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Summary in 400 words or less:
The account of the Virgin Birth is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew 1:18-25 and the Gospel of Luke 1:26-38. Matthew tells us in 1:23 that Jesus’ miraculous birth was to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. We have often worked from the presupposition that there is a direct one-to-one corollary between an Old Testament text and its New Testament fulfillment. That is, we assumed that if something is a “prophecy” then it was intended to always and only tell of a single future event. But the New Testament authors didn’t always cite the Old Testament in this way to prove their points. Matthews citation of Isaiah 7:14 is one example of this.
We must look at some the interpretive assumptions of the New Testament authors. First, they believed Jesus is the ultimate one in whom the Scriptures find fulfillment. That is, the Old Testament was pointing to Jesus’ first coming. Second, since God is sovereign over history and always true to his character, then his actions in prior history are assumed to anticipate His intervention in subsequent areas. Thus, climactic events in Israel’s history are not merely historical illustrations but paradigms by which new events are explained. As an example, Paul can tell the Corinthians that the Israelites were actually drinking from the spiritual rock, which is Christ (1st Cor 10:1-4).
Therefore, not all citations of the Old Testament in the New Testament are direct fulfillments of a prophet who was predicting a future event. The original context of Isaiah 7, as far as Ahaz was concerned, was not primarily directed at predicting the future Messiah. (Yet God is the ultimate author of Scripture. Therefore, He knew how He planned to use the text in a few hundred years) God sent Isaiah to Ahaz, King of Judah. At this time the nation was divided. The King of Israel, Pekah, had made an alliance with Rezin the King of Aram to attack Judah. God instructed Ahaz not to worry for He would deliver Judah. He told Ahaz to seek a sign but Ahaz said no. So the Lord told Ahaz He would give him a sign anyways. The sign, which was originally for Ahaz, was that the threat against Judah would be taken care of before a virgin/young woman could have a child and grow old enough to eat solid food. But God nuanced the language in such a way as to contain a richer meaning. In 7:13 Isaiah addresses Ahaz as the “House of David”. This relates to the promise God gave David in 2nd Samuel 7:8-17 to bring forth a descendant from David who would establish God’s Kingdom. This descendant was none other than Jesus Christ (hence the genealogy in Matthew’s Gospel). This is the richer meaning that Matthew, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, brings out in the story of Jesus’ birth.
The Virgin Birth is still a literal historical event. God really did cause Mary to be with child without having known a man intimately. Matthew is very clear about this. 39 times, as he documents Jesus’ genealogy, he uses the phrase “was the father of” (NASB). But when Matthew gets to Jesus he says in 1:16 that Joseph was the husband of Mary, “by whom Jesus was born”. The interesting thing is that the prepositional phrase “by whom” is feminine. This means Matthew was being explicitly clear that Jesus came from Mary not Joseph. But Matthew cites Isaiah to say that the birth of Jesus was like this event in Isaiah. The promise, to have any encouragement to Ahaz, had to be fulfilled in his day and it was. Yet, God is sovereign over history and as He has done in the past so He did again. That is, God was directly involved in Jesus’ birth to let his people know that He was with them and He was going to deliver them. Furthermore, Jesus is the ultimate promise to the House of David to deliver them from their enemies.
Scripture for YouVersion: Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38
Three questions (1 fill-in-the-blank, 1 multiple choice, and one discussion question):
 Would Ahaz had expected to some sort of fulfillment in his day?
 Would Ahaz had expected Isaiah’s prophecy to refer to the Messiah?
 What are some ways that the New Testament authors use in the Old Testament to support their points?
References for further reading:
 Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
 The Gospel of Matthew by Leon Morris, pgs. 26-32
 The Gospel of Matthew by Harold Fowler, vol. 1, pgs. 31-50 (pdf can be found here: http://www.collegepress.com/storefront/node/238)
 Arthur Cayley Headlam, The Miracles of the New Testament (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1915), Lecture VII, pp. 269-299.
 George Herbert Box, The Virgin Birth of Jesus: a Critical Examination of the Gospel-Narratives of the Nativity, and Other New Testament and Early Christian Evidence, and the Alleged Influence of Heathen Ideas (Milwaukee: The Young Churchman Co., 1915)
 Richard John Knowling, Our Lord’s Virgin Birth and the Criticism of Today (London: SPCK, 1904).
 Thomas James Thorburn, A Critical Examination of the Evidences for the Doctrine of the Virgin Birth (London: SPCK, 1908).
From Appeared to Blogly (Chad McIntosh): The Virgin Birth. J. Gresham Machen, The Virgin Birth of Christ (James Clarke, 1930. rep. 1958). Raymond Brown,The Virginal Conception & Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (Paulist Press, 1973); Brown, The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (Doubleday, ed. 1993). C.E.B. Cranfield, “Some Reflections on the Subject of the Virgin Birth,” Scottish Journal of Theology 41 (1988), pp.177–189.
Collaborators: Billy Dyer, Tim McGrew
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