Bible · Christianity · God · religion

4 popular myths surrounding Christ’s birth

Christmas tree by Suat Eman, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Christmas tree by Suat Eman, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

The Christmas season is considered by many as a magical time of the year where a majority of people get caught up in giving to others and making people happy. Although many have scaled back this year because of the economy, we are still willing to make material sacrifices for our spirit of giving. It’s always during this time of the year that a few Christians feel they must remind as many as they can that “Jesus is the reason for the season” and that we are ultimately supposed to be celebrating the birth of Christ our Savior.

Anyone who is judged by Christmas participants as not being in lockstep with the traditions of the season such as partying, gift-giving, or decorating is immediately labeled a Scrooge, a “Bah, humbug!” Then, on the other hand, we have atheists and other pagans ramping up their attacks against public displays of anything they believe is a Christian symbol.

Because so many of us are caught up in the emotions stirred during this season, we don’t even consider questioning why we do what we do for Christmas. Since it’s an ongoing tradition that has been passed from generation to generation, we don’t stop to realize that the basis for this celebration has it’s foundation on stories, beliefs, and practices that are pagan, not Biblical truth. So, if you are willing to be enlightened, I’d like to share some truths with you to debunk some of the lies surrounding the circumstances and personalities involved with Christ’s birth, just in case you’ve never heard them before.

Myth #1: Jesus was born December 25th–Based on the fact that the Bible never mentions when Christ was born, no one can pin it down to an exact date.  However, the scriptures give us some clues as to what time of year it probably occurred.  December in Bethlehem is during the winter season, which spans from about November through March.  During this time of year it is often cold and wet.  The nights are definitely cold.

In Luke 2, on the night Christ was born the shepherds were in the fields at night watching over their flocks.  This doesn’t happen during the winter season in Bethlehem because it’s usually too cold to stay out in the fields at night.  Keeping flocks in the field is something that usually happens in the spring or summer.  So it’s highly unlikely Christ was born in December.  Since the Bible never tells us what day Christ was born, and never gives us any commands about it, God does not really expect us to observe it.  In other words, it’s not mandatory and if you don’t want to do anything special on December 25th for a birthday that is really no birthday at all, you don’t have to.

Myth #2: There were three wise men–Although man-made tradition says that Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar traveled to Bethlehem from the East to see the King of the Jews, the Bible never ever says there were only three wise men.  Matthew 2 tells us instead that there were wise men who brought three gifts.  There could have been two or three or a whole caravan.  We don’t know for sure because the Bible never tells us specifically.  Therefore, since the Bible is silent on this issue, who are we to automatically assume that since three gifts were given, there must have been three wise men?  Nonsense!

What we do know about these men is that they were Magi, a term translated into English as “wise men” that can be used to denote pagan priests, sorcerers, government advisers, or scientists.  Modern-day pagans have assumed that these men were astrologers and worshipped pagan gods.  Therefore, their conclusion is that God can be legitimately worshipped in any religion known to man.  This conclusion is false.  In the same way that Abram (later Abraham) was a pagan before God revealed himself to him and called him to come out from among his people, these men were called out by God also.  How do we know?  Based on their statement to Herod in Matthew 2:2, they acknowledged that this child was born king of the Jews, that he had a star in the sky designated specifically for him, and that he was worthy to be worshipped.

Israel must have been on the trade routes of the nations where these men came from, because they knew who the Jews were, they knew that the capital of Israel was Jerusalem (that’s why they stopped there instead of going straight to Bethlehem), and they knew Herod was the appointed ruler of Israel (which is why they went to his house first since they assumed that any king of the Jews must be Herod’s descendant).  Notice that these men did not worship Herod or anyone else.  They reserved their worship for Christ alone, proving that they were believers who had forsaken paganism, just like Abraham.

Myth #3: The wise men arrived on the night of Christ’s birth–This is a popular scene in Nativity plays and television programs such as Amahl and the Night Visitors or The Little Drummer Boy.  The Bible says different.  In Matthew 2, the wise men went to a house, not a manger and they visited a young child (toddler), not a baby like the shepherds did in Luke 2.  When the wise men told Herod how much time had passed since they first saw the star, Herod came to the conclusion that he should kill all children two years old and younger.  This tells us that the wise men had seen the star for approximately two years, revealing the approximate age of Christ at this time.

