One key idea in contemporary Trinitarianism is the idea that the Son is eternal. This is required to have 3 co-equal persons (if the Son is not eternal, He is not equal to the Father).

Some try to show that the Son is eternal indirectly - the most obvious example is showing that the Son is God, and therefore the Son is eternal.

Even passages which might suggest pre-existence (such as John 8:58, "Before Abraham was, I am") don't directly impinge on the idea of eternally existing. There are all sorts of situations where someone existed before something, but aren't eternally pre-existing.

So, what is the direct scriptural evidence for the Son not just pre-existing but pre-existing eternally?

This question

What is the biblical basis for Jesus' eternal pre-existence (as opposed to having been created a long time ago)?

is similar, but too broad. For example (from an answer to the linked question), "The main evidence for the biblical basis of the Nicene interpretation is how the NT authors applied the term θεός" is not what I'm looking for.

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    I read this question as basically asking "what is the biblical basis of Nicene formula that the Son is eternally begotten of the Father" or "what is the biblical basis of rejecting the Arian assertion that there was a time when the Son was not". This article may be the best we can get: St. Augustine's interpretation of the closest direct 3rd category "proof text": John 5:26, keeping in mind that there are numerous other indirect verses for the Son's eternal relationship to the Father. Feb 11, 2022 at 17:26
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    @OneGodtheFather To avoid duplicate vote, rather than simply asking for "direct" scriptural evidence (which may not exist), how about adding more specifics from Dale Tuggy and change the question to something like "How do Trinitarians respond to Dale Tuggy's charge that there is no direct scriptural evidence for the preexistence of Christ?" Fortunately, he keeps an active blog where he responds to a variety of Trinitarian defenders, making it easier to know where he stands. Feb 11, 2022 at 20:18
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    @OneGodtheFather Just a transient comment (which will self-destruct in 24 hours): I have to admit that I enjoy reading Dale Tuggy's posts such as this and this: has humor, objective substance, written well to present his opinion (he's a professor, so that helps), knowledgeable enough about the early church, and engage good NT scholars (like R.T. France). That's ingredients for quality debates and informative resources to learn more about Unitarianism. Feb 11, 2022 at 20:41
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    You can't use a lack of satisfying answers to say that a question isn't a duplicate (posting a bounty on the original question is the way to get better answers). I'll close this as a duplicate, but then you could ask a new question about Tuggy's specific claims.
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 12, 2022 at 10:01
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    @OneGodtheFather This year I plan to seriously investigate "analytic theology" (see Figure 3) as a method for using analytic philosophy of religion to strengthen conceptual definition of talks about God, Jesus, sin, grace, virtues, salvation, etc. so they can be more precise while not totally divorcing the talks from appropriate use of exegesis, Bible narratives, and tradition. For an intro this interview series of founders and key practitioners is very helpful to me. Feb 12, 2022 at 18:46

2 Answers 2


The best written evidence to my mind of the eternal nature of Jesus Christ is written right at the beginning of the book of John. The Word is another name for Jesus Christ, who is the Only Begotten Son of the Father.

Quoting from KJV: John 1:1-3

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. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

To make sure our definition of the Word is also clarified: John 1:14

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

As some additional Biblical evidence, although the Apostle Paul here probably is referencing and expanding on what St. John had already provided, two more scriptures:

Ephesians 3:9

And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

Colossians 1:16

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

To conclude, if "all things" were created by Jesus, he must necessarily have pre-existed all things, and have been with the Father from the beginning.

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    +1 Important to note Eph 3:9 is a textual variant. My understanding is 'by JC' is largely believed by scholars to be an addition. Most modern translations do not include 'by JC'. Feb 11, 2022 at 23:19
  • Weird that St. Paul's examples in Col 1:16 are all related to governance. "thrones, dominions, principalities, powers" Leads me to wonder what the scope of the 'all' is. If the scope isn't absolutely universal, then seems argument re necessarily pre-existing all things fails. Feb 11, 2022 at 23:54
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    If there's reasonable doubt re scope, then that leaves us with John 1:1. As you note, that has to be combined with John 1:14 (among other things, the whole passage is complex), and in particular heavy emphasis has to be put on "was made". Thanks for these - I've learned a bit from them. :) Feb 11, 2022 at 23:56
  • The Word is another name for Jesus Christ - that is not a reasonable basis for the answer. John explains when and how Jesus originated when the word became flesh. Before Jesus was conceived, he is not yet the word. Then we have the verse you used to say, that are in heaven, and that are in earth - this cannot reference a Genesis creation. God made the heavens and the earth - not just the things in them. So the biblical basis based on what you have provided is inadequate.
    – steveowen
    Feb 12, 2022 at 2:09
  • By the "all things" in Col 1:16, aside from human governance, we can also read that as all powers in heaven, and whatever manner the heavenly dominions are regulated by laws like physics. I definitely read it as Christ and his power pre-existed all those things :)
    – zanlok
    Feb 13, 2022 at 7:12

For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us; [1 John 1:2 KJV]

και η ζωη εφανερωθη και εωρακαμεν και μαρτυρουμεν και απαγγελλομεν υμιν την ζωην την αιωνιον ητις ην προς τον πατερα και εφανερωθη ημιν [TR - Stephanus, Beza, Elzevir and Scrivener are all identical]

The original reads 'the life the eternal' and this was 'with the Father'.

If this eternal life was 'with the Father' then it must be a matter of Sonship, else the term (in eternity) of 'Father' would be both meaningless and misleading.

Therefore the Son (of the 'Father') is eternal in life.

And this eternal life, of Sonship, was 'manifested'.

It is abundantly clear that the apostle, in this place, speaks of Jesus Christ.

  • A 'biblical basis' shouldn't require so many personal conclusions. then it must be a matter of Sonship ! Why? If it spoke of Son, as you infer, it wouldn't be couched in terms of 'this', but 'he'.
    – steveowen
    Feb 12, 2022 at 10:50
  • @steveowen Eternal Life is an attribute of the Son of God. 'It' is an attribute of him. 'The Word (Logos)' is an aspect of the Son of God. 'It' is an aspect of him. Neither of the 'its' is a person. They are an attribute or an aspect of He, Himself : the Son of God.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 15, 2022 at 19:43
  • Eternal Life is an attribute of the Son of God if that were true, he would not have died. God gave His only son, not an immortal son with eternal life. He now has that attribute, which the Father gave him to give to others. The son is only of the logos b/c he is the logos become flesh - the logos is of God, not Jesus or a son.
    – steveowen
    Feb 15, 2022 at 21:10
  • @steveowen Then who is he who possessed 'the life the eternal' (which Person was 'with the Father') prior to the 'manifestation' ? Feel free to initiate chat, but no further comment from myself . . . . . .
    – Nigel J
    Feb 15, 2022 at 21:43
  • Precisely - there is no 'he' ."What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen..." (1John1) The logos IS that 'what', that attribute as you say of God. It became the 'he' in Jesus.
    – steveowen
    Feb 15, 2022 at 21:47

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