This is part of a series of reflections on the Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Maker of Heaven and Earth
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary;
suffered under Pontius Pilate
was crucified, dead, and buried.
He descended into hell,
The third day, He rose from the dead.
He ascended into heaven,
And sitting on the right hand of God the Father almighty
from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy catholic Church
The communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body
and the life everlasting. Amen.
There are two lines in the Apostles’ Creed that deal with the Virgin Birth. This is an aspect of the Christian faith that causes many to be embarrassed, after all, how can someone in modern times believe in a virgin birth?
However, it is important that we remember that in this creed we have already affirmed that God is the maker of all things. (the Nicene creed will go even further, following the first chapter of John in the claim that all things were made through Jesus). If God exists, and if he is the maker of all things, including humanity, then it is logical that such a God may create a human being apart from sexual reproduction. This is exactly the claim that is made when Christians affirm that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
The virgin birth was part of the prophesy of a coming messiah, or Christ. Isaiah made the prophesy to King Ahaz:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14 ESV)
The prophecy given to Ahaz is vast. It includes his own undoing, but then reaches far out into the future and proclaims that a virgin will give birth to a son, and that son may be called “God With Us” (translation of Immanuel)
There are some that point to the vagueness of the Hebrew ‘almah as perhaps only meaning a young woman and thus reducing this claim to perhaps any child. However, where the Hebrew may mean “virgin” or “young woman” it is clear from he Septuagint (parthenos) that the understanding here was of a miraculous, virgin birth.
However, all of the linguistic and theological wrangling over the notion of a virgin birth can cause us to miss the even greater miracle foreseen here: God with us!
The promise of messiah is more than just a righteous ruler, but rather God joining his creation in order to reconcile and restore it. The coming of the Christ would not just be miraculous for the sake of proof, but miraculous for the sake of His mission.
In the birth of Jesus something was set in motion: a plan to reconcile God’s people to himself. It is a miracle wider than the very division stuck between God and Humanity. Now the end of the division is in sight, for the promised one is born!
Author, Parent, Husband, Christ-follower