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Mary – Conception Not Incarnation

Joel Hemphill

What The Angel Said to Mary

“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1:26-28).

Notice verse twenty-six, “Gabriel was sent from God.” He had told Zechariah, husband of Mary’s cousin Elizabeth and father of John (the Baptist), in verse nineteen of this chapter, “I am Gabriel, that stands in the presence of God.” So he was sent from “the presence of God,” by “God,” with a message for Mary.

“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus” (Luke 1:28).

So Gabriel tells Mary of a conception, and not an incarnation, that is about to take place in her womb. He had just left the “presence of God” in heaven, and the message he was sent to give Mary was definitely not, “God is about to be incarnated in your womb.” Notice: “Thou shalt conceive in thy womb.” Did Gabriel know the difference between a conception and an incarnation? Sure he did!

Gabriel spoke to her of another conception that had taken place six months prior:

“And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:36-37).

Two conceptions, but Mary’s son will be greater!

“He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father, David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

Gabriel tells Mary that God, “the Lord God,” shall give unto Jesus the throne of “his father David” in Jerusalem (II Sam. 7:14-18). Gabriel did not say, “the throne of God in heaven,” but “the throne of his father David.” When God gave David the promise of the Messiah, “thy seed” (II Sam. 7:12), some one thousand years before this day, his reply had been:

“Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? Wherefore thou art great, O Lord God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee” (II Sam. 7:18, 22).

David was speaking to the same “Lord God” that Gabriel is speaking of to Mary. Gabriel certainly did not tell her of the coming of a second God or a human incarnation of the only God. Notice:

“Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:34-35).

Again, Gabriel on this occasion spoke to Mary of two conceptions, each an awesome miracle in its own way. “Elizabeth was barren, and they both were now well-stricken in years,” (Luke 1:7), so her conception by her husband Zechariah was a miracle of God, “For with God nothing shall be impossible” [Gabriel to Mary] (v. 37). But Mary’s conception by an act of the Holy Ghost was by far the greatest miracle, for by this act the Lord God (the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of the Lord God), produced a unique, sinless human being, the last Adam, to be the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Notice carefully the word “therefore” in verse thirty-five. “Therefore,” or “for this reason,” “that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Not that God the Father shall move into your womb and come out looking like a baby. Not that “God the Son,” second person of a triune God shall move into your womb and come out incarnated as a baby. But the Lord God (the Holy Ghost) will do a creative act in your womb, and you will bring forth a son, the man Christ Jesus.

Hemphill, Joel W. (2010). What Gabriel Said to Mary. In, Glory to God in the Highest (pp. 84-86). Joelton, TN: Trumpet Call Books.

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