The question of whether Jesus existed before Abraham is an interesting one that the Bible provides insight into. To properly address this topic, we must look at what the Bible says about the nature of Jesus, His relationship to God the Father, and the statements He makes that relate to existing before Abraham.
The Eternal Nature of Jesus
According to the Bible, Jesus is eternal. He has always existed and was not created. We see this in verses such as:
John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John 8:58 – “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’”
Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
These verses reveal that Jesus was present at the beginning, exists eternally outside of time, and has always been the same throughout all ages. His eternal nature sets Him apart from all created things.
Jesus as Part of the Trinity
The Bible also shows that Jesus is God, part of the Holy Trinity along with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Though distinct Persons, they all share the same divine nature and have co-existed for eternity. Jesus is repeatedly called God and does things that only God can do (John 20:28; Colossians 2:9; Mark 2:5-12). His eternal existence is due to His divine nature as part of the Trinity.
As God, Jesus would have eternally pre-existed Abraham. Being the second Person of the Trinity means He has eternally co-existed alongside the Father and the Holy Spirit without beginning or end.
Jesus’ Claims of Existing Before Abraham
In John 8, Jesus gets into a dispute with the religious leaders of His day who claimed Abraham as their father and did not understand who Jesus truly was. Jesus tells them in verse 58, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
By saying “I am”, Jesus was identifying Himself with the name God used for Himself when speaking to Moses (Exodus 3:14). The religious leaders understood His meaning and picked up stones to kill Him for blasphemy (John 8:59).
Jesus also says in John 17:5, “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” He refers to the glory He shared with the Father before creation, affirming His pre-existence.
These statements from Jesus Himself indicate He existed long before Abraham was born around 2000 BC. As the eternal Son of God, He has no beginning.
What the Rest of the Bible Says
The Bible affirms Jesus’ eternal existence and role in creation in many other places, for example:
– Hebrews 1:2 says Jesus created the world. This means He existed before the world began.
– Colossians 1:17 states that Jesus existed before all things and holds all things together.
– Micah 5:2 prophesies that Jesus’ origins are “from of old, from ancient days.”
– In Isaiah 9:6 Jesus is referred to as “Eternal Father”, hinting at his divine eternality.
– Jesus says “I am the Alpha and the Omega” in Revelation 22:13, affirming that He is eternal.
– 1 John 1:1 states that Jesus (the Word) has existed from the beginning.
Many other verses confirm that Jesus is the eternal, uncreated Son of God who has always existed.
Jesus, the Eternal Word Made Flesh
The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is the eternal Word of God who took on human flesh around 2000 years ago. Scripture reveals His pre-existence and divine nature in many places. As the second Person of the Trinity, He has eternally co-existed with and shared glory with the Father. Jesus’ own statements, prophecies about Him, and the testimony of His earliest followers all point to Him existing long before Abraham. Though Jesus took on a human nature and entered our timeline, He Himself is eternal and has no beginning, existing before anything was created.
Jesus Pre-Existed Abraham Due to His Deity
In summary, the Bible affirms the eternal pre-existence of Jesus Christ in a number of ways:
- Jesus is God – He shares the divine nature and is part of the Trinity. This means He is eternal.
- Jesus is the eternal Word who was with God at the beginning and took on flesh (John 1:1, 14).
- Jesus made multiple “I am” statements identifying Himself as the eternal God (John 8:58).
- Jesus claimed to have glory with the Father before creation (John 17:5).
- Jesus is said to have created the world and existed before anything (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:2).
- Old Testament prophecies pointed to the eternal origins of the Messiah, fulfilled in Jesus (Micah 5:2).
Because Jesus is fully God along with the Father and Spirit, He shares the divine attribute of eternal existence. His deity necessitates that He existed before Abraham was born around 2000 BC. Jesus could accurately claim, “Before Abraham was, I am” because He is the eternal God who transcends all time and creation.
Objections and Counter Arguments
Some have offered objections to the biblical teaching that Jesus existed before Abraham. Let’s look at some of these and how they may be countered:
1. Jesus had a beginning when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
It’s true that Jesus, in His humanity, was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary (Luke 1:35). However, this refers only to His human nature and earthly existence. His divine eternal nature preceded His short time on earth in bodily form. He added humanity to His deity at a point in time while remaining eternally divine.
2. Jesus never claimed to be eternal
This is untrue, as we have seen from verses like John 8:58 and 17:5. Jesus made His eternal nature evident both through direct statements about His relationship to the Father before creation and through His use of titles like “I Am” that denote eternality.
3. The idea of Jesus’ pre-existence is borrowed from Greek philosophy
Some claim that the early church fathers got the idea of Jesus’ pre-existence from Greek philosophers like Plato. However, Scripture already presented a divine, pre-existent Jesus long before outside influence. The New Testament authors described Jesus in terms of Old Testament concepts about the eternal Word and wisdom of God (Proverbs 8).
While philosophical language was sometimes used to explain biblical truths, the early church view of Jesus was rooted in Scripture, not Greek philosophy. The idea that pre-existence is not really biblical has no grounding.
4. You’re interpreting these verses wrong
Some claim that verses about Jesus’ pre-existence and statements like “before Abraham was, I am” are being misinterpreted. However, Church history shows that the earliest followers of Jesus, who were closest to His teachings, understood these things in the same way modern believers do. How the original audiences and Jesus’ own disciples understood His words should guide our interpretation.
Additionally, the biblical authors themselves, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, provided explanatory statements about Christ’s eternality and role in creation that confirm these truths (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:2). The entirety of Scripture affirms the eternal pre-existence of Jesus.
Significance and Application
The concept that Jesus existed long before Abraham and all of creation has profound significance:
- Jesus is God. His pre-existence points unambiguously to His divine nature and eternality.
- It puts Christ’s accomplishments in perspective. His sinless life and victory over death were predicated on His deity.
- Jesus is supreme over everything. Nothing preceded Him; all things were created by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16).
- He relates to our weakness. Though divine, Jesus added humanity to be our merciful high priest (Hebrews 2:17-18).
This truth should lead us to worship Jesus in Spirit and in truth. He alone is worthy of our praise as the eternal God who reigns supreme over all and yet lovingly humbled Himself on our behalf.
Understanding Christ’s pre-existence also enables us to properly interpret His words and deeds recorded in Scripture. It provides the right framework through which we can make sense of His claims, miracles, forgiveness of sins, victory over death, and more. Getting a firm grasp on this truth is crucial for following Jesus as Lord and Savior.
In conclusion, the testimony of Scripture, especially Christ’s own words, unambiguously establishes that Jesus existed as the eternal Son long before Abraham was born. Based on the Bible’s revelation about His divine nature, eternal glory shared with the Father, role in creation, Old Testament prophecy, and more, we can wholeheartedly affirm the pre-existence of Jesus Christ.
Though Jesus took on human flesh 2000 years ago, He Himself transcends time and creation. The man Jesus was born to Mary, but the eternal Son of God had no beginning. By humbling Himself as a servant, even unto death, the pre-existent divine Christ demonstrated God’s amazing love and secured our redemption. This glimpse into the mystery of Jesus’ eternal nature as revealed in the Bible should fill us with awe, worship, and thankfulness.