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Theology > Jesus > Incarnation > Preexistence of Christ


The preexistence of Christ speaks of His existence before His manifestation in Bethlehem. Paul affirms that He is “the Lord from heaven” (I Cor. 15:47). The One who came to earth was originally in heaven clothed with the glory of God (Jo. 17:5). The One we know as Christ, the One we worship, did not begin in Bethlehem. That is not His beginning; in fact, He had no beginning. He is from eternity, without beginning—He is “Alpha”—the One “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8; 22:13).

From eternity He came into time; He who created all things assumed the being of a creature for the purpose of Revelation and Salvation. Christ Himself claimed prior existence; note the following quotes from the fourth gospel:

No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of man who is in heaven (Jo. 3:13);

I am the bread which came down from heaven (Jo. 6:41; see: v. 51);

What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before (Jo. 6:62);

For I know where I came from and where I am going (Jo. 8:14);

I am with the Father who sent Me (Jo. 8:16);

I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me (Jo. 8:42);

Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM (Jo. 8:58);

And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was (Jo. 17:5).

To Nicodemus Jesus affirmed that He was from heaven: “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven” (Jo. 3:13). As with other affirmations of Christ, there are only two options: acceptance or rejection; one either believes or does not believe (see: Significance of Truth). There is no middle ground. To accept Christ is to believe what Christ claims about Himself: He came from above and before He came He shared glory with the Father.

Paul refers to Christ as “the spiritual Rock that followed them [the nation of Israel]” (I Cor. 10:4), and affirms that before Christ appeared as a man, He was “in the form of God” (Phil. 2:6). To the Colossians Paul simply states that Christ is “before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Col. 1:18), and to the Galatians he writes: “When the fullness of time had come God sent forth His Son” (4:4).
The faith is articulated in the refrain to a Christmas hymn sung in the Orthodox Church: “A new-born child, God before the ages” (Romanos the Melodist, The Festal Menaion, 277).

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