Why Didn’t Paul Mention the Virgin Conception?
by J Warner Wallace
We’ve been looking at the virgin conception of Jesus recently, and in this post, I’d like to address an objection leveled at the writings of Paul. Many critics have argued that Paul was either completely silent about the virgin conception or spoke directly against such a concept in his writings. In either case, these critics argue that Paul’s silence or apparently contradictory statements cast doubt on the truth of the virgin conception. But is this really the case? I don’t think the evidence supports such a claim:
Paul’s Silence is Not Enough
We need to be very careful about drawing conclusions from silence. Paul may not have mentioned the virgin conception simply because it was widely understood or assumed. Paul may also have been silent because it was not the focus or purpose of his letters (which are often devoted to issues related to the Church). Remember that Paul was a contemporary of Luke (who was one of the two authors who wrote extensively about the conception of Jesus). Paul appears to be very familiar with Luke’s’ gospel (he quotes Luke in 1 Timothy 5:17-18 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). If Paul disagreed with Luke’s account of the conception, we would expect to hear Paul say something about it in his letters. Paul never refuted or openly questioned the claims of Luke regarding the “virgin conception”.
Paul’s Statements May Be More Than Enough
Critics also cite two verses in Paul’s letter as specific proof that Paul was not aware of Jesus’ virgin conception. The first is found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians:
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Paul says that Jesus was “born of a woman” and not “born of a virgin”. Critics have argued that this is proof that Paul was unaware of the virgin conception. But this is not necessarily the case…
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