Having trouble with the catholic position on Matt 1:24-25


I’m just having a little trouble with our argument for the word “until” (Greek “heos”) not implying a change afterward. We would give examples like 2 Sam. 6:23 “Michal the daughter of Saul had no children till the day of her death” and we would say “are we to expect there were children afterwards?” but wouldn’t the reason for the word not implying change here be because death marks a point at which she couldn’t have children after? Whereas with Matt 1:24-25 her giving birth to Jesus wouldn’t be an event that would make it literally impossible to have marital relations afterwards. Its just something that’s been bothering me


This really comes down to a few points.

#1: You have to consider the historical usage of a given word. While we commonly use until to imply that something follows afterwards, that has not necessarily been true throughout history.

#2: Is has been a longstanding Tradition in the Church that Mary did not have any other children. It would have been perfectly moral fer her to have relations with Joseph, as they were validly married, so there’s no reason not to record it if she had had other children.

#3: When the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, she reacted to His pronouncement with incredulity. Mary would have been aware of the physical mechanics of childbirth, so her reaction only makes sense if she had not had any intention of having children.


How about Acts 8:40:
40 But Philip was found at Azotus, and passing on he preached the gospel to all the towns till (heos) he came to Caesarea.

So, are we assume that Philip stopped preaching the Gospel after he came to Caesarea? No; later, in Acts 21:8, he is still referred to as Philip the evangelist.


I find the footnotes and comments in the bible translation on USCCB website to be very helpful to understanding scripture with Catholic perspective.

Here’s the link to this section of Matthew


That being said, we know that Mary remained ever virgin because that is what the magisterium teaches and what is held by tradition…not by the Greek to English translation of a single word. In fact, the notes for Mat 1:24 on the Bishops’ website (via the posted link) teach us that:

“The Greek word translated “until” does not imply normal marital conduct after Jesus’ birth, nor does it exclude it.”

That might be confusing if all we had as a teaching tool was holy scripture. Fortunately, it is only one of three sources of authoritative teaching. I say fortunately because for the first 17 or 18 centuries of Christianity, the vast majority of people were illiterate and even today, universal literacy has still to be reached.

Thankfully, catechesis has always been oral and both tradition and the Magisterium have been abundently clear. Mary was ever virgin. On, a similar but unasked question… No, Jesus had no brothers or sisters.


We have to be careful to assume that they used language in the same way we do. Secondly, we have to look at things in the original language. Thankfully we have a Magisterium and 2000 years of documents that show exactly that. The words used, the way they were used, and the Tradition external to the Scripture all support a different view. One that even the Protestant reformers supported. It’s only the modern “Protestant” who, trying to read a bible in a different language, with different social norms and word usages, comes to think that Mary must have had other children.

A good place to start is this simple Catholic Answer Tract: Mary Ever Virgin

Another thing I might suggest, one of the things that got me over my Marian hangups in my search for truth and led me to the Catholic Faith: Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God


Here’s what St. Jerome said about this whole “until” question:

"And the savior in the Gospel tells the apostles, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Will the Lord then after the end of the world has come forsake his disciples, and at the very time when seated on twelve thrones they are to judge the twelve tribes of Israel will they be bereft of the company of their Lord?

I could give countless instances of this usage, and cover the verbosity of our assailant (Helvidius) with a cloud of proofs; I shall, however, add only a few, and leave the reader to discover others for himself." (On the Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary, 6.)

One of those other verses he mentioned that use “until” this way would be 1 Corinthians 15:25, which says:

“For Christ must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet.”

And there’s also 1 Timothy 6:14:

“I charge you to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ;”

So to quote St. Jerome, does that mean after all God’s enemies are defeated Christ will cease to reign? No, because the Angel Gabriel said explicitly that “of his kingdom there shall be no end.” And is Paul telling Timothy that he can break the commandments after Christ returns? Of course not.

What this all shows is that “heos” didn’t have the same connotation in Greek that “until” does in English. It was used simply to emphasize a certain truth for a particular frame of time. So in 1st Corinthians, Paul is emphasizing that Christ reigns right now; in 1st Timothy, he’s emphasizing that Timothy must keep the commandments; and Matthew is emphasizing the fact that Mary was a virgin and Joseph did not have relations with her when Jesus was conceived.

None of those verses are trying to imply that the opposite happens after the frame of time they reference ends. Jesus doesn’t stop reigning once all his enemies are defeated; he doesn’t leave us at the end of time. Timothy doesn’t stop keeping the commandments, and Mary doesn’t stop being a virgin.


Thank you all this has helped a lot


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