What does the Bible teach about Mary, the mother of Jesus? (Leader’s notes)

1.    How does the Bible describe Mary?

(Luke 1:28 NIV)  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

The angel of God called Mary “highly favored”. What do you understand by this term?

Leader’s Notes: (Luke 1:28 NIV)  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” The verse describes Mary as “blessed” simply does so on the ground that she was chosen from among all other women to become the earthly mother of Jesus. The term “highly favored” cannot mean without sin as the same term (Greek charitoo) is used to describe all believers in Eph 1:6. (HCSB)  to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.

2.    How did Elizabeth address Mary?

Luke 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

What do you understand by the term “blessed among women”?

Leader’s Notes: Elizabeth called Mary blessed among women, not above all women. It means that Mary is blessed to be chosen as the earthly mother of Jesus.

3.    How did Jesus address Mary?

JN 2:1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

JN 2:4 “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

John 19: 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Who else did Jesus address as “woman” according to the following passages (Matthew 15:28; Luke 13:12; John 4:21; 8:10; 20:15)?

What is the special significance of Jesus addressing Mary as “woman”?

4.    How did Jesus honor Mary?

Exo 20:12  Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

When Jesus was on earth, He must have obeyed God’s laws to honor His parents. According to this verse, did Jesus honor His mother by bestowing His own divine glory on her?

(Isa 42:8 NIV)  “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another…

5.    Are we supposed to hail Mary throughout the generations?

Luke 1: 48 …for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.    From now on all generations will call me blessed.

Does the Rosary fulfill this by hailing Mary?

Leader’s Notes: We are told to pronounce her highly favored or happy in being the mother of the Messiah. This certainly does not warrant us to worship her or to pray to her. Look at how the other translations render this verse.

(ALT)  “For He looked with care upon the humble state of His slave. For, look! From now on all generations will consider me to be fortunate.

(CEV)  He cares for me, his humble servant. From now on, all people will say God has blessed me.

6.    Does the Bible teach that Mary is the Queen of Heaven?

966 “Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.”

Who is the Queen of Heaven that is mentioned in the Bible?

Jer 7:18 The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to provoke me to anger.

Leader’s Notes: Why is it that Mary was given the title “Queen of Heaven” when that was the name of a pagan god? Nowhere in the Bible is Mary given that name. In fact, this pagan god was so hideous that God commanded the people not to pray for those who worshipped the Queen of Heaven. (Jer 7:16)

7.    Should we call Mary the Mother of God?

963 “The Virgin Mary . . . is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and of the redeemer…. She is ‘clearly the mother of the members of Christ’ … since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head.” “Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church.”

In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.

The Catholic way of reasoning is this:

Mary is the mother of Jesus.

Jesus is God.

Mary is the mother of God.

We know that when Jesus was on earth, He has both a human nature as well as divine nature. Was Mary the mother of Jesus’ human nature or Jesus’ divine nature?

Rom 9:5  they are descended from the famous Hebrew ancestors; and Christ, as a human being, belongs to their race. May God, who rules over all, be praised forever! Amen.

Was Mary the mother of Jesus the man or Jesus the God?

Mary was the mother of Jesus’ human nature only. Likewise the Bible tells us that David was an ancestor only of Jesus’ human nature.

Rom 1: 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David…

Mary is not the Mother of Jesus’ divine nature. God exists from eternity past. How can Mary be the Mother of Jesus’ divine nature unless she has existed even before God?

Does Jesus still bear the human nature now in heaven?

What did Jesus have to do to come to earth in human form?

Phi 2:5  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

Phi 2:6  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Phi 2:7  but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Is Jesus in an emptied state now when He has ascended to heaven?

Could He still have a human nature in heaven?

Is Mary still the mother of Jesus if Jesus no longer has a human nature?

Leader’s Notes

When Jesus was a man, he emptied Himself. Obviously Jesus is no longer in that humbled state.

