Spiritual Birth versus Physical Birth

Drew Berding

When are we born spiritually?

There is an amazing parallel between physical birth and spiritual birth. God has made us special.

Pastor Ray Stedman said: “Scripture frequently uses the analogy of physical birth and growth to picture spiritual birth and growth. If the spiritual life follows the same pattern as physical life, is it not possible that there is a spiritual gestation period between conception and birth?”1

A woman’s eggs descend from her ovaries approximately one per month. If a sperm is available, it fertilizes the egg and life begins. If the egg embeds itself in the uterus wall, it is nourished through the placenta and becomes a fetus. The fetus grows until it is a fully formed baby. Then at the right moment, the mother has her contractions and the baby is expelled from her uterus into our cruel world. Hopefully it becomes a healthy baby to be loved, nurtured and matured into an adult. If instead no sperm fertilizes the egg, the egg is cast off and is discarded.

Remember the story about Mary, Jesus’ mother. When she said she was a virgin, the angel told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her2 and she would conceive. Now, let’s see the parallel between the human egg and the human spirit.

Each person has a human spirit. The Bible tells us that initially this spirit is dead (like an unfertilized egg).3 4 5 However, when we accept Jesus as our Lord, he seals us with His Spirit.6 7 His Spirit joins with our human spirit and, because His Spirit is eternal, at that moment we receive eternal life.8Spiritual conception has occurred.

From then on we are expected to be nourished,9 to grow10 and become more like Jesus.11 This is called sanctification.12 Although we are still fleshly,13 our fertilized spirit is growing each day.14 Therefore, our whole physical life is a gestation period for our spirit.

At the proper time, our physical bodies die and our spirit is released15 16 17 into a new realm18—the spiritual realm.19 20 That is the new birth!

Loving intercourse between husband and wifeLoving intercourse between Holy Spirit and us
Intimate, fulfillingIntimate, fulfilling
Human eggHuman spirit
Human spermHoly Spirit
Temporal life startsEternal life starts
FetusHuman spirit joined with Holy Spirit
Placenta nourishmentSanctification nourishment
BirthBirth of the spirit (at physical death)
Baby released from bodySpirit released from body at physical death
Thrust into new domainThrust into new domain
Nine month gestation periodLifetime gestation period
Resembles parentsResembles Jesus21

Additional thoughts:

Jn 3:3 “Born” NT:1080 Greek ‘Gennao’ which means “to procreate, to conceive

Jn 3:3,7 “again” NT:509, Greek ‘anothen’ which means “anew, upward, from above, from the first”

Nicodemus’ answer about “mother’s womb” shows he understood Jesus to be referring to birth.

John 3:5, Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

“Born of water” is the physical birth when the mother’s water breaks and we are thrust out of the womb and into the physical world.

“Born of the Spirit” is the spiritual birth when we are thrust out of the physical world of the flesh and into the spiritual world.

How can we enter “the kingdom of God” unless we die physically? John 3:3, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

Photo Attribution: Brytny.com – unsplash.com


  1. Ray Stedman “Hebrews” Appendix p. 161, 1992
  2. Luke 1:35, “The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”
  3. Eph 2:1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins…”
  4. Eph 2:4-5, “…because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ…”
  5. Col 2:13, “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him…”
  6. Eph 1:13-14, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”
  7. 2 Cor 1:21-22, “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.”
  8. Gal 6:8, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
  9. Phil 3:13-14,, “…but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
  10. 2 Peter 3:18, “…but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
  11. Rom 8:29, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.”
  12. Phil 2:12, “…work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”
  13. Rom 7:14, “I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.”
  14. 2 Cor 3:12, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
  15. Rom 7:24, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?”
  16. 1 Cor 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”
  17. John 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
  18. John 18:36, Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”
  19. Rom 7:25, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
  20. Dan 7:13, “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.”
  21. 2 Cor 3:12, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

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NOTE: Bible references unless otherwise stated are from the NASU (New American Standard Updated) copyright the Lockman Foundation.

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