Matthew 1:18-25

What does it mean that Mary was betrothed to Joseph?

She was engaged to be married to Joseph. The engagement period was typically as long as 12 months among the Jews. This makes the pregnancy a challenge for both Mary and Joseph and their community given the Law as described in Deuteronomy 22.

Why does Matthew refer to Joseph as a righteous man in the context of Verse 19?

The point of Matthew saying that Joseph was a just, righteous, or good man is to say that he is trying to be as fair as possible given the circumstances.

Why would Joseph send Mary away secretly?

In order to maintain her standing as a member of the community and prevent an accusation against Mary of adultery or at least fornication, being pregnant.

Was it normal for God to send messages by way of angels in peoples’ dreams?

This was not unusual. There is the case of Jacob (Gen. 28:10-17), Abimelech (Gen. 20:1-7), Joseph (Gen. 37), Pharaoh’s cup bearer and baker (Gen 40), Pharaoh (Gen. 41), Solomon (1 Kings 3:5), Daniel (Dan. 2, 4), and Pilate’s wife (Matt. 27:19).

Who was Joseph’s father according to Verse 16? Why does Matthew refer to David as Joseph’s father?

Being a decedent of David, it was not uncommon to refer to descendance accordingly. This also should provoke Joseph to think about his lineage in combination with the prophecies if not at the time of the revelation then as things develop. The concept of the house of David is referred to in Isaiah 7:13 which is where the whole reference comes from concerning Christ’s conception unto a virgin and the name Immanuel.

Why should Joseph be afraid to take Mary as his wife?

Based on the possible consequences of the Law that could result in shame and judgment being made against them.

Are we told how the conception that is of the Holy Spirit occurs? Is this important?

No. If the Spirit does not reveal some details to us then either it is not important or not relevant. Or, both.

How does the creation of Jesus as a human parallel the creation of Adam as a human?

Both were created by God and both were man.

What does the name Jesus mean?

The name actually given by Matthew is Immanuel which mean “The Strong God with us”. Jesus means savior generally. Jesus is a variance Jeshua or Joshua.

Of what language is the name Jesus?

The English, Jesus, comes from Latin. The Latin is derived from the Greek for Jeshua (Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous)).

What is the name Jesus translated to Hebrew?

Basically, Joshua. The Hebrew is Yeshua (ישוע‎).

What prophetic text is being quoted in Verse 23?

Isaiah 7:14 - So, The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold! The virgin will conceive and will bring forth a son; and she shall call His name Immanuel

What name did the prophet say would be given to the prophesied child?


What are the principle difference(s) between the woman of Isaiah 7 and Mary?

This is actually a question that provokes the debate concerning the relevance of Matthew 1:23 to Isaiah 7:14. If any aspect of the birth of the Christ is called into doubt in one’s mind, then the very faith upon which all races are called to repentance can be easily destructed. Unrelating Matthew’s comments from Isaiah 7 is one means of doing this successfully since about the second century AD (think Rev. 3:9). The normal mode of contention against the understanding of this prophecy fulfillment is the translation of the Hebrew word ‛almâh. With the exception of more recent translations, the word is translated as virgin in Isaiah 7:14. It is argued by those that refute the virgin birth that the word should be translated as “young woman” or some similar variation. The problem with this approach is easily refuted based on the fact that contextually and correctly all other cases of the use of the word in the bible refers to a female that can only be a virgin. The Septuagint supports this also.

An important side note at this point should be stated. “It is argued by those that refute the virgin birth” are very purposeful words. This is the point of contention on the part of those that refuse to submit to the authority of the Lord, Jesus Christ. If we, as preachers and teachers, are willing to allow such deviation from the intent of the scriptures to infiltrate our presentation of the Gospel then we are assimilating to the world. We cannot speak as the world and be apart of the Gospel of Christ (Ephesians 6:20). If you accept the word ‘almah’ as simply meaning “young woman” then you accept Christ as simply a good man and at best a prophet. That is the whole point behind the argument. In the same vein, such an interpretation will lead to the compromise of many other truths in an effort to be normalized to the predominant argument of least contention. We call that ecumenicism, false brotherhood, and false doctrine.

Isaiah 7 is not necessarily a “dual prophecy” as many think of. Prophecies do not require a type and antitype.

The situation addressed by Isaiah revolves around the bad king Ahaz. Judah is attacked by Syria and Israel. Ahaz made a treaty with Assyria in violation of God’s word in order to turn back the threat. The attack was repulsed but at tremendous cost (2 Ch. 28). Ahaz had to pay tribute to Assyria with gold and silver from the house of God (2 Ki. 16:8-9) and convert the temple into a place of idolatry modeled after the Damascus temples. Ahaz put his trust in Assyria and not in God.

