DID JESUS EXIST BEFORE HIS BIRTH?
The following article is from correspondence between Brother Walter Perks (from Malta) and another brother and sister, and is included here with permission for the benefit of our readers.
Greetings to you both in the hope we share in our Lord Jesus.
I’d just like to say that we are both well, and so is the rest of the ecclesia. Thank you for your letter and PowerPoint talk … As for the PowerPoint talk, it is not really very effective without the “talk,” However I can add a few things in case you missed them out. For example in the box marked “in the beginning” you have “+ Matthew 19:4-6 Jesus acknowledged that God was the Creator. You can add Mark 13:19 to that, where in his discourse Jesus says, “… for in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.” Jesus is here acknowledging again that God was the Creator.
Another aspect which comes from reading Hebrews 1:4 is that Jesus was “made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Seeing he was made a little lower than the angels and crowned with honour and glory (first) for the suffering of death (Hebrews 2:9) because it was fitting for God, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory should make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering (Heb. 2:10).
Hebrews 2:10 shows that Jesus was not already perfect, but that God wanted him to be made perfect through suffering, to be the captain of salvation to those that obey or listen to him. In order to bring many sons to glory—which verse 10 talks about— which have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Their captain had to be made perfect through suffering first, before they, or he, our Lord could enter into God’s glory, because it was fitting for God – as Jesus himself says in Luke 24:25 to those he met on the road to Emmaus. “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe al that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?”
“Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered,” says Hebrews 5:8. Jesus was always learning, since childhood “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and men” (Lu. 2:52). Though he were a son he had to learn obedience by the things he suffered, and he suffered being tempted in pleasing not himself, not only in not giving into the lusts of the flesh and eyes and pride of life, but also to succour them that are tempted. But he learned in his suffering to give his all – to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God and not bread alone, to worship the Lord his God, and serve only Him, and to not tempt the Lord his God. He can help us who are tempted in the same way as he by following the example he left for us, to follow in his steps, and to learn from him.
Hebrews 5:9 tells us “and being made perfect, he became he author of eternal salvation unto all that obey him.” Well, he wasn’t born perfect, he was born of a woman and under the law (Gal. 4:40), being sent in the likeness of sinful flesh. The Maltese Bible for Hebrews 5:9 says, “and having reached perfection … he became the author of eternal salvation unto all the obey him. So God wanted to make him perfect through suffering (Heb. 2:10), that is, the “him” of verse 9 who was made a little lower then the angels. Jesus learned obedience through that which he suffered (Heb. 5:8), and is thus made the author, or captain of salvation on reaching perfection.
So back to Hebrews 1:4 now: Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. The Apostle Peter tells us: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet. 5:6), which is what Jesus did to reach perfection. This is why the word “therefore” is in Philippians 2: “therefore God has highly exalted him”. We can’t say that he was perfect from the beginning because his life had not yet been lived. A life lived to its end in perfection, through the learning of obedience through suffering, made him to be “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” (Col. 1:15). That is, not of this creation, or of this world, but of a new world or creation, where he will be the firstborn from the dead. There, God’s plan with the earth and with men will bring him to a new creation or new world where “they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage, neither can they die any more (for they shall be like him, and see him as he is (1 Jno. 3:2) and be with him where he is and behold his glory (Jno. 11:24) in a place he has prepared for them, in his Father’s kingdom (Jno. 14:3). His Father will honour them (Jno. 12:26) who know “that Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over him” (Rom. 6:9) Neither can those worthy to obtain that world die any more, for they are equal unto the angels: and are the children of God being the children of the resurrection (Lu. 20:36). Death will have no more dominion over them either. They would be equal unto the angels, and “whereas angels are greater in power and might” (2 Pet. 2:11) they would be given power and might to be equal unto the angels, being the children of God by resurrection. We can see their transformation, or transfiguration if you like, being changed from falling short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23) to the fulfilling the purpose of God
Which was fitting, or became him to bring many sons into glory, but first, to make perfect, or transfigure the Captain of their salvation, making him perfect, because he was of our nature, made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death (Heb. 2:9-20).
Therefore his perfection came through his death also, besides his obedience. This nature of ours has to be done away with, including his. “it is the spirit that quickeneth (gives life), the flesh profits nothing, the words that I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life” says Jesus in John 6:63: and Jesus became (not was, but became), a spirit which gives life. So we read in 1 Corinthians 15:45 “And so it is written, the first Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening spirit, or “became a life giving spirit.
