Is Jesus God and did He exist prior to His birth to Mary?

NOTE: The following is part of an email discussion around the pre-existence and deity of Jesus.

Question / Comment -  Is Jesus God and did He exist prior to His birth to Mary?


As I understand you, you wrote that you believe that Jesus is God in the way that the Father is God.  While I used to agree, I see it that way no longer... and I think I am a true believer in the risen savior...

After much consideration, I think the scriptures teach Jesus did not personally preexist his conception in Mary.  I also see no scriptural reason to indicate that Jesus thought of himself as personally preexisting his conception in Mary, either in the Arian sense or any of the gnostic shades of this idea.

He certainly did notionally preexist his personal preexistence since the seed of the woman, the ultimate messiah, the second Adam, that one like Moses, etc. was foretold by the prophets, and was therefore obviously in the mind and plan of God who inspired the prophets.  And so he also prophetically preexisted his conception.

I'll mention Luke 1:35, since that is obviously important here.  Luke goes so far as to speak of the one who will be born as in future tense.  Further difficult (dare I say, extraordinarily awkward) for the trinitarian is that the writer uses a rather clearly Hebrew-style synonymous parallelism rhetorical structure very common, for instance, in the psalms and proverbs -he does this in Greek, of course, and it comes through just fine in the English- to equate the Father of the child and the holy spirit, showing these to be two ways of referring to the same person.

You didn't mention this, but I will take a moment to address Micah 5:2.  This passage is one that has often been taken (by the western, non ANE mind) to indicate eternal personal preexistence, but the ANE/Hebrew mindset typically uses this syntactical structure to refer to agency and appointment, and not physical origin or relocation.  Also, H5769 olam is usually translated here and elsewhere as everlasting or eternity, but I don't think the lexicons support that; the ancient usage of olam is arguably better understood as unknown (as in we have no temporal reference point on the subject, because this belongs to something largely hidden from us by God [just as Peter said about the prophets who longed to see the things about which they spoke] and antiquity (as in we have no relevant reference point in time for the ruler who is here foretold).  Also, let's keep in mind that Micah is addressing the origin/goings forth of the ruler who is to come, and not the ruler himself; therefore, Micah I think is better understood as talking here about God directly doing something special in the origination of the ruler to come, who will come to God out of the house of bread... yet he will be the bread (John 6) who comes down from God.  There is a lot here, but I see nothing that to the ANE mind means personal preexistence.  I am not at all presuming that you had any particular opinions about Micah.  I simply thought I would talk a bit about it.

I think Jesus personally came into existence at his conception, as Luke 1:35 seems to teach.

I certainly do think Jesus is God (G2316 theos) in the sense of being the God's very special appointed agent and representative, God's completely faithful son, through whom God now speaks (Hebrews 1:2, in which Jesus is contrasted with God/theos!) and who is God's express image; and we know that to be the image of something means that you are not that something.  Immanuel: God with us... in the person of the created, appointed and completely faithful man he has sent.  In the scriptures, many people and celestial beings are legitimately called God or Gods, and this is not to confuse them with the eternal deity Himself.  Jesus is a proper object of our worship because he is God's appointed and faithful representative sent by God, and to worship Jesus is therefore to worship the God of Jesus.  This now seems to me to be the scriptural teaching.

But if I have gone astray and am wrong, I do want to be corrected.


JPN Reply:

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your email. Clearly we are on two completely different pages here as to the person and nature of Jesus... You know where I stand as I have expressed on the website but I've found some time and here are some scriptures and thoughts I'd like you to consider:

What Jesus was claiming about being God

Joh 5:17-18 But He answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." (18) For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

Here is John's testimony of what it meant when Jesus said He was the son of God or that God was His Father - it meant that He was saying He was God and was 'making Himself equal with God'. This is not some misdirected thought of the Jews at the time (although they clearly knew as well what Jesus was claiming even if you struggle with it 2000 years later), this is the testimony of the God-breathed scripture through the Apostle John. To disagree that Jesus was claiming equality with God is to deny scripture. That's why scholars such as C.S Lewis make it clear that Jesus did not leave it open for us to just think He was a man:

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of thing Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
C.S Lewis

This passage above in John showing that Jesus claimed to be equal with God is consistent with the rest of scriptures. For example:

Joh 8:58-59 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." (59) Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.

Dr A.T Robertson, who was considered America's foremost Greek scholar of his generation, states the following about this verse: "I am (egō eimi). Undoubtedly here Jesus claims eternal existence with the absolute phrase used of God. The contrast between genesthai (entrance into existence of Abraham) and eimi (timeless being) is complete."

Or consider another I Am passage of which you will be aware:

Joh 8:24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."

