Who is the Father of Jesus Christ?

Let me put my cards on the table: I believe Jesus to be the Son of God and that his human father was Joseph, the husband of Mary.  Why do I believe that Jesus is the Son of God when only Matthew and Luke record the virgin birth and Paul never mentions it?  Although the details of the birth are only found in Matthew and Luke, they are assumed when we see the pre-existence of Christ as described in John, Philippians and Colossians.  If Christ was present at creation, it is difficult to see how he could simply be the product of the sexual union of a man and a woman.

Nativity of Jesus
Image from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The deity of Christ is a matter of faith but the human parentage of Joseph is well accepted.  However, I recently encountered a person on this blog who strongly disagreed.  The fellow agreed that Matthew 1 teaches that Joseph is not the biological father of Jesus and that the Holy Spirit was involved in some way.  Where we disagreed was that I saw the Holy Spirit as creating the embryo that would become Jesus of Nazareth within Mary without the assistance of a human father.  He disagreed, to which I responded that the only other option is that God led Mary to an alternate lover to impregnate her.  To my amazement, that is exactly what he was claiming, that God led Mary to have sex with a man named Heli before she was married to Joseph!

The basis of this theory is in the differences between the genealogies found in Matthew 1 and Luke 3.  In Matthew 1:11-12, Jeconiah is mentioned.  However, in Jeremiah 22:30 it says that the descendants of Jeconiah are cut off from the throne of David.  Since Joseph is a descendent of Jeconiah, he could not be the father of Jesus.  Luke 3 contains an alternative geneology that lacks Jeconiah and casts doubt on Joseph as the actual father while mentioning a man named Heli.  The theory is that having Heli as the father of Jesus allows lineage from David while avoiding the cursed Jeconiah.

There are several problems with this.  The first criticism to this theory should be that this seems completely against God’s character.  Certainly people in the Bible cheated (such as David) but it is never described as something led by God.  It is difficult to imagine how God could want Mary to have such a pre-marital affair with another man.  But there are other problems than just moral revulsion.  The passage of Jeremiah 22 when seen in context does not seem to be a prophecy that no one from the line of Jeconiah will ever sit on the throne of David.  The passage describes how far Jeconiah had fallen.  In ancient Israel and Judah, the ultimate punishment for a king was not death but rather the prevention of their son from sitting on the throne (see 1 & 2 Kings).  Jeconiah had fallen so badly that he and his family were exiled from the land and that none of his sons would reign.  That this was not an everlasting punishment applied to all of his descendents but rather something dealing with his immediate family is shown by the fact that Jeremiah 22:28 also speaks of Jeconiah’s descendents no longer being in the land.  Obviously Joseph, as a descendent of Jeconiah, was living in the promised land and so this passage no longer applied.  Regarding the differences between Matthew 1 and Luke 3, I do not pretend to understand the situation completely.  But I will point out this: Matthew 1:12-13 mention a descendent of Jeconiah named Zerubbabel son Sheatiel.  That same Zerubbabel reappears in Luke’s geneology in Luke 3:27.  So we have someone connected with Jeconiah even in Luke’s geneology.  Finally, when you look at the geneology of Luke 3, there is a repetitive pattern of the son of x, the son of y, the son of z.  Following that pattern, it seems clear that the reference to Heli seems to be from the generation previous to Joseph and not Mary’s alternate lover.

This theory of Heli as the father of Jesus is so obscure that it never even appeared when I googled it.  However, on this blog every question is worthy of addressing and in this post I have attempted to look at the theory in a logical and hopefully helpful way.

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92 thoughts on “Who is the Father of Jesus Christ?”

  1. No doubt there are readers of your ‘Laozi, Jesus and the Virgin Birth’ and ‘Why Do I Believe in the Virgin Birth?’ pages who would want to read your latest comment.

    After all it is a response to post/s on those other pages.

    Do you think it is worth putting a note at the bottom of those other pages advising readers that you are continuing the debate on this new page?

  2. The genealogies in Matthew and Luke follow different lines from King David onwards. Matthew’s line is through David’s son Solomon, while Luke’s line is through David’ son Nathan.

    You presume Zerubbabel in Mt 1:12-13 is the same Zerubbabel in Lk 3:27.

    Here is the lineage surrounding Zerubbabel in descending order, according to Matthew: …Hezekiah – Manasseh – Amon – Josiah – Jeconiah – Shealtiel – Zerubbabel – Abiud – Eliakim…

    Here is the lineage surrounding Zerubbabel in descending order, according to Luke: …Elmodam – Cosam – Addi – Melchi – Neri – Shealtiel – Zerubbabel – Rhesa – Joannas…

    Both genealogies record Zerubbabel as the son of Shealtiel, but otherwise the male lineage before and after is completely different in each genealogy. Matthew’s ‘Shealtiel’ and Luke’s ‘Shealtiel’ had different fathers. And those fathers had different fathers. And so on.

    Apart from the coincidence of the name combination Shealtiel—Zerubbabel in both genealogies, why do you presume these two are same persons in both genealogies?

  3. As you have mused on another thread TC the closer one looks into the doctrine of virgin birth the more turns it takes.

    It is far from a clear cut straight forward doctrine.

    In deconstructing this doctrine one finds that presuppositions and connotations are the order of the day.

    Les Kelly, Tasmania.
    = = = = = = = = = =

  4. The reason that I believe that Zerubbabel bar Shealtiel is the same in both Luke and Matthew is that unlike the rest of the nobodies in the post-exilic geneologies, this Zerubbabel is an important and well known figure. See for example (and this is not comprehensive): Ezra 3:2, 8, 5:2, Nehemiah 12:1, Haggai 1:1, 12, 14, 2:2, 23 and Zechariah 2-4. There are not too many OT figures that appear in four different books. Zerubbabel bar Shealtiel was famous and if Matthew or Luke meant a different person, they would have made note of it (as is done when a different Judas is mentioned). The fact that Shealtiel and Joseph are given different fathers in the two geneologies, tells us that there were different ways to record lineage (perhaps legal and biological?).

  5. But Luke and Matthew do note who are Shealtiel-Zerubbabel in their genealogies by telling us the name of Sheatiel’s father, paternal grandfather, and so on. What more do you want?

    The lineage leading to Sheatiel is different in each genealogy. Although not as decisive, it can be seen the list of descendants of each Zerubbabel is different as well.

    The virgin birth doctrine is built on a foundation of imagining things not in the Bible in order to explain away what is written in the Bible. The proposition that is usually advanced to explain away the different names immediately prededing Shealtiel and Joseph in the 2 NT genealogies falls into that category.

  6. I will admit that I do not fully understand the differences between Matthew and Luke. But I do know that I find your explanation very unconvincing. I also know that the Zerubbabel bar Shealtiel in both genealogies is the same person. Zerubbabel was a famous and important figure in Jewish history. In both genealogies, he appears ten generations before Joseph. The only way for your theory to work is to say the same thing happened with Shealtiel as what happened with what you say happened with Jesus. Do you believe that Shealtiel’s mother was married to someone from the wrong family and that God also led her to have an extramarital affair to get pregnant by someone else? Things are getting pretty far fetched!

    Also, the Jeremiah passage says that Jeconiah’s seed would both be exiled from the land and not sit on the throne. If this was an everlasting curse, how do you explain how Joseph got back into the land in the first place? The plain explanation is that the curse was for Jeconiah’s immediate family only and that things were left open for what God wanted to do in the future.

  7. StephenB you are truly incorrigible with the length of bow you draw.

    How can you reasonably suggest:
    The plain explanation is that the curse was for Jeconiah’s immediate family only and that things were left open for what God wanted to do in the future.

    My NIV Bible says:

    Jer 22:24. “As surely as I live,” declares the LORD, “even if you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off. 22:25 I will hand you over to those who seek your life, those you fear — to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and to the Babylonians. 22:26 I will hurl you and the mother who gave you birth into another country, where neither of you was born, and there you both will die. 22:27 You will never come back to the land you long to return to.” 22:28 Is this man Jehoiachin a despised, broken pot, an object no one wants? Why will he and his children be hurled out, cast into a land they do not know? 22:29 O land, land, land, hear the word of the LORD! 22:30 This is what the LORD says: “Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah.”

    Stephen, Jeremiah clearly said – None will rule anymore in Judah.

    Truly – the theologians of Christendom seem to remember all that the disciples forgot to teach us and forget much of what the disciples did teach us.

    Les Kelly, Tasmania.

  8. Two things that I want to say. First it also says that his children will be hurled from the land. The word for child in v. 28 and offspring in v. 30 is the same in Hebrew (zerah). If this is an everlasting curse, why are his descendants allowed back in the land? Secondly, if the first zerah (children) refers to his actual children (sons and daughters alive at the time) who are exiled with him, it seems reasonable that the second zerah (offspring), simply means that none of his children would reign after him, that is there would be no Davidic king immediately following his death. That makes more sense than your interpretation.

  9. One is struck by the number of “difficulties” (as the theologians like to call them) in reconciling the virgin birth story with the biblical account.

