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February 8, 2021 7:00 am
Each December we sing carols and celebrate a holiday we call Christmas. But do we know what were actually professing in the words of those old songs. Matthew begins his gospel with an historic account of the virgin birth and the essential doctrine that's fundamental to the Christian faith on this broadcast of the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce will address this aspect of the Christmas story. Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. Why is the virgin birth. Such an important aspect of the Christmas story and should we be concerned that it appears in the books of Matthew and Luke with slight variations.
Let's put on our detective hats and listen in as Dr. Boyce puts these parallel passages on trial a chair at 10th church at Christmas time. On Christmas Eve we hold a candlelight and carols service and at the end of that service after we have saw all the great Christmas carols and have received the benediction we all stand silently and the candle lit sanctuary and together saying Silent Night R&R versus go like this silence my holy night all is calm, all is right round Yon Virgin mother and child. So in that way every year, we confess our faith in the virgin birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. And so, in the same way on another way to literally millions of other Christians and yet all people believe in the virgin birth, and even those who do sometimes don't understand that our wraps.
I just don't understand why it's important the early decades of the century. This was the point that came under sharp criticism by liberals from the church people who believe that the Bible does teach the virgin birth did indeed believe in the Bible's teaching responded to those liberal criticisms and that while the answers in defense of the historicity of this great fact of the Christian faith were well presented in the arguments well-made. In fact, so much so that it happened, as it often does, that after that there liberals just gave up trying to argue the issue in simply dismissed it without any argument whatsoever, and yet the arguments had been given and I had been given very very well now. Much of this debate centered around the text that Matthew uses in the first chapter to defend the virgin birth is a prophecy come from Isaiah's from the seventh chapter verse 14 and the way he quotes it, is this the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel. Well, you see a bear in verse 23 is been argued that Isaiah's word for a young woman doesn't necessarily mean virgin usually does, but it can also merely mean young woman of marriageable age but however that passage in Isaiah is to be taken. There's no doubt what ever sense in which Matthew takes it, because Matthew is teaching very clearly in this account of the birth of Jesus Christ that he was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary without the benefit of a human father is a matter of fact you see it from the very beginning the very first sentence. It deals with it. Verse 18 this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about his mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit story then goes on to tell how Joseph was disturbed at this knowledge of Mary's pregnancy as we would expect any man in his position to of been told that being a righteous man that is an upright man, he didn't think of property go through with the marriage and decided to break off the engagement of a private manner, but in the same time he was a compassionate man. He didn't want to do it in the public way which would bring disgrace on Mary so he tried to do it in his quiet way as possible while he was pondering this wondering what in the world he should do. He received a message from an angel of God.
Explain the matter of the angel said to him, Joseph son of David, don't be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit will give birth to a sign that you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. We did the angel had commanded and the account and somebody had no union with her until she had given birth to a sign that he gave him the name Jesus. So there's no question at all what Matthew was teaching now.
One thing we notice when we begin to compare Matthew and Luke's account of Jesus birth, as we should do is that they're both very Jewish and character. This is striking in the case of Luke. Luke was a Greek, not Jewish, and he rode in a very polished Greek style. A good example of it is that long opening with which he begins the gospel, a dedicatory preference and pure Greek style is one long sentence in Greek J. Gresham agent said of Luke's prologue. It would be difficult to imagine a more skillfully formed and more typically Greek sentence than this, but then as soon as we got past that opening prologue into the account of the birth narrative style changes markedly and now it's not Greek style anymore is very clearly a Jewish or submit a document so matron goes on to say this typically Greek sentence is followed by what is probably the most markedly Semitic section of the whole New Testament. This is so unlike Luke's other writing that we can only explain it by assuming that he got this material from a non-Greek and Semitic source. He says in the third verse of his gospel that he had carefully investigated everything about the life of Jesus Christ from the beginning so he must've talked with people who had been eyewitnesses of these events and as far as the birth of Jesus is concerned. He must've gotten his information from Mary because she would've been not only the original and best but at that late date, at which Luke was gathering his information. Presumably, the only eyewitness of the Nativity events that were left so must've gone to her got that material and it would seem because of the style of the material that even received it in some sort of a written form, which itself may go back to Mary out when we turn from Luke's account of Matthew's account. We find that Matthew's account is no less Jewish and character and certainly in its content. For example, all matter of Joseph and Mary's betrothal is very Jewish and character betrothal in Judaism carried virtually the same weight as the marriage. So in order to get out of the patrol once that had taken place in a formal way require something almost like a divorce or anything like that in Greek culture or Roman culture is no doubt that this is Jewish as well.