Bible teacher and Pastor, John Macarthur writes on this verse: "I am He. "He" is not part of the original statement. Jesus' words were not constructed normally but were influenced by OT Hebrew usage. It is an absolute usage meaning "I AM" which has immense theological significance. The reference may be to both Exo_3:14 where the Lord declared His name as "I AM" and to Isaiah 40-55 where the phrase "I am" occurs repeatedly (especially Isa_43:10, Isa_43:13, Isa_43:25; Isa_46:4; Isa_48:12). In this, Jesus referred to Himself as the God (Yahweh—the Lord) of the OT, and directly claimed full deity for Himself, prompting the Jews' question of verse Joh_8:25."

This is a scary verse for what you hold because Jesus said 'unless you believe that I am (meaning God)', you will die in your sins.

What the New Testament writers said about Jesus being God

Nearly all of the N.T writers declared that Jesus was God. And no, by this they were not saying that he was a man appointed by God as you said. The Jews were very careful with God's name and careful not to break the first commandment to have any other gods. That was why they reacted when Jesus said He was the I AM. In their eyes (and yours) Jesus was simply a man, but they accused Him of blasphemy because they rightfully understood that He was claiming equality with God: 

Joh 10:33 The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."

The New Testament writers also weren't going to call a man God if He wasn't. That would break the commandments. And yet they called Jesus God. Some examples:


Joh 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

John not only says that Jesus was and is God, He states, as does Paul, that He was with God in the beginning and made all things. THB, how you can believe that Jesus didn't exist prior to Mary I do not know! Even the JW's (who are wrong about Jesus) at least realise that He existed prior to His birth and teach that He was the first being created by Jehovah. As John says, Jesus was with God and was God, and He was the One who made all things from the beginning! 


Joh 20:27-28 Then He *said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing." (28) Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"

Jesus didn't correct Thomas when he called Jesus 'God' for it was true. It was wrong to worship any man or being other than God (as Jesus quoted to Satan in Matt 4:10) and yet He accepts worship as God by Thomas, for He is God made flesh! 


Col 1:15-18 He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (16) For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. (17) He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (18) He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

Php 2:5-8 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, (6) who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, (7) but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (8) Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Can you not see from this that Jesus not only existed prior to becoming a man, but was God prior to becoming a man? This is perfectly consistent with the Old Testament prophecies that declared that the One who would become a child, was also Mighty God!

Isa 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

And that this one born in Bethlehem was from eternity!

Mic 5:2 "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity."


2Pe 1:1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ

Writer of Hebrews


Here God the Father calls God the Son, 'God'.

What about the early church? Did they see Jesus as God?

The following are but a few quotes from the first and second century (taken from

Polycarp (AD 69-155): "Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal high priest himself, the Son of God Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth...and to us with you, and to all those under heaven who will yet believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ and in his Father who raised him from the dead."

Ignatius (AD 50-117): "For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived by Mary according to God’s plan, both from the seed of David and of the Holy Spirit."

"Wait expectantly for the one who is above time: the Eternal, the Invisible, who for our sake became visible; the Intangible, the Unsuffering, who for our sake suffered, who for our sake endured in every way"

Justin Martyr (AD 100-165): The Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God. And of old He appeared in the shape of fire and in the likeness of an angel to Moses and to the other prophets; but now in the times of your reign, having, as we before said, become Man by a virgin...

All of these church Fathers, even from the first century, agreed with the testimony clearly also presented in scripture that Jesus is God, and was with God right from the beginning. He is eternal. 

So again, I'll leave you with the testimony of John, who explains EXACTLY what Jesus meant when claiming to be the son of God:

Joh 5:17-18 But He answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." (18) For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

If Jesus was simply an anointed man as you think, then it would be blasphemy to claim equality with God. And that was Jesus' claim as this verse clearly states. You need to believe what is clear in scripture. If there are two things you don't want to be wrong about in this life, it is 'who is Jesus?' and 'how can a person be saved?'. 

All the best,


Their Reply

Hi Iain

I have been thinking more about what you wrote about John 5 recording the Judeans expressing hostility about Jesus breaking the sabbath, claiming God as his father and making himself equal with God.  I have also been thinking about what you observe as the critical importance of knowing 'Who is Jesus' and What must I do to be saved?' and other things I did not yet address.

My thought about the sabbath is that Jesus identifies himself as the Lord of the sabbath.  By this, I believe he means that the sabbath- given to those under the Mosaic law, as a perpetual sign (Exodus 31, Ezekiel 20) for the benefit of those under the law- is fulfilled in the one to whom the sign points: Jesus, as it is written, 'Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you [shabbat]; take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find [shabbat] for your souls' and 'therefore there remains a shabbat rest for the people of God'.  Jesus was born in the likeness of sinners, but he was not a sinner; he was born as one under the law, but he himself was not under the law.

