Three flaws or mistakes were found in the December
20th 1998 Sunday School lesson. They are regarding the idea that a)
Jesus confronted social problems (illegitimacy), because of his miraculous
birth, b) Jesus couldn't be born in December and
Virgin Mary was fourteen or fifteen years old when she married Joseph.
The first two assertions are the product of the efforts of people who want to smear our Lord and his doctrines. Sadly, these errors permeate Christianity, causing good brothers to spread falsehoods. That is the case in the 1998-99 winter issue of the quarterly "Life and Work Pursuits". The third one is not that important, but it does not match with the picture that we get from the Bible, and therefore it is good to also talk about it.
The first slander has been mentioned to me by several Jewish friends, who have learned it from their rabbis. These friends honestly believe that their rabbis are scholars who tell the truth, and so they sincerely believe the slander; though, they are sincerely mistaken. This issue will be addressed in this article.
The second falsehood is that Jesus could not be born in December. This one is heard especially around Christmas. Jehovah's Witnesses are to be blamed for that. They cannot prove such a thing. The sad thing is that both falsehoods have slithered like a poisonous snake into the minds of many good brethren. This assertion is demonstrated a falsehood in Bible Note # 1 in this same website.
The third mistake was created centuries ago by the Roman Church, which wanted to create their own goddess out of Virgin Mary. This mistake is addressed in Bible Note # 14 in this same website.
I exhort any brother who disagrees with what I say here, to show me his point of view so as to enlighten me. It is important to get to the truth, because we will be held responsible for our words as it is said in Matt 12: 36-37.
"But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they
shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou
shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
( Matt 12: 36-37 )
Let's now discuss the false idea that Jesus was
believed to be a bastard, an illegitimate child. Although we
Christians know that he was not a bastard, the mere admission that he was
believed to be a bastard is a cooperation to blasphemous rumors.
So, it is necessary to bring forth solid arguments to take brethren's minds
off such a polluted thought.
To begin with there are no grounds in the whole Bible to say such a thing. It is just an invention that cannot be substantiated. It is just the effort of our spiritual enemies to lower Christ's public image. In page # 33 of the before mentioned quarterly, in lines 16-19 says:
"Years later these suspicions may have been reflected in the Pharisees
assertion, 'We are not illegitimate children', possibly implying that Jesus
was illegitimate. Mary's courage and willingness to do God's will at any
cost is admirable."
The accolade "is admirable", given by the
author to Virgin Mary, is not to be appreciated after spreading the slander
about her moral status in the society. It is like if someone says:
"Pastor John Doe is suspected of stealing the church's money, but he delivers
beautiful sermons". The praise "beautiful sermons" is not appreciated
after spreading a falsehood against his integrity. Such a thing
could be done by both, a naïve or a slanderer who does not want to
be detected as such.
The lame excuse used to built up such slander was that of John 8: 41, which in no way means that Jesus was considered a bastard. Let's take a look at the whole passage, no only at a little verse we are presented with, to demonstrate that it cannot be taken honestly as a base for such a "suspicion".
First, if we read the whole chapter we can see that the Pharisees that were talking with Jesus in verse 41 were the same ones that were talking with him in verse 25. In John 8: 25 we see that those Pharisees that were talking to him in verse 41 did not know who Jesus was. Therefore, how could they think that he was a bastard? How could they then "know" his "secret", and how could they use it against him if it was something that they did not know?
"Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto
Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning". (John 8:25)
If they did not know who he was, the phrase they
answered, (registered in verse 41), could not imply that they thought that
Jesus was a bastard.
Second, if we keep reading that chapter we will see in verse 38 that Jesus accuses them of doing the deeds of their "father", referring to Satan. In verse 39 they, thinking that Jesus is in doubt of their ancestry, defended themselves saying that their father was Abraham. Then Jesus told them ( 39- 40 ) that they were not Abraham's children. That was an offensive assertion, because not being Abraham's descendant meant that they were illegitimate, that they were bastards. Jesus was saying such a thing in a spiritual sense, but they took it in a genealogical sense. Then, to defend themselves they said, "We are not illegitimate children" (as the quarterly says), or "We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God", as the Bible says. Let us read:
"38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father:
and ye do that which
ye have seen with your father. 39 They answered and said unto him,
Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children,
ye would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man
that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of
fornication; we have one Father, even God. 42 Jesus said unto them, If God
were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God;
neither came I of myself, but he sent me." ( John 8: 38-42 )
As we can see if we read the whole passage,
the Pharisees were defending themselves. They were not accusing Jesus of
being a bastard. They were saying that they were not bastards,
because they were descendants of Abraham. Of course, Jesus was not
denying their carnal ancestry, but their spiritual one.
Therefore, the only argument ( John 8: 41 ) that is used to arise such a slander or such a doubt against our Lord, is baseless.
We may say the same thing about what is written in page 34, second column, lines 5-7. It says: "We would admire Joseph for not being ashamed to take Mary as his wife. He and Mary knew the truth, but the neighbors would talk!" To say this, is to stab someone while faking that we are helping them. Joseph had nothing to be ashamed of, because no one knew that Jesus was not his son. Neighbors would not talk, because they didn't have the slightest hint that Jesus was not the son of Joseph. To say "We would admire Joseph for not being ashamed….", is like giving a friend honey with poison. Joseph did not have anything to be ashamed of.
Let us now see many facts that tell us that Jesus' acquaintances did not think of him as a bastard, but instead they thought that he was Joseph's son.
1) Jesus was received in the synagogue. If we read Deuteronomy 23: 2 we will see that someone who was considered a bastard could not enter in the congregation. This commandment was so absolute that a descendant of a bastard could not enter even in the tenth generation.
"A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD;
his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD."
