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John The Baptist: Saved in the Womb? Filled with the Holy Spirit in the Womb? Jumping for Joy in the Womb? A Look at the Obvious

*Warning, editing time has been limited so expect a few bumps in the road :)

 

One popular interpretation of the story of John the Baptist is that he was filled with the Holy Spirit while in his mother’s womb and that part of the proof of this phenomenal state is his jumping for joy while in the womb of his mother. This generally stands alone but sometimes a third consideration is added in the narrative and that is the possible implication of John being saved, either while in the womb or in the least, at birth.

 

1. The nature of the presence and filling the Holy Spirit in John the Baptist.

 

NT indwelling and filling of the Spirit

 

Because we believers are, as prescribed by God, the Holy Temples of God, God’s Holy Spirit indwells our bodies in order to make them sanctified for the residence of the Shekinah Glory (God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit). This is a NT function of God the Holy Spirit which is a result of our being born again through faith in Christ. And this is but one of many NT functions of the Holy Spirit. But this particular function, along with the constant “filling” (our yielding to His control via the passive voice in “be ye filled”) of the Holy Spirit, are manifestations or identifications of our salvation. That is to say, God’s Spirit indwells us and then fills us directly as a result of our being saved.

 

Therefore, when one comes upon the expression about John the Baptist that he will be “filled with the Holy Spirit” it is understandable that they may association with John the Baptist, a salvational (some like the word salvific instead of salvational, either will do) context. They will, that is, if they either are unaware or refuse the acknowledgment and application of the different contexts of John the Baptist’s filling and the NT believer’s.

 

OT Filling of the Spirit

 

John the Baptist was an OT Prophet. He was still under the protocol of National Israel or the Theocracy of Israel. God was not dwelling in people as a Holy Temple as of yet so the human body was not the Temple of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit filling someone was not meant as an indicator of such. Rather it meant the Holy Spirit had come upon them and enabled them for specific tasks. It, indeed, was a sign of God’s presence but it was not proof of one’s salvation. Here are some passages noting the filling of the Holy Spirit for specific tasks in which one’s salvation is neither directly or implicit:

 

Judges 6:34 (Gideon)

2 Chron 24:20 (Zechariah the Priest)

Exodus 31:1-11 (the building tasks via the filling of the Holy Spirit)

 

Therefore, we must understand that while God does reveal to us in the text that John will be great in the sight of the Lord and we do learn of John’s later faith, his being filling with the Holy Spirit is not to imply any salvational element, rather specifically for the task at hand, as the Prophet announcing the Messiah.

 

Now it stands to reason some might wonder if God would choose someone to proclaim prophecies, particularly this very proprietary kind, and not make sure the person was a believer. But God worked with both believers and non-believers (such as Judas who as an Apostle of God yet not a believer) involving the filling of the Holy Spirit under the OT protocol which did not insure personal faith was present. It clearly seems that the experience of the Holy Spirit filling someone for a tasks is quite influential and very rare that one so gifted by God and the recipient of so great a privilege would not come to faith, but again Judas did not. Some even suggest Saul falls into this classification as well.

 

Nevertheless, none of those exceptions are the force of the argument here rather that the context of a NT indwelling and filling (because we are the Holy Temple of God due to our salvation) and the OT filling and gifting for tasks are not the same context. Therefore one may not impose on John’s being filled with the Holy Spirit the same context of the believer and insist it demonstrates a salvational context.

 

2. When was John filled with the Holy Spirit (the preposition ek)?

 

The truth is, here, that whether in the womb or at birth, it does not as significantly impact the issue of whether or not John’s filling was a matter of salvation because, as the first point demonstrated, they are not same contexts. But it does impact the integrity of interpretation and there is never room for slackness, even with a jot or tittle.

 

The narrative of the prophecy that John would be filled with the Holy Spirit uses the following Greek expression:

 

πλησθήσεται (he will be filled ) ἔτι  (yet, while, still) ἐκ (out, while in, coming from, out of) κοιλίας (womb) μητρὸς (of mother) αὐτοῦ (of him)

 

The NASV (1995) translates it this way:

 

“he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb.”

 

Yet the NIV (1984) translates it this way:

 

“and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.”

 

The problem is with the preposition “ek”. Ek generally refers exiting or “out from”. If I made a circle and placed the locality of the preposition “ek” it would not be inside and remaining inside of the circle but it would be exiting or coming out of the circle.

