The Virgin Birth and Isaiah 7:14

The Virgin Birth and Isaiah 7-14.001Sometimes it is suggested that the virgin birth of Jesus is not very important, and that we don’t really need to believe in it.1 However, if Christ was not born of a virgin, then the Bible is plainly incorrect in teaching that he was, and we no longer can trust the Bible. If we doubt the miracle of the virgin birth of Christ, then it will be very difficult to hold to the other miracles of the Bible.

Isaiah prophesied about the virgin birth about 700 years before Jesus was born: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Some have suggested that Isaiah was not really saying that a virgin would give birth, but merely a young woman of marriageable age.2 The Revised Standard Version, in fact, uses “young woman” instead of “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14. This line of interpretation has a devastating implication for the gospel according to Matthew, who has the angel of the Lord quoting from Isaiah and clearly using the Greek word for “virgin” (Matthew 1:23). If Isaiah didn’t mean “virgin,” but Matthew did, then the Bible contradicts itself—either Matthew or Isaiah made a mistake.

In writing on this subject, the great gospel preacher B.C. Goodpasture made some very helpful remarks:

[T]hose who deny the virgin birth try to evade the force of Isaiah’s prediction by saying that the Hebrew word “almah,” here translated “virgin,” means merely a young woman of marriageable age, but not necessarily a virgin. They claim the word “bethulah” would have been used if a real virgin had been meant. It is a fact, notwithstanding, that. . . . the word “almah,” wh
ich critics say must not mean a real virgin, is used in Isaiah 7:14 and in six other places (Gen. 24:43; Ex. 2:8; Psa. 68:25; Prov. 30:19; Song of Solomon 1:3; 6:8), and always in the sense of an unmarried maiden. Whatever meaning “almah” may have elsewhere, it matters not … so long as usage shows that it means an unmarried maiden in the Old Testament. In applying the prophecy of Isaiah to Mary, Matthew shows that he understood “almah” to mean a real virgin, inasmuch as he knew the facts in Mary’s case.3

Isaiah prophesied that a virgin would bear a child, and thank God, she did.4


  1. E.g., Michael Langford, The Tradition of Liberal Theology, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2014), 54. 

  2. E.g., Homer Brewer, Exploding Myths of Biblical Interpretation (Mustang, OK: Tate, 2010), 60-61. 

  3. Sermons and Lectures (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1968), 75, parenthetical items in orig. 

  4. See also “Virgin Birth—or Prophetic Slip?,” Apologetics Press, https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=10&article=811 (2002). 

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- 2017