The Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ

December 16, 2022
Allan McIlwaine

It has been my privilege to be part of an international group studying the Scriptures by Zoom. Just recently, we began a study of the Gospel of Matthew. What a blessing this has been! In the opening verses of chapter 1, we have the genealogy of Jesus Christ, which attests to His having the credentials to occupy the throne of David in a coming day. The rest of the chapter, through chapter 2, records details of what is called the virgin birth of Christ, and the preservation of His life in early childhood. However, a more accurate description for “the virgin birth” is, “The Virginal Conception and Birth of Jesus Christ.”

It is interesting to note how the detail of Christ’s birth and the opposition He faced centers around five dreams, four of which involved Joseph. The fifth involved the wise men. All five contain warnings or commands, while three prompted action that would fulfill biblical prophecy (Matt. 1:23; 2:15, 23).

The closing verses of chapter 1 (vv.18–25), to which the first dream belongs, is worthy of our initial focus. Christmas is fast approaching—or perhaps behind you by the time you receive this magazine—and these verses concerning Christ’s conception and birth are likely to have been read in churches and schools millions of times. Frequently, however, they are likely to have been little more than a ritual with no earnestness of the heart. Little wonder you might say, when one considers that there are those in ecclesiastical positions who do not believe in the Bible’s account of the virgin birth of Christ.

Those who deny the virgin birth need to realize there are many Old Testament prophecies concerning the timing, place, and manner of Christ’s birth. Do they accept some and reject others? If so, why? If they reject them all, but accept other prophecies not associated with His birth, why the difference?

True believers are not without fault, either. We often rush over verses of scripture without taking the time to study and meditate upon them. That includes the Christmas story, no matter how “familiar” we may be with it. Now is the opportunity to re-examine these verses in Matthew’s Gospel. After all, rather than being myth, they are the bedrock of one of the most important doctrines in all of Scripture.

Writing to Timothy, the apostle Paul could say, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). As someone has said, it tells us what is right (doctrine); it tells us what is not right (reproof); it tells us how to get right (correction); and it tells us how to stay right (instruction)!
Considering that all Scripture is inspired, humanity is not at liberty to pick only those parts acceptable to it. Besides, I cannot imagine how one could promote the message of the Bible while denying the virgin birth. Under six headings, we note key truths concerning the virgin birth:

The Revelation

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise…” (Matt. 1:18). The account that follows the phrase “on this wise” is fact rather than fiction. Cast your eye to 2 Timothy 3:16–17.

The Instrumentation

“When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph…” (Matt. 1:18). Mary was the woman God chose to bring his Son into this world. She was a virgin. When the angel Gabriel told her she would conceive in her womb and bring forth a son, she asked, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:31–34). The virgin birth of Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the prophecy stated in Isaiah 7:14, as reaffirmed in Matt. 1:22–23. Isaiah 7:14 states, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Carefully note the words son, his and Immanuel, all of which denote gender. Today, some parents know the gender of their baby during pregnancy, but never prior to conception unless one goes down a dubious route!

The Conception

“She was found with child of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 1:18); “For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 1:20). The conception of Jesus Christ was not natural, but supernatural.

The Incarnation

“Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). He was conceived by the Holy Ghost (Matt. 1:20)—thus holy and separate from sinners (Heb. 7:26). This is why the prophet Isaiah in chapter 9 and verse 6 could make the distinction in the opening words, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.”

The Salvation

“Thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). The name Jesus means Savior. He is the only one who can save sinners. Acts 4:12 reminds us, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

The Designation and Interpretation

“They shall call his name Immanuel, which being interpreted is God with us” (Matt. 1:23). Jesus Christ was God manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16). Two things are abundantly clear: (1) the “virgin birth” was the means by which the eternal Son of God became incarnate, and (2) the “virgin birth” was the means by which He was born holy and sinless, thus making Him the only Savior of sinners. Denying these truths deprives the gospel message of its sound basis.
Those who deny the virgin birth often quote verses such as Galatians 4:4—“But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law…” where the virginity of the woman is not mentioned. However, this is easily explained by the fact that the virginity of the woman is not the subject under discussion. As always, the context is all-important!
Finally, in a world that has much to discourage us, why not make Isaiah 9 verses 6 and 7 your anchor verses for 2023— “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever…”