The ESV & The Doctrine of the Virgin Birth


In the Greek text, Luke 2:33 reads:

καὶ ἦν ᾿Ιωσὴφ καὶ ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ θαυμάζοντες ἐπὶ τοῖς λαλουμένοις περὶ αὐτοῦ·

The transliteration literally reads thusly:

And Joseph was marveling, also His mother, at the things being said concerning Him.

Yet, in the ESV – and I’m quoting the Reformation Study Bible from Ligonier – it reads like this:

And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.

That’s not what the Greek says! Now, why would the ESV refer to Joseph as Jesus’ father? Clearly, reading the Greek it reads Joseph, not father, and for the simple reason that Joseph was not Jesus father, Jesus being of the seed of the Holy Spirit. So, why translate it this way?

Well, one (unfortunately) influential person to translate the Bible this way was John Nelson Darby, who not only wrote his own version, but removed many texts from the original – most of which put less than favorable light on his heretical premillennial dispensational heresies. Basically, anything that did not support his pretrib-rapture heresy he removed, then added to God’s Word. He made changes in literally hundreds of examples, twisting and rewording verses to support his doctrine of distinction between the Church and natural Israel. All this, of course, became an incredibly important foundation for modern dispensational preachers such as John MacArthur, who still teaches Darby’s heresies today. This kind of tampering with God’s Word has led to all sorts of false teachings, many of which remain popular today in evangelical circles.

To refer to Joseph as Jesus’ father is a great translation error. The doctrine of the virgin birth is not something to tamper with, and such a translation of this passage can only lead to false doctrine and attacks on the virgin birth itself. It is thus surprising that such an illustrious team of scholars  put together by editor R.C. Sproul and Ligonier could make such an error. But, there it is, and it’s important to take note of it.

We live in dark times, brethren. Be careful in following the popular trends, both  in Bible versions and doctrine.