Some Christians do not believe that Jesus existed before He was born as a human being. This short article shows that Jesus existed before He was born – even “before Abraham” (John 8:58) – that He existed from eternity, namely from “the beginning” (John 1:1) – and that He existed in the “form of God” and had “equality with God” (Phil 2:6).
But God sent “his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom 8:3). He “emptied Himself” of “equality with God” (Phil 2:7), descended from heaven (John 6:62; 16:28), and “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14, NIV).
Dr. Dale Tuggy is an example of a Christian philosopher who does not believe in the preexistence of Christ. He, and other Christians like him, do not believe that Jesus existed before He was born as a human being. This is called Socinianism. Listen, for example, to some of his podcasts:
The purpose is this article is not only to show that Jesus existed before He was born, but that He ‘always’ existed; from the beginning of time.
Jesus existed before His birth.
The Baptist said, “After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me” (John 1:29).
Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).
He shared glory with God “before the world was” (John 17:5).
He existed from eternity.
He is “from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2).
“In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God” (John 1:1).
“He is before all things” (Col 1:17).
He is “the Beginning of the creation of God” (Rev 3:14).
The “beginning” is understood as the beginning of time. In other words, there was no time when He was not. The article on “the firstborn of all creation” (Col 1:15) interprets that as saying that the Son was the first being to exist.
He descended from heaven.
The following statements are provided as evidence that Jesus descended from heaven. The opponents of this view maintain that such statements must be read figuratively and not as evidence that He literally came down from heaven. You be the judge:
Jesus said to Nicodemus, “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man” (John 3:13).
“For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven … I am the bread of life … I have come down from heaven” (John 6:33-38).
“What then if you see the Son of Man ascending
to where He was before” (John 6:62)?
“I am from above; you are of this world,
I am not of this world” (John 8:23).
He came from God.
“I proceeded forth and have come from God” (John 8:42)
“I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father” (John 16:28).
“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16).
It is sometimes said that Jesus became God’s begotten Son when He was born as a human. But John 3:16 indicates that He was God’s only begotten Son even prior to His birth as a human being.
He was sent by God.
“... God did: sending his own Son
in the likeness of sinful flesh
and as an offering for sin” (Rom 8:3).
Other articles provide many further examples to show that God sent Jesus. That God sent Him firstly implies His pre-existence; that He existed prior to becoming a human being. Secondly, this statement implies His subordination to God; not only as a human being but also in His pre-existence.
“The Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14, NIV).
“For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” (2 John 1:7).
Philippians 2 contains a very instructive passage in which Paul describes Christ’s existence through four phases:
(1) Before His birth;
(2) As a human being;
(3) His death; and
(4) After His resurrection and ascension
(1) Before His birth, Jesus existed in the “form of God” and had “equality with God” (Phil 2:6).
(2) To become a human being, Jesus “emptied Himself” of the “form of God” and of “equality with God” (Phil 2:7). He remained the same Person as before, but He became a mere human baby, without knowledge or wisdom. He was truly and fully human.
(3) His death was a test to see whether He would remain “obedient to the point of death” (Phil 2:8). His entire life was a test of obedience.
(4) After His death, “God highly exalted Him” (Phil 2:9) so that He would be worshiped by all (Phil 2:9-10). He is again equal with God. Dr Tuggy relects this argument, but would God require the entire universe to worship a mere human being?
For a more detailed further discussion of this important passage, see the article on – Philippians 2.
Available Articles – Christology
Specific Bible Books
Specific Bible Passages
The origin of the Son
Christ is subordinate to God.
Christ is equal to God.
Jesus is called God.
- Overview – Overview of the verses that refer to Jesus as theos.
- Theos – The meaning of theos – the word translated “God.”
- John 1:18 – The original text of this verse is in dispute.
- John 20:28 – Did Thomas say that Jesus is God?
- John’s gospel – Discussion of theos in this gospel.
- Romans 9:5 – The translation depends on punctuation.
- Hebrews 1:8 – The next verse says that God is His theos.
The translation of John 1:1
Other Articles Series
Other Key Articles
For general discussions of theology, I recommend Graham Maxwell, who you will find on the Pineknoll website.