Shelby G. Floyd
The cross of Christ is the event in human history that towers above time and eternity. Before our Lord died upon the cross he had to enter our world, and he entered our world by a supernatural transaction that we call the virgin birth.
Many passages in the Bible allude to the virgin birth. For instance, Romans 1:3-4 says that Jesus Christ was the seed of David according to the flesh, but he was the Son of God according to the Spirit. Philippians 2:5-11 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” Then, there is the passage in Galatians 4: 4 that says,
“But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.”
These are just a few passages that allude to the fact that our Lord entered our world by a miraculous birth. Today there is a motley crowd of modernistic professors who, like termites, are eating away at the sub-flooring and foundation of every major educational institution in our land. Like moths they are eating away at the old religious fabric of our society. They are trying to destroy the cardinal doctrines on which Christianity rests. Until just a few years ago, one hardly heard a denial of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. Now even in some of our own Christian colleges, the bible professors’ parrot what is taught in schools like Harvard Divinity School, Yale and others. Let us explore the proofs and evidences of the miraculous birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is a cornerstone of Christianity and we must believe it, defend it and stand upon it with all of our power.
THE VIRGIN BIRTH IN PROPHESY
First, let us notice the virgin birth in prophesy. Prophecy is like a telescope. A telescope allows someone to see something that is far away by bringing it close. The prophets could look through the inspired telescope that God gave them. They could see events taking place 700, 1,000 or 1,500 years in the future as if they were taking place in their day. That is, by looking into the future God revealed what was to happen in later ages.
THE GENESIS 3:15 PROPHECY
The primal prophecy of the virgin birth is in the third chapter of Genesis. After our first parents sinned, God confronted them with disobedience and he pronounced the curse upon the land and upon man and upon woman and upon the serpent. Then he stated this primal prophesy of the virgin birth. God said in addressing the serpent, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15). Notice here, the enmity was to be between the serpent and the woman, not between the serpent and Adam, but between the serpent and the woman.
Concerning the relationship of woman to man, Paul says that a woman shall be saved through childbearing if she continues in faith, sobriety and all of those qualities he enumerates:
1 Timothy 2:13-15
For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
This seems to refer to the fact that woman brought Christ into the world. Through the agency of woman, the Christ child, the Savior of the world, came into our land of sorrow and death.
There is no doubt that what Moses recorded in Genesis is what God said to the serpent. What did he say? “I will put enmity between thee and the woman.” Enmity is hatred. Starting with Genesis 3 and going through the great drama of redemption from sin, we see the constant warfare between Satan and the woman; between the seed of the serpent, those who serve Satan, and the seed of the woman. Now notice he says, “It shall bruise thy head and thou shall bruise his heel.” The pronoun “it” here refers to Jesus Christ. “It shall bruise thy head; thou, Satan, shall bruise his heel.”
There is something important in this. The heel is the lowest part of our human frame and human body. The head is the highest part of man. It contains the brain, the ruling power of the human organism. Here in this primal prophecy, God is saying, “Satan you are going to bruise the lowest part of the nature of Jesus Christ.” What was the lowest part? His human nature was the lowest part of his person. When did Satan bruise the human nature of Christ? He did so on the cross of Calvary. By having Christ put upon the cross, Satan unknowingly and unwittingly brought about the salvation of the human race. But he did inflict a mortal blow on the physical life of Jesus Christ. In the primal prophecy, by saying, “Thou shall bruise his heel,” God meant, “You are going to hurt the lowest part of his nature.”
Referring to the conflict of Christ and Satan, the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, he said “Thou, (Christ), shall bruise his head.” Now Satan would only bruise the heel of Christ, but Christ would bruise the head of the serpent. When did he do that? When he arose the third day from the grave, he dealt a mortal blow to Satan. He has never fully recovered from that blow and he never shall. Thus, back in the beginning of time, Genesis 3:15 prophesied the virgin birth and the ultimate victory that would go to the seed of the woman over Satan.
All great Bible commentators have understood the seed of the woman referred to Jesus Christ. Until just a few years ago it was thought that woman did not contribute a seed toward the birth of a child using the natural laws of procreation. It was believed that man alone contributed the seed for the birth of a child. Now we know that is not so. Man in the natural order contributes the seed or the sperm, but woman also contributes a seed called the egg.
