|"If any man speak, let him
of God..." (I Peter 4:11)
|Upper Left: The traditional sight of Mary's parents home where Gabriel spoke to her.
Right: The Church of the Nativity, the traditional sight of Jesus' birth
Lower Left: Supposedly the exact spot where Jesus was born in the stable
|"THE VIRGIN BIRTH"
Foretold and Fulfilled
by Ben F, Vick, Jr.
"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a
son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14).
"Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet,
saying, Behold a virgin shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which
being interpreted is, God with us" (Matthew 1:22-23).
There was a time when the modernists were outside the walls of Zion, A hammering away at
the foundation of our defenses. But no longer is that the case. Some have wriggled through
gaps or have scaled the walls where our defenses have collapsed. Now we have some within
the walls of Zion, attacking the word of God from different angles. They may deny they are
modernists; but Jesus said, "Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16).
The impact of modernism can be felt in the Lord's church, our schools, colleges, universities,
and even some of our journals or papers. An example of the latter is an article entitled "The
Fuller or Typological Meaning of Prophecies," which appeared in the July, 2, 1987, issue of the
Gospel Advocate. The personality of the author, Hugo McCord, has nothing to do with the
seeds of modernism which he has planted. The errors within the above-mentioned article
need to be addressed. This article is not an attack on brother McCord nor the editor of the
GOSPEL ADVOCATE; however, we do object to the article's seeing the light of print.
In about 735 B. C, Ahaz, the son of Jotham, began to reign in Judah. During his reign, Pekah,
the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, and the king of Syria, Rezin, made an alliance to go up
against Judah. When Ahaz heard of this confederation against him, he was afraid. God sent
the prophet Isaiah to dispel his fears of these "two tails of these smoking firebrands." In other
words, Syria and Ephraim (Israel) were on their way out. The Lord said their purpose would be
defeated (Isaiah 7:5-9).
Ahaz was a wicked king. He had walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He offered his sons in
the fires of idolatry (II Kings 16:1-4). For proof that this prophecy would come to pass, "...the
Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the
depth, or in the height above" (Isaiah 7:10-11). But Ahaz, being a wicked and idolatrous king,
skeptically said, "I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord." He was not relying on God, for he
calls upon Tiglathpileser, king of Assyria, to come to his rescue (II Kings 16:7-9).
Therefore, Isaiah the prophet speaks to the house of David, which includes Ahaz, saying, "Hear
ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God
also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and
bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may
know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil,
and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings" (Isaiah
The Bible Commentary, edited by F. C. Cook, merits our attention on verse 14. We are told:
"It is evident that no interpretation of this verse can be adequate, which does not satisfy the
1) It must yield a sense, which is not unworthy of the grandeur of the offer made in v. 11; in
other words, it must view the promised birth as supernatural.
2) The child must be bom of David's family; for so only would the birth be fitted to guarantee the
perpetuity of David's house (cp. 9:7).
3) The child must be such that the doctrine of God's presence with Israel (so long represented
by the Shekinah) shall be realized in His person.
4) The dignity of the child must not fall short of that assigned to Him in the prophet's own
expansion of the name 'Immanuel' in 9:6.
These reasonable demands have never been met by any interpretation but that which the birth
of Jesus supplied (Matthew 1:22-23; Luke 1:31-35)." (Vol. V, p. 80)
The sign given to Ahaz was the prediction of the miraculous birth of one who would be called
Immanuel. He was to be born of a virgin. A woman's giving birth is not miraculous, but a virgin's
conceiving and bearing a child is miraculous. This sign is beyond the depth of our
comprehension and above the height of our understanding (Isaiah 7:11). This prophecy is a
straight-line prophecy and is only fulfilled in the birth of Christ (Matthew 1:22-23).
What meaning did this "sign" have to Ahaz and the house of Judah? It meant that God's
purpose of the scepter's not departing from Judah nor the lawgiver from between his feet until
Shiloh came would be fulfilled (Genesis 49:10). Judah would not be destroyed by Ephraim and
Syria. She would stand while they would fall.
How could a future event of that which seems impossible be a sign to the house of Judah? A
parallel might illustrate this. When Moses asked the Lord, "Who am I, that I should go unto
Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?" the Lord said,
"Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token [sign] unto thee, that I have sent thee:
When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain"
(Exodus 3:11-12). The sign to Moses that God was with him was that God would bring Israel
forth to serve him on Mt. Sinai. The sign to the house of Judah that it would not be destroyed by
Syria and Ephraim is that a virgin would conceive centuries later and bear a son to be called
The literal rendering of Isaiah 7:14 is, "Behold, the virgin is with child." The use of the present
tense is no problem when we understand that the prediction is so certain that God had the
prophet speak and write as if it were occurring at that time (see also Isaiah 53). But notice the
literal rendering: "The virgin," there was only one — not two.
