Archive for Virgin Birth

Fully Human & Fully Divine


Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a son, who will be called Emmanuel

Isaiah 7:14

The doctrine of the virgin birth states that Jesus was conceived in the womb of his mother Mary by a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit without a human father. He is both fully human and fully divine in one person and will be so forever. The virgin birth guarantees the divinity of Christ for through the Holy Spirit, Mary conceived.

This ancient promise found an overflowing fulfillment in the Incarnation of the Son of God. In fact, not only did the virgin conceive but she did so by the power of the Holy Spirit, that is, by the power of God himself. The human being who begins to live in her womb takes flesh from Mary, but his existence comes totally from God.

He is fully man, made from the earth — to use a biblical symbol — but comes from above, from heaven. That Mary conceives while remaining a virgin is essential for knowing Jesus and for our faith, because it shows that the initiative is God’s and above all it reveals who it is that is conceived. As the Gospel says: “For this reason he who will be born will be holy and will be called Son of God” (Luke 1:35). In this sense, the virginity of Mary and the divinity of Jesus are reciprocally guaranteed.

Pope Benedict XVI, “The Virginity of Mary and the Divinity of Jesus are Reciprocally Guaranteed”


Why a Virgin Birth?

The Incarnation

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

Could there have been another way for the Son of God to come to earth and be both fully human and fully divine in every way? If Christ was born of both parents, it is hard for us to believe he is fully divine, God in all his glory and perfections. If Christ descends to earth and takes upon himself a human body without birth, then it is hard for us to believe he is fully human. Something unique, something beyond the imagination of humankind must take place. The Virgin Birth is the divine solution to this perplexing dilemma: Jesus was conceived in the womb of his mother Mary by a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit without a human father (Matt. 1:23). Reformed theologian, Wayne Grudem, provides a fuller explanation:

The virgin birth made possible the uniting of full deity and full humanity in one person. This was the means God used to send his Son (John 3:16; Gal 4:4) into the world as a man. If we think for a moment of other possible ways in which Christ might have come to the earth, none of them would so clearly unite humanity and deity in one person.

It probably would have been possible for God to create Jesus as a complete human being in heaven and send him to descend from heaven to earth without the benefit of any human parent. But then it would have been very hard for us to see how Jesus could be fully human as we are, nor would he be a part of the human race that physically descended from Adam.

On the other hand, it probably would have been possible for God to have Jesus come into the world with two human parents, both a father and a mother, and with his full divine nature miraculously united to his human nature at some point early in his life. But then it would have been hard for us to understand how Jesus was fully God, since his origin was like ours in every way.

When we think of these two other possibilities, it helps us to understand how God, in his wisdom, ordained a combination of human and divine influence in the birth of Christ, so that his full humanity would be evident to us from the fact of his ordinary human birth from a human mother, and his full deity would be evident from the fact of his conception in Mary’s womb by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit.

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 530.