22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did and the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
The prophet Isaiah in verse 7:14 says; “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Immanuel, meaning “God with us.” God the creator of the universe was foretold of His coming and that this would be of no ordinary event. Why the difference. As the prophet Isaiah foretold, He would be born of a virgin.
Luke, the other writer of the Christmas story, puts it this way. “Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be for I do not known a man’” Luke 1:34. The Bible often uses code words to help us understand. In Genesis 4:1 says, “And Adam knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore a son.” The words “know,” “knew” and “known” are often used as code words to help us understand that a physical union has or has not taken place between a man and a woman or between husband and wife. Both Matthew and Luke make it very clear that this type of union has not taken place between Joseph and Mary and even after their marriage, this continued to be true until after Jesus was born.
How then did this come about? Scripture makes it clear. And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35 and Matthew 1:18 in less dramatic style says; 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.
A virgin. Literally, “the virgin.” Directly and indirectly Matthew and Luke supply evidence to confirm the truth of the virgin birth:
- Both affirm that Jesus was born of the Holy Ghost (Matt. 1:18, 20; Luke 1:35).
2. They declare that Mary was to “bring forth a son” who was not to be the son of Joseph
(see on Matt. 1:21) but the Son of God (Luke 1:35).
3. Mary remained a virgin “till she had brought forth” Jesus (Matt. 1:25).
4. Mary affirmed her virginity to the angel (Luke 1:34). Thus the virgin birth of Jesus is fully attested, even apart from the word “virgin” itself, and would stand even if Matthew had never used that word in this setting.
Matthew and Luke, writing as they did under divine direction, would not have related the story of the virgin birth if it had not been true. They knew well how the Jewish leaders had taunted Jesus because of the mysterious circumstances surrounding His birth, and that they were giving critics further opportunity for ridicule by repeating the story.
There can be no doubt that Matthew here uses “virgin” in the strict sense of the word, in reference to Mary as a chaste, unmarried young woman. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Matthew applies Isaiah’s prediction to Christ, and in doing so uses the word parthenos, which strictly means “virgin” and nothing else.
As we close this first chapter of Matthew it should be noted that mythology also talks about a virgin birth. Alexander, Pythagoras, Plato, and Augustus Caesar are said to have descended from the gods and by supposed virgin birth. Is it just possible that there is one hoping to discredit the birth of Christ? Is it possible there is one hoping to counterfeit the genuine article? By these tales and fables he seeks to disprove the validity of the virgin birth of Christ.
But this is no more valid an argument than to say that the existence of spurious money and the counterfeits of the great masterpieces of art proves that there are no genuine ones. This only proves that there is something genuine that causes others to want to counterfeit the genuine. So it is with him who caused our first parents to fall. As we shall see, he seeks to counterfeit the teaching of God to lessen their meaning upon the hearts of men.
And when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son.