What Does the Bible Say about the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary?
… From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so loved her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully (1).
Original sin is that guilt and stain of sin which we inherit from Adam, who was the origin and head of mankind (2). In St Paul’s letter to the Romans 5:12 and 18, the Scripture tells us that through Adam sin entered the world and as a consequence of this sin death came to all people because all sinned. And that the sin of Adam brought condemnation to all mankind. In his first letter to the Corinthians, St Paul confirms this teach, when he said that in Adam all die. What do these statements imply? They imply that by the Federal representative act of Adam, all his posterity acted when he acted in sin: Mankind therefore sinned in Adam. This is the root of the Catholic teaching on Original Sin.
The Catholic Church teaches that the Blessed Virgin Mary; the mother of Jesus did not partake off the sin of Adam. That by the merits of Jesus Christ, Mary was kept sinless from the moment of her conception. How is this teaching correct, since Mary was a human being like us? Is there any biblical foundation for it? Let us, at this point, look into the Holy Scriptures for guide.
A Research into the Holy Scripture
Against evil, personified by the Devil, in the form of the serpent in Genesis 3:15, God made a promise when he said: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.
A succinct explanation of this prophecy is one done by Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible:
…. But there is a deeper meaning in the text than even this, especially in these words, it shall bruise thy head, or rather, הואhu, He; who? The seed [Offspring] of the woman; the person is to come by the woman, and by her alone, without the concurrence of man. Therefore the address is not to Adam and Eve, but to Eve alone; and it was in consequence of this purpose of God that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin (Mary); this, and this alone, is what is implied in the promise of the seed [offspring] of the woman bruising the head of the serpent. Jesus Christ died to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, and to destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil. (3)
Following from the above, you will agree with me that the seed or offspring in question is Jesus Christ, because Christ’s mission here on earth is actually the fulfilment of this prophecy.
As noted by Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible, the address of the prophecy was not to Adam and Eve but to Eve alone. But which Eve? As is obvious, the Eve is Mary, from whom the seed or offspring – Jesus came, without the concurrence of any man.
There is a purpose to this; so that Jesus Christ the seed, would not have emanated from the corrupt stock of the Old Adam, either directly through him or indirectly through any stock or seed that emanated from the first Adam. And so that, Jesus the seed would not have partaken from the sin that mankind inherited from the Old Adam by virtue of Adam’s representative sinful act (orginal sin), and that, as a new and different stock, Jesus Christ the seed of the Woman, would now be upon which the new creation of the redeemed mankind would be founded. And as a consequence, the seed or offspring solely of the woman, Jesus Christ, would be the origin and father of the new mankind of God’s people – the New Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). Hence, the virgin [without any man] shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, God is with us. (4)
Carefully studying the Scripture, we come to see that Jesus is the New Adam, who came into being on earth without sin (1 Peter 1:19). The name Adam implies the father and origin of mankind. When Adam was created by God (Genesis 2:7), he was created without blemish or sin. However, Adam was not created alone. For complementarity, Eve necessarily had to be created; hence Jesus said: Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female? (Matthew 19:4).
A thing worthy of note is the fact that Eve was created by virtue of, from and for Adam. For this reason, the Old Eve also was created sinless and unblemished by virtue of the original unblemished status of the Old Adam.
In Jesus, God intended to restore the distorted order of creation by making a New Adam out of Jesus so that Jesus had to be how God intended mankind from the beginning, i.e. sinless as just he made the first Adam and Eve before their fall.
Furthermore, Just as Old mankind needed to be complete with the creation of Eve, the new order of creation of mankind needs to be complete with the New Eve in order to restore creation back to its original state of unblemishness and complementarity, because from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female (Mark 10:6).
God did actually create the New Eve in Mary. Why? So that, as the Old Adam and Eve were the origin – father and mother of the fallen mankind; Jesus and Mary would be the origin – Father and Mother of the new spiritual mankind of God (5). And just as the first Eve was created sinless and without blemish by virtue of the original sinless and unblemished nature of the first Adam, so was Mary the New Eve by virtue of the unblemished and sinless nature of Jesus conceived without sin, so that the new order of creation of mankind could be restored to its original state. This is the Immaculate Conception.
Following from this, that all have sinned in St Pauls letter to the Romans 3:23 does not apply to the situation of Mary. This means, by implication also, that as much as Jesus Christ was preserved from original sin through Mary’s conception of Jesus having nothing to do with the natural influence of a man, Mary also was preserved, so that she too would not have, in her own conception inherited the sinful nature of Adam, so that Jesus would not inherit the corruption of Adam either directly, or indirectly through Mary. The woman (Eve) and her offspring or seed, therefore, that God spoke about in Genesis 3:15 was not the corrupt Eve, the wife of the corrupt Adam, but the specially preserved new Eve -Mary, and new Adam- Jesus.
Do you have any problem with the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, because you think it is not possible? Now, if it was possible for God to create the first Adam and Eve without sin, why do you think that it is not now possible for him to create Mary (the New Eve) without sin, especially that he could, and actually created the New Adam (Jesus) without sin? And more importantly when it was that Mary was to be the mother of God the Son, which she eventually became.
Some people hold that Eve was Adam’s wife, but Mary was Jesus’ mother; so Mary could not be the New Eve. I refer such people to St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians 11:12 – For just as a woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God. In the beginning the first woman was formed from the first man, but ever since then all men (males) have been formed and born of women. If this is the new order of things that God in his wisdom, omniscience and omnipotence has ordained, it becomes only fitting that Jesus, the New Adam, should be born of the New Eve.
