English Articles

The miracle of the virgin birth of Jesus

 

By drs. Piet Guijt      vlag

  Introduction

The virgin birth of Jesus Christ, as mentioned by the evangelists Matthew (1:18,20,23) and Luke (1:27) [see contexts] has come under attack since the first century, and has often been explained to be a myth (1). Especially in the last two centuries, this miracle (which is a physical event with a supernatural cause) has been questioned. Partly because of the (so-called) Illuminati, many people probably can no longer believe. Also a part (50%!) of Christians no longer believe in it (8). Partly because of the Bible criticism, there are also theologians who deny the virgin birth, because they believe that it couldn’t be possible or they think it would also not be so important for their faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Thus, we see that the foundation of the Christian faith has been watered down little by little. We shall discuss and assess in this article various views on it in the light of the Bible. First of all, we shall consider which arguments are raised to question the virgin birth, and refute these arguments. Then we shall look at the arguments and considerations that support the faith in the virgin birth. Finally, we shall render a conclusion. 

Virgin birth 

The term ‘virgin birth’ of Jesus is the term that has generally been used. It is understood that Jesus was born without there being sexual intercourse between a man and a woman (in this case: Joseph and Mary) at the time of conception. As we know about the IVF method, due to the technological development, it would be useful to add that no seed of a man (in this case: Joseph) was involved. In the case of Mary, there has been a supernatural intervention from God. Actually, ‘virgin birth’ is not the right word description, because it’s about the conceptionof Jesus in the mother’s womb of Mary without the involvement of a (masculine) human. Additionally, it is a fact that at a birth there’s no longer a question of a hymen.

Before we start to address the arguments on whether or not to believe in the fact of the virgin birth (with a human), we want to point out the phenomenon of the virgin reproduction or biological parthenogenesis (a combination of the Greek words ‘virgin’ and ‘birth’) (34,12)which sometimes occurs in nature. This means that reproduction can take place without sex or fertilization by a male, particularly in some plants (apomixis) and in certain kinds of animals such as bugs, turkeys, (saw) fish, lizards, salamanders, monitor lizards, and that new (feminine) life is born from a virgin (21,33,12,19). These virgin females lay eggs by themselves, and will also divide, thus without a normal fertilization by a male, by themselves. The negative aspect is that the offspring is an exact copy of the mother because an egg contains only X chromosomes (35), which is at the expense of the genetic variation and the ability to adapt (33). Thus, parthenogenesis can never bring forth a masculine offspring and therefore has got nothing to do with Mary and Jesus, for then Jesus would have been a girl (21).

What arguments are used as to deny or to reject the virgin birth?

There are different (kinds) of arguments to mention. We shall address and refute all of them.

'Virgin or young woman?'

People refer to Isa.7:14 (“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will name Him Immanuel”) where the Hebrew word 'almah' doesn't mean 'virgin', but 'young woman'. And a young woman doesn't necessarily have to be a virgin. If Isaiah meant a virgin, then he should have used the Hebrew word ‘betoellah’ (bethulah, bethoela). We see that new Bible versions have been created (e.g. NIV, Good News Translation (GNT), that state 'young woman' instead of 'virgin' in Isaiah 7:14.

Why is this concept incorrect? First of all, it should be pointed out that the Hebrew word 'almah' can indeed be translated into 'young woman' (at a matrimonial age). But in those days a young woman was expected to be a virgin and unmarried! (20,8). It is confirmed by the translation of the Hebrew word 'almah' after the Greek word Parthenos = virgin as we see in Matt. 1:23 (20). It's remarkable that in this translation the use of the word 'almah' (37) was unanimously chosen by 70 Jewish scholars, who have established the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint. It can also be pointed out that Isaiah deliberately did not use the word 'betoellah', because that word was not only considered virgin, but also married woman (20). And we know of Mary that at the time of the supernatural conception, she was not married. Finally, it should be considered that a young woman that becomes pregnant, would not be a sign for anyone. The virgin birth is on the contrary a sign to draw the attention to something. In Jesus, the fulfilment of the promise of 2 Sam.7:12-16 is found, that God would give Him the throne of His father David (15). Lastly, we point out that Joseph did not have sexual intercourse with Mary before Jesus was born (Matt.1:20). With regard to Isa.7:14, it is also raised by some people who deny the virgin birth, claiming that the prophecy has been taken out of the context. “Whoever reads the context, sees that it's about a sign here that refers to Ahaz, king of Judah, that he will not be defeated by the kings Resin and Pekach. The name Immanuel, God with us, confirms this promise of God. Jesus' birth is about seven centuries late for this sign” (3). 

It escapes these critics that a prophecy can have a number of partial fulfilments (in other words: two or more 'layers')! Only 700 years later the real promise was fulfilled (20). The birth of the Lord Jesus, through the Word from Matthew, is the deeper fulfilment of Isaiah 7 (27).

