Answer: Most Protestants of our day reject the perpetual virginity of Mary; they think it contradicts the Bible. Many of them will be shocked to find out that the first Protestants, including Martin Luther, John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli and others all believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary. The idea that Mary ceased to be a virgin and had other children besides Jesus was invented many generations after the original Protestant “reformation.” Thus, the Protestant position on this matter not only contradicts ancient Catholic tradition and the Bible (as we will see), but their own Protestant “tradition.”
MATTHEW 1:25 DOES NOT DISPROVE MARY’S PERPETUAL VIRGINITY
The first thing that Protestants usually quote against Mary’s perpetual virginity is Matthew 1:25.
Matthew 1:24-25 “Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.”
According to Protestants, this proves that Mary ceased to be a virgin after the birth of Jesus. This is quite wrong. The Greek word for “until” or “till” (heos) does not imply that Joseph had marital relations with Mary after the birth of Jesus Christ. It simply means that they had no relations up to that point, without saying anything about what happened after that point. This is proven below by many passages. We should also bear in mind that the Bible was written several thousand years ago. It was written at a time and in languages which don’t express and imply things the same way that they would be expressed and implied in modern English.
For instance, in 2 Samuel 6:23 (2 Kings 6:23 in the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible), we read that God cursed Michal, David’s wife. He cursed her because she mocked David for the manner in which he rejoiced before the Ark of the Covenant. As a result, Michal had no children “until” the day of her death.
2 Samuel 6:23 “Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child until the day of her death.”
Does this mean that Michal started having children after her death? Obviously it does not. This verse demonstrates that when Scripture describes something as being true “until” or “before” a certain point,it doesn’t necessarily mean that it ceased to be true after that point. Here are numerous other examples of this:
Hebrews 1:13 “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?”
This refers to the Son of God. Does this mean that He will cease to sit at the right hand of the Father after God’s enemies are made His footstool? Obviously it does not. He will remain at the right hand of God the Father.
1 Timothy 4:13 “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.”
Does this mean that they should abandon reading and doctrine after he comes? Obviously it does not.
Acts 23:1 “And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God untilthis day.”
Does this mean that Paul necessarily ceased to have a good conscience after that day? Obviously it does not.
The preposition “before” can be used the same way.
John 4:49 “Come down before my child dies.”
Here we see that the word “before” can be used in a similar manner to the word “until.” This child did not die; Jesus healed him (John 4:50). Thus, the statement in Matthew 1:18, which is quoted below, that Mary was with child “before” she and Joseph came together, doesn’t mean that they came together after she was with child. It simply means that she was pregnant without any sexual contact.
Matthew 1:18 “Now the generation of Christ was in this wise. When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost.”
It’s quite certain, therefore, that Matthew 1:25 and Matthew 1:18 do not contradict Mary’s perpetual virginity in any way. Protestants cannot legitimately claim that these passages constitute proof that Mary ceased to be a virgin. These passages do not prove her perpetual virginity, either. Her perpetual virginity is proven by other things in the Bible.
WHAT ABOUT THE “FIRSTBORN” SON – DOESN’T THAT IMPLY OTHER CHILDREN?
Luke 2:7 “And she brought forth her firstborn son; and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Matthew 1:25 “And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.”
“Firstborn son” is a legal title given to a first-born male child in a Jewish family: in other words, it is given to a male child who is also the first child.
God specifically commanded the Israelites to sanctify (i.e., set apart) their first-born sons for a special consecration and service to God. The title “first-born son” held additional importance because it entitled that child to a double portion of the inheritance (Deut. 21:17). This title of “first-born son” was given to the child regardless of whether the woman had any other children after him. As an example: “we can see this from a Greek tomb inscription at Tel el Yaoudieh (cf. “Biblica” 11, 1930 369-90) for a mother who died in childbirth: ‘In the pain of delivering my firstborn child, destiny brought me to the end of life.’” (Quoted in “Brothers and Sisters of Jesus,” by William Most)
In Exodus 13 and 34, we read about God’s prescription that the first-born be consecrated to Him. There was a ceremony for the “sanctification of the firstborn” (Exodus 13 and 34:20). It’s not as if they postponed the ceremony for the “first-born son” until after the woman had a second child.
Exodus 13:2,12 “Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine… Thou shalt set apart all that openeth the womb for the Lord, and all that is first brought forth of thy cattle: whatsoever thou shalt have of the male sex, thou shalt consecrate to the Lord.”
Thus, the statement that Jesus was the “first-born son” of Mary (Luke 2:7) does not in any way contradict Mary’s perpetual virginity. It simply means that He was her first and male child. It says nothing about whether any came later.
WHAT ABOUT THE “BROTHERS” OF JESUS?
Non-Catholics often bring up the passages which mention the “brothers and sisters” of Jesus. First of all, it must be mentioned that never once are these “brothers” described as the children of Mary, Jesus’ mother.
Mark 6:3 “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.”
Matthew 13:55 “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?”
In the original Greek the words used are adelphoi (“brethren”) and adelphe (“sisters”). The words adelphoi and adelphe can refer to actual siblings. However, the Bible also uses these words to describe people who are not brothers, but cousins or relatives or step brothers or close neighbors.