Brother McCord tells us, "Likewise Matthew 1:23 shows that the Holy Spirit had two
descendants in mind in Isaiah 7:14. Any attempt to limit Isaiah's prediction to only one virgin
eliminates Mary, for directly according to context the only virgin mentioned is the one known to
Ahaz and Isaiah in the eighth century B. C." However, we are told a few lines later in dealing
with the Hebrew word for virgin that "There was no virgin birth in the eighth century." Now, which
is it going to be: one virgin? or two virgins?
The Hebrew word for "virgin," as translated in the King James Version and the American
Standard of 1901, is almah. This word means "a lass (as veiled or private): damsel, maid,
virgin" (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Hebrew & Chaldee Dictionary, p. 89).
Another source defines almah: "concealment, unmarried female" (Young's Analytical
Concordance to the Bible, p. 126). Properly, almah signifies "a virgin, a maiden, a young
woman unmarried, but of marriageable age" (McClintock & Strong's Cyclopedia of Biblical,
Theological & Ecclesiastical Literature, Vol. X. p. 799). Nelson says, "...its primary connotation
is 'virgin' rather than 'maiden.' Thus the clear translation of the Greek in Matt. 1:23 whereby this
word is rendered 'virgin' satisfies its fullest implication" (Nelson's Expository Dictionary of the
Old Testament, p. 453).
The word "almah" is found seven times in the Hebrew scriptures, and each case denotes a
pure unmarried woman. In the KJV it is translated once as "damsels" (Psalm 68:25); twice as
"maid" (Exodus 2:8; Proverbs 30:19); four times "virgin" (Genesis 24:43; Song of Solomon 1:3;
6:8; Isaiah 7:14). This is the word used in Matthew 1:23 for "virgin." Never is "almah" translated
"young woman" except in some of the modem versions.
The Greek word for "virgin" is parthenos. This is the word in Matthew 1:23 for "virgin." Two of the
seven places mentioned above where almah is found translate it as parthenos in the
Septuagint. Literally, it is "i) n parthenos " meaning "the virgin."
"Parthenos" has been defined as "a virgin, one put aside" (Young's Analytical Concordance to
the Bible, p. 1026); "a virgin Hi. 1:23 (fr. Isa. 7:14...)" (Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New
Testament, p. 489); "a virgin, maid" (Bagster, The Analytical Greek Lexicon, p. 309); "a virgin,
unmarried girl" (Newman, A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament, p. 136).
In an attempt to remove the idea of "unspotted virginity" from almah, Gesenius claims the
Septuagint incorrectly rendered the word in Isaiah 7:14 as parthenos. (This alone shows the
meaning of parthenos to be the idea of "unspotted virginity!") However, Tregelles adds the
following interesting note:
"The object in view in seeking to undermine the opinion which would assign the signification of
virgin to this word, is clearly to raise a discrepancy between Isa. 7:14, and Matt. 1:23: nothing
which has been stated does, however, really give us any ground for assigning another
meaning. The Ancient versions, which gave a different rendering, did so for party purposes,
while the LXX, who could have no such motive, renders it virgin in the very passage where it
must to their minds have occasioned a difficulty. Almah in the Punic language signified virgin,
as Gesenius rightly states in Thes., on the authority of Jerome. The absolute authority of the
New Test, is, however, quite sufficient to settle the question to a Christian" (Gesenius' Hebrew-
Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, p. 634).
The Greek word parthenos does not mean simply "young woman" as the RSV translators
rendered Isaiah 7:14. It means virgin. As proof, notice the expressions in Matthew's account: "...
before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Ghost"; and, "fear not to take
unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost"; and again, "and
took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son" (Matthew 1:
Quite an admission is made by the translators of The Living Bible Paraphrased in a footnote
on Isaiah 7:14:
"The controversial Hebrew word used here sometimes means "virgin" and sometimes "young
woman." Its immediate use here refers to Isaiah's young wife and her newborn son (Isaiah 8:1-
4). This of course, was not a virgin birth. God's sign was that before this child was old enough
to talk (verse 4) the two invading kings would be destroyed. However, the Gospel of Matthew (1:
23) tells us that there was a further fulfillment of this prophecy, in that a virgin (Mary) conceived
and bore a son, Immanuel, the Christ. We have therefore properly used this higher meaning
'virgin,' in verse 14, as otherwise the Matthew account loses its significance" (All emphasis
mine — BFV).
