Mary—The Favored One
B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, July 19, 2022
No doubt, Mary was amazing! Let’s explore a few aspects of Mary that often go overlooked. First let’s start with some Scripture.
Selected Passages About The Marian Account (NKJV)
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows:
After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she
was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man,
and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away
20 But while
he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in
a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary
your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 “And she will bring forth a Son, and you
shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be
fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:
the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name
Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him
and took to him his wife, 25 and
did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called
His name JESUS.
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent
by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was
Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And having
come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is
with you; blessed are you among women!” 29 But when she saw him, she was troubled
at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.
30 Then the
angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb
and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 32 “He will be great, and will be called the Son
of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 “And He will reign over the house of Jacob
forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary
said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” 35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The
Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow
you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of
indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and
this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 “For with God nothing will be impossible.”
38 Then Mary
said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your
word.” And the angel departed from her.
Parallels Between Mary and Eve
Although there are many parallels that can be drawn from
Adam, the first man who led man into death and Jesus who is called the Last/Second
Adam who rescues man from death (e.g., 1 Corinthians 15:45), some also draw
parallels between Eve and Mary.
Eve was the mother of all the living (Genesis 3:20), Mary
was the mother of Jesus (Acts 1:14) who is The
Life (e.g., John 14:6) and Creator of all life who became flesh (e.g., John
1, Hebrews 1, Colossians 1).
Sometimes we miss a simple connection that Mary is a direct
descendant of Eve and both are made in the image of God (hence, people have
eternal value because man is made in God’s eternal image). And we all share
these commonalities with Mary in that we are descendants of Adam and Eve and
made in the image of God.
Church fathers and commentators uniformly believed that Eve
was a virgin when she and Adam fell into sin—which was very soon after their
creation. Based on this, there are some parallels that follow. Consider both
Eve and Mary in this state when they made the decision to either follow the
Word of the Lord or go against it.
Early church father Justin Martyr (~AD 100-165) writes in
his Dialogue with Trypho, chapter
“…and that He became man by the Virgin, in order that the disobedience
which proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same
manner in which it derived its origin. For Eve, who was a virgin and undefiled,
having conceived the word of the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death.
But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced
the good tidings to her that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her, and
the power of the Highest would overshadow her: wherefore also the Holy Thing
begotten of her is the Son of God; and she replied, ‘Be it unto me according to
Irenaeus (~AD 130-202), the Bishop of Lyons and early church
father, in his book Against Heresies
chapter 22 relates that Mary followed the Word of the Lord where Eve neglected
it. One virgin was drawn into disobedience where the other was drawn to
obedience according to Irenaeus. Recall that Eve sinned (Genesis 3) prior to the
Bible telling us that she knew (i.e.,
having sexual relations with) Adam, which did not occur until Genesis 4:1.
Adam and Eve had perfect bodies and should have had no
problem conceiving on the first try. Yet they sinned prior to conceiving their
first child Cain.
Both Eve and Mary saw a personal taste of the Lord’s command
in Genesis 3:16 that there would be pain and sorrows in childbearing—not just
with childbirth, but each saw one of their children put to death. For Eve, it
was Abel murdered by Cain and for Mary, it was obviously the crucifixion of
The Hebrew terms for pain and sorrows in childbearing also
includes grieving and worrisome anguish which is directly related to the
excruciating pain a parent feels seeing one of their own children die.
Mary’s Features Are Largely Unknown
We are given very little about Mary’s actual physical
appearance. With Jesus, the Old Testament prophesied a little about His
appearance in human form:
For He grew up before Him like a
tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or
majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be
attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and
acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was
despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53:2-3, NASB)
She was surely a young lady—yet clearly old enough to bear
children and be betrothed and married per parental permission. This means she
was properly beyond the “Flower of Age”
or “Flower of Youth” (e.g., 1
But if any man thinks he is
behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and
thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry.
(1 Corinthians 7:36, NKJV)
Mary’s physical features were likely similar to Jewish ladies
from Israel 2,000 years ago such as long hair (e.g., 1 Corinthians 11:15) with respectful
and modest apparel (consider 1 Timothy 2:9-10). But that then begs the question
about cultural features—what did Jewish ladies look like back then in their physical traits?
