The Virginal Conception of Our Lord in Matthew 1:18-25 -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 08:1 (Summer 1999)
Article: The Virginal Conception of Our Lord in Matthew 1:18-25
Author: David J. MacLeod


The Virginal Conception of Our Lord
in Matthew 1:18-25

David J. MacLeod*

Introduction

The Apostles’ Creed, not written by the Apostles, but accurately reflecting their teaching, says, “I believe in God the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary.”1 The Christian message centers in the person of Christ, and the purpose of this article is to consider Matthew’s account of the beginning of our Lord’s life on earth.

We should note as we begin that no new person came into existence at the conception of Jesus—in this, Jesus’ birth differs from all others. Rather, an eternal, pre-existent person, the second person of the Triune God, chose to come down into our human race and be born one of us. An eternal person in His own right, God the Son took something new to Himself—humanity, flesh and blood, our human life and nature—because He loved us enough to come and die for us on the cross. So, this was not an ordinary baby, begotten by a man and a woman to produce a new person; rather, the Spirit of God introduced into the body of Mary a Divine Person, who through the virginal conception added to Himself all that is essential to humanity.2

* Dave MacLeod is a faculty member at Emmaus Bible College and the Associate Editor of The Emmaus Journal.

In the words of Milton,

That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of Majesty,
Wherewith he wont at Heav’ns high Councel-Table,
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
He laid aside; and here with us to be,
Forsook the Courts of everlasting Day,
And chose with us a darksome House of mortal Clay.3

In Matthew, the first book of our New Testament, there is a significant parallel with Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament. In Genesis 1:1–2 the Spirit of God hovers in creative activity over the earth. Then in Genesis 5:1 we find the statement, “This is the book of the generations (LXX = γένεσις (genesis), “lineage”) of Adam,” followed by a genealogical list of all his progeny.

By Matthew’s time the standard title for the Greek translation of the first book of the Bible was Γένεσις (genesis) meaning “origi...

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