The approximate timeline reveals something else about the wise men.  Since they were from the east and it took them more than a year to travel to Israel (considering that it took some time to get a caravan together from the time it was revealed to them what the star meant), we can probably conclude that the caravan started beyond Persia (Iran) and could have had wise men from as far away as China, Southeast Asia, and India.

Myth #4: Mary remained a virgin–This is a traditional belief in many denominations who hold to some of the traditions of the Roman Catholic church that they broke off from centuries ago.  But the Bible says differently–“And [Joseph] knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son…” [Matthew 1:25].  In other words, it wasn’t until after Mary birthed Jesus that Mary and Joseph had normal sexual marital relations.  The word knew in this verse refers to sexual intimacy, having the same meaning as when it is used in Genesis 4:1–“And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived…”

The inhabitants of Nazareth also let us know that Mary had children with Joseph in Matthew 13:55-56, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?”  I’ve heard arguments that the terms brethren and sisters in this scripture can mean any male or female close relative like a cousin, but that is just not true.  The words as used in this scripture refer specifically to siblings.  So we know that Jesus had four half-brothers and at least three half-sisters.  As a matter of fact, James is the one who wrote the book of James and Judas is the one who wrote Jude, although this fact has been disputed by some “Bible scholars.”

————

Christmas, although it claims to be a celebration of Christ’s birth, is really a pagan holiday that uses pagan symbols such as the Christmas tree, holly, mistletoe, yuletide logs, and wreaths.  So when I hear about atheists or muslims or other religions wanting to get rid of Christmas decorations in the public arena, I don’t get upset.  I know that the real meaning of Christmas comes from a pagan system that has dressed itself up to look Christian to try to unite Christians and pagans under one umbrella.  If they are successful in getting rid of all the useless symbols from the public arena, it won’t stop me from worshipping my Lord and Savior and I will still proclaim that Jesus is Lord.  And I no longer allow other believers to get to me if I am accused of not being a good Christian if I don’t take part in Christmas festivities.  I know who I am in Christ and nothing anyone says or does to me shall separate me from him.

Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.  But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?  Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. [Galatians 4:8-10]

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days… [Colossians 2:16]

–posted by Harry A. Gaylord–

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14 thoughts on “4 popular myths surrounding Christ’s birth

  1. Your myth #4 isn’t entirely correct. The word ‘until’ can be used to denote a time period up until a specific time (without meaning that after that specific time something happened). For instance:

    2Cr 3:14-15, speaking of the Jews: “But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.” Meaning that even up to this very day they have refused to see Christ.

    Also, Act 23:1 “And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men [and] brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” This doesn’t mean that after that day Paul begin to live evilly.

    As for the brothers and sisters, it was the commonly held belief of the early church that they were the siblings of Joseph from a previous marriage and that Mary herself was a holy virgin consecrated to the temple from youth.

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  2. Zach,

    You’re right about the word “until” in the context of the scriptures you quoted. However, in the context of what the scripture said in Matthew 1, it means that Joseph didn’t have sex with Mary before she gave birth to Jesus.

    As far as the “commonly held belief of the early church” about Joseph having children from a previous marriage, this would not be in agreement with how the Messiah would be born and how Jewish customs and laws worked. First of all, based on what the prophecies said about the Christ, we know that Jesus fulfilled Messianic prophecy to the letter by his conception, birth, life, death, and resurrection. No other figure in Jewish or world history has even come close, so Jesus was clearly the promised Messiah.

    Since it is clear that he is Messiah, then we know that this Messiah had to live up to certain expectations of the Jews. For instance, if Joseph had children from a previous marriage, then Jesus would not have been Joseph’s firstborn. Based on how Jewish tradition, prophecies, and Mosaic law worked, the Messiah would have to be the firstborn of both his mother and stepfather. To deny that Jesus is the firstborn is to deny that he is Messiah.

    To claim that Mary was a consecrated virgin does not hold water either. Although there may be some cheap imitations of scripture that may claim this about Mary, the true word of God never states this anywhere. Furthermore, in ancient Jewish tradition, if a virgin is consecrated to be a virgin for their whole life (a female eunuch), they are not allowed to get married. For Joseph to Mary marry would mean they would both be in violation of Mosaic law and would be considered unclean and ungodly, since they would have violated a vow made to God. Therefore, any children they would have raised would be considered unclean and unholy, including Jesus. Since we know Jesus was the Messiah, being the only sinless human to walk the earth, this so-called consecration of Mary being a virgin for life is a lie.

