This post is an added to and edited comment by Demetrios at Luther on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary
Q. Since, Matthew wrote about Joseph: ‘And knew her not until she had brought forth her son and He called His name Jesus.’ (Mt 1:25)it seems obvious that Joseph did “know” Mary after Jesus was born and that is why we hear about Jesus’ brothers and sisters in scripture..
A. That is certainly a legitimate assumption if one only relies on Scripture unhinged from the history and writings of the the Church from the earliest centuries until now. Especially when one starts with the conviction/bias that Mary had sex with Joseph and therefore had other children, which are named in Scripture. Please take a look at the writings of the –>Early Church Fathers where her perpetual virginity is taken for granted. Here are just two:
Hilary of Poitiers [A.D. 354]
“If they [the brethren of the Lord] had been Mary’s sons and not those taken from Joseph’s former marriage, she would never have been given over in the moment of the passion [crucifixion] to the apostle John as his mother, the Lord saying to each, ‘Woman, behold your son,’ and to John, ‘Behold your mother’ [John 19:26–27), as he bequeathed filial love to a disciple as a consolation to the one desolate” (Commentary on Matthew 1:4 ).
Athanasius [A.D. 360]
“Let those, therefore, who deny that the Son is by nature from the Father and proper to his essence deny also that he took true human flesh from the ever-virgin Mary” (Discourses Against the Arians 2:70 ).
And, in order for you to be so sure that the Catholic Church is wrong and that Mary had children based on the use of the word until in the passage above; all scriptural uses of until would have to align with your hermenutic of interpretation and none could align with the Catholic Church’s interpretation. The Catholic interpretation is the same as the Reformer John Calvin’s:
“there have been certain folk who have wished to suggest from this passage (Mt 1:25) that the Virgin Mary had children other than the Son of God, and that Joseph had then dwelt with her later; but what folly this is! For the gospel writer did not wish to record what happened afterwards; he simply wished to make clear Joseph’s obedience and to show also that Joseph had been well and truly assured that it was God who had sent His angel to Mary. He had therefore never.…And besides this our Lord Jesus Christ is called the firstborn. This is not because there was a second or third, but because the gospel writer is paying regard to the precedence. Scripture speaks thus of naming the first-born whether or no there was any question of the second.” (Sermon on Matthew 1:22-25, published 1562)
Your interpretation of the UNTIL in:
‘And knew her not until she had brought forth her son and He called His name Jesus.’
to mean that Joseph and Mary had children after Jesus was born; would then mean we HAVE to interpret the following verses like this:
As to Michal daughter of Saul, she had no child until the day of her death.2 Samuel 6:23
Interpretation: Using your hermenutic this would have to mean that Michal DID HAVE A CHILD AFTER HER DEATH.
In His days shall shine forth righteousness and an abundance of peace, until the moon be taken away. Psalm 71:7
Interpretation: At the end of the world, the moon will be taken away and righteousness and peace will no longer shine forth.
For He must reign, until He has put all enemies under his feet. I Corinthians 15:25
Interpretation: Once Christ has defeated His enemies, He will no longer reign supreme.
Lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the world. Matthew 28:20
Interpretation: God is with us always, but at the end of the world He will no longer be with us.
I am sure you would agree that the Catholic way of interpreting until would be more appropriate in all of the above verses. And based on historical evidence the Catholic interpretation of until in Matthew 1:25 is also more appropriate.
Even if you accept Sola Scriptura, there isn’t a single passage of Holy Scripture that would cause one to reject the ever-virginity of the Theotokos (GOD Bearer). Every Scripture quoted by those who reject this teaching can be logically addressed interpreting Holy Scripture within the situational context and Middle Eastern culture in which the Bible was written. It all boils down to interpretation, because, contrary to Protestant claims, a plain reading of Scripture is not going to conclusively resolve the questions. Therefore, you have to rely on a tradition…Protestant or Catholic.
This is such an important issue . It is about much more than just preserving Mary’s virtue or making false attempts to exalt her. It is about the very nature of who Christ was and what is truly meant by the Incarnation. Mary had a child from God the Holy Spirit. She conceived from the Holy Spirit. God literally dwelt within her body. If you think it through, it becomes highly unfitting to accept that Mary would have allowed herself to be touched, or that Joseph, a righteous and pious man, would have presumed to enter into the former sacred dwelling place of God in Mary’s womb, after she conceived a child from God and literally gave birth to God.