The Pre-existence of Jesus Christ

Many verses describe the existence of Jesus before his birth in Bethlehem. How did Jesus exist before his human life began? Did he exist as the Son of God before his birth in Bethlehem? Did he exist apart from the Father? Was Jesus a created being that God made to dwell in? Is Jesus the Creator as the Son of God? These are some of the many popular teachings about the pre-existence of Jesus, but none of them are found in scripture. Let’s examine the scriptures and allow them to tell us how Jesus existed before his incarnation.

Jesus had a dual nature– he was both God and man at the same time. Any time we examine scripture we must approach it with the dual nature of Jesus in mind. For example, Jesus is the Creator. He is not the Creator as a man, but as God.

John 1:1-3  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2 The same was in the beginning with God.  3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

The pre-existence of Jesus is his Deity. The humanity, the Son of God, only existed in the plan and mind of God until he was born in Bethlehem.

Galatians 4:4  But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

The Divinity of Jesus pre-existed the incarnation, but the humanity wasn’t born until Bethlehem. The Son doesn’t exist outside of the humanity of Jesus. Jesus did not pre-exist as the Son.

Before the incarnation, Jesus existed as the Word.

John 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The Word was not a separate being or a second person within the Godhead. The Word is all the fullness of the Godhead. The Word is the fullness of the one God.

Colossians 2:9  For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

The Word didn’t exist as a Son of God or a part or portion of God. The Word was God in specific presence. The Word became flesh, which is the presence of the Father dwelling among men. The son-ship was begotten of the Father, showing the dual nature of Jesus. He was Deity and humanity, God and man.

John 1:14  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The Deity pre-existed, but not as a separate God, or personality within the Godhead. The Deity that pre-existed was the one God of the Old Testament. This is why Jesus claimed to be the I Am.

John 8:24  I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

John 8:58  Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

This is how Jesus was the rock that followed Moses.

1 Corinthians 10:1-4  Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;  2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;  3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;  4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

This is how Jesus could say he was in heaven before.

John 6:62  What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?

Jesus wasn’t in heaven before as a man. The term “Son of man” refers to God manifest in flesh, and can refer to his Deity, humanity, or both (Bernard, p. 183). This is also how Jesus came forth from the Father.

John 16:28  I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.

The only pre-existence of the Son was in the plan of God as the lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Revelation 13:8  And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

“The foundation of the world” is the beginnings of Creation. As God was laying the foundations of the world, He already knew He would become a man to make atonement for our sins. In the same way, we were chosen from the foundation of the world.

Ephesians 1:4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

This doesn’t mean that we pre-existed. This just means that God had us in mind when He laid the foundation of the world.

This is the glory that Jesus had with the Father before the world was.

John 17:5  And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

The glory that Jesus had was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Jesus did not pre-exist as “God the Son” because the scriptures tell us there is one God.

Isaiah 43:10-11  Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.  11 I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.

Malachi 2:10  Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?

Mark 12:28-32  28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?  29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:  30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.  31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.  32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:

Galatians 3:20  Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

1 Timothy 2:5  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

Jesus pre-existed as this one God.

The pre-existence of Jesus is as the one God of the Old Testament. The son-ship only existed in the plan of God until the Son of God was born in Bethlehem. We must always keep in mind the dual nature of Jesus. He was God and he was man. As God, he was the Father- the only God. As a man, he was the Son of God- our ultimate sacrifice for sins.

References

Bernard, David K., (2001). Oneness of God, The

            Hazelwood: Word Aflame Press

12 Comments

  1. You wrote, “The pre-existence of Jesus is his Deity. The humanity, the Son of God, only existed in the plan and mind of God until he was born in Bethlehem.”

    That is incorrect.

    I believe what you meant to say is, ”
    The pre-existence of Jesus is his Deity. The humanity, the Son of God, only existed in the plan and mind of God until he was conceived in Mary’s womb ….in Nazareth.”

    Merry Christmas

  2. J
    Joh 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

    Please explain how John 1:1 and John 1:14 agrees with the above scripture using the proleptic doctrine you have espoused in your post. I noticed that Bro. Norris left this scripture out of his book, I AM A Oneness Pentecostal Theology as well. On page 12 he says that oneness pentecostalism has evolved and that it is more recent oneness construals that are used as a basis for oneness doctrine. Your article seems to reflect this thought.

    oh 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. Please explain how John 1:1 and John 1:14 agrees with the above scripture using the proleptic doctrine you have espoused in your post. I noticed that Bro. Norris left this scripture out of his book, I AM A Oneness Pentecostal Theology as well. On page 12 he says that oneness pentecostalism has evolved and that it is more recent oneness construals that are used as a basis for oneness doctrine. Your article seems to reflect this thought.