    The difficulties arise from fitting bible texts into a virgin birth frame.

    Theologians propose solutions that usually depend on a lot of imagination. On closer reading you will see they are not necessarily committed to the solutions they throw up, and often do not address the consequences of their hypotheses further down the track.

    For example if the claim that both NT genealogies are that of Joseph, it would mean the NT has 2 genealogies of Joseph, and none of Jesus!

    As the NT writers were well aware, it was of some importance to their claims that Jesus was “made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” One ponders then why the NT would give 2 genealogies of Jesus’ step-father — who is irrelevant in this matter — and not give Jesus’ actual lineage.

    To keep things simple, I will proceed with a few remarks on the ‘Zerubbabel’ matter here, and deal with your ‘curse of Jeconiah’ comments separately in a few days’ time.

    Many bible commentators, and you Stephen, suggest or assert that ‘Shealtiel-Zerubbabel’ in Matthew and Luke’s genealogies are the same persons, even though they have different antecedents and descendants in each genealogy.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia article ‘Genelogy of Christ’
    is a typical example.

    The solution it offers to explain the different antecedents and descendants involes a convoluted web of relationships, namely a widow remarrying and then 2 levirate marriages.

    However, it then concedes:

    “A more simple solution of the difficulty is obtained, if we do not admit that the Salathiel and Zorobabel occurring in St. Matthew’s genealogy are identical with those in St. Luke’s. The above proofs for their identity are not cogent. If Salathiel and Zorobabel distinguished themselves at all among the descendants of Solomon, it is not astonishing that about the same time two members of Nathan’s descendants should be called after them.”

    I might add that most of the arguments for virgin birth are anything but “simple” or “cogent.”

    Postscript: You are incorrect when you state in your 29 September post: “In both genealogies, he (Zerubbabel) appears ten generations before Joseph.”

    In fact, Matthew lists 10 generations, whereas Luke lists 19 generations.

  10. Stephen, I’m sorry but your post of Sept 29th seems rather incoherent to me.
    You appear to be either insinuating or attributing things to people which were not said.

    Let me be very specific:
    Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies were NEVER meant to be reconciled in any shape or form from Solomon and Nathan onwards. They are two genealogical lines of totally DIFFERENT families.

    The Zerubbabel and Shealtiel in each genealogy refer to totally different people with totally different antecedents and descendants – as both Matthew and Luke clearly record. It is theologians trying to fit their misguided perceptions into biblical narratives who are the cause of – “Things are getting pretty far fetched!”

    Your rather snide inference of some extramarital relationship is totally irrelevant to any point of view that I hold about the Zerubbabel and Shealtiel of either line. I say that they were different people of different families.

    But in passing – Have you ever seriously wondered about the four women (excluding Mary) that Matthew included in his genealogy???

    Regarding your point:
    “The reason that I believe that Zerubbabel bar Shealtiel is the same in both Luke and Matthew is that unlike the rest of the nobodies in the post-exilic geaneologies, this Zerubbabel is an important and well known figure.”

    To which I reply:
    PRECISELY Stephen, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel being Governor of Jerusalem would be quite well known. Wouldn’t it be most reasonable that people returning from the exile would name their children after them as a compliment???

    Finally you say on your counting of descendants:
    “In both genealogies, he (Zerubbabel) appears ten generations before Joseph.”

    I reply:
    No Stephen, have a recount, mate.
    Matthew’s Zerubbabel is 10 generations removed from Joseph and 15 from Solomon.
    Luke’s Zerubbabel is 18 generations from Heli and 20 from Nathan.

    I stand by my point that Matthew’s line is cursed by God through Jeremaih to lose its inheritance to the throne in the same way that it was taken from Saul of the tribe of Benjamin and given to David.

    Les Kelly. Tasmania.

  11. I apologize about that mix up on the 10 verses. My mistake. I am still convinced that both Zerubbabels are the same person. We can not count years by generations. There are about forty generations between Joseph and David in Luke and Matthew has a clear division of fourteen and fourteen. We have to remember that biblical genealogies are not precise. 1 Chronicles actually lists Zerubbabel as the grandson of Shealtiel. I am not interested in trying to reconcile Matthew and Luke’s genealogies. The point of this discussion is whether or not Joseph was disqualified from being the human father of Jesus because of his lineage. The fact is the supposed curse was limited to Jeconiah’s immediate sons as seen by the fact that the later descendants returned to the land which was another part of the curse.

    1. Stephen,if you and all the others on here knew your O.T.you would know that Jesus could never be the Jewish Messiah.To start with the Messiah was to come through the David or Soloman bloodline,neither geneaology in Matthew or Luke allows that.One reason is Joseph was not Jesus father your N.T.says Jesus was conceived by the Holy Ghost.If you knew your O.T.you would know it states a tribal bloodline must come through the father,it even states it can’t come from the mother.Neither can a bloodline come through adoption,supposing as some apologetics claim that Joseph adopted Jesus.
      So since Jesus was conceived by the Holy Ghost and not an earthly father from David or Soloman’s bloodline there is no way Jesus could qualify to be the Jewish Messiah.Stephen I thought you went to a Christian college or Seminar,i am amazed at what you don’t know,of course they don’t want you to study for proof they just want you to have faith without proof.Isaiah 7:14 was never a prophecy about Jesus some 700 years later or about a virgin birth,that is pretty easy to prove if you carefully do your research.This and other things I have sent you completely disproves a historical Jesus.and there are plenty of other proofs and evidence that Jesus was never a historical flesh and blood person.
      I spent 32 years in Christianity so I know your Bible well,but the last 20 years I have spent disproving nearly all of the Bible claims.The Bible and Christianity is the biggest conspiracy ever put over on humanity.If you can’t find the O.T. scriptures that say a blood line can only come from the father and can’t come through the mother or adoption let me know and I will tell you where they are.
      In Real Truth,
      Jay Osbotne

  12. In your opening comment for this page, you asserted Zerubbabel son (of) Sheatiel that appears in Matthew’s genealogy is the same Zerubbabel in Luke’s geneology.

    In your October 5 post you said you are still convinced it is the same Zerubbabel mentioned in both NT genealogies, but “not interested” in reconciling the 2 genealogies.

    I think you would be interested in comparing the names in the genealogies if this supported your assertion, but of course it doesn’t.

    It can be comforting to hold to one’s beliefs while shielding then from evidence that may prove difficult, but I doubt this is what should be.

    Your “mix-up” on the generations is of no great consequence, just one of those minor errors we are all prone to make. That aside, it is worth examining where Shealtiel-Zerubbabel sit in the time frame of Luke’s genealogy.

    Luke’s genealogy appears comprehensive, where (as you have noted) Matthew’s genealogy is not.

    I have constructed a table based on the following assumptions: Nathan born 1004 BC, Jesus born 4BC, 41 generations preceding Jesus (from Nathan to Joseph, both inclusive), each generation of equal length 24.39 years.

    According to this table, Shealtiel born 516BC and Zerubbabel born 491BC.

    If the assumptions were changed to a later birth date for Nathan, and the number of generations to 40 (Nathan to Heli, treating Joseph as parenthetical to, and not part of, the genealogy), Shealtiel and Zerubbabel are placed in an even later time zone.

    Whatever assumptions are used, the table places Luke’s Shealtiel-Zerubbabel in a subsequent generation to the Shealtiel of 1 Chr 3:17 and the Zerubbabel of Ezra 3:2 etc.

    In light of this, it might be worth looking again at Les Kelly’s question:

    “Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel being Governor of Jerusalem would be quite well known. Wouldn’t it be most reasonable that people returning from the exile would name their children after them as a compliment???”

    and the Catholic Encyclopedia comment:

    “If Salathiel and Zorobabel distinguished themselves at all among the descendants of Solomon, it is not astonishing that about the same time two members of Nathan’s descendants should be called after them.”

    Postscript: I think it is best to deal with one point of contention per post, so that readers can easily follow any response or see if there is no response.

    Therefore I will offer my comments about the ‘curse of Jeconiah’ issue in a another post.

  13. I think your logic is faulty. We cannot assign years to generations. We have no idea of a man was 20 or 60 when he fathered his son. The best we can do is determine if it was pre-exilic or post-exilic and even that can be sketchy. Both Zerubbabels seem to be post-exilic and I continue to believe they are the same.

    An important question to ask is: How would the original readers of Matthew and Luke have interpreted the reference to Zerubbabel, especially since both genealogies are meant to prove Davidic lineage.

    Here is something else to consider. Why in Matthew is Joseph address as “son of David”? Yes, he was of the line of David, but why did the angel address in that way. If the purpose of the visit was to explain why another man had to father the child, why not call him “son of Jeconiah” to remind him of his ineligibility? But perhaps he is addressed as son of David was because his God-given role was to provide a legal link to the house of David for Jesus!

  14. You use the term “logic” rather loosely.

    What you are referring to is not logic per se, but the limitations of drawing conclusions from the available statistics.

    Several times you have made clear your belief that the Zerubbabel mentioned in the 2 genealogies and in the books of Ezra etc are all the same person. No ifs, no maybes.

