Question: Why is [Mary] called His “mother” if she contributed no more to His human origin than Joseph? |

TBC Staff

Question (composite of several): In the October Q&A you wrote: “Jesus is called the ‘second man’ (1 Corinthians:15:47) and the ‘last Adam’ (v. 45). Just as Adam needed no mother to contribute ‘half of the genes,’ neither did Christ....Although Mary’s womb and blood contributed to the nourishment and growth of the One to whom she gave birth, she had nothing to do with the physical origin of this ‘second man.’ He was created in her womb just as God created Adam.”

Yet Scripture never refers to Him as a created being but as the One through whom all was created. Furthermore, Scripture compels us to believe that Mary was not just an incubator or surrogate mother to Jesus. How else can we explain the many references to “the seed of the woman...seed of Abraham...seed of David,” etc.? Why is she called His “mother” if she contributed no more to His human origin than Joseph?

Perhaps genes from Mary affected by the Fall involving defects, disease and death were repaired to their original perfection, that God’s Lamb would be “without blemish.”

Moreover, the titles of “second man” and “last Adam” refer to Christ in resurrection, not incarnation. This is abundantly clear by their context in 1 Corinthians 15.

Answer: Yes, it is in 1 Corinthians 15 that Paul refers to Jesus as “the last Adam” (v. 45) and “second man”(v. 47). However, the Resurrection is not the only subject. Moreover, if “second man” and “last Adam,” refer to Christ in resurrection, who was the “first man” to be resurrected? Surely not Adam.

Christ is likened to Adam in two ways: 1) He is the “second man” who was sinless, without father or mother—perfect man as God intended man to be. No one since Adam deserved to be called “man” until Christ was virgin born. 2) Christ is the “last Adam” because He is the progenitor of a new race. It is not through His resurrection alone that He is either the “second man” or “last Adam,” but through His sinless origin, perfect life and redemption of sinners—and His resurrection. Certainly these two phrases do not derive their meaning exclusively from the Resurrection.

You suggest that “genes from Mary affected by the Fall...were repaired to their original perfection, that God’s Lamb would be ‘without blemish.’” That seems far more speculative than my belief that “a body hast thou prepared me” (Heb:10:5) indicates that Christ’s body was created supernaturally in Mary’s womb, just as Adam’s was created by God. It seems biblical and reasonable that Christ’s physical perfection comes from God’s creation of His body rather than from some unnatural perfection in Mary, a sinner in need of salvation.

I don’t know the creative process that God used in preparing Christ’s body, but I don’t think it was a mere “fertilization” of Mary’s egg. Whatever the process, it was supernatural. Nor would the phrase “the seed of the woman” require Mary’s egg. That term is used a number of times to refer simply to “offspring”:Gn 13:16; 17:10; Lv 20:3,4; 21:21; Jer:22:28-30; Mt 22:24; Jn:8:33, etc. Likewise, “of the seed of David” (Rom:1:3; 2 Tm 2:8) would be satisfied by Mary being His mother through carrying Him in her womb and giving birth to Him, without any genes coming from her. Why would that be necessary?

In no case am I suggesting that Christ was a created “creature.” We are talking about the body, not His eternal Being. I think the view that Christ’s body was created by God in Mary’s womb is implied by such phrases as “a body has thou prepared for me” (Heb:10:5), “the Word was made flesh” (Jn:1:14) and “made a little lower than the angels” (Ps:8:5; Heb:2:9)—and no more suggests that Christ was a “creature” than do these statements. Your suggestion of an alteration in Mary’s genes so that Christ could be sinless is close to Catholicism’s error that Mary had to be sinless in order to give birth to the sinless Son of God. She mothered the body of His incarnation; she is not the mother of the eternal Son of God. She is His mother by carrying Him to full term and giving birth to this One who is truly man, yet truly God.

Gabriel’s statement, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee” (Lk 1:35), is compatible with my view and certainly does not deny it. Surely Gabriel’s words to Joseph, “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (Mt 1:20), could as well be a creative act as the fertilization of an egg by the Holy Spirit. To me, the latter seems to lessen the miracle of a truly virgin birth.

Anyway, we agree that our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, eternally co-equal and co-existent with the Father, was supernaturally given a body and thus became man in Mary’s womb without ceasing to be God. I think it is splitting hairs to demand that “prepared” can’t mean “created.” We don’t know the process by which Christ’s body was “prepared,” only that it was a supernatural, miraculous, special act of God. That sounds like creation to me. And why not? Certainly “creating” Christ’s body in Mary’s womb would no more make Him a “creature” than “preparing” it. I can’t explain either, nor can I distinguish them.