The Bible’s answer
The Bible says that Mary, the mother of Jesus, had the unique privilege of giving birth to him while she was still a virgin. The Bible foretold this miracle in the book of Isaiah and reported its fulfillment in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
In a prophecy about the appearance of the Messiah, Isaiah foretold: “Look! The young woman will become pregnant and will give birth to a son.” (Isaiah 7:14) Under divine inspiration, the Gospel writer Matthew applied Isaiah’s prophecy to Mary’s conception of Jesus. After reporting that Mary miraculously became pregnant, Matthew added: “All of this actually came about to fulfill what was spoken by Jehovah through his prophet, saying: ‘Look! The virgin a will become pregnant and will give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel,’ which means, when translated, ‘With Us Is God.’”—Matthew 1:22, 23.
The Gospel writer Luke also reported Mary’s miraculous pregnancy. He wrote that God sent the angel Gabriel “to a virgin promised in marriage to a man named Joseph of David’s house, and the name of the virgin was Mary.” (Luke 1:26, 27) Mary confirmed that she was a virgin. After hearing that she was to become the mother of Jesus, the Messiah, Mary asked: “How is this to be, since I am not having sexual relations with a man?”—Luke 1:34.
How could a virgin birth happen?
Mary’s pregnancy came about by means of holy spirit, which is God’s power in action. (Matthew 1:18) Mary was told: “Holy spirit will come upon you, and power of the Most High will overshadow you. And for that reason the one who is born will be called holy, God’s Son.” b (Luke 1:35) God miraculously transferred his Son’s life to the womb of Mary, causing her to conceive a child.
What was the purpose of the virgin birth?
God used the virgin birth to provide Jesus with a perfect human body so that Jesus could save mankind from sin and death. (John 3:16; Hebrews 10:5) God transferred Jesus’ life to the womb of Mary. Thereafter, God’s holy spirit evidently shielded the developing embryo from acquiring any imperfection.—Luke 1:35.
Jesus was thus born a perfect human, an equal to what Adam had been before he sinned. The Bible says of Jesus: “He committed no sin.” (1 Peter 2:22) As a perfect man, Jesus could pay the ransom to redeem humans from sin and death.—1 Corinthians 15:21, 22; 1 Timothy 2:5, 6.
Did Mary remain a virgin?
Was Jesus’ virgin birth the “Immaculate Conception”?
No. According to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception “designates the belief that the Virgin Mary was free from ORIGINAL SIN from the very beginning of her life, i.e., from her conception. The rest of mankind inherits a human nature infected with sin . . . But Mary was, by a unique GRACE, preserved from ever contracting original sin.” c
By contrast, nowhere does the Bible teach that Mary was free from original sin. (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12) In fact, Mary gave evidence that she was sinful when she presented the sin-atoning sacrifice that the Mosaic Law required of mothers. (Leviticus 12:2-8; Luke 2:21-24) The New Catholic Encyclopedia states: “The Immaculate Conception is not taught explicitly in Scripture . . . [It] is a judgment that the Church has made.”
How should we view Mary?
Mary set a fine example of faith, obedience, humility, and deep spirituality. She is among the faithful ones whom we do well to imitate.—Hebrews 6:12.
Yet, despite her unique role as the mother of Jesus, the Bible does not teach that we should worship Mary or pray to her. Jesus did not single out his mother for special honor, nor did he tell his followers to do so. In fact, outside of the Gospel accounts and a single reference in the book of Acts, Mary is not mentioned in the remaining 22 books of the so-called New Testament.—Acts 1:14.
The Scriptures provide no evidence that Mary received special attention—let alone veneration—by first-century Christians. Rather, the Bible teaches Christians to worship only God.—Matthew 4:10.
a The Hebrew word rendered “young woman” in Isaiah’s prophecy is ʽal·mahʹ, which can refer to either a virgin or a nonvirgin woman. However, under divine inspiration, Matthew used the more specific Greek word par·theʹnos, which means “virgin.”
b Some object to the use of the term “God’s Son,” believing that it implies that God had sexual relations with a woman. However, this idea is not taught in the Scriptures. Rather, the Bible calls Jesus “God’s Son” and “the firstborn of all creation” because he was the first and only one created directly by God. (Colossians 1:13-15) The Bible also refers to the first man, Adam, as the “son of God.” (Luke 3:38) This was because Adam was created by God.
c Second Edition, Volume 7, page 331.