Some people also say that Catholics, by the mere fact of the pronouncement of the Immaculate Conception equates Mary with God or Jesus. This is very incorrect. Like I noted earlier, the first Adam and Eve were created without sin, yet they were not equal with God. In addition, the angels were created without sin; still, they are not equal with God. Most of the angels never sinned, and all souls in heaven are without sin. This does not detract from the glory of God, but manifests it by the work he has done in sanctifying his creation. Sinning does not make one human. On the contrary, it is when man is without sin that he is most fully what God intends him to be (6). So, Mary could not be equal to God simply because she is without sin; she is not the first of all God’s creatures to be without sin.
In continuation, Genesis 3:15 is a prophecy. A prophecy is a revelation of the plan of God that is to materialize sometime in the future. Genesis 3:15 is actually about a plan of God that is to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
As illustrated above, and as a way of recapitulation the two objects of the plan were Jesus and Mary. The fact that Jesus and Mary were the objects of the prophecy of God in Genesis 3:15, implies that God was to specially prepare them to actualize the plan at the appointed time. If in the town called Ubiaja, I say, see you in Abuja tomorrow, and I intend to materialize it, then, many things follow: Which of my cars should I go with? Is it in good order? What time is most appropriate for me to take off? What dress do I put on? How much money should I have on me? And so on. The same thing applied to God after committing himself in the promise of the seed or offspring in the person of Jesus through the woman (Mary), to crush the head of Satan. It was only proper that God should prepare Mary for the special mission of bringing forth the seed. Not just to bring forth the seed, but equally important too, that in order that the seed might befit the status of the nature of God the Son– unblemished and sinless among other things; Mary, in whose body Jesus dwelt had to be made clean by being preserved from sin from the very first moment of her conception so that the seed in turn, which took all physiological features from her would be preserved from sin from the very first moment of his conception in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Analogy of the Temple in Mark 11:15-19
In St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians 3: 16-17 and 6:19, the Holy Scripture tells us that our body is the temples of God and the Holy Spirit. My question is, what did Jesus do to the defiled temple in the Gospel according to Mark 11:15-19?
When Jesus got to the temple of God, he discovered that it was defiled just as our body was defiled by sin as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve. However, in order that the temple be fit to be the dwelling place of God, Jesus had to cleanse it by purging it of all defilement. This is not to say that Mary was defile by sin before she was cleansed and purified. Rather, mankind was defiled by sin, and God specially cleansed mankind by making out of it a pure, undefiled and holy body for Mary and consequently Jesus the new Adam and Eve.
Furthermore, the Prophet Malachi 3:1 says: See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. Here, the Lord said that he is sending a messenger to prepare the way for his coming. Who is this messenger?
In the Gospel according to John 1:23, when the people came to John the Baptist insisting that he disclosed his identity to them he replied in response: I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said (also read Isaiah 40:3). John eventually became the messenger.
And Prophet Malachi says that by the time the way for the Lord is prepared, the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. Who is the Lord? He is Jesus! And what temple would he enter by the time he came? The first temple that Jesus did entered when he came into this world was the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Remember, our body is the temple of God and the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20) and Mary’s body was not an exemption. Now, if Jesus cleansed the temple in Mark 11:15-19 so that it could be a befitting place for God to dwell, then he who is God the Son must have specially prepared beforehand the temple which was the body of the Blessed Virgin Mary spotless and pure; fit enough for the his (Jesus) dwelling and the dwelling of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:26-35).
Major Arguments Put in Objection to the Immaculate Conception
Two Bible passages are usually cited by the Fundamentalist against the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception: Romans 3:23 and Luke 1:47. The book of Romans 3:23 states that: all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And Mary is part of this all, so she could not have been without sin. A confirmation of this for them is Luke 1:47 where the Blessed Virgin Mary said: and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour. The argument here is; how would Mary be talking about being saved if she was sinless? However, I found a very beautiful explanatory answer to this question:
Let’s take the second citation first. Mary, too, required a Saviour. Like all other descendants of Adam, she was subject to the necessity of contracting original sin. But by a special intervention of God, undertaken at the instant she was conceived, she was preserved from the stain of original sin and its consequences. She was therefore redeemed by the grace of Christ, but in a special way—by anticipation.
Consider an analogy: Suppose a man falls into a deep pit and someone reaches down to pull him out. The man has been “saved” from the pit. Now imagine a woman walking along, and she too is about to topple into the pit, but at the very moment that she is to fall in, someone holds her back and prevents her. She too has been saved from the pit, but in an even better way: She was not simply taken out of the pit, she was prevented from getting stained by the mud in the first place. This is the illustration Christians have used for a thousand years to explain how Mary was saved by Christ. By receiving Christ’s grace at her conception, she had his grace applied to her before she was able to become mired in original sin and its stain.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that she was “redeemed in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son” (CCC 492). She has more reason to call God her Saviour than we do, because he saved her in an even more glorious manner! (7)
The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a divine gift to mankind. Through it, God the Son our Redeemer and Saviour came to free us from the bondage of Satan and sin. Having such a rear privilege from God, I think we should rejoice in God’s mercy all the days of our lives and create a special time to celebrate the gift of the Immaculate Conception in our lives.
1. Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854.
2. Catholic Truth Society, A Catechism of the Christian Doctrine, 1971, Question 115.
3. Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible, http://bible.cc/genesis/3-15.htm
4. Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14; Luke1:34-35
5. I recommend that you study PART 1 very well in order to fully understand the Concept of Mary
as the New Eve.
6. Cf. Catholic Answer, http://www.catholic.com/tracts/immaculate-conception-and-assumption
7. Catholic Answers, http://www.catholic.com/tracts/immaculate-conception-and-assumption
EXCERPTED FROM THE BOOK: “FIND OUT THE BIBLE TRUTH”VOL 1 , BY FR MARIO AIGBEFO
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