Hank Hanegraaff, the host of the Bible Answer Man broadcast, continues in his teahcing series on the Gospel of Matthew. For most of his Christian life, Hank says, he lacked a proper appreciation for the grandeur and glory of the Mother of our Savior. More serious than lack of enthusiasm, says Hank, was a continual denial of the perpetual virginity of the Mother of our Lord. Whenever the occasion arose, he would explain that the Bible explicitly tells us that Jesus had brothers and sisters (e.g., Matthew 13:55–57). However, both in Hebrew and in Greek, the designation “brother” or “sister” is appropriately used to refer to relatives as well. For example, in Genesis, Jacob and Laban are called brothers, though Laban was in fact the uncle of Jacob. Moreover, there is no warrant, apart from theological prejudice, for holding that Mary and Joseph had sons and daughters following the birth of our Lord. Whether Joseph was a widower who had children by a previous marriage, and therefore the sons and daughters referred to in Scripture were stepchildren — or the children referenced in Scripture were the children of Joseph’s brother Cleopas, who died and left them in the care of Joseph — we cannot say with certainty. While the dogma of the immaculate conception is not found in Eastern Orthodoxy, the nature of the Mother of God was wondrously “purified by the Holy Spirit,” thus opening to all the way of union with God.
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