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Mary the mother of Jesus

By Richard Gunther


In approaching this subject I would like to make it clear that I am not in the slightest bit interested in  criticising any individual Roman Catholics. My only aim is to compare what many Catholics have told me, in regard to their beliefs about Mary the mother of Jesus, with what the Bible actually says about her. If the Bible is correct, then the matter is not between the Catholic view and myself, but between the Catholic view and the Bible.


   I have heard, and read, from various Roman Catholic sources that the general view on Mary is:

·   She was a virgin all her life,

·   She was sinless all her life,

·   She did not die as most people do, but was taken into heaven,

·   She remains in heaven, interceding on our behalf when we pray to her,

·   She shares the Throne of God with her Son Jesus,

·   She is to be venerated, even worshipped, above all other women.


The Bible teaching on these headings is as follows:


·   Was she was a virgin all her life?

Mary was not a virgin, because  the Bible tells us that she had many children.

“Is not his (Jesus’) mother called Mary, and his (Jesus’) brothers James, Joses, Simon and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?” Mat.13:55,56


·   Was she sinless all her life?

Mary knew she was a sinner. She said “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour” Luke 1:47. Mary needed a Saviour, therefore she must have been a sinner who needed to be saved.

   Lev. 12:2-8 teaches that if a woman conceives and bears a male child, she is to remain ceremonially unclean for forty days, at the end of which time she is to bring an offering to the Temple. Mary obeyed this law. “So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord . . .” Luke 2:39. (7 day + 33 days. The “eighth day is the first of the 33). So Mary showed that she in need of purification.

   As Jesus himself said “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” John 3:6.  and  “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God” 1Cor. 15:50, and, “The soul that sins, it shall die” Ez. 18:4 and, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” 1John 1:8.


·   Did she not die as other people do?

There is no mention anywhere in the Bible of Mary ascending to heaven. Rather, she disappears from the story in the book of Acts, without any special comment. If she did go to heaven she would have had to go before her proper time, because Jesus says was the “firstfruits” of the dead. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” 1Cor.15:20. In other words, Jesus is the only one who has risen from the dead, and all the rest must wait for his return before they follow him.

   In 1Thess. 4:16 we are told that when Jesus returns to take the reins of government over the planet . . .”The dead in Christ shall rise first” So Mary must still be dead, in her “sleep”, waiting, along with every other saint, for the day when she and they will rise together.


·   Does she intercede on our behalf?

   Mary does not intercede on anyone’s behalf. “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” 1Tim.2:5. “And as it is appointed for man (all people) to die once, but after that the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many” Heb.9”27.  Mary, like everyone else, died (once) and awaits the day of judgment, as all people who die do.

   Jesus gave his life for all sinners, and finished the work of salvation and redemption by himself. “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (without Mary’s help), who, for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” Heb. 12:2. Note: there is no mention of Mary sitting with or beside him. Also, it was the work of the Saviour to die and return to the Throne, while Mary neither died to save anyone, or had any right to return to the Creator’s Throne since she was merely a creature.


·   Is she to be venerated, even worshipped, above all other women?

   Mary is not to be venerated or worshipped above any other person, either male or female. Mary herself knew this was so, since she called God her Saviour (second point).

   When the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary (Luke 1:28) he said “Blessed are you among women”. Among not above. The exact same thing was said about Jael, who killed Sisera: “Most blessed among women is Jael . . . blessed is she among women in tents.” Jud.5:24. God therefore does not elevate Mary above any other women, therefore we ought not to either.


   There are still some misunderstandings about Mary to be cleared up, because there are some references which have been interpreted to mean that she was unique in some way. Apart from the fact that she was chosen by God to bear the Son of God, and therefore had the privilege of being a mother to the Son of God, she could not have been the Mother of God, since that would place her in the Godhead. Jesus gave us the name of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, therefore there is no place for a woman as well.


·   In John 2, at the wedding in Cana, Jesus spoke respectfully to his mother: “Woman, what does your concern have to do with me?” By speaking this way Jesus showed that Mary was not to have any authority or power to interfere with her son’s work.


·   In Mat.12:47, when Jesus’ mother and brethren were trying to get in to see him through a densely-packed crowd, Jesus said “Whoever does the will of my Father is my brother and sister and mother”. By saying this Jesus brought the importance of being an obedient follower of God up to a level of equality, and reduced the family relationship down to zero.


·   In John 19:25-27 when Jesus was on the cross, he said to his mother: “Woman behold your son!” and then to John he said “Behold your mother!”  The gospel, written by John, then says “And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home”.  Jesus made no special comment about Mary, but simply passed her on to John, for him to care for, and for her to have a home. Nothing else is said.


·   In Acts 1:14, after Jesus had gone up into heaven by himself: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” So Mary is just one of the believers, praying along with everyone else, and that is the last mention of her in the Bible.


   Tradition and Roman Catholic speculation have viewed Mary as being guarded from actual sin by divine grace. This notion, which prevailed from the 12th century, was developed into a Papal decree on Dec. 8th, 1854. On Nov. 1st 1950 the Bull, called Munnificentissimus Deus declared the dogma of the Assumption of Mary. This dogma asserts “that the Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Mother of God, when the course of her life was finished, was taken up, body and soul, into the glory of heaven.” (Acts Apostolicae Sedis XXXII 1950, page 753 – 773)

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