THE BIBLE SAYS THAT ABRAHAM WAS LOT’S BROTHER, BUT HE WASN’T LITERALLY
Lot was Abraham’s nephew. Abraham was his uncle (see Genesis 11:31; 14:12). Yet, the Bible twice describes Lot as Abraham’s “brother.” That’s because the word “brother” doesn’t necessarily mean a sibling. As stated above, it can mean a cousin or a relative or a step-brother or a close family friend.
Genesis 14:14 “Which when Abram had heard, to wit, that his brother Lot was taken...”
Lot was Abraham’s nephew
The Bible also calls him his “brother”
Gen. 11:27 “Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.”
Gen. 12:5 “And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son...”
Gen. 14:12 “And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.”
Gen. 14:14 “And when Abram heard that his brother [Lot] was taken captive...”
Gen. 14:16 “And also brought again his brother Lot...”
Some Protestants attempt to respond to this by arguing that the Old Testament was not written in Greek, but Hebrew. Therefore, they say, the case of Lot doesn’t prove that adelphos can refer to a person who is not literally a brother. This is refuted by pointing out that while the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, it was famously translated into Greek by seventy scholars a few centuries before the coming of Christ. This famous translation is called the Septuagint.
This Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, is quoted about 300 times by the inspired writers of the New Testament. That means that the New Testament writers accepted the Septuagint. In the Septuagint, the same Greek wordadelphosis used to describe Lot as Abraham’s brother. Adelphos is the singular form of adelphoi, the word used in the New Testament for the “brothers” of Jesus. Therefore, the Old Testament does use adelphos to describe someone who is not literally a brother.
But the point can also be proven from the New Testament. In Acts 3:17 and Romans 9:3, we see thatadelphoi(brothers) is used to describe people of the same nationality who are not siblings. Consider these verses to be the death-blow to the Protestant argument in this regard.
Moreover, in Luke 10:29, Matthew 5:22 and Matthew 7:3, we see that adelphos (“brother”) is used for neighbor, not necessarily sibling.
BUT THERE IS A GREEK WORD FOR COUSIN, ANEPSIOS; IF THE BRETHREN OF JESUS WERE COUSINS, RATHER THAN BROTHERS, WHY WASN’T ANEPSIOS USED?
The Catholic Church teaches that Mary is ever-virgin and had no other children. The Catholic Church does not teach that all the “brethren” of Jesus were necessarily His cousins. They may have been extended relatives or close friends or people considered part of the family by marriage or law or homeland. For instance, in 2 Samuel 1:26, King David calls Jonathan his “brother.” Jonathan and David were not brothers or cousins. David had married Jonathan’s sister, Michal, the daughter of King Saul. So David married into the family.
The number of Jesus’ “brothers” (adelphoi) mentioned in the Bible seems to suggest that some of them were not even extended relatives, but considered part of the family in other ways. If even one or a few of them were not cousins, but more extended relatives or neighbors or close family friends, then the word adelphoi would have been used. Therefore, the fact that the word for cousin was not used does not in any way prove that Mary had other children.
EVIDENCE FROM MATTHEW 27:56 SHOWS THAT THE “BROTHERS” OF JESUS WERE NOT HIS SIBLINGS
Matthew 13:55 “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?”
James and Joses are two of the names given as “brothers” of Jesus. It can be shown, by the following points, that these were children of another woman and not siblings of Jesus. Please follow this carefully.
There were three women at the foot of the Cross: 1) the Blessed Virgin Mary (the mother of Jesus); 2) Mary the wife of Cleophas (who is said to be the Blessed Virgin Mary’s sister); and 3) Mary Magdalene.
John 19:25 “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus  his mother, and  his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and  Mary Magdalene.”
Mary, the wife of Cleophas, is also described as “the other Mary” in Matthew 28:1. The Bible tells us that James and Joses are the children of this Mary:
Matthew 27:56 “Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedees children.”
Thus, James and Joses (who are called the “brothers” of Jesus) are not His siblings, but at least His cousins. However, they are probably not even first cousins. This is because Mary of Cleophas (the mother of James and Joses), who is said to be the “sister” of Jesus’ mother (John 19:25), is also named Mary. It’s extremely unlikely that two siblings in a Hebrew family would be given the same name. Most likely they were not sisters, but members of the same clan who were called “sisters” in the same way that James, Joses, Simon and Judas were called “brothers” of Jesus.
When the Holy Bible refers to James as the Lord’s brother, we also have direct evidence that James was many years older than Jesus as well as even older than Mary, which would prove that it is impossible that the Blessed Virgin Mary is James’ biological Mother, since he was even older than her, and this in turn would prove that the word for “brother” in the Bible referred to a family member or relative rather than a blood brother.
Here is what Josephus says in Antiquities of the Jews, 20:9:1:
“And now Caesar [Nero], upon hearing of the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea as procurator; but the king [Agrippa II] deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus… this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who were very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority.] Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of the judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned; but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens… they also sent to the king, desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified: nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus… whereupon Albinus complied with what they had said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done.”
