A Simple Explanation for the Necessity of the Virgin Birth of Christ

by Dale Partridge

In the classic hymn Silent Night there’s a famous line that says, “Round young virgin mother and child.” Familiarity often causes us to look past profundity. Outside of a miracle, you cannot have both a virgin and a mother. It’s the equivalent of calling someone “a single wife.” She cannot be a wife if she is single, and, according to natural law, Mary cannot truly be a mother if she is a virgin.

Obviously, this reality is what makes Jesus’ birth not merely natural but supernatural. However, many critics and Christians alike view the virgin birth as some accessory narrative that has been tacked onto the story of Jesus to mystify His divinity. In other words, people look at the virgin birth as a fascinating but unnecessary piece of the Christian faith. This, as you will see, is an ignorant and foolish example of theological illiteracy.

Today, I will demonstrate why the miracle of the virgin birth is at the very center of the Gospel. In fact, you will learn that without the virgin birth, no man or woman could be saved.

You will learn that without the virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus would be useless, the cross would not matter, and the resurrection would not be possible.

Historically, the virgin birth was an essential Christian doctrine. The amended version of the Nicene Creed in 381 says, “For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”

The Apostle’s Creed says, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator 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…”

Ultimately, theologians of the past understood the significance of this supernatural birth. More importantly, they knew that a natural birth would dismantle the entire Gospel and turn the Good News of Jesus Christ into an insignificant historical event.

So why is the virgin birth so critical to the Gospel? How is this supernatural birth connected to Jesus’ ability to save?

The Doctrine of Original Sin

The heart of this matter lies in the Doctrine of Original Sin. Original Sin is the biblical teaching that sin is not just an act but also a condition that has been handed down from Adam to all mankind. That is, when Adam sinned in the Garden, his physical and spiritual nature was corrupted—his body was no longer eternal but would eventually die, and his soul was no longer spiritually alive but separated from God.

Separation is an essential theological theme in Scripture. Namely, in the Bible, separation is how death is made manifest. For example, in Ecclesiastes 12:7, in speaking to physical death, Solomon writes, “and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”

In other words, death is the separation of the body from the soul. For anyone who has witnessed death, this concept is not difficult to grasp. When the soul leaves, the body dies. On the other hand, spiritual death is defined as the separation of the soul from God. Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God.”

Namely, because God is spirit, holy, and without sin, the soul of a sinner cannot be in His presence. Therefore sin acts as the means to detach (or separate) us from God.

The Bible teaches that because Adam sinned and was separated from God, all who are born of Adam are also born separated from God. Consequently, when the soul is separated from God (Who is the source of spiritual life), the soul is dead.   

This is why Ephesians 2:1-3 describes the spiritual state of a person before Christ by saying, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

For this reason, Jesus claims we must be spiritually resurrected (or born again) to enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:3-5). As we know, spiritual life (the reuniting of the soul with God) is only found in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. However, the Bible teaches that if a person remains spiritually dead by their unwillingness to repent and trust in Christ, they will experience what is called the second death. This is the eternal separation of your soul from God (a.k.a. hell).  

Revelation 21:8 says, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Ultimately, we learn two important truths in this doctrine of Original Sin. First, Adam’s sin was the reason Adam died (physically and spiritually). It’s also the reason why all of humanity is born spiritually dead (needing to be born again) and will experience physical death.

Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”

The second lesson we learn in the Doctrine of Original Sin is the concept of “federal headship” or “covenant representation.”

When Paul says, “so death spread to all men because all sinned.” He’s teaching that when Adam sinned, we all sinned with him or in him. Let me explain.

Adam was the human race’s covenant representative before God in the covenant of works that was established in the Garden of Eden. That is, God established a law for man to follow (to not eat of the forbidden tree), and Adam failed to keep his portion of the covenant. Now, because all humanity was, in a real sense, genetically in Adam, when Adam sinned and broke that covenant, we all sinned with him or in him. Therefore, when Adam was genetically corrupted, we were genetically corrupted. When Adam died spiritually, we died spiritually. When Adam was cursed, we were cursed. Ultimately, when Adam fell, all of humanity fell with him.

This is why Scripture teaches for a person to be saved, they must go from being in Adam to being in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:22). We need to switch from Adam (who failed to keep the covenant of works) to Christ (who kept the covenant of works, perfectly). We need to go from the man who is not righteous to the only Man who is righteous—Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:17-19 says, “For if, because of one man’s trespass (Adam), death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass (though Adam) led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness (through Christ) leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience (Adam) the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience (Christ) the many will be made righteous.”

Jesus, the Second Adam

As you can see, Jesus is a second and better Adam. In fact, God prepared His people for and pointed them to this need for a second Adam. For example, in the Old Testament, God’s covenantal mark of circumcision, while symbolic for several reasons, aims to demonstrate man’s sinfulness by marking the male’s reproductive organ. It was a physical reminder to God’s people that man’s seed is a fountain of sinfulness. Namely, that sinful man can only reproduce sinful men. But more than that, it would remind God’s people that salvation would not come by man’s seed but by the seed of God.

Even in Isaiah 7:14, we see the prophet foretelling this God-seed when he wrote, “Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”

God’s people knew to expect a Messiah that would come through a supernatural birth—a pregnancy and birth that included a virgin woman.

This Messiah would be fully human and fully God. He would have His humanity from His mother and His divinity from God the Father. But most of all, He would not inherit the corruption, curse, or covenant representation of Adam. He would be conceived by the Holy Spirit, free of sin, legally adopted by an earthly father of the tribe of Judah, born of the line of David, and would stand before the world as a new Adam. Namely, He would be a new creation able to keep the Law with perfection, to give His life as a ransom for many, and to spiritually reproduce others who were not like the first Adam but like Him.


So how does this all come together? Why is the virgin birth of Jesus absolutely necessary? Because if Jesus were born of Joseph, He would have had original sin—He would have been born physically corrupted, spiritually dead, sinful, and cursed. If that were the case, Jesus could not pay for the sins of others because He would have to pay for His own sin with His own life. Therefore, the cross would not be a moment of redemption but simply the passing away of another sinner. As a result, no justification could be given by faith. No redemption could be bought by His blood. No wrath could be satisfied by His death. And no resurrection could occur to validate His righteousness.

Consequently, without the virgin birth, all of Christianity unravels.

Therefore, during this Christmas season, we don’t simply celebrate that Christ was born, but we also celebrate how Christ was born. He is a new creation able to reproduce new creations. He’s the first fruits of the harvest to come, the firstborn from the dead, and for those who trust in Him, the One who reconciles them to God for eternity.  

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Dale Partridge is the President of Relearn.org and holds a Graduate Certificate from Western Seminary. He is the author of several Christian books, including “The Manliness of Christ” and the bestselling children’s book “Jesus and My Gender.” He is also the host of the Real Christianity podcast and the lead pastor at King's Way Bible Church in Prescott, Arizona.

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