As we read on.
We discover five times in the opening two chapters that Matthew explains what was happening, by reference to the Old Testament already seen one example of this. Matthew 123 where he cites Isaiah 714 is proof of the virgin birth, but then he does the same thing over and over again in chapter 2. Quite often with the kind of stylistic formula. He says something like this. All this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying so in the second chapter he cites Micah 5 to about Christ birth in Bethlehem, Hosea 11, one which speaks about God calling his son out of Egypt.
Jeremiah 3115 deals with the peoples weeping for the slain inference of Bethlehem, and in an uncertain text that says he will be called a Nazarene so both of these are very Jewish and their content on their character, but our differences and Luke's Gospel, the Jewish chapters are clearly out of place. Error Semitic island in the midst of the Greek literary C and Matthew's gospel are not at all out of place because the gospel from the beginning to and is Jewish. And this difference to when we study the specific content of Luke's chapters dealing with Jesus birth we find that the entire content and atmosphere are free Christian which fits an early origin, such as a document that would go back to Mary for example, everything that is spoken is spoken in terms of God's fulfillment of his promises to Israel. There's not even the suggestion in those two early chapters of Luke that the reason for Jesus coming to earth was that he might die for our sin on the other hand, we turn the Matthew's gospel, though it is equally Jewish and character is perfectly evident that it is post-Christian. That is, it was written by a Jew for Jews, but nevertheless after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ when the gospel was being proclaimed throughout the world.
One example is the explanation of the child's name read in Matthew he will be called Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. Again, you have an Matthew's gospel the account of the kings from the east, the wisemen coming to worship Jesus low point of that is that there Gentiles. And so it's a way of saying that from the very beginning, it was evident with the gospel of this Jewish Savior would be for Gentiles as well as Jews now ask what the relationship between these two accounts is whenever I come to an example of parallel accounts in the Scriptures.
I think of the way they were handled by Ruben Torre when he was dealing with parallel accounts of the resurrection and Torre used to speak to Mammon try to explain in a rational way. The evidence for the gospel is to point out when dealing with parallel accounts that you can only explain them in one of three ways. Either parallel accounts are invented in which case number one, they were invented in collusion means the people involved getting together to write the same kind of story making it up or they were made up separately that is independent of each other, or, thirdly, they were made up of all, but there actually eyewitness accounts are accurate accounts by people of the information which they were aware now when I kind of division in mind, let's just look at these two accounts to see where they fit. Are these accounts that were perhaps invented in collusion while on the surface, that's a possibility is that we could imagine. Matthew and Luke somehow getting together in Jerusalem, at some date, saying, well now let's reduce gospel Luke might have said that Matthew, I'm writing a gospel about Jesus and I want to get my facts straight. I have already written the introduction. I slammed on to research this carefully you been around a long time. Maybe you could help me out Matthew would say well it's interesting that you're doing that I was just thinking about doing the gospel myself so let's work on it together. You do your gospel. I do my let's sit down and kinda work it out with Matthew with a set I have to point out you know it's been a long time since the early events happened, but there aren't many witnesses around. You have to make a lot of this up and saw Luke what is said.
The Matthew all right, let's do it, but let's make sure we get our facts right now.
That's one way could've been done also had collusion in the second way you can imagine. Luke coming to Jerusalem sometime later, and Matthew. By this time is already written his gospel and is passed off the scene. Babies died and so Luke as he begins to do is research digging around in Jerusalem comes up with Matthew's papers and he says all this is wonderful. Here's an original source. I'll just use this and so he begins to incorporate Matthew's material into his own gospel. Secondly, they could have done it for the 3rd Way, Matthew and Luke could have been hunting for material in order to write their Gospels and they could've come upon 1/3, utterly independent source from whatever origin and then they use that in order to write their Gospels. Now that's how they might've done it in collusion. We want to ask, however, whether these possibilities explain what we actually have in these two gospel accounts involving the virgin birth, if they made them Bob and if they made them up. The way we have them.