'There are contradictions in the Biblical story'

An atheist finds it strange that Matthew 1 and Luke 3 does mention the genealogy of Joseph, while according to the Bible Joseph is not the father of Jesus! The virgin conception makes a bloodline through Joseph impossible, according to this author (3). Also the gnostic/esoteric Hans Stolp (30) doesn't believe in the reality of the virgin birth and says: 'It would be quite strange to give a lineage of Jesus that's not correct, because Jesus wouldn’t be a child of Joseph’s and Joseph is not the natural father of Jesus. Then it would have been more logical to give a lineage of Mary, His mother. This fact alone makes us wonder” (30). “On top of that, someone like Paul says of Jesus that He was born of a woman (Gal.4:4). He doesn't say that Jesus was born of a virgin”, stated by Stolp (30).

First of all, it can be noted that Gal.4:4 speaks about God sending His Son! And further that this reasoning of Stolp is not right. The fact that the genealogy of Joseph is mentioned, is absolutely not an indication that Joseph is the progenitor and father of Jesus, but has an entirely different reason. It is namely to indicate that Joseph descended from the lineage of King David. Matthew even calls Jesus 'son of David'. God had made the promise to David that He would establish his kingdom forever (2 Sam.7:14-16) through a descendant after him, who will come from him.

Peter refers to this in his Pentecost speech (Acts 2:30). From Jer.22:30, we know that it could not possibly be a natural descendant of king Jehoiakim. But that in itself doesn't exclude the possibility of a natural descendant from another king. However, in fact, after king Zedekiah, who was an uncle of Jehoiakim, there had been no king of Israel, which made it impossible to have a descendant of an earthly king on the throne of David. We can also point out to Jer.24:8 to 10. If Jesus would have had a human father, He could have never inherited the throne of David! That's why the seed had to be supernatural (even though Rom.1:3 [“His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh”] seems to presume anything different). God Himself takes up the lineage of David now to continue it by the means of the supernatural conception of Jesus in Mary. In the announcement by the angel Gabriel that Mary would become pregnant with Jesus, she was told that He would be given the throne of His father David (Lk 1:30-33). Jesus would in spiritual sense and for all eternity be seated as king on the throne of David, who in the natural world was an image of that. Such can also be said of the eternal priesthood of Jesus according to the order of Melchizedek (Ps.110:4; Heb. 5:6; 7:11,17), of which the Levite and temporal priesthood according to Aaron was a shadow image. 

There is yet another reason that God conceived a son in a woman from human race under the law (Ps 2:7) (that's why Paul speaks in Gal.4:4 about a woman as a representative of the human race) or made Him be born, in order to make Him perform as Man and Redeemer by His suffering and death on the cross of Golgotha. Man himself, who fell into sin, had admitted the devil by disobeying God's commandment not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17; 3: 1-7), was now given the possibility to receive, by faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus,  the Holy Spirit, Who would give the fallen (hu)man (race) the power to escape in Jesus' Name, from the power of Satan and give creation back to the legitimate Owner, which is God the Creator.

Sometimes (3) another point is mentioned to question the virgin birth. Luke would be contradicting himself when at one time (Lk 1:35) he says that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and that God is the Father of Jesus, while in Lk 2:33, 43 and 48 is spoken about His father Joseph and His mother Mary, or: His parents. But in those texts it is about the 'legal', lawful side. Joseph was not the biological father, but the legal father of Jesus. People sometimes also point out to Rom.1:3 where Paul writes: “concerning His Son, who was born of (Literally: became) a descendant of David according to the flesh”. And from that people draw the conclusion (wrongfully) that Joseph, who was a descendant of David, would be the father of Jesus. See the explanation in the above-mentioned. Jesus was the fulfilment of the promise which were both predicted in the Old Testament (amongst others in Ps. 89:4 and 5; Isa. 9:5 and 6, 11:1; Jer. 23:5 and 33:14-18; Eze. 34: 23,24 and 37:24) and in the New Testament as well (amongst others in Lk 1:32 and 33; Acts 2:30; Rev. 5:5 and 22:16).

'Jesus never said literally that He was born of a virgin'

But Jesus never mentioned Joseph as His father. When He talks about His Father, it's always about God the Father. Also John 6:51 shows that His descent is from heaven: “I am the living Bread that came down out of heaven … “. 

'It's about a spiritual development, about inner processes'

 A theosophist thinks that the virgin birth would be about a second, inner birth of redeemers that are born of the Mother, the inner holy spirit (32). It sounds very nice and there seems to be a certain kind of similarity to what we as Christians know about the regeneration by faith in the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross of Golgotha and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. 