Please note that although Josephus doesn’t give the numerical date of 62 AD for the death of James the Lord’s brother, he gives us the historical markers that allow us to know precisely what years to which he is referring. He tells us that Festus had just died, and we know he reigned from 59-62 AD. He tells us that the priest who was deprived of his office was Joseph Kabi, and we know he was high priest from between 61-62 AD.
Now to Epiphanius. He writes in Panarion, 78:14:5-6: “But James brother of the Lord and son of Joseph, died in Jerusalem, having lived twenty-four years, more or less, after the Savior's Ascension. He was ninety-six years old when he was struck on the head by a fuller with his club, flung from the pinnacle of the temple and cast down, he who had done no wrong knelt and prayed for those who had thrown him down, saying: Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Thus even Simeon, his cousin, the son Clopas, who was standing at a distance, said, "Stop, why are you stoning the just one? Behold, he is uttering the most wonderful prayers for you." And thus he was martyred.”
Epiphanius says James (the Lord's brother) died "twenty-four years, more or less, after the Savior's Ascension," which, if Jesus ascended in 33 AD, this is "more or less" 24 years prior to 62 AD. (It is actually 29 years to 62 AD). He also says James was 96 when he died. If he was 96 when he died in 62 AD, then that means he was born about 33 BC (subtracting one year for no year "0"). If he was born in 33 BC, then obviously he couldn't be the son of Joseph and Mary, since they didn't even meet each other until about 30 years later. If anything, James (the "Lord's brother") would be a son of Joseph from a previous marriage, or adopted by Joseph. Joseph, as tradition holds, was much older than Mary, and thus he could easily have been married previously, and, after his wife died, he found Mary.
In fact, the stepchildren hypothesis was introduced by the apocryphal gospel of James, otherwise known as the Protoevangelium Jacobi, which says it is written by "James the brother of the Lord" (cf., Galatians 1:19), and is extant in ancient Greek and Syriac recensions. Origen refers to it as The Book of James, and it is also cited by Justin Martyr. The author claims that when Joseph was forty years of age, he married a woman named Melcha (some render it Escha or Salome). They lived together for forty-nine years and had six children, four sons and two daughters. The youngest son was James (i.e., "the Lord's brother"). At ninety-nine years of age, a year after his wife's death, Joseph received word that the priests were looking for a man of Judah to espouse Mary. Mary was only twelve to fourteen years old at the time. Joseph is said to be chosen by a high priest as her spouse in obedience to a miraculous sign (i.e., a dove coming out of his rod and resting on his head).This account was popular among many Christians in the second and third century. Its depiction survives in Raphael's (d. 1520) painting Espousals of the Virgin. Other apocryphal works that contain purported details of Joseph's life are Pseudo-Matthew, The Gospel of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, The Story of Joseph the Carpenter, and The Life of the Virgin and Death of Joseph.
The question on why James is called the brother (Greek: adelphos) of the Lord, while Simeon son of Clopas is called the anepsios (cousin) can be simply answered by assuming that Simeon was the actual cousin of Jesus, while James was merely a member of Jesus' clan (that is, connected with James per Joseph).
All of this shows that none of the statements in the Bible about the brothers and sisters of Jesus disproves, in any way, the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Now we must look at the proof that Mary had no other children and that she was perpetually a virgin.
JOHN 19:26 PROVES THAT MARY HAD NO CHILDREN BESIDES JESUS
While dying on the Cross, Jesus entrusts His mother to the care of St. John the Apostle.
John 19:26-27 “When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. Andfrom that hour, the disciple [John] took her to his own.”
Scholars point out that this was a formal act of entrustment. Jesus entrusted His mother to St. John so that he would take care of her. If Mary had other children, as Protestants contend, Jesus would not have told St. John to take Mary for his mother. She would have been put into the care of one of his many “brothers.” The fact that Jesus entrusted Mary to St. John proves that she had no other children.
Protestants try to respond to this by arguing that Jesus’ “brothers” were not believers and that’s why Jesus entrusted her to St. John. However, that’s refuted by Acts 1:14. It indicates that Jesus’ “brothers” were believers. Jesus certainly knew that they were or would become believers and hence He would not have entrusted her to St. John if they were His siblings.
It’s also quite significant that when Jesus was found in the temple at 12 years old, there is no indication whatsoever that Mary and Joseph had other children (Luke 2:41-51). The indication is that He is an only child. He is also referred to as “the son of Mary” (Mark 6:3), not as a son of Mary. Never once is Mary said to have had other children.
MARY’S RESPONSE TO THE ANGEL IN LUKE 1 INDICATES THAT SHE HAD TAKEN A VOW OF PERPETUAL VIRGINITY
Luke 1:30-34 “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not man?”
The angel appears to Mary and tells her that she will conceive and bring forth a son. Mary responds by saying: “How shall this be, seeing I know not man?”
The actual meaning is: how shall this be since I am a virgin. How shall this be? Mary understood how children were conceived. Her response only makes sense if she had taken a lifelong vow of virginity. She was asking how she could conceive while a virgin.
