Looking for biblical evidence of "when does life begin?"

The bible says “you shall not murder.”

If we talk about contraception and abortion, when is it considered life exactly? We can quickly say “at conception!”

My questions –

When is it a child? Does the bible say anything about this?

One of the most obvious verses is:

Jeremaih 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Now, modernists will wiggle their way around this by saying it applied only to Jeremiah. I ask: How can one believe in an omnipotent, omniscient God who does not know us even before He creates us?

Although not biblical per se, one need only look to The Didache, known in ancient times as The Teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles by the Twelve Apostles, to see what the Apostles themselves believed.

In 2.2, the text reads in pertinent part: “. . . you shall not abort a child or commit infanticide.”

It appears that both Jesus and John the Baptist were alive at the time of the Visitation.

44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.

Luke 1:44

John the Baptist was about six months old at that point, and Jesus’ age was only a week or two.

Great point. Depending upon which bible translation you have, Mary might have left the same day to visit Elizabeth. That would make Jesus only a few cells.

There are several definitions for the word “child”:
A young human being below the age of full physical development or below the legal age of majority.
a person 14 years and under.
Biologically, a child (plural: children) is generally a human between the stages of birth and puberty

These are vague. However, as soon as the sperm penetrates the egg, it is a human being which possesses a soul with free will and intellect, and the gift of life given to them by Almighty God. That’s really all you need to know. And the bible passages in the threads above mine are evidence of that.

Meaning knowing his soul. But when is the soul “put into” the child?

A soul is infused the moment a human being is created, and a human being is created the moment a sperm penetrates an egg.

It is important to note that we cannot go back too far in history to look for teaching of when a soul or even a person is created.

St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas did not have the necessary scientific knowledge to make such pronouncements at the time that corresponded with what we know today. Some Church Fathers believed that a soul was infused with a developing child a certain number of days after conception.

Basically, the CCC teaches that a soul is that which animates a person’s body, and the soul is created by God.

Hi, cho pilo!

…if you are looking for Yahweh’s perspective, right before Creation:

Thus he chose us in Christ before the world was made to be holy and faultless before him in love, (Ephisians 1:4)

And He reaches and pushes us into time (existence):

21 Isaac prayed to Yahweh on behalf of his wife, for she was barren. Yahweh heard his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. 22 But the children inside her struggled so much that she said, ‘If this is the way of it, why go on living?’ So she went to consult Yahweh, 23 and Yahweh said to her: There are two nations in your womb, your issue will be two rival peoples. One nation will have the mastery of the other, and the elder will serve the younger. (Genesis 25:21-23)

Maran atha!


very good posts here.

I guess I could add that in the Catholic Nicene creed, we assert that Jesus was conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit. So, this is outside the Bible but is a witness to the faith and the issue in this thread.

Since the Lord is master of creation, He knows which body the soul will occupy, and which parents will cooperate in that creation. We, of course, have the ability to resist His will, but there is an eternal price attached, whereas submitting to His will in this life brings eternal blessings.

Ecclesiastes 11:5 seems to suggest that life begins after bones have formed:
As you do not know how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.
Just my personal guess but it sounds like the ancients thought life began when fetal movement was detected.

Sam 1.
[19] And they rose in the morning, and worshipped before the Lord: and they returned, and came into their house at Ramatha.** And Elcana knew Anna his wife: and the Lord remembered her**.[20] And it came to pass when the time was come about, Anna conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel: because she had asked him of the Lord.

This passage seems to indicate conception as the moment Samual was given to Hannah.

The soul is immediately placed into the “clump of cells” which formed as a result of the sperm penetrating the egg. This “clump of cells” is a human “clump of cells” which will soon develop into a zygote, fetus, intant, baby, child, teen, adult, geriatric… The soul is present immediately upon impact and the first instant of conception. The soul’s presence is what makes abortion such an atrocity.

And the most beautiful part about this process is that although a man and woman “make” the baby, God is responsible for “making” the soul and infusing it into the embryo.

This is all in perfect unison with the universal teaching that God was the creator, and creation is the act of making something from nothing. Before the sperm and egg unite to form a baby, the soul for that child does not exist. The exact moment the child is “made”, God makes and infuses the soul at that same moment.

Of course, souls are not just “sitting around” waiting to be placed into embryos. That would be akin to treating souls as the eggs in a woman’s ovaries. A certain number of eggs are formed at the appropriate time during a female’s development as a person, the eggs do not (as an almost universal proposition) increase in number as the female ages, and the eggs are released, on average, once per “cycle”.

Thus, yet another mystery of God: knowing the identity of, through the power of omniscience, all babies and souls before the babies are made, but not yet creating the souls until the babies are made.

…yeah, but the origin is Biblical:

The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. (St. Luke 1:35)

Maran atha!


Hi, Todd Easton!

It does seem to suggest that… but I doubt that the ancients had deeper insight than bones (Ezekiel 37:1-10) or blood (Leviticus 17:11)–I doubt that they had working understanding of chromosomes and cells; conception as fertilizabion of egg and the consequent subdivions and metamorphosis that ensues was beyond their grasp… I am being clinical–I do not mean that they were not aware that coupulation between a man and a woman was required to obtain an offspring… just the actual science (bio-chemestry).

Maran atha!


Psalm 139:13-14 You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
This verse, along with Jeremiah 1:5 convinces me that God recognizes the life of a child immediately.
In a related question, I am in nursing school and have been told that it is quite common for a fertilized egg to miss the uterus and be expelled from the body. Does this fertilized but not implanted egg have a soul? Is it possible when we get to heaven we will have 10 of 15 of our children meet us that we never knew about? Just wondering.


You said: " Does this fertilized but not implanted egg have a soul?"

The answer is yes, the embryo has a soul.

Implantation simply permits an embryo to grow.

Remember the fallout over the embryonic stem cell research when Bush was president? Bush permitted research on existing lines of embryonic stem cells because those embryos had been destroyed by the first “round” of testing. Adhering to Catholic teaching, Bush prohibited the use of existing embryonic stem cells to be used from lines where the embryos had not been destroyed.

The fact that a soul is infused as soon as a sperm penetrates an egg is the basis for the Church’s prohibition against embryonic fertilization. For this process, more than one egg is extracted and more than one egg is fertilized. The Church teaches that the destruction of any unused embryos is akin to abortion in vitro (Latin for “within glass”).

So the cells that rub off my skin everyday have a soul? A bag of blood has a soul?

There are more cells in both of them than there are initially after contraception. Further more if the soul passes to the cells on contraception then when latter the embrio splits to form identical twins does the soul split? If so does it only partially split if they are Siamese twins? Further more if someone was to use my DNA to clone me would that mean my soul split and how would that be different from my sperm impregnating my partner except that it would be all my DNA insted of partially hers. Please clarify.