  3. Hi. I’ll write an article on this so I can go into more detail. Thanks for stopping by.

    Randy

  4. I am attempting to prove the existence of Jesus Christ. Is there other sources I could use other then the Bible.

  5. Rev. Kelly,

    Excellent question! There are lots of archaeological evidences (ancient writings, reports, accounts, etc.) of the existence of Jesus. One of the most prominent is found in the writings of Josephus (a text called Testimonium Flavianum, found in ‘Antiquities’ from AD 93). There are some good articles in the Archaeological Study Bible that point to external accounts. Also, the True U DVD and book series “Is the Bible Reliable?” covers some extra-biblical material on the evidence of Jesus’ existence. Frank Turek has some good info in his book “I Don’t have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.” These are the first resources that come to mind.

    Randy

  6. Job 38:6-7? Who are the sons of God who shouted for joy when the cornerstone of the Earth was laid and the foundation of the world was laid? What are morning stars?

  7. WOw this is a very good article, made me understand alot of things about God. So my view is that Jesus is God’s word ie what God says/the word that comes out of God and the holyspirit is God’s spirit (like the spirit we have as human beings) hence Jesus, Holyspirit and God is one person. AM i right?

  8. If Jesus was only the son when he became flesh and preexisting as Jesus does that mean that God can reincarnate his word in another human body and thus we have 2 sons of God in the flesh??

  9. Excuse me I meant if Jesus did not preexist as the word from eternity past co equal with God but only became Jesus when the word became flesh. Does that mean that God can incarnate his word in another body and thus we would have 2 Sons of God.

  10. Some five hundred years before John ever wrote his epistle, Greek philosophers began moving away from the Grecian concept of mythological creationism of the known cosmos to some fundamental, philosophical beliefs that were mainly based and driven by their understanding of the meaning of the Greek term logos. Provided that Greek philosophers were moving away from these mythological belief structures to ideations that were considered to be more accepted as substantial and conclusive evidence by means of reasoning, different schools of thought as to what logos may have meant was already beginning to fall into place. Long since before John wrote his epistle along with a much later  canonization of the New Testament along with the introduction of a canonized Christian Bible to an already existing Greco-Roman philosophical forum, views developed that may even hold true to this very day. By the time the Christian Bible was canonized and introduced to the Greco-Roman society of its day, philosophers were confronted to a foreign Jewish concept of logos and presented much objection and debate John’s initial introduction to his epistle. As a result of the already existing debates of the meaning of logos, early fourth century Christians found themselves having to define Christ as the logos

    Consider Heraclitus who lived circa 540-480 BCE. Long before John ever penned his epistle, Heraclitus had much to say about the “logos.” Mind you, this research does NOT concern the logos of John 1:1.  Though Heraclitus was accredited with discovering the concept of “logos” that an approximate 1/3 of the earth’s approximate 7 billion inhabitants believe to date, many do not know the true foundation by which their faith is based upon, Heraclitus’ Presocratic Philosophy. It just so happens that many do not know that Heraclitus is the true father of The “Flux” Doctrine.

     A representative of Trinity College identifies Heraclitus stated as follows:

    The influence of Heraclitus’ ideas on other philosophers was extensive. His reputed ‘flux’ doctrine, as disseminated by his follower Cratylus, helped to shape Plato’s cosmology and its changeless metaphysical foundations. The Stoics looked back to Heraclitus as the inspiration for their own conception of divine fire, identifying this with the logos that he specifies as the world’s explanatory principle. Later still, the neo-Pyhrronist Aenesidemus invoked Heraclitus as a partial precursor of scepticism. Heraclitus appears to have spent his life in Ephesus, which had been founded as a Greek colony some 200 years before his birth. According to ancient biography he was an arrogant and surly aristocrat, given to eccentric behaviour, but these anecdotes are largely a fictional construction built out of his own words, in which the tone he adopts in relation to other people is contemptuous. Rather than viewing this as a psychological trait, it is better to treat it as an extreme instance of the way early Greek poets and sages claimed authority for their work.
    Marvin 2000

    Graham of Brigham Young University published a peered-reviewed article pertaining Heraclitus on the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy expressing:

    A Greek philosopher of the late 6th century BCE,  Heraclitus criticizes his predecessors and contemporaries for their failure to see the unity in experience. He claims to announce an everlasting Word (Logos) according to which all things are one, in some sense. Opposites are necessary for life, but they are unified in a system of balanced exchanges. The world itself consists of a law-like interchange of elements, symbolized by fire. Thus the world is not to be identified with any particular substance, but rather with an ongoing process governed by a law of change. The underlying law of nature also manifests itself as a moral law for human beings. Heraclitus is the first Western philosopher to go beyond physical theory in search of metaphysical foundations and moral applications.
    Graham 2015

    According to Professor Barry D. Smith of Crandall University, he published:

    There is more to Heraclitean philosophy than the proposition that all things are in flux and, therefore, that there can be no knowledge of them. Apparently, Heraclitus, upon turning inward and probing his true self, according to his philosophical method, discovers the Logos. The Logos is the principle according to which all things change, its presence in a human being allows him or her to recognize the Logos in the flux. Three fragments in particular suggest this:

    Fr. 50:  Listening not to me but to the Logos it is wise to agree that all things are one. (Hippolytus Refut. 9. 4)