 

Therefore, what is being pictured, rather specifically, is the birth process or at the moment of birth. In fact it is this popular idiom, “out of the womb” which is in view, not anything occurring while in the womb, rather simply at that moment or “from birth”.

 

Why, then do others translate it “while in the womb”?

 

The reason for this is a contextual assumption. What do I mean? It means that while the preposition is very specific, “exiting the womb” or “out from the womb” (which means “at birth”), translators have assumed that if John was born this way then this property must have come with him out of the womb. It is a contextual assumption.

 

The problem?

 

The problem is two-fold. First, a baby out of the womb does not have the same properties as a baby in the womb so this universal assumption fails. Babies are quite alive in the womb and do share most properties of their existence outside the womb but not all. So while they are quite alive in the womb and share many or most properties they possess outside of the womb one in particular they do not share is that they do not breath oxygen through their lungs by inhaling air until they are “out from the womb”. So one simply cannot assume that John possessed this property (being filled with the Holy Spirit) in the womb simply because, at birth,  he suddenly possessed it. And certainly because a baby is starts breathing outside of the womb by inhaling oxygen through the lungs does not gives us cause to assume the baby breathed in this manner while in the womb. So this assumption is based on a view that is not prescriptively sound.

 

Secondly (and maybe more critically) the Greek needs to be left without assumptions. If it means “out from the womb” or “coming out of the womb” (ek) then this is the soonest the grammatical construction permits the filling of the Spirit to occur. However, my next point will refer back to this issue and reveal why this assumption was made.

 

The Greek preposition, “en”.

 

Prepositions are both instrumental and local. Ek is a preposition primarily of locality which refers to “out from”.  However, there is another preposition of locality which tells us “in” and it is “en”. That is, if we wish to point to something’s locality as being “within” or “inside” something we would use the preposition “en” which means to be inside or within something.

 

If the writer of Luke wanted us to understand John was filled with the Holy Spirit while in the womb, he would have used the preposition “en”, especially because he precedes it with the adverb “ἔτι” meaning “while” or “yet”. In other words it would have been: 

 

ἔτι ἐν (while or yet “in” the womb)

 

But this construct is avoided and the “out from the womb” is used to denote, at birth.

 

3. John jumped for joy in the womb?

 

Finally, in the narrative we come to a popular portion where it is attributed to John the Baptist that he jumped for joy while still in the womb. Commonly this interpretation is rendered because it is strongly associated to the portion of the text referring to his being filled with the Holy Spirit. And as you will see, the two parts depend on one another for a rather erroneous interpretation. No, John the Baptist did not jump for joy in the womb and you are about to learn in a rather startling obvious fashion, without much Greek (a bit but not much), from something that has been right in front of many this whole time but did not consider it.

 

Let’s first look at the narrative as the NIV translates it (a fair translation btw):

 

 39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

 

The first reference of leaping John, who heard what?

 

In verse 41 we have the first occasion of the leaping John. And the first thing you must notice is who heard what? It was not John in the womb; rather it was Elizabeth who heard Mary. And if you look at the context Mary arrives, quite excitedly after having her own visit from God’s angel, Gabriel, who gave Mary both the prophecy of Christ for Mary and the revelation of Elizabeth’s pregnancy and its nature. So in her arrival one certainly can assume certain intensity in Mary’s call to Elizabeth. But even in the case of the most subdued greeting, still it is Elizabeth hearing Mary, not John.

 

Why did the baby leap?

 

So with it being established that it was Elizabeth who is the object that hears and not John we are instructed that John, in the womb, leaped as a result of Elizabeth’s hearing Mary. And why are the two connected? Because, as we observed, Mary came in a rather excited state and her greeting, no doubt, carried with it the intensity of excitement from her angelic revelation. In other words, Elizabeth was startled.

 

And it is quite normal for babies in the womb to react to their mother’s adrenaline. Almost any woman will tell you that at times, if she is startled, it will produce a fetal reflex. Again, notice the emphasis, it was Elizabeth that heard and from the context we can know this is a very excited setting where she hears an intense greeting and from this startled stated the baby jumps or moves. It is a rather common occurrence.

 

Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit

 

Next is the observation that Elizabeth, upon hearing Mary’s intense greeting, was filled with the Holy Spirit. Many now connect this portion with the earlier passage about John being filled (ek) out of the womb or from the point of birth with the Holy Spirit which is incorrectly translated “while still in the womb”. Those that permit this much weaker grammatical allowance for the translation of “while still in the womb” then claim that it was via John the Baptist that the Holy Spirit was caused to fill Elizabeth and that one proves the other or vice versa.

