This is a study on the and historical identity of Mary, the mother of Jesus. First we will look at what the Catholic catechism says. The Catechism is the universal doctrine held by all Roman Catholics, the statements contained there in are decided by and established by Popes as absolute, and theological truths. I also looked in to the accounts of approved apparitions of Mary to see what they reveal about Mary, I did this because Catholics hold that they are true and trustworthy representations of Mary. And thirdly I we will examine what the Word of God, the ultimate authority says and reveals to us about Mary.
The identity of Mary as proposed by the Roman Catholic Church has become increasingly disturbing as of late so I decided to undertake a study on who she really is. My true concern is for those Catholics who pray to or through Mary and see her as a spiritual guide in their relationship to Jesus.
As I studied the Catholic beliefs of Mary I tried to have an open mind on behalf of my many devout Catholic friends who openly accept that Mary has and can visit via “apparitions” and that she should have a major part in the daily prayers of a follower of Christ. So like I said I opened my mind but what I found in my research was continually disturbing, the things that “Mary” said and instructed were continually anti or extra Biblical. Also the many ways in which she is recorded appearing and shining, it is all very strange. But don’t take my word for it after all, what is man’s opinion compared to God’s Word right?
Who do Catholic’s say Mary is?
“With her yes, Mary opened the door of our world to God Himself; she became the living ark of the covenant in whom God took flesh, became one of us and pitched His tent among us”
(“Saved by Hope,” by Pope Benedict XVI #49).
“O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
(Miraculous Medal Prayer)
She is titled “…the mighty Mother of God “new Eve ”
(Catechism of the Catholic Church (971)&(975))
“The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son’s Resurrection. ”
(Catechism of the Catholic Church (974))
“The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin”
Pope Pius IX, December 8, 1854
Apparitions of Mary (Fatima, Guadeloupe, Lipa)
Various apparitions of Mary have reportedly happened since her supposed assumption in to heaven where Mary appears supernaturally to followers of the Catholic faith and delivers encouraging words, prophecies, and instruction on devotion towards her. Much of what is said at the apparitions of Mary are positive and seem to point to God or Jesus in generic ways but in between these some statements that are not in alignment with God’s Word. Also I have yet to find an apparition of Mary where the spirit is tested that calls itself Mary, we are instructed to do this in 1John 4.
Also Mary is often accompanied by shining, beautiful light; Paul instructs in Galatians 1:18, and 1Corinthians 11:14 to be aware that sinful angels may appear in light and preach a different gospel contrary to the truth.
Apparition quotes are in blue, citation is in green and biblical problems are in red.
Here are some questionable excerpts from Marian apparitions:
“Jesus wishes to make use of you in order to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. To whoever embraces this devotion, I promise salvation; those souls will be cherished by God, as flowers placed by Me to adorn His throne.”
“I will never forsake you! My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”
Mary – June 13th 1917 Fatima, Portugal
1.)Jesus being the central figure of the Gospel is the one that we are to make known to the world and loved, not His mother. Jesus wishes to establish in the world devotion to Himself, the only salvation for the world. Mar 16:15, Mat 9:31, Mar 1:28, Rom 10:15, 1Cr 1:17, 1Cr 9:14.
2.)Mary cannot promise or give salvation to anyone, only Christ can for He alone is the savior. Luk 2:11, Jhn 4:42, 1Cr 3:11, Act 4:12, Gal 2:21
3.)Mary is not the one to protect or forsake anyone because protection, blessing, and salvation comes from God alone, not through a human or saint. God is the one who will never forsake you. Act 4:12, Psa 118:8, Psa 146:3, Psa 18:35, Hbr 13:5, Psa 115:9
‘Shall I go to Heaven too?’
‘Yes, you will.’
‘Also, but he will have to say many Rosaries.’
Mary – Fatima, Portugal May 13th 1917
1.)Salvation is not through works, prayers, any religious object or ritual. It’s through faith in Christ. Saying Rosaries will not get you in to heaven nor will it complete your salvation in God in order to get the heaven. Salvation is through faith not works. Eph 2:8, Tts 3:5, Gal 2:16, Jam 2:26, 1Pe 1:9, 2Ti 3:15, Eph 2:5
2.)Besides Rosaries not being the Bible, they borderline on religiously monotonous or vain repetitious prayers. Mat 6:7, Mat 15:9
“I desire you to know who I am. I am the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence.”
