Photograph of 16th week intrauterine child by Dr. R. Jonas
By Pastor Mark Gullerud
Messiah Lutheran Church
Eau Claire, WI
Scripture Speaks for the Unborn
January 22, 1973, is the infamous date in the history of our country when the United States Supreme Court handed down the Roe vs. Wade decisions, which legalized abortions in this country. With this standing as the law of the land, it has been reported that over the past 20 years there have been at least 28 million abortions in the United States. Although concerned citizens have diligently sought to have this decision overturned, this abominable law still stands.
A Call to Action
In the book of Proverbs, Solomon gives this exhortation to his readers concerning the innocent who are unjustly appointed to die, “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter” (24:11). As long as abortions continue to be permitted in this country, the unborn babies are in need of advocates who will speak in their behalf and in their defense. Since our country is a democracy, citizens of this land have the right, the privilege, and the responsibility to lawfully exert their influence to bring about change in laws for the betterment of all its citizens, both born and unborn. We recognize, of course, that morality cannot be legislated. People’s attitudes will not be changed by the mere revising of a civil law. But what the civil law cannot accomplish, the Word of God can. The Word of God is the most powerful means of changing people’s hearts and minds. In order that this powerful means might be used effectively, it is important for Christians to be as fully armed as possible with God’s Word of truth.
The following examination of Scripture is an attempt to help equip Christians to speak for the lives of unborn babies.
The Power to Conceive a Baby
While it is a biological fact that conception commonly requires the sexual union of a man and a woman, yet the power to conceive a child ultimately lies with God. The Lord either opens the womb of a woman, enabling her to conceive, or He closes her womb, thus preventing conception. This is seen as the case of Jacob’s wife, Rachel. When Rachel was unable to have children for a time, Jacob said to her, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” (Genesis 30:2). Later on when Rachel conceived a child, Scripture gives this explanation for it, “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. And she conceived and bore a son” (Genesis 30:22-23). Other portions of Scripture also assert the agency of God in conception (cf. 1 Samuel 1:6, 11, 19, 20 - Hannah).
God Creates All Human Life
Acts 17:24, 25. “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.”
Psalm 139:13-15. “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”
Job 10:8-12. “Your hands have made me and fashioned me, An intricate unity; Yet You would destroy me. Remember, I pray, that You have made me like clay. And will You turn me into dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk, And curdle me like cheese, Clothe me with skin and flesh, And knit me together with bones and sinews? You have granted me life and favor, And Your care has preserved my spirit.”
Zechariah 12:1. “Thus says the LORD, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him.”
Isaiah 57:16. “For I will not contend forever, Nor will I always be angry; For the spirit would fail before Me, And the souls which I have made.”
Job 33:4. “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
Ecclesiastes 12:7. “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.”
At the moment of conception, the Lord God, working through nature, begins the process of shaping, forming, and making the body of a human being, even as a potter would shape and mold a piece of clay. Job refers to the early embryonic form as being like curdled milk that is whipped into shape. In God’s making of a man, not only does He make the human body, but He also makes the human soul or spirit. The human soul or spirit is that life essence which gives life to the human body. The making or the imparting of the human soul is referred to as God breathing into man, thus giving him life. Conversely, when the spirit or soul is removed from the human body, life is no longer present in that physical shell.
When Does Life Begin in a Human Being?
Genesis 2:7. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”
Job 33:4. “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
Psalm 51:5. “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.”
Some would say that God imparts the human soul, which marks the beginning of life, at the very moment a baby breathes its first breath. They cite such passages as Genesis 2:7 where it says that when God breathed into Adam the breath of life, he became a living being. We certainly wouldn’t dispute the fact that right after God breathed a human soul into Adam that he began to live. However, God’s creation of Adam was quite different from that of His creation of human babies. God made Adam in one day, forming for him a mature, adult body out of the lifeless dust of the earth and then breathing into him the breath of life. The Lord forms and makes babies however, out of living cells over a period of nine months.