But what people say is not an argument for denying the physical virgin conception and birth of Jesus. Jesus came in the flesh, in order to offer up the sacrifice for our redemption as the Lamb of God. 

The Bible shows the right order: first the coming of Jesus, the Son of God in the flesh, then our faith in Him and His sacrifice, which is the cause of the  regeneration of the believer. By pointing out the spiritual processes in the inner being of a man (which is just in itself), men overlook the factual, physical birth of Jesus, which is the basis of a spiritual growth under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The theosophist claims wrongfully that the regeneration of a man is possible without faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The processes that the theosophists are referring to, are processes without the involvement of the Holy Spirit (because He is only involved with those who believe in Jesus as their Redeemer).

As previously mentioned, Jesus called God His Father, but we too are allowed to call God our heavenly Father. But there is a great difference. Jesus was born by a creating miracle of the Holy Spirit in the mother's womb of Mary and had God as His Father already at His physical birth. 

We, however, have an earthly father (and mother) and can only have God as our spiritual and heavenly Father through regeneration. We are born again by faith in Jesus, from above. Then we have become children of God (Jn 1:12).

It is very striking, that those who do not believe in Jesus as the promised Redeemer, think to know better than the Bible, for they think that people should not consider the virgin birth to be a physical event, but an indication of something spiritual or something special.

'Faith in the virgin birth is not necessary'

Some theologians think that it's not necessary to believe in the virgin birth. According to them, it's not about the biological miracle, but about the thought that is expressed in it, namely that Jesus is from divine origin (34). The well-known reformed professor Berkhof states in his standard work Christian Faith, that speaking about the virgin birth, is only a symbolic way to say 'that Jesus, the Son par excellence, cannot possibly be conceived by man', theologically speaking. 

Because biologically seen, Jesus was just the son of Joseph (29), according to Berkhof. It can be noted against this that the statements of Berkhof conflict with each other. After all, what is born of two human beings, is not of divine origin. Also the Roman Catholic theologian Joseph Ratzinger (2005 – 2013 Pope Benedict XVI) disputes the view that Jesus is the biological Son of God, in his book Introduction to Christianity (Page 274/275). “According to the faith of the church, the Sonship of Jesus doesn't rest on the fact that He did not have a human father. The doctrine of Jesus' divinity would not be affected if Jesus would have been the result of a normal marriage. For the Sonship of which the faith speaks, is not a biological but an ontological fact, not in time, but in God's eternity”. Therefore, according to Ratzinger, the Sonship of Jesus is not dependent on the virgin birth (34,29). 

First of all it should be noted, that his view is in conflict with the (by the way, Biblically unsupported) Roman Catholic dogma of the immaculate conception of Mary, which means that she has been exempted from the original sin, in order to prevent that Jesus would be sinful at His birth. 

Additionally, this theologian undermines his own position. After all, if Jesus would have been a naturally conceived child of Joseph and Mary, then He could have never been the Son of God, the sinless Redeemer.

And although it's true that we too as Christians (who do have an earthly father and mother) could become sons of God if we (after our regeneration) are led by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14), and that our 'sonship' is not dependent on a physical virgin birth, even then we cannot conclude that 'therefore' also Jesus must have been conceived in a natural way.

 'Historicity of Jesus is questioned'

The most extreme form of denial of the virgin birth is the total denial of the historicity of the existence of Jesus. This view is so absurd and nonsensical (compare it to the denial of the holocaust or the fact that the earth is round), that we will not make the effort to refute it. We limit ourselves to the remark that if Jesus would not have existed, He would not have had died on a cross at Golgotha and therefore would not have brought redemption.

Is the virgin birth biologically impossible?

Even though the Bible indicates very briefly and without any further explanation that Jesus Christ has not come by the natural way of conception, but by a wondrous supernatural conception, namely by the Holy Spirit, scientists deny the virgin birth of Jesus, because they think that it is biologically impossible. Why would the virgin conception or the supernatural conception not be possible? Who are we to think that God wouldn't be able to do such a thing? Doesn't God's ability go far beyond what we know and understand of biology? Didn't Jesus then do miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit? Would the Creator of the entire universe and actually also of the whole (hu)man, not be able to fertilize an egg supernaturally in Mary's womb? (Or, whatever way it might have had occurred? See the further mentioned). Besides, is the so-called natural conception and birth not as gigantic a great miracle, even if we find it 'normal'? That out of a minuscule sperm cell and an egg (in both of them are all essential information saved!!!!) a complete (hu)man can emerge? 

