Virgin Birth: Luke

We’re looking at now and going over their critique of the Virgin Birth doctrine and tonight, covering the book of Luke.

The first point to address is that of the address to Zacharias vs. that of Mary. Why is it that no one thinks of a virgin birth in the case of John the Baptist? There is a simple reason for this though. This was Elizabeth we were talking about and considering that they were married, it’s quite likely that Elizabeth wasn’t a virgin and so there wouldn’t be a virgin birth. Zacharias would have ruled that out immediately. He is doubting God’s power then to do what he says based on Elizabeth being old. (You gotta wonder if this guy was sleeping in priest school when Abraham was talked about.)

Mary’s question is not an objection but pointing to a mystery. A virgin birth had never been done before so when this virgin hears that she’s going to have a son, she wants to know how this can be. This is not the same as saying “God cannot do this.” This was more along the lines of saying “How can God do this?” In response to what she said though, WallsofJericho makes this interesting observation:

Mary’s question directly addresses this conundrum, and nothing more. This becomes clear when we consult the Greek, in which Luke’s gospel was composed, to see what is meant here by the word know.

Young’s Concordance shows the Greek word used in Mary’s question is ginosko – to know.  Luke uses it on 22 other occasions, for example in Zacharias’ question:

18  And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man,

     and my wife is well advanced in years.”

On these 22 occasions, ginosko (to know)  never refers to sexual intercourse. Each time it is used in the sense of “learning” or “knowing” about something.



This sounds convincing at first until one considers an obvious problem. They weren’t frequently talking in the gospels about two specific people having sexual intercourse. For instance, our website makes no mistake in saying that when Matthew uses the term of Joseph knew her not until they were married, that it would refer to sexual intercourse. That’s the only time Matthew uses it that way though! Does it mean it’s wrong? No. It was an idiom Jews would recognize. There just wasn’t a reason to use it.

The idea is that Mary was wondering how this would be since she knew not a man with the credentials needed. I’m left wondering “What? Is Mary going to be raped on the way to visit her cousin or what?” The idea is something that is thrown in ad hoc. There is no reason to read it any other way than referring to sexual intercourse.

We’re also told about how when the Holy Spirit came on others, we’re not told of a virgin birth? Why in this case?

Could the context be a clue?

Let’s look at the ones given also.

  • Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; And I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”  (Jeremiah 1:4-5) 

  • So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son.  (Ruth 4:13)
  • And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. (1Samuel 2:21)
  • And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.  (Genesis 21:1-2)
  • Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have gotten a man from the LORD.”  (Genesis 4:1)
  • And the Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son.  (Judges 13:3)

The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.  (Job 33:4)



These all involved people that were married. Presumably, Jeremiah’s parents were married and had sexual intercourse. Adam and Eve would also be married by God and have sexual intercourse. What Elihu’s statement has to do with this is a good question. Maybe we should ask if Elihu has the Spirit of God, why isn’t he pregnant? That just gets us into absurdities though.

We are also told the term holy one refers to being the firstborn. Why think such though? When a Jew thought of the holy one, they would not think of a firstborn son. If one wants to say “That’s what David said though. His son would be firstborn!” That just makes the case. This is a unique son unlike any other. This is the unique Son of David.

For Son of God, WallsofJericho says that this doesn’t refer to a biological son. We agree. No one is talking about the biology of God. This Son of God bypassed the normal means. It is granted Son of God does have multiple meanings within Scripture and again, context determines usage. Son of God along with Holy One and the rest of the book points to Jesus’s divine identity as the eternally begotten of the Father and the Messiah of Israel.

Tomorrow, we shall look at Isaiah’s prophecy.

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