Matthew 1:25

Tonight at Bible study we read Matthew 1:25 and I remember us discussing this some time ago. I wanted to explain this Scripture to the others, why the Bible says “he had no relations with her until she bore a son and he named Him Jesus,” and why it’s phrased that particular way but I’ve forgotten. It sounds as if Joseph and Mary had relations after Jesus was born, but the Catholic Church says Mary remained a virgin her entire life. Can someone explain it again to me?

Take a look at this thread, it goes into some depth about that question.

Matthew 1:25: Until she brought forth her firstborn son

The Catholic Church teaches that Mary remained a perpetual virgin and that Jesus did not have any brothers and sisters. Many non-Catholics doubt these claims, and they frequently cite Matthew 1:25 in support of their views that Mary and Joseph had normal sexual relations after they were married and that Jesus was only the first of many children that resulted from their union. Let’s examine this important verse more closely using two popular Protestant translations.

24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. (KJV)

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (NIV)


In verse 25, the Greek heôs, “until,” does not necessarily contrast “before” to “after.” It means that up to a certain moment, something happened or not, without considering what happened after that moment. For example, the Greek text of the Septuagint says, in 2 Samuel 6:23, that “Mikal, daughter of Saul, had no children until (heôs) the days of her death.” This obviously does not suggest that she had children after her death. Matthew is interested in underlining that Jesus’ birth and conception were carried out without the intervention of any man.

Remove the word “until” from the verse, and you have the following:

“Joseph had no relations with her…she brought forth her firstborn”

Two simple statements. Protestants really disagree with the first of these two; therefore, the word “until” is the whole argument. Either Joseph held off “until” and then proceeded to have relations (the Protestant position) OR Joseph had no relations with her. Period. (the Catholic position).

Naturally, Protestants argue for a simple reading of the text, but Catholics counter that “until” doesn’t actually imply the cessation of past action (namely, holding off). Although things look intuitively obvious for the Protestant point of view, in actual fact, the Catholic position is not harmed at all by the word “until” because that word implies nothing…and other verses in scripture PROVE that point.

Genesis 8:7
The raven “did not return TILL the waters were dried up…”
Did the raven ever return?

Deuteronomy 34:6 (Knox)
No one knew the location of his grave “until this present day”
But we know that no one has known it since that day either.

Luke 1:80
“And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.” The Greek word translated “until” in this passage is heos, the same word used in Matthew 1:25. The child spoken of is John the Baptist who also lived in the desert after he appeared in public (cf. Matt. 3:1, Mark 1:3,4; Luke 3:2).

1 Timothy 6:14
“…that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless UNTIL our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing…”
May this commandment be disobeyed after Jesus returns?

Because “until” does not require a cessation of activity, Matthew 1:25 cannot be used to disprove the perpetual virginity of Mary.


Many non-Catholics assume that Mary had a second child because Jesus is referred to as her “firstborn son”. However, “firstborn” is merely a term applied to the first child that “opened the womb”. The term does not imply a “secondborn”. In ancient times, a woman who only had one child during the course of her lifetime still called that child the “firstborn”. Scripture also supports this understanding:

Numbers 3:40
And the LORD said unto Moses, Number all the firstborn of the males of the children of Israel from a month old and upward, and take the number of their names.

Note here that a child as young as one month old was called the “firstborn”. Given the length of the human gestation period, it is not possible for a month old infant to have a younger sibling. Thus, we see clearly that “firstborn” was a technical term that did not prove that additional children had been born.

Let me play devils advocate, as this will undoubtedly come up, in Matthew 1:25 the word “until” *Heos * has an added word Hou. Protestants now claim that if Heos is paired with hou it automatically means that the situation changed after the event in question.

In other words the addition of Hou means they did have relations after the birth of Jesus.

They will also point out that all of the examples given were the situation clearly did not change, such as 2 Samuel 6:23, that “Mikal, daughter of Saul, had no children until (heôs) the days of her death." do not have the added hou in it.

The reality is that most of the time heos is used in the bible it is not paired with hou, and when it is, it is a situation that does clearly change.

However there is at least one passage that pairs Heos with hou were the situation changing is not clear in the passage. In fact this verse shows hoe heos hou can not automatically mean the situation changes

“Being at a loss how to investigate such matters, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there stand trial on these matters. But when Paul appealed to be held in custody for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him to be kept in custody until (heos hou) I [might] send him to Caesar.” (Acts 25:20-21)

Does this verse say that Paul was released after he was sent to Ceasar?

