God’s Son – Did he really exist before his birth on Earth?
Nowadays we can hear a teaching that denies the pre-human existence of Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why I have tried to collect Bible verses implying that Jesus’ life did not begin only by his conception in the Mary’s womb, rather, that he lived long before with his Father in heaven. I bring the testimonies of John the Baptist, the apostle Paul, the apostle John and even Lord Jesus himself.
1) Jesus’ testimony
John 3, 11-12: Truly, truly, I say to you, We speak what We know and bear witness to what We have seen, and you do not receive Our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you Heavenly things?“
John 6, 38: For I have come down out of Heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
John 6, 51: I am the Living Bread which came down out of Heaven.
John 6, 61-62: When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured about this, He said to them, Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?“
John 8, 23: And He said to them, You are from beneath; I am from above. You are from this world; I am not from this world.
John 8, 58: Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham came to be, I AM.
John 16, 28: I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.
John 17, 5: And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world existed.
Statements made in the above-mentioned verses: I have come down from heaven; I am from above; before Abraham came into existence, I am; I came out from the Father; with the glory which I had with you before the world.
2) The testimony of John the Baptist
John 1, 15: John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, This was He of whom I said, He who arrives after me appeared in history before me, for He existed before me.
John 1, 30: This is He of whom I said, After me arrives a Man who appeared in history before me, for He existed before me.
John 3, 31-32: He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from Heaven is above all. And what He has seen and heard, this He testifies; and no one receives His testimony.
Statements made in the above-mentioned verses: he was before me; he who comes from heaven is above all and what he has seen and heard, of that he testifies.
Jesus was born only half a year after John was born. In spite of this fact John himself says that Jesus was here before him. How is it possible? John testifies to Jesus’ pre-human existence, confirming Jesus’ statement “before Abraham came into existence, I am” (John 8, 58).
3) The testimony of the Apostle Paul
In his letter to Hebrews Paul testifies that Son in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth and the heavens are the works of his hands.
Hebrews 1, 7-12: And of the angels He says: Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire. But to the Son He says: Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your Kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness, beside Your companions. And: You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands. They will be destroyed, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.“
The apostle Peter teaches that the heavens and the earth which he created at the beginning will be rolled up, not those called the new heaven and the new earth in which righteousness will dwell (2 Peter 3, 13). If God’s Son created the earth and the heaven that he is supposed to roll up in the future, as the apostle Peter says, he must have existed long before his birth on the earth.
In the letter to Philippians the apostle Paul uses repeatedly expressions that imply Jesus’ active participation in his becoming a human being. The statements: existing in the form of God, he didn't consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, these all testify to Jesus’ willing, conscious, active participation in this plan of God long before he became a human being.
Philippians 2, 5-7: Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider clinging, to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men..
Another testimony to Christ’s pre-existence has been given by Paul in his inconspicuous comment in his letter to the Christians in Corinth. Paul introduced them to the fact that Christ accompanied Israelites on their way to the promised land, which took place more than one thousand years before Jesus was born as a man (1 Corinthians 10, 1-4: Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant, that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were immersed into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank out of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.)
The statements made in the mentioned verses: he established heaven and earth with his hands; didn't consider equality with God a thing to be grasped; emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.
4) The testimony of the apostle John
John writes in his gospel about the Word, which was with God in the beginning, and also that the world came to existence through this word. He testifies that it had a glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth and also says that “the Word became flesh, and lived among us.” In this way, he obviously identifies the Word with the Son (John 1, 1-15).
In spite of this some Christians say that John surely did not mean Lord Jesus Christ by the Word. It is true that neither Greek nor Hebrew, from which the Scriptures were translated, do not distinguish between small letters and capital letters. That is why we cannot say that whenever the Word has the capital W, it automatically means God’s Son. This can be found only from the context and also from the fact that Revelation of John 19, 13 says about the glorified God’s Son: “His name is called ‘The Word of God’”. It clearly confirms that the first chapter of the Gospel of John does not mean a personified God’s Word in general, rather, the identity of the real Son of God.
Here you can see the mentioned verses in full:
Revelation 19, 13-16: And He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in Heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and pure, followed Him on white horses. And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He might strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS..
