How important is the virgin birth of Jesus? According to the Bible, if He was not conceived in the womb of a virgin, He would be unable to fulfill His mission as the promised Messiah.
Isaiah 7:14a Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin (Almah) shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
The angel Gabriel–told Mary that her conception by the Holy Spirit, as a virgin, was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter 7:14
Matthew 1:18-23 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 secretly. 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: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
The Hebrew word used in Isaiah 7:14 for virgin is almah. Most commonly, the translation is a young woman, but specifically it refers to a maiden who is unmarried and has never experienced physical intimacy with a man. This is where the term virgin came from.
Isaiah 7:14 speaks of a sign that would be given. It would be no sign if a young woman were to become pregnant and bear a child. It would, however, be an incredible sign if a young woman who is also a virgin should conceive and bear a son. It is clear by the context of Isaiah’s prophecy that he was speaking of something truly incredible and miraculous which would be understood as a genuine sign from God.
A similar place where almah is used is found in Genesis 24:16, where Isaac first meets Rebekah.
Genesis 24:16 Now the young woman (almah) was very beautiful to behold, a virgin; no man had known her. And she went down to the well, filled her pitcher, and came up.
In this case, it is clear that the text is referring to a young unmarried woman who is a virgin. This is the same Hebrew word used in Isaiah 7:14 to describe the birth of the Messiah: His conception would be through a supernatural process, whereby the Holy Spirit would initiate the child in Mary’s womb; not as a result of the efforts of man.
An important fact worth repeating
The argument that almah, translated here as virgin, could be any unmarried young woman is not supported anywhere else in the Bible. It would make no sense for Isaiah to prophesy that a young woman would have a son. A young woman giving birth to a son would be no sign at all. A young woman who is a virgin, giving birth to a Son who is Immanuel (God with us), would be the most important event in the history of the world. This Son will be God dwelling within the body of a man. This is the clear meaning of Isaiah’s prophecy and the defining result of a young woman who is a virgin, giving birth to a child who has the Living God dwelling within. Those who see this sign will know that He is the Messiah spoken of in Isaiah’s prophecy.
Another objection by critics who do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah is in the term, God with us, which they do not interpret as, God dwelling within the body of a man. Their view is that Isaiah is simply speaking of God being “with us” is the way that God is on our side. This interpretation is invalidated by Matthew’s testimony, that Jesus birth, was a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy which we are examining here—that “the virgin,” would conceive and bear the Messiah. This child would be no conventional man, but God, living within a human body, sent to redeem the world.
Matthew 1:22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
More than 200 years before Jesus was born, a distinguished group of 70 Hebrew scholars, translated the Hebrew scriptures into the Greek language, called The Septuagint. In translating Isaiah 7:14 where almah is found, these scholars used the Greek word Parthenos, which is clearly defined as virgin in the Greek language. It is certain that those who were translating this verse from Hebrew to Greek, interpreted the meaning of almah, in Isaiah 7:14, as a child born to a virgin. This is the reason that the Greek translators used the word Parthenos.
Some critics of the text from Isaiah 7:14, state that this scripture was only written for the time period in which Isaiah described. These pundits claim that the immediate purpose of Isaiah’s prophecy was written to King Ahaz and was given to assure him of a future protection by God, in David’s line of descendants, as time moved towards the coming of the future Messiah.
This is assertion is impossible since there has never been another person in the history of the world who was born of a virgin; neither in King Ahaz’s lifetime, nor Isaiah’s. This prophecy is specifically looking forward to the time when the Messiah would arrive through a virgin who would bring Him into the world.
In several Old Testament scriptures which describe the Messiah, very often we see an earlier and later fulfillment of the same prophecy. In this particular case, there was no earlier fulfillment in the history of Ahaz, therefore—this prophecy is specifically applicable only to the time when the Messiah would arrive in Bethlehem, as described by the angel, in Matthew 1:22, above.
The first prophecy of the Bible, specifically predicts a Savior by virgin birth.