God sent word to Ahaz to ask for a sign from God in order to be provoked to faithfulness. Not only a sign but great blessing. Ahaz is invited to make it extraordinary. But, he boldly and defiantly states that he will not accept the invitation. Keep in mind that Isaiah was told to bring along his son named Shearjashub. This means a “A Remnant Shall Return”. So, the point that Isaiah is to make is trouble will come against Judah because of their unbelief and there will be few that come out of the tribulation with faithfulness (captivity in Babylon). This emphasizes the need of the people for a savior in the same way that Moses, Joshua, David, etc. were blessings from God.

So, when is the prophecy fulfilled? It is fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth and not in the day of Ahaz. Remember, Ahaz is not addressed specifically with regard to the prophesy of the virgin. The House of David is addressed concerning this prophecy. Therefore, the virgin conceiving is a message, or sign, to David’s pedigree after Ahaz. In order to receive true release from any threat of the enemy we must have faith in God and the blessings He offers. True salvation only comes through the One who is promised. There is no child that is to be born at the time of Ahaz to complete the prophecy of the conception to the virgin. The prophecy speaks of the Messiah to come and also that He is to live as a man and have the same issues of maturing as any other child. That brings us to the part that is specifically addressed to Ahaz and the people of Judah. In the time it takes a baby to grow to eat solid food (to be weaned), in that same time from this encounter between Isaiah and Ahaz, the two kings assaulting Judah will be brought to calamity. In addition, this will be done in this time by God when Ahaz could do nothing because of fear.

So, what is the difference between the virgin in Isaiah 7 and Matthew 1? There is no difference. They are one and the same person, Mary, the mother of the Jesus. There is not a type and antitype in the prophecy. Only Mary and Jesus. Another way of saying it is there are two independent prophecies in Verses 10-16. One for the virgin birth and one for the time that passes till the destruction of Israel and Syria.

What does Immanuel mean?

The Strong God with us.

Is there a conflict in the prophecy saying the name of the child would be Immanuel and the angel telling Joseph the name shall be Jesus?

No. This is a matter of preference in interpretation for the most appropriate, or recognizable, name for the publication. The literal would be Immanuel.

How is Joseph a good example to us?

Joseph showed interest in the well being of Mary. He also showed an interest in the fidelity of the Law. The principle action of example should be recognized as trusting in the word of God despite the conventional wisdom around us.

Did Joseph need to be strong in faith in order to follow the command of the angel of the Lord?

Absolutely. Sometimes the commands of God are obvious and we have no difficulty understanding them. The problem comes in our relationship with those who do not know the word or do not understand it completely. Will we consider the influence of the ignorant more powerful than God’s word? Will we love the world more than God, even if the community that pressures makes claims to righteousness or holiness?

Should a Christian woman who is eligible to marry expect the same faith in her potential husband as that shown in Joseph?

Yes. The key to this question is the expectation of a person as a potential spouse. If a potential spouse can not show an interest in your soul, is not willing to worship with you, pray with you, ensure you have everything necessary to please God, then what do you expect from them? Why would you want to become one with a person who does not love your first love?

How would the community Joseph lived in likely advise him to handle the coming marriage and consequently deal with Mary?

They would likely pressure him to break the engagement just as he intended before the Lord instructed him not to. In order, for there to be a condemnation of Mary, there has to be adultery and two witnesses. There are none in this case. So, Mary cannot be put to death. They, as a pair, cannot be accused of fornication because Joseph had not been with her. Mary may have been accused of fornication, but that did not preclude her from being married. It would have brought shame to her and likely her parents household.

How does the community advise a person desiring a spouse to judge what is a good person and an undesirable potential mate?

Advise likely would center around a potential spouse’s likability, education, income, career type, race, and of course, attractiveness. You can add to this list by thinking of the attributes and characteristics of a person that have no bearing on their reception of the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel is for all and calls all to repentance from sins base on the faith that comes by hearing and doing the word of God. Why would a Christian put any other consideration before this faith?

Should a Christian desiring a spouse look for a mate according to the convention of the community or according to the wisdom of the scriptures?

A potential spouse should always be considered first of all according to their faith. Does that person have a desire to keep God first and foremost in their life? Can that person help you go to heaven or do they even have it in their heart to do so? It is not to say that other things do not matter. Just that their faith is the most important consideration and if they don’t have faith according to the scriptures then there are no other credible reasons to desire to be with them, in the context of marriage.

Matthew states that Joseph and Mary did not have marital relations until after the birth of Jesus. That makes Jesus the oldest child in the family. What were the issues related to the birth of the first-born son?

The first born is usually a greater benefactor concerning inheritance. They were also considered as committed to God under the Law of Moses (Exodus 13:2, 13).

Could the fact that Joseph’s first son was not conceived by Joseph make his decision to follow the command of the angel of the Lord harder?

For someone of little faith the answer might be yes. But, for someone that is righteous or just, like Joseph, the exercise of faith and love in such conditions is a must. What a great example!