Since the post-Apostolic period, the nature and person of Yahshua has been much debated. Questions have ranged from whether the Messiah is a separate being distinct from His Father to whether He and the Father are one in a mysterious triune relationship. Other questions surround his humanity. Was Yahshua fully human, divine or partly both when he walked this earth?
Then there are those who ask whether Yahshua preexisted prior to His birth at Bethlehem or whether he first came into being through Mary’s miraculous conception.
In this first installment we will uncover the truth regarding the existence that the Messiah had with His Father prior to the creation of this world. Before this, however, it is necessary that we understand why this fact is important.
Those who acknowledge Yahshua as the one true Messiah don’t question His validity. Only through the Messiah’s sacrificial atonement is mankind justified and released from the penalty of his sins (Rom. 3:25, 4:25, 5:18). Now this redemption He offers us is not the only significance of Yahshua the Messiah. Once we understand that Scripture also teaches that through Yahshua all things were created, we come to realize the role that Yahshua had prior to his birth as a man.
According to Scripture, without Yahshua the Messiah, the heavens and earth would not exist. Those who deny the preexistence of the Messiah also deny the great contributions that He provided to the existence of this universe. Therefore, this belief not only rejects His full existence by denying his preexistence, but also ignores His contributions to creation and to mankind.
First we will examine the Scriptural evidence for the Messiah’s preexistence. We will begin by reviewing the proof found in the New Testament. There is no passage of greater importance when answering the question of the Messiah’s preexistence than John chapter one.
The Word Became Flesh
It reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim. The same was in the beginning with Elohim. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-3, 14).
Based on verse 14, who represents the “Word” within this passage? The “Word” is identified as the only begotten of the Father. This can refer only to Yahshua the Messiah. Now does the “Word” in verse 1 correspond to the “Word” in verse 14? There are those who would argue that the word in verse 1 refers simply to the “plan of Yahweh,” while the word in verse 14 refers to the manifestation of that plan, i.e., Yahshua the Messiah. The problem with this view is context. From the passage it is clear that there is only one “Word” being described, the Messiah.
This passage could be rendered, “In the beginning was the Messiah, and the Messiah was with Elohim, and the Messiah was Elohim.” Here is evidence that the Messiah was with Yahweh in the beginning.
Now there are some who struggle with John 1:1, when it says, “…the Word was Elohim.” Some have interpreted this as John confirming the duality of the Father and Son. In other words, validating that the Father and Son are the same being, as expressed through the Trinity.
Understanding begins with the Greek. The Greek word for “elohim” is “theos,” literally “a general name of deities or divinities” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). From the Old and New Testament we find that this term along with its Hebrew equivalent, Elohim, applies to both the Father and Son, as well to false deities and even man. This passage could just as easily be rendered, “…the Messiah was a ‘Mighty One.’” John is not confusing the Father and Son. He is simply confirming that in the beginning the Son was with His Father as a “Mighty One.”
Having established who this “Word” represents, let’s now move on to the meaning of verse 3. It says again that all things were made by Him. So based on this verse Yahshua was the one who created all things. This truth must not go unnoticed. John unambiguously declares that all things in the heavens and on earth were created through the Messiah. To ignore or reject this pronouncement is to discard the truth of Yahweh and degrade the role of Yahshua.
To summarize, we find three scripturally undeniable facts within this passage: (1) The “Word” represents Yahshua the Messiah, (2) Yahshua was with His Father is the beginning and (3) all things were made through the Messiah. To remove the Messiah’s preexistence is to remove his presence with His Father and the pivotal role that He took part in at creation.
‘Before the World Was’
In His eye-opening prayer in John 17 we find Yahshua himself declaring his own preexistence as he prepared for his imminent death: “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5).
Now the key word here is “was.” This word is derived from the Greek einai meaning, “to exist” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance).Thayer’s Greek Lexicon offers a similar definition, “to be, to exist, to happen, to be present.”
Based on the Greek, we find Yahshua asking his Father to provide Him the same glory that He had before the world existed. Yahshua through his own mouth offers irrefutable confirmation of his preexistence. He declares that He had glory with His Father, indicating His exalted state, before the world existed. In essence, this is the same message we found in the first chapter of John.
‘Before Abraham Was’
Similar to the previous example, in John 8:56-58 the Messiah confirms that he existed before Abraham. “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham? Yahshua said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”
Before we consider verse 58, the critical verse here, it is vital that we understand the context of the entire passage. The Jews understood Yahshua’s referring to His past existence, otherwise their reference to his age would be without significance. Though this passage speaks in the present tense, the context clearly refers to the past. It is vital that this context be understood, as Yahshua’s proceeding statements are built thereupon.
In verse 58, Yahshua again made the remarkable statement, “….before Abraham existed, I was.” Now what was Yahshua saying within this passage? The meaning is once again found in the Greek. The word “was” here comes from the Greek word, ginomai. The Strong’s defines this word as, “to cause to be, i.e. (reflexively) to become (come into being).” Thayer’s adds, “to become, that is, to come into existence, to begin to be, or to receive being.”
The phrase “I am” comes from the same Greek word for “was” in John 17:5, i.e., einai. Additionally, The Complete Word Study New Testament under its Lexical Aid, provides this definition, “to be, to exist, have existence or being.”
