If Yahushua Pre-existed, He wasn’t a Human, John 17:5

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Many Trinitarians believe that Yahushua’s prayer in the Gospel of John 17:5 shows that Yahushua pre-existed:

“and now, Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made” (RSV).

As with any problematic biblical passage, we must consider the context of Yahushua's statement in this prayer to Yahuwah (the Father). Just two sentences before, as recorded in John 17:3, Yahushua prayed to Yahuwah: “Father (17:1) …this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Yahushua the Messiah whom you have sent.” In John 17:5, two sentences after Yahushua said that the Father is the only true God, it would be bizarre for Yahushua to imply that he, too, Yahushua himself, is also God.

Father = Yahuwah

Yahushua’s prayer in John 17 is directed to the “Father.” In the New Testament, Yahushua’s Father is synonymous with “Yahuwah.” When Yahushua says, "Father," he means "God." Bringing presuppositions to the text, Trinitarians look at this prayer and see “God the Son” appealing to God the Father to give back the glory that he, “God the Son,” had before in a pre-human existence. But this interpretation misunderstands the Fatherhood of Yahuwah in the Bible. In the Bible, the Fatherhood of Yahuwah is a metaphor that describes the relation of God to mankind (Exo. 4:22, Isa. 63:16, Hos. 11:1, Matt. 5:45, 6:9, John 20:17). Biblically, the Fatherhood of Yahuwah does not describe a metaphysical relation of one person of the “Godhead” to another.

Also, the Bible does not describe the glory destined for the Messiah at the right hand of the Almighty God as something that the Messiah once had, that he gave up and was given back. Instead, the exaltation and glory of Messiah were predicted in the Old Testament and then fulfilled in Yahushua. Yahushua said: "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:25-26).


Speaking of things that don’t yet exist, as though they exist

The trinitarian interpretation of John 17:5 fails to understand that both Yahuwah and Yahushua, through His prophets, speak of predetermined (or pre-known) things (and people) as if they already exist. Note Yahushua’s words in this same John 17 prayer just 15 verses later:

"I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, The glory that you have given to me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one” (John 17:20-22).

  1. Here Yahushua said he already had been given the glory intended for him. But his glory had not literally been given since Yahushua had not yet died, been raised and exalted to the right hand of Almighty Yahuwah (Luke 24:25-26). Yahushua said the glory had already been given because he knew that Yahuwah had promised the glory. The granting of the glory is as “good as done,” so Yahushua could speak of it as if it he already possessed it.
  2. And Yahushua could also speak of the glory that he had given to people that were not yet believers in him. For some of those people, Yahushua already gave glory that did not even exist when Yahushua spoke these words. Just as Yahuwah gave to the Messiah glory before the Messiah existed, here Yahushua speaks of the glory he had given to people before they literally existed.
  3. So-called "deity of Christ" believers insist the glory that Yahushua had and gave up was his glory as Yahuwah. But Yahushua says the same glory that the Father (already) gave to him, Yahushua (already) gave to some people that had not yet been born. Is it not evident that the glory that Yahuwah gave to Yahushua is not the glory of Yahuwah?

Reading a couple of verses further, in John 17:24, Yahushua reiterated what he prayed in 17:5: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world.”

Note that Yahushua said the same thing but in a slightly different way. Yahushua not only “had” glory with the Father (17:5) but WAS GIVEN glory (17:24) before the foundation of the world.

Once again, Yahushua’s prayer conflicts with the deity of Christ interpretation in at least two significant ways:

  1. Are we to suppose that the first person of the Godhead gave glory and loved the second person of the Godhead only before the foundation of the world? Why not in eternity past?
  2. The Father gave the son glory before the foundation of the world. This means there was a time, even before the foundation of the world, when the second person of the Godhead did not have glory and was given glory. Why did the first person of the Godhead have to give glory to the second person of the Godhead before the foundation of the world?

Deity of Christ interpreters create contradictions and dilemmas like these because what they believe is not the truth.

A fundamental principle of interpreting Scripture is to take the words in their historical and grammatical context. In this case, we only need to listen to 15 more sentences in Yahushua's prayer to get a better understanding of what Yahushua meant in 17:5. In John 17:20-24 Yahushua used again the language of “giving glory” and “having glory” before literal existence.

The glory that Yahuwah planned for Messiah Yahushua spoke of in the past tense, just as he spoke in the past tense of the glory that he would give to future believers. Predestined things are spoken of as already existing because they are “as good as done” in Yahuwah’s eyes.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5).

Another way to say this is that in the Bible, a person can “have” something before they literally have it or even before they exist. Yahushua said the poor in spirit and those persecuted for righteousness' sake have the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:3, 10). Even though these people didn’t have the kingdom of heaven yet (they were poor and persecuted), they had it.