And what should men think of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and the appearance of Jesus in a glorified body, which is not subjected to the natural laws as we know it? Should those natural phenomena also be denied, just because we are too limited and too narrow-minded to understand them? Besides, why couldn't there be more dimensions than those that we know of, which makes the 'impossible' supernatural to our assessment totally 'natural' to God? And should the existence of God be denied just like that, as 'intelligent' people like professor Herman Philipse do, because he only assumes from what is visible and measurable, and totally disregards the spiritual world, because God doesn't fit within his limited frame of mind? In this context one can think of what in Ps 14:1 and 53:1 is said. “With people it is [miracles are] impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God” (Mk 10:27; Mat.19:26). “His understanding is unsearchable” (Isa. 40:28c). If God says that He is incomprehensible, why do we even try it? Why do we want to explain God? The Bible doesn't warn us for nothing about the 'falsely called knowledge' (1 Tim.6:20 NASB). “For the foolishness of God is wiser than mankind” (1 Cor.1:25a). The question is whether the collective background of doubt about the virgin birth is caused by unbelief or by the denial of the supernatural (8). It’s about the question whether you live by your intellect or by faith. What or who is in control?

A legend or a myth?

Some people think that the story of the virgin birth is not to be viewed literally, but that it's about a legend or a myth that was added afterwards. 

This legend would have been derived from a mythological concept that was common in pagan cultures, namely a child born of a god on the one hand and a human woman on the other hand. Examples are: the Pharaohs, Plato, Emperor Augustus, Alexander the Great, Apollonius, Perseus, Horus and Hercules (the son of an earthly woman and the supreme god Zeus). “Also some Bible scientists are happy to emphasize that such stories of a virgin birth have often been used in the ancient world to emphasize the special status of all kinds of famous people.

Besides, the Greek and the Romans knew about the stories of gods that impregnated human girls” (29). 

Many modern theologians reject the virgin birth of Jesus as historical fact. “From the historical perspective, they find the shaping of a legend much more logical as an explanation for the gospel stories than something unlikely such as that the virgin birth has really happened”(34).

According to them, it is not about the biological miracle, but about the thought that has been expressed in it, namely that Jesus is of divine origin (my question is: how?). “The virgin birth is an explanation afterwards, that has been (would have been) created from the faith of the early Christians that Jesus was the Son of God. With the virgin birth they intended to express that Jesus was the Son of God from the beginning” (34). The fact that there are such kind of stories in other cultures, is in itself not an argument to question the supernatural conception of Jesus.

After all, in the spiritual world it was known by the devil that later the true Redeemer would come, and he has inspired other cultures with that thought, in order to cause them to deny the uniqueness of the conception, death on the cross and  resurrection of Jesus. The fact that in all kinds of cultures and mythologies this idea occurs, doesn't mean that the virgin birth of Jesus wasn't a supernatural fact.

Lalleman (17) points out to the following: First of all, in other stories it is not about virgin births. Most mothers were just married. “Additionally, the moral content of most of these myths was not high. The God and Father of Jesus Christ is totally different than the lustful Greek and Roman gods. Most celebrities and heroes were conceived by serpents, sun beams and in different miraculous ways, but the stories do not emphasize the virginity of the mothers. The word 'virgin' therefore, is not used in the pagan sources, but only by Christian readers – which is quite deceiving, because in the myths it is not really about virgins” (17).

Furthermore, it is a fact that most people who were supposedly born by a miracle, have never existed, because it was about gods and half gods. “And on top of that, it is only rarely that the conception of a historical person is being credited to a miracle. 

Examples are Alexander the Great, about whom, however, we have only contradictory and late stories, and Emperor Augustus. Augustus was born in 63 BC, but the story about his miraculous birth is only found with the historicist Suetonius. Compare that to the gospels that had already been written when the eye witnesses were still alive!” (17). Finally Lalleman concludes that it is not logical that the birth stories in the gospels had been influenced by the pagan mythology, but that rather the reverse is the truth.

Schinkelshoek yet responds to the concept of men who deny the virgin birth, that the gospel writers would have derived their stories from the fact that the Greeks and the Romans knew the stories of gods that impregnated human girls, with the justifiable remark: “Surely the first (Jewish) Christians must have realized that! Making up a Greek story to underline the special heritage of Jesus! That's something you would absolutely never do in the Jewish world! That would've had rather hindered than supported the gospel in the first place” (29). 

Additionally, the stories of the two evangelists show no trace of the influence of the Hellenistic world in which the sexual intercourse between gods and men was not uncommon. In addition, the Hellenistic parallels don't even mention a virgin birth anywhere. In the view of the evangelists it is all about a supernatural intervention of God, the Creator” (28). A humanist/atheist thinks that it is even inappropriate to call the virgin birth historical, let alone 'biological', because it may it may cause the intention and the truth of the story to be ruined. According to this author, it is not the intention of the narrators to make a report of a gynecological miracle, but to confess Jesus as the Messianic Son of God and to point out the divine origin of His Person (4) at the very beginning of His life. The answer to this can be, that just because Jesus is the Son of God, Whose coming had already been predicted for centuries already, He could not possibly be the son of two ordinary people. The divine origin of Jesus was specifically due to the fact that His conception happened in a supernatural way. Finally, it can be noticed that, if it would be true what has been suggested, namely that the Biblical story of the virgin birth has been added (fabricated) afterwards, one comes into conflict with other point, as we will explain in the following paragraph.

