1. Exposition

Did Joseph ever have sexual relations with Mary?

Matthew 1:25 (ESV)

25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Some have said that Joseph and Mary never had sexual relations, and that Mary herself remained a virgin for life (e.g., the Roman Catholic Church). For just how could the same womb that had borne the Son of God also bear sinful children? Regarding those times when the New Testament mentions the brothers of Jesus (Matthew 12:46; John 7:3; Acts 1:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5), Rome explains that these brothers were really either cousins of the Lord or previous children of Joseph.1 Mary’s childbearing supposedly had to end with Jesus.

Yet there is every reason to suppose that after the birth of Jesus, the abstaining did not continue. For if Joseph did not know Mary until she had given birth, it seems reasonable to conclude that he did know her after this son was born. The reason Joseph abstained was not because of Mary, because she was so holy. It was because of the child. Joseph had much respect, reverence even, for the work of God, for the power of God. Joseph reasoned, Until the child is born, I have to stand back. I cannot be the cause of any doubt among my brethren regarding the supernatural conception of this special child.

Even though Christ came by way of the womb, was born of a lowly woman, into the weakness of human flesh, he was received with great respect and reverence.2