 

Well, all of that is nice except that first, the grammar of “ek” has been established but more importantly, the text does not say why Elizabeth is filled, only that she is. There is no commentary that it was via John and to argue as such is to argue from silence. The most we can know is that at that time when the Holy Spirit filled them, it was the decision of the Triune God for a prophetic utterance and nothing about John being a means or medium is present anywhere. So this is an impotent argument.

 

The baby leaping “for joy”. What this means.

 

Probably forwarded more than most other parts as the cause for one arguing John’s leaping in the womb as distinct within himself and not initiated or forced by his mother, Elizabeth, is the expression in verse 44 “the baby in my womb leaped for joy”. One, immediately upon reading this translation, is impressed with the view that it was John’s joy from which he jumped. In other words, it was John, in the womb, who was experiencing joy and therefore distinct from any other source, jumped.

 

The Greek

 

First, the Greek does not indicate this or force this at all. What you have is a simple construction ἐν (in) ἀγαλλιάσει (exultation/joy). But because “in joy” would be an unusual way to phrase this in the Greek and because “en”, though primarily meaning “within” (a preposition of locality), also carries with it force or cause at times so it is sometimes translated, with or by.

 

The issue here is not whether the Greek preposition permits something or does not because here it really is useless unless we can determine what the source of joy is if this is the force of John’s leaping. And here the context is quite clear, it is not John’s joy but Elizabeth’s joy from hearing Mary’s greeting.

 

In other words, “by joy” or “with joy” (Elizabeth’s joy) the baby jumped. It basically requires one to maintain the integrity of the context in which Elizabeth is in focus both in hearing Mary’s greeting and responding to it and being filled, herself, with the Holy Spirit.

 

The fact is that the Greek preposition, in its most basic construction “in joy” would mean “within joy”. But whose joy? Clearly Elizabeth’s joy.

 

Some Conclusions:

 

1. John the Baptist, even if filled while in the womb, still was an OT Prophet and his filling was not that of a believer in the NT church wherein now, believers are indwelled and filled as a result of their salvation. This was not salvational in context, rather filling for fulfilling the office of OT Prophet and specific the Prophet announcing the Messiah. The two are not same contexts; hence one may not assume salvation either in the womb or at birth from the Holy Spirit filling John.

 

2. The text itself clearly has Elizabeth doing the hearing, not John. Not once but twice is there the recollection of Elizabeth doing the hearing, not John.

 

3. The case for John leaping in the womb because he heard Mary can only be predicated from silence and actually assaults the record itself which makes it clear that Elizabeth did the hearing.  To argue this can only be done from silence which is no argument.

 

4. One must also wonder if we are to understand John does the hearing in the womb and then jumping for joy in the womb, why is a record of John hearing the voice absent while Elizabeth’s hearing emphasized?

 

5. Ultimately the “John jumping in the womb independently” view comes primarily from a single source which is the grammatically/contextually stumbling use of “for joy” (in joy) to claim it was John’s joy that is being referred to and not Elizabeth’s. Of course the text bears out otherwise, that it was Elizabeth doing the hearing, Elizabeth being excited and John reflexing from his mother’s excitement.

 

Final remarks

 

Some feel a certain removal of the magnificence of Elizabeth’s blessing in her pregnancy with John when the phenomenal narrative of John independently jumping in the womb, is challenged. It need not be viewed this way.

 

All that God does is magnificent and we need not arrest texts in fear we are lessening God’s splendor. What we must do, however, is see his splendor in as candid a light as Scripture permits. Here is not a wish to remove or detract from anything but maintain textual integrity.

 

I do realize that good and much better men both spiritually and academically may and do take issue. So this is, with all due respect, submitted in that light.

Views: 6031

Comment by Alex Guggenheim on October 6, 2011 at 6:52pm
Sure thing. I certainly did not have this much in mind but once I started it seemed incomplete without the other considerations so... :)
Comment by Crazy (JB) on October 7, 2011 at 9:57am

Just so you know, I am not convinced that someone can be born saved. I am also not convinced otherwise. On MB's thread I am running through a thought exercise to see if anyone can prove otherwise. As I am writing this I haven't read your whole post yet Alex, but wanted to jot down my ideas as they come to me. 