It should also be pointed out that Mary’s engagement to Joseph doesn’t contradict the notion that she had taken such a vow. Moral behavior at the time dictated that women committed to virginity have a male protector who would guard and respect the vow. That was Joseph’s role.
IT’S UNIMAGINABLE THAT THE ARK OF THE NEW COVENANT WOULD HAVE SEXUAL CONTACT
We’ve already seen that the Bible clearly teaches that Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant. As the holiest creature on Earth and the vessel of the Most High, it’s totally incongruous – completely out of keeping with the Ark’s dignity and role – to think that she would have any sexual contact. To prepare the people for God’s coming on Mt. Sinai, Moses said:
Exodus 19:14-15 “And Moses came down from the mount to the people, and sanctified them. And when they had washed their garments, he said to them: be ready against the third day, and come not near your wives.”
When David was on the run and needed bread from the priest, we read:
1 Samuel 21:4 “And the priest answered David, saying: I have no common bread at hand, but only holy bread, if the young men be clean, especially from women.”
The Ark was created for a more sublime and sacred reason, and never would have sexual contact. Oza was struck dead for merely touching the Ark when he shouldn’t have done so (2 Samuel 6:6-8).
EZECHIEL 44 AND THE PROPHECY ABOUT THE CLOSED GATE IS A PROPHECY OF MARY’S PERPETUAL VIRGINITY
Ezechiel 44:2 “And the Lord said to me: This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall pass through it: because the Lord the God of Israel hath entered in by it, and it shall be shut.”
Here we see that the Lord shall pass through this gate, and no other man shall pass through it. This is a prophecy about the perpetual virginity of Mary. She is the closed gate, through whom the Lord comes. That’s one reason why Mary has been called “the Gate of Heaven” in traditional Catholic writings.
THE PERPETUAL VIRGINITY OF MARY WAS FIRMLY BELIEVED IN THE ANCIENT CHRISTIAN CHURCH
Second Council of Constantinople, 553 A.D., Can. 6 “If anyone says that the holy, glorious, and ever-virgin is called God-bearer by misuse of language and not truly… let him be anathema.”
Some Protestants and most members of the “Orthodox” Church claim to honor the Second Council of Constantinople. It was the fifth ecumenical council. As we see here, it clearly taught Mary’s perpetual virginity.
Pope St. Martin I, Lateran Council, 649 A.D., Can. 3 “If anyone does not properly and truly confess in accord with the holy Fathers, that the holy Mother of God and ever Virgin and immaculate Mary in the earliest of the ages conceived of the Holy Spirit without seed, namely, God the Word Himself specifically and truly, who was born of God the Father before all ages, and that she incorruptibly bore [Him], her virginity remaining indestructible even after His birth, let him be condemned.” (Denzinger 256)
The ancient Christian Church believed that Mary was perpetually a virgin. In the fourth century, St. Jerome, the father of biblical scholarship and the one who translated the Bible into Latin, defended this truth against Helveticus, a heretic who denied it. As mentioned already, even the first Protestants, including Luther, Calvin and Zwingli, accepted the perpetual virginity of Mary.
The perpetual virginity of Mary can be proven from the Bible. From the earliest biblical days adultery carried with it a sense of defilement, so that a woman who had performed the sexual act with another man, even if by force, was considered no longer fit to be visited by her husband (Genesis 49:4; 2 Samuel 20:3, re ibid. 16:21-22; Book of Jubilees 33:6-9; Epstein, Marriage Laws in the Biblical Talmud, p.51).
The deuteronomic code teaches that a woman who is divorced by her husband and thereafter marries another man likewise cannot return to her former husband (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). As the Lord said through the prophet Jeremiah: "If a man put away his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man's wife, shall he return to her again, shall not the land (his wife's body) be greatly polluted?" (Jr 3:1; see Targum to Dt 24:1-4).
In rabbinic law a woman who has committed adultery is "defiled" and cannot remain the wife of her husband, but must be divorced (Sifre on Dt, edit. M. Friedman (1864) 270 p. 122b; Sifre on Numbers, edit. M. Friedman (1915) 7 p. 4a and 19 p. 66). Furthermore any intimate male contact by the wife with Jew or gentile, potent or impotent, natural or unnatural makes divorce compulsory (Sotha 26b; Yebamoth 55a, b, 87b; Kethuboth 9a, Babylonian Talmud; Kethuboth 25a; Sotah 27a, Yad, Sotah 2,2, Jerusalem Talmud).
In Jewish Law a man betrothed to a woman was considered legally married to her. The word for betrothed in Hebrew is Kiddush, a word that is derived from the Hebrew word Kadash which means "holy" "consecrated," "set apart." Because by betrothal (as in Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:27), or marriage, a woman became the peculiar property of her husband, forbidden to others.
The Oral Law of Kiddushin (Marriages and Engagements) states; "The husband prohibits his wife to the whole world like an object which is dedicated to the Sanctuary" (Kiddushin 2b, Babylonian Talmud).
