Virgin or Young Woman?

Norbert Lieth

Where the publishers of the new Lutheran Bible of 2017 are wrong.

The new Lutheran Bible of 2017 translates Isaiah 7:14 as before with “virgin.” Those responsible for this edition, however, point out in a footnote that it is literally translated a “young woman.” In the explanation at the beginning of the Bible, the “birth of a virgin” is put on par with the Greek myths of Heracles, Asclepios and Alexander the Great. The theologians think there is “some doubt in the New Testament about Jesus’ origin with God and His earthly descent from David. So the statement about the virgin birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:23) must not be viewed as a miracle but as a theological statement about His divine origin.” Thus, the prophecy of the virgin birth is annulled.

It is without doubt that Jesus, as the Son of God, was born through the biological virgin Mary. In the first promise of the Redeemer, the Bible hints at a virgin birth. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

If the coming Messiah was conceived in the normal manner—that is, with a man—it would not say “her seed.” Normally, the Scriptures speak of the seed, i.e. the descendant of the man, but the Messiah is called a descendant of the woman.

The Hebrew word almah in Isaiah 7:14, means young woman in the sense of a virgin of an age where she is old enough to marry. The same Hebrew word is used in Genesis 24:43, Exodus 2:8, Psalm 68:25, Song of Solomon 1:3 & 6:8, and Proverbs 30:19. Every time it refers to a biological virgin. Moreover, at the time of Isaiah, it was quite usual for a young woman who was as yet unmarried to be a virgin. In this connection, the confession of the apostle Matthew is important who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, quoted the text of Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

Matthew is doubtless referring to a virgin (cf. verse 18 and Luke 1:34). It says there that Mary was pregnant before she had come together with Joseph. And Mary herself said that she had not had sexual relations with any man. From this it is obvious that the birth of Isaiah’s own son (Isaiah 7:15-16) cannot be the complete fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14.

In the same way, the genealogy of Jesus gives a hint, which cannot be ignored, of the virgin birth of the Lord. Matthew says at the end of his list of ancestors, “Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ” (Matthew 1:16).

In the whole list of ancestors, it is mentioned how men fathered their descendants. But with Jesus, this suddenly stops and it just says that Jesus was born of Mary. There is no word about His father. The Gospel of Luke says, “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph…” (Luke 3:23). This is emphasized because Jesus was not a son conceived of Joseph. We see from this how exact the Bible is in its statements.

Seen historically and spiritually, the virgin birth is of great significance. It is important because Jesus was born without the original sin of Adam. He never sinned (1 Peter 2:22), and so He was able to be our perfect Savior. Because of this fact, we as born-again Christians no longer bear the original sin of Adam—the sin that all people inherit from the seed of man. A born-again person is, through his new birth, without this sin and saved through Jesus, who was conceived and born of the Holy Spirit. This is why we are saved forever and can have assurance of faith.

If we doubt the virgin birth of Jesus, then we doubt the tragedy of sin and man’s complete and utter need of salvation; but above all, God and His wonderful plan of redemption in His divine Son, and His unique and necessary need to become man.

Midnight Call - 12/2017

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