A number of Bible passages make it clear that God regards conception as the moment at which personhood begins. Job 10:8-12 and 31:13-15, for example, attribute divine value and human qualities to the unborn fetus. Psalm 139:13-16 similarly exalts God for His creative work in the fashioning of the unborn baby. Isaiah 49:1-5, Jeremiah 1:4-5, and Galatians 1:15-16 all note that God can work in the lives of His chosen servants even before they are born. Furthermore, Luke 1:41-45 documents the emotional joy of the unborn John the Baptist when Mary visited Elizabeth. And Psalm 51:5 points to conception as the beginning of a person’s sinful nature. None of these things would be possible if personhood did not come until after birth.

In some passages, the Bible speaks of an unborn child in the same way that it does of those who have been born—thereby showing that God views them both the same way. For example, in Exodus 21:4 and 21:22 the same Hebrew word translated “child” or “children” is used, despite the fact that verse 4 refers to a postnatal child while verse 21 refers to an unborn life. The New Testament also uses the same Greek word for life before birth (Luke 1:41,44) as it does for life outside the womb (Acts 7:19). — John MacArthur Jr, Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong: A Biblical Response to Today’s Most Controversial Issues (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2009).


I have just completed a series of seven lessons on Engaging Culture. They are available on Amazon, as well as part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription service. Lessons include:

Engaging Culture, Lesson #1
Race / Ephesians 2.11 – 22

Engaging Culture, Lesson #2
Life / Exodus 1.15 – 2.9

Engaging Culture, Lesson #3
Depression / Psalm 42, 43

Engaging Culture, Lesson #4
Do Not Get Drunk / Ephesians 5.15 – 25

Engaging Culture, Lesson #5
Marriage / Genesis 2.18 – 25

Engaging Culture, Lesson #6
Materialism / 1 John 2.15 – 17; 3.16 – 16

Engaging Culture, Lesson #7
Cults / 1 John 2.18 – 29