December 2, 2017
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.”
The Incarnation and Immanuel!
WORD STUDY VIRGIN In the Bible, only four ways are noted to get a body: (1) without a man or a woman--as Adam did, made from the dust of the earth; (2) with a man, but no woman--as Eve did, made from Adam's side; (3) with a man and a woman--as all humans are born; or (4) with a woman, but no man--as Jesus was born, having an earthly mother but no biological father. It was important that Jesus be born of a virgin and conceived by the Holy Spirit (see Luke 1). Since He existed before the creation of man, how could He ever be born of a human father and mother? Every new baby is a being that has never existed before. The modernist who denies Christ's virgin birth denies His eternal Godhead and deity. Either He is God, or He is an imposter. [Wiersbe Expository Outlines mod.] There is no question that "virgin" is the correct translation. It is true to Matthew's text and its lxx source. "Virgin" translates the Greek parthenos found in the lxx in Isa 7:14, there used to render the Hebrew ‛almah. There is no example where it can be demonstrated that ‛almah refers to a young woman who is not a virgin (cf. Gen 24:43; Song 1:3; 6:8). Furthermore, the Greek word most often rendered "girl," "maiden," or "a young woman" (neanis) is not used by Matthew. Instead, he is precise in his use of parthenos, which is translated "virgin," "maiden," "pure," or "chaste" even in classical Greek literature. The lxx also uses parthenos to translate another Hebrew word meaning "virgin" (betulah), again underscoring the fact that parthenos meant "virgin" in the lxx and for Matthew. It is clear that both Matthew and the lxx translators understood that Isaiah was speaking of a virgin when he used ‛almah. And this is precisely the purity which both Matthew and Luke ascribe to Mary (cf. vv. 18-25; Luke 1:26-35). [Believer's SB] Directly and indirectly Matthew and Luke supply evidence to confirm the truth of the virgin birth: (1) 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.... 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. [SDA Commentary] The virgin birth of Jesus Christ is vital to the truth of the gospel (Isa. 7:14). Since Jesus Christ is God, He existed before Mary; therefore, He could not have been conceived as are other babies. He was not only born, but He "came into the world" (John 18:37). He is both God and man, the sinless Lamb of God (1 Pet. 1:19). Matthew opens and closes his book with "God with us" (1:23; 28:20). [Chapter by Chapter Bible Commentary by Warren Wiersbe] The message, that Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit, was accepted by Joseph, as it has been by Christians throughout history. The name, "Immanuel," explains the implications. The Child conceived by the Holy Spirit is Himself God: God, come to be "with us," not simply as a presence, but as one of us. Why the name "Jesus"? The name means "deliverer" or "saviour," and expresses the purpose of His coming. God became one of us in order to "save His people from their sins." Some who claim to be Christians do deny the Virgin Birth. Yet if Jesus was not both God and man, united through a miracle in Mary's womb, He was merely a man. And no mere man, doomed to struggle with his own sins, would be free to save us from ours. Without the Virgin Birth there is no biblical Christianity. With it, our destiny is secure. For with it, the Jesus on whom we rely is God, and as God He guarantees the salvation He won for us on Calvary. [The 365-Day Devotional Commentary] Three times in this section (vv. 18, 20, 25) Mary is described as having had no "union" with Joseph. She was "with child through the Holy Spirit." Additional details may be read in Lk 1:26-2:20. We cannot explain the virgin birth. It is another instance of miracle being exception to the natural order of things. In faith we accept the simple truth of the Holy Spirit's action and praise God for keeping His promises and sending our Savior.... The virgin birth was God's chosen way to become incarnate: the invisible, spiritual God became human. [Disciple SB] EMMANUEL/IMMANUEL Why was Jesus not actually called "Immanuel"? According to Hebrew usage the name does not represent a title but a characterization, as in Isa 1:26 and 9:6. The name "Immanuel" shows that He really was "God with us." Thus the Deity of Christ is stressed at the very beginning of Matthew. [Scofield SB] Jesus was to be called 'Immanuel' ("God with us"), as predicted by Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 7:14). Jesus was God in the flesh; thus God was literally among us, "with us." Through the Holy Spirit, Christ is present today in the life of every believer. Perhaps not even Isaiah understood how far-reaching the meaning of "Immanuel" would be. [Life Application SB] APPLICATION COMMENTARY In many ways the birth of Christ could be considered the most significant and far-reaching miracle of all time. The wonder was not just that he came into the world without a human father, but that the infinite, holy, all-knowing, all-powerful, eternal God, the Creator of this universe, would agree to take upon himself the likeness of sinful flesh, knowing full well that he would be cruelly crucified by his own sinful creatures! This is perhaps the greatest miracle of all. [Daily Devotional Bible re Luke 1:31] The doctrine of the virgin birth is crucial to our faith. The incarnation of the Son of God was accomplished by a creative act of the Holy Spirit in the body of Mary, a virgin. It was a special miracle performed by the third person of the Holy Trinity - the Holy Spirit - which enabled the second person of the Trinity - the eternal Son of God - to take upon Himself a genuine human nature. He was born of a virgin, as a man, without surrendering any aspect of His deity..... One with us, yet one with God. He had to become man because man was the one who had sinned. He had to be God because God was the only One who could do anything about the sin of man. Humanity had tried for centuries, and the situation only got worse! The only way God could bring about the salvation of the fallen human race was to assume the form of the race He was to redeem. God has given us the means to know the truth. Jesus is the way to the Father, because He is our Redeemer. He is the truth because He is the fulfillment of all the prophecies concerning Him. He is the life because He overcame death..... Jesus has the fullness of God dwelling in Him bodily forever and ever. The Son of God became the Son of man so that the sons of men might become the sons of God. Terry Fullam [Time With God SB mod.] His Birth in History. "..... that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Jesus Christ was born into this world, not from it. He did not emerge out of history; He came into history from the outside. Jesus Christ is not the best human being the human race can boast of--He is a Being for whom the human race can take no credit at all. He is not man becoming God, but God Incarnate--God coming into human flesh from outside it. His life is the highest and the holiest entering through the most humble of doors. Our Lord's birth was an advent--the appearance of God in human form. His Birth in Me. "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you ....." (Galatians 4:19). Just as our Lord came into human history from outside it, He must also come into me from outside. Have I allowed my personal human life to become a "Bethlehem" for the Son of God? I cannot enter the realm of the kingdom of God unless I am born again from above by a birth totally unlike physical birth. "You must be born again" (John 3:7). This is not a command, but a fact based on the authority of God. The evidence of the new birth is that I yield myself so completely to God that "Christ is formed" in me. And once "Christ is formed" in me, His nature immediately begins to work through me. God Evident in the Flesh. This is what is made so profoundly possible for you and for me through the redemption of man by Jesus Christ. [In His Time; My Utmost For His Highest]