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The DNA of Jesus—Who Contributed?

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke record differing genealogies of Jesus.  Matthew lists the royal lineage of Jesus through King David and the kings of Judah ending in Joseph, Jesus earthly father.  Luke documents the lineage of Jesus from Adam to Mary, Joseph’s wife.  The genealogies list the same people from Abraham to King David, but diverge with different descendants following King David.  Matthew records the royal kingly lineage, as noted. But Luke’s record of Mary’s ancestors proceeds through David and Bathsheba’s older son, Nathan.[1]   His descendants are not as well known as the royal descendants of Matthew’s genealogy from King Solomon and beyond.

Every theologian and serious student of Scripture accepts the fact that Joseph’s royal lineage does not contribute any DNA to Jesus.  Although this lineage is through the Kings of Judah, it does not end in Jesus, the Son of God.  The genealogy ends at Joseph. Joseph adopted Jesus as His earthly father, so Joseph’s genealogy is credited to Jesus through adoption. That should not surprise anyone.  God adopts all believers in Jesus Christ into His family.  God has given each one a perfect eternal body and an eternal incorruptible heavenly inheritance.  He has also granted them the privilege of “hanging out” with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, His perfect created beings, and believers from all time in His heavenly abode.  Yet none of these believers have God’s DNA.

But the Virgin Mary carried Jesus in her womb for nine months.  Each human infant has 50% of his/her DNA from the father and 50% from the mother.  God fathered Jesus, so that eliminates any DNA from an earthly father. But did Mary contribute the other 50% of Jesus DNA?  Was Jesus genetically related (at least in part) to His siblings?  The answers to these questions are less clear on the surface.  They will stir controversy, whichever side of the fence they fall.  Let us continue the investigation.

Scientists have only recently discovered genes, chromosomes and DNA over the last century. Even the combination of a man’s sperm with a woman’s ovum to form life at conception is a relatively new discovery, compared to the history of the human race. This discussion would not have occurred prior to the 20th century. All ancient civilizations believed human conception occurred by impregnating a woman with the “seed” of a man.  That is the main reason most ancient genealogies consist only of men.

Was Jesus in human flesh half God and half man?  No true student of Scripture would support that view.  Theologians have debated this issue for millennia. Jesus was fully God (100%) and fully man (100%).  Mythic stories of paganism portray gods and goddesses cohabiting with earthly men and women to produce half-gods with superhuman abilities. But the Bible does not portray the true God that way.  God does not interbreed with humans.  There is an implication in Scripture that God created angels who fell into sin and cohabited with earthly women, producing superhuman giants in the pre-flood world.[2] These angels were corrupt and performed an abominable thing in God’s sight.  He banished them to an eternal prison named Tartarus.[3] Would God perform the same despicable act upon a human woman that infuriated Him when it was performed by angels?

Jesus was legally related to both parents. His claim to the Messianic throne of David’s lineage is legitimate through adoption by Joseph.  But, was he genetically related to his parents and siblings?  As noted above, no one argues for a genetic connection to Joseph.  However, there is controversy regarding the possible genetic connection to Mary and her other children.  One can only speculate regarding the DNA make-up of Jesus, since, of course, there are none of His DNA samples to analyze.

DNA is a very fascinating molecule that testifies to the omnipotence and omniscience of a Creator.  DNA is found in all living things—plant, animal, and bacterial.  DNA codes for the production of protein molecules essential for reproduction, energy production, survival, and growth.  The DNA in each human, if placed end to end would reach from the earth to the moon more than 500,000 times! In book form, that information would completely fill the Grand Canyon more than 75 times! Yet, if one cell’s worth of DNA from every person who ever lived were placed in a pile, the final pile would weigh less than an aspirin!  What a marvelous creation of God!

The DNA in each human cell is packaged into chromosomes just prior and during each cellular division.  Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes.  The father donates one chromosome to each pair and the mother donates the other.  Only one chromosome pair determines the gender of the child.  The sex chromosomes are known as the X and Y chromosomes.  Females have two X chromosomes (XX) and males have one X and one Y chromosome (XY).  A sperm cell can carry either one X or one Y chromosome.  An ovum cell produced by the female carries only an X chromosome.  An infant must have a Y chromosome to be a male, and only the male can furnish that.

It seems there are only 3 options for considering the composition of Jesus’ DNA:

  1. Jesus has 100% Mary’s DNA with a divinely created Y chromosome to make Him male.
  2. Jesus has 50% DNA from a human female (Mary) and 50% DNA from God, to replace that of a human male.
  3. Jesus has DNA created entirely by God at the time of His conception.

