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When Does Life Begin?

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We all know that life begins at conception. But, is that the end of the matter? Should we stop there and ask no more questions? Of course not! Shouldn't Bible Believing Christians who claim the Bible as their standard of truth and science, at the very least, look in the BIBLE for the answers to their questions? Yes, we should! We should look in the Bible for the answers AND we should look in the Bible for the QUESTIONS, too. We should ask ourselves, “Is that question even a Bible question?” The truth is, before someone can get to the right answer they must first get to the right question. For example, when someone asks the question, “When does life begin?” it should send up for us red flags right away because that question falls short of a far bigger question someone should be asking — a better question — a more biblical question. And, since God has the right answers and more importantly the right questions, this study will seek to answer this subject from the very beginning with the right question, “When does man become a living soul?”

Keeping in mind that God is The Author of life - all life - both physical and spiritual; the purpose of the following chart is to present the biblical view of the controversial subject, “When does man become a living soul?” Being a man becomes a living soul at birth, whatever your present view, we do NOT advocate abortion of any kind. We advocate life! And, unless God deems fit to take that life away, no one has any warrant to interrupt it in any stage. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life.” (John 10:10) We advocate birth for the unborn and a new birth for Adam's fallen race. (John 3:1-8) Of the three natures of man, none stand alone. The fact is, prenatal life is needed for physical birth, physical life is needed for the new birth, and Eternal life is needed for the Believer’s glorification. Hence, life is needed in every stage of man.

 By Dr. Bob Leib

(Click on chart to ENLARGE to a PDF, and return button to come back)

Man: A Living Soul

In essence, mankind has only three designations. In his physical state, he is either born or unborn. And, in his spiritual state, he is either regenerated or lost. Jesus gave us the key to understanding all this, when He said,

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. …Except a man be born of water [the first birth] and of the Spirit [the second birth], he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh [the first birth] is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit [the second birth] is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:3-7)

This study will deal specifically with the three conditions of man…

1. Physically UNBORN, in darkness, in his mother’s womb.

2. Physically BORN, in light physically, in darkness spiritually.

3. Physically BORN, in light physically and spiritually.

In a three minute conversation with Jesus, Nicodemus mentioned the first condition of man…

“How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4) The first condition of man is inside his mother's womb.

Jesus added the other two conditions…

Born of water” (womb) - natural birth and “born of the Spirit” - spiritual birth (John 3:5 and 6)…

That translates to three natures (see three charts below)...

1. UNBORN nature



Just as physical conception, with natural seed, generates physical life, a spiritual conception, with spiritual seed (I Peter 1:23), generates spiritual life.

According to Jesus, if there is no natural life without a natural birth, there will be no spiritual life, without a spiritual birth. (See note below.)

So, the question still remains, what determines when a man becomes a living soul? Jesus answered that in the next verse of our main text…

“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.John 3:8)

Jesus likened spiritual birth to wind - blowing air. If “every one that is born of the Spirit” breathes spiritually for the first time at their new birth, then it stands to reason, that everyone who breathes naturally for the first time, does so at their physical birth.

Adam became a “living soul” when, “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7), and the soul of the widow’s son of First Kings seventeen came “into him again” after he received “breath” (vs. 17).

“As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment; and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul; All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils....” (Job 27:2-3)

“The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” (Job 33:4)

“And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind [Remember; Jesus likened wind to being born of the Spirit - John 3:8], Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” (Ezekiel 37:8-10)

Here is the KEY to understanding this subject. Remember, the question is, “When does man become a living soul...?"

Like a man’s spirit and soul leave a man at death (which leaves a FULLY DEVELOPED BODY), so too, at this stage (see first chart below -- "Begins Birth") you have a FULLY DEVELOPED BODY THAT IS LIVING (totally dependent on its mother for life), in anticipation of birth where it receives a spirit, and becomes a living soul.


PHYSICAL LIFE is generated at CONCEPTION, and completed at BIRTH - where man becomes a LIVING SOUL* that breathes on his own, for the first time ever. And, SPIRITUAL LIFE begins at CONCEPTION** and completed at BIRTH - The NEW BIRTH - where a living soul has been regenerated into a SAVED SOUL that is breathing spiritually, for the first time ever.