In this primal prophesy, man is left out of the picture altogether. That shows the birth of this child of the woman was to be without the agency of man. It would be exclusively by the seed of the woman. Today we know from a scientific standpoint that this is actually the case, the woman does have a seed that is the egg. However, in all the annals of time a human birth has never taken place apart from the agency of man.
There are records that show the birth of a child, after conception took place in a test tube, but this was not miraculous. The sperm was extracted and united with an egg cell. This was done in a test tube. Implantation in the womb of the mother allowed the birth to take place. However, this was not a miraculous birth. It was natural. It was a little bit out of the ordinary, but still according to the laws of nature. In recorded history, a woman has never given birth to a child apart from the agency of man, or the contribution of man, except the Lord Jesus Christ. This makes the virgin birth unique. There has only been one and there shall never be another. It stands out as a unique case in all the history of mankind. That is what Genesis 3:15 was talking about.
The Scriptures identify the seed of the woman so there can be no doubt left in anyone’s mind. God said, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed. It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15 KJV). Who was the seed of the woman that God was speaking about here to the serpent?
THE GENESIS 12:1-4 PROPHECY
In Genesis 12 God spoke to Abraham the great father of the faithful saying, “Abraham, in thy seed I will bless all the nations of the earth” (Gen. 22:18; 12:4). This promise to Abraham had a threefold aspect. Number one, God said, “Abraham, I will make a great nation out of you. Look up and try to number the stars. Your offspring will be as numberless as the stars. Go down to the seashore and try to count the grains of sand. If they can be numbered, then you can number your offspring.” He is saying, “I am going to make a great nation out of your people, Abraham.” Number two, he promised him a land area, the land of Canaan. And number three; he gave the spiritual part of the promise. “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”
We know that Sarah gave her handmaiden Hagar to Abraham and she brought forth a son, Ishmael. God said he was not the child through whom the promise was going to come. Years went by and from a natural standpoint it looked as if Sarah and Abraham would never have an offspring. God sent messengers to Sarah one day and she laughed. “Shall I being old have pleasure in my lord?” She was skeptical when he said “Sarah about such and such a time you are going to bring forth a son.” She laughed because she was about ninety years old. Abraham was also up in years and yet God said, “You are going to father a son.” The birth of Isaac was miraculous. God interposed his power, but he did so with the agency of Abraham and Sarah. So the miraculous birth of Isaac is not parallel to the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ.
Time went on and Isaac was born according to promise. He was the seed of Abraham through whom the ultimate seed would come. And so we trace the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David on down until we come to Jesus Christ.
How is it known that Christ was the ultimate object of which that prophecy was speaking? Paul, an inspired man, tells us. In Galatians 3:16 he says, “He saith not as unto seeds many, but unto thy seed which is Christ.” What was the seed of the woman? While it involved many offspring down through the ages, Isaac and David and Jacob, it ultimately was looking to Jesus Christ.