    I have pointed out that Matthew and Luke each record different antecedents and descendants for the Zerubbabel bar Shealtiel mentioned in their respective genealogies.

    In addition to this biblical fact, I advised that I had drawn up a table of Luke’s genealogy based on data derived from the Bible which pointed to the Zerubbabel in Luke’s genaealogy being of a later generation to that of the Zerubbabel mentioned in Ezra 3:2.

    The statisitcs which I considered relevant to Luke’s genealogy point to ‘his’ Zerubbabel being born circa 491BC (or circa 472BC if Joseph is not considered part of the genealogy).

    However, the Zerubbabel whose activities are recorded in the books of Ezra etc comes from an earlier period. He returned to Jerusalem as a leader of the Jews in 538BC. At this time presumably Zerubbabel must have been a mature person to have been given this responsibility, and a birth date no later than 572BC cannot be far off the mark.

    That would make this Zerubbabel about 80 years older than his namesake in Luke’s genealogy (or about 100 years older if Joseph is not considered part of the genealogy), according to the projections I made.

    True, these projections are not conclusive because they are based on assumptions. A margin of error has to be allowed for according to the nature of the assumptions. Nevertheless 80 (or 100) years allows for a fairly hefty margin of error.

    It would be an interesting exerscise for a group to explore this matter for themselves.

    Perhaps I might close by pointing out that not once have you directly addressed the main ‘difficulty’ for your belief, this being the fact that where the 2 genealogies mention Shealtiel each shows him to have a different father, paternal grandfather, etc to the other.

    Postscript: From me, one issue at a time. Here Zerubbabel, then the “curse of Jeconiah,” then Matthew’s account.

  15. I still think your methodology of counting years by generations is faulty. But perhaps we must agree to disagree on this one. I do not know why Shealtiel has two different fathers in Matthew and Luke. Nor do I know why Zerubbabel is the grandson of Shealtiel in 2 Chronicles. Can you answer that one. I think we have come to the end of this discussion.

    What I would like to hear from you is why descendants of Jeconiah were allowed to return to the land but not allowed to rule even though both issues are mentioned by Jeremiah.

  16. Stephen,

    My reading of Jeremiah 22:24/30 clearly indicates several elements to Jeremiah’s curse against Jeconiah and his kin AND also to Judah generally.

    Really, read the verses closely and try to put aside any preconceptions and connotations.

    There are several elements involved – not just one.

    Les Kelly, Tasmania.

  17. Yes, that is something that we both have to do. But I want you to notice that the expulsion from the land is not just for Judah in general but Jeconiah’s seed in particular (the same word used for the cutting off of leadership).

  18. Your post of October 10 attempting to close the Shealtiel-Zerubbabel issue reads in part:

    “I still think your methodology of counting years by generations is faulty. But perhaps we must agree to disagree on this one. I do not know why Shealtiel has two different fathers in Matthew and Luke. Nor do I know why Zerubbabel is the grandson of Shealtiel in 2 Chronicles. Can you answer that one. I think we have come to the end of this discussion.”

    You suggest we have come to the end of the discussion (on Shealtiel bar Zerubbabel) but nevertheless ask a question which would prolong discussion.

    I will answer that question if you wish, but it will take us into what might be a side issue. Enough for me to say here that Matthew sees Zerubbabel as a direct descendant of Jeconiah.

    If we have come to the end of the discussion on Shealtiel bar Zerubbabel, then may I suggest to your readers they base their assessments of our contending points of view not on declarations of beliefs but on the merits of the reasoning put forward to support those beliefs.

  19. Re: Jeconiah. Here is what you said in your September 29 post.

    “Also, the Jeremiah passage says that Jeconiah’s seed would both be exiled from the land and not sit on the throne. If this was an everlasting curse, how do you explain how Joseph got back into the land in the first place? The plain explanation is that the curse was for Jeconiah’s immediate family only and that things were left open for what God wanted to do in the future.”

    Your proposition about Jeconiah refers to Jeremiah 22, particularly verses 28 and 30.

    I understand your proposition to imply that both verses are part of God’s curse, and by demonstrating an event related to the descendants in verse 28 is of a limited duration it follows that part of the curse relating to the descendants in verse 30 is also of a limited duration.

    Have a look at the construction of Jeremiah 22:24-30.

    Verses 24-27 are words of God, “says the Lord” we are told at the start of this passage.

    Verse 28 is of a different nature. It is not a declaration, but a series of rhetorical questions. It is Jeconiah asking the questions, not Jeconiah quoting God asking questions.

    Verses 29-30 reverts back to words attributed to God, “Hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord.”

    God’s curse in verse 30, “for none of (Jeconiah’s) descendants shall prosper, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah,” mean that none of Jeconiah’s descendants shall sit on the throne of David anymore.

  20. Here is the passage in question:
    “But to the land to which they will long to return, there they shall not return.”
    Is this man Coniah a despised, broken pot, a vessel no one cares for? Why are he and his children hurled and cast into a land that they do not know? O land, land, land, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the LORD: “Write this man down as childless, a man who shall not succeed in his days, for none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David and ruling again in Judah.””
    (Jeremiah 22:27–30 ESV)
    When OT is prophesy is studied it is demonstrated that it comes in a number of forms and styles. There is no reason to think that the rhetorical questions were less binding than the later section. Both speak of what would happen to Jeconiah’s children. The greatest fear a king was not that he would die but that his son would not succeed him. That fear was realized for Jeconiah.

  21. In my post of October 13, writing about Jeremiah 22:28, I inadvertently used the name Jeconiah whereas I meant Jeremiah.

    The paragraph should read:

    “Verse 28 is of a different nature. It is not a declaration, but a series of rhetorical questions. It is Jeremiah asking the questions, not Jeremiah quoting God asking questions.”

    My response to SB post of October 14 still to come.

  22. On October 8th StephenB asked:

    “Here is something else to consider. Why in Matthew is Joseph address as “son of David”? Yes, he was of the line of David, but why did the angel address in that way. If the purpose of the visit was to explain why another man had to father the child, why not call him “son of Jeconiah” to remind him of his ineligibility? But perhaps he is addressed as son of David was because his God-given role was to provide a legal link to the house of David for Jesus!”

    LesK replies:

    Okay Stephen, I’ll answer yours though I suspect that you will refuse to see my point, then you please answer mine.

    Because the line from which Joseph was descended was disinherited from David’s throne (Jer 22:30), did not mean that those descendants also forfeited the right to be called sons of David too.
    Joseph simply NEVER inherited the right to reign from David’s throne, and Jesus received that right through Luke’s line.

    Do you seriously suggest that the promises made to Abraham, Jacob and David to be fulfilled in Jesus could only be delivered through Solomon as per Matthew’s genealogical line???
    Do you deny the right of fulfillment through Nathan via Luke’s genealogical line???

    Stephen from where do you get the quaint idea about Gabriel’s visit to Joseph being:
    “…. the purpose of the visit was to explain why another man had to father the child,….”???
    Sorry mate, I consider that a nonsense.

    Gabriel’s words to Joseph were short and to the point (Matt 1:20/21).
    Gabriel left Joseph with a very profound reminder that ALL – repeat ALL – children are conceived in the womb by the awesome power of Almighty Jehovah.

    In neither cast neither to Mary nor to Joseph did Gabriel show any sense of obligation to explain or ask permission of them – Gabriel delivered instructions from Jehovah.

    I suggest that Gabriel visited Joseph to give him an instruction, as similarly some months previously Gabriel visited Mary to give her an instruction also (Luke 1:26/38).
    Note Mary’s response “Behold the handmaid of the Lord (LK1:38).

    The right to cast aspersions upon the manner of conception of other people is reserved solely for those who had control over the manner of their own conception.
    I think I have previously made mention of that valiant Judge of Israel – Jeptha.
    Come to think of it, so too did Paul number Jeptha among those who ruled Israel righteously in the eyes of God.

    For the second time in passing I will again ask you Stephen:
    Have you ever seriously considered Matthew’s reason for including in his genealogy reference to four women (five if you include Mary) who were tainted by sexual scandal under the strict moral code of the Jewish law???

    Have you ever considered for a moment that Matthew was breaking the ground for what Luke was to later record about Mary in detail???

    Are you one of those who subscribe to an invented levirate marriage in order to reconcile two totally different family lines from King David as given in Matthew and Luke???

    Les Kelly, Tasmania.

  23. Yes I do disagree with you about why Joseph is called son of David. Rarely are descendants of David called son of David. It is a title that usually has messianic overtones. Joseph is called son of David because the whole reason he is involved in this is that he is a son of David and that it is through him that Jesus will be called a son of David.

    I strongly disagree with you that Gabriel’s message is simply that all children are born of the Spirit. In both Matthew and Luke, there is concern about how this pregnancy is possible. Gabriel’s answer is that this is a miracle of the Spirit.