Arguments that support the reality of the virgin birth

We shall start now from a different perspective. What are the consequences of the denial of the virgin birth? And then: what arguments can be raised to see that it's necessary to hold on to the virgin birth?

 

  1. If the (supernatural) virgin conception would not be true, then Mary would have lied to the angel by saying that she had not had sexual intercourse with a man, and Mary would have even had committed adultery. After all, Joseph wanted to divorce Mary when he noticed that she was probably pregnant, and not by him. Jesus would then be a bastard, an unlawful child, a child out of wedlock. Especially pagan writers that go against the early Christendom, speak about a secret relationship that Mary would have had before her marriage to Joseph. 

They even mention the name of a Roman soldier, who would be the one they had in mind (29). But if Mary was not a virgin when she was betrothed to Joseph, she would have been sinful (37), according to the standard of that time. According to the law, it would have even be a reason to kill her (Lev.20:10) (11). That's why an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream (Matt. 1:20 -23). Next we read that Joseph married Mary, but up until the birth of Jesus he did not have sexual intercourse with her (Matt. 1:24 and 25).

  1. If Mary was not a virgin, and there was no other man, Joseph would of course be the natural father. But then the angel Gabriel would have been mistaken.

“If Jesus would just be the son of Joseph, it's impossible that both Matthew and Luke came up with such a special story. Making up a virgin birth with a proper marriage of law-keeping Jews, seems to be a bad ground for a glorification of Jesus” (29). This shows that Jesus is not to be seen as a natural son of Joseph and Mary.

 

  1. If Joseph would have been the biological father of Jesus, then Jesus would be a liar when He says that God is His Father and that He is the only begotten Son of God. And Jesus Himself had never identified Joseph as His Father (11). The Lord Jesus Christ Himself denied that He had a human father. When Mary said: “Behold, your father and I have been anxiously looking for You!”, He said to them: “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house? (Lk 2:48b and 49).The stepfather of Jesus was a carpenter, and when He stated the above-mentioned sentence, He was in the temple” (Lk 2) (11).And God Himself spoke: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well pleased” (Lk 3 22).

“In addition, Jesus speaks to the religious leaders of His time: Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Until I put Your enemies under Your feet”? Therefore, if David calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” (Matt. 22: 43-45). No Jewish father would call his son ‘Lord’!” (11).

The title ‘Son of God’ makes clear who Jesus is: not the son of Joseph but the Son of God. This is exactly what Peter acknowledges: You are the Son of God (Matt. 16:16). And this is also the reason why the birth stories are essential in the gospel. Because Mary’s son has God as a Father, He is not only man but also God (1).

  1. If there would be no (supernatural) virgin conception, then Jesus would have been just such a human like we all, born in sin, and He would not have been able to take our sins and carry them away. The virgin birth of Jesus Christ is therefore the crucial hallmark of what the Scripture shows of Jesus Christ”. “After all, the virgin birth determines that Jesus Christ had a sinless nature. If He had not have committed any sin on earth, but did have a sinful nature, then He would have never been able to save one single man” (11). Jesus was without sins, He was the spotless Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world (Jn 1:29, 1 Pet.1:19). “For there is one God and also one Mediator between God and mankind, the Man Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself as a ransom for all” (1Tim.2:5).
  1. If the virgin birth would not be true, the evangelists would have been liars and would have not been reliable (historically). According to modern Bible scientists, this argument by the way, doesn’t apply because they do consider the historical reliability to be important or less important, because they claim that it would only be about the passing on of a thought, an essential message. The question is what the deeper backgrounds of such a concept is (could be). In the previous paragraph, we mentioned some.

Questions about how the supernatural conception occurred

For this purpose we have discussed several arguments that have been used to deny or support the Biblical story of the virgin birth. But amongst those who believe in the virgin birth, there are, especially biologists and theologians, who in the course of centuries have asked themselves what could have been going on in the mother’s womb of Mary. Normally, a pregnancy begins when an egg cell is fertilized by a male sperm cell. This fertilized egg cell implant itself into the womb or uterus and will later be shaped to an ‘embryo’ and a ‘fetus’. In other words: how did God make the conception happen? The issue here is amongst others about the question whether in the conception of Jesus an egg cell of Mary was involved or not. We shall mention some possibilities:

