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The Perpetual  Virginity  of  Mary


Until - Doesn’t imply a necessary change …
Matthew 28:20,  1 Cor. 15: 25,  Matthew 13:33,  Acts 25:21  


Firstborn - A special status, not necessarily a numerical sequence …  Deut. 21:17,  Numbers 18:15-16,  1 Chronicles 5:1-2,   Gen 41:52,  Jeremiah 31:9,  Psalm 89: 21, 28  


Before - Doesn’t imply a necessary change … John 4:49

Answering some objections to Mary’s virginity.



Matthew 1:24-25  
“When Joseph awoke … and took his wife into his home.   He had no relations with her until she bore a son,  and he named him Jesus.”

Protestants will often cite this verse in their attempt to prove that Mary did not remain a virgin after Jesus' birth.  However,  “until”  does not imply that Joseph had relations with her after she bore a son. 

Below are a list of verses where the word “until” is used to denote a completion of a conditional phrase.  However, it does not imply any meaning to the time period after that completion.  The word “until” is only a time marker.  And it does not necessarily imply that the situation changes or reverses after that time period.

Matthew 28:20  
“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

2 Samuel 6:23
“Mikal, daughter of Saul, had no children until (heôs) the days of her death.”   (The Greek translation called the Septuagint. )  So, are we to suppose she started having children after her death.

1 Timothy 4:13  
Until I arrive, attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching.”

1 Cor. 15: 25  
“...must reign until he puts his enemies under his feet.”

And clearly, Jesus still reigns after.

John 5: 9-18  
“Jesus answered them,  ‘My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.’ ”

Some people have argued that there is a special combination of this Greek word with another,    “heos hou,”    which they claim does imply a change.  However, the verses below show that this is not so. 

Matthew 13:33  
“He spoke to them another parable.   ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until  [Greek: heos hou]   the whole batch was leavened.’ ”   

[Do you think she was to take the yeast out after the flour was leavened ?]

Matthew 14:22  
“Then he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while [Greek: heos hou]   he dismissed the crowds.” 

[The Greek word for until is here translated as  “while.” ]

( Darby’s version)
Matthew 14:22  
And immediately he compelled the disciples to go on board ship, and to go on before him to the other side, until  he should have dismissed the crowds.


Matthew 26:36  
“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples,  ‘Sit here, while [Greek: heos hou]  I go yonder and pray.’ ” 

[The Greek word for until,  “heos hou,”  is here translated as  “while.”  ]

( Darby’s version)
Matthew 26:36 
“Then Jesus comes with them to a place called Gethsemane, and says to the disciples, Sit here until I go away and pray yonder.”

Did Jesus intend that they wait for him to pray and then wonder about ?


Acts 25:21  
“But when Paul demanded to be kept in custody until  [eis]  the Emperor’s verdict, I gave orders that he should be kept in custody until  [Greek: heos hou]   I could send him on to Caesar” 
(Anchor Bible translation, slightly amended by with the bracketing.)


Now, when Saint Paul was sent on to Caesar surely Paul would have surely remained in custody; for his original request was to remain in custody  “until the Emperor’s verdict.”

Therefore the use of the word  “until,”  “heos hou” in  the Greek,  does not imply that Paul was to be set free after he was sent on to Caesar.  If anything, the implication was the very opposite.

2 Peter 1:19  
“And we have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until 
[Greek: heos hou]   the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”    RSV

Clearly Saint Peter was not suggesting that we stop being attentive to these truths after  “the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

[Most of the verses and notes above are from some Catholic apologist's email whose name I have forgotten. Sorry.]




Luke 2:4-7
“And Joseph also went … to the city of … Bethlehem … with Mary …  And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger”

Jesus is called the firstborn of Mary and some Fundamentalists claim that Jesus could not be Mary’s  “first-born”  unless there were other children that followed him.  However, this term does not imply that.


