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Sunday, December 11, 2011

30 second apologetics: What does the word "until" mean in Scripture?

So we're going to hear it sometime during the Christmas Masses:  St. Matthew's gospel says that Joseph "had no relations with her UNTIL she bore a son."

And it will inevitably prompt the question from those who object to the Church's teaching on Mary's perpetual virginity:  why does the Church teach that Mary remained a virgin when it says specifically in Scripture that she and Joseph "had relations"?

In light of  the second reading a few Sundays ago, I thought I'd revisit  this question.

From 1 Corinthians:  For he must reign UNTIL he has put all his enemies under his feet.

Clearly, when we read this verse we understand that the Scriptures are not saying that Jesus reigns at one point, and then when he has "put all his enemies under his feet", he reigns no more.  There's not a Christian around who believes that the word "until" here indicates a change in an event subsequently. 

Thus, this verse demonstrates that the word "until", at least in Biblical language, is not an indicator of anything happening subsequently, but only verifies a statement before the preposition.

And that is how we are to understand the verse in Matthew. St. Matthew was illustrating a very important point:  Jesus was not the biological son of Joseph.  That is the point of the verse. Not what happened between Joseph and Mary after Jesus' birth.

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