Ever been hiking or navigate a ship by compass? Have you any idea of what happens over many miles when one is off by just a degree or two? At the end of your journey you will find yourself in a place you don’t recognize that was not the place you intended to go.
This same scenario has happened among believers. Our compass that keeps us on the “narrow path” is the Word of God. As we understand it, sound doctrine is achieved by letting God interpret His own Word by comparing Scripture with Scripture, not by our interpreting what we think it means. This is the only way we can be sure that we are not led astray. We also need to get as close as we can to the original languages the Word was written in to make sure that the translations we are reading are as accurately portrayed as possible.
With these criteria in mind, we have been amazed that the beliefs of men who were self-avowed God haters have made their way into the way believers view the inerrant Word of God and in many instances this thinking has affected our view of the Word, and has taken us off course. Specifically I am referring to the belief in prenatal sins which has gained popularity in recent years.
We first heard of this some twenty years ago. However, in recent years, and personally within the past year, we have run into this theory hitting the mainstream of believers in Messiah Y’shau. When this happened in the realm of those who interact with us, personally, we decided it was time to go to the Father and see what He had to say about this. Therefore, we put the query to YHWH to please show us whether or not this had any Biblical basis. The following information is the result of that prayer.
We have heard it mentioned that a child can make a judgment in the womb and thus beginning a cycle of problems that follows them through their life. This troubled us somewhat and we just didn’t have “peace” about it, so we prayed and asked YHWH to teach us about this; to show us either way, as long as it was HIS way.
Within that week, we were in study time and this Scripture was in our references:
Romans 9:6-12 (Complete Jewish Bible, CJB)
But the present condition of Isra’el is truly part of Isra’el; indeed, not all the descendants are seed of Avraham; rather, “What is to be called your seed will be in Yitzchak.” In other words, it is not the physical children who are children of God, but the children the promise refers to who are considered seed. For this is what the promise said, “At the time set, I will come; and Sarah will have a son.” And even more to the point is the case of Rivkah; for both her children were conceived in a single act with Yitzchak, our father; and before they were born before they had done anything at all, either good or bad, (so that God’s plan might remain a matter of his sovereign choice, not dependent on what they did, but on God who does the calling), it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.”
Just in case this translation was slanted, we checked all the translations we have to see if they put this differently, or if they upheld the meaning of this translation:
Romans 9:10-11, NAS
And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Issac, for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls.
Romans 9:10-11, The Scriptures
And not only so, but Ribqah having conceived by one, our father Yitshaq. Yet, before they were born or had done any good or evil, in order that the purposes of Elohim, according to choice, might stand, not of works but of Him who calls –
Romans 9:10-11, KJV
And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even our father Issac; (for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.
Romans 9:10-11, AMP
And not only that, but this too: Rebecca conceived [two sons under exactly the same circumstances] by our forefather Issac, And the children were yet unborn and had so far done nothing either good or evil. Even so, in order further to carry out God’s purpose of selection (election, choice), which depends not on works or what men can do, but on Him Who calls [them],
We think we can all agree that if Scripture calls something “evil” or “bad,” it would be sin. Certainly to judge someone is sin, yes? So, according to all these translations we are told that sin is not done in the womb; it is not done before birth. Then we went to the Strong’s Concordance to see what these words actually mean.
done (4238) prasso, to practice, i.e. perform repeatedly or habitually, to execute, accomplish, etc; to collect (dues), fare (personally): commit, deeds, do, exact, keep, require, use arts
good (18) agathos, good, benefit, good(s, things), well
evil (bad) (2556) kakos, worthless, (intrinsically such), i.e. depraved or injurious: bad, evil, harm, ill, noisome, wicked
purpose (plan) (4286) prothesis, a setting forth, i.e. (fig.) proposal (intention); spec. the show-bread (in the
Next, we looked at some of the Scriptures used to “justify” this teaching of prenatal sin. Since the following Scriptures were both from the Hebrew part of the Bible, we called a friend who is fluent in Hebrew, teaches Hebrew classes, is a Messianic Jew, and has a Bible from which she reads the OT that is written totally in Hebrew. We asked her to read these verses to us in Hebrew and tell us what they said. She helped with the information below:
The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.
