Holy Spirit conceives Jesus

Matthew 1:20 ESV

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Luke 1:35 ESV

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[a] will be called holy— the Son of God.

Jesus is distinct from God

Clearly during "life" Jesus was distinct from God:

John 20:17 ESV

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Matthew 27:46 ESV

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

And in heaven:

Psalm 110:1 YLT

A Psalm of David. The affirmation of Jehovah (LORD) to my Lord: `Sit at My right hand, Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.'


Mark 16:19 ESV

So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.

The question

So then, the Holy Spirit must also be distinct. Is it better proper to say that the Holy Spirit is the father of Jesus?

  • good question, I am still not clear on the difference between the holy spirit and God.... Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 20:38
  • 2
    @GregMcNulty I would say the only difference between the Holy Spirit and God is akin to the difference between ice and H2O - ice IS H2O, exclusively, but H2O isn't ice exclusively. (I really hate that analogy but it's the best I can think of) Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 21:46
  • 3
    From the view of "God is one", Jesus is (and always was) God, and you wouldn't say "God was His own Father", so "Father" is only useful in understanding that the man Jesus was the perfect representation of God's nature. If we "divide them up" then the Father willed it, the Son experienced it, and the Spirit carried it out. In the "divided up" view, God the Father is the Father (according to Scripture), so if the Spirit carrying it out makes us think of the Spirit as Jesus' father, we have a different definition than God for the word "Father".
    – Jas 3.1
    Commented Jun 16, 2012 at 3:44
  • We are taught on any given Sunday that God sent his only begotten son to Earth to suffer and die. That is very different than saying God came down to Earth to die. I wonder why he did it that way. Clearly he should have just had the Christ appear or speak through another person... maybe another question.
    – user1054
    Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 17:25
  • 1
    @DanAndrews Re: "I wonder why he did it that way... Clearly he should have just had the Christ appear" - I would love to answer this in another question. (Hint: the key is "the life is in the blood", "God is love", and "no greater love has a man than to lay down his life")
    – Jas 3.1
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 23:15

3 Answers 3


The Holy Spirit is not the Father of Jesus, God the Father is. What you are asking about is the nature of the Trinity.


Christians have always believed the Son of God was preexisting before the creation of the world and is God who created the world. The Father spoke through the Son and the Spirit performed the actual creative events.

John 1:1-3 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

God told Moses that His name was ‘I AM’ (Exodus 3:14 ) meaning without beginning and eternal, therefore, when Jesus said the following, the Jews picked up stones to stone Him for blasphemy:

John 8:57-58 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” 58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

The Holy Spirit is also God. He is an eternally existing divine person and the author of divine operations.

For example:

Genesis 1:2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Now all three person of the trinity combined are the Godhead who is One.

Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

God is One:

Isaiah 44:6 The Lord, Not Idols 6 “This is what the Lord says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.

So it seems very Biblical to accept the Trinity as believed by the Christian church throughout all the ages. One definition of the trinity that makes things clear can be taken from John Owen’s Works Volume 2, Page 462:

God is one; — that this one God is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; — that the Father is the Father of the Son; and the Son, the Son of the Father; and the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of the Father and the Son; and that, in respect of this their mutual relation, they are distinct from each other.

What sometimes makes the issue more complex, and more direcct to your point, is that Jesus sometimes speaks from His 'God-ward' side, like when the Jews wanted to stone Him, and sometimes from His 'man-ward' side. The verses you quote seem to be when He is speaking from his man-ward aspect, like ‘to my God and your God’. The same is true when Jesus refers to his disciples as his 'brothers'. This is easily understood when we remember although Christ was eternal, the man Jesus was not. Therefore, the Spirit is one person of the Holy Trinity performing the works of the eternal Father’s will through the eternal Son, God's word. That is how in a theoretical-sense the Spirit is kind of a 'father' of the body of Christ, but not really, more like the creative cause, or operation, according to the original Father's will. The God-Man is by no means the Son of the Spirit, He is the Son of God the Father.

The Son is the eternally generated Son of the Father, not the Spirit. What you have noticed is that the body of Christ was made by the Spirit, so technically, yes, God was the father of the Man Jesus, by the Spirit’s operation and power. The eternal Son was willing to take this body prepared for Him, thereby creating the God-Man, the Christ of God, in order to bring salvation to men. By this means The eternal Son assumed a human body prepared for Him by the eternal Spirit, according to the will of the eternal Father. All three; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are the 'I AM', the only One and true God.


Since you are pushing for more answers, I will go out on a limb and "play the heretic" with a theory I've had for a while.

God, in a nutshell.

It is difficult to wrap our 3 lb. brains around a God who is love, is eternal, can do whatever He wants to, but yet only does good, etc. etc. Just try to imagine God existing eternally into the past! You can't! That's why skeptics have attacked Christians on this point for centuries. I mean, He is God! How could we possibly understand Him? It's not hard to fathom that "His thoughts and ways are not like our thoughts and ways"!

Perhaps the most central theme in Scripture is that the God of love earnestly desires intimate relationship with mankind. However, another huge theme of Scripture is that the relationship between God and man was destroyed by sin. We no longer have face-to-face access to God like they did in the garden - now we "see in a mirror dimly" instead.

