Those of us who read our New Testaments beginning with the four Gospels need to remember that current scholarship finds in the Epistles the earliest writings preserved in the New Testament. Accordingly its consideration of the birth of Jesus starts with Paul’s references thereto: Galatians 4:4; Romans 1:3, 4 and 8:3, and Philippians 2:5–11.

In Galatians four, Paul is talking about our redemption from the bondage of the law and its curse into the freedom of the sons of God. Here he says that God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law that he might redeem those under the law. Thus he teaches the Divine Fatherhood and the human motherhood. He mentions neither a divine mother nor a human father.

Sonship By The Spirit

He declares, moreover, that our sonship is wrought by “the Spirit of His Son” and uses as an allegory the two sons of Abraham, one born according to the flesh, the other born under the promise “after the Spirit” (vss. 6, 22–31). In this context, the phrase the Spirit of His Son reaches its full implication only on the assumption that the Spirit acted in his most eminent way in God’s sending forth his Son born of a woman, of which action even his mighty works in making us sons of the Father and in Isaac’s being born according to God’s promise are but partial analogies.Likewise John 1:13 (cf. 3:3–8) seems to be built upon the same analogy of the Virgin Birth of Jesus. Furthermore, several of the fathers, including Irenaeus and Tertullian, whose writings were earlier than any extant manuscript of this part of John, used texts which carry this verse in the singular, thus: “in the Name of Him who was born not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God.” This reading is accepted ...

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