If we to look at people in Nazareth or Bethlehem today it is
different from back then. Today, many Israelites that have returned to Israel
had been gone from their homeland since about AD 70 to other places. Though,
some had sprinkled their way back to the land of Judea/Israel since the first
century, most have been re-migrating there since World War II. After the Jewish
War with Rome in the AD 60s-70s, there were two places that Jews ended up. They
Germany and the regions surrounding it to escape
the Romans (what we call Germania was
largely descendants of Noah’s great grandson Ashkenaz) and Jews who lived in
that region are still called the Ashkenazi
Jews. They fled there since Rome’s grip hadn’t conquered many parts of
Germany when the Jews went to war against Rome about 2,000 years ago in the
latter part of the first century.
Jews who were largely taken into captivity to Spain, Portugal, and North Africa by the Romans after the Jewish
War with Rome about AD 70. Many Jews
were expelled from Spain due to the Alhambra Decree in 1492 due to Roman
Catholicism. Some returned to Israel at that point
In both cases, there has been some intermixing with locals
over 2,000 years. Hence, many Ashkenazi Jews have many physical features that
are similar to Europeans and many Sephardic Jews have physical features similar
to the places they were at as well (e.g., Spain, etc.).
Nevertheless, it is possible to have features common to many
Middle Eastern persons today—especially those who claim descent from Abraham,
like the Israelites, Arabs, etc. But that also gives you a bigger range than
you might realize as Abraham’s descendants have mixed with hosts of people
throughout the Middle East too!
The point is that we cannot be certain as to how Mary looked
but she was certainly modest and respectful in her decorum.
Early Image Of Mary
First Known Image of
Mary is the title of the earliest surviving image we have of Mary. It is in
a fragment of the fresco from the catacomb of Priscilla, which is in Rome. Its
origin is estimated at AD 150-170.
In the image, Mary is holding baby Jesus in her lap and wearing what experts suggest is a woolen matron garment and a dedicated virgin veil. Many images of Mary later on also have her sporting a virgin veil when depicted with the baby Jesus. Perhaps this was a carryover from even earlier times!
Although the detail is significantly lacking we can still learn a lot from this. She was indeed modest in her clothing, as would be expected due to Scripture.
Jesus is a physical descendant of Mary, even though she was overshadowed
by the Holy Spirit to remain a virgin for the miraculous conception. Take note
that it is a miraculous conception/fertilization, not a miraculous birth. The
birth was normal, outside of the fact that Mary was still virgin when giving
Why do Jesus’ lineages listed in the Bible both link to Joseph
(Jesus’ supposed father) in Matthew 1:16 and Luke 3:23?
And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.
Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli.
The obvious answer is that one of these lineages is Mary’s
line and the reason Joseph is listed this way is to reveal her legal genealogy—which is listed as the
husband (i.e., the male).
Before we dive into to the details, a few preliminary
comments need to be addressed. Luke’s genealogy is complete, and Matthew’s is
merely a selected one. Matthew’s genealogy was not meant to be complete
according to Matthew 1:17, where it is specifically broken into
groups of 14.
The two genealogies trace through two of David’s sons, and
both trace to Abraham. Matthew focuses on the kingly relationship through David
and, ultimately, to the Jewish patriarch Abraham. However, Luke doesn’t stop
there. He continues to trace Christ’s genealogy back to Adam. Luke focuses more
on the humanity of Christ going back to Adam, where sin and death
first entered into creation—hence the need for a Savior in the first
Another note is that both genealogies are aware of Mary’s
virgin birth. For example Matthew says: “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom
(feminine) was born Jesus.” Luke is more obvious in that he says: “being (as
was supposed) the son of Joseph.”
With regards to the alleged “two fathers” of Joseph, the
explanation of the differences between Matthew 1 and Luke
3 is quite simple. Luke traced Christ’s lineage through Mary, while
Matthew traced it through Joseph.
One of the main reasons Matthew is recording Joseph’s
lineage is due to Jeconiah (variant spellings: Jechonias, Jehoiakim). He is
listed in Matthew 1:11. Because of Jeconiah’s actions, a prophecy
came down that none of his descendants would ever sit on the throne of David.
Jesus, who forever sits on this throne, could not have been a physical
descendant of Jeconiah (Jeremiah 22:30). A virgin birth would obviously
This indicates that Matthew’s genealogy is Joseph’s, and
this confirms the significance of the feminine verbiage. When Matthew mentioned
Joseph’s wife, Mary, at the end of the genealogical list, he used the feminine
form for the parent of Jesus. This reveals that Jesus was indeed
Mary’s son and not Joseph’s.
When looking at Luke 3, the genealogical list is
strictly men from Jesus to Adam, whereas in Matthew’s list, some
women were included, such as Tamar, Ruth, and so on. So, if this were a
genealogy of Mary, then she would be listed.
Joseph, when he
married Mary, became the son of Heli according to the Law of Moses and could
legally be included in the genealogy. Hence, this lineage is the legal genealogy.