  1. God created something entirely new, or a fully fertilized egg in the womb of Mary. In the latter case she would have been a surrogate mother of the created egg (28). This is to some extent to be compared to the use of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).This is called high-tech surrogate motherhood, whereby the egg cells of the intended mother is fertilized in the laboratory (without sexual intercourse) with the sperm of the intended father. The child therefore, does not descend from the surrogate mother (36), who is not the biological mother, but who did feed the fetus in her womb through the placenta. But the uniqueness of the virgin birth of Jesus is, that He was born “by the power of the Holy Spirit, without any involvement of man” (article 18 NGB (Dutch Confession of Faith), which absolutely cannot be said of the method of IVF, because that happens ‘with the involvement of man’ (27).
  1. The second possibility is that God modified an egg of Mary genetically (the mutation of the X-chromosome in a Y-chromosome) (35).

After all, that would have caused a boy to be born (25,7).

  1. God has fertilized the egg cell of Mary by the Holy Spirit (25).

This third possibility is in a sense to be compared to what is called the classical form of surrogate motherhood, or low tech surrogacy (briefly: LTS), whereby the mother is fertilized via artificial insemination with sperm of the intended father (36).

Regarding these three possibilities, theologians asked the question how Jesus at His birth could be free from the fall as it was in Mary.

With regard to possibility C, it can be asked: had God removed the sin mutation of Mary from her egg cell? (7) Or, is it true that the inheritance of the sin (propensity) can only be transmitted via the man? It seems that the sinful nature is transmitted from generation to generation via the father (Romans 5:12, 17,19). Then the transmission of the sinful nature was circumvented by the virgin birth (31).

Besides, the birth of Jesus from a virgin doesn’t only involve the aspect of being free from the inheritance of sin (propensity), but that God is the Father. In order to be the Son of God, Jesus had to be conceived by God and not by a man. And that’s the main thing. Of course there is an interaction (via diffusion) during the pregnancy between mother and child through the placenta. Nutrients and oxygen are delivered by the mother to the fetus, but also antibodies. The residuals and carbon dioxide are delivered by the fetus to the mother. The placenta consists of a maternal part and of an infantile part. The maternal part has developed in the endometrium where the embryo has implanted itself.

The infantile part has developed itself from a part of the embryo.

There is a membrane between them, which keeps the blood vessels of mother and child separated. That’s necessary because the blood type of mother and baby may differ from each other. If the mother e.g. has blood type A and her husband has blood type AB, the baby may have blood type B. Blood type A and B are not compatible with each other, and could therefore cause health problems if the blood circulation of mother and baby were connected (38). The blood circulations of mother and child are therefore independent of each other and are both autonomous (13). In Judaism, the placenta has a special meaning, namely the tree of life (8,38). See also the article analogies of (re)generation (5).

But no matter how the conception has taken place, Jesus was not born in sin. In other words: He had no sinful nature (Hebrew 7:26) (9). 

We can also refer to Lk 1:35b, which reads:; “for that reason also the  [w]holy Child will be called the Son of God”. And Jesus was sanctified during His life by His Father. And He had never sinned (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:22) and was able, therefore, to be the spotless Lamb (1 Peter 1:19). “The Holy Spirit is creative and renewing. He creates a new man, the Jesus-to-be in Mary. He causes a man to be born without any defect, which we all suffer from” (19). “Jesus is the new Adam, the beginning of a new human race with the right focus. And that is not possible in the natural way, for then there will only be the next other man just like you and me, apparently free, but captivated in the gravity of the evil. Jesus is the new man, a creation of the Holy Spirit” (19).

Conclusions and remarks

In this article we have seen that the arguments that are used to deny the virgin birth are refutable or in any case give no support for denying it. Additionally, there are several arguments to be raised for the acceptance of the virgin birth of Jesus. It’s not about myths but about facts. Both Matthew (1:18,20,23) and Luke (1:27, 35) emphatically say that Jesus was conceived from the Holy Spirit, and that the virgin would become pregnant. Unfortunately, there are Christians that do believe in Jesus as the promised Redeemer, but don’t link that to the necessity of the virgin conception. They should consider that the basis of faith becomes smaller and that the evil one has a bigger chance to undermine the most holy faith (Jude 1:20). Additionally, they should consider that therefore the thought can take hold that the resurrection is just to be taken spiritually. If people deny the necessity of the virgin conception, they cannot help but come into conflict with the Bible, which creates all kinds of contradictions that are not there if people simply believe what the Bible says about the virgin conception of Jesus. The Word of God simply says that Jesus is born of a virgin. “Conception, created by a miracle. Why was this necessary? Without the virgin birth, the whole gospel would be a simply natural, horizontal case. We cannot avoid to believe what the Bible says about the virgin birth. It was necessary because it indicates that God Himself as Father took the initiative, and also because of the sinless-ness of the Lord Jesus. The sacrifice of Jesus with sin would have been worthless. Only a sinless sacrifice had value for our guilt” (8).

Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. And the fact that He was raised from the dead, is because He was without sins. He came from God the Father, and is from the Holy Spirit, born of incorruptible seed, because He was without sins, death did not control Him, He was not abandoned to Hades nor did His flesh suffer decay (Acts 2:32) (11). With Jesus, the (second and) last Adam (1Cor.15:45), God made a new beginning in the fullness of time. “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5). There will be new heavens and a new earth (2Pet.3:12) with regenerated men. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation (2Cor.5:17). We may and should subjugate knowledge and science to God’s Word, not the other way around as is mostly the case today (11). Hold on to the foundations of our Christian faith. It’s not about our intellect, but about a revelation by God (8). “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot comprehend it” (Ps.139:6).

If evangelists try so hard to pass on to us that the life in Mary’s womb, entirely comes from God, it is good to let scientific objections rest (14). 

Not our knowledge or our science make us overcome the world, but our faith that Jesus is the Son of God! (1Jn 5:4 and 5)

Drs. Piet Guijt

Zoetermeer, May 2017

translated by Ursula Moestapa

List of literature

  1. J. van Bruggen, Gods eniggeboren Zoon in Schrift en belijdenis. (God’s only begotten Son in Scripture and Confession) In: Nederlands Dagblad, 14 June 1997
  2. Roger BurggraeveOnbevlekte Ontvangenis en Maagdelijke Geboorte. (Immaculate Conception and Virgin Birth) Bron: https://www.kuleuven.be/thomas/page/onbevlekte-ontvangenis-en-maagdelijke-geboorte/
  3. De atheïst (Bart Klink), Wat gedachten bij het kerstverhaal. (The Atheist, Some Thoughts of the Christmas Story) Bron:  http://www.deatheist.nl/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=154:wat-gedachten-bij
  4. Paul Delfgaauw, Theologen verwerpen de maagdelijke geboorte als historisch feit. (Theologians reject the virgin birth as a historical fact) Bron:  https://godenenmensen.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/theologen-verwerpen-de-maagdelijke-geboorte-als-historisch-feit/
  5. Gerard Feller, (weder)Geboorte-analogieën. (Analogies of (Re)generation) In: Promise, April 2013
  6. Gerard Feller, Het recht op leven: wanneer begint het Leven? (The right to live: When does life begin?) In: Promise, April 2016
  7. Johannes Gieskes, Een eicel van Maria en een ontbrekend Y-chromosoom. (An egg cell of Mary and a missing Y-chromosome) In Ellips, June 2007
  8. Ab Goldberg, De maagdelijke geboorte, het 'onmogelijke' wonder. (The virgin birth, the ‘impossible’ miracle) Preek in Gemeente Parousia te Zoetermeer op 18 December 2016. (Sermon in Parousia Church) Bron: http://www.parousiazoetermeer.nl/index.php?id=preken&tx_wecsermons_pi1%5BshowUid%5D=512&tx_wecsermons_pi1%5BrecordType%5D=tx_wecsermons_sermons&cHash=e673389817c0dfc431c39d2f0ea51988
  9. Got Questions Ministries, Waarom is de maagdelijke geboorte zo belangrijk? (Why is the virgin birth so important? Bron: https://gotquestions.org/Nederlands/maagdelijke-geboorte.html
  10. Got Questions Ministries, Wat zegt de Bijbel over de maagd Maria? (What does the Bible say about the virgin Mary?) Bron: https://www.gotquestions.org/Nederlands/de-maagd-Maria.html
  11. Arjan Huurnink, De maagdelijke geboorte van Jezus Christus. Bijbel en Geloof. (The virgin Birth of Jesus Christ. Bible and Faith) Bron: http://www.bijbelengeloof.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=97:de-maagdelijke-geboorte-van-jezus-christus&Itemid=89
  12. Info.nl, Zwanger zonder seks: de maagdelijke geboorte. (Becoming pregnant without sex: the virgin birth.) Bron: http://mens-en-samenleving.infonu.nl/filosofie/125312-zwanger-zonder-seks-de-maagdelijke-geboorte.html
  13. Infonu.nl, De circulatie; foetale circulatie (bloedsomloop foetus). (The circulation: fetal circulation (blood circulation of the fetus) Bron: http://wetenschap.infonu.nl/anatomie/127908-de-circulatie-foetale-circulatie-bloedsomloop-foetus.html
