Where Is the Biblical Proof of Mary’s Perpetual Virginity?

Some major Christian religions firmly believe that Mary was a perpetual virgin, and ardently support the idea that Jesus was her only child. It is further claimed that even in the process of giving birth, she still somehow retained her virginity. Such tenacious belief is part of their veneration in elevating Mary to a level of holiness and sacredness. To admit that she did not remain a virgin would be an insult to the sanctity of her body which delivered the Messiah.

Considering this popular belief, it is important to determine if the Bible really supports the perpetual virginity of Mary. This topic deserves a closer look, taking into account both sides of the argument, to ultimately see what God tells us through His divine revelation in the Bible.

The claimed proof of Mary’s perpetual virginity

This popular belief that Mary is a perpetual virgin also includes the idea that she did not have any sexual relations with any man before, during, and even after giving birth to Jesus Christ. One basis for such belief is that according to conservative Lutheran scholars, the Bible did not say that Mary lost her virginity. But their strongest support for such a claim is what is said in the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal writing probably produced around A.D. 145. This writing tells the story of Mary’s birth and upbringing. It says that Joseph was an aged man who simply served as a guardian to Mary. It claims that Joseph already had children from a previous marriage, who were later called the “brothers of the Lord.” Mary was said to have been dedicated to the temple since birth, and thus remained a virgin throughout her lifetime.

Arguments against the authenticity of the Protoevangelium of James

It is important to consider that the Protoevangelium of James is an apocryphal [meaning doubtful, hidden, secret, spurious] writing, produced only about a hundred years after James had already long been dead. Furthermore, it was not until “… A.D. 1546 [about 1,550 years since the birth of James] when the Roman Catholic Council of Trent specifically listed the apocryphal books approved…” It causes very deep concern that it took such a very long time before the Roman Church gave its tacit approval to this particular writing. In fact, it is also very surprising that such writing is not part of the apocryphal books contained in the Catholic Bible even to this day. Of course, this apocryphal writing is considered as a fictional book by most Christian theologians because of so many statements therein which contradict the inspired Gospel accounts. Understandably, respectable Bible scholars do not consider any apocryphal writing as part of the authorized sacred text of the Bible, and thus not a valid basis to form any doctrine. Allowing such will just lead to much confusion and produce many contradictions with what is already stated in the approved Scriptures. Putting man’s spurious writings as equal to, or more important than God’s clearly inspired words in the Bible is another form of idolatry.

Scriptural Guidelines Concerning Approved Biblical Writings

Concerning the binding and sealing of the authorized parts of the Bible, Isaiah prophesied saying, “Bind up the testimony, Seal the law among my disciples” (Isaiah 8:16). God directly caused this prophecy to be fulfilled through the work of the last surviving apostle, John. He was the only one allowed by God to be exempted from martyrdom, and lived until the last decade of the first century just to be able to compile all the New Testament writings (John 21:21-25). Please note that God did NOT entrust the preservation and authorization of the sacred writings to any Gentile church council (like the Council of Trent), but only to the Jews (Romans 3:1-2).

What does the Bible say about Mary’s Virginity?

It is, therefore, crucial to firmly establish the source of our understanding and belief. If we want nothing but the TRUTH, we need to look into the Bible, the inspired Word of God. So, what does the Bible say about the facts, circumstances, and duration of Mary’s virginity?

THE BIBLICAL EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT MARY ACTUALLY BORE MANY OTHER CHILDREN AFTER JESUS’ BIRTH:

THE USE OF THE WORD “TILL” OR “UNTIL

First, it is a prophesied biblical fact that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus Christ. “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

This New Testament verse is the fulfillment of that prophecy: “Now this is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18, NLT).

Luke also details the circumstances before Joseph and Mary even came together. When the angel of the Lord appeared to her and announced her pregnancy, Mary answered, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34).

[NOTE: The statement “I know not a man” does not literally mean she does not know any man, but her polite way to say she never had any sexual encounter with any man.]

And here is the collaborating statement. Referring to Joseph, Matthew’s account says:

“And knew her not TILL she had brought forth her firstborn Son …” (Matthew 1:25). Or, “but kept her a virgin UNTIL she gave birth to a Son …” (Matthew 1:25, NAU).

[NOTE: The words “till” or “until” are limiting words. It plainly indicates that like any married couple, Mary had sexual relationships with Joseph after giving birth to Jesus.]

USE OF THE WORD “FIRSTBORN” SON

Matthew’s account says: “and did not know her [“kept her a virgin” (NAU)] till she had brought forth her firstborn Son” (Matthew 1:25).

