Who was Jesus Christ? Was He a man or an angel or some other created being? Many wonder about His nature and origin. What does the Bible say?
Two thousand years ago Jesus was born as a human being.
But what about before this major event? Did He exist eternally? Or was Jesus created by God the Father? If so, when? Before the creation of the earth and universe? Or just before the Flood? Or at the time of the incarnation (when He was born as a human)? Does the Bible answer these questions? This all relates to the question of whether Jesus is divine.
As we will see, the Bible shows that Jesus was not created—that He has been God for eternity.
Many Old Testament and New Testament passages address this subject. We will consider many of these, carefully examining the facts to be sure we are understanding what these passages say.
John 1:1-3 stands out as one of the more important passages on the background of Jesus Christ. These verses establish the existence of Jesus Christ prior to creation and from the beginning with God the Father.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” To make it absolutely clear who “the Word” was, it states in verse 14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
The word “with,” used twice in these three short verses, conveys two concepts according to Jamieson, Fausset and Brown’s Commentary: “That He had a conscious personal existence distinct from God as one is distinct from the person He is with; and that He was associated with Him in mutual fellowship.”
A most important point needs to be made about verse 3. It says nothing was made without Him. So was Jesus created? No, because had Jesus been made, He would have had to create Himself! Nothing means just that: nothing. Both the Father and the Word—who came to earth as Jesus Christ—have existed for eternity.
In John 1:1-2 “Word” is translated from the Greek logos. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, revised and edited by Frederick William Danker, defines logos as “a communication whereby the mind finds expression, word.”
Logos is the Greek word for “word.” Readers in John’s day would have been very familiar with the term. It was also well-known as a specialized term in ancient philosophy and theology. Philo, a Hellenistic Jew from Alexandria who lived about the time of Christ, wrote extensively about it. However, John used it in a different way—to refer to a second Being at God’s level of existence!
Another source defines logos as “word, thought, reason, speech, declaration, logic, revelation, reckoning, expression of thought” (Zondervan’s Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible). Since these definitions do not directly indicate personhood, some have concluded God’s thoughts or utterance constituted the Word, and His thoughts became the incarnate Christ. However, the Word is referred to as being with God in the beginning.
In John 1:4 we read, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” This shows the Word was not just a “thought” or “utterance”; the Word also had life. So, in these early verses of John’s Gospel, we find John applying a familiar term, logos, to a living Being who existed with the Father from the beginning, before the world was created.
Although we do not find “Spokesman” as a definition of logos, Jesus Christ is described as One who speaks on behalf of the Father. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He spoke the mind and thoughts of His Father (John 3:34; Hebrews 1:1-2). The Bible is the written Word of God, and Jesus Christ is the living, personified Word of God—a separate Being who was sent to speak the words of God.
We find three elements applied to Jesus Christ in these first few verses of John 1: existence, relationship and identification. He existed in the beginning with the Father and experienced a close relationship with Him. He is identified as the Word, yet another name for this great Being whom we call Lord and Savior.
Verses establishing Jesus’ preexistence
Notice now a number of verses that show that Jesus lived before the incarnation—before His human birth.
- Luke 10:18: “And He [Jesus Christ] said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.’” Satan’s fall would have occurred before he tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
- John 17:5: “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” So Christ clearly existed before the world did.
- John 17:24: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” Some would say the Father loved Him in advance but that He didn’t actually exist yet. It makes much more sense to say that Christ was present with the Father.
- 1 Corinthians 10:4: “And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” Christ existed, and He worked with Israel. The context shows clearly that the time frame is when Israel came out of Egypt into the wilderness.
- 1 Corinthians 10:9: “Nor let us tempt [test] Christ, as some of them also tempted [tested], and were destroyed by serpents.” Once again, the Israelites could not have tested Christ had He not been there working with them.
- Colossians 1:16-17: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (emphasis added throughout). Jesus Christ is the One through whom all things were brought into existence.
- Hebrews 1:10: “And: ‘You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.’” This is quoted from Psalm 102:25 and supports the previous verse from Colossians.
- Micah 5:2: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” Here we find a prophecy of Jesus Christ with the description that He has been from everlasting (literally, “from the days of eternity”).
The I AM
Another important passage showing Jesus was not created comes from John 8:58: “Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’” (Another significant use of this term in the Gospels is found in Mark 14:61-62.)
Here we find a clear reference to the “I AM” of Exodus 3:14 who revealed Himself to Moses. This name means “to exist or to be” (Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Old Testament). It refers to the Eternal or Self-Existent One.
This name and meaning are closely associated with YHWH, usually translated LORD in the Old Testament. It conveys a message similar to Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
In Exodus 3 the great “I AM” is assuring Moses, and by extension the Israelites, that He will continue to be what He has been eternally in the past and will eternally be in the future. He has not changed, and they can trust Him. Jesus identifies Himself with this same great Being!
In John’s account, Jesus is not saying He came into existence before Abraham. He is saying He existed before Abraham came into existence.
Jesus is divine
Scriptures in the New Testament clearly portray Jesus as divine—as God. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:16, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.” The Greek word for God in this passage is Theos, the primary word used for God in the New Testament.
In addition, please notice Titus 1:3: “But has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior.” Here the Savior is referred to as God (again, Theos).
Verse 4 further substantiates that “Savior” refers to Jesus Christ. “To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.” This gives a clear distinction between God the Father and Jesus Christ who is our Savior. And it shows that Jesus is also at the divine level of existence!
Notice Titus 2:9-10 as well: “Exhort bondservants … that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.” Verse 13 caps it off: “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Couple this with a prophecy of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1:23, which is quoted from Isaiah 7:14: “‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated ‘God with us.’”
Truly Jesus Christ was and is divine—He is God. The nature of divinity is eternity. Notice 1 John 1:2: “The life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us.”
These are some of the highlights from the Bible showing that Jesus Christ has existed eternally and was not created. We encourage you to read the other articles in this section about the great God and His divine Son, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
For more study, read the articles in this section: “Who Is Jesus?”