The Protestant argument that the use of this word “firstborn” proves Mary had other children is not completely unlike the heretical Arians who used this word to argue that Jesus was not fully God.

The heresy of Arianism (AD 4th till 6th century)
used Colossians to argued Jesus was the first person created.

Colossians 1:13-15
“[H]is beloved Son … 15 He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.”

Therefore, if Jesus was created He is not fully equal with God, the Father. This heresy undermined Jesus’ role as Savior.
The God-Man and the Anti-Christ

The mistake that both the Protestants and Arians make is their failure to see that the word “first” has more than one meaning. First can be a reference to chronological order (time), however in regards to these verses we are considering “first” is a reference to power and leadership and the special role that Jewish culture and context placed on a title of “Firstborn.”

For example, the person who is first in his class, could be :
1. The first person who was first chronologically.
2. The first person on a list ascending from the lowest to the highest score.
3. The first person on a list descending from the highest to the lowest score.

God demanded that the Israelites consecrate to Him all the firstborns in Exodus 13:2.  And Exodus 34:20 also states that the parents were required to redeem all firstborn.  It is obvious that they were not supposed to wait until they had for a second child to redeem the firstborn son because it was required to take place one month after birth as stipulated in Numbers 18:15-16.  Therefore, Firstborn does not imply a second born.  Actually, Firstborn denotes a special status and privilege and not necessarily a numerical sequence.

The Firstborn gets a double blessing.  Cf. Deut. 21:17  Exodus 34:19-20.   It had special religious and covenant significance.  And so, Christ is the  “First-born of all creation”   Col 1:15.    In fact, the firstborn status was sometimes specifically given to the second-born or even latter born.  It is not always consistent with their numerical sequence.  See Bible references below.

Exodus 13:2
“Consecrate to me all the first-born; whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.”

Exodus 34:20
“All the first-born of your sons you shall redeem.”

Numbers 18:15-16  
“Every living thing that opens the womb, whether of man or of beast, such as are to be offered to the LORD, shall be yours; but you must let the first-born of man, as well as of unclean animals, be redeemed.  The ransom for a boy is to be paid when he is a month old; it is fixed at five silver shekels...”

Therefore, the fact that Jesus is called  “firstborn”  does not mean that there is a second born.  It is a term that had a deeper theological significance that just a numerical sequence.

Since the firstborn was redeemed, by law, at one month old, this implies that we could not know if there was ever to be a “second-born”  when the first-born is labeled as such.

The term  “firstborn”  does not mean that there is a second born.  It refers more to the special role and blessing that a person received than it does to a numerical sequence. 

Esau's Firstborn status is given to Jacob, the second born of Isaac, in Gen 27.

Sirach 44:22-23  
“ … The covenant with all his forebears was confirmed, and the blessing rested upon the head of JACOB.    God acknowledged him as the first-born, and gave him his inheritance.”

Although Reuben is the “firstborn” of Jacob/Israel he looses that special birthright because of his infidelity.  It is given to the sons of his brother Joseph.

1 Chronicles 5:1-2  
“The sons of Reuben, the first-born of Israel. (He was indeed the first-born, but because he disgraced the couch of his father his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, son of Israel, so that he is not listed in the family records according to birthright.    Judah, in fact, became powerful among his brothers, so that the ruler came from him, though the birthright had been Joseph’s.)”

Ephraim is the second born of Joseph  (Cf. Gen 41:52), but he receives the special blessing, Cf. Gen 48: 14, 18, 20.   And, Ephraim receives the special  “firstborn” status. Jeremiah 31:9   “ ... For I am a father to Israel, Ephraim is my first-born.”

Consider, even though King David is the youngest son ( Cf. 1 Sam 16:10-13), he is called the firstborn.

Psalm 89: 21, 28  
“I have chosen David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him. ...  28 I myself make him firstborn, Most High over the kings of the earth.”

Zechariah 12:10
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born.”