When it says “from birth,” or “from the womb,” it is saying not before birth, nor in the womb, but is talking about after the birthing process; it means that they strayed from the time of their birth.
wicked (1563) rasha, morally wrong; an (actively) bad person; condemned, guilty, ungodly, wicked, that did wrong
estranged (2114) zuwr, to turn aside (esp. for lodging); hence to be a foreigner, strange, profane; spec. to commit adultery
womb (7358) rechem, womb
The next verse says much the same thing. Again, from the womb being from the time of their birth, not being while in the womb:
Isaiah 48:8: AMP: you were called a transgressor and a rebel [in revolt] from your birth
KJV: thou wouldst deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb
treacherously (898) bagad to cover (with a garment); fig. to act covertly; by impl. To pillage: deal deceitfully, (treacherously, unfaithfully), offend transgress (-or), (depart), treacherous (dealer, -ly, man), unfaithful (-ly, man), X very
transgressor (6586) pasha, to break away (from authority), i.e. trespass, apostatize, quarrel, offend, rebel, revolt, transgress
womb (990) beh’ten, to be hollow, the belly, esp. the womb, also the bosom or body of anything as they be born
Another scripture mentioned supporting this theory is found in John 9:1-3.
And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.
And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned,
this man or his parent, that he should be born blind?”
Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
This passage doesn’t say the man sinned in the womb. The conclusion that he has seems to be based upon the belief that this is possible. All we are told in Scripture is that neither the man nor his parents sinned. Had he sinned in the womb, wouldn’t Y’shau have attributed this to his having sinned? Yet, Y’shua said he had not sinned to bring his blindness about.
We’ve also run into Romans 2:1 to support a child judging the parent in the womb.
Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn, yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.
This passage talks about judging being wrong, but in no way supports nor mentions the issue of sinning in the womb. As we have seen, neither can it get its support from the other Scriptures listed as supporting this theory since they don’t support it either.
Did Y’shua view children as having “sinned?” No. He said ALL had to come to Him as a little children!
Some say, because we are spirit and our spirit is fully formed at conception and since all is there that makes us “us,” sin can take place in the womb. If we can sin because our spirit is fully formed, but without our mental cognizance, then that means that we can sin NOW without any conscious knowledge of doing so. If this is true then how could we ever be able to “confess our sins” for forgiveness according to 1 John 1:9?
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our
sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Another Scripture showing that this belief is not in accordance with the principles laid down in the Word of God came to light:
And YHWH smelled a sweet savor; and YHWH said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth;...(Genesis 8:21)
Youth = (5271) na’uwr, na’ur, ne’urah: prop. pass. part. from 5288 as demon.; (only in plur. collect. or emphat.) youth, the state (juvenility) or the persons (young people);-childhood, youth
Strong’s does not say this word means babyhood, infancy or before birth, but it clearly states that man’s heart is evil from youth. Therefore it is impossible, according to what is on the page and
the original meaning of the word, to in any way construe children sinning in the womb.
And another passage found in Deuteronomy again shows that children do not make judgment calls and thus sin in the womb:
Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them, and they shall possess it.
little ones (2945)taf; from 2952 (perh. Referring to the tripping gait of children); a family (mostly used collect. In the sing.):- (little) children (ones), families
sons (children) (1121) ben; from 1129; a son (as a builder of the family name), in the widest sense (of lit, and fit. relationship, including grandson, subject, nation, quality or condition, etc. whelp, worthy, young (one), youth (LONG definition; see Strong’s for all of it.)
knowledge (3045) yaw-dah’; a prim. root; to know (prop. to ascertain by seeing); used in a great variety of senses, fig., lit., euphem. and causat. instruction, designation, punishment, etc.) (LONG definition; see Strongs’ for all of it.)
