The Incarnate Christ

After John develops the pre-existent nature of Christ, he then turns his attention to the incarnation stating “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). In regards to the apparent implications of this statement, one must acknowledge and examine the virgin birth. We will examine the biblical evidence surrounding this doctrine and discuss pertinent issues.

The Biblical Evidence

Gromacki notes Mary’s identification twice “as a virgin” in Luke 1:27. In addition, he concludes Mary’s response to the angelic prediction supports her virginity, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34).[1] The Matthew narrative affirms Jesus’ conception was through the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18), angelic representation personally confirming this to Joseph (Matthew 1:20). The need of such divine affirmation is necessitated due to the miraculous conception during the betrothal period of both Mary and Joseph. Sexual relations within a biblical Jewish betrothal were deemed immoral, and unfaithfulness during this time courted a death sentence.[2]

Matthew also affirms Mary’s virginity when Joseph refuses to consummate the marriage until after she gave birth to Jesus (Matthew 1:25). His reasons for refusal originate from the angelic representation mentioned above. The Matthean narrative also affirms the sign of Isaiah 7:14 is fulfilled through Mary (Matthew 1:22-23). Jesus testified to his miraculous birth in a profound response to frantic earthly parents, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).

Several issues arise concerning the virgin birth:

  1. The reliability of the Gospels
  2. The sinlessness of Jesus
  3. The differing Matthean and Lukan genealogies.

The Reliability of the Gospels

Reymond states that when modern scholars deny the fact of the virginal conception of Jesus, they deny the New Testament witness and twenty centuries of “consistent, universal testimony of the church.”[4] In addition, Luke establishing his narrative sourcing from “eyewitnesses and ministers” (Luke 1:1-2). Continuing his introduction, he affirms his endeavor has “followed all things closely” in order to write “an orderly account” for the purpose of his intended reader to have certainty (Luke 1:3-4).

The Sinlessness of Jesus

Why was Jesus devoid of sin? Luke 1:35 declares Jesus’ holiness originates from his conception by the Holy Spirit. Though Jesus was a genuine human being, he did not inherit a sinful nature (Psalm 143:2) and disposition from Adam (1 Peter 2:2). As the sinless Lamb of God (John 1:29), he could offer himself as an unblemished sacrifice to God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The Differing Matthean and Lukan Genealogies

To the average bible reader, conflicting genealogies of Jesus may appear confusing. However, upon further study, a reasonable and meaningful answer is found. Matthew’s genealogy illustrates the legal claim of Jesus to the throne of David. In contrast, Luke’s genealogy emphasizes Jesus’ biological descent from David and Adam.[5] Within the latter genealogy, Luke again emphasizes the virgin birth describing Jesus as “being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph” (3:23).

Conclusion

The sinlessness of Christ hinges on a miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit, and to assert the existence of Christ through natural means denies both the New Testament narratives and church testimony for over twenty centuries.

[1] Robert Gromacki, The Virgin Birth: A Biblical Study of the Deity of Jesus Christ (Kress Christian Publications, 2008), 85.

[2] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible, F First Edition Used edition. (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2008), 1821.

[3] Davis, Handbook of Basic Bible Texts, 63.

[4] Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith: 2nd Edition – Revised and Updated, 2nd Revised & enlarged edition. (Thomas Nelson, 2010), 549.

[5] Bibles, The ESV Study Bible, 1820.

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