No. In fact the verse clearly says that the decision whether or not to release Paul hadn’t been made yet.

Has to do with the translation of the word “until”. The way it’s translated, makes it look as if this status changed, and it didn’t due to the translation. The other posts seem to explain it pretty well.

**He said to me: This gate is to remain closed; it is not to be opened for anyone to enter by it; since the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it, it shall remain closed, Ezekiel 44:2.

Steveabrous is correct. The “heos hou” (pronounced “hay-oss hoo”) routine does not help the deniers (of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary). Nor does anything else in Scripture help their position.

Before I go into the heos hou issue think of one question:

“If St. Joseph knew Mary not, until Mary bore Jesus, WHY do you think Joseph knew her not?
After all, it is not a sin to know a pregnant woman who you are married to.”

St. Jerome asked the heretic Helvetius this same question in different words.

Once someone can answer that question correctly, they will be almost all the way there as to . . . .

. . . . . WHY St. Joseph knew Mary NOT, after she bore Jesus as well.

I have collected over the years about ten reasons (several from the New Testament alone) why this heos hou objection doesn’t work for the deniers. I will toss out one (this one has to do with the Old Testament) and maybe add some others later.

This is from our local Bible study . . . . .

Objector: I know what you are going to say. You are going to say that the ancient Greek version of the Old Testament called the Septuagint (which was finished being written by Rabbis around about 100 years or more before Jesus’ birth) shows examples of “heos hou” NOT necessitating a change in status.

Answer: Right.

In Psalm 112 we see a description of the righteous man. Primarily this is Jesus. Secondarily it is those of the elect who are in-Jesus. This righteous man “is not afraid of evil tidings”, in other words he’s courageous.

And we even find out “his righteousness endures for ever”!

But then what else do we see?

We also find out the righteous man is courageous “until he sees his desire on his adversaries” or until he sees the defeat his adversaries.

PSALM 112:6-10 6 For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered for ever. 7 He is not afraid of evil tidings; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. 8 His heart is steady, he will not be afraid, until he sees his desire on his adversaries. 9 He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever; his horn is exalted in honor. 10 The wicked man sees it and is angry; he gnashes his teeth and melts away; the desire of the wicked man comes to nought.

The “until” in Psalm 112:8 is heos hou.

PSALM 112:7-9a 7 He is not afraid of evil tidings; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. 8 His heart is steady, he will not be afraid, until (heous hou) he sees his desire on his adversaries. 9 He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever;

If “heos hou” ALWAYS necessitates a change in status motif is true, then we have the bizarre conclusion that this righteous one (Jesus) described here is “not afraid” until he vanquishes his adversaries, then after his enemies are subdued, he (Jesus) must get scared and IS AFRAID according to the way these guys try to force the “heos hou NECESSITATES a change” objection!

He (the righteous one) is courageous when dealing with his enemies but now he is frightened??

The context clearly is that this righteous man is courageous and not frightened. So to say that he is, would be to violate the law of non-contradiction (the proposal of heos hou necessitating a change in status when there obviously is no change in status here, would be self-contradictory).

They will try to invent non-Biblical reasons why the Old Testament example does not apply to the New Testament. These are all traditions of men that make void the word of God.

Those objections can effectively be dealt with too.

I was not aware of this one. That is a good one.

Yet the deniers have an answer. They claim that 100 years prior to Jesus and back, and 100 years after Jesus and forward Heos hou did not necessitate a change. But for the 200 year period covering Jesus life there are no example in the bible or secular literature were Heos hou did not have a change. This means two things

  1. there are plenty of examples before and after were change obviously did not occure.
  2. The rules changed and then changed back so that the only time in history were heos hou necessitates that the situation changes is when the new testament was being written. This is aufully conventient for those who deny her perprtual virginity.
    And there is no scholarly concensus for this except among protestants.

But there are at least 2 examples of Heos hou ( or it’s counterpart heos hotou which is treated gramaticaly the same) used in the new testament that a protestant can not say that the Heos hou necessitates a change.

The first is the example I gave earlier:

“Being at a loss how to investigate such matters, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there stand trial on these matters. But when Paul appealed to be held in custody for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him to be kept in custody until (heos hou) I [might] send him to Caesar.” (Acts 25:20-21)

The second is Matthew chapter 5: 25-26

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out ***until ***you have paid the last penny.