    These “commonly held beliefs of the early church” are nothing more than man-made tradition promoted by Roman Catholicism and they aren’t based on Biblical truth.

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  3. They’re actually not Roman Catholic beliefs, but the belief of the early united Church, long before the Great Schism of 1054 in which the Bishop of Rome tried to assume too much power over the other Patriarchs and left the one church, to form Roman Catholicism, leaving the rest of the church to be known as Eastern Orthodoxy. Thisis a tradition that has been passed down in Orthodoxy and Catholicism for nearly 2,000 years and was not until the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago did people begin to distance themselves from Chruch Tradition and decided that they knew more than those who came before them.

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  4. The early united church that you talk about was under the Roman Catholic Church which was started by Constantine in the 300s A.D. and included the Orthodoxy churches. The true church of the Lord was started with the ministry of Jesus Christ and continued separate from the Church of Rome when Constantine started it because they knew that Constantine’s church and the religious sects supporting it were counterfeits.

    The teachings which were started by Christ and continued through his true disciples during the 1st century A.D. are what I discuss in my post. The traditions of which you speak are based on bastardizations of the truth that came after the true doctrines of the apostles in an attempt to deceive people into following man-made doctrines that set up man-made traditions.

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  5. Nothing was ‘under the Roman Catholic Church’ at the beginnging. There was no Roman Catholic Church until the Great Schism of 1054. It was all just the Church before then, with 5 major patriarchates acting as the leaders: Roman, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria. When the Bishop of Rome decided he had more ‘power’ than the other Patriarchs he tried to force his control over them. The other Patriarchs rejected this and so the Bishop of Rome schismed, splitting the one united church into Roman Catholicism on one hand and Eastern Orthodoxy on the other.

    The original church is a continuation of what the apostles had taught. In fact, we have documented letters from St. Ignatius, bishop of Antioch starting in the year 60 a.d. 60 a.d. is New Testament times! The step-brother of our Lord, James was the first bishop of Jerusalem, and Peter the first Bishop of both Rome and Antioch. You can believe that what I”m saying is a ‘bastardization’ of the truth if you’d like, but the fact is that I’ve got the weight of history behind me.

    The apostles handed down their teachings through the Bishops of the church (what we call Apostalic Succession) and it is these teachings which have continued through Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy (with the addition of false dogmas in Catholicism, namely the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility).

    If they are not the continued source of Christs teachings then we have become utterly divorced from the past and no matter how much you read and reread the Bible you will never be able to grap the entire teaching by yourself. The end of the Gospel of John witnesses to this very fact by stating that Christ did and said many other things which were not recorded by the Gospels. The purpose of the 4 Gospels was to recount the life of Christ and to tell his story from his birth to his death. They were a testament to who Christ was. The Epistles are letters written to various churches commending or condemning them for various practices, and the Apocolypse of John records a vision he was granted to witness. These few books are not the whole story of Christianity, nor of Christ, and we have to rely on the teachings which have been passed down through the ages for the whole story.

    Anyways, this is my last post. Like I said in my original your first three are very true, and their truth HAS been passed down by the Church Fathers, but the Church Fathers all agree that Mary remained a virgin until her death. If she did not, if she herself had blood children other than Christ, then Christ’s command for his beloved disciple John to watch over his mother, given to John with some of our Saviour’s last breaths, seems a rather odd and cruel thing to do.

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  6. Zacharias,

    What you’re talking about is revisionist history based on manuscripts that have been tampered with to shore up the lies that the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches have been teaching for centuries. Constantine the Great decided in 337 A.D. that it was time for pagans and Christians to be united because the conflicts between them was weakening his empire. So he brought an end to outlawing Christianity and created a state-sponsored church disguised as Christianity to bring both pagans and Christians under his control.

    Those Christians who saw through his falsehoods continued to hide in caves and other places because they were still persecuted. The Orthodoxy churches did in fact support Roman Catholicism until the Pope, also known as the Bishop of Rome, came up with new man-made doctrines which offended the Orthodox churches, so they separated. However, in our times, we are witnessing the Orthodox churches returning to their submission to the Church of Rome. We also see Protestant churches that broke off from Rome in the Reformation returning to Rome to promote an ecumenical movement.

