In the Old Testament, the Bible uses the
same Hebrew words to describe the pre-born child,
infants, and children. In the New Testament, the same
Greek words also describe the pre-born child, infants
and children which indicates a continuity from
conception to childhood and on into adulthood.
The Greek word brephos is often
used of the newly-born, infants, and older children (Lk.
2:12,16; 18:15; 1 Pet. 2:2). For example, in Acts 7:19
brephos refers to the children killed at
Pharaoh’s command. But in Luke 1:41, 44 this same word
is used of John the Baptist while he was yet in the
womb, a pre-born infant.
In God’s eyes he was indistinguishable
from a child. The biblical writer also informs us that
John was filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his
mother’s womb, indicating personhood (Lk. 1:15). Even
three months before birth, John could miraculously
recognize Jesus in Mary’s womb (Lk. 1:44).
In addition, the Greek huios means
"son" but is used in Luke 1:36 of John the Baptist’s
existence in the womb before birth (at six months).
The Hebrew word yeled is usually
used of children (i.e., a child, boy, etc.). But in
Exodus 21:22 it is used of a child in the womb. In
Genesis 25:22 the word yeladim (children) is used
of Rebecca’s children struggling while in her womb. In
Job 3:3, Job uses the word geber to describe his
conception: "A man child is conceived." But geber
is a Hebrew noun that is usually translated as "man,"
"male," or "husband." In Job 3:11-16, Job equates the
pre- born child with kings, counselors, and princes.
All these Scriptures and many others
indicate that God does not make a distinction between
potential life and real life, or in delineating stages
of personhood—namely, between a pre-born infant in the
womb at any stage and a born infant or child. The
Scripture repeatedly assumes the continuity of a person
from conception to adulthood. In fact, no separate word
is used exclusively of the pre-born that will permit it
to be distinguished from an infant as far as its
personhood and value are concerned.
Further, God Himself relates to the
unborn as persons. In Psalm 139:16 the Psalmist says
concerning God, "Your eyes saw my unformed body." The
writer used the word golem, translated as "body"
or "substance," to describe himself while he was in the
womb. He uses this term to refer to God’s personal care
for him even during the first part of the embryonic
state (from implantation up to the first few weeks), the
state before the fetus is physically "formed"
into a miniature human being. We know that the embryo is
"unformed" for only four or five weeks. In other words,
even in the "unformed body" stage of gestation (0-4
weeks), God says that He is caring for and molding a
child (Psa. 139:13-16).
Other Scriptures also indicate that God
relates to the fetus as a person. Job 31:15 says, "Did
not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not
the same one form us both within our mothers?"
In Job 10:8, 12 we read, "Your hands
shaped me and made me. [You] clothed me with skin
and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews.
Psalm 78:5, 6 reveals God’s concern over
"the children yet to be born."
Psalm 139:13-16 states, "For you
created my inmost being; you knit me together
in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully
and wonderfully made.... My frame was not hidden from
you when I was made in the secret place. When I was
woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw
my unformed body."
These Scriptures reveal that personal
pronouns are used to describe the relationship between
God and those in the womb.
These verses and others (Jer. 1:5; Gal.
1:15,16; Isa. 49:1,5) show that God views the pre-born
children in the womb as persons. No other conclusion is
possible. We must agree with theologian John Frame,
"There is nothing in Scripture that even remotely
suggests that the unborn child is anything less than a
human person from the moment of conception."1
In light of the above we must concede
that those Scriptures which indicate human life belongs
to God, not to us, prohibit abortion. The Bible teaches
that people ultimately belong to God because all men are
created by Him.
The Scriptures teach that men are "the
offspring of God" (Acts 17:29) and that "in Him
we live and move and exist" (Acts 17:28). Malachi
could ask, "Have we not all one Father? Did not one God
create us?" (Mal. 2:10).
The Scriptures teach that God "Himself
gives to all life and breath and all things" (Acts
17:25) because He "made the world and all things
in it" (Acts 17:24). Understanding this, Isaiah
could say "O Lord, Thou art our Father, we are the clay,
and Thou our potter; and all of us are the work of Thy
hand" (Isa. 64:8).
The psalmist could also say, "The earth
is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all
who live in it" (Psa. 24:1).
Further, the Scriptures teach, "Your
hands made me and formed me" (Psa. 119:73) and "The
Lord.... forms the spirit of man within him" (Zech.
God Himself makes the statement, "Behold,
all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as
the soul of the son is Mine" (Ezek. 18:4).
Since all life was created by God and
belongs to Him, no one has the right to kill something
God has created (Ex. 20:13).
Scriptures also teach we must defend and
protect the weak, the defenseless, the innocent, the
needy. This surely includes unborn children. Consider
the following Scriptures which indicate God’s concern
for those who cannot speak on their own behalf.
31:8,9—Speak up for those who cannot speak for
themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the
poor and needy.
82:2-4—How long will you defend the unjust and show
partiality to the wicked? Defend the cause of the weak
and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and
oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them
from the hand of the wicked.
The Bible has many Scriptures like this.
There can be no doubt that they also apply to the
innocent unborn who are the most defenseless,
innocent, and needy. Indeed, God will hold us
accountable for their welfare:
those being led away to death; hold back those
staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew
nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart
perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it?
Will he not repay each person according to what he has
done? (Prov. 24:11,12)
In fact, numerous Scriptures condemn the
killing of innocent life (Prov. 6:1-19; 12:6; Deut.