John 1, 1-15: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not lay hold of it. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through Him might believe. 8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and yet the world did not know Him. 11He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of God, to those believing into His name: 13who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, This was He of whom I said, He who arrives after me appeared in history before me, for He existed before me.
Statements made in the above-mentioned verses: the Word was with God; all things were made through him; without him was not anything made; it became flesh; he had a glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth; His name is called The Word of God.
John the Baptist, the apostle Paul, the apostle John and even Lord Jesus himself, these all testify to Jesus’ pre-human existence and to his active and willing co-operation on God’s rescue plan for the mankind. Once again, a brief summary of their testimonies about Lord Jesus Christ:
1) The testimony of John the Baptist: ... he was before me; he comes from heaven; he is above all.
2) The testimony of the apostle Paul: he laid the foundation of the earth and the heavens are the works of his hands; he didn't consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; he was a rock that followed the Israelites.
3) The testimony of the apostle John: …..The world was made through him; without him was not anything made; he became flesh; he had the glory of the Father; he was with God in the beginning; he came from God and returned to Him again.
4) The testimony of Lord Jesus: …. I had the glory with the Father before the world; I have come down from heaven; I am from above; before Abraham came into existence, I am; I came out from the Father and I am going to the Father.
What does it mean to know the Hebrew way of thinking?
The teaching that denies the pre-human existence of Lord Jesus Christ often argues that nowadays we do not know the so-called Hebrew (Jewish) way of thinking. However, what exactly is the Hebrew way of thinking? Who can tell and guarantee nowadays what the true Hebrew way of thinking is or is not, when the Jews themselves hold widely diverse opinions? Can my understanding of the Scripture depend on whether I meet the right expert who will teach me what the true Hebrew way of thinking is? And who represented the so-called Hebrew thinking in Jesus’ time when the Pharisees and the Sadducees, all true Hebrews, believed different teachings? These parties were represented even in the Grand Council. The Sadducees did not believe in either angels or resurrection but the Pharisees did. Hot ideological disputes often arose between them. Once a crowd of angry Jews nearly tore the apostle Paul into pieces because of a dispute over resurrection. Soldiers had to take him away from them (Acts 23, 10: And when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.). We can see that the fact they all were Jews clearly did not help them to find the true understanding.
The artificial notion of the ‘Hebrew way of thinking’ is as if I wanted to characterize the way of thinking of all Czechs in the course of several thousands of years by a so-called ‘Czech thinking’. It is true that the way of thinking and the meaning of words is changing as time passes by. Some words provably underwent a considerable change in meaning. However, this all had to be, and surely was, taken into account by our wise heavenly Father.
The shift in the use and the meaning of a word can be clearly seen, for instance, in the use of the word God. In the past it usually denoted a person who was extraordinarily mighty or strong. Thus, the same word (ĕlôhîym or theos) quite often denoted also other mighty beings besides the Supreme God. Today when speaking about God, Christians almost always mean the Supreme God. That is why we must stick to the whole context of the Scripture and learn to recognize when the Supreme God is meant and when it is some other mighty being.
The Bible itself reveals the meaning of the words it uses
I believe that we can find the truth only through God’s Word, the Bible. I am firm that in seeking the truth, it is necessary to draw only on the Scripture, in its entirety. It is the only place where we are supposed to seek (with prayer, of course) answers to our questions! And the Bible contains also the definitions of the expressions used in it. God does not cast us adrift, exposed to uncertainty, conjectures and speculations. We are not able to grasp all the variations the so-called Hebrew way of thinking developed in the course of time; what we really need to know, however, is the biblical way of thinking.
For the time being, we still have the opportunity to read the Bible and many of us are able to use computer programmes for their Bible study. These are able to look up for us all occurrences of the entered words or expressions. Reviewing the results we can get an idea of what is meant by the given expression and how it is used in the Bible. We have to pay attention also to who uses the expression and in what context. It is not always easy, nevertheless, most people who use computers have this opportunity for free. What you would have to search for weeks without the Bible programme, you can have in several minutes with it. I am sure that searching for the meaning of an expression directly in the Scripture is the right way to making progress in learning the truth. And this is what I tried, while I sought the answer to the question about Jesus’ pre-human existence. Everybody can judge for themselves whether the above-mentioned verses reveal a clear enough answer based solely on the information from the Scripture.