In verse 47 the last Adam is referred to as the second man and “second” cannot come before the “first” man can it? So verse 46 goes on to say, “Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual but that which is natural: and afterward that which is spiritual”. So Adam came first (the natural, or first Adam), and then came the Christ (the second Adam who became a life-giving spirit – the spiritual). Another way of saying Jesus did not pre-exist, at least not before Adam. What would be the purpose or the point of becoming a life giving spirit before Adam? Who or what would he give life to? Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 13:19 show Jesus acknowledging that God was the Creator. Jesus says he became a life giving spirit because God had given him power over all flesh “that he should give eternal life to as many as God has given him” (Jno. 17:2).
That he should give eternal life are the operative words here. For when God created man from the dust of the ground, and man became a living soul, we know he did not give him an immortal soul or eternal life. That was to be brought about by certain conditions, hence the command to do not, or else, and therefore involved willing obedience, and faith in God on the part of man. We know mankind were not made perfect, otherwise they would have been made equal unto the angels, and cannot die, something that can only be achieved with God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and to attain to a world where we are not tried or put to the proof, as even our dear Master, the Lord Jesus Christ was (Mat. 4, Luke 4). The fact that man was told that he would die mean that he was not perfect, and therefore could be tempted to sin – and therefore we all have to suffer death. This fact I believe is not only because the wages of sin is death, but because of our very nature, which God saves us from “and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began “ (2 Tim. 1:9)
In the hidden wisdom (the mystery) which God ordained before the world unto our Glory, a kingdom was prepared for those blessed of Jesus’ Father. These “blessed of the Father” were, or are those of Romans 8:29 “for whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be “conformed to the image of his Son,” that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, those whom he did predestinate, (those chosen in him, his Son, before the foundation of the world Eph. 1:4 – predestined as sons by Jesus Christ to himself (to God) according to the good pleasure of (God’s) will (verse 5) are the ones he predestinated) – moreover those whom he did predestinate, them he also called (Rom. 8:30). (He called with a holy calling, according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began – 2 Tim. 1:9) them he also called: (Rom. 8:30) and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified, them he also glorified (Rom. 8:30).
Those whom God glorified, were the ones he predestined before the world began, to be sons by Jesus Christ. Jesus had to be glorified first according to Hebrews 2:10 by being made perfect through sufferings, to be the captain of their salvation – the many sons to be brought into gloty (Heb. 2:10). They were indeed glorified before the world, as Jesus also was glorified before the world began “the Glory which Jesus had with God before the world was” (Jno. 17:5) because God loved him before the foundation of the world (vs 245). God had said by the holy prophets of his, as said by Jesus in Luke 24:25 to those who were “slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?” God raised him up from the dead and gave him glory (1 Pet. 1:21) and as he was the lamb of God, the ultimate sacrifice for sin, “Worthy is the lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:12) but also Revelation 13:8 tells us that he was the lamb “slain from the foundation of the world.”
As he was slain from the foundation of the world, he was also glorified from the foundation of the world. And having suffered from the foundation of the world to enter into his glory (Heb. 9:24 would contradict this) “for Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are figures of the true: but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with the blood of others: for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world; but now once in the end of the world/age hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
The question is whether Jesus was slain before the foundation of the world or at the end of the age. John 7:39 talks about the spirit what was to be given, which according to John 14:26 will “teach them all things”. It is by this Spirit that the apostles and writers of the New Testament wrote. The Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified. So at the time of the apostles, at the time of John 7:39 Jesus was not yet glorified. Do you see the point I am trying to make: – if Jesus was glorified before the foundation of the world, then the apostles were there existing before the foundation of the world also, to receive the spirit that would teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever Jesus said unto them (John 14:26). And the Apostle Peter tells us in Acts 2:23 of Jesus: “Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. Jesus was slain, he was delivered to be crucified – (in the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God) which was God’s plan and purpose for us and for our glory before the world was. “Those things which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled” (Acts 3:18). The plan of God, or His Eternal Purpose, and grace that was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began (2 Tim. 1:9) was in fruition in the days when Christ came and called his apostles to himself when he started his work which God gave him to do and finish (Jno. 17:4).