Moreover, in the genealogy, Heli is listed as the father of
Joseph, who had 2 daughters. The first is Mary, and the other was the wife of
Cleopas also rendered Mary (John 19:25).
When there were no sons to preserve the inheritance in accordance with the Law
of Moses (Numbers 27:1–11; Numbers 36:1–12), the husband would
become the son upon marriage to keep up the family name. Therefore, Joseph,
when he married Mary, became the son of Heli according to the Law of Moses and
could legally be included in the genealogy in the all-male listing.
Also, in Luke’s genealogy the form is different from that of
Matthew’s. Matthew’s list gives the father and who they begot (Greek gennao).
In Luke the form is different, where X is the son of Y. But more precisely, the
word son is absent in Greek, but only inserted into English so
we can better understand it. The only place where son is used
in the Greek is in verse 23 where Jesus was the supposed son of
Joseph, of Heli, of Matthat, of Levi, and so on.
Luke is being very precise. Jesus was thought to be the son
of Joseph, who was of Heli. Notice that Luke never said that
Joseph was the son of Heli in the Greek. This reduces any alleged contradiction
to nothing and shows that Luke’s genealogy is Mary’s—with Joseph’s name listed
due to inheritance laws—and Matthew’s genealogy is Joseph’s.
Mary’s Family and Home
Mary’s father was Heli
(Luke 3:23) a variation of the name Eli (Likewise, Mary is a variation of
the name Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron). Heli, Mary’s father, is listed
in the legal genealogy of Jesus in Luke 3 where Joseph’s name is listed as the
legal son or as we say today “son-in-law” (since it is all males listed in the legal genealogy). Yet Joseph’s partial
genealogy lists his father in Matthew 1.
Joseph’s father was Jacob (Matthew 1:16). One can’t help but
see the parallel to Jacob of old
having a son named Joseph—one of his twelve sons (and one daughter Dinah per
Mary had a large extended family that included Elizabeth but
many others who we are not given the details (Luke 2:42-45). Technically, all
of Israel is related, going back to Israel (AKA Jacob) but even so, Joseph and
Mary both were related to many in Bethlehem directly and indirectly. Both have
lineages to David and hence they went to the city of David, which is Bethlehem
to register for the census (Luke 2:1-5)
Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth, then lived in Bethlehem,
then lived in Egypt, then lived back in Nazareth and Jesus later lived in
Capernaum (Matthew 4:13) when he began his ministry. Mary may have lived there
for a time when in Jesus’ care prior to Jesus putting her into John’s care on
Mary also had a sister (e.g., John 19:25). Furthermore, we
are not revealed what Mary’s mother’s name is either. There are traditions that
Mary’s parents’ names were Joachim and Anne but we need to be careful about
these names since biblically, we can know that Heli was the father of
Marriage Customs And Betrothal
Marriage has always been a big deal since God created that
institution with His formation of Adam and Eve supernaturally [from dust and
from Adam’s rib respectively]. Sadly in our culture, marriage has been
attacked, demoted, denigrated, and reinterpreted.
These are all part of the modern war on marriage (since the 1960s) by secular humanists and
others who neglect God and His Word as the supreme authority and elevate man to
be greater than God. But by what authority can anyone object to the
absolute authority of God, and by extension His Word? Only by a lesser authority—this is called a faulty
appeal to authority fallacy. Our culture is wrong and marriage is between a man
and a woman and God’s standard reigns supreme regardless of what any person on
the planet may try to argue.
With that said, understanding marriage 2000 years ago in
Israel is much different than today. Even going back to the days of Moses
(about 1500 BC), there were stipulations on marriage including a bride price.
The potential husband or the groom’s family would pay a bride price to family
of the bride (e.g., Exodus 22:16-17 mention it).
Some marriages were done for love while others were arranged
by the family. And in many cases, it was both! At the instruction of the
father, women of Israel were given in marriage. Even prior to the Flood of Noah
(e.g., Luke 17:27) and after the Flood (Genesis 29:28) since the time of Moses
(e.g., Judges 12:9) brides and grooms were given in marriage by their parents—namely
period was also very serious (e.g., Deuteronomy 20:7). It is different from
today’s engagement. Upon a betrothal,
that was essentially the first stage of marriage and to get out of it required
a divorce, which was a very disrespectful thing and a result of the hardness of
hearts (e.g., Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Matthew 19:8). If a woman was with another
man during her betrothal, she could legally be put to death if found guilty.
Betrothal was a big deal.