Soon after Adam’s sin, in Genesis Chapter 3, God promises a redeemer who will come in the future, described as The Seed of a Woman (Prophecy 1). The unique language of this promise is unmistakably directed at a future woman who will conceive a child without the aid of a human father. We understand today that Isaiah’s prophecy of a young virgin who will conceive and bear the Savior of the world is the object of this first prophecy found in Genesis 3:15. We are certain of this fact because of what the angel told Joseph:
1. His wife Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit.
2. Her conception was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that “the virgin” will bear a son, who will be God with us.
Matthew 1:20-23 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 1. 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.” 2. So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
The term “the virgin,” is repeated by the angel who announced the birth of Jesus—in direct context to Genesis 3:15, where Eve is told that a specific woman in history, will bear the Messiah by a supernatural conception—apart from the seed of a man.
The dispute over whether Isaiah was describing a young woman (almah), or a virgin, is settled by the text of Matthew 1:20-23. The angel confirms Jesus birth was a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14:
all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us. —Matthew 2:22-23
Why the virgin birth is so important:
If Jesus Christ was not born of a virgin, He could not be the Savior of the world. In order for anyone to be the Savior of all other men, that person would by necessity, have to be without sin himself. Unless a person was born without the aid of a human father, he would be born with a sin nature and be disqualified. Early church Theologian and Philosopher, Augustine, wrote that sin passed to a baby through the father.
Today, Medical Science confirms that a Fetus does not receive its blood supply from the mother but from the father. An Ovum begins to produce its own blood supply immediately after the father’s sperm penetrates the egg held in the body of the woman. An unfertilized ovum can never develop blood since the egg of the female does not contain the elements which are necessary for the production of blood.
This process is illustrated by the following photo in which a newly fertilized egg from a chicken shows a single spot of blood. At the moment of fertilization, the egg receives its blood supply.
All of the nutrients which a baby receives from its mother, comes through the placenta. Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, salts and antibodies, pass between the mother and the baby by way of the placenta. However, no part of the mother’s blood supply ever passes to her baby. The baby’s entire blood supply is originated by the father at conception, and then is continually produced within the body of the child, from conception—onward. The Fetal blood vessels and the epithelial layers of the chorionic villae act to separate the mother’s blood from her baby.
The nature to sin comes from our parents. They received their tendency to sin from their parents, and so on, all the way back to Adam who became a sinner by his disobedience to God.
According to the Bible, sin is transferred to the child through the father, not the mother.
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man (Adam) sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—
This does not mean that a female human being is not a sinner; only that she does not have the ability to transfer the sin nature to her child; this comes from the father. Mary had a sin nature, but she could not transfer that nature to Jesus; it would come from an earthly father. Since Jesus was not conceived by an earthly father, but instead conceived by the Holy Spirit, He was born without the defect of a sin nature.
From these facts, we understand why the virgin birth is so important to Jesus’ story. If He had been conceived by the union of Mary and Joseph, or any other man, Jesus could not be the Messiah. According to the law of God, the Messiah must be without spot or blemish. In other words, He must be without sin. Unless Jesus was born of a virgin, He would have inherited–by blood–Adam’s sin nature. Because Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, His blood did not come from a human source; it came from God. Therefore, Jesus was born without the sin nature that we all posses.
The Savior must be without sin and possess a life of infinite value:
• Only a spotless Savior could offer His life in exchange for ours. An ordinary man is born with the stain of sin, receiving this defect through the blood of Adam—the imperfection that all men posses.
• In order to pay for the sins of every person, for all time, the value of the life offered, must be infinite. Because Jesus is the eternal God, dwelling within the body of a man, His life is of infinite value and sufficient to pay the cost of redemption for all people, for all time.
• The Savior would have to live His entire life without sin. If, at any time, He should sin—in any way, He would be disqualified as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.
The importance of the virgin birth and the absence of a sin nature, is understood by Isaiah’s prophecy.
