Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A question from a good friend

My good friend Jimmy Z (whose unshakable humility is exemplified by the picture at left) sent me a question I feel worthy of being answered publicly.

Why did Matthew bother saying that Joseph did not know Mary (in the conjugal sense) until the baby was born, specifying UNTIL or UNTIL AFTER depending on the translation, if it should have been, "Joseph NEVER knew her?"
The keys to understanding this passage are both the actual definition of the translated word 'until' and the overall context of scripture regarding this.

First, the word.

The greek word heos is translated to 'until'. It affirms that something did not happen up to that point, but does not imply that it did happen after that (Hebrews 1:13, 1 Timothy 4:13). The Old Testament equivalent can be found in 2 Samuel 6:23, a verse that is absurd if interpreted as the Protestants interpret Matthew 1:25.

Some examples;

Hebrews 1:13
13But to which of the angels said he at any time: Sit on my right hand, until I make thy enemies thy footstool?
Does Jesus cease sitting at the Father's right hand once His enemies have been vanquished?

1 Timothy 4:13

13Till I come, attend unto reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine.

Are we to understand that Timothy is to cease reading, exhorting and studying doctrine after Paul has come?

2 Samuel 6:23

23Therefore Michol the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.
Soooooo.... Michol had children after she died?

All of these verses are translated from the same word used in Matthew 1:25 (or, in the case of 2 Samuel 6:23, the Hebrew equivalent.)

Those who state that Matthew 1:25 states that Mary and Joseph had intercourse after Jesus was born must also stipulate that Michol had children after she untenable position to say the least.

That Mary had no intention of ever having sex with Joseph is very clear from Scripture.

The Angel says to Mary, in Luke 1;

31Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus.

32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever.

33And of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?

"How shall this be done, because I know not man?"

At this point, the angel has said nothing about the miraculous plan concerning her child. He only says "You will conceive and bear a son". If Mary's marriage to Joseph was intended to be conjugal, she would never have assumed for a second that she would conceive in any other manner but relations with Joseph. She said "How SHALL this be done"? Mary is not only a dedicated virgin up to that point, but had no intention of ever not being one.

God accepted that vow because in Mary, and only in Mary, He allowed conception without the loss of Virginity.

The other clincher is that 2 of Jesus' 'brothers', James and Joseph, are clearly identified as sons of Mary and Cleopas (John 19:25).

I hope this helps.

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