When Jesus was on earth, He was made even lower than angels.

Heb 2:9  But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels…

Yet, Jesus is now in the exalted state.

Eph 1:20  which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places,

Eph 1:21  far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

Leader’s Notes:

Since Jesus has a resurrected body, doesn’t that show that he continues to have a human nature in heaven?

To have a human body does not mean that the person has to have a human nature. God can choose to appear to us in a human form. In the Old Testament, there are many instances of God coming down to earth in a human body.

Gen 32:24  And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.

Gen 32:25  When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.

Gen 32:26  Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”

Gen 32:27  And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.”

Gen 32:28  Then he said, “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

Gen 32:29  Then Jacob asked him, “Tell me, I pray, your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him.

Gen 32:30  So Jacob called the name of the place Peni’el, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.”

Yet, God did not take on the human nature until Jesus was born.

Gal 4:4  But when the right time finally came, God sent his own Son. He came as the son of a human mother and lived under the Jewish Law,

According to this verse, should Mary be the Mother of God or a child of God?

John 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

Leader’s Notes: Mary should have been mother of Jesus, child of God. She believed in God and therefore the Bible says that she is a child of God.

8.    Is Mary the Mother of the Church?

975 “We believe that the Holy Mother of God, the new Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in heaven to exercise her maternal role on behalf of the members of Christ”

Eph 1:20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church…

Who did God the Father appoint as the head of the church?

What does the Bible teach regarding Mary’s role with regards to the church?

Leader’s Notes: The Bible does not teach that Mary has any role whatsoever with regards to the church.

When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved, he said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother”. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

(Jn 19:336-37)

Did Jesus mean that Mary should become the Mother of the church and John is the representative of the church?

Leader’s Notes: The Bible never taught that Mary was the Mother of the Church. When the book of Acts described in detail the works of the church, it was totally silent about Mary’s role. The verse plainly tells us that Jesus intended for John to look after His mother. We see that John took her to his own home and cared for her.

9.    What are other titles given to Mary?

969 “This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.”

According to this verse, who is the only advocate?

1 Jn 2:1  My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

According to the following verses, who did the Bible say is our supernatural Helper?

“Behold, God is mine helper…” Psalm 54:4

“So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Hebrews 13:6

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19

Who did the Bible teach is our one mediator?

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” 1 Timothy 2:5

10. Does the Bible teach that Mary was sinless?

493 The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “the All-Holy”, and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature”. By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.

(Luke 1:46-47 NIV)  And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord {47} and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Why did Mary have need of a Savior if she had no sin?

What does the following verse teach about why we need a Savior?

Acts 5:30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead–whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.

Leader’s Notes

Catholics believe that God is Mary’s Saviour in the sense that God rescued her from being stained by original sin when she was born.

This prayer of Mary was prayed many years before her by Hannah. Is Hannah also rejoicing that God had rescued her from any contamination of original sin?

1Sa 2:1  And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.

According to the Bible, is there anyone that can be called “holy” apart from God? (Luke 18:18-19 NIV)  A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” {19} “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.

11. Does the Bible teach that anyone can be free from sin?

Do these verses teach that everyone has sin?

Rom 3:23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Gal 3: 22 But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was born free from original sin.

“Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory… (Source: Catechism of the Catholic Church: 996)

PS 51:5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

RO 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.

Leader’s Notes: The Bible says that sin came into the world through one man (i.e. concept of original sin) and because of that all sinned.

Catholics reasoned that Mary must be free from any sin in order that she can give birth to a sinless Jesus. If we go by this argument, then Mary’s mother too had to be born without sin so as to give birth to a sinless Mary. And the whole chain that goes all the way up to Adam must be sinless. We know that this is not the case.

Catholics have another teaching to explain why Mary could be born sinless even though her mother was not. This is the teaching of Immaculate Conception. It says that God intervened in the case of Mary to ensure that she could be born sinless even though her mother was not. If this is so, then wouldn’t it be possible also for Jesus to be born sinless even when his mother was not?

