How long has Jesus existed?

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

When I wrote to you last month, our focus was on One portrayed in the Scriptures as amazing and wonderful.  When we think of Him, we reflect awe and wonder at One so great.  I am referring, of course, to the Lord Jesus Christ.   The many aspects of His character and nature reveal how glorious He is.  Let’s begin to look at His glorious character.  

As we examine the first of these qualities of Jesus Christ, we must answer the question:  “How long has Jesus existed?”  People who take history seriously will not deny the existence of Jesus Christ.  Even ardent unbelievers will admit that Jesus actually lived on this earth.   While they do not normally honor Jesus at the Christmas season, they usually recognize that He was born in a manger.  But to think that Jesus existed before His birth in Bethlehem is something which they are not willing to acknowledge.  They will agree that He existed on this earth and that He was born in Bethlehem, but they will argue against His preexistence before His birth.  

Why is it is so important that Jesus existed before His birth?  If His existence began when He was born in Bethlehem, then Jesus is no different than any other man.  He would not be God.  He would not be fit to be our Savior.  We must believe what the Bible clearly teaches:  Jesus Christ existed before His birth because He is eternal.  This is the first aspect of His nature on which we will focus:  His eternality.  He is the Eternal One.  John F. Walvoord in his book, Jesus Christ Our Lord, stressed the importance of this doctrine:  “The doctrine of the eternity of the Son of God is the most important doctrine of Christology as a whole because if Christ is not eternal then He is a creature who came into existence in time and lacks the quality of eternity and infinity which characterizes God Himself” (p. 22).  If Jesus Christ is truly God, then He must be eternal.  His eternal existence, His preexistence before His human birth, and His deity as God are all tied together.  What does the Word of God teach about His eternal nature?  Here is a summary of what it teaches.  

  • Old Testament prophecy teaches that Jesus is eternal.

    • He would be the Ruler born in Bethlehem “whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). His birthplace as man is predicted, but His eternal nature as God is revealed.

    • He would be the Child born and the Son given, called the Eternal Father, or literally, the Father of eternity (Isaiah 9:6). The Child born into the world is also the Father of eternity!

  • His eternal existence and His deity are connected.

    • The Word (Jesus Christ) was in the beginning with God and was God Himself (John 1:1).

    • The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, having come into the world (John 1:14).

  • The truth that Jesus came into the world presupposed that He existed before He came.

    • Jesus claimed to have come down from heaven (John 3:13,16-17; 6:33,3842,50-51,58,62; 7:29; 8:23,42; 9:39; 17:5,24).

    • Others declared His coming from heaven (John 1:15,18,30; 3:31; I Pet. 1:18-20).

  • When the Scripture declares who He preceded, the truth of His eternal existence is revealed.

    • Jesus existed before John the Baptist (John 1:15), even though Jesus was six months younger.

    • Jesus existed before Abraham (John 8:58), also identifying Him as the “I AM” (cp. Ex. 3:14).

    • Jesus existed before the creation of the world (John 17:5).

    • Jesus existed before all things (Col. 1:17), and later created all things (Col. 1:15-16).

Jesus declared His eternal nature when He announced to John:  “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. . . who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. . . the First and the Last” (Rev. 1:8, 11; cp. 1:17; 22:13).  Jesus Christ not only existed before He was born in Bethlehem, but He eternally existed as God.  What is said of God in Psalm 90:2 can also be said of Jesus:  “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.”   Jesus possessing an eternal nature shows Him to be God. The fact that He is eternal should lead us to bow before Him in worship!

Because of His Grace—Pastor Charlie