**Mary’s Perpetual Virginity **
There are four arguments against Mary’s perpetual Virginity. First, “until” in Matt 1:25 seems to imply that Mary and Joseph had marital relations after the birth of
Jesus. Secondly, according to both the Old and the New Testament sexual
intercourse for married couples is divinely approved (Gen 1:28, 9:1, 24:60; Prov
5:18; Ps 127:3; 1 Cor 7:5, 9). Third, we are told that Jesus had brothers and sisters
(Matt 12:46-47; Matt 13:55; Mark 3:31-32; 6:3; Luke 8:19-20; John 2:12; 7:3, 5, 10;
Acts 1:14). Lastly, Jesus is called Mary’s “firstborn” (Luke 2:7).
Argument # 1. “Until.” The problem with this understanding is that it forces a
modern English use of until on the Bible. In the Bible the Greek and Hebrew words
for until means only that some action did not happen to a certain point. Scholars are
in agreement on this point. For example, Dr. William Hendriksen, the former
Professor of New Testament Literature at Calvin Seminary in Grand Rapids,
Michigan writes: “This conclusion cannot be based merely upon the negative plus
“until.” That wording does not always introduce an event (in this case: she gave
birth to a son) whereby the earlier situation (the couple had no sexual relations) is
reversed (they now begin to have sexual relations).” From The Gospel of Matthew, p.
Consider this quotation from Samuel: “And so Saul’s daughter Michal was childless
until the day of her death (2 Sam 6:23).” Are we to conclude that she bore children
after her death? How about the raven released from the ark? We read that the raven
“flew back and forth until the waters dried off from the earth (Gn 8:7).” Does that
mean the raven returned? Other examples can be seen in Dt 34:6; 1 Macc 5:54 and
Ps 109:1 [RSV 110:1].
Argument # 2. Sexual intercourse for married couples is divinely approved. All
Christians agree that intercourse between married couples is divinely approved.
However, the fact that marital intercourse is divinely approved does not mean that
it is divinely commanded. Nor can it be argued that because it is approved, Joseph
and Mary fulfilled that marital right.
Argument # 3. The “brothers” of the Lord. Neither Aramaic, the language Jesus
probably spoke, nor Hebrew has a separate word for cousin. In reality the term,
brothers, was commonly used in the Bible to describe close family members
including cousins and uncles. Lot, for example was Abraham’s nephew. He was the
son of Abraham’s brother Haran. Yet in Genesis 14:14, Lot is depicted as Abraham’s
brother. In Mt 29:15 Jacob is called the brother of his uncle Laban. Again in 1 Chron
23:21-22 the daughters of Eleazar married their brethren. This is not possible
because Eleazar had no sons. These brethren were really their cousins, the sons of
Cis. Cis was Eleazar’s brother.
We learn from other Biblical passages that the word brother even had a broader use.
In the case of the forty-two brethren of King Achaziah (2 Kings 10:13-14), the
expression is used to refer to mere kinsman, not even close relatives. Similar uses
are found in: Dt 23:7; Jer 34:9. Brother was also used to describe unrelated people,
such as a friend (1 Kings 9:13, 20:32; and 2 Sam 1:26). In Amos 1:9 the word is used
to describe an ally.
In the passages that refer to the brothers of the Lord, Mt 12: 46-47, Mk 3:31-32, and
Lk 8:19 all seem to be relating the same incident. The use of the word brothers, as
we have already seen, is not persuasive that Mary had other biological children.
Specific brothers are named in two passages. In Mt 13:55 James and Joseph and
Simon and Judas are listed. James and Joseph are identified in Mt 27:56 as the son of
another Mary, probably Mary of Clophas found in Jn 19:25. Simon appears to be
Simon the Cananean of Mt 10:4. Judas is called the son of James in Lk 6:16 and Acts
The second listing of brothers occurs in Mk 6:3. They are James and Joses and Judas
and Simon. James and Joses are identified in Mt 15:40 as the sons of another Mary.
This is probably the same Mary discussed above who appears in Jn 19:25. Judas and
Simon appear in Matthew’s list (Mt 13:55).
Argument # 4. Firstborn son. This objection ignores the ancient Jewish idiomatic use
of the word firstborn. This term clearly refers to the first child who opens the womb
(See: Ex 13:2 and Nb 3:12). The Mosaic law commanded that the firstborn son be
sanctified (Ex 34-20). Are we to suppose that parents had to wait until a second son
was born before they could call their first son the firstborn, and only then were
obligated to carry out the Mosaic provision? This was clearly not the case.
Conclusion: There is no Biblical evidence that indicates Mary had any other children
after the birth of Jesus. However, the above discussion does not present a Biblical
case for Mary’s perpetual virginity. **What is that Biblical basis? **