About the Preexistence of Christ

Did Jesus literally exist as a non-human being before he was conceived in his mother Mary? The idea that he actually existed as another kind of being before he was a man, developed among Gentile Christians in the Greco/Roman world after the Bible was written. Gentiles were accustomed to the notion of gods becoming men – and it was not a great stretch for the new Gentile Christians to apply that kind of flawed reasoning to Jesus – the Messiah. What the new post-biblical Gentile Christians weren’t grasping was the wonderful terms in which the prophets foresaw Christ’s day and how that Jesus and his early disciples described the priority and preeminence of his place in the eternal plan of God! In the mind of God, in God’s great master plan, this man existed even before Abraham.

On the other hand, faithful Jews had long known that the Messiah would be a true human being: not a hybrid being – not God (or part of God) or an angel or angel-like being come to earth. God’s prophets of old did not herald an already existing Messiah in their time. None of the Old Testament prophets spoke of meeting the Messiah or speaking with him. Rather, they foresaw the Messiah’s coming day – centuries ahead of time. Even Abraham saw the coming day of Christ and rejoiced! From Messiah’s birth, they foresaw his life, ministry, death and resurrection. They foresaw that he would then be taken up into heaven and  glorified at the right hand of God. They even saw his coming again, and the ultimate establishing of his kingdom upon the earth.

Prophecies and Figures

To God’s prophets and his people of old, the Messiah had always been in the mind of God and at the center of his great plan for the salvation of humanity. He was “foreknown” and “foreordained” by God (1 Peter 1:20). He was “foretold,” by the prophets (Luke 24:27, 44). He also existed in “figures” and “types” that pointed ahead to him. For example, the Passover lamb prefigured the Messiah who would be sacrificed for the people (1 Cor. 5:7); The manna that they ate of in the wilderness and the rock from which they drank (1 Cor. 10:3-4) were spiritually speaking “types” of him (Greek, tupos 1 Cor. 10:6, 11). Even Adam himself was a prefiguring of Christ (Rom. 5:14). Christ is in fact the “Last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45). While these were “him” in figures or examples, he was not literally Adam in the garden or the Passover lamb in Egypt. He was not literally the bread or the rock in the wilderness. After he was born, he would be the fulfillment of all those things and more. However, he would come into actual existence centuries later in Bethlehem of Judea.

This is Us – About the Preexistence of Christ

Over time, there have been those faithful Christians who have refused to follow the Gentile confusion of a literally preexistent Christ. They have remained faithful to Jesus as the true human son of God – born of a virgin by a miracle in his mother Mary. We at 21st Century Reformation are among those Christians who love Jesus for who he really is – not a “God-man” – not an “angel-man” – but God’s true human son, our savior.

There is then another way to look at the preexistence of Christ – a better, more scriptural way. If you would like to learn more about preexistence, we invite you to spend some time reading, watching and listening in this Preexistence section of the 21st Century Reformation website. If you do, then drop us a line and let us know what you think. May God bless you as you study his word.

21st Century Reformation

Literal and Notional Pre-existence:
Crossroads for the Incarnation Debate

Sean Finnegan

The prologue of John’s Gospel (John 1.1-18) is for millions the defining text on Christology.  Yet there are as many different interpretations of the passage as there are verses.  The three major interpretations are orthodox, Arian, and Socinian.  The traditional orthodox view (more than 90% of Christians) says that God the Son became a man, yet without giving up his Deity.  The Arian belief (subscribed to by Jehovah’s Witnesses) is that Michael the archangel became human.  The Socinian position (believed by the writer) is that the divine plan and action of God was expressed when Jesus was born and that before his birth he did not exist other than in the mind of God.

Before moving on, it is important to define a few terms:

incarnation[1]:  the event in which the word became flesh
notional pre-existence:  the Son pre-existed in the mind of the Father as a notion
literal pre-existence:  the Son literally pre-existed as a conscious divine being

It is my intention to outline and critique the traditional view of literal pre-existence and then to present the Socinian idea of notional pre-existence.

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21st Century Reformation

Also See:  Focus on John 1 (Videos & Articles)

“Focus on John 1” brings together some of the best of writings and videos about the amazing but controversial prologue of the gospel of John. We invite our viewers to look anew with us at John 1 and reconsider this wonderful passage about God’s powerful creative word by which he made the world…



21st Century Reformation

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