    Fr. 1: Of the Logos which is as I describe it men always prove to be uncomprehending, both before they have heard it and when once they have heard it. For although all things happen according to this Logos, men are like people of no experience, even when they experience such words and deeds as I explain, when I distinguish each thing according to its constitution and declare how it is; but the rest of the men fail to notice what they do after they wake up just as they forget what they do when asleep. (Sextus, adv.math. VII, 132)

    Fr. 2:  Therefore it is necessary to follow the common; but although the Logos is common the many live as though they had a private understanding (Sextus, adv.math. VII, 133)
    Smith 2013

    What else did Heraclitus reasoned? He reasoned that the logos was a deity of a fiery sort:

    Heraclitus identifies Logos or fire as God; this follows from the fact that fire is eternal, being the source of all things, since whatever is eternal is by definition a deity. He says in Fr. 67, “God is day night, winter summer, war peace, satiety hunger [all the opposites, this is the meaning]; he undergoes alteration in the way that fire when it is mixed with spices, is named according to the scent of each of them” (Hippolytus Refut. 9. 10). God as fire becomes all things in the same way that fire takes the scent of the spices thrown into it. Everything is a modification (through condensation or rarefaction) of this divine, intelligent fire. According to Clement of Alexandria, consistent with his general contempt for the masses, Heraclitus was critical of the polytheistic religion of his contemporaries: “the Ephesian Heraclitus, upbraiding images with their senselessness: `And to these images they pray, with the same result as if one were to talk to the walls of his house`” (Fr. 5; Clement of Alexandria, Protr. 4). It follows that what appears to be wrong in the cosmos, from God’s perspective, is right, since all things are from God and are God: “To God all things are beautiful and good and just, but men have supposed some things to be unjust, other just” (Fr. 102; Porphyrius, Iliadem IV 4). In order to be rational, to conform to Logos, human beings must change their reactions to what they wrong perceive to “unjust” things or events, since all things are actually “just,” insofar as they are from God and are God. One must remember that there could be no cosmos without the harmonious tension of opposites.
    Smith 2013

     By today’s standards of Christendom’s philosophical views, it would seem as if though Heraclitus came to know the logos some five hundred years prior to John ever writing about it in his epistle. The fact of the matter is that Heraclitus was simply expressing things as he literally saw them in his day. At Saint Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum, a first century idol of Zeus holding Nike, the goddess of victory, on his right hand is on display for the public audience to gaze. In Heraclitus’ day, the Ephesians practiced offering libation ceremonies to the goddess Nike. To this very day, the altar to Nike the goddess where the Ephesians of 500 BCE offered both libation ceremonies as well as fire offerings in Heraclitus’ day is still present. According to Heraclitus, the fire that was once burnt to the goddess Nike was the ever-changing logos.

    A thousand years later, the Bible was canonized. When the powers that be read John 1:1, they’ve applied their already existing idolatrous notions to make it seem that Heraclitus’ views were correct. The fact of the matter is that there is no one biblical verse that clearly states that Jesus ever had a prehuman existence; rather, true Bible enthusiasts should embrace the very Gospel wherewith the New Testament introduces its readers with, “This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham:” (Matthew 1:1, NLT). Should we embrace the idea that it took a spiritual entity of a sort to demonstrate to mankind how to be a human? Or should we just embrace the idea that the Son of Man was the perfect model by which we should imitate?

    This research will now summarize Heraclitus’ view.

    1 Heraclitus criticized his predecessors and contemporaries for their failure to see the unity in experience, because he believed that all things are one in some sense.
    2 He reasoned that “[..] men always prove to be uncomprehending, both before they have heard it and when once they have heard it. For although all things happen according to this Logos, men are like people of no experience, even when they experience such words and deeds as I explain, when I distinguish each thing according to its constitution and declare how it is […].”
    3 He claimed to announce the everlasting logos.
    4 Heraclitus identified logos or fire as God; this follows from the fact that fire is eternal, being the source of all things, since whatever is eternal is by definition a deity.
    5 Like many of his Ephesian village, he believed that Nike (i.e., the goddess of victory) had a spiritual nature by which she was able to transform herself into a human being; thus, he offered Zeus libations and fiery offerings in recognition that logos (i.e., fire) was a supreme deity from which all observable things stem from.

    To conclude, approximately one millennia prior to the Nicaean Council ever convened to formulate the belief structures of the Triune Godhead, Heraclitus had already formulated his ideas as to the true identity of the logos. Five hundred years before the Apostle John ever penned his Gospel account, Heraclitus had already established that the logos, a fiery deity, was ever changing from an eternal condition to a mortal condition to an eternal condition. In his arrogance and shrew demeanor, he criticized all by reasoning that no one could fully comprehend the logos for what it was and could never understand it even after he explained it to them.

    Bibliography

    1.Graham, Daniel W. “Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Brigham Young University, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.

    2. Marvin, Chris. “Heraclitus of Ephesus.” Philosophers : Heraclitus. Trinity College, 01 Jan. 2000. Web. 01 Mar. 2015.

    3. Smith, Barry D. “Heraclitus.” Heraclitus. Crandall University, 18 Sept. 2013. Web. 02 Mar. 2015.

    4. ibid.

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