During the betrothal period a groom would prepare a place
for his bride (such as a bridal chamber) in the same way Christ prepares a
place for His church, His bride (e.g., John 14:2-3, 2 Corinthians 11:2,
Revelation 19:7–9, 21:1-2). Christ will return for His bride. The bridegroom
should be earning enough money for the bride price and to take a year off to
please his bride (Deuteronomy 24:5). Note the differences in classical biblical
marriages customs and modern marriage customs.
With a wedding, there was a wedding feast with a master of
the feast (e.g., John 2:1-10) and they required plenty of wine and food to
feast on. It was an embarrassment if such provision were not met. This was at
the situation at Cana’s wedding feast where Jesus turned water into wine.
Misconceptions About Mary
Sadly, there are also a lot of misconceptions about Mary. Though
we cannot address them all, here are a few prominent ones that need to be
discussed in brief.
Some have elevated her to be perfect and
sinless—which goes against Scripture (e.g., Romans 3:23).
Some have suggested she is a
“co-redemptix”—don’t let the fancy name scare you—in other words, those in this
camp believe that one can be saved through Mary in a similar way that one can
be saved through Jesus. However, no one comes to the Father except through
Christ (e.g., John 14:6, Acts 4:12). When someone adds Mary as a “second
Savior”, it is without basis and an attack on Scripture.
Some pray to Mary which neglects that there is
one mediator and one intercessor between God and man (e.g., 1 Timothy 2:5,
Hebrews 7:25-28). God instructs us to pray to Him (e.g., Psalm 50:15, Matthew
Marian Apparitions—supposed appearances of Mary
throughout history into modern times—are dubious. Yet there are those who hold
to them as though they were gospel truth. Most of them have been rejected, but
some leaders, particularly in Roman Catholicism, hold to certain ones as
legitimate where Protestants do not. These alleged private revelations,
visions, and prophetic messages are to be viewed as suspect. Though some
Christians may respectfully disagree with me, Daniel 9:24-27 indicated that
after the Messiah comes and is cut off (crucified) vision and prophecy would be
sealed up when holy city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the Temple) were
destroyed. This aligns with an older prophecy of Asaph in Psalm 74:1-9 about
prophecy ceasing (no more prophets) once the sanctuary (the Temple) is
destroyed (consider 1 Corinthians 13:8-10). These things happened in the first
century. So, there should be no visions and prophecies
from then until the consummation (Daniel 9:27) thus the canon of Scripture was
sealed and sufficient with 66 books in the first century.
Some see Mary as a perpetual virgin, which again violates Scripture. She had other
children according to the Bible (e.g., Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3). It is
interesting to what the mental gymnastics of adherents [of this view] trying to
reinterpret these verses to be cousins, distant relations, adopted children,
children of Joseph with another woman, and so on. When people do this, they are
elevating their perpetual virgin belief to supersede the plain meaning of the
Scriptures to reinterpret God’s Word. In other words, people are erring by
demoting God and His Word to be lesser than man’s fallible imperfect opinions.
For a detailed refutation of this view please see Is
the Perpetual Virginity of Mary a Biblical View?
My hope is that some of these thoughts are a blessing to
Though both are rendered Mary in our English translations there are variations
in the name such as Miriam (Hebrew form), Mariam (Greek form), Maria (Greek
form) and simply Mary. All can rightly be written as Mary.
one argues that this was in reference to the first time the Temple and
Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, then we have bigger problems because
Daniel, Ezekiel, Joel, Jeremiah and Obadiah were still prophesying and having
visions before, during, and after that. And there were plenty of prophets that
followed after them as well. Furthermore, the Messiah had to come and be cut
off first per Daniel and the items in
the Temple had to be destroyed (Psalm 74:3) with perpetual desolations. With
Nebuchadnezzar, the Temple items carried off and they were later returned when
the Temple was rebuilt. The Temple in the Hoy City of Jerusalem (e.g., Nehemiah
11:1, Isaiah 52:1, Matthew 4:5) existed in the Messiah’s Day and is mentioned a
number of times in the New Testament and was once measured by John (Revelation
11:1-2). The Romans took the items and destroyed them in the first century and
desolations of the Temple remained for nearly 2,000 years now having the Dome
of the Rock (a Muslim mosque) in its place—so the first century destruction
matched the prophecies. As a point of note, some Christians may disagree with my
position and are okay with vision and prophecy not being sealed up but
continuing to this day. Other Christians agreed vision and prophecy close but
reopen in the last century (Latter rain movement from the early 1900s).
These positions have a potential open canon where it is possible to add to the
66 books of the Bible with alleged new prophecies.