2 Timothy 1 continues in verse 10 of God’s purpose and grace given us in Christ before the world began. “but is now made manifest by the appearing of our saviour Jesus Christ (now made manifest by his appearing – compare Heb. 9:26 “but now once in the end of the age/world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself) who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light by the Gospel.” He was foreknown, or foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you (just as those of Rom. 8:29-30). “for you” = God’s purpose and grace given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, who by him do believe in God that raised him up from the dead and gave him glory (All this was in God’s plan from the foundation of the world) that your faith and hope might be in God” (1 Pet. 1:20-21). It was all God’s doing – see Acts 4:27 “for truly against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate with the Gentiles and people of Israel were gathered together “to do whatsoever your hand and your purpose determined before to be done” (Acts 4:27-28). God’s hand was in all this, it was his plan from the beginning. Jesus was delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God. Acts 2:23. He was, as was our salvation, in God’s plan. And he was the central figure, in him all things hold together, He is the first and foremost in everything, everything in God’s plan revolves around him. So yes, he is before Abraham and before David, and yet he is the Son of both (Mat. 1:1).
Also, John 5:26 tells us that the Father has life in himself “So hath he given to the Son to have life in himself and has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man.” It is because Jesus was man and had reached perfection that God gave him authority to execute judgement on his fellow men, besides giving him eternal life. God would judge the world by him. He was ordained by God to be the judge of the living and the dead, because he himself was tempted in all points as we are, made like us in every way. James tells us that God cannot be tempted (1:13) and the apostle Paul tells us that God is eternal, immortal, invisible, and the only wise God, and that only he has immortality dwelling in light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen nor can see (1 Tim. 1:17, 6:16). And Jesus himself tells us that his Father is perfect.
God was working for mankind’s salvation through the man Jesus Christ. The Scriptures tells us “for since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection from the dead” (1 Cor. 15:51). Because God cannot die, or be approached, or be seen nor can he be tempted. Jesus was tempted in all points like as we are, was seen by men, and not only was he approached, but was taken and by wicked hands crucified and slain. And as he is now crowned with honour and glory, he has become perfect, and the author of salvation. Death has no more dominion over him. He cannot any more be tempted. He is no more of our nature. He has entered into God’s glory (Rom. 6:9) and “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead”.
He is “the firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18). Those that follow him after, that was fitting for God to bring into his glory cannot die any more either, for they are equal unto the angels (with power, 2 Pet. 2:11) being sons of God also, by the resurrection from the dead (Lu. 20:36) They will be conformed to the image of the Son of God – predestined from the plan of God for us in Christ Jesus before the world began to be conformed to the image of his son, that he might be the firstborn of many brethren – firstborn from the dead, and to be the first Son of God among many brethren by resurrection from the dead, and to be like the angels, but he having a more excellent name than them, because they are not tempted, and did not need any aid, for salvation (or destruction Heb. 2:14, 16) “for indeed he, (Christ) does not give aid to angels, but he does give aid to the seed of Abraham.”
In saying “he has obtained a more excellent name than they” (Heb. 1:4 “than the angels”) we see how God has highly exalted him. Just like the rest of Hebrews 1, God is saying, “to which of the angels has he given authority to execute judgement also?” (Jno 5:21).
Jesus did not come to judge the world, but to save the world: “he that rejects his words “hath one that judges him, the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (Jno. 12:47-48). Verse 49 shows he is not the word, to judge. But because of his obedience, even to death on the cross, we find in Philippians 2:9 “therefore God has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that name is shown in Revelation 19:13 to be “the Word of God.” The apostles were ordered by God to preach to the people and to testify that it is he who was ordained by God to be the judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42). So Jesus could say in Revelation 1:18 “I am he that liveth and was dead and behold I am alive for evermore (the Maltese Bible says, “now I am alive for evermore”) Amen: and have the keys of hell and of death.” So we read that everyone has to repent because He (God) has appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained: whereof he has given assurance unto all men, in that he has raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).
God shows us His Goodness and Righteousness, in that whosoever does His Will will abide fore ever, by raising Jesus from the dead “and has given him authority to execute judgement also, because he is the Son of Man, “and declared the Son of God with power by resurrection from the dead” who shall “change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself (Phil. 3:21). This power spoken of here in Philippians chapter 3, he has by the resurrection from the dead—not before, for according to God’s plan and purpose told through the prophets, was the gospel of God, “which he had promised before (afore) by his prophets in the scriptures concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4).
So we see how God has highly exalted him – from a body of death to an eternal life, from a vile body to a glorious body. First that which is natural and then after that which is spiritual (1 Cor. 15:46). The natural – the flesh – profits nothing. The likeness of sinful flesh, Jesus was exalted far above everything else because he obeyed and loved his Father.