There is an ancient Greek tomb inscription at Tel - el Yaoudieh in Egypt (cf. BIBLICA  11, 1930  369-390 )   for a mother who died at childbirth.  It confirms this usage of the term firstborn.  It reads: 

”In the pain of delivering my first-born child, destiny brought me to the end of life.” 

Surely, she did not have more children after her death.  For another epitaph of the same sort, from Leontopolis, see  BIBLICAL  ARCHEOLOGY  REVIEW   sept/oct 1992  page 56.

Therefore, the fact that Jesus is called  “firstborn”  does not mean that there is a second born.  It is a term that had a deeper theological significance than just a numerical sequence.  The Firstborn status implies a certain priestly role. 

See  Scott Hahn's explanation of
First-Born and his role as High Priest



Matthew 1:18
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit”

Does the use of the word “before” in Matthew 1:18 imply that Joseph and Mary had sexual relations after Jesus was born ?

Modern Protestants did not discover a previously unknown to Catholics a Scripture passage that is a proof against Mary’s Perpetual Virginity.

Now, it is true that Mary and Joseph would “come together” or “lived together” after they got married, it is not true that Mary and Joseph would have sex.  While the phrase that they would “come together” or “lived together” is vague, some modern Protestants argue that this implies that they did have sex.  However, even if this phrase is a euphemistic way of saying “sex,” a study of the Greek usage of the word “before” shows that it does NOT necessarily mean that the condition or situation preceding in time “before” the event changed afterward.   Consider :

 John 4:49
“The official said to him, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’ ”

The same Greek word for “before” is used in both Matthew 1:18 and John 4:49.

Before –Greek  “πριν,”  Transliteration “prin,” Strong’s # 4250.

And, the context clearly shows that the child did not die.
Therefore, this passage in Matthew 1:18 also does not imply that the virginal status of Mary would change.

Why is this issue important ?

It is important because a denial of Mary’s Perpetual Virginity is an insult to God.  The children at Fatima (as well as we, too) were even asked to do penance for those who deny this truth. It is God who created Mary and by His grace made her life a special testimony to Him and His Greatness.  And Mary was most cooperative with this grace.


Besides the fact that Protestants get their Bible from the Catholic Church which she painstakingly transcribed down through the generations, it is interesting to note that the early Protestant Reformers also affirmed Mary’s Virginity after Jesus’ birth.

This passage in Matthew 1:18 is one of the most celebrated passages by Catholics in the whole Bible.  The beginning verse of each Gospel was often decorated with a special page in early Catholic Bibles.  This is as expected since the four Gospels are so prominent in the New Covenant.  After these four verses, the most decorated verse was this passage of Matthew 1:18 which tells of the Incarnation of Christ.  It was often accompanied by a highly decorated “Incarnation Initial.” 

See :

Lindisfarne Gospels  (Latin - AD 698.  English - AD 950.)
Incarnation initial - Matthew 1:18 

Book of Kells   (early 9th century)
Incarnation initial   Matt 1:18 

Gospels of St. Chad,   (early 8th century)
Incarnation initial   Matt. 1:18 

Canterbury Codex Aureus  (mid-8th century)
Incarnation initial  Matt 1:18 

The Greek letters represent our Latin and English alphabet as follows:

X - Ch
P - R
I - I

So, XPI represents “Chri” which is an abbreviation for “Christ.”


Also, see the faulty arguments above for “Until” and “Firstborn.”


Until - Doesn’t imply a necessary change …
Matthew 28:20,  1 Cor. 15: 25,  Matthew 13:33,  Acts 25:21  

Firstborn - A special status not necessarily a numerical sequence …  Deut. 21:17,  Numbers 18:15-16,  1 Chronicles 5:1-2,   Gen 41:52,  Jeremiah 31:9,  Psalm 89: 21, 28  

Before - Doesn’t imply a necessary change … John 4:49


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