William Franklin “Billy” Graham Jr. was born on November 7, 1918 at 3:30 PM in Charlotte, North Carolina and died at his home in Montreat, North Carolina on February 21, 2018 at 7:33 AM at the age of 99.1 According to the way mortality records are currently kept, a person’s life begins on the day they are born, and it ends on the day they die. God, however, looks at the lifespan of mankind on earth differently from the secular world and reveals His view of the beginning of life repeatedly in His written Word, the Bible.
The term “seed” is used in the Bible, frequently in the book of Genesis, to refer to the basic unit of life from which all life, including plants and animals, emanates. The word “seed” is also used in both the singular and plural form to refer to people and their descendants (Genesis 1:11, 4:1, 25). What modern, human, reproductive biology calls an “egg” in the female and a “sperm” in the male, is referred to as a “seed” rather extensively throughout the Old and New Testaments. It is inferred that life begins at conception, when the male and female seeds unite before entering the womb, and not after the birth of the child, as some in the secular world would have you believe (Psalm 139:13-17).
The Conception and Birth of Jesus
“But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.’” Matthew 1:20
“Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus….’ Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’” Luke 1:30-37
“So it was, that while they were there, [Bethlehem] the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn…And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.” Luke 2:6, 21
The Conception and Birth of John the Baptist
“There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years…Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb…’ So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, ‘Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.’” Luke 1:5-7, 11-15
“Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.
And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.’” Luke 1:39-44
“Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her. So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. His mother answered and said, ‘No; he shall be called John.’ But they said to her, ‘There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.’ So they made signs to his father-what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, ‘His name is John.’ So they all marveled. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God.” Luke 1:57-64
When does Human life Begin?
The Bible’s Viewpoint
According to many Old and New Testament Scriptures and specific, Scriptural evidence presented by Matthew and Luke, human life begins at conception and not at the physical birth of a child. Proof of human life beginning at conception is confirmed by the “angel of the Lord” when he proclaims that Elizabeth’s son John would be “filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb…” (Luke 1:11-15). If John’s life had been terminated in his mother’s womb, prior to his birth, Jesus would not have been able to say “among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist…” (Matthew 11:11, Luke 7:28). Was John alive and a developing person in his mother’s womb before he was born? The words spoken by the angel sent from God and Jesus’ words confirm that John (the Baptist) was a living person in his mother’s womb before he was born and was not just a clump of insignificant cells as some incorrectly claim. Does anyone alive today believe they were not a human being in development before they were born?
The Scientific Viewpoint
When does the secular, scientific, and medical world believe that human life begins? There has been great scientific advancement in the biological and reproductive life sciences in the past century that has helped improve the understanding of human life- especially its creation and development. Credible, scientific, medical research reveals conclusively that human life begins at conception, which is in complete agreement with the teachings in the Bible.
According to the American College of Pediatricians: “The predominance of human biological research confirms that human life begins at conception-fertilization.” 2
“Development begins at fertilization when a sperm fuses with an ovum to form a zygote; this cell is the beginning of a new human being.” 3
“After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being…[this] is no longer a matter of taste or opinion, it is not a metaphysical contention, it is plain experimental evidence….” 4
“An individual human life begins at conception when a sperm cell from the father fuses with an egg cell from the mother, to form a new cell, the zygote, the first embryonic stage. The zygote grows and divides into two daughter cells, each of which grows and divides into two grand-daughter cells, and this cell growth/division process continues on, over and over again. The zygote is the start of a biological continuum that automatically grows and develops, passing gradually and sequentially through the stages we call fetus, baby, child, adult, old person and ending eventually in death. The full genetic instructions to guide the development of the continuum, in interaction with its environment, are present in the zygote. Every stage along the continuum is biologically human and each point along the continuum has the full human properties appropriate to that point.” 5
“A neutral examination of the evidence merely establishes the onset of a new human life at a scientifically well-defined “moment of conception,” a conclusion that unequivocally indicates that human embryos from the one-cell stage forward are indeed living individuals of the human species; i.e., human beings.” 6
The Length of Human Pregnancies
The terms “pregnancy” and “gestation” refer to “the process of carrying or being carried in the womb between conception and birth.” 7 How long is the human pregnancy process? A report produced by Oxford University Press reveals the following:
“…researchers in the USA have been able to pinpoint the precise point at which a woman ovulates and a fertilized embryo implants in the womb during a naturally conceived pregnancy, and follow the pregnancy through to delivery. Using this information, they have been able to calculate the length of 125 pregnancies. “We found that the average time from ovulation to birth was 268 days – 38 weeks and two days,” said Dr. Anne Marie Jukic, a postdoctoral fellow in the Epidemiology Branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (Durham, USA), part of the National Institutes for Health.8 One online encyclopedia puts the average length of pregnancy at 270 days with the minimum length at 259 days. 9 Another source puts the average pregnancy length at 266 days. 10
The three sources cited above give the average human pregnancy length as 268, 270, and 266 days, respectively. The median number of days from ovulation to birth is 268 days in these three sources, which also coincides with the average length of pregnancy found in Dr. Jukic’s research.