good (2896) tobe: from 2895; good (as an adj.) in the widest sense; used likewise as a noun, both in the masc. and fem., the sing. And the plur. (good, a good or good thing, a good man or woman; (Long definition; see Strong’s for all of it.)
evil (7451) rah; from 7489; bad or (as noun) evil (nat. or mor.):-adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, + displease (-ure), distress, evil ([favouredness], man, thing), + exceedingly, x great, grief (-vous), harm, heavy, hurt (-ful), ill (favoured), + mark, mischief (-vous), misery, naught (-ty), noisome, + not please, sad (-ly), sore, sorrow, trouble, vex, wicked (-ly, -ness, one), worse (-st), wretchedness, wrong.
Does this mean that these children were without a sin nature? No, only Messiah was born without sin. So, this passage supports the other Scriptures we’ve found that clearly show that neither little children nor youth could have sinned in the womb if this passage means what God said, which the Strong’s definitions show.
As we have seen the Word of God has some clearly defined passages which prove that children DO NOT sin in the womb, this principle being upheld in the supporting Scriptures given above. We are not using just one Scripture to build a position as we can also see that the Scriptures used to justify this position do not. Those who use sections of the Word to support their theory need to go back to the original words which, again, prove that the meaning given to these passages is not upheld in the original language. Therefore this theory cannot be correct - for Scripture cannot contradict itself and we are clearly told in Romans 9:10-11 (along with the other supporting Scriptures) that sinning in the womb isn’t possible, therefore making the Scriptures cited supporting this null and void.
So, the passages from Scripture we investigated, cited as support for the prenatal sins theory really don’t support any judgments (sin) taking place in the womb. We asked our Hebrew fluent friend if they did and she said no. To do so would suggest pre-destination, which Scripture doesn’t support, no matter what the Calvinists say. They forget that the verse they base that upon reads:
“Those whom God FOREKNEW, He predestined…”
It doesn’t say He predestined them with no hope to be other than their predestined fate. If that were true, the church has wasted a lot of time evangelizing, when the end result will be God’s predestined fate for them in spite of what we do! No, this just means that God knows what choices we’ll make and to what end they will take us.
We know logic says, well, if it can happen outside, why can’t it happen inside the womb as well? It is very simple: it can’t because God’s Word said it can’t in Romans 9:10-11 and we’ve also seen that neither is there support for this in the Scriptures cited by the proponents of this theory. Either we take YHWH at His Word or we don’t. We can’t “logic it out,” we just have to believe what He said. We truly cannot find Scripture to support this theory without extra Scriptural interpretation.
We know people like to reason things out, but ultimately we just have to accept YHWH at His word, whether it makes sense to us or not. We know that some of the "sins of the fathers" are passed to children by the children learning from what they've observed in parental behavior. We also know that they can be passed down without our knowledge, but this happens in a way that in no way involves a choice for sin by the child in the womb. It happens through a person in our family line who, in the past, made a decision that was in opposition to God's Word. In so doing this ancestor opened the door in this area to satan's kingdom. (Exodus 20:5) At that point, satan had a "legal right" to plague that person and THAT is passed on to their progeny in that area of agreement. Until someone in that family line recognizes the enemy and spoils his "kingdom" in that family line by falling out of agreement AND CLOSING THE OPENED DOOR, opened by the ancestor, satan continues to plague and defeat that family line using his tactics of lies and stealth. It does not mean that we sinned in the womb to bring these things about. In fact, as we’ve seen God's word CLEARLY states that this does NOT happen.
As to the response of some that it must be truth because of experiential track record, our response is that experience does not establish truth. The Word of God establishes truth. If experience were the measure of truth, then no one would ever come out of witchcraft, Satanism or any cult who had ever seen something they enchanted or believed come about. We understand that success has been had with this belief by some people who defend it as truth and we see that as God’s grace upon them and the people who have received this type of ministry from those defending it, however that does not make it truth.