    I have not been purposely the four women in Matthew’s geneology. That is actually one of my favourite parts of Matthew and I have shared this point with my congregation numerous time. All four women have gentile origins and there is some suggestion of sexual scandal. I do think that they are mentioned because of the controversy about Mary. Assume for a moment that I am correct about the virginal conception. Even if God was responsible for the conception of Jesus without any human father, there would still be questions by family and community. There would be nothing obvious from Jesus’ appearance that he was the Son of God and so this was sure to cause scandal, hints of which are found in the Gospels. The mention of those four women does nothing to take away from my belief in the virginal conception.

    Regarding the differences between Matthew and Luke, I do not subscribe to any particular theory. I know there are variations among geneologies even in the Old Testament. To be honest, it is not a major concern for me.

  24. You say “the whole reason Joseph is involved in this is that he is a son of David and that it is through him that Jesus will be called a son of David.”

    The NT says Jesus was “made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” (Rom 1:3)

    This cannot involve Joseph, because he is not linked to Jesus “according to the flesh.”

    So what is the link between David and Jesus “according to the flesh”?

    The answer to this question will inform us how Jesus was a “son of David,” thus fulfilling one of the messianic criteria.

  25. According to the flesh does not have to mean biological or genetic. The difference many see between biological children and adopted children did not exist in that culture. You have to look at that whole verse. Paul is comparing Jesus as the Son of David and Son of God. Paul is saying that Jesus in his human incarnation was a son of David but in his pre-existence was the Son of God.

  26. You have a habit of using language to convey ideas in an imprecise way.

    Here you use the words “does not have to mean,” and then apparently proceed on the basis that it “does not mean.”

    Is it your argument that the words “made of the seed of David according to the flesh” do not have the meaning that Jesus was a biological descendant of David?

    If so, can you quote anyone that supports this argument?

  27. I do not have a scholar on hand to quote but let me clarify. That verse has a couplet that must be looked at. Paul speaks of Jesus as Son of David and Son of God as his two natures. In the ancient world, biological connection was not required to be considered the seed. For example, Augustus was considered divine because his adopted father Julius Caesar was thought to be descended from the gods. In that case, even through adoption, Augustus was considered the seed of the gods.

  28. You did not answer the question put to you:

    Is it your argument that the words “made of the seed of David according to the flesh” do not have the meaning that Jesus was a biological descendant of David?

    A simple declaration such as “Yes, that is my argument” would clarify your position.

  29. I would say yes, Paul’s word that Jesus was the seed of David according to the flesh does not mean that he was a biological descendent but was rather a legal descendant being the legal son of Joseph, a descendant of David. Hope that is clear enough.

  30. Before responding to your recent posts, would you mind advising:

    Do you know any text/s in the OT that specify a direct physical, that is biological, link between David and the messiah (anointed)?

    Do you know any text/s in the NT that specify a direct physical, that is biological, link between David and Jesus?

    If so, what texts are they?

  31. The mistake that you are making is assuming a descendent or seed of someone must require biological connection in the ancient world. An adopted child is a legal heir and is considered as much a seed as a biological child.

  32. StephenB wrote on October 20th:

    According to the flesh does not have to mean biological or genetic. The difference many see between biological children and adopted children did not exist in that culture. You have to look at that whole verse. Paul is comparing Jesus as the Son of David and Son of God. Paul is saying that Jesus in his human incarnation was a son of David but in his pre-existence was the Son of God.

    LesK responds:

    There you go again Stephen, using patently un-biblical terms – “human incarnation” and “his pre-existence” to get your point across.
    None of the disciples used such terms.
    These are terms invented in the Church Councils.

    I see Romans 1:1/4 as meaning Jesus was physically born a descendant of David, and became spiritually born of God upon his resurrection from death:
    Follow the words closely if you will:

    Romans 1:1: Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God —

    Paul was called and set apart by God to preach his gospel….

    1:2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures

    God’s gospel was promised through the prophets….

    1:3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David,

    God’s son Jesus of Nazareth was of his human (flesh and blood???) nature descended from David….

    1:4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit was declared to be God’s Son (born of God) upon his resurrection from death…See also Acts 13:33.

    Stephen, You put all your expectations upon Jesus inheriting David’s throne from Joseph.
    What significance do you attach to the man HELI in Luke 3:23???

    Matthew and Luke gave us two totally different genealogical lines for a reason.
    What is that reason???

    Joseph ceases to have any significant input to Jesus’ inheritance of David’s throne by NOT being Jesus’ physical father. Joseph discharged his full responsibilities to Jesus in assuming the role of adoptive parent.

    SepepheB posted on October 21st:

    “….For example, Augustus was considered divine because his adopted father Julius Caesar was thought to be descended from the gods. In that case, even through adoption, Augustus was considered the seed of the gods.”

    LesK replies:

    Here you clearly illustrate how Hebrew biblical concepts were displaced by Pagan Greek / Roman concepts after the destruction of Jerusalem in 79AD.

    Stephen, what place does pagan Greek or Roman thinking have in either explaining or taking the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth to the world???

    Christendom bears the image not of the Hebrew values for which Jesus of Nazareth lived and died, but the image of Greek paganism as projected upon the world from deliberations of the various Church Councils from 325 onwards.

    Acts 26:22, 23. “ To this day I stand witnessing to both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say would come – That the Christ would suffer, that he would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.“

    1Co 1:22/23. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.

    I repeat that the substitution of Pagan values for Hebrew values by the Christian churches is a confidence trick of staggering proportions.

    Les Kelly, Tasmania.

  33. Your position is that the Bible does not draw a biological link between David and Jesus, and Jesus only belongs to David’s line through adoption.

    Specifically you deny “born of the seed of David according to the flesh” links David and Jesus biologically. Your position must compel you to also deny the same for the following NT text. Note “the fruit of his loins.”

    · Brethren, I may say unto you freely of the patriarch David… knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins he would set one upon his throne (Act 2:29-30)

    These are Peter’s words. Do you think his “fruit of (David’s) loins” reference draws from the following OT texts? If not these, which OT texts?

    · When thy days are fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, that shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. (2Sam 7:14)

    · The Lord has sworn in truth to David… I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body. (Psalm 132:11)

    Do you think “fruit of his loins”, “thy seed that shall proceed out of thy bowels”, and “fruit of your body” denotes a biological link, or not?

  34. What is the significance of Heli? He is Jesus’ grandfather in some way. I am not going to pretend that I have studied the two genealogies to any great extent. I am aware of theories about levirate marriages, and legal vs biological lines as well as one being Joseph’s line and one being Mary’s line. I am not prepared to take a position on these without further study.

    Regarding non-Jewish ideas, these are found throughout the Old and New Testaments. The writers are constantly interacting with the thought of the outside world. John 1 very clearly is responding to Greek philosophical ideas.

    I will not pretend to have all the answers but I will stand on these facts:
    1) Matthew and Luke present Jesus’ birth as a miraculous event.
    2) The image is not that of the same miracle of every birth but the Holy Spirit doing something very special to create the child within Mary.
    3) Joseph was aware that the child was not his but he was chosen to be a part of the story because he was of the line of David.
    4) It is against God’s character to send Mary out for an adulterous affair to get pregnant by another man, nor does the Bible say that he did. Please show me one verse where it says that Mary had sexual relations with a man named Heli.

    These are the facts that I stand on. The two of you are free to believe what you want and I hope that readers will examine all of our comments and judge based on the full information.

  35. Why do I get the feeling you have resorted to a declaration of beliefs in order to avoid answering the quite specific questions put in my last post.

    This is not the first time you have done this.

    Readers can hardly make a “judgment based on the full information” when you avoid answering questions put to test your position that David and Jesus are not linked biologically.

    Frankly, I was a bit surprised when you took that line.

    Church luminaries such as Augustine and Aquinas acknowledge the Bible does say Jesus is David’s physical descenant, despite the difficulties this incurs for them. (Their statements are analysed on my website: article The Two Genealogies in the NT.)

    Previously, I have mentioned how one is struck by the number of “difficulties” (as the theologians like to call them) in reconciling the virgin birth story with the biblical account. The theologians interpret scripture in a way that supports virgin birth, and the results are usually ludicrous.

    The claim that 2 completely different genealogies in the NT are both that of Joseph, even though he is irrelevant to proving Jesus’ physical descent, is one example.

    Have you ever thought this claim through? If it were true, it would mean the NT gives 2 completely different genealogies of Jesus’ foster-father, but none of Jesus!

  36. I went back to my core beliefs because this discussion can go in a hundred different directions. I am also being honest that I have not spent a lot of time researching the two different genealogies. To debate them as an expert would be dishonest. I have told you why I believe in the virgin birth. My understanding of the biblical texts is that Joseph’s davidic lineage was enough to provide the required legal link for Jesus.

  37. Luke 3 is actually Mary’s geneology. Since Mary had no brothers she was the sole heiress of her father’s estate and hence by Jewish law, Joseph as Mary’s husband was reckoned among her father’s family as his son and heir. Joseph was Jacob’s son but the legal son of Heli (Mary’s father). This employing Joseph’s name instead of Mary’s also complies with the Jewish law that geneologies must be reckoned by fathers not mothers. That Heli was Mary’s father is supported by early Christians such as Origen, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Athanasius and Justin Martyr. It is also supported indirectly by Jewish tradition from Talmudic writters.