Note (in this passage* “until”* is translated from heos hotou not heos hou. However there is no difference between the two. In fact the proponents of this argument state as much:

In his 1999 debate with Catholic Apologist Gerry Matatics on Mary’s Perpetual Virginity, Svendsen makes his case thus:
…rarely is it mentioned by these [Catholic] apologists that this is not the Greek phrase [heõs alone] used in Matthew 1:25. In all of these passages cited by Catholic Apologists, the word ‘heõs’ alone is used, but in Matthew 1:25, the Greek construction ‘heõs hou’ is used. The phrase ‘heõs hou#’ with its variant form ‘heõs hotou#’ which grammarians treat as the same, occurs a total of 22 times in the New Testament. Four of these have the meaning ‘while’ noting contemporaneous (Matthew 5:25, Matthew 14:22, Matthew 26:36, Luke 13:8), whereas the other 18 instances have the meaning ‘until’ and these are all instances where the action of the main clause is changed by the action of the subordinate clause, and requires the meaning up to a specified time but not after. (00:12:54-00:13:44) )

Clearly this passage is refering to the afterlife. I don’t think anyone disputes that. So Jesus is either talking about Hell or purgatory. The Protestant backs themself into a corner if they are going to maintain that Heos hou and heos hotou necessitate a change in the condition.

Let’s look closer at it.

" you will not get out ***until ***you have paid the last penny"

If the situation does not change then he is clearly talking about hell.
However if the protestant maintains the situation must change then the person will be let out once they have paid their debt. The protestant must concede to a state after death which is temporary. Purgatory. Which all protestants reject.

Heos Hou and the Protestant Polemic
By John Pacheco

Farewell to Heos Hou

Another Scholar’s Opinion on Heos Hou

Revenge of the Munchkin

Summary Page

Svendsen’s thesis was destroyed by John Pacheco in the articles I posted a moment ago. However, this particular point needs to be addressed. It was dealt with fully in “Revenge of the Munchkin”, but here is the heart of that article:

The Revenge of the Munchkin

Once upon a time, a certain munchkin was listening to a 1993 (or 1995?) debate between [James] White and [Gary] Matatics on the four Marian dogmas. It was during this debate that White first broached the heõs hou argument. And for the last 10 years and a few debates White and Svendsen had with Matatics in between, this munchkin had to sit and listen to the screeches of joy from Eric Svendsen and James White as they tried to sell the Munchkins the heõs hou beanstalk. They did so with virtual impunity in cyberspace and, more recently, in print with Svendsen’s book which was released in 2001. While they’ve been wowing the munchkins with their magic powers over Greek and this heõs hou beanstalk, they were also secretly hoping that no Munckin would notice that the beanstalk wouldn’t stand up to much scrutiny. Mistaking us munchkins for scarecrows – we’re all the same to them, after all – they didn’t expect that munchkins actually had brains. In fact, this one certain munchkin got a good look at that beanstalk, gave it a shrug of contempt, waved his little finger, and said a la Arnie: “I’ll be back”. And off he went to dutifully sharpen his axe for a fateful day.

Now it turns out that this particular munchkin is generally a nice guy and doesn’t hold grudges, but he got his knickers in a knot over Svendsen’s silly claims of scholarly pretensions and he resolved to do something about it. So, against his nature, he promised himself that he would be patient for years if necessary to find just the right moment – the “Kodak moment” as they used to say. He would wait for that one day when Svendsen least expected it and wasn’t looking. Then when that day came…chop chop chop…the beanstalk would fall.

It turns out that Tuesday, November 18, 2003 was that day, and for a brief moment of glory, as Gerry was laying out the munchkin’s case in cyberworld, Mr. Svendsen went silent for a good long time. He was watching his very large beanstalk fall to the ground. Poor Mr. Svendsen. He shouldn’t have bought those beans. I do hope he can get a refund.

The End

John Pacheco

Pacheco took Svendsen’s thesis apart in meticulous detail, and the heos hou argument is over.

One more part confuses me. What about the part of the article under the heading ‘The Greek Particle Hou,’ where he writes:

<<<<<<<<< English equivalents of heos Hou might be translated as “until which,” “until which time” or until such time as." In fact heos Hou is simply a shorthand for the phrase heos Hou chronou en Hoi – literally "until the time when.>>>>>>>>>>

Doesn’t that portion of the article sound like a contradiction of the rest of the article, like he’s saying that Mary didn’t remain a virgin forever but was only a virgin until after Jesus’ birth, or am I misunderstanding what he wrote?