[NOTE: The English word “firstborn” is translated from the Greek word [Strong’s G4416] prototokos. It comes from two Greek words: “proto” = first + “tokos” or “tikto” = to beget (also used in Luke 2:7). The important implication with the use of that word, “firstborn” is that other siblings are viewed in that family context.]

THE GOSPEL WRITERS DID NOT USE THE PHRASE “ONLY SON”

There is a specific Greek word for “only son” as used in Luke 7:12:

“And when He [Christ] came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow…”

[NOTE: The Greek word used for “only” [Strong’s G3439] is the word “monogenes” which comes from two Greek words: “mono” = one or only; plus “genes” = child (son or daughter) viewed in relation to one’s own parent. However, while that word “only son” was used for that widow’s son, such word was never used in Mary’s case to refer to Jesus.]

THE GOSPEL ACCOUNTS SPECIFICALLY NAMED HIS BROTHERS

Matthew’s account says: “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us?” (Matthew 13:55,56).

[NOTE: The grammatical wording describing “His sisters indicates that there are at least three of them. If only one sister is referred to, the language should have been “is not His sister with us?” If two are indicated, the wording would have said, “Are not both His sisters with us?” But since the wording says, “are they not ALL with us?” it indicates that there are at least three sisters referred to. These facts, therefore, show that Mary bore from her womb at least eight children: First, Christ born through the Power of God, then followed by four other brothers, plus at least three other sisters, through her sexual relationship with Joseph in marriage. Please remember that Mary was young when she was married, and it was considered then a great blessing from God to have as large a family as possible (and there were no birth control practices among them then).]

A second witness is recorded in Mark 6:3, which reads: “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?”

[NOTE: Two among Christ’s half-brothers (James and Jude) later wrote letters to the Church then, and both of their writings were included in the New Testament canon. Of course, not one among them believed Him when He was still alive as a human (John 7:5).]

THE GREEK WORDS DISPUTE THE CLAIM THEY ARE HIS “COUSINS”

There is a false claim that the term “brother” referred to them as Christ’s “cousins” or “relatives” or “disciples.” But let us confirm these with the Greek words used here:

Brothers” in these stated verses is translated from the Greek word “adelphos” [Strong’s G80, adelphos] which in this case means male children from the same mother (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; 1 Corinthians 9:5; and Galatians 1:19)

Sisters” in these stated verses is translated from the Greek word “adelphe” [Strong’s G79, adelphe] which in this case means own sisters from the same mother (Matthew 13:56; Mark 6:3; and 1Corinthians 9:5)

cousin” is used in [NKJ] Colossians 4:10 which reads: Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas [KJV “sister’s son”] …”

The NIV Exhaustive Concordance by Goodrick & Kohlenberger III, translates the Greek word “anepsios” [G&K #G463] into the English word “cousin.”

relative” or “kinsman” is used in [NKJ] Luke 1:36. [The Angel Gabriel said to Mary]: “Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age…”

The Greek word used for “relative” is catalogued in Strong’s as [G4773] suggenes {soong-ghen-ace’}]; means “of the same kin, akin to, or related by blood.”

disciples” as a word compared to “brothers” is used in John 2:12, where it says: “After this [from Cana of Galilee] He [Christ] went down to Capernaum, He, His mother, His brothers [Greek, “adelphos”], and His disciples [Greek, “mathetes”]; …”

“disciple” is translated from the Greek word [Strong’s G3101mathetes {math-ay-tes’} Meaning: a learner, pupil, disciple.]

What is most important to note here is that the only words used in describing Christ’s brothers and sisters were the original Greek words: “adelphos” = brothers, and “adelphe” = sisters. Those verses we examined never ever used the words “anepsios” = cousins, “suggenes” = relatives, nor “mathetes” = disciples. THEREFORE, MARY BORE MANY OTHER CHILDREN IN HER WOMB AFTER THE BIRTH OF JESUS.

FAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTEMPT

Please remember that people knew each other very well in that town of Nazareth where Jesus also continued their family’s prominent house-building trade and where He also grew up. Thus, Christ was also known as “The Carpenter” [builder; Greek “tekton”]. (Mark 6:3a). Therefore, after some time of absence from their community, when Jesus returned to visit and this time did miracles and preached in their synagogue, all His townsfolks were amazed! They can’t believe that this humble person whom they knew since childhood, seen Him grow up, and known His family well such that they can all name His mother, and His brothers, and were familiar with all His sisters; can now perform miracles and spoke with authority! Due to familiarity, envy, and “unbelief” they were “offended.” Thus, He did not do much miracles there. (Matthew 13:57,58)

OTHER BIBLICAL PROOFS:

[The apostle Paul wrote]: “But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother [Greek, ‘adelphos’].” (Galatians 1:19)