Now if we go back again to Hebrews 1:4, Jesus has obtained a more excellent name even than the angels. This he received after his death, when he had finished the work God gave him to do, see verse 3 “… when he had by himself (by the sacrifice of himself, Heb. 9:26), purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high”. He never took God’s place, or became God again by taking his throne, but sat down on the right hand of God. Hebrews 10:12 says the same “But this man – notice “man” after he had offered (not before) one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God. See also 12:2 of Hebrews: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross …. And is sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”.
There is not much else to say on the Christ not pre-existing before his birth. Everything seems clear to me. I can still remember the voice of a brother Douglas Hardy from Tenby (I have him on tape somewhere). He said this or words to that effect: “if you had a different mother, you would not be you. You would look different, talk different and thing different. And the same, if I had a different father, I’d be different, walk, talk, and think differently and look different, maybe even taller or shorter – the same goes for Jesus Christ. If he had existed prior to his birth, he could not be the same Jesus of the Bible we know. For in Galatians 3:8 we read that God preached before the Gospel to Abraham saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed” and to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not And to seeds as of many, but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ” (Gal. 3:16). And of David it says in Acts 2:30 “Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had promised with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit upon his throne.”
To believe in the pre-existence of Christ is to deny God’s oath to David, and to Abraham and goes against Scripture right away in the New Testament, which begins in Matthew 1:1 with the promises made to them coming to be: “the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” And of course, “he who does not believe, or confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come (into existence) in the flesh is not of God and this is that antichrist (spirit of antichrist 1 Jno. 4:3).
The Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in a trinity, but they do believe in the pre-existence of Jesus. Ephesians 1 and especially 3:11 (shows that the purpose of God was eternal, and not Jesus) and 2 Tim. 1:9,10, 1 Peter 1:20-21 all show that God had a plan in Christ for us before the world began, for our salvation, even before Adam and Eve were created, even before Jesus existed—which obviously rules out any of their theories of any fallen angels tempting man to sin. Their Bible says from “times everlasting” instead of “before the world began” in 2 Timothy 1:9. They just cannot stomach this, that God had a plan which was from eternity, or at least before the foundation of the world for us in Christ.
God knew that man would sin and made and planned beforehand in Christ for man’s salvation— and God’s word is as good as done. Like when he says “a father of many nations I have made you” to Abraham, when Abraham had no son yet, and we read that God speaks of things that be not as though they were – what would be the point of the angels planning against God to take over from him the Godhead by tempting men and women to sin, to win them over, the angels, they mean Satan (and Lucifer) and his angels.
John 6:62 used to be very confusing to me: “What and if you shall see the son of man ascend up where he was before?” and John 3:13 “and no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the son of man which is in heaven”.
Then it dawned on me that although both these verse seem to imply that the Lord Jesus existed and came down from heaven, the both imply and use the words “the son of man” and we know no son of man ever came down from heaven. “Where he was before” was in the mind and purpose and plan of God for all of God’s creation, including the Lord Jesus himself. These were hard sayings for his disciples (Jno. 6:60) who could understand it? His disciples murmured at it (vs 61) and verse 62 of the Son of man confused them even more, but it is all in the context of him being the bread of life that came down from heaven: “the bread that I shall give is my flesh which I shall give for the life of the world” says Jesus in verse 51. But the flesh profits nothing. “it is the spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life” (Jno 6:63).
No son of man, and no flesh, let alone the likeness of sinful flesh ever came down from heaven, for the flesh is unprofitable, and the life of the flesh has to be done away with – for the flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, these are contrary to one another (Gal. 5:17). Jesus crucified it, and “they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts (Gal. 5:24) so as to follow in Christ’s footsteps and example. It is not the flesh, but the spirit that gives life (God is the Spirit that has life in Himself) “The words that I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life.” God, or the Word of God, which Jesus speaks (see Jno. 3:34) are the life and spirit of God. It is this spirit or word of God which came down from heaven at the baptism of Jesus, and remained on him (Jno. 1:33).
It was the spirit that came down from heaven. It was the Word of God, which had in it “the spirit of Christ” in the writings of the prophets (1 Pet. 1:11), and was manifest in the book that is written of Christ (Heb. 10:10), in which the Christ came to do God’s will what was written of him. In assenting to the will of God for him for our salvation, so as to be pleasing to his Father and for the joy that was set before him, the very work of his obedience to his God and Father Glorified God, and in turn, God glorified him for it – a kind of my own explanation for “no man hath ascended into heaven except he which came down from heaven, even the son of man which is in heaven.” Jesus joined himself with the Lord, as 1 Corinthians 6:17 says, “He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.” We can through the Name of Jesus, who God made Lord over us, through his Spirit have access to the Father.