“I desire a church in this place where your people may experience my compassion. All those who sincerely ask my help in their work and in their sorrows will know my Mother’s Heart in this place. Here I will see their tears; I will console them and they will be at peace.”
“Are you not under my shadow and protection?”
“Call me and call my image Santa Maria de Guadalupe.”
Mary, Guadalupe, Mexico (1531)
1.)Mary was not a virgin for her whole life, she was a virgin when betrothed to Joseph and giving birth to Jesus (and after the birth) but did consummate her marriage with Joseph in the regular manner. Mat 1:25, Act 1:14, Mat 13:55, Mat 1:18
2.)Mary did not give birth to the God side of Jesus’s nature but only to the human side of His nature thus Mary gave birth to Jesus but not God or Christ for He existed before Mary. Mat 1:18
3.)A church should not be built in the name of or for a saint or human, it should be built for Christ and used to spread the gospel of Christ where people may experience the compassion of Christ not Mary. Hbr 5:9, Eph 5:23, 2Cr 5:14, Eph 3:19
4.)Believers should only call upon God in the name of Jesus Christ to help them in their work or their sorrow, He’s the only one that can help us. Dead saints do not receive or answer prayer in heaven. Psa 70:5, Job 33:26, 2Cr 13:7, Luk 11:2
5.)The Holy Spirit of God is our comforter and God will wipe away our tears. Rom 14:17, Rom 15:33, 1Cr 1:3, Act 9:31, 2Cr 1:3, Rev 7:17, Rev 21:4
6.)Believers are under the shadow of the Almighty, or under His protection. Psa 91:1, Psa 28:7
7.)We are to make no graven image of anyone for the use of worship or praying to.Deu 5:8, Deu 4:23
“I am Mary, Mediatrix of all Grace.
Spread the meaning of the Rosary,
because this will be the instrument for peace throughout the world. Tell the people that the Rosary must be said with devotion.
Mary, Lipa, Phillipines Sept. 16, 1948
1.) “Mediatrix” means that Mary is used by Christ to dispense Christ’s grace to all who believe, however Christ is our sufficient mediator of the New Covenant of Grace, He does not need any help doing His job of redemption. 1Ti 2:5, Hbr 9:15, Hbr 8:6
2.)The Gospel being spread will bring peace and nothing else for it is the message from God of salvation. Eph 6:15, Rom 10:15, Mat 4:23
*These apparitions are held to be approved as genuine by the Roman Catholic Church. And thus the instructions given during the apparitions reflects the identity of Mary that the Roman Catholic Church agrees with.
Who does the Bible say Mary is?
Mary’s names (the mother of Jesus, not the other Mary’s) is only mentioned 20 times which is surprising considering the amount of information the Catholic church believes concerning her that does not have any Biblical foundation. Let’s use the Word of God not the word of man to be the authority over what we believe about people in the Bible.
18 – Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.
20 – …behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
- At the time of Jesus’ birth, Mary was only betrothed to Joseph and not married, after Jesus was born they did however marry and come together sexually as was the Jewish custom, she did not die a virgin.
- Mary was chosen by God to birth the human vessel in which God would dwell in fully (Col 2:9). Mary did not do anything to earn this, nor is she recorded as having some superhuman right that made her worthy or able to bear God’s son in her womb. The Bible presents her as a normal Jewish girl (Luke 1:46-55).
- Jesus has two natures in Him unlike any other human, He has a human side which allowed Him to relate to us in our temptation and humanity (Heb 4:14-15, 12:1-4), and He also had a God side (See Identity of Jesus) in Him for He was the personal representation of God Himself (Heb 1:3). Thus Mary is not the mother of God but the mother of Jesus, for God Himself instilled the divine nature in to her womb, not her (Mat 1:18).
26 – Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
27 – to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
28 – And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
- She was blessed among women (not above woman) because she was the only one chosen to birth Jesus who was to be the Savior, this is a pretty big deal.
29 – But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.
- She was troubled or surprised at what the angel said because of her humbleness, who was she to be highly favored? She was chosen by the grace of God.
30 – Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
31 – “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.
55 – “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?
56 – “And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?”
57 – So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.”
- The Greek words used here for “brothers” is adelphos, and “sisters” is adelphē the primary meaning of these words are biological brother or sister, however the secondary meanings of the word is a brother or sister through faith.