[Christ’s own half-brother Jude, himself humbly writing said] “Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, [Greek, ‘adelphos’]…” (Jude 1:1a)

[Matthew and Luke both recorded this same event]: “While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers [Greek ‘adelphos’] stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers [Greek ‘adelphos’] are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” (Matthew 12:46,47; Luke 18:19)

ONLY GOD IS TO BE WORSHIPPED

Exposing the truth about Mary’s alleged perpetual virginity is important for us to understand because this false myth is directly related to her being worshipped as: “The Mother of God,” “The Mother of the Church,” and “The Queen of Heaven.” This veneration of Mary is anchored on, and demands that she should remain a perpetual virgin; which just is not true. This type of false worship is tantamount to “idolatry” and the Bible teaches us that we worship God, not any human—whether dead or alive. Furthermore, the worship of Mary as if she is a “god” and serves as our Mediatrix to gain access to God’s Throne is a contradiction to Scriptures and competes with the exclusive role of Christ. Please notice this verse: “For there is one God and ONE Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5)

MARY IS NOT EVEN IN HEAVEN TO INTERCEDE FOR US

For the sake of TRUTH, and to save any of our readers any further empty, or frustrating expectations, please be informed that Christ Himself said, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” (John 3:13)

Of course, Christ knows exactly what He said, because He is from heaven. Contrary to the beliefs of many, even King David of Israel is NOT in heaven. The apostle Peter, on the Day of Pentecost preached; “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.” (Acts 2:29) “For David did not ascend into the heavens, …” (Acts 2:34). Thus, with these biblical facts, please don’t expect Mary to be now in heaven interceding for humans on earth. That belief is simply not true.

EVEN ANGELS REFUSED TO BE WORSHIPPED!

Please note also that when the apostle John bowed down before the Angel of God, the Angel commanded him not to do it. John wrote: “And I fell at his feet to worship him [the Angel]. But he [the Angel] said to me, “See that you do not do that! …Worship God! This incident of John’s attempt to worship the Angel was repeated at two different occasions, but the Angel’s command to John not to worship him were consistent. (Revelation 19:10; 22:8,9)

PERVERSION OF GOD’S MARRIAGE BLESSINGS

We need to know and remember that sex within marriage is not a sin. (Hebrews 13:4). Even if Mary had sex with Joseph after Christ’s birth, it did not disqualify her from God’s grace. The notion that Mary should remain a virgin to be saved (or to have a higher reward) somehow demonizes the sacred purpose of sex in marriage. Because of this false belief, it is possible that some women would purposely try to avoid marriage thinking that they might sin even more; and this belief is also one of Satan’s cruel and sadistic deceptions upon humans.

CONCLUSION

The Bible is clear. Mary is not a perpetual virgin. Proponents of such doctrine had to even desperately grasp at a very dubious, very late, unreliable apocryphal writing just to bolster such belief. It is either you believe logic and the Bible, or blatantly false human traditions. It is my sincerest hope that you believe what God says in His infallible Word and be blessed; rather than what people or humans declare out of Satanic deception and sheer ignorance.

~Written by Joshua Infantado, and edited by Edmond Macaraeg

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5 Comments

  1. Ruben A. Banaag

    Amen to the explanation that plainly laid out scriptural basis found in the Old and New Testament. Believing what is plain and obvious is also a gift from God that opened our minds so that our EYES can See and our EARS can Hear. From the womb of our mothers, our Auditory and Visual Organs remained the same (from Pre to Post Conversion) yet we think and believed HOOK, LINE and SINKER articles of faith that we were born into. But by the Grace of God, who opened our minds and gave us understanding, His Truth was made Plain and what is claimed to be a mystery becomes common sense and logical. With this understanding, praises and gratitude still belongs to God.

    • Edmond Macaraeg

      Hello Mr. Ruben Banaag,
      Thank you very much for your incisive and mature comments. Yes, it is by the Spirit of God that we are graciously given spiritual knowledge and understanding. In which case, God is to be truly PRAISED! Regards…

  2. Mark Rome

    If Jesus had brothers from Mary his mother, Jesus would never have given Mary to John right before his death as that would have been illegal. Plus, only Jesus is spoken of as the son of Mary.

    This statement is troubling, “This popular belief that Mary is a perpetual virgin also includes the idea that she did not have any sexual relations with any man before, during, and even after giving birth to Jesus Christ. ”

    Are you suggesting Mary had sexual relations before giving birth to Jesus? While you can’t understand celibacy, Jesus did, so did Paul. I think you need to rethink this in light of the Biblical evidence.

    • Biblical Truths

      Hello there, thank you for your comment.

