Was Jesus Really Born Of A Virgin?

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Was Jesus Really Born Of A Virgin?

15 May 2019 Hits:1690

I received an email a short while ago from a member of Bayside Church in which he expressed his concerns about comments made by “so-called Christian friends” about matters of theology that were fundamental to his Christian faith.

He told me the following story:

“A very good friend of mine told me that she does not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus and that translation errors in the Bible have resulted in us all believing something that isn’t true.

“This friend has a Theology degree and is quite dogmatic in her beliefs (or lack thereof). She claims that the original Hebrew text of Isaiah 7:14 refers to a “young woman”, not a “virgin”. Apparently, an early translation of the Hebrew into Greek took the Hebrew word ‘almah,’ meaning young woman, and rendered it ‘Parthenos’ in the Greek, which means virgin.

“She has told me that the matter of the virgin birth is a non-issue to her as she says that Jesus’ divinity is evidenced in His humanity. In my view, if we deny the virgin birth, we diminish who Jesus is. If He is not born of a virgin (and therefore by a divine miracle of God), he cannot be fully man and fully God, but just fully man.

“As so much in the Christian Church is being watered down nowadays, I am finding it increasingly difficult to respond to questions such as these. I’d be very keen to know your views on the virgin birth and whether or not this has ‘changed’ in 21st-century theology.”

I love questions like this as they cause me to search the Scriptures for answers. Here’s my reply:

Your friend is partly right, but I don’t agree with her conclusions.

Understanding Context

It’s important to remember that the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) had meaning to their original recipients. Something that is invariably overlooked today, sadly.

I encourage you to read Isaiah 7:1-17 and note its context. Isaiah the prophet is sent to reassure King Ahaz that the attack on Jerusalem (by Aram and Ephraim) won’t succeed. Ahaz is encouraged to ask for a sign from God to confirm this, but Ahaz is reluctant to do so. So, Isaiah gives him a sign anyway, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” This child would be born and, “before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste” (verse 16). This would have been a very encouraging message for Ahaz.

Now, the word translated virgin (almah) can mean “young woman or virgin”. In Isaiah’s prophecy, “young woman” is probably correct. It’s likely that Ahaz knows who this young pregnant woman is (it’s possibly Isaiah’s wife, Cf. Isaiah 8:3). So, basically, Isaiah is saying to Ahaz, “as you know, my wife is pregnant and before our baby knows the difference between right and wrong, the lands of those who threatened you will be utterly destroyed. Be encouraged!”

Thus, the baby is a sign that “God is with us” (Immanuel) and will save us from our enemies.

Understanding Greek

Now, in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures known as the Septuagint (LXX), because it was translated by seventy scholars (between the 3rd Century and 132 BC when it was completed), they rendered the Hebrew word almah as parthenos (Greek) which refers to a young woman (or man) who has never had sexual intercourse (a virgin). I don’t know why they chose this word, but they did, and the New Testament writers picked it up and applied it to Jesus, the Messiah, who was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18-25; Galatians 4:4-5).

Unlike Isaiah’s sign for Ahaz, this sign from God was to be for the whole world, and not just Jerusalem. And this time the sign was not about a country being delivered from an aggressor but rather people being rescued from their sins. It’s a powerful analogy which lays at the very heart of the Christian faith.

Understanding Sin

I totally agree with you about the importance of the virgin birth. I believe we need to be careful about fiddling with God’s truth, especially the truths that affect a person’s salvation. If Jesus isn’t 100% divine and 100% human, he could not be our Saviour because he wouldn’t be sinless. If that were the case, he would have had to die for his own sins and not ours.

And so, I believe we should boldly proclaim:

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,

      who was conceived by the Holy Spirit

      and born of the Virgin Mary.

      He suffered under Pontius Pilate,

      was crucified, died, and was buried;

      he descended to hell.

      The third day he rose again from the dead.

      He ascended to heaven

      and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.

      From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

 

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

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3 replies on “Was Jesus Really Born Of A Virgin?”

Marksays:

Great blog Pastor Rob. But I challenge your view in stating that Jesus was fully man and fully God…If he was fully man how did he walk on water? If he was fully God how could he be put to death? I contend that Jesus is Part Man – Part God. Who makes up the other part of God? The Holy Spirit and the Father! I would like your view on this possibility.

Rob Buckinghamsays:

Hi Mark. Thanks for your question. I hear what you’re saying but I don’t see any contradiction here. There are many Scriptures that speak of Jesus’ humanity such as “But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman” (Gal 4:4). And also his deity, “the word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14). Jesus is God incarnate, God in the flesh, fully God and fully man, not 50/50. He was the sinless Son of God who was able to sacrifice his life for you and I. Of course, if we could fully understand this he wouldn’t be God 🙂

Andrew Stuartsays:

Hi Mark, I read with great interest in your comments made on this post. “If He (Jesus) was fully man, how did He walk on water?” + “If He was fully God how could He be put to death?” Your questions are paramount and so too likewise – is understanding your theology. Firstly, the Trinity is made up of three entities, God the father, God the son (Jesus) & the Holy Spirit. A simple analogy from nature is like H2O: water (Liquid), ice (Solid) & steam (Gas). Another analogy from nature is the term “Glacier” of which is NOT just made up of ice, it’s also consists of water, rocks, pebbles & sludge. Genesis clearly describes that Jesus was there (in spirit form) at the very beginning of time (as we know it): “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) + “From everlasting I was established, from the beginning, before the earth began.” (Prov 8:23) + ” He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:2) + also “(Jesus) Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped…” (Philippians 2:6) and lastly, the more important one: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14). God created, in human form, ‘Jesus’ (through a female womb, Mary) and (the ‘foetus’) was ‘created’ by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was indeed part of God (as God Himself describes him as…) “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation…” (Colossians 1:15) and also again in Ephesians 3:9 “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ…” 1 John 5:7 also explains this likewise: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” Jesus (The Word) was indeed THERE at the beginning of creation, and he was THERE at His birth of a virgin woman, and he was also THERE at His crucifixion (all according to scripture & prophecy), and He was also THERE at His resurrection (by all accounts of His witnesses through history & also by all accounts also contained within the Bible). Jesus personal power (“walking on water”) enabled Him to walk-on-water – was a supernatural miracle. Jesus personal power to ‘enable’ Peter to also walk-on-water (near Him) – was also a supernatural miracle, however this was NOT Peter’s doing – it was Jesus’ power to perform miracles, that ‘always’ demonstrated “something” important to His observers. What happened when Peter took his eyes off Jesus, half-way through his walk-on-water? Peter was willing to put it all on the line. Wanting to prove his courage to Jesus, he made an amazing statement: “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water” (Matthew 14:28). These were rough seas, and Peter was willing to literally step onto them because He was looking at Jesus. That gave him confidence and courage. However, it was FEAR that caused Peter to literally “sink”. Jesus WAS both God (incarnate) and also a man (in human form). Here’s one for you thinkers – What kind of DNA and RNA did Jesus have? Was His DNA only ‘partly’ imparted from his natural mother (Mary)? Is this just one (for there are many) of the reasons as to ‘why’ Jesus did NOT marry, nor have any kids? Why?

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