- The context of this passage clearly points to the these other people being the biological brothers and sisters of Jesus. Thus annulling the Catholic’s created status of perpetual virginity of Mary. The anonymous person questioning Christ’s authority brings up His human ancestry which was a big deal to the Jews, they first mention Joseph as the carpenter and Mary His mother and then they move on to mentioning male names who are “brothers”. Some postulate that these are simply disciples or brothers through faith because of scriptures such as Matt 12:48-50. However in these scriptures Jesus uses the situation to teach a principle – we are all brothers and sisters in Christ who believe, we are the family of God. But why would this anonymous person questioning Jesus cite His human parents as a method of identification and then mention the names of followers who are not related to Jesus through blood? It does not add up. They had to be mentioning blood relatives, His literal brothers and sisters.
- When the disciples are mentioned they are called as such, they are not mentioned as being brothers of Christ.
- The scriptures state that Jesus came back to His hometown thus being back in the vicinity where His family could reach Him.
- For a Jewish couple to marry and not consummate with sex on their wedding night is very strange for the Jewish culture. At the time of the birth of Jesus, Mary was merely betrothed to Joseph, and not yet married. Later they consummated.
24 – Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,
25 – and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.
- The use of the word “till” implies strongly that the couple did consummate at a later point in time as is normal for a Jewish married couple.
Luke 1:38 – Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
- This is a great scripture that reveals Mary’s awesome character, she called herself a maidservant of the Lord and submitted to God’s will even thought she may not of understood it clearly.
46 – And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 – And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 – For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
- Mary was a humble young woman who loved the Lord. We are to recognize that Mary was blessed by God that is He graced her with Christ as her son, not that she earned or deserved it but that by God’s grace He blessed her. This is how God works with blessings, He gives what we did not deserve.
49 – For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name.
50 – And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation.
- Mary knew her place as a faithful servant under God, she did not claim to have any divinity in herself, but as needing God’s help and mercy.
Luke 2:19 – But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
- She pondered the message that the shepherds had heard from the angel, she was a thinker.
3 – And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”
- When a serious problem occurred at the party, Mary knew who to go to. The bible does not disclose any details of Jesus’ childhood (after birth up to his visit to the temple at 13) but we can assume to some degree that Mary knew Jesus could fix this problem beyond what anyone else could. Perhaps Mary knew He could do miracles at this point in Jesus life but we don’t have any further scripture to backup this idea. This was Jesus’s first public miracle which began his ministry.
4 – Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”
5 – His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
- Mary knew Jesus had authority and that people should obey Him. She would never cause someone to do contrary to what Jesus has commanded or already spoken. What He does she will never undo or redo.
44 – but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances.
45 – So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.
48 – So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”
49 – And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
- Mary was worried and perhaps embarrased for losing her son amidst a company of people and was at first unable to find Jesus. She was a good, human mother.
Acts 1:14 – These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
- Here Mary is recorded as being in the upperroom when the Holy Spirit shows up and is given to believrs for the first time. At this point in time Jesus’s brothers have accepted that fact that their very (half) brother was the Son of God and Messiah of the Jewish people. They are praying in the upper room as well.
26 – When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!”
27 – Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
- Joseph is not mentioned in the scriptures after the accounts of Jesus being lost int he temple so we may consider that Joseph has died. If this is so, Mary has no provider and her boys may have been married off and not living at home anymore. Jesus was simply assigning a disciple to be her helper and provide for her as we should help the widow and needy. At this point in time Mary is 33 years older than when she birthed Jesus so she is somewhere roughly between 47 and 53.Because of the culture she needed someone to provide for her.
From these simple sources it is clear to see the error in which the Roman Catholic Church has portrayed and glorified Mary. The Bible is the ultimate authority and and it rises above any teaching of man, any opinion, and even over established doctrine of a Pope when it is in opposition to the scripture. Let us only look to the Word of God for the revealed details in which God made available to us and let us not add to the Word of God what we think makes since or what we would like to be. Mary was merely a Jewish girl living her life under God when He chose her to be the mother of the man who would save the world. She died and now is in heaven with the countless crowd of believers worshiping God together equally.
Satan’s one goal is to get us astray from realizing Christ’s true identity and from relying on Him solely for life and salvation. If this is through more religious traditions weighing us down or making us think we must go through someone to get to God, he will do anything we let him. Let us stop Satan in His tracks by knowing the Word for ourselves and approaching Him directly and freely.