Bible Dictionaries all refer to John 9:1-3 as the only “intimation” of pre-existence. It reads as follows:-
And as Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man sinned, nor his parents, but that the works of God might be manifest in him.”
It is argued that the statements are based on the O.T. passage about sins being transmitted to the third and fourth generation. But the reading of the passage seems not to allow for that. We feel that Jesus would have given a wholly different answer had that been the case. And even the disciples’ question would have been phrased differently. Without the possibility of pre-existence, Jesus might have answered them, “How can a man be a sinner before he is born?” But no.He gave credence to the fact that the blind man had not been responsible for his condition BEFORE HIS BIRTH. This leaves us with pre-existence as the only possibility.
Note that the Pharisees said to the man later, “You were altogether born in sins!” (v.34) That is how they judged him.Deprived of eyes by the judgment of God for sins committed before birth. It is our present understanding that this man agreed to be born without eyes whilst he was in his pre-existent state, so that, as Jesus put it, he might have the works of God manifested in him. That seems to be the plain straightforward interpretation of the Lord’s words. We shall now show that there are quite a number of Bible references that can be better understood in terms of pre-existence even if they do not teach it explicitly.
John 1:4 “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
1 John 1:9 “He was the very light that lightens every man coming into the world.”
Strange words! Almost inexplicable, unless they speak about an existence prior to being born into this world. In that state of pre-existence, when all were spirits, Jesus was our life, and He was our light, illuminating our spiritual minds, and making known to us the ways and the will of the Father. This is brought out so much more clearly in 2 Esdras 7:21, which we have saved until now specifically to put alongside these verses in John’s Gospel.
“God has given clear instructions for all men when they come into this world, telling them how to attain life and how to escape punishment.”
Remember the lesson that Er learned? Admittedly it comes from Plato, but where did all this knowledge come from in the first place? Is it not true that Greek mythology contains a great deal of truth, corrupted maybe, but nevertheless still sufficiently apparent to be identified when compared with Scripture?
Malachi 3:1 “Behold I will send my messenger and he shall prepare the way before me.” [This is quoted in Matt. 11:10]
If he was “sent”, where was he sent from? It’s not good enough to pass by these words and refuse to stop to consider what they mean, especially as we read in John 1:6
‘There was a man SENT FROM GOD.”
Furthermore, the Hebrew word for “messenger” is MALAK, usually translated ANGEL. In Matt.11:10 the word messenger isANGELOS. Here is the clear intimation that John the Baptist was of angelic origin, and that SOME of the pre-existent spirits were marked out beforehand for special duties, presumably based on their grasp of God’s ways, and their demonstrated trust to Him in that sphere of existence.
Now, if this last contention be true, we are immediately able to understand some otherwise difficult verses. Take for example Romans 8:29
“Whom He foreknew these also He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.”
A more literal translation might be,
“Whom He knew beforehand, these also He marked out beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son.”
Another text in this same genre is Ephesians 1:4.
“Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.”
And 2 Tim.1:9
“The calling – – that was given us in Christ Jesus before age-times.“
And Titus 1:2
“The promise of eternal life which God promised before age-times.”
A promise is usually made to people who actually EXIST, rather than to TRADUCIANIST CREATIONS seen down the vistas of time. Maybe Romans 11:36 sums it up, that
“FROM Him, and THROUGH Him, and TO Him are all things,”
We come from God, as created spirits in the beginning of the world, we come down into the “valley of the shadow of death” in this world, and finally go back to God when our life-span is over. As Solomon declared in Ecc: 12:7 “The spirit returns to God who gave it.” In all these verses there is a clear allusion to pre-existence, and a denial that we only exist from the moment of our physical birth.
An example of a WRONG choice is found in Matt.26:24, and Mark 14:21. Jesus spoke about Judas Iscariot in this wise, “It was better for that man if he had not been born.” These words are pregnant with meaning. Looking behind the scenes, Judas had wanted to live on the earth and become a disciple of Christ. It seems that he had been warned that his attitude was wrong, and that the outcome would not be as he would wish. But his insistence had been allowed. Hence Jesus knew of this and chose him accordingly, realising that Judas’s presence on the earth had been allowed by His Father, even if the outcome was a final betrayal. The Lord conveyed this understanding to us many years ago, before we ever got wind of “pre-existence.
So what was it like at the beginning, when God created us all as pre-existent spirits? Some indication is given by the Lord Himself, in His address to Job. (38:7) Speaking about creation, He refers to the time when
“The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.”
