The Person of Christ - 01 - Pre-existance


Chapter 1 - The Pre-existence of Christ

In The Old Testament and The Gospels

Sydney Maxwell


The theme of this article brings to mind the question of the two on the road to Emmaus, ?Art Thou only a stranger in Jerusalem?? (Luke 24:18). The Lord Jesus was truly the paroikeo, the Sojourner in the world His hands had made. He did not belong here as He so clearly declared, ?I am not of the world? (John 17:14,16). As we trace His footsteps before He came to Bethlehem, we will be assured that He walked upon the sapphire stones of the heavenly sanctuary before worlds were brought into being. It is also the voice of this ?Stranger? in the realm of Godhead that we hear saying, ?Let there be light? (Gen. 1:3). It is with delight then, that we occupy our hearts with our glorious Lord and affirm from the Scriptures that, ?He was before all things? (John 1:!). We?ll look first into the Old Testament records.




Uzziah, the leper king, had died. In his earlier days, as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper (II Chron. 26:5). Also he was marvelously helped until he was strong (v.15). The tragedy of his life was that his heart was lifted up to his destruction (v.16). It is at such a momentous crisis in the nation that we are introduced to the Lord ?high and lifted up.? The seraphim cry about His holiness and acknowledge His glory. In such an atmosphere the Prophet was made to confess his own need for cleansing. We turn to the Gospel of John and the writer by the Spirit identifies for us the Throne Sitter to be none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. ?These things said Isaiah when he saw His glory and spake of Him? (John 12:4 1).




Micah 4:1-9 gives us a preview of the coming Kingdom. Mount Zion is named as the place of the gathering of the people (v. 2). The principles of God?s law shall go out from this wonderful centre (v.2) and peace shall pervade His kingdom (v.3). The prosperity of His subjects is described in verses four and five, and the promise of deliverance (4:10-5:1) is followed by the description of the Person who will bring it (5:1-4). The student will note that verse three is a parenthesis denoting the rejection and return of the King, and verse four returns again to a description of the work of the Sovereign in that glorious Age.


The pre-existence of our Lord Jesus is established in the expression, ?Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting?(v.2). We are left in no doubt as to the truth of this when we turn to Matthew 2:5-6 and see the fulfillment of Micah?s prophecy in the birth of the One Who was born King of the Jews.


Having examined the references to His pre-existence in the Old Testament we will now look at the record of John?s Gospel concerning this essential truth. We will again look at our Lord Jesus Christ under titles that link Him to eternity.




The expression, ?In the beginning? (v.1), takes us beyond and before creation. This beginning is into the infinity of an eternal past; indefinable to human wisdom, because it is beyond the reach of time.


The preposition ?with? (pros) is used to indicate that the Word did not exist in isolation but rather in the communion of Godhead. ?The Word was with God.? It denotes, as well, distinct personality and eternal companionship (v.2). We shall see in verse fourteen what He became (R.V., not ?made? as in the A.V.). It is in Manhood throughout John?s Gospel that He claims pre-existence. It is as the Word that He speaks in creation. He was before creation and through Him it came into being.  


We have the important statement of John the Baptist, the Forerunner in John 1:15, 30. John says, In point of time He came after me, but from eternity ?He is preferred before me, for He was before me? (v.30).




The Lord?s discourse on the Bread of Life is replete with proof of His pre-existence. He reminds them that He is the Antitype of the manna; He is the Living Bread out of (ek) heaven, having come down (v.5 1). He clearly states, ?What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before?? (v. 62). This title, Son of Man, does not refer to His origin from man, but His relationship to them. The words, ?Where He was before? are emphatic, indicating a relationship prior to Bethlehem?s condescension.




In a number of chapters in John?s Gospel the Lord Jesus is emphazing the great fact that He was the Sent One of the Father. In looking at these we will be impressed with the truth of His pre-existence.


The Pharisees had accused the Lord of having borne record of Himself and therefore His record was not true (John 8:17-18). In answer the Lord Jesus said, ?I know whence I came and whither I go.? He is going back to heaven for He came out of heaven, is the plain meaning of His words (v.14). Not only did He enjoy the companionship of the Father in heaven, but He continued to enjoy it on earth even as He moved on to the cross (v.16). In verse 42 the Lord puts His pre-existence beyond any doubt when He states, ?I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but He sent Me.?


In John thirteen we have the Divine Omniscience of the Lord Jesus presented to us, ?Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God and went to God?(v.3). The?knowing?here is not that which is acquired by experience but inherent knowledge. We repudiate in any form the erroneous teaching that at some point in His pathway He became conscious of the Father?s will. Hebrews 10:7 is sufficient to prove that He ever had this knowledge. This was a solemn occasion, Calvary was near; He knew His hour had come (v.1). He knew He was going ?unto God? from whence He had come, and in taking leave of His own He says, ?Now I go my way to Him that sent Me? (John 16:5). In John 16:28 He is very expressive in His language, ?I came out from the Father, and am come into the world, again I leave the world and go to the Father? (J.N.D.).




In John seventeen we listen to the intercessory prayer of the Lord Jesus. In the breathings of His holy soul we are again reminded that this world was not His home. He speaks to the Father of, ?the glory I had with Thee before the world was? (v.5). He now anticipates taking that glory in new conditions; as a glorified Man.


To His own He had given the words which the Father had given Him, and they had believed that He came out from the Father and was sent by Him. He has already stated that He had accomplished that mission (v.4). Twice over He repeats the fact, ?I am not of the world? (vs. 14, 16). Again He says, ?Thou hast sent me into the world? (v.18).


In John 18:37 Pilate asks ?Art thou a King then?? He answers, ?To this end was 1 born and for this cause came I into the world.? This answer indicates that ?the coming? and 'the sending? so often referred to in this fourth Gospel refers not to some sending subsequent to His birth but prior to it.


We have viewed Him as the Throne Sitter in Isaiah six and the Shepherd King in Micah five. In John?s transcendent Gospel He is the Logos in chapter one; the Son of Man in chapter six; the Sent One in chapters eight, thirteen and sixteen; the Intercessor in chapter seventeen, and the King in chapter eighteen. In all these contexts the language of Scripture satisfies our hearts; He was the pre-existent Christ.


?He left His heavenly crown,

His glory laid aside;

On wings of love came down

And wept, and bled, and died.

What He endured no tongue can tell,

To save our souls from death and Hell.?