In today's study, we move into Matthew 1:18-25 and take a closer look at the birth of Christ and its significance.
First, this was must note that this was not a divine conception, in the sense that the Holy Spirit conceived seed in Mary by natural means. Mary was a virgin until the birth of Jesus. Therefore, the conception was supernatural. This is why Jesus is referred to as the Son of Man and the Son of God. He was and is the Son of Man because he had an earthly mother. He was and is the Son of God because God is His Father. Theologically, this mystery is called the hypostatic union. Jesus is 100% man and 100% God. The true God-Man.
Secondly, we notice that the Bible says that Mary and Joseph were “betrothed” as husband and wife. The betrothal was like an engagement today. The Bible tells us that after she found out that she was pregnant that she went and stayed with her cousin Elizabeth for three months (Luke 1:35-40, 56). And, it was not until her return that Joseph found out that she was pregnant because she was showing.
If you look at his response, he was being very generous in trying to divorce her quietly. Under the Law, a woman who did not keep her virginity until her wedding day was considered a whore and could be stoned if her husband found out (Deut. 22:23-24). But rather than doing that, Joseph was content to just secretly divorce her as permitted by Moses (Deut. 24:1-2). Of course, had this actually happened, Mary would have been sentenced to a life of loneliness in that day and time. Of course, today, we don’t even bat an eye at this type of behavior because it is so common. But the angel of the Lord convinced him otherwise (v.24).
Was Mary a virgin? #1 She said that she was. Luke 1:34 says, “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” #2 Because the Bible said that she would be a virgin. Isaiah 7:14 says, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Also, Matthew 1:25 says that Joseph knew her not until she had given birth to a son. #3 She had to be a virgin. If Mary had not been a virgin, Jesus would have been born a sinner. David said of himself and all men in Ps 51:5 “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
Notice the word “firstborn” in v.25 where it says that Joseph did not know Mary (in the sexual sense) till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS. Some of the modern versions remove that word firstborn (i.e., the ESV), but it adds it in Luke 2:7 when it says, And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. I take note of this because some groups such as the Roman Catholics propagate a doctrine called the perpetual virginity of Mary, which teaches that Jesus was Mary’s one and only child. However, Matthew 1:18 and Matthew 1:25 clearly indicate that eventually Mary and Joseph did have sexual relations.
Also, the Scripture is clear that Mary did have other children after Jesus. Mark. 6:3 “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.” Also, compare Matt. 12:46; John 2:11-12, 7:1-9 and Acts 1:14.
Also, notice 1 Cor 9:5 where Paul said, Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Also, Paul refers also refers to James as the Lord’s brother in Gal. 1:19 when he said, “But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.”
The bottom line is that the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary simply cannot be drawn from Scripture. To say otherwise is to contradict what the Scripture clearly says. Jesus was the firstborn of Mary!