Would there be the kind of noticeable apparent discrepancies. We find we suggest a few of them. Luke talks about an angel appearing to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus Christ.
Matthew also has an angelic announcement but Matthew's angel appears to Joseph was not an actual discrepancy, we can well understand how God would've sent an angel to both parties involved in the situation to explain it to do it.
Perhaps even a different language, but it's not the kind of discrepancies you would allow to stand in your Gospels. If you were making them up. You have something like this.
Luke would've said Matthew, that's a great story you've got there about an angel appearing to Joseph, but in my account. I got them appearing to Mary we can have them appearing one in your account a different one in my comments aside which is going to be as a going to be Mary is going to be Joseph or here's a another apparent contradiction.
Luke tells about shepherds coming to worship the infant Christ and Matthew has wisemen I can imagine Matthew saying to Luke. That's a very poignant and touching story you have there about that shepherds coming to worship Jesus in the manger, but you missed the point that I'm making. I'm bringing Gentiles to worship him because this gospel of Jesus Christ is for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews and Luke would've said well I understand what you're doing, but we haven't seen many kings coming to Christianity lately and not many wise people either. Paul is written about that it's it's a lot of humble people that are coming, don't you think we would be better off having shepherds and so that a work that out later. Come up with one or the other.
Some other examples like that Luke says that Joseph and Mary came from Nazareth and went to Bethlehem because of the degree of Caesar Augustus. Matthew begins with Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem second chapter verse one Matthew doesn't even mention Nazareth until the end of chapter 2. Again, Luke indicates that after Jesus birth, the family returned to Nazareth from Bethlehem, but Matthew has an account of Herod's murder of the innocence and of the family's flight to Egypt so that it was from Egypt, rather than from Bethlehem that they actually returned to Nazareth. While the point is that it's clear from these differences.
That's the accounts of Matthew and Luke were not made up in collusion because if they were these of the kind of apparent discrepancies that would've been eliminated. So let's look at option two. Are they accounts that were made up separately at the second possibility Matthew and Luke on their own without any contact with one another or even a common document just made their stories up. Suppose Matthew was sitting in his little office in Jerusalem writing his gospel and Luke was sitting somewhere else writing his gospel.
If that were the case, how do we explain the great harmony there is in the overall stories I would account for the discrepancies but it wouldn't explain how it is that they're actually telling the same stories because the central characters of the same. The central event, the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ by means of the Holy Spirit is identical. Moreover, when we put the accounts together. We have a consistent story goes like this, Luke begins. The earliest point when Zachariah is informed about the birth of John the Baptist chapter 1 verses five through 25. This annunciation the Zachariah is followed by the annunciation to Mary account. That's exactly parallel to the first. Luke one 2630 H Mary then goes to visit Zachariah's wife Elizabeth Mary's relative we can understand that verse 36 she stays with her three months. Then she goes back to Nazareth versus 39 to 56 and Luke's first chapter ends up with the birth of Jesus, but with the birth of John the Baptist, not Matthew picks up the story at that point is not interested in the earlier part. He doesn't say anything about what has gone before.
But what Luke tells us, is necessary to understand what happens. According to Matthew. Matthew tells of the discovery suddenly of Mary's condition. Joseph's puzzled indecision than the explanation of what was happening by this revelation from the angel Matthew 118 to 25 and Luke picks up the story he continues telling of the journey to Bethlehem which explains how the couple got there.
Matthew doesn't explain it. Matthew and Luke both record the birth through glucose writing from Mary's perspective. He reports it at greater length and Luke continues telling of the visit of the shepherds to the manger circumcision of Jesus eight days after his birth. The presentation of the child at the temple on the 40th day in several other incidents that are related to that which is mentioned by Matthew and at the end and comes Matthew again and he tells us about the visit of the Magi, which must've come sometime later in the second chapter, verses one through 12 flight to Egypt. Verses 13 to 18, and finally the return to Nazareth, which is also told by Luke. Although Luke doesn't tell the earlier incidents is impossible that there could have been this much harmony between the two accounts. If they had been made up by Matthew and Luke separately. Where does that leave us of the accounts were not made up in collusion and the accounts are not made up separately.
