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Mary (mother of Jesus)

Hebrew: Miriam.

Mary was the wife of Joseph and the mother of Jesus Christ, who was conceived within her by the Holy Spirit when she was a virgin. She is often called the “Virgin Mary,” though never in Scripture are those two words put together as a proper name (Matt. 2:11; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27; Acts 1:14).

Little is known of her personal history. Her genealogy is given in Luke 3 (see below). She was of the tribe of Judah and the lineage of David (Psalm 132:11; Luke 1:32). She was connected by marriage with Elisabeth, who was of the lineage of Aaron (Luke 1:36).

While she resided at Nazareth with her parents, before she became the wife of Joseph, the angel Gabriel announced to her that she was to be the mother of the promised Messiah (Luke 1:35). After this she went to visit her cousin Elisabeth, who was living with her husband Zacharias (probably at Juttah, Josh. 15:55; 21:16, in the neighborhood of Maon), at a considerable distance, about 100 miles, from Nazareth. Immediately on entering the house she was saluted by Elisabeth as the mother of her Lord, and then immediately gave her hymn of thanksgiving (Luke 1:46-56; compare 1 Sam. 2:1-10). After three months Mary returned to Nazareth to her own home.

Joseph was supernaturally made aware (Matt. 1:18-25) of her condition, and took her to his own home. Soon after this the decree of Augustus (Luke 2:1) required that they should proceed to Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), some 80 or 90 miles from Nazareth; and while they were there they found shelter in the inn or khan provided for strangers (Luke 2:6,7). But as the inn was crowded, Mary had to retire to a place among the cattle, and there she brought forth her son, who was called Jesus (Matt. 1:21), because he was to save his people from their sins.

This was followed by the presentation in the temple, the flight into Egypt, and their return in the following year and residence at Nazareth (Matt. 2). There for thirty years Mary, the wife of Joseph the carpenter, resides, filling her own humble sphere, and pondering over the strange things that had happened to her. During these years only one event in the history of Jesus is recorded, viz., his going up to Jerusalem when twelve years of age, and his being found among the doctors in the temple (Luke 2:41-52). Probably also during this period Joseph died, for he is not again mentioned.

After the commencement of our Lord’s public ministry little notice is taken of Mary. She was present at the marriage in Cana. A year and a half after this we find her at Capernaum (Matt. 12:46,48,49), where Christ uttered the memorable words, “Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!” The next time we find her is at the cross along with her sister Mary, and Mary Magdalene, and Salome, and other women (John 19:26). From that hour John took her to his own abode. She was with the little company in the upper room after the Ascension (Acts 1:14). From this time she wholly disappears from public notice. The time and manner of her death are unknown.

Author: Matthew G. Easton, with editing by Paul S. Taylor.

MARY’S OTHER CHILDREN

Mary’s other sons included Joses (Joseph), James, Judas, and Simon. There were evidently sisters as well, but they are unnamed (Matthew 13:55-56; Mark 6:3).

Geneaology

Mary was a direct descendant of King David which gave Jesus the right to ascend the Jewish throne, both through Mary and through adoption by his foster father, Joseph. Mary’s genealogy is supplied in Luke 3:23-38 . Dr. Henry Morris explains the genealogy in Luke:

Joseph was clearly the son of Jacob (Matthew 1:16, so this verse [Luke 3:23—says “son of Heli”] should be understood to mean “son-in-law of Heli.” Thus, the genealogy of Christ in Luke is actually the genealogy of Mary, while Matthew gives that of Joseph. Actually, the word “son” is not in the original, so it would be legitimate to supply either “son” or “son-in-law” in this context. Since Matthew and Luke clearly record much common material, it is certain that neither one could unknowingly incorporate such a flagrant apparent mistake as the wrong genealogy in his record. As it is, however, the two genealogies show that both parents were descendants of DavidJoseph through Solomon (Matthew 1:7-15), thus inheriting the legal right to the throne of David, and Mary through Nathan (Luke 3:23-31), her line thus carrying the seed of David, since Solomon’s line had been refused the throne because of Jechoniah’s sin[Dr. Henry M. Morris, The Defender’s Study Bible, note for Luke 3:23 (Iowa Falls, Iowa: World Publishing, Inc., 1995).].

Although Jesus was clearly legally related to both parents (to Mary, by being born from her, and to Joseph by legal adoption), was he genetically related to them or to his brothers and sisters?

For thousands of years, every human child has been born with an inherited sin nature and sinful flesh (Romans 8:3). This is a result of our sinful first parents, Adam and Eve to whom we are all genetically related. Each generation (without exception) has sinned (Rom. 3:23) and passed on its sinful nature and the curse of death, to each succeeding generation (the biblical doctrine of imputation of sin—Romans 5:12-19). There is only one exception in history. Although Jesus grew in the womb of Mary, in the same manner as any baby, he was different from all other babies. It appears that he was not genetically related to either Mary or Joseph, for both had an inherited sin nature. Jesus was sinless, and one may reasonably assume without genetic flaw, since he was to serve as the spotless and sacrificial Lamb of God.

  • Ever since the Creation, each subsequent life has been created at the moment of conception. Scientifically, the new entity begins at the moment the DNA of man and woman combine. This was not the case with Jesus. As a spirit and part of the Trinity, Jesus existed before the Creation of the world. In fact, John reveals that he is the Creator (John 1).

  • Furthermore, the physical body of Jesus as born in Bethlehem was clearly a special creation of God, placed in Mary’s womb (Hebrews 10:5—“…a body hast thou prepared me…”). This is the biblical doctrine of the Virgin Birth.

Thus, neither Christ’s spirit nor his body must have resulted from the DNA of Mary’s egg or from any man’s sperm. Both would have contained inherited genetic defects and the sin nature. As Scripture tells us, Jesus was truly the Second Adam. The first Adam was a special creation of God (not related to any human being), and so was the second Adam (Romans 5:12-19). Jesus was just as fully human as the first Adam. And just like the first Adam, he had no sin nature, no inherited sin, no sinful flesh, which has always been passed from one generation to the next since Adam and Eve’s sin. He was absolutely pure and without sin—from the day he was born, till the day he died. He had to be—he was the Lamb of God, without blemish or spot, sacrificed for sins (John 1:29). (For further explanation, see: CREATION AND THE VIRGIN BIRTH and WHEN GOD BECAME MAN]

Author: Paul S. Taylor.

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