"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise:
When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.
And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
But when he thought on these things, behold, an 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 Spirit.
And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for it is he that shall save his people from their sins.
Now all this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, And they shall call his name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us.
And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took unto him his wife; and knew her not till she had brought forth a son: and he called his name Jesus." (ASV Rendering)
The writer of Matthew could have had no personal knowledge of the events he described. All that would have been publicly observable was that Mary became pregnant prior to becoming the wife of Joseph. There is no doubt that if the story had been put about that an angel of YHWH had appeared to Joseph, the pair would have been laughed to scorn.
From this passage of Matthew we learn that:
- Mary had conceived a child while engaged to Joseph
- This child, not the conception, was of the Holy Spirit
- A sign was fulfilled
- Joseph was commanded to continue with his intention to marry Mary
- The child was named Jesus
- The child was not named Immanuel
- Jesus was not, though commonly supposed to be, the son of Joseph.
There is little room for argument concerning points 1, 4 and 5. Points 2, 3, 6 and 7 will be dealt with more fully in forthcoming posts.