We know from the Gospel of Matthew 1:14 that Joseph the husband of Mary was a righteous man, a devout law-abiding Jew. Having noticed that Mary was pregnant and that he, her betrothed, had nothing to do with the pregnancy, Joseph had considered putting her away privately since he thought that he was not worthy enough to live with the Mother of God.
His decision to stay with her was made when an angel appeared to him in a dream, saying: "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:20-21). The angel does not use the phrase for marital union: "go in unto" (as in Genesis 30:3, 4, 16) or "come together" (Matthew 1:18) but merely a word meaning leading her into the house as a wife (paralambano gunaika) but not cohabiting with her.
For when the angel revealed to him that Mary was truly the spouse of the Holy Spirit, Joseph could take Mary, his betrothed, into his house as a wife, but he could never have intercourse with her because according to the Law she was forbidden to him for all time.
Marriage to the Holy Spirit
We also have to take into consideration that when Mary was told by the archangel Gabriel "Behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus" (Luke 1:31), he also added that this was to come about because "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the Holy one to be born shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
By stating it in those terms the archangel declared to Mary that God would enter into a marital relationship with her, causing her to conceive His Son in her womb, For "to lay one's power (reshuth) over a woman" (Targum to Dt 21:4) was a euphemism for "to have a marital relationship with her."
Likewise "to overshadow" (Luke 1:35) by spreading the "wing" or "cloak" over a woman was another euphemism for marital relations. Thus, the rabbis commented (Midrash Genesis Rabbah 39.7; Midrash Ruth Rabbah 3.9) that Ruth was chaste in her wording when she asked Boaz to have marital relations with her by saying to him "I am Ruth you handmaid, spread therefore your cloak (literally, "wing": kanaph) over your handmaid for you are my next-of-kin" (Ruth 3:9).
Tallith, another Aramaic-Hebrew word for cloak, is derived from tellal = shadow. Thus, "to spread one's cloak (tallith) over a woman" means to cohabit with her (Kiddushin 18b, see also Mekhilta on Exodus 21:8). Did not the Lord say to His bride Israel: "I am married to you" (Jr 3:14) and "your Maker is your husband"? (Is 54-5:5; Jr 31:32)? And what is more intimate than what the Lord said to His bride: "You developed, you grew, you came to full womanhood; your breasts became firm and your hair grew... you were naked... and I saw that you were now old enough for love so I spread my cloak over you... I gave you My oath, I entered into a covenant with you and you became Mine, says the Lord God." (Ezekiel 16:7, 8)
Mary prohibited to Joseph
Having been enlightened by an angel in a dream regarding her pregnancy, and perhaps further by Mary concerning the words of the archangel Gabriel to her at the Annunciation, Joseph knew that God had conducted himself as a husband in regard to Mary. She was now prohibited to him for all time, and for the sake of the Child and Mary he could only live with her in an absolutely chaste relationship.
Joseph as celibate caretaker
As the recipient of the great revelation that what was conceived in the womb of Mary, his betrothed, was of the Holy Spirit and that the Child to be born was destined to save His people from their sins, surely Joseph knew that he was called to take care of Mary and her Child, the Messiah, for the rest of his life, which is why the angel told him to take Mary as his wife.
We may reasonable assume that Mary herself now shared with him all that the archangel Gabriel said to her. No less a Person than "the Son of God" (Luke 1:35) was to be entrusted to his care under the shelter of his humble home, now become the Holy of Holies.
Jewish tradition mentions that, although the people had to abstain from sexual relations with their wives for only three days prior to the revelation at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:15), Moses chose to remain continent the rest of his life with the full approval of God. The rabbis explained that this was so because Moses knew that he was appointed to personally commune with God, not only at Mount Sinai but in general throughout the forty years of sojourning in the wilderness. For this reason Moses kept himself "apart from woman," remaining in the sanctity of separation to be at the beck and call of God at all times; they cited God's command to Moses in Deuteronomy 5:28 (Midrash Exodus Rabbah 19:3 and 46.3).
Again, we may be sure that Saint Joseph remained celibate all his life because throughout his married years he was in daily attendance and communication with Jesus, the incarnate Word of God.
Objection: You are not right in teaching that specific acts of virtue increases our own or other people’s chances of reaching heaven. There’s nothing in the Bible that teaches this. My Bible does not even have the verse that teaches this: “But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:21)
Answer: Not surprisingly, the word “fasting”, or worse, the whole verse itself! has been completely removed from many modern protestant translations. For instance, the following whole verse have been completely removed in the New International Version: “But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:21) You will not find it at all in their translation. All in all, over 40 complete deletions of whole sentences is found in the New International Version (NIV), in addition to over 64,000 deletions of words such as: Godhead, regeneration, Calvary, remission, immutable, omnipotent, Comforter, Holy Ghost, Messiah, quickened, infallible, etc. It’s interesting to note that the same verse of Matthew 17:21 is also deleted from the Jehovah’s Witness “Bible”. In fact, many of the things missing in the Jehovah’s Witness “Bible”, such as references to the Godhead and The Trinity, have been completely omitted in the New International Version as well, such as 1 John 5:7, which reads: “And there are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one.” The bolded vitally important phrase is completely removed from both the New International Version and the Jehovah’s Witness “Bible”. This is one of the greatest verses testifying of the Godhead or Trinity. That is why the Jehovah’s Witnesses leave it out. They do not believe in the Godhead and they do not believe that Jesus is God. Why does the NIV leave it out...? It’s because the translation is satanically inspired by the same Antichrist spirit behind the Jehovah’s Witness cult. Reader, do you believe in the Godhead? Do you read the NIV translation? (or other protestant translations)? If so, then this deletion should offend you. That is why one must read the Catholic bible. For in addition to all of the above, all protestant versions are corrupted and mistranslated on many important passages, in addition to missing seven entire books (the deuterocanonical books) from the biblical canon. Even the King James version is not to be compared with the Douay-Rheims Catholic bible and are many times excluding the deuterocanonical books. So if you are reading a protestant bible and love the bible you are missing seven entire books of the bible.