From the Greek the Messiah confirms here that before Abraham came into being that He existed or was present. So from this example, Yahshua once more confirms his heavenly existence by substantiating that he existed prior to the patriarch Abraham.
Yahshua Before John the Baptist
Not only did Abraham confirm Yahshua’s preexistence, but John the Baptist did also. “John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, this was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me” (John 1:15).
The word “before” here comes from the Greek word protos. Strong’s defines this word as, “foremost (in time, place, order or importance).” This statement by John clearly refers to time and not to order of importance. This can be substantiated through John’s earlier statement, “He that cometh after me.”
Those who know genealogy might be saying, but wait. Elisabeth, John the Baptist’s mother, conceived six months before Mary (Luke 1:26). How then was Yahshua before John? Simple, as Yahshua preexisted before Abraham, we find here that He also preexisted before John the Baptist.
Came from Above
In addition to these examples, Yahshua also noted in several passages that he came down from heaven. We find one such account in 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.”
In addition to the Messiah’s declaring that no man has gone to heaven, a belief that is corroborated in both Old and New testaments (Gen. 3:19, Job 14:2, Ps. 103: 14-16, 146:4, Ecc. 9:10, 12:7, Dan. 12:2, Acts 2:29-34), Yahshua states that he came down from heaven. The phrase here “came down” is from the Greek katabaino, meaning “to descend’ (Strong’s). Thayer’s offers additional detail: “the place from which one has come down.”
Yahshua confirms here that He came down or descended from heaven. Based on the Greek, no other interpretation would apply. For this statement to be true our Savior would have had to first exist in heaven prior to his birth as a man.
An analogous passage can be found in John 6:38, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” As Yahshua stated in John 3:13, He also plainly declares in this verse that he came down from or was sent from heaven.
The phrase “came down” is derived from the same Greek word found in John 3:13, katabaino. From Yahshua’s own testimony we find confirmation once more that He came down or descended from heaven. For this to be possible, Yahshua would have had to preexist in heaven with His Father. In verse 62 Yahshua went on to say, “What and if you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?”
The Messiah confirms here His heavenly preexistence. Scriptures states that after Yahshua’s death and resurrection that he ascended into heaven (Acts 1:11). Based on this fact, Yahshua confirms here that He existed in heaven prior to his birth as a man.
In John 8:23 Yahshua provides proof for His previous existence by drawing a contrast between himself and mankind. “And he said unto them, You are from beneath; I am from above: you are of this world; I am not of this world.”
Yahshua witnesses here again to his place of origin. He stated that while man was from beneath and of this world, that He Himself was neither. If Yahshua was not from beneath or of this world, from where did he commence? Based on the evidence, the only clear conclusion is that he had His beginning in heaven. The fact that Yahshua also stated that He was from above only further solidifies this fact. So from multiple passages we find the same message…Yahshua came down or existed in heaven prior to his human birth.
Image of the Invisible El
Paul in Colossians 1:14-17 not only confirms Yahshua’s preexistence, but also explains his role in the Old Testament: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible El, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
From verse 14 there should be no question as to the subject; this passage is a reference to our Savior. Now in verse 15 Paul states that Yahshua is the image of the invisible El, referring to the Father. Yahshua in John 6:46 confirmed that no man had seen the Father except for the Son. Scripture also corroborates that the Father cannot be seen and is invisible (1Tim. 1:17, Heb. 11:27).
According to Paul, Yahshua is the image of His Father. Now what existence of the Son is Paul referring to; His past existence with His Father prior to the world or His present existence as a man?
From the next few verses we find that Paul is clearly referring to the past existence of Yahshua, which confirms that Yahshua was the image or representation of His Father in the Old Testament. We will review many of these accounts in part two of this article. For now, let’s continue with verse 15.
Paul states that Yahshua is the firstborn of every creature. The word “firstborn” is derived from the Greek word prototokos. Both Strong’s and Thayer’s define this word as “firstborn.” They offer no other definition. The KJV also translates this word as “first begotten.” The meaning of prototokos is very specific. It is important to acknowledge this fact. By so doing we must acknowledge that Yahshua was the firstborn of every creature.
To ensure that we have a full understanding of this passage, we must not neglect the word “creature.” This word is derived from the Greek ktisis. Strong’s defines this word as, “original formation.” Thayer’s offers a similar definition, “creation, that is, a thing created; used of individual things, beings, a creature, a creation.” So based on the Greek Paul is validating that Yahshua was the firstborn of every original formation of creation. To negate that Yahshua preexisted prior to creation is to ignore the clear truth we find within this passage.
Paul goes on to further explain that not only was Yahshua the firstborn of every creature, but that through Him all things in the heavens and on earth were created. The word “created” in verse 16 is from the Greek word ktizo. Strong’s and Thayer’s define this word as, “to fabricate” or to “create,” as referring to creation. So as we find here, it was by the Messiah that all things in heaven and on earth were created. This is the same message and second witness to John 1:3.
Paul’s last point here is important. Paul states that by Him, i.e., Yahshua the Messiah, all things consist. What is Paul referring to? From the context Paul points to the creation of the heavens and earth. If Yahshua were not present at creation, then how would all things consist by Him? This would make no sense unless Yahshua was both present and active in creation.
by Elder Randy Folliard
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