The Conception and Birth of Billy Graham
This is not an attempt to draw a comparison between the life of Billy Graham and the supernatural intervention of God in the life of Jesus and John the Baptist (Matthew 3:17, 11:11). Rather, the beginning of physical life in the wombs of both Mary and Elizabeth were at conception and not when Jesus and John were physically birthed into the world. As mentioned earlier, Dr. Billy Graham died on February 21, 2018 at the age of 99. If he had lived another 260 days to his birth date on November 7, 2018, he would have been 100 years old, according to the way mortality records are maintained today by funeral homes and published in newspapers.
Both Biblical and scientific evidence points toward life beginning at conception. As we learned earlier, the average length of pregnancy from conception to birth is around 268 days but can vary several days in either direction depending upon a variety of factors. Backing up chronologically, 268 days from Billy Graham’s birth on November 7, 1918 gives a possible conception date of February 13, 1918 for the real beginning of Billy Graham’s life on this earth.
Although God alone knows the actual date of conception for Billy Graham, it is probable that his real life on earth began sometime during the first three weeks of February, 1918, and he was born around nine months later on November 7, 1918. It is even possible that his life could have begun on the same month and day that it ended. Although the world considered Billy Graham to be 99 when he died on November 21, 2018, from God’s viewpoint, he had probably already arrived at the century mark (100 years). God permitted Billy Graham to live 20 to 30 years beyond today’s normal life span of 70 to 80 years (Psalms 90:9-10) in order to preach the saving gospel of Jesus Christ to many people in the world and to complete the marvelous plan for his life that God had ordained (Ephesians 2:10, 2 Timothy 4:5-8, Psalm 37:23). Billy Graham, like the Apostle Paul, was ready to go Home!
Before Billy Graham left this world to become a citizen in the heavenly, New Jerusalem (John 14:1-3, Revelation 21:1-4), he gave this encouraging exhortation to his audience: “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! I shall be more alive then than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”
“But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:5-8
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.” Psalm 37:23
1) Details on Billy Graham’s passing, funeral service released, USA Today Network, John Boyle, Asheville (N.C.) https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/02/21/details-billy-grahams-passing-funeral-service-released/361780002/
2) When Human Life Begins, American College of Pediatricians – March 2017, https://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/life-issues/when-human-life-begins
3) Moore, Keith L., The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, page 12, W.B. Saunders Co., 2003 https://www.justthefacts.org/get-the-facts/when-life-begins/
4) Dr Jerome LeJeune, Professor of Genetics at the University of Descartes, Paris, discoverer of the chromosome pattern of Down’s Syndrome, and Nobel Prize Winner, Report, Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, 97th Congress, 1st Session 1981 https://www.justthefacts.org/get-the-facts/when-life-begins/
5) Dr. William Reville, University College Cork, Ireland. Quote from a letter to the Irish Independent. https://www.justthefacts.org/get-the-facts/when-life-begins/
6) A Scientific View of When Life Begins, Maureen Condic, Ph.D. | June 11, 2014 https://lozierinstitute.org/a-scientific-view-of-when-life-begins/ *Dr. Condic is Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine. She is also Director of Human Embryology instruction for the Medical School and of Human Neuroanatomy for the Dental School.
7) Powered by Oxford Dictionaries, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/gestation )
8) Length of human pregnancies can vary naturally by as much as five weeks, Oxford University Press (OUP), https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130806203327.htm ) Journal Reference: A.M. Jukic, D.D. Baird, C.R. Weinberg, D.R. McConnaughey, A.J. Wilcox. Length of human pregnancy and contributors to its natural variation. Human Reproduction, 2013 DOI: 10.1093/humrep/det297
9) List of mammalian gestation durations, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mammalian_gestation_durations )
10) Human Pregnancy Length vs. Some Pets and Animals, https://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/biology/gestation-periods.htm )
Unless otherwise noted, all scriptures are from the New King James Version of the Bible (NKJV).