1) Judas is not an example of one filled with the holy spirit who then rejects/loses it. The only reference I see in the NT is in Luke 22:3 where he is filled with an evil spirit, namely Satan. Can you point me to the passage where it says Judas was filled with the holy spirit at some point? 

 

2) I can concede the "out of the womb" argument. Looks like a good one based on translation err. But that simply creates a new question, "Can one be filled with the holy spirit saved from the moment of Birth?" And then we start the whole thread over, with much the same arguments. Just dropping off those of the in-utero. 

 

3) Do you have any suggested reading on the work of the holy spirit in the OT vs. the NT? I guess this is where I get the most confused out of your presentation. What I see in the NT is something like flames over peoples heads, power of healing, tongues and many such things when speaking of being filled with the holy spirit. Is this what you are referring to as the NT standard? If so, I certainly do not have the indwelling of the holy Spirit. 

If these examples are not what you are talking about then I assume you are talking about the ones that say, "And being filled with the Holy Spirit he (went/did/said)..." - which to me, looks suspiciously just like the old testaments references to the filling of the holy spirit.

So are you and I to take the flames approach or the OT approach? If the flames approach, then there are a good many people who think they are filled with the Spirit, but are not. If otherwise, then what is the difference between the NT and OT texts?

Comment by Marv on October 7, 2011 at 10:32am

Definitely NOT stepping up per the "good and better category."

 

Nevertheless I disagree with your analysis, and since you invite such disagreement, I'll lay it before you:

 

The prophecy given to Zechariah states:  “and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb.”

(Luke 1:15 ESV)

A temporal phrase:

The underlined phrase is ek koilias metros autou. This is an adverbial prepositional phrase of time, not of space. So it is not a matter of “in” vs “out” much less “coming out.” It signifies a terminus ad quo for when John would be filled with the Holy Spirit. The span of time in view is referenced by the noun koilias, which is not a time word, of course, but a body part. Nevertheless, by metonymy, it represents a person’s existence from conception to birth. So on the basis of this phrase, the prophesied filling could occur anytime up to and including John’s birth.

Let’s consider some parallel examples.

In both Acts 3:2 and Acts 14:8 we have the case of men lame from their mother’s womb. This phrase then, is fairly obviously temporal, since stating that the men were spacially outside their mother’s womb would be a fairly bizarre adverbial modifier. So in other words they had “birth defects” that made them unable to walk. Now clearly, these babies did not attempt any walking prior to birth. But neither does a baby walk while newborn. Do we suppose from this phrase that they specifically became lame through the process of birth? I suppose that could be possible, but I think it is general enough to include a fetal developmental problem.

In Gal. 1:15, Paul says he was “separated from my mother’s womb.” Again, this is not spacial. “From my mother’s womb” is not that away from which he was separated, as if separating wheat from chaff. But it is a time reference. Here I’d suggest “before I was born.”

These parallel OT usages, for example, rather favor “from before birth.”

                Thus says the LORD who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you:               

(Isaiah 44:2 ESV)

                Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb:

(Isaiah 44:24 ESV)

                You have never heard, you have never known, from of old your ear has not been opened.

                For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously, and that from before birth you were called a rebel. (Here ESV translates it “from before birth.”

(Isaiah 48:8 ESV)

                The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.

(Isaiah 49:1-2 ESV)

                And now the LORD says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant… (this btw is a Messianic prophecy)

 (Isaiah 49:5 ESV)

Does the text tell us with any more specificity when this occurred?

                And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

(Luke 1:41-45 ESV)

It is true that this event occurred when Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice.  In fact two things are said to have happened at the circumstance of Elizabeth hearing Mary’s greeting:

(1)    Baby John leaped in her womb.

(2)    Elizabeth was filled with the HS.

Elizabeth further specifies the baby leaped “for joy.” I’m afraid I can’t do the gymnastics to make this Elizabeth’s joy,

Comment by Marv on October 7, 2011 at 10:35am

... to make this Elizabeth’s joy, somehow, rather than the very evident sense that it is the cause of the baby’s jumping, the baby experiencing joy.

This bit is not written as an incidentally detail. It is to show that the angel’s prophecy was coming true. We are told it happened at Mary’s greeting, but this is not due to Mary per se, but Jesus in her womb. Thus John in Elizabeth’s womb is reacting to the presence of (1) Christ, and (2) the Holy Spirit.

