Mary, Mother of God?


There is a major controversy today regarding the usage of the title “Mother of God” to describe Mary, the mother of Jesus. The term “mother of God” is not found in the Bible, nor am I aware of any formal use of this term prior to the Council of Ephesus in 431, in which the term was used by Cyril in a letter to Nestorius, who is understood to have promoted the belief that Jesus existed as two persons, one human and one divine. The intent of the letter therefore was to refute an error regarding the nature of Jesus, but in the process, a careless use of words has resulted in a longer term doctrinal dispute. The intent of this article is to examine the belief held by some groups (predominantly Catholic) that Mary was the mother of God.

God's Eternal Pre-Existence

God has existed from eternity. There never was a time when God was not in existence. He was never created. Jesus is God, one person of the trinity and as such has also been existent for all eternity.


Mic 5:2

2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,

Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,

Yet out of you shall come forth to Me

The One to be Ruler in Israel,

Whose goings forth are from of old,

From everlasting."



Mary is a created being. Jesus in fact is the creator who created Mary.

Col 1:15-17

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.



Mary thus could not be the mother of God. A mother must be in existence prior to the baby.Mary thus could not be the mother of God. The argument used by Roman Catholics on this point goes like this:

This type of argument might work with an ordinary human because an ordinary human comes into existence at conception. Jesus was fully God and fully man. Mary was the woman through whom God entered the world manifest in the flesh (1 Tim 3:16). Mary was the thus the mother of Jesus in the flesh, but not the mother of God. Further, God is a trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For Mary to be mother of God, she would have to have conceived and given birth to the trinity. Instead, what happened is that one person of the trinity, Jesus came to earth manifest in the flesh in order that He might die on the cross for our sins. Mary could not have conceived the trinity because the trinity pre-existed Mary. Indeed, a question to ask those who believe that Mary is the mother of God is to ask where Mary was was when Jesus was creating the universe. If they say that Mary was not there she could not be the mother of God. If they say that she was there, then they are claiming that Mary was not a created being, and thus as giving Mary the attribute of pre-existence.


Mary was the mother of Jesus in the flesh. This is not to say that there was any change in Jesus because He never changes.

Heb 13:8
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

What is does mean is that Jesus was always God, was God before He entered Mary's womb, and was the same God when he was born. All that changed was that He put on the flesh of a man and became a man as a result. He was the same God before and after. God was not conceived in the womb, and God did not have a mother, but Mary was honoured by being the vessel through which God entered the world manifest in the flesh. Jesus was the Son of God BEFORE he birth in the flesh:


Prov 30:2-4

2 Surely I am more stupid than any man,

And do not have the understanding of a man.

3 I neither learned wisdom

Nor have knowledge of the Holy One.

4 Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?

Who has gathered the wind in His fists?

Who has bound the waters in a garment?

Who has established all the ends of the earth?

What is His name, and what is His Son's name,

If you know?



What did begin at conception was a miracle whereby the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and miraculously created a human embryo in her womb as Jesus entered her womb. The belief in Mary as the mother of God would make Mary equal to or greater than God because she would have had to have pre-existed God.

The Problem with the Divine Mother Concept

The believe that God has a mother is one that is not found in the Bible. Indeed, even when we are speaking about Jesus we find that scripture directly refutes such an idea:


Heb 7:1-4

7:1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated "king of righteousness," and then also king of Salem, meaning "king of peace," 3 without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.



This passage refers back to Genesis 14 when Abraham met Melchizedek:


Gen 14:18-20

18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said:

"Blessed be Abram of God Most High,

Possessor of heaven and earth;

20 And blessed be God Most High,

Who has delivered your enemies into your hand."



Heb 7 comes from Psalm 110 where God the father is speaking to God the son and says:


Ps 110:4

4 The LORD has sworn

And will not relent,

"You are a priest forever

According to the order of Melchizedek."



Melchizedek is a mysterious person in that he was both a priest and a king, and clearly a godly man who was known to Abraham, but we know nothing else about him. Some have speculated that Melchizedek may have been an early appearance of Christ in the Old Testament, but we cannot hold to this doctrinally because scripture does not clarify this point for us one way or the other. But Mechizedek is of note because we are told that the Son of God was a priest forever of the order of Melchizedek, for a number of reason including the fact that He has no mother or father. If the Son of God has no mother, then Mary is not the mother of the Son of God, nor the mother of God.

All things are possible with God

Another argument that has been made in my discussions with those promoting this doctrine of Mary as mother of God is that God chose Mary as His mother, and even though she was created by Him, there is no issue because all things are possible with God. This argument is irrelevant in this case because though all things may be possible, God does not contradict His word. In this case, we have two problems:

This doctrine is therefore contrary to Biblical teaching. Further, in order to make Mary the mother of God, many catholic teachings add attributed to Mary which are attributes of God. For example:

There are many other doctrines that could be related also, but these will serve to demonstrate how the error in believing Mary to be mother of God evolved into numerous other errors.


God is outside of time, yes, but Mary was as all humans, created, was born, gave birth to Jesus and His brothers and sisters in the flesh and then she died, all in the timeline. Jesus, in a role distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit who sent Him, came to earth, humbled Himself as a man for a period of time that He might manifest Himself in the flesh to die on the cross for our sins, and then once He had died, and resurrected, he returned by ascending to heaven, taking His rightful place once again on His throne. Mary was an honoured woman, honoured to have been that vessel, but she was not nor could she ever been mother of God.


  1. Catechism of the Catholic Church with Modifications from the Editio Typica, 1997

  2. St. Alphonse Liguori, Glories of Mary, Tan Books

Tom Smith

December 14, 2006


Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by Permission. All rights reserved.


Scriptural Analysis of Roman Catholic Church Teachings