The Unborn have Spirits and are Alive

The Bible shows us that unborn children are just as human as the born are.

The Biblical term for pregnancy is “with child,” not “with fetus” or “with something not yet alive.”

Ge 16:11; 19:36; 38:24-25; Ex 21:22; 1Sa 4:19; 2Sa 11:5; 2Ki 8:12; 15:16; Ec 11:5; Jer 31:8; Ho 13:16; Am 1:13; Mt 1:18,23; 24:19; Mr 13:17; Lu 2:5; 21:23; 1Th 5:3; Re 12:2

“Child” begins at conception:

2 Samuel 11:5 And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.

The Bible refers to born babies and unborn babies with the same term (babe). Also, unborn children exhibit awareness. Compare:

Luke 1:44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

Luke 2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

The issue of the Spirit

A person must have a spirit to be alive.

James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

It is obvious to any who have been around pregnant women that unborn children are not “undead bodies,” so by this principle alone we know they have their own spirit. Compare this to Luke 1:44 above and the question is settled.

We also have specific and direct statements from Job:

Job 3:11 Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?

Job 10:18 Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!

In Job’s grief he did what many of us have done at some time: he “wished he had never been born.” And even in this Job knew that if he had died in his mother’s womb that he would have given up his ghost (spirit). Further, to “die” one must have life first. We also see something similar from Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 20:17-18 Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me. Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?

The issue of the law (an objection answered)

There is only one passage in the Bible that deals with the death of an unborn in the context of law.

Exodus 21:22-23 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,

A misreading of this passage has caused many to conclude that unborn life is not true life, supposing that “if any mischief follow” must refer only to the mother. However, that is not the correct way to read the text, and is done so only if one has a preconceived position against life of the unborn. When the rest of Scripture is compared and the life of the unborn is understood as being a result of having a spirit (ghost), the magnitude of Exodus 21:22-23 is finally seen.

In the passage above, it is a case where men fight, and one causes hurt to a woman with child so that she delivers prematurely (her fruit departs). If either the child or the mother dies, the one who caused the death was to pay with his own life.

The objection to this hinges on what is meant by “her fruit depart from her.” But if the unborn life were not true life, it would make little sense for it to be even mentioned. The punishment for non-lethal harm is described in verses 18-19 and referenced here in verse 22. The death of the miscarried child is certainly “mischief following,” and as we have already seen, the death of an unborn child is “lethal” as it is described elsewhere with words like “die” and “slew” (see above).

Finally, the phrase “fruit of the womb” appears elsewhere in Scripture (such as De 7:13 and Ps 127:3) and means children:

Psalms 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

There is no cause to assume that “her fruit depart from her” must mean a miscarriage or stillbirth. It simply means birth (an in this specific case, a premature birth). So a reading of this passage compared with other verses regarding the life of the unborn clearly shows that Mosaic law provided for a death penalty for someone who directly caused the premature birth and resulting death of a child.

(Please note that I am not arguing for any particular law here based on “the Law” from Exodus — my point is to show that the Bible never imples that the life of an unborn child is any less human than the life of a born child.)


There are other points of debate (such as the “breath of life” which is claimed, by some, to be a literal breath of a human rather than a spiritual breath from God) that I have not gone in to.  Maybe I will at a future point.  But this short study should be enough to show the Bible believer that unborn children have spirits are are living human beings. While one may not be able to conceive of a days-old growing unborn baby being alive in the same sense as a days-old growing born baby, it is not for us to demand of God that we be able to comprehend his glorious works! We only need trust the witness of his word. I end with this:

Ecclesiastes 11:5 As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.

Author: Brandon

Brandon is the owner of StudyLamp Software and designer of SwordSearcher Bible Software.

11 thoughts on “The Unborn have Spirits and are Alive”

  1. The objection to this hinges on what is meant by “her fruit depart from her.” ..The following verses will show that the word “depart” means “to die”……For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Philippians 1:23….For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 2Timothy 4:6….And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died ) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin. Genesis 35:18….For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Acts 20:29

  2. I do not like the concept of abortion and I cannot see the need with all the contraception available today but therein lies the rub, the Roman Catholic church insists that contraception is wrong and I can see no good reason for this. I cannot find even the vaguest reference to birth control in the Bible and I wouldn’t expect to, they would not have considered it possible in those days. This is a control imposed from the Vatican, and my advice is to ignore it.

  3. Excellent information Brandon, thank you very much. If it is possible would you be kind enough to shed some biblical light/comments on the following statement – a lady told me that after a still birth you need to “clean” your womb out spiritually due to the spirit of Haydes/death that is residing in your womb, and you must re dedicate and sanctify your womb to God. Please shed some biblical info on this, I would appreciate.
    Thank you

    1. Well, it sounds like gibberish to me. I don’t suppose that she offered any scriptural explanation for her very…. unique opinion? There’s certainly nothing in the Bible to support such a bizarre idea.

  4. Excellent post. I wish you did continue further about the breath of God, though. The reason is that I’ve been corresponding with a Greek/Hebrew scholar who believes that God literally breathes His breath of life into babies at the time of birth, the very same moment when they first physically breath. He claims that the two phenomena are coincident and separate, the spiritual life being what really matters, what gives life, the physical not really what’s important. He claims that the physical body of the unborn is “viable”, comparing it to the formed body of Adam before God breathed into it. He believes the two step pattern God used with Adam (the material formed first, then the spirit) is the model for all mankind. The proof texts he uses are Num. 16:22; Eccl.12:7; Isa. 57:16; Zech. 12:1; Heb. 12:9 among others.

    I personally believe, when critically examined, that these passages can actually support mediacy as well. But that’s thus far only my opinion. I was hoping for some exegetical validation beyond opinion, and was wondering, if possible, if you could share anything on this that would give a more comprehensive view on the matter……

    …….it would be very much appreciated.

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