THE FAMILY TREE OF JESUS CHRIST
Jesus Christ was literally the seed of David and the seed of Abraham. Go back to Luke’s account of the genealogy of Christ. In Luke 3 he traces the family tree of Jesus Christ through his mother’s side of the family back to David and Abraham and finally all the way back to Adam:
23And Jesus himself, when he began (to teach), was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the (son) of Heli,
24the (son) of Matthat, the (son,) of Levi, the (son) of Melchi, the (son) of Jannai, the (son) of Joseph,
25the (son) of Mattathias, the (son) of Amos, the (son) of Nahum, the (son) of Esli, the (son) of Naggai,
26the (son) of Maath, the (son) of Mattathias, the (son) of Semein, the (son) of Josech, the (son) of Joda,
27the (son) of Joanan, the (son) of Rhesa, the (son) of Zerubbabel, the (son) of Shealtiel, the (son) of Neri,
28the (son) of Melchi, the (son) of Addi, the (son) of Cosam, the (son) of Elmadam, the (son) of Er,
29the (son) of Jesus, the (son) of Eliezer, the (son) of Jorim, the (son) of Matthat, the (son) of Levi,
30the (son) of Symeon, the (son) of Judas, the (son) of Joseph, the (son) of Jonam, the (son) of Eliakim,
31the (son) of Melea, the (son) of Menna, the (son) of Mattatha, the (son) of Nathan, the (son) of David,
32the (son) of Jesse, the (son) of Obed, the (son) of Boaz, the (son) of Salmon, the (son) of Nahshon,
33the (son) of Amminadab, the (son) of Arni, the (son) of Hezron, the (son) of Perez, the (son) of Judah,
34the (son) of Jacob, the (son) of Isaac, the (son) of Abraham, the (son) of Terah, the (son) of Nahor,
35the (son) of Serug, the (son) of Reu, the (son) of Peleg, the (son) of Eber, the (son) of Shelah,
36the (son) of Cainan, the (son) of Arphaxad, the (son) of Shem, the (son) of Noah, the (son) of Lamech,
37the (son) of Methuselah, the (son) of Enoch, the (son) of Jared, the (son) of Mahalaleel, the (son) of Cainan,
38the (son) of Enos, the (son) of Seth, the (son) of Adam, the (son) of God.
Lately people have been interested in tracing their family trees. Alex Haley helped stir that interest with his drama, “Roots.” Can anyone trace his roots back to Adam? Luke traces the family tree of Christ back to Adam on his mother’s side. Literally, he was of the seed of David and the seed of Abraham all the way back to Adam.
Also, legally he was the seed of Abraham and the seed of David. In Matthew 1, he traces Christ’s genealogy through his stepfather’s side of the family:
1:1The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judah and his brethren;
3and Judah begat Perez and Zerah of Tamar; and Perez begat Hezron; and Hezron begat Ram;
4and Ram begat Amminadab; and Amminadab begat Nahshon; and Nahshon begat Salmon;
5and Salmon begat Boaz of Rahab; and Boaz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
6and Jesse begat David the king. And David begat Solomon of her (that had been the wife) of Uriah;
7and Solomon begat Rehoboam; and Rehoboam begat Abijah; and Abijah begat Asa;
8and Asa begat Jehoshaphat; and Jehoshaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Uzziah;
9and Uzziah begat Jotham; and Jotham begat Ahaz; and Ahaz begat Hezekiah;
10and Hezekiah begat Manasseh; and Manasseh begat Amon; and Amon begat Josiah;
11and Josiah begat Jechoniah and his brethren, at the time of the carrying away to Babylon.
12And after the carrying away to Babylon, Jechoniah begat Shealtiel; and Shealtiel begat Zerubbabel;
13and Zerubbabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
14and Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
15and Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
16and Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
17So all the generations from Abraham unto David are fourteen generations; and from David unto the carrying away to Babylon fourteen generations; and from the carrying away to Babylon unto the Christ fourteen generations.
Joseph was not his literal father, but was his legal father. So, legally and regally he was the seed of David and the seed of Abraham. That ought to settle that prophecy.
THE VIRGIN BIRTH PROPHECY OF ISAIAH 7:14
There is another great prophecy about the virgin birth of Christ. It is in Isaiah 7:14. Ahaz was king of Judah and he was being threatened by invasion from the north. There was a coalition with Israel; the ten tribes that had broken away had joined with Syria. Ahaz worried about the outcome of the battle. He was contemplating securing some help from Assyria. God sent the prophet Isaiah to talk to him. He encouraged him and told him that the outcome would be in his favor and things would work out for him and for the seed of David. Here again the seed of David is mentioned.
The prophet told Ahaz, “Just ask and the Lord will give you a sign that things will turn out all right.” Ahaz was stubborn and would not ask for it. The prophet said the Lord would give him a sign anyway. Here it is: “Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). There is the prophecy. Until just a few years ago nobody denied it was a prophecy identifying Jesus Christ as the virgin born son and connecting it back with Genesis 3:15, “The seed of the woman,” which Paul says is Christ in Galatians 3:16.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible was introduced in 1946. It is all right to have one of these for reference, but we hope no member of the Church will use it for his regular study. Modernist professors of the Bible influenced this translation. Their intention was to blot out every reference to the virgin birth of Jesus Christ in the Bible. It stands in the way of their humanism. They think that Christ was a good man. They believe in his ethical teaching and want to take his ethics and discard the supernatural. These men try to do away with the miraculous aspects of the life of Christ and the supernatural aspect of Christianity.