12. Did God choose Mary to be the mother of Jesus because Mary was sinless?

Luke 3: 23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melki, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph,        25the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli,       the son of Naggai, 26the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein,       the son of Josech, the son of Joda, 27the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 28the son of Melki, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 31the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz,       the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, 33the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram,      the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan, 38the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Verse 32 says that Boaz’s father was Salmon. We know from Mt 1:5 that his mother was Rahab. Who was this woman?

Did God allow even sinful people to be part of the ancestry line of Jesus?

Leader’s Notes: This is the prostitute who hid the spies who were sent by Joshua to spy on Jericho. In exchange for her protection of them, they don’t destroy her house.

13. Who are some of Jesus’ ancestors that were chosen for this privileged position because of their obedience?

Gen 22:15  And the angel of Jehovah called unto Abraham a second time out of heaven,

Gen 22:16  and said, By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son,

Gen 22:17  that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the seashore. And thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.

Gen 22:18  And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Because thou hast obeyed my voice.

Was Mary the only person in the ancestry of Jesus that was given the privilege of being an ancestor of Jesus because of their obedience?

What did Abraham do and how was he rewarded?

Who were some of Jesus’ other ancestors that were honored?

Leader’s Notes: These ancestors of Jesus were also honored.

Noah Heb 11:7

Jacob & Isaac Heb 11:9

Rahab Heb 11:31

Therefore, there is no reason why we should honor Mary over the rest.

14. Does the Bible teach that we should give special devotion to Mary?

971 “All generations will call me blessed”: “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.” The Church rightly honors “the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs…. This very special devotion … differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.” The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an “epitome of the whole Gospel,” express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.

Who did the wise men worship? Did they give any special devotion to Mary?

Matt 1:11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

Was there any other instance in the Bible where people paid special devotion to Mary by virtue of the fact that she was Jesus’ mother?

15. Did the Bible teach that Mary can intercede for us?

According to the following verses, who did the Bible say is our intercessor?

“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands… but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:” Hebrews 9:24

“Wherefore he (Jesus) is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25

16. Who is the woman pictured in Revelation 12?

Revelation 12: 1A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. …The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. 5She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. …13When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. 15Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

What/Who could the “woman” in Rev 12 be referring to? Could it be referring to Israel or the church? Read Rev 19:7, Ezekiel 16, Isa 26:17

Leader’s Notes: Every time a woman is used as a symbol, it refers to a system of beliefs and practices.

According to Revelation 12:2, was this woman in pain when she gave birth? Could this be referring to the birth of Jesus by Mary? Does the Catholic Church believe that Mary bore Jesus in pain?

Leader’s Notes: The Catholic Church believes that a painful childbirth was a consequence of sin, as taught in Gen 3:16. Since they also believe Mary was sinless, Catholics believe that Mary gave birth to Jesus without pain. Therefore, the woman in Rev 12 could not have referred to Mary.

Do the accounts of the book of Revelation refer to past events or only to future events? See Rev 1:1

Leader’s Notes: Since the book of Revelation refers to future events, the woman in Rev 12 could not have been describing to Mary giving birth to Jesus, a past event.

Who is the child that the woman gave birth to? Whom did the book of Revelation describe as ruling the nations with an iron scepter? See Rev 2:26-27

Leader’s Notes: It is true that this description also refers to Jesus. That is why the Catholics argue that the woman referred to in Rev 12 refers to Mary. However, this need not always be the case and therefore the woman need not refer to Mary.

What is the symbol of the sun, moon and has twelve stars on the woman’s head? See Gen 37:9-10

Leader’s Notes: The symbol of the twelve stars refers to the twelve tribes of Israel and the sun and moon are the direct ancestors of Israel (i.e. parents of Joseph and his brothers). Therefore, the woman in Rev 12 symbolizes Israel.