The Pre-Existence of Christ

“Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).

Continuing our blog series concerning the Doctrine of Christ, we now entreat the pre-existence of Christ. As John Jefferson Davis affirms, “Jesus Christ was coequal with the Father from all eternity.”[1] This coequal status asserts Christ was “pre-existent” before the personhood of Jesus entered into human history. In other words, Christ existed before Jesus walked the earth. The pre-existence of Christ finds support from a plethora of evidence in Scripture:

  1. The Old Testament
  2. The New Testament
  3. The Personal Claims of Jesus

The Old Testament

Old Testament narrative introduces the angel of the Lord to a fleeing Hagar, whereas the angel speaks as God (Genesis 16:7). In contrast, Zechariah illustrates a conversation between the angel of the Lord and God alone, highlighting a distinction of identity between these two (Zechariah 1:12-13).

How does one rectify this apparent contradiction?

Though no text explicitly states “The angel of the Lord is God,” based upon additional evidence, one infers the identity of this messenger as Christ. Connecting Old Testament references of this angel to the New Testament, Paul provides a fitting conclusion stating the visible manifestation of the angel of the Lord was Christ himself (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).

The New Testament

New Testament evidence concerning the pre-existence of Jesus also includes John the Baptist’s cryptic claim “After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me” (John 1:30). This statement appears confusing due to Christ’s historical birth after his cousin John, but yet finds answer in the doctrine of pre-existence. Further evidence affirms the apostle’s taught this same doctrine stating the Word was Jesus, who was with God in the beginning of creation and is God (John 1:1-3). Davis says the Word is the Creator who was not part of creation but the coauthor of creation.[2]

The Personal Claims of Jesus

The most striking claims of pre-existence come from Jesus himself who said, “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). In the midst of Jesus’ high priestly prayer, he entreats the Father to glorify him with the glory he possessed before the world existed (John 17:5).

Conclusion

He was before all things, and all things were made through him (John 1:1-2). Before Abraham existed, He existed.  To only ascribe complete humanity to Jesus without proposing preexistence is contrary to the biblical evidence.

“John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me” (John 1:15).

 

[1] John Jefferson Davis, Handbook of Basic Bible Texts (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1984), 61.

[2] Ibid., 62.

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