Thursday, April 2, 2009

Did Jesus Have a Pre-human Existence?

That question may not make sense to many people. Of course Jesus had a pre-human existence! Doesn't the Bible clearly teach that? Evidently, it isn't as clear as was thought for there are many groups that teach that Jesus was not alive in heaven before coming to earth, among them Christadelphians, Restoration Fellowship, and others.

So, was Jesus alive in heaven before coming to earth?

John 1: The Word

"In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in the beginning with God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence." (John 1:1-3) The words of the Apostle John leave this subject open to very little debate. There are no other words that John could have used that made the matter clearer.

John tells us what the Word did while in Heaven. He goes on, "He was in the world, and the world came into existence through him, but the world did not know him." (John 1:10) We owe our very existence to Jehovah God, for if not for Him, using the Word as His Master Worker, (Proverbs 8:30) we would not be on earth today. For anyone to deny that Jesus was alive before he came to earth is to deny our existence. We live because God made us through Jesus Christ! To get around this, some may argue that the Word is not the Lord Jesus Christ!

John would not agree. He continues: "So the Word became flesh and resided among us, and we had a view of his glory, a glory such as belongs to an only-begotten son from a father." (John 1:14) The Word came to earth in the form of the man Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that someone came to earth from a pre-human existence. Who else would that be? The Scriptures do not say anyone else, besides the Word, came to earth. The Word had to have been Jesus. In fact, the book of Revelation reveals that he was.-Revelation 19:13

John 6:37-38: "I Have Come Down From Heaven"

More important then John's testimony, though, is the testimony of the Word, Jesus, himself. Jesus specifically said that he came down from heaven. "Everything the Father gives me will come to me, and the one that comes to me I will by no means drive away; because I have come down from heaven to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me." (John 6:37-28) This Scripture is clear and concise, with no room for argument. For anyone to try to make the claim, "Jesus said nothing of a prehuman existence" is dishonest--or at least made by somebody who does not know the Bible.

Micah 5:2: A Ruler From Early Times

There are many texts throughout the Bible that are prophetic of Jesus as ruler, including Genesis 49:10, Psalm 2:6, and Isaiah 9:6. However, there is one that reveals also is very telling on this subject. A well-known prophecy by the prophet Micah. He says, "And you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, the one too little to get to be among the thousands of Judah, from you there will come out to me the one who is to become ruler in Israel, whose origin is from early times, from the days of time indefinite."-Micah 5:2

This prophecy is normally used to show where the Messiah is going to be born. (Matthew 2:4-6; Luke 2:4; John 7:42) Interestingly, we can also tell from it that he is going to be a king and that he had a prehuman existence. This idea was not foreign to any of the Bible writers. One last title of Jesus* will show that it was a commonly held belief that Jesus was a spirit in heaven before his life on earth.

Colossians 1:15: Firstborn

Jesus is a created being. Both Paul and John testify to that. For example, Paul said of Jesus, "He is the image of the invisible God, firstborn of all creation." (Colossians 1:15) Christ was the only thing created directly by God, all other things were created by Jehovah through Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus said of himself that he was the "beginning of the creation by God." (Revelation 3:14; Hebrews 1:2) He would know better then any human that he was alive in heaven before coming to earth. For anyone to say otherwise would be to contradict the sayings of our Lord and Savior.

John recorded Jesus as saying that he was the "only-begotten son" of the Father. (John 3:16) The Greek word for "only-begotten" is monogenes. Two Greek-English Lexicons say this of monogenes: "single of its kind, only" and another "the only member of a kin or kind."** Jesus is the only-begotten, the firstborn of all creation. There can be no denying that and all of its implications.

Genesis 1:26: "Let Us"

In the creation account, something that many don't notice are the words Jehovah used while creating man. He did not say "I will create man in my image" but, "Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness." (Genesis 1:26) Many people point to this Scripture as proof of the false Trinity teaching. However, God was obviously speaking to someone else, not to Himself. Who was He speaking to? Obvious, His only Son, the Word, Jesus Christ.

One person made this argument: "If a friend of mine and I said that we were going to create a stature in our image but it only looked like me, then it would not be in our image, only mine." That would be true in most cases, but not concerning Jehovah and Jesus. Why? Jesus is "the image of the invisible God" and "the exact representation of his very being." (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3) Jesus Christ was made in God's image and so we can be made in the image of Jehovah and Jesus.

Philippians 2:6-7: "He Emptied Himself"

This is the last Scripture that we will use in support of Jesus prehuman existence. It says, "Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men." (Philippians 2:5-7) It is very obvious when you open your mind and really look that Jesus was existing in God's form (as a spirit) but he emptied himself. Now, if Jesus had not been alive in heaven before coming to earth, how could he have emptied himself?

Another telling thing about this Scripture passage is the subject. The context reveals that the true subject is being humble enough to do God's will at all times, no matter what the task is. What good would Philippians 2:5-7 do to admonish humility if Jesus was not alive in heaven? It wouldn't mean anything at all. Christ had to have been alive before coming to earth! There is no way to explain these verses away.

When we study the Scriptures deeply, we come to thrilling conclusions that we may not have seen before. Jesus Christ was humble enough to give up everything he had before his human life and come to save sinful mankind. We owe our everlasting salvation to him. Let us never take away from his experience by denying that he lived before being transferred to Mary's womb and that he displayed humility to come here.

*Other Scriptures that prove Jesus had a prehuman existence are John 3:13; 6:62; 8:23, 42, 58; 17:5 and others.

**Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon