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The book of Revelation describes Jesus as "slain before the foundations of the earth":

All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. (Revelation 13:8, NIV)

What does this mean? The "angel of the Lord" who appeared to Moses is Jesus, as I understand the following verses:

Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'" (Exodus 3:13–14, NIV)

In addition, Numbers 29:13 indicates that Jesus didn't have a human body before the foundation of the earth:

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 29:13, NIV)

What does it mean for Christ to have been slain before the creation of the world?

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@MattGutting Revelations 13:20. Though the wording is different enough in different versions that it could mean something different than what's implied by the OP –  LCIII Jul 15 '14 at 16:51
Slain before foundation: Revelations 13:8 | Angel of the Lord: Exodus 3:2 | God is not a man: Numbers 29:13 –  JREAM Jul 15 '14 at 16:52
The Burning Bush Appearance was [most likely] not a Christophany - it was God [the Father], as He calls Himself "I AM" to Moses, and while Jesus also calls Himself "I AM" when questioned by the Pharisees, that was an identification of Himself as coequal and coexistent with God the Father. –  warren Jul 15 '14 at 16:56
This would be better on Biblical Hermeneutics. –  DJClayworth Jul 15 '14 at 17:10
@DJClayworth This is not about a particular text but about a thread of things through the whole Bible and is a very doctrinal issue, not at all suitable for BH. However well suited here, it is what it is because I don't think we can migrate this -- at least not asked this way. –  Caleb Jul 15 '14 at 21:54

2 Answers 2

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You're going to find mixed opinions about what this means, but the most common thing you will find is that this is referring to Christ being destined to die for us since before the creation.

We must remember that God is not confined to our perception of time - He is limitless, almighty, all knowing. He knows all things that have been, are, and are to come. This means even before the Genesis 1:1 God knew the sacrifice that would need to be made in order to bring mankind to Him.

We know Christ was always with God from this point as the Word, and through Him things came to be (John 1). We also know Jesus knew/came to understand this through such verses as John 17:5:

And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Now let's look at the word "foundation". In English we have two definitions:

  1. the lowest load-bearing part of a building, typically below ground level.
  2. an underlying basis or principle for something.

Well we know this isn't talking about a building per say, so definition two is probably the most likely. This would read into "Jesus was slain before the [underlying basis/principle] of the earth." In other words, He was destined to die before the idea to create the Earth was even fulfilled.

If you're in to the extra-biblical research being done on the Hebrew language, taking the word "Barasheet" (the first word in Genesis in Hebrew translated as "in the beginning") and breaking it up into its pictographs, then translating those we get:

"The Son of God [will be] destroyed (or killed) [by his own] hand (or effort) [on a] cross."

Bet-Resh; "Bara" = "Son of"
Aleph = "God; the first"
Shin = "destroy"
Yod = "effort" or "hand"
Tav = "cross"

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Thanks for such an in-depth great answer –  JREAM Jul 15 '14 at 18:10

My Revised English Bible, [Oxford Press 1989] says: 'slain since the foundation of the world'. This seems to be a more logical and historically accurate translation.

I see Proverbs 8:22-31 as the story of Jesus at the beginning.

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This is really a comment, not an answer. With a bit more rep, you will be able to post comments. You should delete this because it is not answer to the question. Please also see What this site is about and How this site is different. I hope to see you post again soon. –  fredsbend Jul 19 '14 at 3:55

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