In this article, in few words I set out to definitively prove the Orthodox Christian doctrine concerning the Theotokos from the Scriptures. We are covering only five key sets of passages. We will find that the Scriptures are surprisingly clear in their Orthodox Mariology. Further, we will find that false Protestant and Roman Catholic doctrines do not quite fit with the obvious interpretation of these passages.
1. The idea that all of creation is Fallen in Rom 8:20-21.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
The significance of the above passage is not that it is actually explicitly about the Theotokos. Rather, it teaches an important principle. Physical, inaminate creation is affected by the Fall.
2. The parallel between the Ark and Mary between 2 Sam 6:9 and Luke 1:43.
David was afraid of the Lord that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” (2 Sam 6:9)
“But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43)
The preceding parallel implies that there is a connection between the ark of the covenant and Mary. They are both footstools of God that He uses to enters the world.
3. The striking of Uzza in 1 Chron 13:10 contrasted with the proper way the Ark was transported in Num 4:5.
And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God. (1 Chron 13:10; cf 2 Sam 6:6-8)
When the camp prepares to journey, Aaron and his sons shall come, and they shall take down the covering veil and cover the ark of the Testimony with it. (Num 4:5)
The preceding is important (especially in light of the rest of Num 4, especially 4:15) that the ark is not to be touched lest it be defiled. This is the whole reason it was transported covered with curtains. This is at the same time typologically connected to Mary. Many Protestants (though this would not include the magisterial Reformers) who would argue that Mary was not perpetually a virgin or that she committed sin would essentially be violating the typological principle that the ark was undefiled.
4. The Tabernacle (Ex 40:29 LXX)/Temple (2 Chron 7:2-3)/Mary (Luke 1:35) was “overshadowed” by God Himself.
And Moses was not able to enter into the tabernacle of testimony, because the cloud overshadowed (ἐπεσκίαζεν) it, and the tabernacle was filled with the glory of the Lord. (Ex 40:29 LXX/ Ex 40:35 MT)
And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house. When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the Lord. (2 Chron 7:2-3)
And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow (ἐπισκιάσει) you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
The preceding passages are important, because they definitively demonstrate two things.
First, the “overshadowing” event during the annunciation is meant to purposely parallel God’s indwelling of the Temple/tabernacle as evidenced by not only the picture being the same, but the same Greek word found in both Ex 40:29 LXX and Luke 1:35. Second, if one pays careful attention, the overshadowing event occurs first and then the Lord fills the Temple/tabernacle/Mary.
This is because the overshadowing is a prepatory, divine purification that makes the subject of the overshadowing capable of containing God. The Temple and tabernacle, made of matter “subjected to futility,” needed such a purification though the inaminate objects which composed these things committed no sins. In the same way, the Theotokos, made of postlapsarian flesh, needed a like purification. This is why the church fathers speak of the “(pre)purification” of Mary at the time of the annunciation. Further, this is why we have passages such as Luke 2:35 which pertain to the Theotokos having doubts at the crucifixion, an event that exhibits her postlapsarian nature–a nature that had to be purified at the time of conception to prevent the exposure of Jesus to anything “impure.”
Roman Catholics, who falsely teach the Immaculate Conception, confuse the purity of the Theotokos with a misapprehension of her origin, which was in sin. In so doing, they do not apply the typological parallel of the ark and temple’s purification.
5. Rev 6:10, Mark 12:25, Rev 8:3 and 2 Kings 5:26 prove that the saints can and do pray for us.
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev 6:10)
For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. (Mark 12:25)
Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. (Rev 8:3)
Then he said to him, “Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you?” (2 Kings 5:26)
The preceding does not specifically prove that the Theotokos herself prays for us, but if she is a saint it would defy comprehension that she would not. In Rev 6:10 we have a literal example of saints praying to God on behalf of the persecuted. In Mark 12:25 we have the teaching that the saints “are like angels in heaven” who we know present prayers to God as we see in Rev 8:3. Lastly, saints like Elisha in 2 Kings 5:26, even when alive in their fallen bodies, have gifts such as clairvoyuence and have awareness of conversations far away from their physicial location.
Hence, Bibilically there can be no doubt that the saints pray for us and that they can hear our prayers. Due to the Theotokos being the only saint who acted as God’s undefiled footstool, as well being God’s mother to which He was obedient in the flesh (Luke 2:51), Orthodox believe Mary is set apart as our chief intercessor before God.
Help Grow the Orthodox Church in Cambodia!
Has this article blessed you? Please bless the Moscow Patriarchate’s missionary efforts in Cambodia to bring the Gospel to a people who have not heard it!