For example, ever heard of people who have gotten saved and with whom YHWH immediately dealt about smoking? Ever heard of others who got just as saved, were just as committed to their newly discovered Lord, with whom He did not deal with this issue until some years later? Does the delay in Him dealing with this issue establish this practice as acceptable to God? No. Our bodies are the temple of the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) and we are not to defile them. So again, God allowing something for a season does not make it truth.
As we walk in His ways He will continue to reveal His truth to us and continue to trim our lives to make us like Him. There is no record of Y’shau or any of the disciples addressing this with any person to whom they ministered. If this were so vital, why is the Scriptural record void of any instance of this?
We had been praying about the response of some who hold to this belief saying that their “interpretation” of their supporting Scriptures proved this theory, even though these Scriptures don’t bear that out in the original language. We’d also been praying about our troubled feelings about this position when early the Shabbat morning following our study into these Scriptures we heard the voice of YHWH speaking this:
“Interpretation can never take precedence over the literal meaning.”
This “put the finger” on what was troubling us. According to Bible scholars, sound Biblical study involves studying a passage and looking at it in several ways:
1. Investigate the literal meaning of the words on the page, requiring study into the original words and the roots of those words, thus the use of the Strong’s and/or the help of someone fluent in Hebrew or Greek. This was the reason we investigated the literal meaning of the words from the Scriptures listed in support of this theory; the literal meanings did not support the premise given.
2. Look at the Scriptural principle behind the words on the page. For instance, Rabbinical law says that one is not to mix meat and milk products at a meal, nor can they use the same dishes or refrigerator. Yet the words on the page only say not to cook the kid in its mother’s milk. If the Rabbinical law is correct in its application of Scripture, then the patriarch Abraham was wrong, for he served dairy and beef to the angels, (and to the one whom most Bible scholars believe to have been the pre-incarnate Y’shau) in Genesis 18. So, the principle from Genesis 18 is that dairy and meat are fine to be served
together, but not the meat cooked in the milk that was to nurture that baby animal.
3. A third way is to research and understand the historical setting and context of any Scriptural passage. This helps to explain why Paul wrote certain things to certain fellowships, why Messiah addressed issues that He did, and what was happening when the prophets were addressing the people of
4. The final way to view Scripture is controlled totally by the Ruach, for John 16:13 and 1 John tell us that He is the one who will teach us and lead us into all truth. This is when one reads a passage read multiple times and all of a sudden the page just opens and something is seen that’s never been seen before. We call that “a God thing” for it is totally controlled by Him. This is how the insight into Romans 9:10-11 came; the words just came off of the page at us.
If different criteria is applied, one which reads what is on the page and then “interprets” something from that then we are in danger of finding ourselves at a different destination than intended, because we have “interpreted” the Word of God instead of letting His Word interpret itself.
For instance, when reading Romans 9:10-11, Genesis 8:21, and/or Deuteronomy 1:39 we believe the literal words on the page mean exactly what they say (thus the reason we check out multiple versions and use the Strong’s extensively), and for us the Scriptural principle would be that these same words give us an example of a universal principle: a principle that this is true for all unborn children. That is why we believe it is recorded in the Word of God, to instruct us in life and godliness, for according to the Word, it contains everything pertaining to life and godliness. The Scriptures in Genesis 8:21 and Deuteronomy 1:29 are certainly compatible with what is being said in Romans 9 further verifying the truth of no prenatal sin. However, the theory being discussed appears to take a different approach: it seems to reach an opposite conclusion to the one given literally, nor does the response “flow in the same direction” to the literal meaning in rendering a principle or “interpretation” from the passage.
If we suppose on the Word, we’ll get into trouble and be led down the wrong path. We know that the mindset of looking at what happened to the child in the womb has led a large number who have investigated this into looking at what happened before the womb and this has led them into a belief in reincarnation and taken them off the “narrow path” of the Word of God.
We hope the reader will investigate these Scriptures for himself and see if they really say what we’ve written. Believers in Messiah Y’shau have the same Ruach – Holy Spirit – who can lead and guide us into the truth. But, for truth to be truth, there can only be one and it is our God who holds the key.