Now it says Elizabeth was filled with the Spirit, not specifically that John was. But John was in Elizabeth when she was filled. And at the same time—clearly the implication is it is a spiritual phenomenon—the baby John leaped for joy as the Spirit-filled baby recognized (spiritually) the unborn baby Jesus.

I think this is the obvious inference that this text is intended to convey.

At any rate, to nail it down we have this statement from Spirit-filled Elizabeth:

                And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

(Luke 1:45 ESV)

Now there are several details fulfilled, not the least of which is the conception of Jesus in Mary, but the one that the text is specifically focusing on is from 1:15 about John being filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb. We are to understand that here (if not earlier) John is filled with the Spirit.

Comment by Marv on October 7, 2011 at 10:46am

In short I think the phrase "from his mother's womb" does indicate "from before birth."

Moreover, I think the text is indicating that John was in fact filled with the Spirit at this moment, that we see here a fulfilment of the prophecy. If not, I can scarcely see what Luke is about here.

Now does this mean he is born "saved"?

First, I think we need to clarify the specific event as "regenerated." Now, semantically to say someone is "born again" before they were born the first time is odd, but that is really just playing with words. It would mean he is brought from spiritual death to spiritual life prior to his exiting the womb. For the life of me I cannot fathom any theological objection to this. That the event is unusual is signalled by the eti in v. 15, here "even." It is highly unexpected.

But I don't think we can conceive (NPI) of an unregenerate individual being filled with the Spirit. We are never told that Judas was filled with the Spirit, though he apparently did minister under Jesus' aurhority along with the others.

But the clincher here is John's recognition of Jesus as the Holy One of God, which, I repeat, I think is the CLEAR implication of this passage. Only regenerate people recognize Jesus as the one sent from God and encounter Him with joy.

Comment by Alex Guggenheim on October 12, 2011 at 10:03am

Back from some extended adventures in traveling so now to address some responses, first Marv’s:

The prophecy given to Zechariah states:  “and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb.”

(Luke 1:15 ESV)

A temporal phrase:

The underlined phrase is ek koilias metros autou. This is an adverbial prepositional phrase of time, not of space. So it is not a matter of “in” vs “out” much less “coming out.” It signifies a terminus ad quo for when John would be filled with the Holy Spirit. The span of time in view is referenced by the noun koilias, which is not a time word, of course, but a body part. Nevertheless, by metonymy, it represents a person’s existence from conception to birth. So on the basis of this phrase, the prophesied filling could occur anytime up to and including John’s birth.

While the phrase is adverbial, the adverb modifies the verb and not the preposition so the preposition remains local, that is it still identifies where or the location of the action of the verb. And this is why many translators reject “while still in the womb” and opt for “at birth” or “from birth” or any synonymous phrase.

As to the claim that “by metonymy it represents a person’s existence from conception to birth”, this is not prescriptive. That is, it is not always true. It can be used this way and is by majority but it is not always true so it cannot be assumed this way, the context must reveal this is its use.

Let’s consider some parallel examples.

In both Acts 3:2 and Acts 14:8 we have the case of men lame from their mother’s womb. This phrase then, is fairly obviously temporal, since stating that the men were spacially outside their mother’s womb would be a fairly bizarre adverbial modifier. So in other words they had “birth defects” that made them unable to walk. Now clearly, these babies did not attempt any walking prior to birth. But neither does a baby walk while newborn. Do we suppose from this phrase that they specifically became lame through the process of birth? I suppose that could be possible, but I think it is general enough to include a fetal developmental problem.

First, this is the least of my points and I have no problem conceding this and the possible strength of the “while still in the womb” argument. However, the problem with these examples to serve as certainties, in my mind, is context. They do provide grammatical lessons but they also involve a separate context to the filling of John with or by the Holy Spirit. The two above are in the contexts of natural occurrences and we can and have verified that these kinds of things take place in the womb. However, the filling with the Holy Spirit is not a natural phenomenon and its nature and occurrence cannot be assumed to be the same in context, that it took part in the womb and was a property within the womb.

As I said, often children are said to be born, “breathing from the womb”. That is at the moment of birth they begin breathing without any external stimulation such as a spank. And we know this did not occur in the womb.

So while the texts are valuable grammatically, because the contexts are not the same and the nature of this unique spiritual phenomenon should not be viewed as an assumed property of womb development (and here the soonest we are told it occurs is “from the womb”). I believe that this does not make allowance for complete certainty.