If almah is not rendered "virgin" (parthenos), then, Matthew's account certainly does lose its
significance! We might add that if there were a "virgin" in Isaiah's day, then, Matthew's account
also loses its meaning! That is exactly what the modernist is attempting to do, i.e., to cut the
ties of prophecy and fulfillment which bind the Old and New Testaments together.
Luke's account of the announcement to Mary is proof positive that parthenos means virgin.
Gabriel was sent by God to "a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the
house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary" (Luke 1:27). The announcement was: "Fear
not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb,
and bring forth a son and shalt call his name Jesus.... Then said Mary unto the angel, How
shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy
Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: Therefore
also that holy thing which shall be bom of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:30-35).
To claim that the Hebrew word almah in Isaiah 7:14 means "young woman" is a flat denial of
Matthew's account. Those who make such a claim are either modernists or have been
influenced by modernists. Either way, whether they know it or not, such teachers in the church,
schools, and papers are striking a blow against the inspiration of the Bible as the German
rationalists did in bygone years. The sooner their influence is curbed the better.
DUAL FULFILLMENT OF PROPHECIES
The Living Bible Paraphrased has a footnote on Isaiah 7:14 which says, "The controversial
Hebrew word used here sometimes means 'virgin' and sometimes 'young woman.' Its
immediate use here refers to Isaiah's young wife and her newborn son (Isaiah 8:1-4). This of
course, was not a virgin birth. God's sign was that before this child was old enough to talk (vs.
4), the two invading kings would be destroyed. However the Gospel of Matthew (1:23) tells us
that there was a further fulfillment of this prophecy, in that a virgin (Mary) conceived and bore a
son, Immanuel the Christ." Brother Hugo McCord also teaches that Isaiah 7:14 has a dual
fulfillment: one fulfillment in Isaiah's day — another according to Matthew's account in the birth
of Christ. Others also make this same claim.
However, this type of Biblical interpretation of prophecy has been borrowed from the
modernists and German rationalists. It is nothing less than a denial of the word of God.
The word "fulfillment" means to "fill to the full," "to fill the requirements of; satisfy (a condition);
answer (a purpose)." The Greek word is plaroo which means "1. to make full, to fill, to fill up." It
is found in Matthew 13:48 in the parable of the fish net — "when it was full." Does this mean it
was filled up once and emptied and then filled again as per the "dual fulfillment" theory? Thayer
also says this word means "2. to render full, i.e. to complete a prep, to fill up to the top Lk. 3:5,
so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill up to the brim. Matt. 23:32....c. to carry into
effect, bring to realization, realize." If you fill a cup to the brim, how can it be any "fuller?" It is like
the argument we make against total depravity. If a child is born totally depraved, how can he be
any "totaller?" Is he "tetotally" depraved? If the wind filled all the house where the apostles were
sitting on the day of Pentecost, how could the room be any "fuller" with wind (Acts 2:2)?
Thus, when the inspired writers say that such and such was done that it might be fulfilled
which was spoken by the prophets, then we can know without the slightest doubt or hesitation
that the prophecy was fulfilled. We need not look any farther. The prophecy has been realized
as the inspired writer said! For example, Isaiah 7:14 is clearly connected with the virgin birth of
Christ according to Matthew's own inspired words. Only skeptics, infidels, and modernists will
look elsewhere for the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14.
But Hugo McCord speaks of "multiple fulfillments" (Gospel Advocate, July 2, 1987). I deny that
such exists when it comes to specific prophecy as Isaiah 7:14. He gives us an example of a
dual fulfillment We are told, "Genesis 15:6 was fulfilled first before Abraham's circumcision
(Romans 4:3, 10-12) and another time 25 years after his circumcision (James 2:23)."
In the first place, Romans 4:3, 10-12 says nothing about Abraham's fulfilling the scriptures. It
does allude to Genesis 15:6. In the second place, the key is James 2:23. When did James say
Abraham fulfilled the scripture which said Abraham believed God and it was imputed unto him
for righteousness? It was when he had offered his son Isaac upon the altar (James 2:21-23).
