Was Jesus Born of a Virgin?

The miracle of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ has perplexed many people, and has actually kept them from accepting the truth of Christianity. However, the Bible declares that God decided that his Son would have a miraculous entrance into humanity.

Seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah said, ‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel’  (Isaiah 7:14, NASB).

‘The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.”

‘Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

‘The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit, will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. ... For nothing will be impossible with God”’ (Luke 1:26, 27, 30, 31, 34, 35, 37, NASB).

The virgin birth is set down in the Bible as a historical fact. The writers who recorded the story were Matthew – an eyewitness to the events in the life of Jesus – and Luke, the doctor, who presents things in the life of Christ from the viewpoint of his mother, Mary.

The passages in both Matthew and Luke are authentic, with no evidence at all that they were later additions to the text. The doctrine of the virgin birth has been believed by the Church from its beginning.

Ignatius, who lived at the beginning of the second century, wrote to the Ephesians and said, 'For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived in the womb by Mary, according to a dispensation, of the seed of David but also of the Holy Ghost.’

There are several reasons why the virgin birth was a necessity. The Bible teaches that the Word who became flesh was with God from the beginning (John 1:1). The fact of the pre-existence of Christ is testified many times in the New Testament (John 8:58, Philippians 2:5–11, Colossians 1:15, 16).

When Jesus came into the world, he was not a newly created individual such as we are, but was rather the eternal Son of God. To be born into this world of the virgin Mary required divine intervention, and this is exactly what the gospels record.

Another reason why Jesus needed to be virgin-born was because of his sinless nature. A basic New Testament teaching is that from the day he was born until the day he died, Jesus was without sin. To be a perfect sacrifice, he must himself be perfect – without sin. Since our race is contaminated with sin, a miraculous entrance into the world would be required, hence the virgin birth.

Moreover, if Jesus had been sired by Joseph, he would not have been able to claim legal rights to the throne of David. According to the prophecy of Jeremiah 22:28–30, there could be no king in Israel who was a descendant of King Jeconiah, and Matthew 1:12 relates that Joseph was from the line of Jeconiah. If Jesus had been fathered by Joseph, he could not rightly inherit the throne of David, since he was a relative of the cursed line.

The virgin birth of Christ is not only an historical fact, but it was also a necessary historical fact when one considers all the data.

Taken from Answers to Tough Questions Skeptics Ask About the Christian Faith, Josh McDowell and Don Stewart. Tyndale House Publishers, 1980. Reproduced here by the kind permission of Josh McDowell Ministry.

© 2001-2002 Josh McDowell Ministry