The Preexistence of Jesus Christ as God

Willmington's Guide to the Bible

It is possible (as some have done) to hold to Jesus’ preexistence without believing in his deity. For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses cult brazenly declares that Christ preexisted as Michael the archangel prior to Bethlehem. But the Bible dogmatically declares both his preexistence and his deity.

A. The fact of his divine existence.

1. As taught by John the Baptist.

"John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me" (Jn. 1:15). (See also Jn. 1:27, 30.)

According to Luke 1:36, John’s birth occurred six months prior to Christ’s birth, but John declares that "he was before me," a reference to Jesus’ preexistence.

2. As taught by the Apostle John.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (Jn. 1:1).

"(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 Jn. 1:2).

Here the Apostle John connects Jesus’ preexistence to his deity.

3. As taught by the Apostle Paul.

"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:6-8).

4. As taught by the Apostle Peter.

"Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" (1 Pet. 1:20).

5. As taught by Christ himself.

"For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me" (Jn. 6:38).

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?" (Jn. 6:51, 61, 62).

"Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am" (Jn. 8:58).

"And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was" (Jn. 17:5).

Here Christ requests that the Father share his glory with the Son. But note the Father’s previous statement about his glory in Isaiah:

"I am the Lord: that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another…" (Isa. 42:8)

One is thus forced to conclude that either Christ was God indeed and had rightful claim to this glory, or he was an arrogant impostor demanding something the Father would never give him!

B. The activities of the divine preexistent Christ. What was the Savior doing prior to his Bethlehem appearance? The Scriptures make it plain that he was busy indeed.

1. He was creating the universe.

"All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made" (Jn. 1:3).

"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" (Col. 1:16).

"Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world.… And, thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands" (Heb. 1:2, 10).

This creation included everything, from electrons to galaxies, and from angels to Adam.

2. He was controlling this created universe.

"Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb. 1:3).

"And he is before all things, and by him all things consist" (Col. 1:17).

Our Lord Jesus not only put all things together, but he continues to keep all things together.

3. He was communing with the Father.

"I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast loved me" (Jn. 17:23).

"Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world" (Jn. 17:24).

Taken from: Willmington's Guide to the Bible  1981, 1984 by H. L. Willmington.