At the last supper, John -the author of the gospel of John- 'rested' upon Jesus, and this might be intentionally symbolic of Jesus being the personal fulfillment of the sabbath promise; another way to say it would be to observe that the signs pointed to Jesus, but once the traveller arrives at the destination, the purpose of the signs is fulfilled, and they are no longer needed. But I see nothing about being 'Lord of the sabbath' that seems to me to involve a proof of personal divinity.

As far as Jesus making himself equal with God, why should this be taken as a proof of personal deity?  That is a possible interpretation, sure, but I now think a better interpretation is that Jesus is acting as God's son and exclusively faithful representative... thus, If you've seen me, you've seen the Father.  Do you want to say that to be equal with God means that Jesus is the Father?  'Equal' cannot be said of two things that are discernible from one another, and Jesus and the Father are certainly discernible from one another.  In analytical philosophy, this is called the indiscernibility of identicals.  This concept is important if we wish to interpret the Judeans' objection as meaning that Jesus is claiming to personally be God.  When we look at the claim from that perspective (i.e., that Jesus is claiming to be equal with God in the ontological sense) it would stand to reason that Jesus and God then must be one and the same being.  This would make the Father and Jesus the same being.  But I am confident that modalism is not your view.

It is therefore better, I think, to read this language through an ancient Hebrew/ANE lens, by which we see that the Judeans are complaining that although Jesus is claiming to be God's son in the sense of divine appointment as the promised Davidic king and greater-than-Moses messiah, they are unconvinced (and also envious, etc.).

Do we see examples of scripture to justify reading 'equal with God' in this way?  Yes we do, many times... but I will only point to one at this time.

Eliezer of Damascus was equal with Abraham when he traveled to Paddan Aram and faithfully conducted business (finding a suitable wife for his son) on behalf of his lord as Abraham's sh'liach.  So also Jesus is equal with God as he reveals the Father to the world for the purpose of seeking a people for God, and also a bride for God's son.

You took time to draw my attention to Isaiah 9:6.  This verse does contain the Hebrew el gibor often translated 'mighty God,' but this is arguably a variably translatable phrase.  The trinitarian Martin Luther, for instance, translates this 'great hero'.  But Deuteronomy 13 seems to me to rule out translating this as 'Mighty God' in the sense of incarnate personal deity, unless such a notion can be supported by Moses (and so far, I see no reason to believe that Moses thought his God personally incarnated at any time, or that his God was multipersonal).  Also, the same Isaiah 9:6 has av ad (Father everlasting), and I don't think you want to say that the prophesied child of Isaiah 9:6 is the God the Father... that would be modalism or something very close to it.  But since many created beings are called El or Elohim without confusion, I wouldn't see a problem, because the notion of God appointing an agent to represent him (sh'liach) and for that being to be called 'God' in the first person' is a thoroughly scriptural/ANE concept, again without confusion.  Numerous times we see a representative of God appear to someone, and very quickly that representative is speaking in the first person singular as though the hearer were in the presence of God himself.  This is not a problem for the ancient Hebrew worldview, but it seems to be a stumbling block for the western reader.

John tells us (1 John 4:1-3) that anyone who does not confess that Jesus the promised messiah, the son, has come in the flesh, is of the antichrist.  I believe that Jesus is the messiah, and that he came as a real man (that is, in the flesh).  I no longer believe in a God-man.  John does not seem to say anything here about a God-man.  I think it is commonly believed that John is here warning against the heresy of Docetism of some other denial of the authentic humanity of Jesus.

Frankly, I now find so many problems with the proposition that the God of Moses could personally becoming a genuine man, that I am of a mind to say that Incarnation speculations would seem to run afoul of 1 John 4:1-3.


JPN Reply:

Hi Steve,

thanks for the reply. On John 5 I didn't mention anything about the Sabbath or Jesus being Lord of the Sabbath. Only that, in John's words (not those of the Jews), Jesus was 'calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.' That remains true. Jesus was making Himself equal with God. I know you don't like that, or believe it, but that is what He was doing according to scripture... Phil 2:5-8 is also clear that Jesus existed in the form of God before becoming a man. John 8:58 is equally clear that Jesus was claiming to be the 'I AM' (cf  Exo 3:14; Deu 32:39; Isa 41:4; Isa 43:10), both from Jesus' statement and the reaction of those that heard. 

I don't see any point in writing again but I did want to leave you with some questions. And I'll do my best and try not to answer them! You can answer them if you wish or take them as rhetorical to think over. I don't mind. 

