Study 7: The Origin of Jesus
Old Testament Prophecies of Jesus | The Virgin Birth | Christ's Place in God's Plan | "In the beginning was the word" | Digressions (The Historical Jesus, "I came down from Heaven", Did Jesus Create the Earth?, "Before Abraham was, I am", Melchizedek) | Questions
7.2 The Virgin Birth
The record of Christ's conception and birth does not allow for the idea that he physically existed beforehand. Those who hold the false doctrine of the 'Trinity' are driven to the conclusion that at one moment there were three persons in heaven, and then one of them disappeared and somehow turned into a foetus in Mary's womb, leaving just two in heaven. We have seen in Scripture that all existence - including that of God - is existence in a physical, bodily form. We are therefore left to conclude from the 'pre-existence' belief that Christ somehow physically came down from heaven and entered into Mary's womb. All this complex theology is quite outside the teaching of Scripture. The record of Christ's beginning gives no reason whatsoever to think that he physically left heaven and entered into Mary. The lack of evidence for this is a big 'missing link' in trinitarian teaching.
Twice it is emphasized that Jesus would be the Son of God; evidently the Son of God did not exist before his conception. Again, the many future tenses need to be noted - e.g. "he shall be great". If Jesus were already physically in existence as the angel spoke those words to Mary, he would already have been great. Jesus was the "offspring" of David (Rev. 22:16), the Greek 'genos' implying Jesus was 'generated from' David.
The Conception Of Jesus
Through the Holy Spirit (God's breath/power) acting upon her, Mary was able to conceive Jesus without having had intercourse with a man. Thus Joseph was not the true father of Jesus. It must be understood that the Holy Spirit is not a person (see Study 2); Jesus was the Son of God, not the Holy Spirit. Through God's use of His Spirit upon Mary, "therefore also that holy thing" which was born of her was "called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). The use of the word "therefore" implies that without the Holy Spirit acting upon the womb of Mary, Jesus, the Son of God, could not have come into existence.
That Jesus was 'conceived' in Mary's womb (Luke 1:31) is also proof that he could not have physically existed before this time. If we 'conceive' an idea, it begins within us. Likewise Jesus was conceived inside Mary's womb - he began there as a foetus, just like any other human being. John 3:16, the Bible's most famous verse, records that Jesus was the "only begotten Son" of God. Millions of people who recite this verse fail to meditate upon what it implies. If Jesus was "begotten", he 'began' (a related word to "begotten") when he was conceived in Mary's womb. If Jesus was begotten by God as his Father, this is clear evidence that his Father is older than he - God has no beginning (Ps. 90:2) and therefore Jesus cannot be God Himself (Study 8 expands on this point).
It is significant that Jesus was "begotten" by God rather than being created, as Adam was originally. This explains the closeness of God's association with Jesus - "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself" (2 Cor. 5:19). Christ being begotten by God, rather than just created from dust, also helps explain his natural aptitude for the ways of God his Father.
Is. 49:5,6 contains a prophecy concerning Christ as the light of the world, which he fulfilled (John 8:12). He is described as meditating on "the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant". Christ was therefore "formed" by God in Mary's womb, through the power of His Holy Spirit. Mary's womb was evidently the place of Christ's physical origin.
We have seen in Study 7.1 that Psalm 22 prophesies Christ's thoughts on the cross. He reflected that God "took me out of the womb...I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly" (Ps. 22:9,10). In his time of dying, Christ looked back to his origins - in the womb of his mother Mary, formed by the power of God. The very description of Mary in the Gospels as Christ's "mother" in itself destroys the idea that he existed before his birth of Mary.
Mary was an ordinary human being, with normal human parents. This is proved by the fact that she had a cousin, who gave birth to John the baptist, an ordinary man (Luke 1:36). The Roman Catholic idea that Mary was not of ordinary human nature means that Christ could not have been both "son of man" and "son of God". These are his frequent titles throughout the New Testament. He was "son of man" by reason of having a totally human mother, and "son of God" because of God's action on Mary through the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35), meaning that God was his Father. This beautiful arrangement is nullified if Mary was not an ordinary woman.
"Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one...What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?...how can he be clean that is born of a woman?" (Job 14:4; 15:14; 25:4). This puts paid to any idea of an immaculate conception being possible, either of Mary or Jesus.
Mary being "born of a woman", with ordinary human parents, must have had our unclean, human nature, which she passed on to Jesus, who was "made of a woman" (Gal. 4:4). The language of his being "made" through Mary's agency is further evidence that he could not have physically existed without his birth by her. The Diaglott renders Gal. 4:4: "Having been produced from a woman".
The Gospel records frequently indicate Mary's humanity. Christ had to rebuke her at least thrice for a lack of spiritual perception (Luke 2:49; John 2:4); she failed to understand all his sayings (Luke 2:50). This is exactly what we would expect of a woman who was of human nature, whose son was the son of God, and therefore more spiritually perceptive than herself, although he, too, shared human nature. Joseph had intercourse with Mary after Christ's birth (Matt. 1:25), and there is no reason to think that they did not have a normal marital relationship from then on.
The mention of Christ's "mother and his brethren" in Matt. 12:46,47 would therefore imply that Mary had other children after Jesus. Jesus was only "her first born". The Catholic teachings that Mary remained a virgin and then ascended to heaven therefore have absolutely no Biblical support. As a human being of mortal nature, Mary would have grown old and died; apart from this we read in John 3:13, "no man hath ascended up to heaven". The fact that Christ had human nature (see Heb. 2:14-18; Rom. 8:3) means that his mother must have had it too, seeing his Father did not have it.