  38. SB. Your pathetic pontification in retreating inside your own beliefs once again makes me ask the question – “Does changing your beliefs in any way alter the facts????

  39. Changing beliefs does not alter facts. However, sometimes a change in belief coincides with a better understanding of the truth. When people began to believe that the earth was round and not flat, the shape of the world did not change. The change in belief went along with a better understanding of the facts.

  40. Re Carol Duggins’ comment of 22Nov:

    “Luke 3 is actually Mary’s genealogy. Since Mary had no brothers she was the sole heiress of her father’s estate and hence by Jewish law, Joseph as Mary’s husband was reckoned among her father’s family as his son and heir.”

    LesK says:
    Sorry Carol you have got it wrong.
    Your comment is totally supposition which has absolutely no biblical basis.
    One may quote a string of lofty sounding church “fathers” but even they were as inclined to error as are the clerics of today.

    The facts are:
    Mary’s name does not once appear in Luke’s third chapter.
    In fact the only reference of Mary’s origins ever given by Luke is found in 1:36:
    “And behold your “suggenes” – (meaning blood or tribal relation) Elizabeth she has also conceived …. ”

    I suggest that you consult Encyclopaedia Biblica article “Mary” column 2957 which reads:
    “We are not in a position to say to what tribe it was that Mary really belonged, but that the author of Luke 1 held her to be a Levite is certain…..”

    Luke tells us that Mary was a “suggenes” or blood / tribal relative of Elizabeth and nothing more.

    Theologians have fiddled and dandled with the two NT genealogies ad infinatum for centuries but nothing can hide the simple basic fact that Matthew and Luke have presented us with two totally different ancestries of totally different families that were never meant to be reconciled.

    Matthew gave us Joseph’s ancestry – the supposed father of Jesus of Nazareth.
    Luke gave us the ancestry of Heli – the real physical father of Jesus.

    Luke commenced his genealogy with the parenthetical reference to Joseph being the “supposed” father of Jesus.

    Jewish Messianic expectancy of 4BC was totally devoid of any concept of “virgin birth” – and it remains so even today.

    Mary’s question to Gabriel in Lk 1:34:
    “How shall this be seeing I do not know a man?”
    Is totally relevant to what Gabriel had just told her concerning the criteria that her child – yet to be conceived – would fulfill in Lk 1:32/22.

  41. Why does biblical discussion have to be so convoluted?

    If we were discussing a Shakespeare play there would be no argument. The problem is simply “BELIEFS’.

    I can believe anything I please and it does not make it true, even that the moon is made of mouldy cheese or that Mary is the daughter of Heli. The facts prove that neither belief is true.

    Get rid of Belief and take what is written no matter how awkward it will make your profession.

    Surelyit is simple and more in keeping with our experience,, to accept a Jesus who was in all points like his brethren, and who understood and experienced the position of man in relation to God.

    Instead the churches expect us to swallow a pagan notion of Divine Birth when we know that To a Hebrew, every birth is a new miracle of creation. To the Greeks Virginity was something almost to be worshipped in temples like the Parthenon. So now Mary’s virtue is the important thing to the church rather than the character of Jesus!

    The mind boggles as to how this could happen!

    Why do we need a Virgin Birth, when all the evidence is against it, including the naming of his natural father Heli?

  42. It is far from clear that Heli is the father of Jesus. Heli may in fact be the father of Joseph or there may be some other explanation. While every birth is a miracle, Matthew and Luke describe the conception of Jesus as going beyond that. You are welcome to believe what you want, just be aware you require as much faith as I do.

  43. Sorry Stephen,

    I take it that by faith you mean belief.

    The question of Josephs line has been dismissed as relevent to Jesus. He dis not pass on any title to kingship.
    Matthew makes it clear that the kingship does not reside in that line.

    Luke on the other hand claims to have traced all things from the beginning and what better way than to ask Mary.

    On an entirely different tack it seems appropriate that the Judaic line through Heli and the Aaronic, priestly line through Mary should be united in he who should be “Prophet , Priest and King”


  44. Hi Stephen,

    I do not intend to repeat the evidence submitted by previous contribuitors.

    As one who previously supported the doctrine of virgin birth,it amazes me that the evidence against can be so easily dismissed by believers.

    When I finally reconciled the genealogies I was overcome that such obvious information has been suppressed. IT was however known to the Roman Catholic church, who hid their encyclopaedic paraphrase of Luke under an obscure heading, not under ‘genealogy’ where one would naturally look.

    I had dismissed the virsin birth on the evidence of Is 7:14 and ch.8. To find that the genealogy of Luke lists Heli,was just icing on the cake.

    My father in law tried to taunt me by claiming: If you tell me who the father of Jesus was I will believe what you say about the V.B.”

    My reply to him was: “No I wont tell you Pop. If I did tell you it would not make any difference”

    Sadly Stephen, I place you in the category of the southern friend who sent me some books to ‘prove’ the V.B. He said to me after some discussion: “If I accept what you say Laurie, my whole lifes’ work would be ruined”!

  45. You are welcome to see me any way you want. While I believe in the virgin birth I would not say that my entire faith or life was based on it. I think a plain sense reading of Matthew and Luke demonstrates a belief in the virgin birth by those authors at least. The theory that Joseph’s side of the davidic line was disqualified does not fit with the biblical witness, nor does it make sense when the angel addresses Joseph as Son of David. I do not have all the answers for the differences in the genealogies but Heli as the father of Jesus is at the bottom of the list for possibilities.

    Here is a question for anyone believing this: What is the earliest historical claim that Heli was the father of Jesus?

  46. Hi Stephen,

    What intrigues me is how the doctrine of Virgin birth overrules in importance, Jesus’ birth by resurrection emphasised in the new testament.

    Matthew was at pains to show how Jesus replaces the nation as the Son of God. and the apostles emphasise that we can all be “sons of God ” through character and a personal resurrection .

    How does the virgin birth fit into your whole philosophy, and how different would it be without it? We cannot be ‘Sons of God’ by being virgin born, but we can by character and resurrection!

  47. Jesus’ birth by resurrection? Do you have a reference for such a phrase? As for sons of God, I don’t believe Matthew and Luke who record the virgin birth stress such an image. This is found mainly in John and Paul. Also, we do not become children of God at the resurrection, we become children of God by faith (John 1). We are revealed as children of God at the resurrection (Romans 8) but that is not when we become children of God.

  48. The old Testament predicts Jesus birth by resurrection in Psalms ch2 v7:

    “thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee!”

    The apostles refer to this prophecy several times in the new testament.
    At his baptism Jesus was referred to as :” my beloved son “, not my begotten son”.

    For further questions on this subject ,I refer you to the article:

    “Questions that must be answered”, on my website:



  49. Do these really suggest that Jesus was born at his resurrection? It is more likely that Jesus is identified as the one from Ps 2:7 at his baptism. Plus it is completely illogical that Jesus would be born after he died.

  50. Sorry Stephen,

    This time you are at odds with Luke , (as if you were not before.]
    Acts 13 33 describes the begetting from the dead as fulfillment af Ps 2 7.

    like many of the doctrines of the churches, they manage to invert the meaning of scripture to their own beliefs, and in the process revert to pagan beliefs.
    Where Luke describes a normal birth of Jesus through Heli (a parallel to that of John the Baptist) the church must have him specially virgin born as were the Heroes of Rome and Greece.
    Where it gives a simple prophesy of Jesus special birth from resurrection,in Ps. 2 7 they revert to a local story in Isaiah 7 14 .
    At least that is the orthodox position, yours may be different,I don’t know. Forgive my presumption that is not the case.

    Like Jesus one becomes a son of God through character, not birth. Why should the relationship of Jesus to the father be different?

  51. There are all kinds of problems with what you are saying. Luke’s point in that passage in Acts is that all this was prophesied in the OT. So he strings together a number of messianic prophesies, starting with the one about being the Son of God. He is not saying Jesus became the Son at the resurrection. How do you explain how Jesus refers to God as his Father throughout Luke’s Gospel. Luke 23:46 has Jesus saying “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” even though he had not yet been raised from the dead.

    Another problem is the fact that the Bible (John and Paul) describe Jesus as being involved in the act of creation and as being divine. How does that fit with becoming a son of God by character?

    Finally, the Bible does not say that Jesus is the son of Heli. That is a very forced and stretched interpretation.

  52. Again Stephen,
    You have reverted to standardised church beliefs.
    My exposition on the Fatherhood of God can be found in the article : “God Manifestation” on my website:


    From the time in Genesis when the “Sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were Fair,” to the baptism of Jesus, Sonship of God is a character thing and not a birth thing.

    In the case of the Jews they were all “Sons of God by birth but not necessarily by character for as Jesus said “God could of these stones raise up children to Abraham”

    The begettal Of Jesus by resurrection was special and made him God’s firstborn from the dead.