* When God created man, He created him as a COMPLETE being. God, as a triune being, made man in His own image. In that sense, man looked like God, with a "spirit and soul and body." (I Thessalonians 5:23)                                                                                             

** See, I PETER 1:23 and Mark 4:8a, 20a - The seed of the word of God implanted in "good ground."

Note: Spiritually speaking, a man might conceive the seed of the word of God, but he is not breathing (spiritually), according to the Lord Jesus, UNTIL he is born again. It is no different in the physical realm. A woman receives corruptible seed that produces a corruptible body that has to grow to maturity, in order to be born and breath on his own.


Related Articles:

       Chart 1: The Unborn Nature of Man

Chart 2: The Unregenerated Nature of Man

Chart 3: The Regenerated Nature of Man


April 7, 20011

Bro. Bob,

Thank you so much for your clear minded Bible explanation of the subject at hand. I believe the scripture is clear on the first breath becoming a living soul not only Adam and Nicodemus but also Ezekiel 37 where Israel become a living nation by the breath of God entering them.

Thank you so much for the countless hours you spent to help with the understanding of this misunderstood and emotionally clouded subject.

I believe that abortion is the premeditated murder of a human being (physical) but it is not yet a "living soul" (spiritual). A seed that has not been birthed and that has not breathed is called "fruit" not a living soul. As far as abortions they are still murder of a human body and that's what makes it wrong but that body does not have a living soul at time of the killing. At the rapture the pregnant women will not produce the fruit within her as a separate saint.

Again, thank you for your hours of wrestling with this very sensitive subject.

God bless,

Bro. Kevin


Amen, Brother Bob.

I believe you hit all of the verses I would have: maybe more. I know that this flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but you have simply dealt with what the Bible SAYS. And you have compared scripture with the correct corresponding scriptures. You did not try to make a passage fit you. Instead, you submitted to the authority of the scriptures and let them fit you to themselves. And, by the way, you were not addressing the age of accountability, or anything else for the matter. No, you were simply focusing on the question, "When does man become a living soul?"

Good job, Preacher.

Dr. John 


"BROTHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I now believe for the first time ever something exactly opposite of my loooooooooooooooooong held belief and once again you were instrument that God used to get through to my FORMERLY STUBBORN head!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I NOW KNOW WHEN A LIVING SOUL BEGINS. JUST LIKE GOD HAS TRIED TO TELL ME BEFORE THROUGH DOC AND AS MUCH AS I LOVE AND ADMIRED DOC, he was wrong on that.!!! End of subject, far as i was concerned!!! God thought otherwise and now little, bitty i, has a crystal clear picture and the reception is great no matter where i am. i get great reception every where i go. NO DEAD ZONES!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU a quadrillion squared times and thank God above ALL because HE IS above all!!!!!!!!! AMEN."

B.C., Mississippi


"NO Bible Believer ‘condones’ abortion! ...Dr. Ruckman has said many times that he is AGAINST abortion and has even worded it on his Sunday School Lessons as ‘Killing Babies’ in the practical application. What we believe from the Bible is that LIFE begins when you BREATH your first breath. The Bible calls this ‘the breath of LIFE.’ No, the oxygen in your Mothers blood is oxygen and not ‘the breath of life’ with you breathing in your ‘nostrils’ .... Your birthday is not your conception day but your BIRTH day, and your death is the day you stop BREATHING. 2 Tim. 2:15 is some people's problem here. I love babies, but love my Bible more. Don't ever put people before God no matter how your emotions feel. WHAT SAITH THE SCRIPTURES?? Look up ‘breath,’ ‘breath of life,’ ‘breathed,’ ‘nostrils’ and read Gen. 2 and Ezek. 37, Isa. 42. God's command to YOU is to study His words (2 Tim. 2:15) and not defend babies or protest Abortion Clinics. You have your marching orders from your Captain ‘soldier.’ No Christian likes abortion or abortion doctors or abortion clinics, BUT that does not mean we ignore the doctrine in the Bible because our feelings are getting tweaked." D.N., Oregon


December 8, 2017

Bro. Bob... 