      While the Bible doesn’t explicitly show us why Jesus entrusted the care of His mother to John, it does not prove Mary’s perpetual virginity. There are a lot of clear passages from the Bible that confirm Mary had other children aside from Christ. To say that Mary maintained her virginity goes against the clear scriptures mentioned in this blog.

      So why did Jesus choose John to take care of His mother? For one, it is very likely that John is the ONLY one who stood by Christ’s side even until His death. This means that during the crucifixion, His blood brothers may not have been present.

      John shows tremendous loyalty to Jesus Christ. He was the only one brave enough to stay and watch Christ being nailed to the cross. Christ is the discerner of the heart and knows the intent of our motives. Thus, Christ very well knew that John would really take care of His mother. While it is true that the brothers of Christ were later converted, that happened AFTER.

      We can also see biblical clues that indicate Joseph was already dead by the time Christ became an adult.

      Regarding your other question, we are not suggesting that she had sexual relations with any man before her miraculous conception of Christ. In fact, it is well established that Mary was a virgin when she conceived and gave birth to Christ. Many people believe that Mary did not have sexual relations AFTER Christ’s birth, an idea that goes contrary to what the Bible teaches.

      ~Joshua Infantado

    • Edmond Macaraeg

      Please allow me to itemize your comments, so I can address each one properly.

      1. “If Jesus had brothers from Mary his mother, Jesus would never have given Mary to John right before his death as that would have been illegal.”

      REPLY: Please remember that during His active ministry for the past three-and-a-half years prior to His death, none of His own brothers believed Him then (John 7:5). Thus, he had no close associations with them, and it also appears that they did not share any of his concerns. In fact, while He was still alive, Christ was a generally despised and ridiculed person, which surprisingly included the highest religious leader at that time (High Priest) down to the Scribes and Pharisees. And if the top respected leaders of society then had that attitude, one might as well expect that most of the people share with that negative attitude, too. Truly, the prophet Isaiah centuries earlier rightly said, “He is despised and rejected of men…” (Isa. 53:3). Please remember also that the events leading to His crucifixion moved very swiftly, such that it was almost impossible to coordinate with other relatives under those violent conditions. Moreover, all His brothers could have been busy continuing the labor-intensive family construction business back in Nazareth (about 100 kms. away), from Jerusalem where these crucial events were then happening (and there were no electronic means of communicating with them then). Please remember further that practically all His disciples who had been with Him continually for 3-1/2 years all fled and went into hiding—except John (His cousin), His mother Mary, and the other women close to Him. They had to endure seeing the merciless brutality done to Him and the bloody sight at the place of crucifixion. Since there was no other trusted man in sight then, He simply entrusted His own mother to one of His most trusted disciple, His cousin John who was courageous enough to be with Him to the last moments of His life. But I am quite certain that shortly after those events, John coordinated for the care of Mary to her own family and relatives, since John had to pursue his work as a trusted apostle and busy church leader.

      2. “Plus, only Jesus is spoken of as the son of Mary.”

      REPLY: Carefully RE-READ my article again. The biblical facts are fully documented, including the frequent use of the Greek word “adelphos” = brother/s. Please note also that Jesus was referred to as Mary’s “firstborn” (Gk. “prototokon”) son; NOT her only (Gk. “monogenes”) son. Firstborn indicates there were other siblings.

      3. “This statement is troubling, “This popular belief that Mary is a perpetual virgin also includes the idea that she did not have any sexual relations with any man before, during, and even after giving birth to Jesus Christ.” “Are you suggesting Mary had sexual relations before giving birth to Jesus Christ?”

      REPLY: The first statement did NOT come from me, but simply quoted from Catholic (& Lutheran) sources who share that same belief. Regarding your second statement which is in the form of a question; YOU are the one suggesting the question, not me. What I/we believe is the biblical prophecy and testimony that she was a virgin until she gave birth to Christ.

      4. “While you can’t understand celibacy, Jesus did, so did Paul. I think you need to rethink this in the light of the Biblical evidence.”

      REPLY: While Christ taught moral purity, He did not teach celibacy. Paul being once a Pharisee (Acts 23:6; 26:5), it is expected of them to be married. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul mentioned about his right to lead a wife (1Cor. 9:5). Beyond this, Paul did not mention what happened to his wife since then. Obviously, because of Paul’s difficult and very long journeys where he very seldom stays at his home, it would have been very difficult to maintain a wife and care for his children. Because Paul was given by God a special calling, he decided not to remarry, but did not require it of others (1Cor.7:1-9). Surprisingly, please notice Paul’s strong condemnation to those promoting the teaching of “forbidding to marry” (celibacy); and where that doctrine comes from? He said that it is the “doctrine of demons!” (1Tim. 4:1-3).

      We hope you have been enlightened with these explanations. If you have further questions, please feel free to ask again.

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