19:10; 27:25). Many of the following Scriptures apply to
those who perform abortions.
1:15—When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will
hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers,
I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood.
59:2, 3, 4b, 7b—But your iniquities have separated you
from your God; your sins have hidden his face from
you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are
stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips
have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked
things.... They rely on empty arguments and speak
lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil....
Their thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction
mark their ways.
22:17—But your eyes and your heart are intent only
upon your own dishonest gain, and on shedding innocent
blood and on practicing oppression and extortion.
4:13—Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s
sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before
the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Can one imagine Jesus accepting the idea
of abortion? Did He not teach: "See that you do not
despise one of these little ones, for I say to you, that
their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My
Father who is in heaven.... Thus it is not the will of
your Father who is in heaven that one of these little
ones perish" (Matt. 18:10, 14).
Another way to decide whether abortion is
a justifiable practice is to think through the
implications of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. The
question is, at what point was the personhood of Jesus
In brief, it had to be present at
the point of conception. Both the New Testament and the
doctrinal creeds of the church affirm that God became
man at the point of conception. The eternal Son of God
became incarnate in Mary’s womb. Christ’s personal
history on earth began not when He was "born of the
virgin" but when He was "conceived by the Holy Spirit" (Lk.
It is significant that God chose to begin
the process of Incarnation at the point of conception
rather than at some other point. But Christ "had to be
made like His brethren in all things" (Heb. 2:17);
His human history, like ours, had to begin at
Lawyers Herbert T. Krimmel and Martin J.
Foley argue that because Jesus was fully present at
conception so must every other person be as well:
the facts established by Holy Scripture that (a)
Christ was fully God and fully man and (b) Christ was
conceived by the Holy Ghost, our argument can be
"Conception" literally means the process which
terminates the initial presence in the womb of that
which is conceived (i.e., the single cell entity
referred to in biological terms as a zygote).
Consequently, when one says that Mary conceived by the
activity of the Holy Ghost, one must mean that which
the Holy Ghost produced in and through conception was
the initial presence of the zygote.
zygote the Holy Ghost brought about in Mary’s womb was
Jesus Christ, true God and true man, in His human
nature like man in all things except for sin.
3. If Jesus
(true God and true man) was present in His mother’s
womb from the first moment of His conception, then it
follows that other men must also be alive and existing
as human beings from the first moments of their
conceptions; for unless they are the same as Jesus in
this respect of their human nature, He would not be
like them in every essential human respect except for
sin. This is to say, then, that a human being must be
fully present as such from the moment of conception.2
Finally, the Bible teaches that the fetus
in the womb at any stage is valued as highly as
any adult life. Where does the Bible teach this? Exodus
If men who
are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth
prematurely but there is no serious injury, the
offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband
demands and the court allows. But if there is serious
injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye,
tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn
for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
Distinguished Jewish exegete Umberto
Cassuto interprets and translates Exodus 21:22-25 in his
celebrated Commentary on the
Book of Exodus:
strive together and they hurt unintentionally a woman
with child, and her children come forth but no
mischief happens—that is, the woman and the children
do not die—the one who hurt her shall surely be
punished by a fine. But if any mischief happened, that
is, if the woman dies or the children die, then you
shall give life for life.3
Keil and Delitzsch in their Old Testament
commentary on the book of Exodus explain that the
passage demands exactly the same penalty for injuring
the mother as the child.4
There is absolutely no ground to differentiate between
the mother or the child in this context if we keep to
the rights of language.
Distinguished Hebrew scholar Dr. Gleason
Archer has stated about this passage:
There is no
ambiguity here whatever. What is required is that if
there should be an injury either to the mother or to
her children, the injury shall be avenged by a like
injury to the assailant. If it involves the life, the
nephesh, of the premature baby, then the
assailant shall pay for it with his life. There is no
second class status attached to the fetus under this
rule. The fetus is just as valuable as the mother. It
is as if he were a normally delivered child or an
older person. The penalty is life for life.5
The sixth commandment, "Thou shalt not
kill" (the Hebrew is "murder") refers to every act of
murder: child, wife, husband, stranger, self, etc. Since
it is scientifically established that the fetus is
a human being, the commandment applies to abortion
as well. "Thou shalt not kill" is equivalent to "Thou
shalt not commit abortion."
All of the above and a great deal more
Scriptures indicate that the Bible is not silent on
abortion. To the contrary, a biblical understanding of
God, man, procreation and conception, gestation, and
life itself reveals that far from being silent on
abortion, the Bible implies that abortion is a crime
against both God and man.
Fowler, Abortion: Toward an Evangelical Consensus
(Portland OR: Multnomah Press, 1987), p. 147.
T. Krimmel and Martin J. Foley, "Abortion and Human
Life: A Christian Perspective" The Simon
Greenleaf Law Review, vol. 5 (1985-86), pp. 12-13.
Cassuto, Commentary on the Book of Exodus
(Jerusalem: Magnes Press, The Hebrew University,
1967), p. 275.
4 C. F.
Keil, F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament
in Ten Volumes, vol.1 (Exodus) (Grand Rapids, MI:
Eerdmans, 1978), pp. 134-35.
Television program transcript, "Abortion,"
Chattanooga, TN, The John Ankerberg Evangelistic
Association, 1982, p. 3.