Several have proposed God supplied a Y chromosome to add to the X chromosome of Mary’s egg cell (ovum), which programmed for the male gender of Jesus.  In so doing God bypassed defective genetic weaknesses of the Adamic (male) genome.  However, this is a fallacious argument, as 22 other chromosomes must be contributed to match the other 22 chromosomes Mary produced in her ovum cell.

The Roman Catholic Position

The Roman Catholic Church embraces the second option: Jesus has 50% DNA from a human female (Mary’s) and 50% DNA from God (to replace that of a sinful human male).  This enabled Mary to supply Jesus’ humanity.  God the Holy Spirit miraculously encapsulated the Divine nature in Jesus human body.  Mary and the Holy Spirit each contributed 50% to the end result.  But doesn’t Mary fall under the category of all humans who are born sinners? Catholic theologians cite Mary’s “Immaculate conception” as contributing a sinless human nature to Jesus.  Catholics believe Mary was without sin when she bore God’s Son.  Mary is considered the “Holy Mother of God.” She remained a virgin after delivering Jesus (according to the Catholic church). Therefore, Roman Catholicism insists Jesus’ other brothers and sister mentioned in Scripture (James, Jude, etc[4]) were not siblings but cousins—not birthed by the Virgin Mary. The Holy Scriptures teach Jesus’ siblings were born of Mary, who did not stay a virgin after Jesus’ birth.  But the question about whether they share Jesus’ DNA remains unanswered.  Let us further examine the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church states the conception of the Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, was free from the original sin obtained through the fall of Adam. The Catholic Church teaches Mary was conceived by normal biological means, but God kept her “immaculate” at the time of conception.  There is no Biblical support for this doctrine.  In fact, it bears similarities to mythical stories of the ‘queen goddess’ of ancient civilizations (Isis, Ishtar, Aphrodite, Venus, etc).

The Immaculate Conception is often mistakenly confused for the conception of Mary’s son Jesus Christ in her own womb. The Catholic Doctrine of Incarnation explains Mary’s virgin birth of Jesus, while Immaculate Conception espouses the sinless conception of Mary herself. Catholics teach Mary was sinless and conceived in perfection.[5] They therefore propose Mary contributed Jesus sinless human nature. Jesus’ DNA would then consist of 50% contribution from Mary, and perhaps more if God only added the ‘Y’ chromosome.

Catholic theologians admit the doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, as defined by Pope Pius IX was not overtly taught prior to the 12th century. They also agree Biblical Scripture can’t prove this teaching.[6] But they claim the doctrine is implicitly contained in the teaching of the church Fathers.

It was not until 1854 that Pope Pius IX, with the support of the majority of Roman Catholic bishops, proclaimed the papal bull Ineffabilis Deus, which defined the doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception: “We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful.”

— Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854.[7]

The Protestant Position

Martin Luther initiated the Reformation and said: “Mother Mary, like us, was born in sin of sinful parents, but the Holy Spirit covered her, sanctified and purified her so that this child was born of flesh and blood, but not with sinful flesh and blood. The Holy Spirit permitted the Virgin Mary to remain a true, natural human being of flesh and blood, just as we. However, he warded off sin from her flesh and blood so that she became the mother of a pure child, not poisoned by sin as we are. For in that moment when she conceived, she was a holy mother filled with the Holy Spirit and her fruit is a holy pure fruit, at once God and truly man, in one person.”[8]  This is quite interesting as the discovery of genetics was still several hundred years into the future. Luther could not have known scientifically how God created a sinless human body for Jesus.

Most Protestants reject the doctrine of Immaculate Conception. They do not consider the teaching authoritative because it is not supported by Biblical Scriptures.

How can an infinite God, Who was from the beginning (John 1:2) be the same Who “was made flesh, and dwelt among us?” (John 1:1, 14). The Apostle Paul explains that Jesus Christ came in a body, which was not of sinful flesh: “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as an offering for sin…” (Romans 8:3). This resolves the apparent paradox. But how could His body of flesh be received from Mary without also receiving her genetic inheritance, which is exactly what makes it sinful flesh?

