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I know that many verses can be cited to argue for Jesus' pre-mortal existence (e.g. here). I'm also perfectly aware that a question asking for the biblical basis for Jesus being God incarnate has already been asked. However, I want to defend the validity of this question on the grounds of the following reasons:

  1. Pre-mortal existence does not logically entail eternal pre-existence. In principle, if the only thing we know about a being is that it had a pre-mortal existence, then we cannot rule out a priori the possibility that that being could still have had a beginning in the past, either recently or a long time ago (e.g. see the viewpoint of Jehovah's Witnesses on the nature of Jesus).
  2. Eternal pre-existence does not logically entail being God (or does it?). In addition to being eternal, a being needs to be omniscient, omnipotent, and many other things to be regarded as God. So I don't see the two as equivalent statements, although I acknowledge that there is a clear overlap.

Having presented my reasons for asking the question, I ask: What is the biblical basis for Jesus having eternal pre-existence? Are there passages in Scripture that strongly suggest that Jesus never had a beginning in time?

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    'In the beginning was the word', states an existence in the beginning, and states 'with God' in the beginning. And if, 'in the beginning', then eternal. And if eternal, then divine. Personally, I need no more but I am aware of some who cannot but argue against what, to me, is sheer logic. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 1 at 14:57
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John clearly and logically makes four statements :

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. [John 1:1,2 KJV]

'In the beginning' states the moment of 'beginning'. If one existed at that moment, then that one has an existence that is independent of time. If independent of time, then eternal. This one, the Logos, is quite evidently, from context, the one born in Bethlehem of the virgin Mary.

This one is God and was with 'the' God in the beginning. Evidently, from this statement alone, Deity is not alone. And Deity is not alone eternally.

John also makes a further statement :

την ζωην την αιωνιον ητις ην προς τον πατερα [1 John 1:2 TR Undisputed]

... the life the eternal which was with the Father [Literal]

Again, in context, John refers to 'manifestation' and it is clear that this is Jesus.

Prior to 'manifestation' the life, the eternal ... was with the Father.

If 'with the Father' then with the Father, eternally, as 'Son'. Evidently. If entitled 'Father' in eternity, the name must mean what it says, in eternity. And if 'life' is with that Father (and that eternally) then that life must be 'Son'.

John's statement is simple, brief and utterly profound.


In these two places, John sets forth logical and indisputable statements that clearly demonstrate the eternal existence of the one who came into the world by woman.

This is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

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  • Great answer Nijel. Add to this Isaiah 9.6 and the undisputable becomes rock solid fact. +1 from me.
    – Adam
    Apr 2 at 11:14
  • This claim that “the beginning “ occurs independent of time and that existing independent of time makes one eternal is unsupported. When does time start?
    – Kris
    Apr 2 at 12:49
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    Jesus existed before material universe was created, that does not mean he eternally existed He existed Before the heavenly angels who applauded the founding of the earth were created but that does not make him eternal. Jehovah alone is from everlasting to everlasting psalms 90: 1&2 Jesus came to exist as the “beginning of the creation by God” Rev 3:14
    – Kris
    Apr 2 at 13:04
  • both this answer and accepted answer in a linked question contain John 1:1. so how come this question is not a duplicate again?
    – BCLC
    Apr 2 at 13:34
  • Comments are not for prolonged discussion. Invitations to chat may be extended, if so desired.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 3 at 4:45
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I have practically answered this question here with this argument:

  1. We can reformulate the question as: what is the Biblical basis for the Nicene interpretation of the Pre-existence of Christ doctrine?

  2. NT can be interpreted in a non-Trinitarian way, but the Nicene early church party interpreted NT according to the apostolic tradition, i.e. according to how the 12 apostles + Paul would have understood the identity of Jesus as Jesus = God incarnate,

    • not another being promoted to be divine (such as Adoptionism)
    • nor a being born after the God the Father (such as Arianism: "there was a time when He was not"),
    • nor other non-Trinitarian options.
  3. The main evidence for the biblical basis of the Nicene interpretation is how the NT authors applied the term θεός (Theos) to Jesus, a term which traditionally refers to God the Father. The analysis is very complex but NOT esoteric, as laymen who read NT without prejudice can readily see how this interpretation option is not "forced". Because it's complex, needing Greek language expertise, translation practice in the apostolic period, Jewish connotations & OT tradition of the terms involved, etc. we need the assistance of scholars who have written books about them. Several 21st century books are in my answer.

  4. Conclusion: If after considering the scholarly findings we can agree that the NT authors understood Jesus = θεός then eternal pre-existence of Jesus has been demonstrated. We should also then interpret the Christological Bible verses according to the Trinitarian interpretation because this is the authentic faith of the apostles.

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  • Am I understanding this correctly as: the Biblical basis for Jesus' eternal pre-existence = the Biblical basis for Jesus being God? Apr 1 at 18:15
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    @AnthonyBurg That's my understanding. And we need to be precise in that being God in the Nicene understanding, otherwise it leaves open the Arian understanding, which precipitated the Nicene creed in the first place. Apr 1 at 18:19
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    what has the creed got to do with a 'biblical basis'? There should be some verses - A LOT if there is any basis at all - you have provided none. You allude to Paul - when did he ever claim Jesus was God - without resorting to eisegesis and proof-texting?
    – steveowen
    Apr 1 at 20:47
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    Splendid. I get another opportunity to up-vote this answer . . . . opportunity taken.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 1 at 22:53
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    @GratefulDisciple - I kind of agree with user47952 on this one: it would be great you explicitly quoted on your answer the relevant verses that most strongly support eternal pre-existence. Not just pre-existence, but eternal pre-existence. Apr 2 at 1:41
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I don't have time for a long answer, but here are three passages that show that Jesus pre-existed eternally:

  • Hebrews chapter 7 - draws an analogy to Melchizedek, who it says was without beginning of days or end of life (figuratively for Melchizedek; literally for Jesus--his birth into human flesh wasn't his beginning of days), and also calls Jesus' life indestructible (again by analogy). Note that this passage is not negating Jesus' death on the cross, it's just saying that it wasn't final, i.e. that he rose again and lives forever.
  • John 1:3 - says that everything was created through Jesus and nothing was created without him. If Jesus himself was created, this verse wouldn't make sense.
  • Colossians 1:16 - is even stronger than John 1:13, in that it makes it clear that everything was created through him and without him nothing was created includes things in heaven, and includes the invisible, i.e. heavenly beings: that Jesus created them all. It doesn't leave room for the possibility that Jesus himself was created. He took on human flesh when he came to earth to die on the cross for our sins to bring salvation through faith in him, but he was not created.

I'm sure there are many more, but these are just a few passages that show that Jesus has eternal pre-existence.

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