It seems pretty clear that there is a bit of a "language barrier" between God and man just due to the fact that we aren't God. With sin added in, we definitely have trouble understanding Him now. These "language barriers" severely limit our understanding.

When there is a language barrier between two humans, the solution is to speak in a language that the other one can understand. For instance, if I were ministering in Russia, I would either need to speak with a Russian who understood English, or I would need to speak in Russian. God does the same thing. He "speaks our language" in order to communicate with us. This is why God spoke in Hebrew to the Jews, why Jesus used a lot of examples about money and farming and spoke in the everyday language, why the apostles quoted from translations that were understandable to their audience (example), etc.

I think we need to have some humility when we're trying to "understand God". I love these verses, and think they apply perfectly here:

O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. -Psalm 131:1

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. -Psalm 139:6

One Possible Answer

I think what God has done is He has attempted to reveal Himself in a way that would make sense to our pea-brains. In doing so, He has described Himself as "Us" in some places, and "I" in other places. In some cases He appears unapproachable in His high and holy greatness, and in other cases He appears to be our friend, lover, and co-heir. At times He has revealed Himself to be sovereign, and at other times, interactive and personal.

He has shown us that He is our Father, but also shown us that He is our Brother. He has shown us that He dictates what is right (Father), He has demonstrated how to do things right (Son), and He helps us do what is right (Spirit). He has shown us that He provides as a Father (Father), that He provides as a Sacrifice (Son), and that He provides as a Helper (Spirit).

I believe God is one, and I suspect that the Father, Son and Spirit may be the different ways God has revealed Himself for the purpose of our understanding Him better.

You may object, thinking, "why would God put on an act just to illustrate something?" Consider this passage:

Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me. -John 11:41-42

In other words, Jesus only prayed this so people would hear Him pray it!

I am also highly suspicious based on passages such as 2 Corinthians 3. Verse 17 states "the Lord is the Spirit", and if you study the chapter very carefully I believe verse 18 is teaching that the difference between Jesus and the Spirit is the same as the difference between the fading glory on Moses' face and the unfading glory God has destined us to. Also, the following quote from Jesus seems to indicate that having the Holy Spirit is better than having Jesus:

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. -John 16:7

To me this makes perfect sense, because God desires deep intimacy with us, and the Spirit dwells within us, but a relationship with Jesus was external. In other words, I think God may have been indicating that it is much better to experience internal intimacy with Him (Spirit), than external relationship with Him (Jesus). I am beginning to think of Jesus as God's way of interacting with us in a familiar form. Passages like Revelation 22 make a lot more sense in light of this view.


As a result, I think it is appropriate to say, "God was the Father of the man, Jesus", because in the "God is one" perspective, this is true. It is also appropriate to say, "God (i.e. God the Father) is the Father of Jesus (i.e. God the Son)", because in the "three Persons" perspective that God has given us, this is true.

However, I tend to think it would be inappropriate to say, "The Holy Spirit is the Father of Jesus", because:

  • God has not revealed Himself as the "Holy Spirit Father", and

  • This would be a confusion of two perspectives

If there is something about the Holy Spirit's activity in the Virgin Birth which makes us think of Him as the Father of Jesus, I would suggest that we need to constrain our language to the boundaries set forth by God in Scripture and resist the urge to use that wording.

Forgive me for challenging 2,000 years of Church doctrine with my home-brewed theology, but at least now you'll have a 2nd perspective to consider, per your request. (Looking forward to comments.)

  • +1 nice answer and I don't believe that you challenged 2000 years of Church doctrine. Some Christians today believe that the religion has always been the way it is now. Clearly that's not the case since it's not even the same in different parts of the world today. Christianity evolves, Darwin was right after all... <jk>
    – user1054
    Commented Jun 28, 2012 at 12:27
  • +1 very straight forward answer. but i cant distinguish between the answer you presented and the church doctrine. i think it is because i don't know 2000 years of church doctrine. can you please brief that too?
    – Jomet
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 6:26
  • 2
    @Jomet What I am postulating is that there is one God (monotheism) who has chosen to reveal Himself to us in three different ways. This is different than the doctrine of the Trinity, which states that there are three distinct Persons who are in unison and are collectively called God due to their perfect unity and fellowship. (In the Trinitarian view, there were literally three distinct Persons who made up "God", even prior to the Genesis 1 events.) Most theologians would label my speculation as "heresy."
    – Jas 3.1
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 20:27

No.The Holy Spirit was not Jesus' Father. Rather, God fathered Jesus in Mary through the Holy Spirit:

Matthew 1:18 (NIV)

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus has only one Father and that's God the Father:

John 8:41-42 (NASB) 41 You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.

1 Peter 1:3 (NASB) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Jesus is equal with His Father in terms of nature:

Philippians 2:6 (NIV)

Who, being in very nature God,did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

John 5:17-19 (NASB)

17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” 18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.

The Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son but rather, he is the third person in the one Godhead called Trinity.

Matthew 28:19 (NIV)

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,