Abortion as mentioned in the Bible
Passages in the Christian Scriptures
(a.k.a. New Testament) and creeds
||Matthew 26:24: "...but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born."
This verse states that it would have been better for any person who
betrayed Jesus if he had never been born. The verse might be
interpreted as meaning that a terminated pregnancy might be better
than a completed pregnancy, if the child's life would be miserable.
||Luke 1:15....[John] shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his
mother's womb. Some translations of the Bible, refer to the time when
John was a fetus. Others refer to when John was a newborn; the New
International Version uses the phrase "even from birth." The passage
in Greek appears to be
ambiguous; it might refer to a time during the third trimester when the fetus is viable.
At any length, it refers to John' special birth, not necessarily to infants today.
||Luke 1:35: "...The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and
the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy
thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."
In this passage, the angels refer to the fetus which Mary will carry as
a "thing," not a male person. The gender in the original Greek is
neuter. Jesus is only referred to by the title "Son of God" after he is
born, presumably after he becomes a person. This is consistent with the
traditional Jewish belief that a fetus becomes a full human after it has
half-emerged from the mother's birth canal.
||Luke 1:41...when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in
her womb.... Elizabeth's fetus was in an advanced stage of pregnancy. Verse 36 states
that she was in her 6th month, at a time when the fetus is probably viable with
today's medical technology. The verse
might be intended to imply that a 6th month (26 to 30th week) fetus has some degree of
awareness of its environment, is capable of living independently, and should be considered
as a "pre-born" human person worthy of protection. It says nothing about a first
trimester fetus without a functioning brain, consciousness or nervous system. This passage
might be used to argue against the morality of a third-trimester abortion.
The passage also clearly relates to two miraculous pregnancies: that of John the Baptist
and Jesus; it would not necessarily apply to pregnancies of ordinary people. There never
has been a documented case whereby an "ordinary" fetus could understand the words of the
woman who was carrying it. This only happens many months
One conservative Christian source 1 noted that the "Greek
word for 'babe' in the above text is 'brephos'. In Luke 2:12, 16, the
same Greek word is used to describe Christ in the manger. 'Brephos' is also translated
'babe' in I Peter 2:2, 'child' in II Tim. 3:15; 'infant'
in Luke 18:15; and 'young child' in Acts 7:19. These
scriptures show that God uses the same word to describe a child whether it is unborn,
new-born or sometime later." Another way of looking at the term
"Brephos" is to note that the Pagan Greeks had only a single word to refer to a
fetus, newborn and young child. Since the New Testament was written in Greek, the authors
had only that one term available for their use. The fact that they used it to refer to a
fetus, newborn and young child is a reflection on Greek Pagan beliefs, not on God's
||Luke 1:42...Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
This statement by Elizabeth might imply that the embryo that Mary was carrying is a
child. Otherwise, she would have said "blessed will be the fruit of thy
womb". On the other hand, it might simply mean that the embryo was special
at the time because
it will grow, become a human person, and eventually be born as the infant Jesus.
||Galatians 1:15-16 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's
womb and called me by his grace that I might preach.... This appears to repeat the
beliefs of Jeremiah 1:5; i.e. that God knew Paul's role from before his birth.
References from early Christian writing:
||The Didache: This was a.k.a. "The Teaching of the Apostles," "Doctrine
of the Twelve apostles," and "The teaching of the Lord through
the twelve apostles, to the Gentiles". It was an important document of the
early Christian church. It was written by an unknown author, probably during the
late 1st century 2 or early 2nd
century. 3 Many theologians link it to the Jewish Christian
movement founded by Jesus' disciples. It was never accepted into the official
canon of the Christian Scriptures (New Testament). It reads, in part:|
||Section 2.2: "...thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor
kill them when born,..."
The second part of the phrase probably refers to the widespread practice of
infanticide in the Roman Empire: The mother would customarily lay a newborn outside the
home. If the father wished to accept responsibility for the child, he would pick it up
and bring it into the house; otherwise, the child would be abandoned to die. The
early Christian movement was known for its practice of scooping up such
abandoned newborns and adopting them into their families. Some Roman Pagans
accused the Christians of collecting newborns in order to engage in human sacrifice
rituals. Ironically, during the Satanic Panics (1980 to circa
1995 CE), the tables were turned. Some Christians accused
Neopagans and Satanists
of seizing children and infants for abuse and sacrifice in what was called
"Satanic Ritual Abuse." Of course, ritual
abuse and human sacrifice did not happen, either in among Christians in the Roman Empire or
among Neopagans in modern
||The Apostles' Creed:
The traditional belief is that this creed dates from the first century CE.
when many of the apostles wrote it before their departure from Jerusalem to
spread Christianity around the world. But religious historians generally
date the creed to perhaps the 4th century.. It states, in part:|
||"I believe in ... Jesus Christ ... [who] sitteth on the right hand
of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick
and the dead." (King James Version)
The phrase "quick and the dead" comes from 1 Peter 4:5 and Acts 10:42
where it also refers to Jesus being "ready to judge the quick and the
Some commentators have suggested that the word "quick" might refer to quickening. This
is the time in a pregnancy when the woman first feels movement of the fetus.
The term "quick with child" means the state of a pregnant woman. However,
the word "quick" comes from Middle English when it meant "alive" which came
from Old English "cwicu" which also meant "alive" -- as contrasted with
dead. 5 More recent
translations than the King James Version generally translate the passages as
"living and the dead."
Related essay and menu:
E.L. Bynum, "Abortion! Is it murder?", an unsolicited Email from a
John Chapman, "Didache: Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles,"
The Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/
Alan Cairns, "Dictionary of theological terms,"
Ambassador Prod., (1998), Page 124 -125. Read
reviews or order this book
"The quick and the dead," Wikipedia, at:
Copyright © 1997 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on
Last update: 2007-MAY-17
Author: B.A. Robinson