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Basically the opposite of this question. What are the most notable biblical passages that believers in the pre-incarnate existence of Jesus resort to to defend their position? How do they usually defend their interpretation of those passages against rebuttals from critics?

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  • Have you looked at the answers to this question? christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/4464/… This details the places where Jesus is called God in scripture, and for most people "being God" implies a pre-incarnational existence. Feb 19 at 20:36
  • @DJClayworth - Although being God is a sufficient condition for pre-incarnational existence, it's not a necessary one. There could be passages that support pre-incarnational existence without directly supporting divinity. Feb 19 at 21:49
  • John 1:1-14 The Word was God, The Word became flesh, all scholars agree that Jesus had a pre-incarnational existence here, either as in the form of wisdom (per Dunn, Mcgrath) or as a personal being (per Ehrman, Hurtado and Bauckham). The former refers to notional/ideal preexistence whilst the latter refers to literal/personal preexistence.
    – Radz Brown
    Mar 5 at 7:42
  • @RadzBrown - I am not aware that Bart (?) Ehrman affirms the “pre-incarnation existence” as a “personal being” of Jesus. Can you provide evidence? Thank you Jul 5 at 17:51
  • @MigueldeServet ehrmanblog.org/…
    – Radz Brown
    Jul 21 at 14:51
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Jesus repeatedly says things to the effect of having come from the Father, being sent by the Father, having come from the Father and into the world:

I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father. - John 16:28

If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. - John 8:42

Folks will argue that verses like these indicate the creative source only, i.e. "Came from God" means created by God at the incarnation. However, the verses connect separate ideas. I came from the Father and have come into the world, (and) now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.

Leaving one location and coming to another is mirrored in the return: Came from God to the world, leaving the world and going to God The parenthetical and above which appears in some English translations is actually again in the Greek and indicates a renewal or repetition of the action. He's repeating Himself so that we get it.

The same mirror principle is related in Acts 1:11:

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Another example of Jesus returning to where He was before is found in what He asked his disciples:

Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? - John 6:62

"Son of Man" being Jesus' favorite self designation. And there is direct confession of pre-existence with the Father from Jesus Himself:

And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. - John 17:5 ESV

And now, glorify me, Thou Father, with Thyself, with the glory that I had before the world was, with Thee - YLT

Regardless of how "before the world was" is understood it is evident that Jesus is claiming to have had existence prior to that event and to have been in possession of shared glory with the Father. As long as "before the world was" is placed prior to the incarnation (where else could it be placed) Jesus is claiming His own pre-incarnational existence.

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Since according to some I did not meet the requirements of the specific question I chose to delete my initial post and give the following answer.

The following verses have already been brought up, (John 8:42, John 16:28, John 17:5, and Acts 1:11.) Jesus Christ was identified and presented as the agent of creation at John 1:1-3, Colossian 1:16-17, Hebrews 1:10 by His own Father, and at Revelation 3:14.

Jesus Christ is also called God at John 20:28, at Titus 2:13, at 2 Peter 1:1, Hebrews 1:8 by His own Father, Isaiah 9:6 and other places in the Bible.

Jesus Christ is identified with God His Father as the "Alpha and Omega" at Revelation 1:8 as well as the "First and Last at Revelation 1:18, Revelation 22:13, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

Another verse to show Jesus was sent from heaven is John 6:62. "What then if you should behold the Son of Man ascending WHERE HE WAS BEFORE." If one is sent from somewhere, they necessarily have to exist to be sent.

Then there is the account of what the Apostle John explains at John 12:41, "These things Isaiah said, because he saw His/Jesus Christ glory, and he spoke of Him." Where did Isaiah see Jesus Christ? Isaiah 6:1, "In the year of King Uzziah's death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted with the train of His robe filling the temple." Vs3 (paraphrasing), "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts. At vs4 Isaiah says, "For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts."

The word used by Isaiah for "saw" is (ra'ah). In the qal, it refers to the act of seeing in the literal sense, to see with the eyes (as opposed to, for example, "machazeh," which is the act or event of an ecstatic "vision". In referring to this event, John uses the Greek word ("eidon") also a verb referring to the act of seeing with the eyes in the natural sense.

Finally, we have Jesus Christ at Matthew 22:42 asking the Jews the following question? What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?" They said to Him, "The son of David." Vs43, "He said to them, Then how does David in the Spirit call Him Lord, saying,

Verse 44, "The Lord said to My Lord, Sit at My right hand, until I put Thine enemies beneath Thy feet?" Verse 45, "If David then calls Him Lord, how is He his son?" What was the point that Jesus was making?

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  • what has Acts 1:11 got to do with the Q?
    – steveowen
    Mar 5 at 11:41
  • Woud you mind if I edit John 6:62 into my answer? Mar 5 at 12:15
  • @MikeBorden Not at all Mike, go for it and keep up the good work. Thank You!
    – Mr. Bond
    Mar 5 at 14:34
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Scholars also point out that one of the earliest Pauline epistles teaches that Jesus had a pre-incarnational existence. In Philippians 2:6-7, Jesus was already in the form of God and had equality with God prior to/before he became in likeness of humans/found in the form as a man.

Philippians 2:6-8 is commonly taken as ascribing a pre-existence to Jesus “in the form of God,” who then became a human/historical figure and submitted himself to obedience to God, even to the point of crucifixion (TAGGED WITH PRE-EXISTENCE OF CHRIST “Pre-Existence” in Ancient Jewish Tradition and the NT , Larry Hurtado, 2019)

"I have been trying to explain the unusually important statement about Christ in Paul’s “Christ Poem” in Phil. 2:6-10. It’s an extremely high Christology. Christ is a divine being before coming into the world; and at his exaltation he was made equal with God" (Bart Ehrman, Paul’s Incredibly High Christology, 2020).

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