The Catholics hold that Jesus could not be fully human if He had no genetic contribution from humanity (ie. Mary). God’s perfect solution was to use the “seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:15) for Jesus’ humanity and contribute His own portion to make Jesus God. Catholics also use the following verse from Paul’s letter to the Galations to support that Mary contributed Jesus’ humanity. God sent forth His Son, made of a woman. (Galatians 4:4). The Catholics espouse the sin nature of mankind is passed down through the seed of the male and they cite the Biblical Scriptures in Romans to support that.[9]

It is more likely Mary nourished and “made” the infant Jesus from a single cell being conceived (created) only by God.  She gave it a virgin birth, protecting it from any sinful genetic contribution from the ‘seed of man.’  But God the Holy Spirit conceived and created the initial cell of Jesus that ultimately grew into the baby child born nine months later.  This was God’s miraculous conception without a man and without a woman.  “when He cometh into the world, He saith, . . . a body hast thou prepared me” (Hebrews 10: 5). The author of Hebrews used the same Greek word “prepared” (katartizo), as he used a chapter later when testifying “the worlds were framed by the Word of God” (Hebrews 11: 3), acknowledging the same living Word who framed the worlds had also framed His own human body!  In that tiny cell in Mary’s womb resided all the information not only for His own growth into manhood, but also for the creation, preservation, and redemption of the whole creation.[10]

The Bible teaches that sin is present at normal human conception, as David the Psalmist stated: “Behold, I was shaped in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).  Job also proclaimed: “No one can make something clean out of something unclean” (Job 14:4).  But Jesus’ conception was not of normal human reproduction.  God miraculously created Him in utero.

The Biblical record supports God intervened only once in human genealogy when Jesus became man. God picked Mary as the woman who would birth His Son because of His grace, not because He needed a sinless vessel to pass purity onto His son.  Mary provided nourishment and protection for God’s Son as He developed in her uterus. The virgin birth confirmed the purity of Jesus at childbirth.  So God the Holy Spirit placed a God-designed conception in the womb of Mary and she functioned as a surrogate mother.  God created His human nature.  Jesus existed eternally as Deity.  His God nature was never created, contrary to the teaching of Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses.

Isaiah prophesied of the virgin birth, which was indeed miraculous. “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).   God created the universe and the world we live in with all the animal and plant life.  But the most amazing miracle God performed was His creation of the “second Adam” at conception.  He fashioned the first Adam on the sixth day of creation as a full-grown man without sin and in God’s image.  Adam was not born of a woman. He received no human DNA from earthly parents.  Yet he was fully human.  God created Jesus at conception in His image without any DNA contribution from earthly parents.  Jesus said to his disciples:

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him” (John 14: 7).

He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Do you not believe that I am in the father, and the Father is in Me? (John 14: 9-10).

Divinity joined humanity in that one instant of creation.  God planned the creation of His human Son from before the creation of the world.

And the angel answered and said unto her, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy one which is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

An angel of the Lord appeared to him (Joseph) in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Behold the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US” (Mt.1:20-23)

The Problem of Inherited Mutations

Inherent sin in the human genome produces inherited physical mutations. Over many generations, the human population has experienced myriads of genetic mutations, and these defects have been incorporated into the common human gene pool, affecting every infant ever born.  This is why the lifespan of men has declined from 900+ years in the pre-Flood world to 200+ years of Abraham’s contemporaries and ultimately to 70-80 years today.  Mary did not live to be 900 years old.  She was not martyred at a young age.  Her body suffered the ravages of imperfection.  She had a defective human genome and died a normal age (approximately 60) for a woman of that time.

All humans who have ever lived are genetically related to Adam (except Jesus).  For millennia (since the fall of Adam and Eve), every human has been born with an inherited sin nature.

For all of 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; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith (Rom. 3:23-25).

But later in the same book of the Bible God explains:

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did; sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin…(Rom. 8: 3a).

His body was truly “in the flesh,” but only “in the likeness of sinful flesh.” Jesus grew in the Mary’s womb like any other baby, yet he was different from all others. He was not genetically related to either Mary or Joseph, for both had an inherited sin nature. Jesus was sinless and without genetic flaw.  He was the spotless and sacrificial Lamb of God who offered Himself as a perfect propitiation (payment satisfactory to God) for the sins of mankind.

The Lamb of God had to be holy and unblemished to meet the requirements as an acceptable sacrifice for the sins of the world.[11]  God’s motive for the incarnation was to save His children—a virtual impossibility through normal human reproductive process.  Therefore, God miraculously created a single-cell conceptus to implant the uterine wall of the young virgin Mary.  The Lamb of God qualified as the sole Redeemer of mankind because He had no sin-nature, no genetic mutations, and no physical defects.  Yet Jesus was fully human.

Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:17).

The virgin birth provided an important testimony of the Messiah’s birth, but the greatest of God’s miracles was His creation of Jesus’ humanity at conception.[12]  Jesus’ birth was natural in every way, including the full period of human gestation in Mary’s uterus.  God made His Son “like His brethren,” to experience all aspects of human life from conception through birth, childhood, adulthood and ultimately death on a cross. He was truly man in every detail, except for sin and its physical effects.