Also, it is worthy to note that James did not say, "The scripture was fulfilled again! "Fulfilled" is
translated from the Greek word 'eplarootha. It is in the aorist tense, which means a one time
action—punctiliar action. Thus, Abraham one time—not twice-fulfilled the scriptures when he
offered up his only begotten son.
Brother McCord tells us, "Jeremiah 31:15 was fulfilled first when Judah was carried to Babylon
in the sixth century B. C. and later after Jesus was bom (Matt. 2:18)" (Gospel Advocate, July 2,
However, Jeremiah 31:15 is a type-antitype prophecy, not a "dual fulfillment" prophecy. Judah
being taken into Babylonian captivity with Rachel weeping, in a figurative sense, is the type of
mourning which would take place when all the children two years old and under were slain at
the time of the birth of Christ. Matthew clearly says, "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken
by Jeremy the prophet, saying..." (Matthew 1:17-18). The Greek word translated "was fulfilled" is
the same one that is found in James 2:23 ('eplarootha)! It means, then, i.e., at that time, it was
once and for all fulfilled. Matthew did not say it was fulfilled a second time! Some just need to
accept the Bible for what it says!
Now, to Isaiah 7:14. It is neither "type-antitype" prophecy nor a "dual fulfillment" prophecy. There
was no virgin in the eighth century who fulfilled the prediction. The language in Isaiah 7:14 is
not so broad as to include a non-miraculous birth in the eighth century and a miraculous one in
the first century! The reason: Matthew's account nails it down! He said, "Now all this was done,
that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin
shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which
being interpreted is, God with us" (Matthew 1:22-23).
Isaiah 7:14 was not first fulfilled in the days of Isaiah, because there was no Immanuel bom in
his day. If so, who was he? Immanuel means "God with us." Who was the "God with us" in
Isaiah's day? McCord tells us, "The child bom in Ahaz's day was named only Immanuel, God
with us, but actually the boy was not God. It is common for Hebrew names to have a spiritual
meaning...." But earlier, McCord, in dealing with Isaiah 9:6-8 being a reference to Christ, says,
".. if one selects Hezekiah as the one Isaiah had in mind, he has trouble explaining how such
lofty titles could be attributed to a mere mortal." Well, explain, please, how "God with us" can
be attributed to a mere mortal!
It is an enigma to me that some brethren will not take a plain statement by an inspired writer of
the New Testament applying a prophecy to its fulfillment (such as Matthew 1:22-23 with Isaiah
7:14) and, yet, are willing to accept Hebrews 12:28 as a fulfillment of Daniel 2:44 when it is not
expressly stated by the inspired writer to be tied to Daniel's words. There is no question that
Hebrews 12:28 can be tied in with Daniel 2:44, but should there be any argument whatsoever
to Bible believing people that Isaiah 7:14 is fulfilled only as Matthew said (Matthew 1:18-25)?
We are told, "Hosea 11:1 is a vivid example of a prophetic statement with a double fulfillment. It
was written about 769 B. C, and it referred in context back in history to Israel's exodus from
Egypt (Exodus 4:22). It's second fulfillment was about 5 B. C., when the baby Jesus was
brought out of Egypt (Matthew 2:15)" (McCord, Gospel Advocate, July 2, 1987)
To this categorizing of Hosea 11:1, we demur. If prophecy represents the cup and the
fulfillment of the prophecy represents filling the cup, then McCord has the contents poured
before the cup is in place. Israel's being called out of Egypt is a type of Christ's being called out
of Egypt. Hosea alludes back to Israel's deliverance from bondage to show that God loved
them in spite of the fact that they were in a strange land. Matthew quotes Hosea to show the
fulfillment of the type (Matthew 2:13-15). The fact that God did not reject Israel, but loved him
even though in a foreign land, should teach the Jews (to whom Matthew wrote) not to reject
Christ, the Son of God, even though he was in a strange land.
If Isaiah 7:14 alludes to a type in Ahaz's day, representing the antitype, the birth of Christ, who is
it? From the writing of Isaiah, we cannot see even a dim shadow of the one in Isaiah's day who
represents the virgin Mary or the Christ! A type can, at least, be seen— though faintly. What
"similarities exist" between the so-called fulfillment in Isaiah's day with the fulfillment in
Matthew's day? Do not give us the differences, but the similarities!
This "dual fulfillment" idea originated as an illusion in the imagination of infidels. It is being
propagated by petti-fogging pseudointellect-uals in order to hold hands with the modernists
and at the same time attempt to run with Bible believing people. But, in reality, it is nothing
more than a fancy way to deny the inspiration of the Bible.