However, as I said before this particularly point, in the womb or from the womb, is of least concern since it really has no impact to any claims of John being saved because of the nature of t

Comment by Alex Guggenheim on October 12, 2011 at 10:04am
However, as I said before this particularly point, in the womb or from the womb, is of least concern since it really has no impact to any claims of John being saved because of the nature of the filling and its function as that of an OT Prophet.

Does the text tell us with any more specificity when this occurred?

                And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

(Luke 1:41-45 ESV)

It is true that this event occurred when Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice.  In fact two things are said to have happened at the circumstance of Elizabeth hearing Mary’s greeting:

(1)    Baby John leaped in her womb.

(2)    Elizabeth was filled with the HS.

Elizabeth further specifies the baby leaped “for joy.” I’m afraid I can’t do the gymnastics to make this Elizabeth’s joy,

You don’t have to do gymnastics here, simply paying attention to the context. The preposition “en” tells us that it is from the force of the joy and the joy, in this context, is Elizabeth’s. It is you who is bound to prove otherwise than the context if you wish to claim it was John’s joy.

... to make this Elizabeth’s joy, somehow, rather than the very evident sense that it is the cause of the baby’s jumping, the baby experiencing joy.

This bit is not written as an incidentally detail. It is to show that the angel’s prophecy was coming true. We are told it happened at Mary’s greeting, but this is not due to Mary per se, but Jesus in her womb. Thus John in Elizabeth’s womb is reacting to the presence of (1) Christ, and (2) the Holy Spirit.

Really?  John is reacting to the baby Jesus in Mary’s womb? Do you mind showing me where this is in the text? This is an assumption and as you know the term for what you are doing here is eisegesis, reading into the text your ideas.

In fact, if you look at the text it indicates Mary was “going to conceive”. Here is what it says about Gabriel telling Mary:

31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus… 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you… 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. 39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.

Mary left right after the prophecy which was that she “would be” not that she was with the baby. This is purely an assumption and one that opposes the text which does not reveal Mary was had conceived already but that she would conceive. 

Now it says

Comment by Alex Guggenheim on October 12, 2011 at 10:06am
Now it says Elizabeth was filled with the Spirit, not specifically that John was. But John was in Elizabeth when she was filled. And at the same time—clearly the implication is it is a spiritual phenomenon—the baby John leaped for joy as the Spirit-filled baby recognized (spiritually) the unborn baby Jesus.

I think this is the obvious inference that this text is intended to convey.

Again the text does not bear out any baby Jesus in the womb to be present, that is your importing an idea which has no textual support.

Worse, however, is that your argument gets the order of the text, itself, wrong. Your claim is that “the baby John leaped for joy as the Spirit-filled baby recognized (spiritually) the unborn baby Jesus”, however the order of events is stated contrary to this:

41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!

Elizabeth hears Mary’s greeting, the baby leaps (from the force of the joy) and then Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. The baby John’s leaping is in no way attached to any cause of Elizabeth’s being filled with the Holy Spirit since his leaping occurs before Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit.

In short I think the phrase "from his mother's womb" does indicate "from before birth."

Again, this I happily concede has its merits but is the least of my points since it has no real impact on the issue overall.

Now does this mean he is born "saved"?

First, I think we need to clarify the specific event as "regenerated." Now, semantically to say someone is "born again" before they were born the first time is odd, but that is really just playing with words. It would mean he is brought from spiritual death to spiritual life prior to his exiting the womb. For the life of me I cannot fathom any theological objection to this. That the event is unusual is signalled by the eti in v. 15, here "even." It is highly unexpected.

But I don't think we can conceive (NPI) of an unregenerate individual being filled with the Spirit. We are never told that Judas was filled with the Spirit, though he apparently did minister under Jesus' aurhority along with the others.

But the clincher here is John's recognition of Jesus as the Holy One of God, which, I repeat, I think is the CLEAR implication of this passage. Only regenerate people recognize Jesus as the one sent from God and encounter Him with joy.

The Bible, at no place and at no time, demonstrates anyone being regenerated without exercising faith. And the Lutheran arguments aside that infants and even fetuses can have faith, which I find preposterous, regeneration occurs only from faith in the gospel. Of course infants and those unable to exercise their volition are automatically saved via the Advocacy of Christ and the properties and exercise of this Priestly office, but they are not in view here.

I certainly can conceive of an unregenerate person being filled with the Holy Spirit if we understand the NT and OT distinctions. The NT distinction is the result of salvation, the OT is for a specific function which does not require regeneration.

Thank you for your response.

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