  1. You asked me to read Mark 12:28-34 which I did. I'm sure you know that in Deut 6:4, where this is quoted from, Elohim/God is plural in the Hebrew and 'One' can be used for a composite unity (see But reading that passage got me reading what Jesus said straight after this. He asked this question which I now ask you:
    Mar 12:35-37 And Jesus began to say, as He taught in the temple, "How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? (36) "David himself said in the Holy Spirit, 'THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET."' (37) "David himself calls Him 'Lord'; so in what sense is He his son?" And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him.
    Jesus confirms His preexistence in this verse. Ok, I said I wouldn't give the answers so next time it will be a question (although you can take Jesus' question for that one.)

  2. Joh 1:15  John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'"
    Joh 1:30  "This is He on behalf of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.' 
    I am sure you know that John the Baptist was born before Jesus (Luke 1:36). So my question is why did John the Baptist twice say that Jesus was greater than him because He existed before him? And no, this is not just a prophecy of Jesus or that He was in the foreknowledge of God... John says that Jesus EXISTED before he did. How can that be?

  3. If Jesus was just a man with no preexistence before Mary, why did He say otherwise?

    Joh 17:5  "Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. 
    I don't want to answer it but it is clear that Jesus knew of and was perfectly clear on His preexistence, just as John the Baptist had been above. He knew about the glory He had with the Father before there even was a world. 

  4. Isaiah had an incredible vision of God in Isaiah chapter 6 where he saw God's glory fill the temple in heaven. Why does John, in chapter 12:41 say that it was Jesus that Isaiah saw?  (Note, the 'Him' in this entire passage is Jesus) Does this shed any light on Jesus' statement that 'No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.' (Joh 1:18)
    Joh 12:41-42 These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him. (42) Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue;

  5. There are many prophecies that YHWH will come and dwell among us. One is in Zech 2:10-11 where YHWH says He will come and dwell in our midst, and that YHWH of hosts sent Him. YHWH sending YHWH makes sense in the context of the Godhead - the Father sending the Son, who is equally God. Does it make any sense otherwise?
    Zec 2:10-11 "Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst," declares the LORD. (11) "Many nations will join themselves to the LORD in that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.

  6. I am currently finishing my studies in the book of Revelation and am writing up the last chapter. In it I find the following that Jesus said about Himself:
    Rev 22:13  "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." 
    Why would Jesus take this title that is God's alone if He was not God? And seeing we have both quoted Greek scholar A.T Robertson, would you agree with his assessment of how strong this statement is regarding the deity of Jesus?

    He writes of this title in 22:13: "Applied to God in Rev 1:8; Rev 21:6, and here alone to Christ, crowning proof in this book of Christ’s deity." (A.T Robertson)

  7. A little further on in my studies in Revelation 22 I find Jesus saying:

    Rev 22:16 "...I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star."

    This is similar to the first question but with slightly different language applied. If Jesus didn't exist before Mary, how could He be the root of David? We know He was an offspring, but how could He be the source of David's life if He didn't yet exist (according to you)? Some thoughts here from Pastor John Macarthur:
    "Christ is the source (root) of David's life and line of descendants, which establishes His deity. He is also a descendant of David (offspring), which establishes His humanity. This phrase gives powerful testimony to Christ as the God-Man (cf. 2Ti_2:8)."

That will do. I trust you will think about these honestly and take them just as they are stated. You don't need to intellectualize them away. Just because you don't understand how the Godhead works doesn't mean that you should throw it out. We are human. It is not surprising that there are concepts about the nature of the eternal infinite God that remain somewhat of a mystery. But when scripture states something, we believe it, even if we don't grasp it fully. And Jesus and the other Bible writers were clear on both His preexistence and His deity. 

And if Jesus was but a man, as you believe, you should NOT be worshipping Him. That would break the commandments and God will not give His glory to another (Ex 20:1-3, Matt 4:10, Isa 42:8). Worship is for God alone. Have a look at what happened, and what the angel said, when John tried to worship an angel:

Rev 22:8-9 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. (9) But he *said to me, "Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God."

And yet the disciples worshipped Jesus. Why? Because they acknowledged that He was God.

Mat 14:33 And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, "You are certainly God's Son!"

Joh 20:28 Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"

If this is not clear to you today, I pray it will one day.

God Bless,


Post discussion note:

Steve wrote back again, disagreeing, showing that we are still on two completely different pages as to the nature and deity of Jesus. 

Following this a discussion came up on my Youtube feed with two Jewish believers in Jesus/Yeshua discussing the trinity, the deity of Christ, and whether believing that Jesus is God is a salvation issue.  

It was a worthwhile discussion and can be found here if interested: