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Seed of the Woman

God With Us – Immanuel

The Protevangelium

  • Genesis 3 is a hopeless, pessimistic chapter of the Bible except for
  • one verse—Genesis 3:15. This single verse is the foundation upon
  • which the gospel of God’s grace rests. God’s proclamation was
  • understood by Adam, Eve and all their “believing” descendants as
  • God’s promise to send His Seed, born of a woman to conquer Satan
  • and deliver them from the curse of sin. At the very beginning of
  • man’s history on this earth, God provided great hope in this verse.
  • The Seed would make life and the world right again! The first hint in
  • the Old Testament that the coming Christ would be born of a virgin
  • also occurs in this same verse.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (Genesis 3:15).

This prophecy, known as the Protevangelium, comes from the most ancient oracle known to man—the oracle the Lord pronounced when He found Adam and Eve guilty of sin. The Lord is speaking to Satan, who enticed “the woman,” Eve, to disobey the Lord’s command: “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17).

Catholic scholars point to Gen. 3:15 to support their teaching of Mary as the co-redeemer.  The Roman Catholic Bible (Douay Rheims version) reads: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed; she shall crush thy head, and thou shall lie in wait for her heel.” This is based on the translation of the Latin texts of the Vulgate Bible—the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church since the fourth century. Mary…” most completely triumphed over him (the ancient serpent) and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot” (Pope Pius IX Ineffabilis Deus).[1]

The Hebrew Masoretic text which is the original language of the Old Testament reads quite different then the Douay Rheims version. The one who will crush the serpent’s head is masculine, not feminine. It is translated “He shall crush thy head—the God/man (not “she” as noted in the Catholic Bible. This verse prophesies Christ’s future victory over Satan, not Mary.

The New Testament Scripture agrees with the Hebrew manuscript of the Book of Genesis.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan” (Rom.16:20).

” It was for this very reason that the Son of God appeared to destroy the devil’s work.” (1Jn.3:8)

“that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death-that is the devil” (Heb. 2: 14b).

When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him (Col. 2:15).

For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet (1Cor.15: 25-27).

The Bible does not confirm Mary as the victor over the devil, she did not die for any man’s sin.

Identification of the “seed of the woman” with Jesus Christ goes back at least as far as Irenaeus (a very early church father). The phrase “Seed of the woman” is counted as one of Jesus’ many Biblical titles.[2] A tradition found in some old eastern Christian sources (including the ‘Kitab al-Magall’ and the ‘Cave of Treasures’) holds the serpent’s head was crushed at Golgotha, described as a skull-shaped hill at the centre of the Earth, where Shem and Melchizedek had placed the body of Adam.[3]

Martin Luther identifies the “seed of the woman” as the coming Messiah—not Mary: “When we are given instruction in this passage concerning the enmity between the serpent and woman – such an enmity that the Seed of the woman will crush the serpent with all His powers – this is a revelation of the depths of God’s goodness …[who] clearly declares that the male Seed of the woman would prostrate this enemy.”[4]

Isaiah’s Prophecy

Genesis 3:15 alludes to a virgin birth of the Savior, but only one other Old Testament verse clearly spells it out.  That is Isaiah’s prophecy of the virgin born Christ child: Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

Over seven hundred years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah proclaimed this promise which provided greater detail about the “Seed of the woman” in Genesis 3:15.

The name Immanuel means, “God with us.”  A virgin will give birth to God in the flesh, Who will conquer Satan.

The Hebrew word for virgin is Alma, which is translated as “virgin” in every Old Testament Scripture that uses this word.  When the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek about 250 B.C., the Hebrew word ‘alma’ was translated to ‘parthenos,’ which also refers to a young girl who has never had sexual relations with a man. The great temple Parthenon stood in Athens at that time.  The Greeks used ‘Parthenon’ as the temple’s name because they used virgins for ritual prostitution there.

Isaiah describes Immanuel in chapter 9 as the One who will vanquish all enemies and rule the world forever from King David’s throne.  He would arise from the land of Zebulun and Naphtali (region of Sea of Galilee) as a great light in the darkness:

But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.  The people who walk in darkness will see a great light…For a child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore (Isa. 9: 1-2; 6-7).

Did Jesus need the virgin birth to be sinless? No, He was eternally sinless before His human conception and virgin birth.