The expression “Sons of God” refers to created beings in a heavenly dimension, and is usually considered to be indicative of angelic beings. But if all the angelic beings are in reality pre-existent spirits, who will all come to earth in succession, then a clearer picture emerges. Betty Eadie says that she was shown this scene again, and in the re-enactment she rejoiced as God created the world. How amazing! What a privilege! And perhaps it was given to her to pass on to us, to enable us to “recollect” and “remember” something that lies deeply within our minds, but has been blocked off when we passed through the “river of forgetfulness.” In Psalm 82:6 there is another allusion to this.
“I have said, you are gods [Elohim]. All of you are sons of the Most High [Elyon]. But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.”
Also Psalm 82:1
“God stands in the congregation of EL, He judges among the Elohim.”
Once again, these are strange verses if not properly discerned as applying to all the “sons of God” created at the beginning. In this last verse we are informed of the progress of these spirits, God being Judge in their midst. Hence there is learning, as we have read in John 1:9, that Jesus was the light that lightens every man coming into the world, and judgment based on right and wrong choices made during that learning programme. Another tremendously interesting allusion to this early scene is found in Proverbs 8:31. Wisdom has been speaking, and she is none other than the Person of the Holy Spirit. Before the creation of the world, She says that Her “delights were with the sons of men.” Strange words indeed, if there were no “sons of men” at that stage, but if we were all there to witness God’s great fiat of creation, then there is no problem, just the grounds for much rejoicing even now, though we cannot in this present scene actually remember it. Maybe in the spirit we can “feel” a sense of “rightness” as the thought is transmitted. We should be interested to know whether others have this sense, knowing that it will probably be completely new to most who read these words.
We are convinced that the Apostle Paul was speaking of these matters when he wrote to the Corinthians. (See 1 Cor.2:7-8) He had, said that his preaching was not with enticing Words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power. But
“We speak wisdom amongst those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the leaders of this age, who are being brought to naught, but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery [a sacred secret], the HIDDEN WISDOM which God marked out beforehand, before the ages, for our glory.”
And now to some of the more personal allusions. First of Jer.1:5
“Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you and ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
God’s choice was based upon His foreknowledge of this man, and although Jeremiah had lost all recollection of it, the Lord graciously brought it back to his mind. A similar fact is found in Isaiah 49:1
“The Lord has called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother has He made mention of my name.”
And the author of Psalm 71:5-6 [thought by some to be Jeremiah]
“By Thee have I been sustained from the womb; Thou art He who took me out of my mother’s bowels.”
And we have already investigated the background of John the Baptist, as God’s angelic messenger. He was filled with the spirit from his mother’s womb, and when Mary spoke to Elisabeth about her own conception, “the babe leaped in her womb”, (Luke 1:41, 44). And of John it was said, “And you child shall be called the prophet of the Most High.” (Luke 1:76).
Another interesting situation is developed in Genesis 25:22-23. Rebekah is worried about the strong movements in her womb during the later stages of pregnancy, and is told
“Two nations are in your womb, and the elder shall serve the younger.”
Paul spoke about this in Romans 9:11-13.
“The children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand – – it was said to her ‘the elder shall serve the younger’.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”‘
These were not identical twins, but sparring partners. It seems that God’s purpose was stated beforehand concerning Jacob, But Esau struggled to obtain the blessing and purpose of God instead, asking permission to be born on earth as Jacob’s twin. This was obviously allowed, and gave rise to God’s judgment even before their birth that He hated the outlook and purpose of Esau’s mind, but loved that of Jacob, even though he would show some pretty negative tendencies in his early life.
Paul spoke in this wise, “God who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace.” (Gal.1:15) In this case, Paul’s pre-existent frame of mind must have been pleasing to the Lord, but in his early earthly life, he allowed all manner of negative tendencies to grow, until he became the opposite of what he set out to be before birth. Hence the intervention of the Lord on the Damascus road, and his dramatic change from persecutor and slayer of Christians to being the apostle to the Gentiles. Truly, “The Lord knows those who are His.” (2 Tim2:19)
Finally in this analysis we might refer to Romans 1:19-20.
“That which is known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”
To whom was Paul referring? Are these words more applicable to a pre-existent state? If so, then it may help us to evaluate their meaning and perceive what the Apostle was driving at. But as with several of the texts chosen in this part of the study, although we have presented the information as though we are firmly convinced of the truth of pre-existence, we are still in the stage of learning, and would be most grateful for a measure of feedback from our readers. We confess that we are finding the issue most exciting, and the more we study it, the more real it seems to become. We have now investigated various sources from the secular to the religious to the Scriptures, and found an amazing quantity of allusion to pre-existence. Quite possibly there is much more. We hope that our readers will supply other sources from their own reading. May the Holy Spirit of God be our Guide in all such matters as these, that we may be built up on the Truth, according to the One whose name is TRUTH.