At Jeremiah 1: 4-5 we see the prophet speaking of his call:

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Do the words of the Lord indicate that the soul of Jeremiah had existed even before he was conceived by his mother? Or, are they only meant to be a figurative expression? How do the teachings of Catholic Church explain the words of God to Jeremiah?

  • 1
    Although this passage is specific to Jeremiah, I think the vast majority of Christians see it as assurance to all of us that God is aware of our future before we are born.
    – Bit Chaser
    Feb 3, 2019 at 23:00
  • christianity.stackexchange.com/q/46753/23657. Related
    – Kris
    Feb 4, 2019 at 15:37

2 Answers 2


No, Jeremiah (and you and me) didn't have a soul until it was "formed in the womb"

The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God

CCC 366

It's pretty clear and unambiguous, even Jesus' human soul was created at the Incarnation. (please correct me if the tense or the verbs "was created" are wrong). The function of the soul is to animate the body.

it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul,

CCC 364

If there's no body, there's no need for a soul and what there is no need for, there isn't. After death, our souls await being reunited with our bodies because the body+soul mix is what being human is all about.

As for Jeremiah, according to the commentary in the NAB, this is because his birth was foretold. Obviously, if there's a foretelling, there's a foreknowledge and certainly if God is omniscient, He knows us before we're born, it doesn't mean He makes us before we're born.

If I grew a head of lettuce and some tomatoes and was intent on making a salad, I could say. Before I ate you, I knew you in the garden. If I had wanted to make an omelet, I could say to the omelet, before I ate you, I knew you in the egg, etc...

I had this question myself many times, belief in the soul preexisting conception is a heresy that was denounced like 1700 years ago that I can't remember the name of but someone called me out on it on this very site, so I figured I'd pass this along to you.

  • Human procreative act supply the body and God supply/created a soul for that body. Then when was the soul coming from God enters? Since we have a fallen nature, God cannot BREATHE IN Divine Life/Sanctifying Grace like He did with Adam.So, we receive the BREATHING IN of Divine Life when we receive Baptism.Jeremiah like St.John the Baptist was SANCTIFIED therefore the God given soul already have sanctifying grace/God given mission.Like Jesus & Mary God already defined their mission thru their name because their soul is "sanctified".Body & Soul will only have a LIFE when it receive the Spirit Feb 4, 2019 at 9:20
  • There are souls "predestined" meaning these souls were already existed in the prophetic mind of God and in the fullness of time at God pre-arranged circumstances according to His Mysterious design their soul with a mission will be given and that was already existed in the mind of God.Thats why word in Jeremiah1:5 is "BEFORE", meaning our soul existed first..It's not a heresy because God knew before that we will be born at a particular time & our soul mission already included in the Divine Plan of God before the creation time begin.To say that this is heresy is to go against Ephesians1:4-5 Feb 4, 2019 at 9:35
  • @jong I can see where you're going with that and I'd believe it too, if the Catholic Church didn't pretty clearly teach it is wrong.
    – Peter Turner
    Feb 4, 2019 at 15:13
  • christianity.stackexchange.com/q/46753/23657. Related to this @jongricafort
    – Kris
    Feb 4, 2019 at 18:32
  • @kris I think those answers are wrong or at least not something St. Thomas Aquinas would agree with. There is a major danger in thinking that souls have some collective staging area before our bodies are created.
    – Peter Turner
    Feb 5, 2019 at 14:29

Did Prophet Jeremiah's soul pre-exist his conception in human form?

The answer is NO, human soul that existed in the prophetic mind of God during the time of creation cannot pre-exist as it will clearly contradict the definition of soul which is profoundly and intimately united to a body.

365 The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body:234 i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.

But, I will answer Yes also, when the "pre-existence in question is the soul of Jesus & Mary because Adam as progenitor cannot bind the New Adam & Eve as they existed before the creation time begin.

What I'm trying to say is, Jesus & Mary is above Adam and pre-existed even before Adam was formed.

Jesus human but Divine soul pre-exist in the bosom of the Father, while Mary as the chosen Mother of the Logos pre-existed in the Divine Will of the Father as Blessed Archbishop Fulton Sheed said "Mary is God's DREAMED" and when God dream of Mary it happened in eternity meaning outside of time.

All other creatures after Adam are his descendants and by God's holy decree will inherit the original sin except for a few chosen souls that was predestined by God to be holy & blameless before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians1:3-4)

How can we prove it biblicallly. The Jeremiah1:5 passage is a perfect example.

The word "Before" does not mean a pre-existent created soul but pertains to the pre-ordained mission of Jeremiah.

The question is, is Jeremiah being sanctified in the womb was cleansed of not only of original sin but including all the stain of original sin?. As St.Paul letter to Ephesians implied "holy & blameless" meaning a spotless soul. Because how can God consecrate an offering to Himself when the offering had blemished.

Ephesians 1:4-5 New International Version (NIV)

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[a] predestined us for adoption to sonship[b] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will..

So, Jeremiah sanctified soul is like the immaculate soul of Mary, the only difference is Mary is "preserve" or untouch by original sin while Jeremiah was touch and cleansed from it meaning from all stain of original sin to become worthy of Consecration.

St.Catherine of Sienna had said "everything was pre-ordained towards the Salvation of Man".

Jeremiah was knew by God before he was formed in the womb meaning God knew what kind of "mission" Jeremiah must fulfill and that is to become a Prophet and he was "sanctified" same like St.John the Baptist was "sanctified" to become "holy & blameless" to fulfill his God given mission while still in the womb.

  • I had a plan to store my boat in a detached garage before I had a garage. The garage pre existed in the form of trees limestone sand rock and other raw materials. And I had a set of plans and an artist rendering of what the garage would look like. The garage however only began to exist after it was built.
    – Kris
    Feb 5, 2019 at 15:40
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    -1 since this answer is not what Catholic Church teaches.
    – Kris
    Feb 6, 2019 at 5:02
  • @Peter Turner i revised my answer after reflecting on Adam being the progenitor and reading CCC365 and CCC366. But now have better understanding why even Mary not only Jesus soul was pre-existent. Feb 7, 2019 at 14:28

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