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Verses 24-25

Matthew 1:24-25. Joseph did as the angel had bidden him This sudden change of his resolution, shows his great faith and ready obedience to God. When God speaks to our hearts, we speedily and cheerfully do what before we not only scrupled, but thought, perhaps, most inconvenient and unpleasing, and even contrary to the dictates of reason. And took unto him his wife That is, he took her home to his house. Nevertheless, in expectation of this wonderful event, and out of reverence to this sacred birth, he knew her not as his wife, though she dwelt under his roof; but she continued a pure virgin till at least Jesus was born. “On what terms they afterward lived,” says an eminent divine, “is of so little importance to us, that one cannot but wonder it should have been the subject of so much debate. It is sufficient for us to know that she was a virgin, not only at the time of Christ’s conception, but at his birth, as the prophecy foretold she should be. The evangelist, therefore, wisely contented himself with recording this, without affirming any thing further, either way, on this delicate subject.” We must observe, however, that the expression, Till she had brought forth her firstborn son, does not necessarily imply that he knew her afterward, any more than the Lord’s words to Jacob, Genesis 28:15, I will not leave thee till I have done all that which I have spoken to thee of, imply that the Lord left Jacob after he had fulfilled his promises to him; or what is said, 2 Samuel 6:23, of Michal, Saul’s daughter, that she had no child till the day of her death, that she bore a child or children afterward; nor will the expression, her firstborn son, prove that she had afterward any more children, being in Scripture applied continually to the person that first opened the womb, as the phrase, is, whether there were any more children or not. Indeed, the Greek here, τον υιον αυτης , τον πρωτοτοκον , is literally, her son, the firstborn, or that firstborn, viz., that person eminent and dear to God above others that were the firstborn, whom all the firstborn in the Old Testament prefigured, whom the angels adore, Hebrews 1:6, and in whom those that believe become the firstborn, and the first fruits of God’s creatures. Nevertheless, when it is considered what is the great end of marriage, that Joseph took Mary to wife by the command of God himself, and that his law not only permits, but even enjoins husbands to perform the marriage duty, it is, as Dr. Whitby observes, “not easy to be conceived, that he should live twelve years with her he loved so well, and all that time deny that duty which was not to be diminished when the wife was less beloved:” especially as no just reason whatever can be assigned for such conduct. Be this as it may, we may safely conclude with St. Basil, an ancient father of the Church, that till she had brought forth her firstborn her virginity was necessary: “but what she was afterward let us leave undiscussed, as being of small concern to the mystery.”

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