To translate from a language of a culture half way across the world that existed 2000 years ago into modern English and expect to have an exact translation with nothing lost in the translation is unreasonable. This is one reason Tradition is so important.

All that is required is to show that there is no change in the meaning of heos if Hou or *Hotou *is added.

The deniers fully admit that the use of Heos does not necessitate a change in the condition.

So even to say Heos hou literally means “Until the time when” this is just the best translation we can do

Reading the Book of Mathew.

I always took this as no sexual relations…Until after Jesus was born. The Virgin Birth.

Mathew 1:23-25.

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus

For Jesus had brothers and sisters. Mary had relations with Joseph. Normal sexual relations. But, Jesus says everyone is his brother, sister, and mother.

Mathew 12:46-50

While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him.
(Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you.”)
But he said in reply to the one who told him, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”
And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”


He came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?
Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?
Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?”

Very strong regarding Jesus. He had brothers and Sisters. And Mary his mother.

Mark 3:31-35.

His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him.
A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers (and your sisters) are outside asking for you.”
But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and (my) brothers?”
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.
(For) whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Mark 6:3.

Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him

Real strong. Jesus had brothers. Biological. In this passage, there is a distinction between disciples and brothers. Mother, his brothers, and disciples.

John 2:11-12.

Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.
After this, he and his mother, (his) brothers, and his disciples went down to Capernaum and stayed there only a few days.

John 7:1-10. Brothers. Jesus had brothers.

After this, Jesus moved about within Galilee; but he did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him.
But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near.
So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing.
No one works in secret if he wants to be known publicly. If you do these things, manifest yourself to the world.”
For his brothers did not believe in him.
So Jesus said to them, “My time is not yet here, but the time is always right for you.
The world cannot hate you, but it hates me, because I testify to it that its works are evil.
You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, because my time has not yet been fulfilled.”
After he had said this, he stayed on in Galilee.
But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but (as it were) in secret.

I’m sorry, I don’t seem to understand your point. Your religion says Traditionsl Roman Catholic which tells me you take what the Magisterium says very seriously, yet you seem to be promoting the idea that Joseph and Mary had sexual relations after Jesus’ birth?

“seem to be promoting the idea that Joseph and Mary had sexual relations after Jesus’ birth”

Eactly. Right there in the Bible. Simple! I go by what the New Testament says. Not some governing body. I never did. Ignore the Pope and the rest. But the Gospels remain as they are.

Joseph and Mary were husband and wife. And what do married couples do?

Jesus had brothers and sisters. But, because his birth was a Virgin one, his brothers and sisters were closer to half brothers and sisters.

What does this have to do with anything? - “Magisterium”

I say I am Traditional Roman Catholic. I did not know about a connection with a “Magisterium”. I always though Traditional Catholics follow the New Testament to the letter.

I am Baptized, Confirmed in a traditional way - hence “Traditional Roman Catholic”…

This is getting so confusing for me.

  1. Bottom line:
    Does the word “until” mean Mary was a virgin her whole life or did she lose her
    virginity later, sometime after Jesus was born? and,

  2. Does the word “until” translated to heos or heos hou mean Mary was ever virgin or does it mean she lost her virginity after Jesus was born? Please keep your answer simple – I’m really getting confused.

“Mary was ever virgin”

She was a virgin when concieved with Jesus Christ. Had a Virgin Birth.

But, Mary and Joseph had sons and daughers thru their marriage. Read and study my previous post. I gave Bible passages. Jesus had brothers and sisters.

You are hung up on one word….

“Does the word “until” translated to heos or heos hou.”

Break away from that one word and read lots of words.

And you will see as you read, that Mary was a virgin in the beginning with Jesus Christ. But, Mary and Joseph had sons and daughters afterwards.

  • The word “until” in Matthew 1:25.

Bible passages….

Mary was a virgin. Had a virgin birth. Hence, Joseph had no relations with her until she bore a son - Jesus.

But, Mary and Joseph had sons and daughters - and Mary was no longer a virgin.

For Jesus Christ had brothers and sisters.

Mary and Joseph were human beings. Simple human beings.

Large SIGH!. No Mary only gave birth to Jesus. It is an infallible teaching of the Catholic Church.

"No Mary only gave birth to Jesus” - wrong.

Bible passages….All right here. Joseph had no relations with her until after the birth of Christ.

Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?

James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (not the Iscariot) were his brothers (not Disciples!) and sons of Mary. For Joseph had relations with Mary until after the birth of Christ…

For Mary and Joseph were husband and wife?

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