DEUTEROCANONICAL BOOKS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURE DISPROVING THE PROTESTANT BIBLE!
When we consider the fact that the early Christian Church unanimously accepted the Catholic canon of Holy Scripture up to the time of the Protestant revolt, only a heretic, fool or liar would ever dare to claim that the Christian Church accepted false biblical books for over 1500 years and that the Christian Church erred for 1500 years in this regard, or that God would allow non-Canonical books to be considered as canonical for over 1500 years throughout the universal Christian Church. Here is some irrefutable evidence that the Catholic canon is the only true canon of scripture:
Matt. 2:16 – Herod’s decree of slaying innocent children was prophesied in Wis. 11:7 – slaying the holy innocents.
Matt. 6:19-20 – Jesus’ statement about laying up for yourselves treasure in heaven follows Sirach 29:11 – lay up your treasure.
Matt. 7:12 – Jesus’ golden rule “do unto others” is the converse of Tobit 4:15 – what you hate, do not do to others.
Matt. 7:16,20 – Jesus’ statement “you will know them by their fruits” follows Sirach 27:6 – the fruit discloses the cultivation.
Matt. 9:36 – the people were “like sheep without a shepherd” is same as Judith 11:19 – sheep without a shepherd.
Matt. 11:25 – Jesus’ description “Lord of heaven and earth” is the same as Tobit 7:18 – Lord of heaven and earth.
Matt. 12:42 – Jesus refers to the wisdom of Solomon which was recorded and made part of the deuterocanonical books.
Matt. 16:18 – Jesus’ reference to the “power of death” and “gates of Hades” references Wisdom 16:13.
Matt. 22:25; Mark 12:20; Luke 20:29 – Gospel writers refer to the canonicity of Tobit 3:8 and 7:11 regarding the seven brothers.
Matt. 24:15 – the “desolating sacrilege” Jesus refers to is also taken from 1 Macc. 1:54 and 2 Macc. 8:17.
Matt. 24:16 – let those “flee to the mountains” is taken from 1 Macc. 2:28.
Matt. 27:43 – if He is God’s Son, let God deliver him from His adversaries follows Wisdom 2:18.
Mark 4:5,16-17 – Jesus’ description of seeds falling on rocky ground and having no root follows Sirach 40:15.
Mark 9:48 – description of hell where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched references Judith 16:17.
Luke 1:42 – Elizabeth’s declaration of Mary’s blessedness above all women follows Uzziah’s declaration in Judith 13:18.
Luke 1:52 – Mary’s magnificat addressing the mighty falling from their thrones and replaced by lowly follows Sirach 10:14.
Luke 2:29 – Simeon’s declaration that he is ready to die after seeing the Child Jesus follows Tobit 11:9.
Luke 13:29 – the Lord’s description of men coming from east and west to rejoice in God follows Baruch 4:37.
Luke 21:24 – Jesus’ usage of “fall by the edge of the sword” follows Sirach 28:18.
Luke 24:4 and Acts 1:10 – Luke’s description of the two men in dazzling apparel reminds us of 2 Macc. 3:26.
John 1:3 – all things were made through Him, the Word, follows Wisdom 9:1.
John 3:13 – who has ascended into heaven but He who descended from heaven references Baruch 3:29.
John 4:48; Acts 5:12; 15:12; 2 Cor. 12:12 – Jesus’, Luke’s and Paul’s usage of “signs and wonders” follows Wisdom 8:8.
John 5:18 – Jesus claiming that God is His Father follows Wisdom 2:16.
John 6:35-59 – Jesus’ Eucharistic discourse is foreshadowed in Sirach 24:21.
John 10:22 – the identification of the feast of the dedication is taken from 1 Macc. 4:59.
John 10:36 – Jesus accepts the inspiration of Maccabees as He analogizes the Hanukkah consecration to His own consecration to the Father in 1 Macc. 4:36.
John 15:6 – branches that don’t bear fruit and are cut down follows Wis. 4:5 where branches are broken off.
And many more!
2 Tim. 3:16 – the inspired Scripture that Paul was referring to included the deuterocanonical texts that the Protestants removed. The books Baruch, Tobit, Maccabees, Judith, Sirach, Wisdom and parts of Daniel and Esther were all included in the Septuagint that Jesus and the apostles used.