So, what did they do when they came to this great passage in Isaiah 7:14? Here is what they did. “Behold a young woman shall conceive and bring forth a son and they shall call his name Immanuel.” What is there about a young woman giving birth to a son that is a sign? A sign is a supernatural mark of identification. What kind of sign would it be for a young woman to bear a son? Since the beginning of time young women have been bearing sons. Since the beginning of time virgin women have been giving birth to sons. The virgin birth of Christ was not unique simply because a virgin was going to bring forth a son. It was the fact she would be a virgin after she conceived by the Holy Spirit, having completely excluded the agency of man.
Modernist professors today want to do away with the virgin birth so they have taken the great word “virgin” out of Isaiah 7: 14 and have replaced it with “a young woman.” It will not work. The Hebrew word here translates “virgin” in the King James Version and “virgin” in the American Standard Version. Forty-seven scholars translated the King James Version. There is a book that gives the credentials of these forty-seven men. These men, under the auspices of King James, made a faithful translation of the Bible in the English tongue from the original Hebrew and Greek. It is doubtful if we have anyone or group of men today as scholarly and as well informed in literature as these men were.
In 1901 one hundred one American translators revised the King James Version and this version is the American Standard translation or the Revised translation. If you add them together, you have one hundred forty-eight of the world’s wisest scholars. They gave us two translations of the Bible that are superb, extraordinary in their accuracy and in their literary quality. It is doubtful we will see in our time an English translation that will be superior to the King James Version and the American Standard Version.
The Revised Standard Version of 1946 substituted “a young woman.” Some say the Hebrew word “alma” in Isaiah 7: 14 should be translated “a young woman.” Who would say “alma” ought to be translated by “a young woman?” That would be modernists, infidel professors, Jews and people who do not believe in the supernatural birth of Jesus Christ. They say, “Let’s take it away; let’s get it out of there.” But one hundred forty-eight of the world’s wisest scholars said “alma” should be translated “virgin.”
THE VIRGIN BIRTH IN HISTORY
Matthew 1 records the birth of Christ. Matthew said that Christ’s birth was a fulfillment of what the Lord had said through the prophet. He then quotes it,
22Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Matthew quotes the Septuagint Version. What is the Septuagint Version of the Bible? The word “Septuagint” means “seventy.” About three hundred years before Christ, the Jews had been dispersed throughout the entire world just as they are today. Wherever you went, you would find a colony of Jewish people. They would set up a synagogue and adopt the language, the culture and the habits of the people in whose land they found themselves, just like they do today. Since they were separated from their homeland in Canaan, they had gotten away from the Hebrew language and Hebrew customs. There was needed a Greek version of the Old Testament scriptures that were originally in Hebrew. Since many of them could no longer speak Hebrew, if they were going to read and study God’s word they had to have it in their own language.
Alexandria in Egypt was the literary capital of that time and had one of the largest libraries of that day. Here seventy of the world’s best scholars got together and translated the Old Testament scriptures, the thirty-nine books, out of the Hebrew into the Greek language. What word did they use when they came to Isaiah 7:14? “Alma” is the word in Hebrew, but they had to put it into Greek. What word did they use? They used the word “parthenos” which is the purest Greek word for “virgin.” When they translated Isaiah 7:14, they used the word that would accurately represent the original Hebrew, “parthenos” which means “virgin” in Greek. Which version of the Bible did Matthew quote from? You say, “Well I suppose Matthew quoted from the Hebrew.” He did not. Jesus and the apostles quoted from the Greek version of the Bible more often than they did the Hebrew version of the Bible. Matthew here quoted what the Lord said through the prophet. What prophet? Isaiah! Matthew quoted, he did not comment, but he quoted Isaiah 7:14 from the Greek version. Matthew was inspired, so Matthew’s use of the word “parthenos” translated “virgin” is an inspired word-for-word quotation of the Septuagint Version.