Sorry it took me a bit to get back to you. I have been busy with other things and I wanted to give your study a thorough examination and read. And I want to tell you that you did an excellent job of laying out the truth in your study! I have studied this before and I found most of the scriptures you examined are the same the Lord used in my search, as well. The medical study, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. When I was in college and studied the immediate physiological changes in newborns at birth (breath), in anatomy & physiology, it was something that caught my attention - the depth of the examination of the process was brief in general A&P. Then in OB in nursing school, I was caught aback & intrigued, and did some research on my own, more than we were required to know in school, because I understood the Bible enough to know that there was something there. And like someone else commented, it flies in the face of conventional wisdom. And, unless the truth is more important than a person's personal feelings, it's a tough piece of rawhide few have the teeth to macerate & belly to digest. And, invariably, the first thing the immature &/or lost is going to fire at you, is the false accusation that the truth justifies abortion; for which it does not! “If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” (Exodus 21:22-25)

Thanks for letting me know & inviting me to read your study. Good stuff!

AB, Claxton, Georgia


Fetal Circulation and Baby's First Breathe

(Click on picture for a five minute video 

explanation of 

Fetal Circulation and Baby's First Breathe)

I will end this article with medical proof that for a fetus everything changes dramatically at the FIRST BREATH.

"With the first breath after birth, the system changes suddenly. The pulmonary resistance is dramatically reduced. More blood moves from the right atrium to the right ventricle and into the pulmonary arteries, and less flows through the foramen ovale to the left atrium. The blood from the lungs travels through the pulmonary veins to the left atrium, increasing the pressure there. The decreased right atrial pressure and the increased left atrial pressure pushes the septum primum against the septum secundum, closing the foramen ovale, which now becomes the fosse ovalis. This completes the separation of the circulatory system into two halves, the left and the right.

The ductus arteriosus normally closes off within one or two days of birth. The umbilical vein and the ductus venosus closes off within two to five days after birth, leaving behind the ligamentum teres and the ligamentum venosus of the liver respectively."

"Once the infant is born, the priorities of circulation change dramatically. There is no longer a need for a blood supply through the umbilical vein. However, with (hopefully) a set of working lungs there is a need for all the blood to be passed through the pulmonary circulation. In the first few breaths this change over is achieved. The stretching of the pulmonary arteries and the opening of them as air is drawn into the lung causes a sudden drop in pressure in the right atrium. Reversal of the pressure difference between the left and right atria causes the foramen ovale to shut. This will not be a permanent state of affairs until the end of the third month. The lowering of right atrial pressure is also helped by the occlusion of the ductus venosus as its sphincter constricts.

Also, closing at birth is the ductus arteriosus (although this may remain patent for two or three months after birth), constriction of the ductus is mediated by bradykinin released from the lungs on their initial inflation. The effects of bradykinin are dependent on the PO2 in the blood passing through it. Once this reaches about 50mmHg then the ductus will close. Prostaglandins, released when the oxygen content is low as in fetal life, maintain an open ductus arteriosus. Inhibitors of their synthesis can cause closure of the ductus in premature infants.

The final vessels to completely occlude in the transfer between fetal and infantile circulations are the umbilical arteries and veins. At birth the umbilical arteries constrict rapidly, preventing loss of the infants' blood. For a minute or so afterwards the umbilical vein remains patent and fetal blood is transferred out of the placenta to the infant.

Thus the new-born infant is left with the adult pattern of circulation where de-oxygenated blood enters the right atrium and is pumped through the right ventricle to the pulmonary arteries. In the lungs it is oxygenated to be returned to the left atrium of the heart via the pulmonary veins. Oxygenated blood can then be pumped to all parts of the body by the left ventricle. It is interesting to note that in the fetus, the right ventricle has had more work to do and thus has a thicker wall. Once the left ventricle takes over the majority of work, it quickly hypertrophies’ as the right ventricle atrophies through reduced work. Thus the normal adult pattern of the heart is also only finally developed after birth."

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