Sirach and 2 Maccabees – some Protestants argue these books are not inspired because the writers express uncertainty about their abilities. But sacred writers are often humble about their divinely inspired writings. See, for example, 1 Cor. 7:40 – Paul says he “thinks” that he has the Spirit of God.
The Protestants attempt to defend their rejection of the deuterocanonicals on the ground that the early Jews rejected them. However, the Jewish councils that rejected them (e.g., School of Javneh (also called “Jamnia” in 90 – 100 A.D.) were the same councils that rejected the entire New Testament canon. Thus, Protestants who reject the Catholic Bible are following a Jewish council that rejected Christ and the Revelation of the New Testament.
We will now consider what the Bible teaches about how holy men intercede with God.
Exodus 32:9-14 “And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power… Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants… And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.”
Moses’ intercession with God was so great that God even asked Moses to allow Him to destroy the Israelites. This must not be understood in the sense that the Almighty God can be or was constrained by any man, but rather that He was powerfully swayed and influenced by this man’s close relationship with Him. Moses pleaded with Him not to destroy them, and God relented because of Moses. As we can see, not all men are equal before God. Not all men have the same intercessory power with Him. The intercession of extraordinary and saintly men is powerful and effective.
ABRAHAM HAD AN EXTRAORDINARY POWER OF INTERCESSION WITH GOD
We see another example of this in the case of Abraham:
Genesis 18:26-33 “And the Lord said to him: If I find in Sodom fifty just within the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake. And Abraham answered, and said: Seeing I have once begun, I will speak to my Lord, whereas I am dust and ashes. What if there be five less than fifty just persons? wilt thou for five and forty destroy the whole city? And he said: I will not destroy it, if I find five and forty. And again he said to him: But if forty be found there, what wilt thou do? He said: I will not destroy it for the sake of forty. [And Abraham, because he had powerful intercession with God, bargained Him all the way to ten] What if ten should be found there? And he said: I will not destroy it for the sake of ten. And the Lord departed, after he had left speaking to Abraham: and Abraham returned to his place.”
THE BIBLE SAYS THAT THE PRAYERS OF A MAN WOULD CAUSE GOD TO ACCEPT PEOPLE HE OTHERWISE WOULD NOT
The next example we will consider is one where the Bible says that the prayers of a man would cause God to accept people He otherwise wouldn’t.
Job 42:7-10 “… the Lord said to Eliphaz… My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering: and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly… So [they] went, and did according as the Lord commanded them… And the Lord also was turned at the penance of Job, when he prayed for his friends…”
The Lord was turned at the prayers and penance of Job. The intercession and prayers of saintly men obtain graces and favors that the Lord will not always otherwise give. God said that He would only give this grace to Eliphaz if Job would pray for him.
GOD WOULD ONLY GIVE ISRAEL THE VICTORY IF MOSES (A MAN) HELD UP HIS HANDS
Another example of the intercession of holy men is found in Exodus 17. We read that Israel went out to fight against Amalec. God enabled Israel to have the victory as long as Moses held up his hands. However, if Moses let his hands down, Amalec would overcome the Israelites.
Exodus 17:11-13 “And when Moses lifted up his hands, Israel overcame: but if he let them down a little, Amalec overcame. And Moses’ hands were heavy: so they took a stone, and put under him, and he sat on it: and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands on both sides. And it came to pass that his hands were not weary until sunset. And Josue put Amalec and his people to flight, by the edge of the sword.”
This is another prime example of how sometimes God only grants certain things through the intercession of holy men.
THE LORD’S STATEMENT ABOUT THE INTERCESSION OF MOSES AND SAMUEL
Jeremias 15:1 “And the Lord said to me: If Moses and Samuel shall stand before me, my soul is not towards this people: cast them out from my sight…”
God says that even if Moses and Samuel stood before Him, He would still reject this people. This is quite revealing. The people described in this passage were so bad that not even the powerful intercession of the great servants of God, Moses and Samuel, could relax God’s anger against them. However, these words show us that the intercession of extraordinary servants of God, such as Moses and Samuel – who have built up a special credit or influence with Him – impacts how God deals with and looks at people, even if it didn’t make the difference in this particular case because of how bad the people were. The intercession of saintly men helps determine what God does for people and what He does to them, as we saw with the examples above.
WHAT ABOUT 1 TIMOTHY 2:5 JESUS IS THE ONLY MEDIATOR?
Before we cover more biblical evidence for the veneration and intercession of saints, we must consider an objection. One of the main objections that non-Catholics raise against praying to saints comes from 1 Timothy 2:5.
1 Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
Jesus is the only mediator between God and men, they say, so you can’t include saints or prayers to them. This objection is false for many reasons. Just because Jesus is the only mediator does not mean that others do not mediate as part of the one mediation of Christ. For example, in John 10:16 Jesus says that He is the one and only shepherd; but He appoints Peter to shepherd His sheep in John 21:15-17. Ephesians 4:11 also teaches that there are many pastors or shepherds. The point is that these other sub-shepherds all work under and by the institution of the one shepherd, Jesus.