    There is sufficient novelty in this event to make the process a goal for all .

    Any student of history will soon realise that the doctrine of the trinity was legislated by Constantine in 325 A.D..as a means of unifying the church. This was the culmination of a process begun about the turn of the first century when the doctrine of virgin birth crept into the belief structure of some church leaders.

  53. You don’t really think the divinity of Jesus was invented at Nicaea do you? The divinity of Jesus is taught in John, Paul and Hebrews, long before Nicaea. The church fathers accepted the divinity of Jesus long before Nicaea. Nicaea was about determining the exact relationship of the Son to the Father. Even the Arians saw Jesus as some sort of divine pre-existent figure, just not completely equal with the Father. Either way, you are left with a problem. If Jesus became the Son of God at the resurrection, how do you explain his participation in creation and his pre-existent divinity?

  54. No Stephen I don’t,

    By the 4th century the apostasy was complete.
    What happened was that the warring clerics were given a fait accomplii and told to stop warring.
    Gibbon summed it up nicely when he described the debate as :”an argument over a diphthong ” especially since they were debating whether Jesus was of the same or a like nature to God.

    The ruler of Rome still tries to dictate to the churches what they should believe.

    Preexistence is another side track which I do not intend to be drawn down. What I did say was that the begettal spoken of in Ps 2 7 was according to the apostles, the rebirth from the dead , a hope they held up as the essence of the gospel, to be shared by all who like Jesus acted as Sons Of God.

  55. SB. Ive followed course of your ongoing defence of the VB and it heartens me to see that you dont immediately label someone who disagrees with your defence an Atheist, as many orthodox practitioners do.
    Years ago, it saddened me when, after much research, it was plain that the theologions had known for centuries that the Bible dosent say that Jesus was born of a virgin, and yet they continued to preach and promulgate the myth.
    Over 45 years ago, I sat with a gentleman (much older than my then self),who had spent his life studying the bi ble. His defence of the VB mirrored yours and was offered with equal magninamity. After six hours, part of which was spent discussing the ramifications of Jesus being normally concieved and the impact on Doctrines and Dogmas, the gentleman closed his Bible and sain “Im sorry. I just cant bring myself to believe that the Saviour of the world was a bastard (sb- delete if need be). The last word was almost whispered. The lovely gentleman lived to a good old age and died happy in his beliefs.

  56. Stock: Thank you for your comment and your positive attitude. I appreciate it.

    Laurie: You say that you do not want to go down the track of pre-existence and yet you claim that Jesus became a Son of God by character. I would say pre-existence would be extremely relevant. Also, regarding the divinity of Jesus, you say the apostasy was already complete at Nicaea. Since it was already being taught by Paul (our earliest Christian source), when wasn’t the divinity taught?

  57. Hi Stephen,

    Preexistance would be relevent if indeed it were a fact.

    Like the doctrine of Virgin Birth,a particular slant is placed on biblical verses which they do not contain.

    None of the new testament writers mention pre-existance. What they do is to dramatise the foreknowledge of God about the character of Jesus and his God’s acceptance of him as his only begotten son.

    This He wanted from the nation of Israel but they were found wanting. Jesus showed the pharisees that it was more important to recognise the principles than the rules. That was what Jesus character was built on.

    The foreknowledge spoken of by John in his gospel was explained in his letters presumably for people like modern day churches, who either deliberately, to prove a doctrine ,or mistakenly take literally an alegorical or dramatic presentation.

    John placed Jesus on the stage of eternity in his gospel and proceeds to portray Jesus from a completely different point of view from the other gospel writers.


  58. I am not sure how much farther we can take this conversation. I take seriously John and Paul’s claim that not only that Jesus pre-existed but he was actually involved in creation. We obviously have two completely different hermeneutical methods. Perhaps it is time to agree to disagree.

  59. Hello Stephen,

    Again you are right. We do see the gospels from completely different points of view.

    Having previously accepted the doctrine of virgin birth, I am much more comfortable now that all the difficulties are removed.

    Christianity was quite different before it was tailored to accommodate the Mithratic religions, where heroes were Godlike .

    The festival of Satanalia was renamed Christmas, the feast of Ishtah became Easter ,and many pagans became Christians. Even the pagan Constantine ostensibly became a Christian.

    The gospel was barely recognisable when the Romans usurped the church from the Greeks, who had previously taken it over from the Jews, and Jesus was recrucified afresh.


  60. Here I am ready to end our conversation and then you bring up this. Christianity was hardly tailored to accommodate Mithraism. Granted, Christmas was placed around the time of Saturnalia but thats about all there is in common. Easter (whatever connection with the name) is something that was celebrated right away and is more connected to Passover than anything else. Pagan influence on Christianity, while there, is greatly exaggerated by most people.

  61. SB. The basis for the doctrine of VB is a prophecy in Isiah. Since 1947 and the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls(Pre dating all other extant MSS of the Ols Scriptures), it is now almost univeresally accepted by scholars and theolgians that Isiah never prophesied that s virgin would concieve. In fact, many scholars of Hebrew claim a more accurate tranlation of Isiah would be, “Look, this young woman is pregnant” (has concieved). If Isiah never prophesied a virginal conception then A. there never was one, or B. God cheated the Jews. God does not cheat. It was only when the Greeks read the corresponence between the disciples that the concept of the virgin birth entered the world of Jewish Christianty. Any references from the New Testament to support the virgin birth, in fact, beg the question. ie. that there was a virgin birth prophecy in the first place. Bear with me SB. The above type of reasoning follows exactly the method used by Von Danekin in his book “Chariots of the gods”. He put foreward his own preconcieved idea(unproven), that the gods were spacemen. He then researched until he found ‘evidence’ that appeared to support his unproven proposition. Later in the book, the “supporting evidence’ miraculousy becomes ‘certain proof’. Today any other writers are using the same technique -Smout, Wilson, Wallace etc. Exactly the same technique used by the Greeks in relation the the Good News concerning Jesus of Nazareth. Sb, please dont think to claim the above constitutes a false analogy; Im not comparing subjects – its the flawed methodology Im emphasising. This is not an attack on your beliefs: its an attempt, albeit clumsy, at analysing how people arrived at certain beliefs contrary to the facts concerning the subject in question.

  62. What you fail to take into account is the fact that the Jewish (pre-Christian) translators of the Old Testament prepared the Septuagint used parthenos (virgin) to translate the Hebrew almah. One must also ask why Matthew would use that passage. If there was no general Jewish expectation of a virgin birth (which I agree with), then he must have gone to the Septuagint to explain what he knew from the traditions of Jesus’ birth.

  63. Hello again Stephen,

    Matthew used the principle of COMPENETRATION to project Jesus as the RECAPITULATION of Israel’s history.
    Matthew saw the life of Jesus of Nazareth as a COMPOSITE of the VALUES that had shaped the nation of Israel.

    The REAL intent in Matt 1:23 is to see a recapitulation in Jesus of the IMMANUEL theme as originally recorded by Isaiah in 7:14.
    GOD IS WITH His people as in giving them succor and support.
    Matthew 1:23 is about the Immanuel principle in recapitulation NOT Virgin Birth which is based on a Greek LXX mistranslation of Isaiah.

    Stephen, I am positively sure that I have previously informed you that Jerome who gave the world the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible wrote in one of his work “On Illustrious Men” chapter 3, that where ever Matthew quoted OT texts in his gospel, he did not follow the LXX but invariably quoted from HEBREW Scriptures.

    Jerome claimed to have studied Hebrew copies of Matthew, which were several centuries old. It was an unknown translator who translated Matthew’s originally Hebrew gospel into Greek, and who also incorporated portions of the LXX in order to give a meaning that was acceptable to himself.

    The very Jewish nature of Matthew’s Gospel is is a most telling indicator that Matthew would surely quote HEBREW Scripture rather than a foreign translation such as the LXX.

    It is truly amazing what straws some theologians need to grasp in order to keep their preconceptions alive.

    Here is Jerome’s full quote which can be accessed on the Roman Catholic web site “New Advent”, so please desist in spreading the fallacy that Matthew quoted from the LXX.

    Matthew, also called Levi, apostle and aforetimes publican, composed a gospel of Christ at first published in Judea in Hebrew for the sake of those of the circumcision who believed, but this was after-wards translated into Greek, though by what author is uncertain. The Hebrew itself has been preserved until the present day in the library at Cæsarea which Pamphilus so diligently gathered. I have also had the opportunity of having the volume described to me by the Nazarenes of Berœa, a city of Syria, who use it. In this it is to be noted that wherever the Evangelist, whether on his own account or in the person of our Lord the Saviour quotes the testimony of the Old Testament he does not follow the authority of the translators of the Septuagint but the Hebrew. Wherefore these two forms exist “Out of Egypt have I called my son,” and “for he shall be called a Nazarene.”

    Les Kelly,
    = = = = = = = = = =

  64. I have commented on this before. First of all, most scholars reject Jerome’s theory that Matthew was written in Hebrew and translated into Greek. It is hard to explain the connections with Mark and Luke if it is just a Greek translation of the Hebrew. Also, scholars have noted that Matthew uses an eclectic mix of OT versions. Finally, why would Matthew uses parthenos in his citation of Isaiah if he was following the MT and not the LXX?

