From what I understand, Biblical Unitarians believe that the pre-incarnational existence of Jesus (as trinitarians propose it) is actually a notional existence in the mind of God. In other words, the Logos was not a person but only the notion (sure foreknowledge) of a person.

In John 17:5 Jesus says:

And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

It appears that the glory Jesus is asking to be returned to is the glory of the Father's own self. I doubt anyone thinks the Father's glory is notional.

Do Biblical Unitarians think Jesus was asking to be glorified notionally just like he was before the world was? If so, is he now glorified only notionally at the right hand of God just like before?

  • See also Matthew 25:34.
    – user46876
    Nov 14, 2021 at 5:39

3 Answers 3


No. To the extent there is a consensus about this particular passage among Biblical Unitarians, it is probably that Jesus, when making the prayer, existed literally, and so therefore, he was asking for the notional glory to become literal.

This is mentioned in a discussion of John 17:5 from BiblicalUnitarian.com.

"When 2 Timothy 1:9 says that each Christian was given grace “before the beginning of time,” no one tries to prove that we were actually alive with God back then. Everyone acknowledges that we were “in the mind of God,” i.e., in God’s foreknowledge. The same is true of Jesus Christ. His glory was “with the Father” before the world began, and in John 17:5 he prayed that it would come into manifestation."


"Jesus was praying that he would have the glory the Old Testament foretold, which had been in the mind of God, the Father, since before the world began, and would come into concretion."

  • 1) 2 Timothy 1:9 actually says that God's purpose and grace were given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began, so we need not have existed yet as long as Christ did. 2) Glorify me with thine own self, with the glory I had with you before the world was. You cannot argue that God's own self is notional. Nov 14, 2021 at 12:35
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    @MikeBorden The question is whether Jesus is currently only notionally glorified. If you want to ask a different question, perhaps modify your Q? Nov 15, 2021 at 18:44
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    Light dawns over marblehead! I will ask another question. +1 Nov 16, 2021 at 11:51
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    @OnlyTrueGod asked: "To whoever dv'ed, can you say why?" — Some people seem to think that votes are for the ideas contained in the answer, not for how well those ideas are presented. If I (and I suspect you) voted that way, I'd down-vote most of the answers on this site (even including a few of my own). Jul 2, 2023 at 20:20
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    @RayButterworth I can assure you, by experience as a minority, that many people down vote answers & questions because they do not like what is being presented. And they upvote non-answers to tough questions that challenge their beliefs. I can point to several top voted answers of my questions that do not even attempt to answer the question. Thats why this whole reputation in babylon is laughable. Jul 5, 2023 at 22:02

As a non-trinitarian, whom most would consider a Unitarian, I will answer from my own perspective even though because of certain views held by many Unitarians respecting this very issue, I am uncomfortable identifying as one.

Introduction to Jesus' Identity

My view is simple, and Bible-based, but sometimes harder to explain given the amount of confusion out there on the subject which requires being cleared up.

Essentially, it boils down to the following points:

  • God is a single being (see e.g. Deuteronomy 6:4).
  • Jesus, God's Son, as a Man, is a separate being, distinct from his Father (see e.g. Mark 13:32).
  • God's Son, as a manifestation of God, has always existed, just as God has always existed (see 1 Timothy 3:16; Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:15).
  • As the "Son of Man," Jesus was created; but it was the unCreated Son of God which in-dwelt the human, created, Son of Man (see Hebrews 10:5; Luke 1:35).

In the person of Jesus Christ, humanity was united to divinity by the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God, also referred to as the Spirit of Christ (see Romans 8:9; 1 Peter 1:11). Divinity has always existed, but Jesus' humanity was created in the same manner in which our humanity is created. The Bible is careful to teach, however, that Jesus was a man, and not God, but that it was God's Spirit that dwelt in him.

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; (1 Timothy 2:5, KJV)

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:19, KJV)

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (John 14:10, KJV)

The "Glory" of Jesus

As a man, Jesus had a glory which is separate from that of God, his Father. He also came in his Father's glory. The word "glory" can have more than one sense, or layer, of meaning.

Consider these verses:

Christ's glory

Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? (Luke 24:26, KJV)

His Father's glory

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (Matthew 16:27, KJV)

The glory of a "man" and of a "woman"

For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. (1 Corinthians 11:7, KJV)


Understanding that Christ had both his own, and his Father's glory; and understanding that the Son of God existed before the Son of Man was created; one must be clear as to which "glory" is addressed before answering a question of this nature.

The "glory" of God, which has always existed, and which honored Christ Jesus with its presence, was not a notional glory. The glory of Jesus, which came into being upon his advent to this earth, was not merely notional either; but the questioner may see it as such, depending on personal perspective and interpretation.

The existence of Jesus as a Man, which came well after the creation of Adam and Eve--the first humans, may be said to have been "notional" in the sense that is was not a material reality yet when the plan was conceived. But I believe that there was no doubt that it would occur, and in numerous places throughout the Old Testament, Christ's mission is spoken of prophetically in the past tense, as if it had already been completed.

  • Glory (doxa) is actually a fantastically elusive word to pin down. (see abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/d/d-o-k-e-om.html). I think it's best understood as 'substance' and 'to glorify' as 'to substantiate'. When we glorify God we think, speak, and act as though God were true. Therefore, heavenly bodies have different substances (1 Cor. 15:41). Jesus says he had the same glory (substance) as the Father before the world was. Jul 4, 2023 at 12:38

There are many types of glory.

  1. YHWH has His own which He doesn't share(Isaiah 42:8).
  2. Jesus has his own as the only begotten(John 1:14).
  3. Jesus has shared glory with us(John 17:22).

Jesus has shared glory already with all the children, even those not yet born.

Its important to read Jesus' entire prayer he is having with the 1 True God, his Father. Jesus addresses this glory he had with the Father later on in the chapter within the same prayer.

John 17

20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have GIVEN(past tense) them, that they may be one just as We are one:"

Jesus has already shared this glory with the children to come. How can he already share glory with those not yet born? The same way the Father did with him before he was born.

Prophetic Perfect

The prophetic perfect tense is a literary technique used in the Bible that describes future events that are so certain to happen that they are referred to in the past tense as if they had already happened. From Wikipedia

Prolepsis (n.)

1570s, "anticipation, the taking of something anticipated as already done or existing," Online Etymology Dictionary

Paul speaks to this as well.

2 Timothy 9

..who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,

Preeminently, Jesus was in the plans of his Father; in His mind since before this age. The first mention of Jesus(a new seed) is at the fall, the exact beginning of the age. But the idea preceded even Adam's birth. Jesus is the second Adam. The concept of an Adam was the reason to create and thus existed before the age began.

  • So Jesus has the same ability as the Father: that is, to share his glory with folks who do not exist yet? Jul 4, 2023 at 12:30
  • Of course! Jesus tells us this. He has all authority from our Father. Everything comes through him. ALL the Son's ability originates from the Father and he shares/passes it to us. Jul 4, 2023 at 15:55
  • So 'all authority' means perfect foreknowledge of all things? Jul 6, 2023 at 11:54
  • All things? No. The Father knows ALL of what has occurred and exists. He knows what He will do and when, to bring on the end of the Age..... He limits His own omniscience by instituting free will. Rather, The Father shares His complete understanding (His eternal Wisdom/Logos) with His only begotten Son. He taught Jesus from a child everything about His creation. Why? Because a son inherits from his father. Jesus is in control of the Creation now. Jul 6, 2023 at 16:17

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