This is the reason that there is no other person in the history of the world who could rightly claim that they are the way to heaven. Only Jesus Christ, who has the undeniable testimony that He was without sin, is qualified to bear the name “Messiah,” the Savior of the world.
Do you know anyone who has not sinned?
Think of any person whom you have known for an extended period of time. Within just a few days, it is very easy to observe the sins of a person. To know someone, live in close proximity to them, watch them rise every morning and go to sleep every night, and yet proclaim with absolute certainty: they have never sinned, is truly incredible. This is the testimony of the men who knew Jesus more intimately than any other person. The disciples had walked with Jesus and lived in close proximity to Him for more than three years. Every person who knew Jesus said that He was without sin.
By these facts, we understand why Isaiah’s prophecy is of the utmost importance.
The Savior must be born of a Virgin. This is perhaps the most significant and primary prediction of the coming Messiah. The virgin birth is what separates Jesus from all other human beings who have been born with the nature to sin.
The Passover Lamb had to be free of defects to be acceptable for a sacrifice.
Exodus 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year.
Paul wrote that Jesus is without sin:
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Peter testified that Jesus is without sin:
1 Peter 1:18-19 “…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
Jesus claimed to be without sin:
John 8:46 Which of you convicts Me of sin?
This is why only Jesus is qualified to be the Savior of the world.
Every other person who has claimed to be “the way to Heaven” was a sinner. According to the Bible, no sinner can ever be the Savior. That is why we worship and serve Jesus because only He is without sin.
There is a hint by the Book of Genesis, in the very first prophecy in the Bible, that the coming Savior would be born by a Virgin: Prophecy 1
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.
As the Lord pronounces His judgment for Adam’s disobedience, He also promises that He would provide a Savior. Notice that this Savior will come from the Seed of a Woman.
A woman does not have the “Seed”; she has the egg. The seed comes from the man. Here, the Lord is declaring that He will supply the Seed which will make the woman bring forth the Savior, by a virgin birth.
Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said to Mary, “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 God.”
Mary conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit; this is why Jesus was born without sin and qualified to be our Savior.
The doctrine of the Virgin birth is so important—that if Jesus had not been born of the Holy Spirit, He could not be our Savior.
Larry King, the famous CNN talk show host, who has perhaps interviewed more people than anyone else in history, was once asked who he would most like to interview if he could choose anyone from all of history. He said, ‘Jesus Christ.’ The questioner said, ‘And what would you like to ask Him?’ King replied, ‘I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.’”
Mr King, Isaiah the prophet said that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. Jesus was born of a virgin, and the testimony of His life from those who knew Him is that He was without sin.
See also, the following prophecies which describe the Messiah born of a Virgin, living a sinless life, and possessing the power to redeem all people- His sinless life.
A promise made that a “Messiah” or “Savior” will be given, who will be born by a miraculous virgin birth (The Seed of a Woman), without the aid of a human father.
The Messiah will be the Passover Lamb of the Old Testament. He will be “without spot or blemish.”
The Character of the Messiah will be “power according to the Spirit of Holiness.”
The Messiah will be born of a virgin.
 Saint Augustine of Hippo, (De civitate Dei, XIV, 16; CCL 48, 438-439 [1-10]). See also: Schmitt, É. (1983). Le mariage chrétien dans l’oeuvre de Saint Augustin. Une théologie baptismale de la vie conjugale. Études Augustiniennes. Paris. p. 97.. See also Augustine’s: De continentia, 8.21; PL 40, 363; Contra Iulianum VI, 19.60; PL 44, 859; ibid. IV, 14.65, z.2, s. 62; PL 44, 770; De Trinitate, XII, 9. 14; CCL 50, 368 [verse: IX 1-8]; De Genesi contra Manicheos, II, 9.12, s. 60 ; CSEL 91, 133 [v.31-35])
 Howell’s Textbook of Physiology, Second Edition, pages 885 and 886
 Williams’ Practice of Obstetrics, Third Edition, page 133