The New Testament Gospel of Matthew clearly identifies Jesus’ virgin birth as a fulfillment of Isaiah’s Old Testament prophecy:

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:22–23).

Jesus was born of the virgin Mary.  He had a supernatural conception but a perfectly natural birth.  He is Immanuel—‘God with us.’

The Incarnation of Jesus Christ

The word incarnation does not occur in the Bible. It is derived from the Latin in and caro (flesh), meaning clothed in flesh—God’s act of assuming flesh. This word describes the gracious, voluntary act of the Son of God in assuming a human body. [5]  The eternal Lord Jesus Christ became a man.  This is the greatest event to occur in the history of the universe.  History is not about time, matter, and energy randomly colliding to form the elements of the universe and ultimately life.  The creative act of God becoming man defines history. The Apostle Paul wrote, ‘And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh. . . ” (1Timothy 3:16). The incarnation of Jesus Christ is beyond human comprehension.  God reveals this mystery to His “chosen” through the Holy Spirit’s illumination of the Scriptures.

Jesus’ existence didn’t begin with His birth or conception, but pre-existed Creation. His Divine nature was never created, but always existed.  Jesus was both God and with God. Jesus created the universe and all things in it.[6]

We know Jesus was aware of His pre-existence in eternity from His proclamation noted in the Gospel of John:  “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him…” (John 8:58-59). His enemies knew perfectly well He was claiming divinity, because they intended to stone Him.

There is a difference between the Incarnation of Jesus Christ and His virgin birth.  The Incarnation of the Son of God is the fact of God becoming Man; the Virgin Birth is the method by which God the Son became Man.[7]

If Jesus Christ was not virgin born, then He was not God in the flesh, but only a man possessing the same sinful nature of every fallen child of Adam. The fact of the Incarnation lies in the eternal One casting aside His eternal glory to become a man. The method of the Incarnation is the manner by which He came—via a miraculous God created conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

The gospels of Matthew and Luke begin with the story of Jesus’ supernatural conception and virgin birth. John’s gospel presents the incarnation of the eternal Word of God.

”And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory. the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth”    (John 1:14).

John 1:14 cannot be fully appreciated apart from verses 1-3:

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (John 1:1-3).

Jesus as God was one with the Father in eternity and He chose to take on a human body and ”become flesh” (vs. 14). “when He cometh into the world, He saith, . . . a body hast thou prepared me” (Hebrews 10:5). Why did Jesus do this?

Paul provides another verse in the Book of Galatians to answer this question: ”But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). God placed His only eternal Son into a human body to die and redeem sinners.

God’s main purpose in His incarnation was to redeem sinners so He could adopt them into His family.  This truth is given in the name of Jesus. Said the angel, “Thou shalt call his name JESUS (meaning “God saves”), for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). At His birth the angel testified again, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Even the Lord Jesus Himself proclaimed the purpose of His Incarnation when He said, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

After the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, there was no hope of human deliverance apart from Jesus.  The following Scriptures penned by the Apostle Paul testify to that: There is none righteous, not even one…(Rom. 3:10) and “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23-24).

Isaiah prophesied of this coming Savior as literally the ‘Kinsman-Redeemer’  (i.e. one who is related by blood to those he redeems).[8] The Book of Ruth uses the same Hebrew word for Kinsman Redeemer (gôēl) to describe Boaz’ redemption of Naomi and Ruth.[9] Boaz pictured the redemption his future descendant (Jesus Christ) would accomplish for all humanity. This was possible only because Jesus physically descended from Adam via Mary.[10] God created His human nature at conception and called Him “the last Adam”[11]—which relates Him to all humans who have ever lived on this earth.

Jesus was tempted in all things humans are tempted,[12] yet His temptation was apart from any thought, word, or act of sin.[13] This made it possible for Jesus, as a perfect man to pour out His blood as a payment for all the sins of mankind. “that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9). Jesus stated the purpose of His Incarnation:I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17).

He must be fully human to pay the sin penalty of humanity.

Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, so that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil (Hebrews 2:14).

Jesus became incarnate as the “Seed of the woman” not only to become the kinsman Redeemer of mankind, but also to defeat Satan.

Yet, Jesus had to be fully Divine to endure God’s infinite wrath, since a mere creature could not withstand it.[14] Furthermore, God Himself said “I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.” (Isa. 43:11).  So calling Jesus ‘Savior’ is logically calling Him YAHWEH since YAHWEH is the only Savior.[15]

The Bible teaches, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).  Therefore, Jesus, as our Substitute had to die to satisfy God’s judgment for our sins—the punishment we deserve.  God planned this from Eternity, as the names of the Redeemed were already written in His Book of Life from the foundation of the World.[16]

Paul records the following in his Epistle to the Philippians:

”Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-10).

This verse explains that before His Incarnation Jesus was eternally “in the form of God.” He is forever God.  In His Incarnation Jesus laid aside His position in heavenly glory, but not His Divine nature.  He is always God the Son, for God is unchangeable and cannot cease to be God.  He continued as God the Son in His human life on earth, and He will remain God the Son throughout eternity. He is ”Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13: 8).

”He took upon Him the form of a servant.” Jesus was almighty God who stooped to become mankind’s lowly Servant. He did not boast of His eternal glory, but revealed His humility. ”The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20: 28).

“He was made in the likeness of men.” Jesus became flesh and blood for reasons previously discussed.

“He humbled Himself.” There has never been a more genuine act of humility.  The eternal Son of God became flesh in a stable and lay wrapped in burial clothes in a manger (cow’s watering trough). He lived His life in poverty.

He became obedient unto death.” Jesus obeyed until His death on a cross to attain the victory of His namesake (Jesus-“God saves”). ”For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1Cor. 15: 22).  This was God’s plan of salvation for men, and therefore, Jesus submitted to a criminal’s death on a cross.

His own people considered crucifixion a disgrace. In their law it was written, “For he that is hanged is accursed of God” (Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13).

Jesus revealed God to mankind. God’s greatest revelation of Himself is in the person of His Son.  God accomplished that revelation in the incarnation.  “Philip said to the Lord Jesus, ‘Lord, show us the Father . . . ‘ and our Lord answered, ‘. . . He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father . . .’ ” (John 14:8-9).

We can never understand the doctrine of the incarnation, whereby God the Creator became man the creature, for it is beyond the limits of finite comprehension. But we can believe it, and rejoice in it![17]  In fact, we must believe it, for “every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (1John 4:3). “If ye believe not that I am He,” said the Lord Jesus, “ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24).

Addendum—The Council of Chalcedon

An ecumenical council was convened at Chalcedon in the year 451 A.D. to formulate the Doctrine of Incarnation of Jesus Christ.  The statement issued by the Council affirms the one person of Christ having two natures:

We. . . confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhood and also perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhood, and consubstantial with us according to the manhood, like us in all things except sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhood, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the manhood, one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-Begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures without confusion, without change, without division, without separation, the difference of the natures being by no means taken away because of the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not divided or separated into two Persons, but one and the same Son and only begotten God, Word, Lord Jesus Christ. . . .[18]

[1] The Creeds of Christendom by Philip Schaff 2009. ISBN 1-115-46834-0. Pg 211.

“Papal Definition of the Immaculate Conception”. Retrieved 2010-09-13

[2] Armour, Michael C (2002). A Newcomer’s Guide to the Bible. Joplin: College Press Publishing Company. p. 43.  ISBN 0899009018.

[3] Budge, Ernest Aldfred Wallis (2010). The Book of the Cave of Treasures. Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing, LLC. p. 127. ISBN 1169774628.

[4] Luther, Martin (1958). Luther’s Works, American Edition. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. Vol. 1, pp. 192–193.)

[5] Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. 1993. When God Became Man.  Acts & Facts. 22 (12).

[6] Dr. Jonathan Sarfati. Creation Magazine 35(1):34-37

[7] Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. 1993. When God Became Man.  Acts & Facts. 22 (12).


[8] Isaiah 59: 20

[9] Ruth 2:20; 3:1-4:17

[10] Luke 3:38

[11] 1Corinthians 15:45

[12] 1John 2:16

[13] Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. 1993. When God Became Man.  Acts & Facts. 22 (12).

[14] Isaiah 53:10-11

[15] Dr. Jonathan Sarfati. Creation Magazine 35(1):34-37

[16] Dr. Jonathan Sarfati. Creation Magazine 35(1):34-37; Rev. 13:8; Rev. 17:8

[17] Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. 1993. When God Became Man.  Acts & Facts. 22 (12).


[18] Schaff P., ed., `The Creed of Chalcedon,’ in `The Creeds of Christendom: With a History and Critical Notes,’ Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1931, 2:62-63

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