Obviously the accounts were not made up of all what we have is the third and only actual possibility, namely that they are factual recording events as their authors knew them only thing we have to add to that is that although these events are fully historical are also at the same time supernatural because this is the prime example. In all of history. Although there are other examples of God actually breaking into the human order of things natural physical order of things in order to give us a divine Savior, who is our Lord Jesus Christ.
Well we go back to Matthew's account, simply story is told here we have a great supernatural event installed in utter simplicity.
The angel speaks, she will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Only three words in the 21st verse that I more than one syllable. One of them is Jesus.
And because in people. All the rest are just Monticello's this explanation of the meaning of Jesus name is from the Old Testament. Although Matthew doesn't get that particular reference comes actually from Psalm 130 verse eight there, the people are told to put their hope in the Lord's almost asked why and this is the answer because he himself will redeem Israel from all their sins. Where in the Old Testament that speaking of God himself. So when that particular reference is taken over in the explanation of the birth of Jesus Christ and applied to Jesus. It's a clear way of stating that this one was born of the version by the power of the Holy Spirit is a divine Savior. In other words, he is God a manual while God with us. When a name. This name Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew word Yeshua or Josh or what it means quite literally Jesus is salvation and this is the message that was given to Joseph, primarily because he was told that the one who had been conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit was a divine Messiah, one who had been promised from the very beginning of Israel's history and that he had come to do a work of salvation because he will save his people from their sins. This is what the prophecy from Isaiah reinforces because in addition to stating that the virgin will give birth to a son. In other words, that the birth will be supernatural. It also declares that he will be God incarnate because his name will be Emmanuelle which means God with us.
This must of been present in the sanctified imagination of Charles Wesley when he composed what is probably the greatest of all the Christmas carols.
As far as his theology goes Herald Angels Sing that one stanza has it like this. He's moving from thoughts of Jesus heavenly preexistence to his incarnation and the ends up with the word Emmanuelle Christ by highest heaven adored Christ, the everlasting Lord late in time behold him, offspring of the virgin's womb veiled in flash the Godhead see hail the incarnate deity. Please as man with amended well. Jesus our Emmanuelle. Hark the Herald Angels Sing glory to the newborn King. Well here's a point where although were still at the very beginning of Matthew's gospel is worth looking ahead to the end because of the very end of the last sentence promise that we have here at the very beginning returns again. Jesus at this point has been crucified and raised from the daddies appeared to the disciples.
The commission them to the work he has for them to do or to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. He tells them how this is to be done to baptize in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit and they are to teach obedience to everything he is commanded and then he says, surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Emmanuelle God with us and with us to the very end.
The beginning of the gospel. We find that Jesus is God with us by a supernatural conception of the womb of Mary and at the end he is still with us and he will be with us always wonderful list of names we have for Jesus of your thought about that. The Bible is full of them.
He is the first and the last beginning in the end Alpha and Omega, the first and the last is the ancient of days is the King of Kings and Lord of lords is the anointed one, Messiah is our prophet, priest and king.
He is our Savior. The only wise God is our wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, the Prince of peace is the Lord Almighty is the door of the sheep, the good shepherd the great Shepherd, the chief Shepherd is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls is the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world is a low-cost, like the light of the world, the light of life. The tree of life. The word of life. The bread that came down from heaven. In the spring, which, if a person drink of it, he will never thirst again is the way and the truth and the lengthy is the resurrection and the life.
He is our rock. Our fortress, our beloved, our Redeemer is the head over all things, which is his body, the church, but above all, he is God with us. Emmanuelle came from heaven to earth to save us from our sins, or father, we thank you for the wonder of the incarnation and the gospel in the Savior.
Brawley is for all he has done, we would ask this Christmas season that you would remind us of these things and plant these things deep in our heart, especially if the busyness of the season on the worldliness of our agents tended to dislodge it from the very center of what we are and how we think our father rekindle in us, we pray a great love for that one who loved us first of all, and who came that he might give himself to be our Savior. We pray in Jesus name. You are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview.
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