Statement of Faith Current Teaching Teaching Index
How Important is our Belief Regarding the Pre-existent Christ
December 2016

The teaching of Christ’s pre-existence is one of the foundational principles of the Christian faith as well as the basis on which other Christian doctrines depend. Therefore, the acceptance or rejection of this doctrine will affect the validity of the entire Bible as well as the whole of Christianity. Without proof positive of the pre-existence of Christ, the incarnation, Jesus’ claims to be God, the atonement, His resurrection and salvation are all seriously in doubt. 

The Bible puts claim to Jesus being pre-existent before the world began and before He became human as Jesus of Nazareth. Because of this assertion, the claims made by the Bible and by Jesus Himself, that He was God the Son, the second person of the Trinity and part of the Godhead are held to be true and therefore they are the foundation of our faith and of Christianity itself.  In other words without proof positive of Jesus’ pre-existence there can be no Christianity!

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word “YHWH” which in English is written out as “LORD” appears 6,828 times and is the proper name of the one true God.  Jehovah is an English representation of the Hebrew (יְהֹוָה), and a vocalization of the four letter Hebrew word (יהוה) (YHWH).  When “LORD,” in the Old Testament, is printed in capitals, it is translated from the Hebrew word JEHOVAH (YHWH). This word literally means “I am; the eternal living one” which is the Scriptural expression of the Supreme Being, which is usually interpreted as being self-derived and of permanent existence. 

In the Gospel of John, the Jewish leaders questioned Jesus on who He was.  During their interrogation, Jesus answers them, “prin abraam genesthai ego eimi.”  This is literally translated, “Before Abraham was existing, I am.” "Ego eimi" plainly means “I am.”  Jesus clearly identified His position of pre-existence in John 8:58. According to scholars this is the clearest instance of Jesus claim of divinity and is the equivalent language God spoke to Moses in Exodus 3:14, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” The Jewish leaders would have understood very well that Jesus was claiming His pre-existence and His Godhead.[i]  Their actions reflected their understanding of His claim as we read in the next verses, “they picked up stones to throw at Him.” They viewed Jesus’ claim as blasphemy, a claim demanding death by stoning.

Now let us look at some of the Scriptures in the Old and New Testaments that speak of the pre-existence of Christ.

  1. Old Testament writers proclaimed His pre-existence

    1. “From the beginning, I was with the LORD. I was there before he began (23) to create the earth. At the very first, the LORD gave life to me. (24) When I was born, there were no oceans or springs of water. (25) My birth was before mountains were formed or hills were put in place. (26) It happened long before God had made the earth or any of its fields or even the dust. (27) I was there when the LORD put the heavens in place and stretched the sky over the surface of the sea. (28) I was with him when he placed the clouds in the sky and created the springs that fill the ocean. (29) I was there when he set boundaries for the sea to make it obey him, and when he laid foundations to support the earth. (30) I was right beside the LORD, helping him plan and build. I made him happy each day, and I was happy at his side. (31) I was pleased with his world and pleased with its people” (Proverbs 8:22-31). 

      When one reads this passage is there any doubt about the relationship between the eternal Father and eternal Son. It is obvious that here "wisdom" is more than the representation of an attribute of God, but rather a direct foreshadowing of Christ, who is the wisdom of God. "Wisdom" is personified in much the same way as is "the Word" (John 1:1). Between the incarnate divine wisdom in Proverbs and the incarnate divine Word in John there are striking connections that show very specifically the pre-existence of Christ.

    2. The term "from everlasting" in Proverbs 8:23 is, according to A.R. Fausset, "the strongest assertion of infinite duration of which the Hebrew language is capable.”[ii] The term is also used in Psalm 90:2 and Proverbs 8:22.

    3. Isaiah 9:6-7 – Israel's Messiah is described as the "everlasting Father" or, as it is better rendered, "Father of eternity."  This also points to His existence from eternity past. Zechariah 2:8-11 – especially verses 8-9 show that there are at least two members of the Trinity preexistent before Jesus’ incarnation and both are referred to as the Lord of hosts. Zechariah writes: “For thus says the Lord of hosts: 'He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. (9) For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me.'” The Lord of hosts here says: “Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me [the Lord of hosts].”  In verses 10-11 Zachariah announces that the preexistent “Lord of Hosts” will come in human form, and in that day many nations would turn to God and He would join them with singleness of heart.  "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst," says the LORD. (11) "Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.”

    4.  New Testament writers proclaimed His pre-existence as well – John’s very first claim pertains to the pre-existence of Christ.