(Deut 23: 2 )
As we can see, it is evident that if Jesus
were considered a bastard by his neighbors, he could have never
entered in the congregation of the Lord. Nevertheless, he was always admitted
in the synagogues, even in his home town, and even by his enemies. The
Pharisees accused him many times of "violating" the Sabbath because
he cured on the Sabbath, but they never accused him of being a bastard.
That accusation was more than enough to destroy him;
is more than evident that he was not considered a bastard.
This argument alone should be enough to convince any
that neither Jesus nor Mary confronted such a "social problem"; but there
are many other arguments.
2) Mary was not stoned. In Deuteronomy 22: 23-24 is written that if a betrothed damsel lies with a man, she and he will be considered adulterers and must be stoned. It was not a matter of asking the husband to be, if he wanted them to be stoned or not. It was a matter that the whole town was going to take in their own hands. It was a mandatory death penalty. So, if Mary's neighbors did not stone her, was because when they saw her belly growing, they already attributed it to her husband. He took her as his wife before her belly could even be noticed, as we will see later. Stoning was a way of lynching, as it happened years later with Steve. Let's read in the Bible.
"If a damsel, that is a virgin, be betrothed unto an husband, and a
find her in the city, and lie with her; then ye shall bring them both out unto
the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die. The
damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath
humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you."
( Deut 22: 23-24 )
As we can see "ye shall bring" and "ye shall stone
them", both refer to the people of the town. It was not a right of
only the husband to be, but a duty of the whole town. So, reasonably
the people of her town, when her belly started to grow, did not think that
she was pregnant by anyone other than her husband Joseph.
3) Joseph knew about her pregnancy right after it occurred, much before her belly was noticeable. It is obvious that if Joseph wanted to put her away secretly to avoid making her a public example (19), was because nobody knew anything yet. It is a nonsense to think that he was going to put her away secretly, if the people already knew that she was pregnant, because there was no secret in such a situation. Therefore, when Joseph was thinking about putting her away, it was yet a secret that she was pregnant.
Joseph was not going to say anything, much less Mary. She knew the tough laws against adulteress. She was not going to be heralding that she was pregnant. It was shameful for her and for her beloved Joseph. Even Joseph did not want "to make her a public example". So it is more than logical that the only one to whom she gave the news, was to Joseph, (who did not believe her). In that very moment, when no one knew about her pregnancy, Joseph got a message from the Holy Spirit (20) by means of a dream. Immediately after the dream he woke up and received her as his wife (24). So, there was not the slightest possibility that anyone else knew the truth of her divine pregnancy. Everyone would reasonably think that she was pregnant from Joseph, because as soon as she was pregnant, before anyone could notice it, he took her as his wife. Let us read now Matthew 1: 18-25.
"18 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. 19 Then Joseph her husband,
being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was
minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things,
behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying,
Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for
that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall
bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save
his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken
of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, 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.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had
bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25And knew her not till she had
brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS."
( Matthew 1:18-25 )
Having rendered baseless the hypothesis that Jesus
was considered a bastard by his acquaintances, let us demonstrate now
that everyone who knew him considered him the son of Joseph. Of course,
he was considered the son of Joseph then he was not considered a bastard.
The first argument is in Luke 3:23. There Luke asserts that the people thought he was Joseph's son. Luke tells us first, that Jesus' body was created by the Holy Spirit, but then also tells us that his neighbors and everyone else, thought he was Joseph's son. Whom are we going to believe: Luke or those who baselessly "deduce" that everybody, thought that he was a bastard?
"And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being as
supposed, the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, which was the
son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was…." (Lk 3: 23-24)
The second argument is in Matthew 13: 54-55. In that passage we see that Jesus was in his own town. When they saw his wisdom and works they were astonished that he were the same person they knew. So, wondering about these facts, they asked: "Is not this the carpenter's son?". Evidently they considered him Joseph's son. Besides, if they let him into the synagogue, it was because he was considered a regular citizen and not a bastard. Remember that bastards were precluded of belonging to the synagogue. Jesus not only attended the synagogue, but he taught there.
"And when he was come into his own country, he taught them
synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this
man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son?,
is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joses, and
Simon, and Judas?" ( Matt 13:54-55 )
The third argument is in Luke 4: 22. This passage demonstrates that in Nazareth, where he was brought up, he used to go to the synagogue. So, we see that he was admitted in the congregation, which means that he was not considered a bastard. Also we see that those people who were brought up with him, and the parents of those people, considered him the son of Joseph. Where is then the "suspicion" mentioned by the author of December 20, 1998 lesson?
"16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and,
as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and
stood up for to read. ………. 22 And all bare him witness, and wondered
at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said,
Is not this Joseph's son?" ( Lk 4: 16 & 22 )
The fourth argument is in John 1: 45. In this passage we see that when he was spoken about, he was referred to as the son of Joseph.
"Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him,
of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth,
the son of Joseph." ( John 1: 45 )
The fifth argument is in John 6: 41- 42. In this passage again we see that even his enemies considered him the son of Joseph. Because they did not know the miraculous conception of Jesus' body in Mary's womb, they just knew him as the son of Mary's husband. If there was the slightest rumor of him not being the son of Joseph, his enemies would have for sure exaggerated it and magnified the rumor in order to destroy him as a prophet.
"The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread
which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the
son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he
saith, I came down from heaven?" ( John 6: 41- 42 )
As we can see, the only argument in which
such a blasphemous thought was based on was rendered false. We have
more than ten irrefutable arguments that demonstrate that
neither Joseph, nor Mary nor Jesus had to face rumors of illegitimate birth.
But sadly too many of our brethren want to learn rather from the enemies
of Jesus, than from the Bible.
These sad errors gets into the church literature because of a lack of inspection and supervision of both, the quarterly editor team, and the SBC.