led the translators to make “a mistake of familiarity,” thinking that the two “Yosephs” of verses 16 and 19 (in Matthew) were one and the same.
    The Greek translators chose to render both Aramaic words gevra and ba’ala as the Greek word ‘aner’, which simply means “a person of full age.” The English translators then chose to translate the singular Greek word ‘aner’ as “husband.” – http://thechronologicalgospels.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/TCG_NativitySample.pdf (p45).

    For further manuscript support for this, see the two images below (courtesy of Nehemia Gordon). These two, of the oldest manuscripts of the Ancient Hebrew Matthew were copied into the appendix of Shem Tov Ibn Shaprut’s “Even Bochan”, and show that the text reads “Yoseph avi Miriam”. The Hebrew and Aramaic ‘avi’ means ‘my father’, so the meaning here is that ‘Yosef is the father of Miriam’ and not the husband, and therefore Matt 1:16 ends with “…Yosef the father of Miriam of whom was born Yeshua”.

    Take care, thanks.

    • Messyanic says:

      Hi Carl,

      How “early” are the manuscripts to which you are referring? From what I can find on them, they are very late documents.

      The notion of there being two different Josephs identified in those few verses both relating to Mary does not make sense to me. The Joseph in verse 18 is named as if the reader is supposed to already know who he is. If this was a different Joseph, then I would have expected the author to have identified who his father was, but he didn’t.

      Furthermore, why would the author give the genealogy of Mary when making the point that Yeshua was the son of David, son of Abraham, when everyone knows that the sower of seed is the man, not the woman.

      Also, the author makes a point to count 14 generations from the Babylonian removal to the Christ, and making Joseph out to be the grandfather of Yeshua (as opposed to the father) brings the count up to 15 generations, and that doesn’t jive with verse 17.

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