    Apostolic Succession is a man-made doctrine. It is God, by his Holy Spirit, who has continued his true church through the centuries. Apostolic Succession is an attempt by man-made organized religion to browbeat Christians into submission to their wishes by claiming they are the God-appointed continuation of Christ’s ministry.

    All manuscripts included with and supporting the Masoretic text/Textus Receptus are the only manuscripts that have been proven not to have been tampered with by man and are the only ones proven to be trustworthy. The Orthodox churches and Roman Catholic Church believe that the traditions of “church fathers” holds equal weight with Biblical writings, but true Christians believe that it is only God’s word that reveals to us how to conduct our lives, whether privately, publicly, or corporately.

    You rely on teachings of your church fathers, which are man-made doctrines. This essentially means you teach the fear of God by the doctrines or precepts of men. This is against what the Bible says in both the Old and New Testaments. Through Isaiah, God said he did not want Israel to be taught to fear him through the precepts of men (Isaiah 29:13). Jesus Christ himself then quoted this to Jewish religious leaders to rebuke them when he said in Matthew 15:9 “in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” It is only the Bible that has the teachings that are God-breathed. Time and time again, God commands us not to take away from or add to his words. Yet you all have added to his words by holding to man-made doctrines from so-called “church fathers” which are not the scriptures.

    John said “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen,” at the end of the gospel of John, but this does not give any of us the license to accept doctrine that is additional to God-established scriptures.

    Jesus told John to look after Mary because Mary was a believer, whereas Jesus’ half-siblings through Mary were not believers. John 7:5 says his brothers did not believe. John knew what God’s unconditional love was and he was the only disciple of the 12 to stay close to Christ through the trial and crucifixion. He had proven himself to be the most reliable, therefore in the short time Jesus knew he would be away from his disciples, he asked John to look after his mother. This was neither odd nor cruel since believers are commanded to love one another and John was the one who Jesus knew would act according to his command.

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  7. This is an excellent post. I stopped celebrating christmas, easter and halloween three years ago! And I’ve never felt better. I have found, that when you want to spread light to our fellow Christians on this subject, they immediately want to protect the holiday instead of doing research for themselves.

    Holiday is the word for Holy Day and there is nothing Holy about halloween. God has nothing to do with halloween or christmas and easter is the birth of the sun god as well as christmas.

    It is hard for most to stop their traditional celebrations but for me as soon as I researched the christmas tree and thought about children dressing up as devil like creatures begging for candy, I was done.

    It is our Father’s Word we must take careful note to and follow not after man made traditions.

    Thank you Harry for your Godly Wisdom. May it be our Father’s Will that more children of God will nourish their hearts and minds with God’s Light!

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    1. You’re making unfounded & unhistorical assumptions. The Bible says that Christ was born when Joseph and Mary returned to Bethlehem to take part in the Census of Quirinius. Historians have nailed this census down to 6/7 BC. That’s when Jesus was born. Then Herod died in 4 BC, which is AFTER Christ’s birth.

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      1. He served under Caesar Augustus for various periods as a consul many years before that. The discovery of Roman records is still incomplete, so to say that only certain facts apply, like the AD 6 date, is making the false assumption that we have everything there is to know. Augustus appointed Quirinius to consulates starting in 12 BC. They served for about a year in those positions, then another official would take their place. So the fact that Quirinius served during the time of Christ’s birth is still possible. Another thing to note is that Luke says the census that was in effect when Christ was born was “first made” when Quirinius was governor, so it could be that by the time Christ was born, Quirinius was moved to another position. The census during this time period started in 8 BC and lasted several years because of the vastness of the Roman Empire. This info is found in Res Gestae–The Deeds of Augustus and in the writings of Tacitus. Josephus even mentions that Quirinius served in several official positions before being governor after Herod’s death. Several positions were considered “governor.” A consul or proconsul was a type of governor. So was a tetrarch.

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  8. And then there’s also the town of Nazareth thing. Josephus lived in Japha at the time it was destroyed, and was involved in organising its defences. He would certainly have taken note of a town built in the middle of the graveyard on the outskirts of his defences, (Nazareth) especially since it supposedly had a synagogue. Jews would not build a synagogue on a “contaminated” site. So why is it that the Bible would say that there was a synagogue in this area. Sorry but this is a fact.

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    1. I gave you the sources for my info in my previous response to you, so can you give me the source(s) you’re getting these supposed facts from? When people try to make claims that the Bible isn’t accurate, I always question them since more often than not they get their facts wrong.

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