Pre-existence From a First-Century Perspective

All the authors of the Bible (with perhaps the exception being Luke) were Jews, and they thought, lived, and wrote entirely within a Hebraic framework. The Bible and the Talmud both provide many examples of where, when a Jew wished to designate something as predestined, the Jew spoke of it as already “existing” in heaven. Thus “pre-existence” statements in the New Testament really have to do with foreknowledge, foreordination and predestination. One of the most prominent scholars in modern christological studies, Larry Hurtado, states that, “There is today a virtual consensus among scholars that the pre-Christian Jewish tradition provides the most important background for the idea of pre-existence in the NT.” In other words, in order to understand the New Testament references involving pre-existence, it is important to read those texts from a first-century Jewish perspective.

Below is a quote from Everyman’s Talmud—The Major Teachings of the Rabbinic Sages, by Abraham Cohen. Everyman’s Talmud¹ summarizes many of Judaism’s primary teachings. It should be realized that this is the general, standard Hebraic understanding with regards to the concept of pre-existence. The following quote is on page 347 and is taken from the section which discusses the Messiah:

The belief was general that the sending of the Messiah was part of the Creator’s plan at the inception of the Universe. “Seven things were created before the world was created: Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden (i.e. Paradise), Gehinnom, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah” (Pes. 54a). In a later work there is the observation: “From the beginning of the creation of the world king Messiah was born, for he entered the mind (of God) before even the world was created” (Pesikta Rab. 152b)

To continue reading this Bible article, click here.

Author: Philip P. Kapusta

Keywords: Trinity, Triunity, Three in one, God the Son, Preexistence, Pre-existence, Christ's preexistence, Christ's pre-existence, Christ preexisted, Christ pre-existed, Jesus preexisted, Jesus' preexistence, Jesus' pre-existence, Jesus pre-existed, Preexistence of Jesus, Preexist, Pre exist, Jesus was the Word, The Word was Jesus, Word was God, Messiah, Deity of Christ, Deity of Jesus, Jesus's preexistence, Jesus preexisted before he was born, Spirit of Messiah, Jewish preexistence, Jewish concept of preexistence, Jewish concept of pre-existence, Jewish understanding of pre-existence, Jewish understanding of preexistence, Jewish understanding of preexistence of Messiah, Messiah's preexistence, Messiah preexisted, Messiah pre-existed, Messiah's pre-existence, predestination, predestine, predestined, foreknowledge, god's foreknowledge, god knows the end from the beginning

Bible reference(s): 2 Kings 19:25, Ps. 90:2, Psalms 139:16, Prov. 8:22, Jer. 1:5, Matthew 25:34, John 1:1-2, John 3:13, John 6:33, John 6:38, John 6:58, John 8:58, John 17:5, John 17:24, Acts 2:23, Acts 15:18, Romans 4:17, Romans 8:29, Romans 16:25, 1 Corinthians 2:7, Galatians 1:15, Ephesians 1:4, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 7:9, 1 Peter 1:20, Revelation 13:8, Revelation 17:8

Source: Philip P. Kapusta.

Page indexed by: inWORD Bible Software.