  65. Leaving the question of what Matthew actually wrote when he quoted Isaiah to one side for the moment, what is your understanding with regard to the following:

    1) Did Isaiah say to Ahaz there would be a virginal conception?

    2) Was this prophecy fulfilled in Isaiah’s time?

    3) If so, was this child virginally conceived?

  66. 1) No.
    2) Yes.
    3) No.

    My position is that Matthew knew about the virgin birth of Jesus and that he used the Septuagint version of Isaiah to give expression of what he already knew to be true.

  67. As readers of your 3 attempts to deal with virgin birth (this post, Why do I believe in the VB?, and Laozi, Jesus and VB) will know, the reasons given to support virgin birth usually depend on giving one interpretation to certain words when they apply to Jesus and a different interpretation of the same words when they are applied to someone else, and also making extra-Biblical assumptions.

    Your latest post claims Isaiah prophesied a virgin birth, and acknowledges 2 fulfilments of the prophecy, the first in Isaiah’s time to do with the birth of the child called Immanuel, the second to do with the birth of Jesus.

    However, you claim virgin birth for only the fulfilment related to Jesus.

    If Isaiah prophesied a virgin birth, how come there was no virgin birth in the first fulfilment?

  68. I never said that Isaiah prophesied a virgin birth. He spoke of an almah, which may or may not have been a virgin. I believe that Matthew used the LXX of Isaiah to put words to the virgin birth he was aware of. As for the interpretation I give, it is the plain sense interpretation and a lot simpler than the one you give.

  69. I apologise. I misread your reply .

    It is true that an almah could be a virgin, or she could be sexually actice. Neither situation is relevant to the meaning of the word. She could have had six toes on the left foot, but that also is irrelevant to the meaning of the word.

    Obviously, Isaiah was not talking about a virginal conception when he propheied to Ahaz abot the child soon to be born that would be named Immanuel.

    Isn’t it because of this first fulfilment that you said Isaiah did not tell Ahaz there would be a virginal conception?

    But if there is no virginal conception prophecy, how can there be any such ‘fulfilment’?

  70. I think you are misunderstanding what fulfillment looks like. Plenty of the OT passages that Matthew sees as fulfilled seem strange to us and even unrelated to the original passages. But that is not a problem with Matthew. It is completely in line with contemporary biblical interpretation such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo and Rabbinic Midrash. Do not impose 21st century standards on a 1st century Jewish-Christian document.

  71. Hi Stephen,
    I don’t want to bore you with more people from my past, but way back in the 70’s, my daughter brought home her friend for a party I think, and her father picked her up afterwards. He was high up in the Anglican Hierachy, and when challenged about the V.B. declared: “We do not believe that any more!”

    Maybe it is you Stephen, who is out of touch! I am not being offensive, but we are touching on matters of scholarship here.

    Please explain how the V.B. is in line with the Dead Sea Scrolls for a start!

  72. I was raised Anglican and I would say that it is not official doctrine of the Anglican church to deny the virgin birth. Anglicans have an extremely wide theological spectrum from conservative evangelicals to those who are atheist. Also, you can not judge scholarship from the offhand statement of one man. There are those in scholarship who deny anything supernatural and would therefore deny the virgin birth. There are others who would accept it. It is difficult to speak of a unified opinion of scholarship on most issues.

    Regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls, my point was that ancient Jewish understanding of fulfillment looks different from what we expect. Read the Habakkuk Pesher and then tell me how way off Matthew’s interpretation of Isaiah is.

  73. Hi Stephen,

    The significance of the Dead Sea Sea Scrolls in the context of this discussion is not to show that there were many sects among the Jews (after all put 2 of them together and you have 3 opinions), but to establish the authority of the Hebrew “almah” (female youth) over the translation from the septuagint rendering “parthenos “(virgin).
    The Hebrew has a word meaning virgin ie “bethulah” (virgin) which would have been used if virginity was to be conveyed.

    Before the Dead Sea Scrolls the Christians accused the Jews of sculdugery , ie. altering the text to read almah and not bethulah, but the scrolls predated the septuagaint and took away this argument.

    There was a time in my youth when is was accepted that Is 7 14 was the unchallenged definitive prophecy of Virgin Birth.
    How things have changed but not meaningfully.
    Today you still believe in V.B. without any old Testament support, just a mistranslation of Matthew’s hebrew quotation.

    I suggest you have another read of Les Kelly’s contribution on Matthew .He pointed out that
    the significance of Matthews quotation from Isaiah was that God was again with his people.


  74. The Dead Sea Scrolls have much to say about this issue. You are looking at simply as Isaiah originally spoke of an almah therefore Matthew could not have understood Isaiah’s words as being applicable to Jesus’ virgin birth. But Matthew using Isaiah who originally spoke of a young woman who gave birth in his day as speaking the language needed to explain the virgin birth he was aware of is completely in line with contemporary Jewish interpretation. Habakkuk had nothing to say about the Romans and yet the Teacher of Righteousness in the Habakkuk Pesher among the Dead Sea Scrolls had no problem applying those words to their own experience with the Romans.

    I disagree that virgin (parthenos) is a mistranslation of Matthew’s Hebrew. You speak of scholarly positions and yet I know of no one today who still believes that Matthew was originally written in Hebrew. Jerome may have thought that, but it is hard to reconcile that with Matthew’s relationship to Mark and Q (the sayings source).

  75. Simply Stephen,

    If Isaiah was not predicting Virgin Birth , he must have been talking about something else. And if Matthew said Isaiah did predict V.B. he must have been mistaken.

    This is not Alice in Wonderland stuff. Words do have meanings!
    If the conventional view is mistaken , then Matthew was definitely saying something else .

    Matthew implied that Jesus had replaced a failed Israel and saw him as having recapitulated the history of Israel.
    It was this that placed Jesus in a position of messiahship.

  76. If you do not want to look at Qumran interpretation, let us look at what Matthew does elsewhere. In Matthew 2, Matthew uses Jeremiah 31:15 to explain what happened to the children of Bethlehem. Read the Jeremiah passage in context. Do you think that Jeremiah was really talking about Bethlehem and Herod and the murder of those two year olds? But does that mean that no violence was done to those children in the first century? No. Matthew took the biblical language to explain what he knew was true. Matthew’s understanding of fulfillment is far beyond what we think of.

  77. Hi Stephen,

    I am sorry. When I mentioned scholarship I did not mean that branch known as higher criticism but rather that which we all can indulge in, namely common sense and common decency.

    On my website I try to show that each of the gospel writers attacked his work from an entirely different viewpoint.. Matthew writing from the Jewish perspective; Mark shows Jesus the man; Luke writes a history for Theopholis a Greek; and John puts Jesus on the stage of eternity..If any of them were to write about V.B. it should have been Luke, but he delineates the genealogy of Heli and Jesus.

    However I think we may be approaching a measure of consensus here.

    What the Jews expected of the Messiah was a conquering hero to expel the Romans.
    What they got was a man of character who explained the universal principles behind the Law .

    He lived by, and taught these principles. They brought about a conflict with authority which made explicit those principles and placed people in one of 2 camps: those who followed principles, and those whose modus was expedient, or as Paul put it those who followed the old Adam or those who followed the last Adam.

    If you are saying they did not expect a virgin birth, I could not agree more, but I disagree that Matthew was trying to explain what happened to the children, any more than he was explaining why Jesus lived in Nazareth when he referred back to Gideon -that he should be a Nazarene.
    And ‘Ramah weeping for her children’ is a little odd if one regards that as prophecy.

    To reconcile all these allusions to Israel’s history requires the use of a mode of interpretation rather different from straight “prophecy /fulfillment.”

    To decide one must look at what God wanted
    from Israel. He wished them to express his character to the world, but ended up disappointed.
    (This was important to Jews but not to gentiles,further evidence that Matthew wrote to Jews in their language, and not Greek.)

    In Jesus Matthew shows a man who is the fulfillment of their history a true son of Israel but also a true Son of God.

  78. I can agree with a lot of what you say here but I still hold that Matthew (and Luke) believed that Jesus was virgin born and that Matthew used biblical language to express it, a way of interpretation that was consistent with contemporary Jewish interpretation.

  79. The reconciliation of the Jewish Messianic expectancy (which WAS valid within certain respects), with what they actually received in Jesus of Nazareth, (which is also valid), is the key to understanding the message of the New Testament.

    Nowhere did the Jewish expectancy encompass a virgin birth apotheosis, and neither did it form a basis of the preaching of the disciples.

    The death of Jesus of Nazareth created a dichotomy which divided the world:

    Was this man who was executed as a blaspheming troublemaker the agent of Yaweh as he claimed to be, or was he the human trash which the Temple Sanhedrin declared him to be???

    All the disciples preaching was to prove the proposition that Jesus was Christ and nothing more, certainly it was not to prove “virgin birth”.