God specially created the humanity of His Son in full perfection, and placed Him in Mary’s womb free from inherited sin damage.[13]

Christ was “born of a descendant of David, according to the flesh,”[14] because His birth mother Mary was of the lineage of David.  Joseph also descended through the kingly lineage of David. Joseph adopted Jesus as His earthly father.  Jesus’ favorite name was “the Son of Man,” which was a legimate title because He shared the breadth of human experience from conception to death—except sin. Jesus fulfilled the title, “seed of the woman.”[15] His body developed and grew from a unique Seed planted in the woman’s body by God the Holy Spirit.

God directly formed a body for the second Adam just as He had for the first Adam.[16] God devoted His ultimate love and meticulous attention to design and create “the first man (Adam), of the earth, earthy” and “the second man, the Lord from heaven.”[17] The design for Jesus’ body was prepared before the very foundation of the world.[18] God likely had this very body in mind when He made the first Adam “in our image after our likeness.”[19] Then, “when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman that we might receive the adoption of sons.”[20]

Did Jesus have Mary’s DNA?

Referring to the beginning of this article on the DNA possibilities of Jesus, there were three options. The Catholic position has been presented, which holds either the first, or more likely the second option: Mary produced the 50% sinless human portion of Jesus’ genome and God the Holy Spirit produced the remaining 50% giving Jesus Divinity and His male gender.

However, the church has always taught Jesus is 100% human and 100% Deity (preexisting His incarnation as the Son of God -“the Word”).  The third option presented earlier satisfies all these requirements: Jesus has DNA created entirely by God at the time of His conception.  His Divine nature did not need to be created, as it was eternally present prior to His birth. God the Holy Spirit provided a human body untainted by the fallen sin-nature of Adam at conception and placed it in the uterus of a virgin, Mary.  She carried this child for the nine months of a normal pregnancy as a surrogate mother.  This infant had no mutations or defects because Jesus was truly created the “second Adam” in the image of God—like the “first Adam.”  God created the first Adam and Eve without sin as perfect adults.  Sin entered both of them at the fall, and subsequently infected the entire human race.  God similarly created Jesus human body at conception, so He could experience everything human from the beginning to the end of a human life. Hebrews 4:15 explains: “He was at all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” 2 Cor. 5:21 states: ” For He made him who had no sin to be sin for us. ”  God became man to sacrifice Himself for the sins of mankind.[21]  The name “Jesus” means “God saves.”

There is no need to manufacture an explanation for Jesus’ sinless humanity through His “sinless” mother, Mary.  Mary was also born in Adam’s sin nature, like all of mankind.  Her mother, Anne, was also a sinner.  Likewise, all of Mary’s ancestors were sinners.  God created a second Adam, perfectly human and without sin to be our “kinsman redeemer.”  The second Adam, Jesus, was infinitely, eternally God and a finite, but perfect human.  He is “the Lamb slain for the sins of the world” (John 1: 29).

The name “Adam” means man. If the first Adam was man then the second Adam, Jesus also had a human body, created by God at conception in Mary’s womb. The first Adam was a special creation of God with his own unique DNA (not obtained from any man or woman).  The second Adam was just like the first—except He was “God in the flesh.”  He had no inherited sin, no sinful flesh, and was absolutely pure from the day He was conceived, until the day he died.

Therefore, just as through one man (Adam) sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned….So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men; even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.  For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous (Rom. 5:12,18-19).

And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1Cor. 15: 45).

Jesus had to be a perfect kinsman Redeemer to save mankind.

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same….” (Heb. 2:14).

He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (Col. 1:21-22).

[1] Luke 3: 23-31

[2] Genesis 6: 1-7

[3] 2Peter 2: 4; Jude 6

[4] Matt. 13: 55-56; Gal. 1: 19

  • [5] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 490-493
  • “the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a
  • singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of
  • the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin” (Encyclical Ineffabilis Deus of Pope Pius IX)

[6] Frederick Holweck, “Immaculate Conception” in the The Catholic Encyclopedia. 1910

  • [7] 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.

[8] The Protestant faith by George Wolfgang Forell 1962.  ISBN 0-8006-1095-4. Pg 23

[9] Romans 5:12, 17, 19

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


[11] 1Peter 1: 19; Hebrews 7: 26

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

[13] Morris, H. 1975. Creation and the Virgin Birth.Acts & Facts. 4 (10).

[14] Romans 1:3

[15] Genesis 3: 15

[16] Genesis 2: 7

[17] 1Corinthians 15: 47

[18] 1Peter 1: 20

[19] Genesis 1: 26

[20] Galations 4: 4-5

[21] John 1:29

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