Another example is that Jesus says He is the supreme judge. We read this in John 9:39 and in many other passages. Certain men of God, however, will also act on His behalf as judges in Heaven, even of angels. We read this in 1 Corinthians 6:2, Matthew 19:28, and elsewhere. Yes, Jesus is the unique mediator, because the mediator is the one who unites man to God. Jesus alone did this by His passion and death. We read this in 2 Corinthians 5:18. But that does not mean that within the one mediation of Christ there are not others who participate in His mediation. In fact, the Bible clearly teaches it.
IF YOU CANNOT PRAY TO SAINTS, THEN YOU CANNOT ASK OTHERS TO PRAY FOR YOU – PERIOD
If Jesus’ unique mediation excluded prayers to saints, then it would also exclude asking a fellow man to pray for you. There is no way around the logic of this argument. For when you ask a fellow man to pray for you, instead of going to Jesus directly, you are asking another person to act as a mediator with Jesus for you. That’s what Catholics do when they pray to saints. Therefore, if prayers to saints are excluded by the unique mediation of Jesus, then asking others for prayers is definitely excluded as well.
Not only do most Protestants accept the concept of asking others to pray for them – thus contradicting their rejection of prayers to saints – but, in the New Testament, St. Paul himself repeatedly asks others for prayers.
Romans 15:30 “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.”
Paul also tells others that he is praying for them.
Colossians 1:3 “… praying always for you…”
Paul even says that the prayers of others bestow gifts upon him.
2 Corinthians 1:11 “Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.”
THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT PAUL’S SUFFERING INTERCEDES TO WIN GRACES FOR PEOPLE
The Bible also says this about Paul’s suffering:
Colossians 1:24 “[I] now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church.”
This verse might be a shock to some non-Catholics who are not familiar with it. Paul says that he fills up, for the Church, those things that are wanting or lacking in the sufferings of Christ. Now Christ’s suffering was perfect and of infinite value; so what does this mean? What St. Paul means is that many sufferings are still wanting and needed for the members of the Church to work out their salvation, which was all made possible by Christ’s sacrifice.
He is teaching that his sacrifices and his sufferings, in addition to his prayers, can intercede with God so that God gives others graces to convert or to remain faithful. Those people must still cooperate with the graces, but the efforts, prayers and sacrifices of members of the Church can help grant them. All of this confirms Catholic teaching on the communion of saints, and it refutes the Protestant misunderstanding of 1 Timothy 2:5.
THIS TRUTH IS ROOTED IN THE UNITY OF THE BODY OF CHRIST, WHICH EXISTS AFTER DEATH
The fact that men can go to other men for prayers, and that the saints in Heaven can answer prayers and intercede, is rooted in the biblical teaching on the unity of the Body of Christ. There is a union among the members of the Church of Jesus. This union does not cease when true members die.
St. Paul says in Romans 8:38 and following that neither death nor life separates one from the love of Christ. Nor does it separate the true faithful who abide together in the Body of Christ, whether on Earth or in Heaven.
1 Cor. 12:12,21 “… all the members of that one body, being many, are one body… And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.”
THE BIBLE SAYS THAT THE PRAYER OF A JUST MAN AVAILS MUCH
While the true members of the Church can assist each other by prayers, the prayers and intercession of saintly men is particularly powerful. That’s exactly what we saw in the cases of Moses and Abraham. That’s why we read:
James 5:16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
This is why prayers to saints – which have the purpose of calling for them to pray to God on our behalf – are so effective.
THE BIBLE ALSO TEACHES THAT DECEASED SAINTLY MEN INTERCEDE
In Matthew 17, we see that Jesus, when He was transfigured before three of His apostles, appeared with Moses and Elias.
Matthew 17:2-3 “And [He] was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun… And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.”
This shows us that saints, even after death, are interested in Earthly affairs and are ready to intercede for us. For the spirits of the just men made perfect, as Hebrews 12 calls the saints, are among the cloud of witnesses with the angels in Heaven who help us.
Hebrews 1:14 “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”
Psalms 91:11 “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”
AFTER DEATH, THE PROPHET SAMUEL APPEARED TO KING SAUL
In 1 Samuel 28 (1 Kings 28 in the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible), we see a clear example of a dead saint appearing to a man. This was the prophet Samuel, who had been dead for some time. He appeared to King Saul, and rebuked him for his disobedience to God.
1 Samuel 28:12-20 “And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice… And Samuel said to Saul… Because thou obeyed not the voice of the Lord, nor executed his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the Lord done this thing unto thee this day… Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel.”
Remember, Samuel had been dead for some time.
THE BOOK OF REVELATION (OR APOCALYPSE) SHOWS US HOW THE PRAYERS OF SAINTS INTERCEDE IN HEAVEN BEFORE THE ALTAR OF GOD
The Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse also gives us a glimpse of how the saints and their prayers intercede for men.
Revelation 8:3-4 “And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.”
We see another example in Revelation chapter 5.
Revelation 5:8 “… elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints.”