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Don Stewart :: Why Do We Find the Virgin Birth Only Recorded in Matthew and Luke?

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Don Stewart

The virgin birth of Christ is only recorded in two of the four gospels - Matthew and Luke. Mark and John do not mention it. The remainder of the New Testament says nothing about it. If it is such an important belief why don't we find it recorded in the Book of Acts and the writings of Paul?

Did They Know Nothing About It?

Some have argued that two of the Gospel writers, Mark and John, do not record the Virgin Birth because they knew nothing of it. This argument is unconvincing for the following reasons.

Each Addressed A Particular Audience

Each Gospel writer addresses his work to a particular audience and, in doing so, records a different aspect of the life of Christ. Mark is emphasizing that Jesus is the servant of the Lord and that He can do the job God ordained Him to do. Mark says nothing about the first thirty years of the life of Christ. The reason that nothing is said in regard to Jesus' birth or early years because it is not relevant to Mark's purpose.

The same is true with the Gospel of John. John emphasizes that Jesus was God from all eternity. The Gospel begins in eternity past with Jesus already on the scene. John then stresses the fact that Jesus, as God, became a human.

And the word became flesh, and dwelt among us (John 1:14).

Consequently John is emphasizing the sublime truth that God came into the world, not the manner in which He came. He says nothing about Jesus first thirty years.

John Calls Him Jesus Of Nazareth

In John's gospel we find Philip calling Jesus "Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph" (John 1:45).

However this is irrelevant to the question of the virgin birth of Jesus since John has already told his readers that Jesus existed in the beginning as God.

They Do Not Deny It

Though Mark and John do not expressly state that Jesus was born of a virgin, nowhere do they teach the contrary. They simply give no details concerning His birth.

It Is An Argument From Silence

An argument from silence is usually not a very strong argument. Because someone does not state a fact it does not necessarily follow that that person was unaware of that fact. It may mean the person, for whatever reason, chose not to mention it.

These Two Gospels Imply The Knowledge Of A Virgin Birth

The Gospels of Mark and John imply knowledge of the Virgin Birth without expressly stating it.

Jesus Is The Son Of Mary In Mark

In Luke's gospel Jesus is called the son of Joseph.

All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. "Isn't this Joseph's son?" they asked (Luke 4:22).

Because Luke has already told his readers that Jesus was born of a virgin they understand when people call Jesus the "son of Joseph" in ignorance.

Mark is careful not to use that phrase. Jesus is called the "son of Mary."

"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?" And they took offense at Him (Mark 6:3).

Consequently Mark makes the point that Jesus is Mary's son but says nothing about Joseph being the father of Jesus. Therefore he says nothing that would contradict the idea of a virgin birth.

It Was A Cause For Dispute

Jesus' divine origin had been a cause for argumentation with the religious leaders. He told them that His origin was from heaven.

I speak what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have seen with your father (John 8:38).

The Jews responded to this saying that Abraham was their father. Then they made the following accusation at Jesus.

"We were not born of fornication" (John 8:41).

They accused Him of being an illegitimate child. This shows they were aware of the fact that Mary had become pregnant before her marriage to Joseph. This gives further credence to the account of the Virgin Birth as recorded by Matthew, which states that Joseph considered divorcing her privately when he had discovered her pregnancy. In recording this dialogue between Jesus and the religious leaders John implies that the birth of Jesus was not ordinary but came through unusual circumstances. As Matthew and Luke so clearly tell us, it was not Mary's unfaithfulness that made it an unusual birth, but rather the fact that God had performed a miracle having Jesus conceived not by man but by the Holy Spirit.

The Testimony Of Paul

The fact that Paul does not record the virgin birth is not surprising. He does not deal with the story of the life of Christ. However he does say the following about Jesus.

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law (Galatians 4:4)

Certainly this means more than Jesus had a mother. It could suggest that he had only a human mother but not a human father. However it is also possible that Paul simply meant that Jesus, God the Son, became a genuine human.

Summary

The virgin birth of Christ is clearly recorded in two of the four gospels - Matthew and Luke. The other two gospels, Mark and John say nothing about it but John presupposes it in the story of Jesus and the religious rulers. In addition, John says that the Word was manifest in the flesh. Mark, however, says nothing about Jesus early years. However he is careful not to call Jesus "Josephs' son" but rather "Mary's son." Paul says nothing of it because he does not deal with the life of Christ. Consequently the fact that some writers do not mention the virgin conception of Christ does not in any way prove they rejected the doctrine or knew nothing of it.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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