Matthew quoted from the Septuagint Version. Since he quoted from a version that used the word meaning “virgin,” he placed his stamp of approval upon the King James and the American Standard Versions. They use the English word “virgin.” By quoting the word “virgin” from the Septuagint, he condemned the modernist translators who use the word “young woman.” If Jesus had been born of a young woman and that was what it meant, then Matthew would have found a version of the Bible that said “young woman.” But he did not find one that said “young woman,” he found one that said “virgin.” He placed his inspired stamp of approval upon the one hundred forty-eight men who used the English word “virgin.”
Because the English word “virgin” is equivalent to the Greek word “parthenos,” and the word “parthenos” and the English word “virgin” are equal to the Hebrew word “alma,” they all dovetail. They all fit together as mortis and tendon joints used by carpenters. Yet, men today are trying to separate these links in the great proof and evidence of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. Isaiah 7:14 is a prophesy of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 1 will show further how this is true. He says, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily” (Matthew 1:18-19).
I was talking with a member of the Church and the subject came up of a young lady who had conceived a child out of wedlock. This person told me, “I think the church ought to make an example out of her.” This was said even after the young lady had made a public confession. I said, “What did you mean to make a public example? When a person sins, despite what that sin is, is it not the Christian way to forgive him and encourage him in life from that point forward?” The person who spoke had missed the essence of Christianity.
Joseph was in a similar predicament. He was engaged to a young woman by the name of Mary. That is what the word “espoused” means, an “engagement.” Back in the days of Joseph, an engagement was looked upon for practical purposes as a marriage. Although it was not consummated, it was still considered a marriage. If a young man was engaged to a woman and she was unfaithful to that engagement by conceiving a child with someone else, it was considered equal to adultery. He could put her away as if he had really been married to her and the marriage had been consummated.
Mary went to visit with her cousin for three months. When she returned she was with child and Joseph was in a predicament. What was he going to do? He was engaged to a woman, she was expecting a child and he was not the father of this child. The only conclusion he could draw was that she had committed fornication with somebody else while she was away from his presence. He debated in his mind what to do. He had two choices. As the person said, he could “make a public example” out of her. That would cause her to go through a public trial, exposure and shame. Though he considered she had sinned, he still loved her. He did not want to make a public example out of her, exposing her to shame and perhaps even death itself. The Law of Moses commanded that an adulteress or an adulterer be put to death. He decided to take the other alternative. He would simply put her away or divorce her quietly. The Law of Moses also allowed that.
An angel intervened saying, “Joseph, that which Mary has conceived is by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Most High has overshadowed her and you do not need to worry about her having been unfaithful because God has intervened in this matter” (Matthew 1:20 Paraphrase SGF). Then the angel said, “She shall bring forth a son and he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). All this came about in fulfillment of what the Lord said through the prophet. Who was speaking in Isaiah 7:14? The Lord was. He was speaking through the prophet Isaiah. What did the Lord say to the prophet Isaiah? “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son and his name shall be called ‘Emmanuel.’” Notice this, “Which by interpretation means ‘God with us.’”
If Jesus Christ was born of a natural birth or born of fornication, how could he be “God with us”? Some infidels today have said that Jesus was born out of wedlock to a Jewish woman and a Roman soldier. Such blasphemy! I detest it. As long as I have a breath in my body I am going to defend the integrity of the Bible concerning the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. The virgin birth, the cross of Calvary, the resurrection and ascension of Christ are the great piers on which the bridge from here to eternity rests. We must defend these great truths against any attack by any person from any direction or any source.
The virgin birth of Christ will stand. It is irrefutable. I believe it with all my heart and I hope that you do too. It is the beautiful and wonderful story of how God brought Jesus into our world. He grew up to be a great teacher and a great Savior because he died for us and shed his blood for us. He is my Savior and he is your Savior too. You must obtain the benefits of the life and death of Christ through the gospel plan of salvation. We hope you will obey that gospel.*
*Shelby G. Floyd delivered this sermon July 16, 1978 at the Garfield Heights Church of Christ, 2842 Shelby Street, Indianapolis, Indiana. I was age forty one at the time, being a minister there from 1969-1978. Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved
Garfield Heights Church of Christ