    Les Kelly,

  80. I am not sure how you connect virgin birth and apotheosis. I agree that there was no Jewish expectation of a virginal birth of the messiah. This makes Matthew and Luke’s record of it more amazing. They were not forcing a fulfillment of what people were expecting but recorded what they knew to happen. I do agree that the virgin birth was not the basis of apostolic preaching. In fact I rarely preach on it. I have discussed it more on this blog than I have any where else. But my lack of speaking on it does not reflect my beliefs. I do still affirm the virgin birth. I respect your opinions but here I stand.

  81. I am not sure how to respond to this. Was Jesus preexistant in Adam? In a way. In Hebrews 7:9-10 it suggests that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek before his birth because he was in his great grandfathers loins. However, I would not take that too far. I would prefer to speak of Jesus’ preexistence as God the Son, co-eternal with the Father, while not denying a genetic connection with Adam.

  82. shallom…

    1 . Jesus was born of the Spirit of God = Qs 21:91
    2 . Jesus is the Spirit of God and His Word = hadith of Anas bin Malik case 72
    3 . Jesus was the Messenger of God and His Word = Qs 4:171
    4 . Isa the Straight Path that followed = Qs 43:61 ( compare with Qs 3:47-51 )
    5 . Jesus brings light that followed = Qs 43:63
    6 . Jesus and the Holy Spirit was given miracles = Qs 2:253
    7 . Isa said the right words = Qs 19:24
    8 . Jesus healed the blind since birth = Qs 3:49
    9 . Jesus raise the dead from the grave = Qs 5:110
    10 . Isa and the world’s leading akherat = Qs 3:45
    11 . Jesus is the only Imam Mahdi = ​​Hadith Ibn Majah
    12 . Jesus died and rose to heaven = Qs 3:45
    13 . Jesus was born , died and resurrected = Qs 19:33
    14 . Isa will be believed by all the scribes Qs = 4:159
    15 . Isa was a fair judge at the end of time = Hadith Muslim sohim
    16 . Jesus is the Beginning and the End = Qs 57:3
    17 . only the baby Jesus who had not touched the devil = Hadith Bukhari no 1493
    18 . Jesus spoke directly without intermediaries angel = Qs 19:29-32
    19 : Isa reinforced by the Holy Spirit = Qs 2:87
    20 . Jesus is the grace of God and the human markers = Qs 19:21
    21 . Isa is holy = Qs 19:19-21
    22 . Isa has knowledge of Ghaib = Qs 3:49
    al-quran even wrote about Isa / Jesus. see no 1. i Islam 1983-2000. I moved choosing Jesus 2000-present. when I found out, that the Qs was written about Jesus / Isa.

    1. when Jesus had finished telling bible. Qs, have a little note about Jesus. Jesus was born of the Spirit of God = Qs 21:91.

  83. Who is the Father of Jesus? This question truly answered in two ways only. The Scriptures unveil that Jesus has two line of fathers. The Scriptures, in fact, never say Jesus has two fathers. So what do we mean when we say he has two lines of Fathers? Let us briefly see the crux of the matter now.
    1. Who is the human father of Jesus? Does the Bible accounts make Joseph to be His Father? Never. Both the gospel accounts of Mathew and Luke correctly state the genealogy of Jesus from Adam to Joseph. But, they do not say Joseph was the father of Jesus. Luke 3:23ff has this phrase as it introduces the genealogy of Jesus, ‘…as was supposed by men’. Men still suppose that Jesus, as a man born of a virgin, has a biological ascendants/genealogy. That is far from the truth. So what does the genealogy of Jesus tell us? It unveils the Covenant line of the Messiah’s coming to the human world. Nothing more than that!!
    2. Who is the God and Father of Jesus? This question is stumbling for all ideologies of men about God. It destroys all kind of wrong thinking about the identity of God and His Christ Jesus. The Bible flatly tells us that Christ Jesus has 1God who is his God and Father.(Eph.1:3 and 1 Pet 1:3). We can read multiple of such verses in the Epistles of the Bible. This is the message: there is only One God who is the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Cor.8:6 and Col.3:17. Jesus is the heavenly man(the second Adam 1Cor 15:45-49. He is not counted among the descendants of earthly men from the First Adam. He is a man from heaven. Is there human life in heaven? If no, where did Jesus come from? Jesus, like I said before, does not have father and mother like we have. He was born beyond the natural way. He has neither a father nor a mother.(Read Hebrews 7:3). Where was Jesus before He came in to this world? Was He born as a man before that? Before Jesus came in to this world, He was the Word of Life.(John1:1). This is truth. It is not a metaphor nor a symbolism unlike so many may think. Where was this Word of life? He was with God(John1:1). Who was that Word of Life? He was that same God.(John 1:1,2-3). Oh! Wonderful! Jesus unveils the One Eternal God. The Eternal God came into the World in the body or flesh of Jesus Christ. 1 Tim.3:16. Do you really understand that the Bible never has such words: God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, Trinity, Persons of God, Incarnation, etc, exactly as the words appear? Thus, the Bible, neither plainly nor tacitly, teaches that God is trinity, God is three persons, God is incarnate and so on. This kind of thinking will never allow you to understand the identity of God our Savior. Read Mathew 28:19 exactly as it appears. It reads ‘….in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…’ It never reads ….in the name of God the father and of God the Son and of God the Holy Spirit…’. The Mystery of God is not Trinity. Rather, the mystery of God is Christ.(Col.2:2). If you understand who Christ is, you understand who God is. There is no other way. Christ is the Father.(John 8:24). Christ is the Son(John 9:37-38). Christ is the Holy Spirit(John 1:14 and 14:20). Christ as the Word of Life is The Father. Since the Word became flesh, he is the Son. Since the Word of Life dwells in Us, He is the Holy Spirit. What is the name of Christ? It is Our Great God and Savior Lord Jesus Christ(Rom.9:5). This is the conclusion of the Bible about Christ. If you believe so, please act on Acts 2:38 you will be saved. Bless You.

  84. Hi Steve,
    You made this comment in one of your comments:

    “Nor do I know why Zerubbabel is the grandson of Shealtiel in 2 Chronicles. Can you answer that one.”

    I can answer that. Shealtiel’s brother, Pedaiah, is the father of Zerubbabel. Strong’s Concordance says this regarding Pedaiah: “father of Zerubbabel and brother of Shealtiel who is usually called the father of Zerubbabel probably because of a lack of an heir from Shealtiel who was in the direct line of succession”. First, Zerubbabel is not Shealtiel’s grandson. Second, Shealtiel is called the father of Zerubbabel, however Shealtiel must have died without an heir and Pedaiah fulfilled the law of kinsmen redeemer, much like Boaz did. If you refuse to believe this, then Zerubbabel would actually be Shealtiel’s nephew, not grandson. I believe he died before giving his wife a child and Pedaiah stepped in. Matthew and Luke are not the same lines. The only reason Joseph’s line was given, was to show exclusion of him being the biological father because of Jeconiah and his descendants being barred from the throne.

    I believe Heli is the biological father of Yeshua. How do you know that this scenario described in Deuteronomy 22 did not happen to Mary between the time of Gabriel’s visit and her leaving to go see Elizabeth?

    Deu 22:25-27 – But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.

    Furthermore, the man that lay with her was to be put to death, BUT only if there were 2-3 witnesses as outlined in Deuteronomy 17:6: At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.

    If Mary was the only witness, she could not condemn Heli to death. It is possible God used this evil for good, it wouldn’t be the first time.

    The other possible scenario is this one as outlined in Deuteronomy. I, myself, hold to the first scenario which does not hold the damsel responsible and finds no sin in her:
    Deu 22:23-24 – If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;
    Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

    Same rules apply, no witnesses, no death. I’m just trying to show you that there are other ways of looking at things, feel free to reject it if it does not sit right with you.

  85. First of all the sign was that a VIRGIN would have a child and not a young girl as some would have it. There is nothing significant about a girl having a baby.

    Secondly, betrothal is a legal contract by which two people belong to each other but are not married and are prohibited from having sex or being being allowed to “come together” (Mt 1:18) as the Bible puts it. Now there were two options, three actually, Mary had either been with another man in which case stoning was the punishment for adultly or they had broken the law and slept together in which case the priest would curse her (why is it always the woman) which would have made a public spectacle of her and ruined her reputation in Israel. Before this was done, the priest had to examine the hymen which in Mary’s case would have been intact.

    Joseph, knowing that Mary was still a virgin knew that neither course of action was an option, the other possibility being divorce, but while Joseph was contemplating this, the angel revealed to him that Mary was truly the spouse of the Holy Spirit which meant that Joseph could take Mary, his betrothed, into his house as a wife, but he could never have intercourse with her because according to the Law she was forbidden to him for all time as this would have been adultery and this will be why we don’t read any more of Joseph who may have been old anyway and of course if Joseph died then Mary was free to remarry which is how Jesus came to have (half) brothers.

    The point being it all had to be done according to the law which it was according to Gal 4:4, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law.”

    (Source unknown)

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