April 12, 2023

Paul's Attestation of the Virgin Birth

 Paul attests to the virgin birth indirectly, in the following ways:

1. Adam Christology of Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15.

2. Use of Greek terminology of Galatians 4. 

Adam Christology of Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15

Paul's comparison of Adam and Jesus suggests the idea of a unique or miraculous origin. Paul refers to Adam as a type of Christ in Romans 5:14, where he writes, “Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.” (NIV) In the ESV translation of Romans 5:14, Paul refers to Adam  as “a type of the one who was to come”. Jesus being a type of Adam is an indication that like Adam, Jesus is a direct creation by God, brought into existence without sin. It was necessary that a type of Adam be the remedy for the sin that entered the world. In 1Cor 15:45, Paul refers to Jesus as the “last Adam.”

Romans 5:14-19 (RSV) 

 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. 17 If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous.

 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 (RSV) 

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

1 Corinthians 15:45-50 (RSV) 

45 Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50 I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 


Use of Greek terminology in Galatians 4 

There are two Greek for 'born' used in Galatians 4, γίνομαι (ginomai) vs γεννάω (gennaō)
The use of these two words for born differentiates Jesus being born vs. other humans being born. Gal 4:4 uses the word ginomai in reference to Christ, while Gal 4:23, 24, and 28 uses the form of the word gennaō in reference to humanity in general.  This differentiation is to indicate that Jesus’s was not born in the typical sense of natural reproduction.  
The BDAG lexicon gives a wide range of potential meanings for the word γίνομαι (ginomai):
1 to come into being through process of birth or natural production, be born, be produced 
2 to come into existence, be made, be created, be manufactured, be performed
3 come into being as an event or phenomenon from a point of origin, arise, come about, develop
4 to occur as process or result, happen, turn out, take place
5 to experience a change in nature and so indicate entry into a new condition, become someth.
6 to make a change of location in space, move
7 to come into a certain state or possess certain characteristics, to be, prove to be, turn out to be
8 to be present at a given time, be there
9 to be closely related to someone or someth., belong to
The BDAG lexicon gives a narrower range of potential meaning for the word γεννάω (gennaō) with a stronger connotation of being begotten by parents:
1 become the parent of, beget
2 to give birth to, bear
3 to cause someth. to happen, bring forth, produce, cause
The word applied to Jesus, a form of the word “ginomai” implies being brought into existence in a more generic and broad sense, whereas the implication of “gennao” gives a more narrow implication of being begotten through parents. Thus, the distinction Paul is making in using two different words for “born” is that Jesus was brought into existence in apart from having the connotation of natural reproduction.  When it comes to others being “born,” Paul wanted to give the connotation of natural reproduction using the word gennaō.
Although Gal 4 is a great proof text for the virgin birth, it is not at all a proof text for preexistence and incarnation.

Galatians 4:4-5 (RSV) 

4 But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born (ginomai) of woman, born (ginomai) under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Galatians 4:23 (RSV)

23 But the son of the slave was born (gennaō) according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise.

Galatians 4:28-29 (RSV) 

28 Now we, brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But as at that time he who was born (gennaō) according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now.

Also in Gal 4:4, Paul mentions that Jesus was “born of a woman” without specifying a human father. Some theologians suggest that this could be an indirect reference to the virgin birth.

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