  14. Interkerk, Maria en de maagdelijke geboorte(Mary and the virgin Birth) Bron: http://www.kersttijd.nl/maria_en_kerstmis.htm
  15. Maurice R. Irvin, The sign of the virgin. In: Alliance Life, December 1994
  16. Maarten Keulemans, Zorg om ‘knutselembryo’. (Worries about a ‘Handmade embryo’) In: Nederlands Dagblad, 15 april 2017
  17. Pieter J. Lalleman (docent Nieuwe Testament en hoofd onderwijs aan Spurgeon’s College in Londen (Teacher of the New Testament and Head of Education at Spurgeon’s College)), Jezus’ geboorteverhaal steen in een vijver. (Jesus’ Birth Story raises concerns) ) In: Reformatorisch Dagblad, 17-12-2010. Bron: http://www.rd.nl/opinie/jezus-geboorteverhaal-steen-in-een-vijver-1.584854.
  18. Maagdelijke Geboorte. Bron: http://home.kpn.nl/jack-hearts/ammishaddai/Maagdelijke%20Geboorte.htm
  19. A.J. Molenaar, Preek ‘maagdelijke geboorte’, HC zo 14, 3 juli 2015. Bron: https://ajmolenaar.nl/2015/07/03/preek-maagdelijke-geboorte-hc-zo-14/
  20. Mike Moore, De maagdelijke geboorte van de Zoon van God. (The virgin Birth of the Son of God) In: Het Nieuwe Land, december 1987
  21. Klaas Nanninga, Maagdelijke geboorte. In: Nederlands Dagblad, 20 mei 2016
  22. Jan Olivier, Maagdelijke geboorte. In: Nederlands Dagblad, 2 januari 2015
  23. Willem J. Ouweneel, De Jezus van de Qoeran [Koran]. (The Jesus of the Koran) Bron: http://vergadering.nu/leesmap20100319-ellips-jezus-en-de-koran.htm
  24. S. Paas. Maria en de maagdelijke geboorte van Jezus. (Mary and the virgin Birth of Jesus) Bron: http://www.digibron.nl/search/detail/9fed4dbe90068abe6d98c078b4094a2c/maria-en-de-maagdelijke-geboorte-van-jezus
  25. David Pawson, Waarom de conceptie van Jezus zo uniek is. (The reason why the conception of Jesus is so unique) Bron: CIP 10-1-2017
  26. J. Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity.San Francisco, 2004
  27. Refoweb, Maagdelijke geboorte. Bron: http://forum.refoweb.nl/viewtopic.php?t=27189
  28. K. Runia, Waarom werd Jezus uit een maagd geboren? (Why was Jesus born of a virgin?)In Financieel Dagblad, 19 december 1992
  29. Dick Schinkelshoek, ‘Geboren uit de maagd Maria’- is dat echt zo belangrijk? (‘Born of the virgin Mary’- Is it really that important?) In: Nederlands Dagblad, 24 december 2014
  30. Spirituele kerst: handreiking voor bezinning en bezieling rondom Kerstmis en Oud en Nieuw. (Spiritual Christmas: A Guide for reflection and contemplation around Christmas and New Year’s Eve) Bron: http://spirituelekerst.nl/tag/maagdelijke-geboorte/
  31. S.J. Stamhuis, Geboren uit een maagd - de maagd Maria. (Born of a virgin) Bron: http://www.holyhome.nl/verwekking.html
  32. De maagdelijke geboorte (volgens de theosofie). (Virgin Birth (according to Theosophy) Bron: http://www.theosofie.net/onlineliteratuur/windvandegeest/34geboorte.html
  33. Marja Verschoor-Meijers, Maagdelijke geboorte en wedergeboorte. (Virgin Birth and regeneration) Bron: http://frisse-kijk.blogspot.nl/2010/12/maagdelijke-geboorte-en-wedergeboorte.htmlWetenschap in beeld, Is een maagdelijke geboorte echt mogelijk? (Science in focus: Is a virgin Birth really possible?)In: Tijdschrift Wetenschap in beeld. (In Magazine Science in Focus) Bron: http://wibnet.nl/dieren/overleven/is-een-maagdelijke-geboorte-echt-mogelijk
  34. Wikipedia, Maagdelijke geboorte. Bron: https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maagdelijke_geboorte
  35. Wikipedia, X-chromosoom. Bron: https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-chromosoom
  36. Wikipedia, Draagmoeder. (Surrogate Mother) Bron: https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draagmoeder
  37. Richard Wurmbrand, Geboren uit de maagd Maria. (Born of the Virgin Mary) In: Getrouw, december 1981
  38. Linda Brakenhof, De placenta (moederkoek). (The placenta) Bron: https://www.24baby.nl/zwanger/gezondheid/placenta-moederkoek/
  39. Leenard Kanselaar, Ik geloof in Jezus’ maagdelijke geboorte. (I believe in Jesus’ virgin Birth) Bron: http://www.leenardkanselaar.nl/geloven-in-jezus-maagdelijke-geboorte/

Categorie: Schriftgezag

(Category: Authority of the Scripture)

Categorie: English Articles