      1. He existed in the beginning, long before His incarnation – John 1:1-2

      2. His work in the beginning has great significance for you and I – John1:3-5

But there are many more claims recorded by John of the pre-existence of Christ.  Notice:  John says the “word” became flesh which implies that he had existed previous to His incarnation (John 1:1, 14). Jesus himself suggests His pre-existence in a number of texts. He said He had glory with the father before the world was (John 17:5) and that He had come from the father (John 5:43; 6:38). These imply pre-existence.  John wrote often of Christ’ pre-existence, cross reference these verses (John 3:13, 31, 6:33, 38, 41, 51, 62, 8:23, 29, 58).

Paul also, in referring to Christ as the last Adam, implies His pre-existence since Jews often held that both Adam and Moses were preexistent. So when he says that Christ was “rich,” but then became “poor,” that He was referring to the humiliation of the incarnation and therefore suggest that Christ existed previous to His coming to earth (cf. 1st Corinthians 15:45; Philippians 2:6).

          Besides the testimony of the New Testament writers there are other evidences as well.

  1. Jesus affirmed His own pre-existence
    1. He claimed to exist before Abraham – John 8:56-58
    2. B. In His prayer shortly before His arrest and crucifixion – John 17:4-5, 24
    3. When He met John on the isle of Patmos – Revelation 22:13
    4. Jesus said “You will see me sitting on the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of Heaven” Matthew 26:63
    5. Jesus said that He could forgive our sins, which only God could do – Mark 2:7
  2. His Pre-existence was declared through the New Testament writers
    1. As already shown John throughout his Gospel – John 1:1-4, and also in his epistle – 1st John 2:14
    2. By Paul in his epistles
      1. To the church in Corinth – 1st Corinthians 10:1-4; 2nd Corinthians 8:9
      2. To the church in Philippi – Philippians 2:5-8
      3. To the church in Colossae – Colossians 1:16-17
  3. Jesus’ pre-existence is also illustrated throughout creation itself
    1. All things were created by Jesus – John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2-3
    2. Creation itself exists only through Christ – Colossians 1:16-17
    3. Nature itself proclaims Christ’s pre-existence and His very nature – Romans 1:20
  4.  Jesus’ pre-existence is also illustrated through other New Testament arguments such as;
    1. In the book of Hebrews Christ is presented as both the creator of the world and the sustainer of all things (Hebrews 1:1-3). 
    2. The argument is made of the superiority of the Son over the angels, and addresses Him as Lord and God (Hebrews 1:4-14)
    3. In these same verses the author of Hebrews uses verses in the Psalms that describe God authority over heaven and earth and connects these verses to Jesus authority and His everlasting nature (Psalm 2:7, 97:7, 102:25-27, 104:4).
    4. In Hebrews 1:1-3 the author establishes the very nature of Jesus and his pre-existence as part of the Godhead.
    5. The author of Hebrews also implies Christ’s pre-existence by his comparison of Christ to Melchizedek; who we know had no beginning and no end (Ref. Hebrews 7; cf. Genesis 14:17-20; Psalm 110:4).
    6. In Psalm 110:4 David describes the priesthood as eternal and compares it to the nature of the Son of God; proclaiming  Jesus as the eternal Melchizedek and King of righteousness and peace.
    7.  Jesus categorically stated that in order for a person to find eternal life they must come to and through me (John 5:39-40; 14:6)
    8. Jesus told His disciples “all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44).

There is so much more evidence that can be presented to prove the pre-existence of Jesus before the world began.  The abundance of evidence here presented should be sufficient to any honest inquiring mind to come to the conclusion that Christ was pre-existent before the world began.  In conclusion Jesus’ pre-existence is His claim to be God.  If true He is God; and all the other religions of the world are false; if not, He is a fool and a liar.  The evidence presented is by no means complete but sufficient to prove the point that Christ did pre-exist before His incarnation and before the world began.  Therefore, Christianity would stand alone as the only true religion founded by God.  Without the pre-existence we limit God’s divinity.  If we allow this indelible fact to somehow be removed, all that Christianity is will disappear.  Without the pre-existence we jeopardize the deity of Christ, His claims to be God, the doctrine of the Trinity, the resurrection, the full fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies and the world’s only hope of salvation as well.

Today, many Christians have lost the art of apologetics and therefore do not have the ability to argue the evidentiary facts regarding this fact and the Scripture text of proof.  Without a solid foundation to build our belief on, we will, in these last days be deceived.  “For false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).

[i] Freed, Edwin D., Who or What was Before Abraham: John 8:58, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, no 17 F 1983, p 52

[ii] Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, IV, p. 600

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