Matthew 1: 22-25 – Prophecy of the Birth of Jesus

Matthew 1: 18-25 explains the divine-human origins of Jesus; Jesus as the Son of God and as Son of David. We notice that Matthew, unlike Luke, does not emphasize the virginity of Mary, and the virginal conception itself is seen as the fulfilment of prophecy (Mt 1: 22-23). Here we have the first of the Matthean “formula quotations.” The formula is the evangelist’s comment on the event described which he perceives as meant to fulfil prophecy. The Old Testament text quoted here is Isaiah 7: 14. The prophet Isaiah spoke about a ‘young woman’ who would conceive. But Matthew uses the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the LXX) which has “a virgin shall conceive…” in Isaiah 7: 14. In this Isaian text, Matthew (and indeed the early Christian tradition) recognized the scriptural support for the belief in the virginal conception and in Jesus’ divine son ship. Jesus is spoken of as “Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.” For Matthew, Jesus is the risen Lord abiding in the Church, and therefore the name Emmanuel fits well with Matthew’s presentation of Jesus in his gospel. In fact, Matthew also terminates his gospel with a similar thought of the presence of Jesus with his disciples (Mt 28: 20).

In Matthew 1: 24, the evangelist resumes his narrative. We are told that Joseph (being a just man) did exactly as he was commanded. In the following verse the evangelist says, “He knew her not until she had borne a son.” It simply means that Joseph had no conjugal relations with her until… Does it mean that Joseph had sexual relations with Mary after the birth of Jesus? If so, what about the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity? The construction in Matthew 1: 25 is with ‘until’ preceded by a negative particle as in the example: “it did not rain until the end of the end of the game.” In English such a sentence would imply that it rained after the end of the game. But this is not so in Hebrew and Greek. In these languages such as negation (not…until) does not mean at all that the situation has changed or is different after the limit of the ‘until’ was reached. This is how we should understand Matthew 1: 25 too. It does not mean at all that after the birth of Jesus, Joseph ‘knew’ Mary. The time after the birth of Jesus is not just considered. At any rate Matthew’s main concern here in verse 25 is not the virginity of Mary but the obedience of Joseph in fulfilling the role assigned to him by the Lord. He named the child Jesus, a name which had been chosen by God himself (Mt 1: 21).

6 thoughts on “Matthew 1: 22-25 – Prophecy of the Birth of Jesus

  1. Good morning! You do a great job of bringing Christ to others through your blog. That’s why we at Biltrix want to nominate you for the Lumen Christi Award for Excellence in Catholic Blogging. Please see our post for more details. God bless!

    1. Also check out the usage “firstborn” in these verses, meaning Mary gave birth to children, after she gave birth to Jesus.

      Matthew 1:25 – And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

      Luke 2:7 – And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

      Verses from the King James Bible

      1. The Greek uses the pronoun combination heos hou, which should be translated as “up until the time when, and does not necessarily entail that there need to be an “after” or that the opposite of what did or did not happen up until that point obviously had to take place afterward.

        Various Bible verses using heos hou can be used to show that what you are suggesting here obviously follow. For example:

        “And behold, I am with you always, until [heos hou] the end of the age.” If what you are saying holds, then I guess Jesus won’t be with us any longer after the end of this age.

        So much for that.

        As for the James being called the brother of Jesus, the Greek word adelphos has a broad range of usage, just as the word brother does in English, bro.

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