That God imparts a living soul to babies at the moment of conception is brought out in David’s remarks concerning his own conception. He revealed that at the very moment of his conception he possessed a sinful nature. Original sin is not simply to be found in the body, but rather in the soul. In fact, the primary seat of this inherited sinful nature is the soul, whereas the secondary is the body. Baier writes, “Subiecum quo primarium (The primary subject) of original sin is the soul with its faculties, namely, the intellect, the will, and the sensuous appetite; secondarily, however, and as a consequent, also the members of the body must be mentioned” (F. Peiper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. 1, p. 550).
Both Unborn Babies and Born Babies are Living Babies
Luke 1:41. “And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe (brefoV - brephos) leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Luke 18:15. “Then they also brought infants (brefoV - brephos) to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.”
Holy Scripture makes no distinction between unborn babies and born babies. It does not speak of a fetus as being an inanimate mass of tissue. Rather is speaks of a fetus as a living baby, even as it does of a born baby. In both Luke 1:41 and Luke 18:15 the same Greek word (brefoV - brephos) is used for both the unborn baby of Elizabeth and the little babies that were brought to Jesus for Him to bless. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon gives the following meaning for brefoV (brephos): an unborn child, embryo, fetus; a new-born child, an infant, a babe. Thus brefoV (brephos) is used interchangeably for both prenatal and postnatal babies.
The Termination of Man’s Life Rests Alone with God
1 Samuel 2:6. “The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up.”
Psalm 31:15. “My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, And from those who persecute me.”
Job 14:5. “Since his days are determined, The number of his months is with You; You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass.”
Acts 17:25-26. “Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.”
The Lord God, who gives to all life and breath, possesses the ultimate authority of determining how long an individual is to live here on earth as well as when to end that life. Only in cases where the government is acting as a representative of God - such as in carrying out capital punishment and in engaging in war - does man possess the right to take the life of another human being (cf. Genesis 9:6; Romans 13:1-4).
God Prohibits Murder
Exodus 20:13. “You shall not murder.”
Genesis 9:6. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.”
Exodus 21:22-23. “If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life.”
Through His giving of the fifth commandment, God would protect the lives of human beings, both born and unborn, forbidding people from committing murder. Those who are guilty of murder will be held accountable for it, as their life could be taken in punishment for their crime (cf. Romans 13:1-4). Since an unborn baby is a living human being and is not merely an inanimate mass of tissue, when an abortion occurs, it is not simply a matter of surgically removing an unwanted tissue growth in the womb of a woman, but is an act of murdering a human life. According to the Levitical Law, which was binding on the Jews during the Old Testament times, if a person were guilty of causing a miscarriage, resulting in the death of the baby, the guilty person would suffer the punishment of death.
Only in the case where the life of the expectant mother is in danger on account of her pregnancy would it be permissible to abort an unborn baby, for in so doing people would be trying to save a life.
The human lives that God ushers into this world are very precious to Him. Since everyone is conceived in sin and as such does not possess the image of God, the Lord wants all people to have an opportunity to come to the knowledge of and faith in their Savior so that that image of God might be restored to them and that they might be eternally saved.
What about the Malformed Unborn Babies
and Babies Conceived through Rape of Incest?
Acts 17:24-25. “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.”
Exodus 4:10-11. “Then Moses said to the LORD, ‘O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.’ So the LORD said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?’”
All babies even those physically impaired or conceived through rape or incest, have been given life through the Lord. They are all living human beings possessing immortal souls all in need of rebirth through baptism so that by His grace they might be brought into His eternal kingdom.
May God help us to use the Word of God in speaking in behalf and in defense of unborn children so that we might “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter” (Proverbs 24:11).
This study was prepared by Pastor Mark Gullerud, and was presented to the Bible Class at
Zion Lutheran Church by Pastor Nathanael Mayhew.
If you would like more information about this study,
please contact Pastor Mayhew