Paul said believers in the One true God and His Messiah Yahushua had salvation and a holy calling even before they existed. “(Yahuwah) who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his purpose and grace, which he gave us in Messiah Yahushua before the ages began, and which now has been manifested…” (2 Timothy 1:9-10). For Paul, being “fully convinced that Yahuwah can do what He promised” is saving faith (Romans 4:21).

Like Jeremiah was foreknown and appointed to be a prophet before being formed in his mother's womb, Yahushua was foreknown and appointed to be Messiah:

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5).

Another example is Isaiah 53

Most Christians would agree that Isaiah 53 is Messianic; that is, while it parallels the nation of Israel’s experience, Isaiah 53 somehow tells us about the coming Messiah (John 12:37-38, 1 Pet. 2:24-25). Isaiah 53 was written hundreds of years before Yahushua was born. Yet Isaiah 53 is all in the past tense. “He grew up before him…he was despised and rejected by men…he has born our griefs…we deemed him stricken…he was wounded…Yahuwah has laid on him the iniquity of us all…” and on and on, all past tense. Did Yahuwah lay on Yahushua, the iniquity of us all, before 700 BC? Obviously not, but it is spoken of 700 years before it happened as if it already happened.

Some call this language the “prophetic perfect tense” because the prophets’ words deal with something yet to come, but the words are spoken as if they already happened, already existed. If Yahuwah predestines it, it is as good as done. In the same way, Yahushua could say Yahuwah “had given” him glory before he received the glory.

Another example, Abram

When Abram had no descendant, Yahuwah said to him: "I HAVE GIVEN (past tense) this land to your seed (Gen 15:18). Before they (or he) existed, the seed of Abram was given the land.

When Abram was old and had no child of promise, Yahuwah said to him, “I HAVE MADE (past tense) you the father of many nations.” Really? Abram, old and childless, was already the father of many nations? This is because Yahuwah speaks of things that don’t yet exist as if they already exist (see Romans 4:17).

More problems with the Trinitarian interpretation

Trinitarians create huge theological problems by saying that Yahushua recalls his literal pre-existence and glory in John 17:5. Let’s be clear: Yahushua makes no claim to deity in John 17:5, let alone to be a part of a three-personed Godhead. Neither did Yahushua say he had glory with Yahuwah from eternity past, only from before the world was, which is a strange way to describe a shared glory of two eternally existing Godhead persons.

In trinitarian doctrine, “God the Son” did not give up his divine nature when he took on human nature at the incarnation, i.e., when he became “fully God and fully man.” The human nature of Yahushua did not have divine glory “before the world existed,” so this must be the divine nature of “God the Son,” speaking in John 17:5.

But can “God the Son” be fully God without His glory?

The trinitarian interpretation of John 17:5 ends up being a tangled web of contradiction.


Suppose Trinitarians want to say that John 17:5 shows Yahushua pre-existed. In that case, they should be followers of AD 4th century Arius who believed that the Logos (Word), a lesser God or angel who pre-existed, took on human nature. Anyone that had glory “with” Yahuwah, indeed had been given glory, then didn’t have glory “with” Yahuwah, but then gets glory back again “with” Yahuwah, is not Yahuwah. Just like anyone who “goes to Yahuwah” is not Yahuwah.

A better way to Understand John 17:5

Rather than the recollection of a so-called eternal divine person, John 17:5 is an expression (on the eve of being put to death by crucifixion) of the man Christ Yahushua of Nazareth in the promise of Yahuwah. The so-called “deity of Christ” interpretation denigrates, indeed tries to eliminate the man Christ Yahushua and the trust he put in Yahuwah, his God.

As Yahuwah gave Abraham's seed the land, even before they existed, and as Yahuwah made Abram the father of many nations, even before he had a son of promise, Yahuwah gave glory to the Messiah Yahushua before he existed. Yahuwah speaks of things that are not yet as though they already are. The man Christ Yahushua believed entirely in the promise determined for him long ago.

A Warning

If Yahushua pre-existed as Yahuwah, he is not a human. He would be some other kind of creature, but not a human person. Trinitarian doctrine, in the end, leads to a denial of the man Yahushua.

If Yahushua pre-existed as Yahuwah, he is not a human. He would be some other kind of creature, but not a human person. Trinitarian doctrine, in the end, leads to a denial of the man Yahushua.

Did Adam pre-exist other than in the plan and purpose of Yahuwah? Did any other human being pre-exist other than in the plan and purpose of Yahuwah? (Apparently, Mormons believe that humans pre-existed, but this is unbiblical). If Yahushua pre-existed literally, then he is not a human being; he is something else. He is not like you or me in what makes us essentially human. The dual-natured Yahushua of the catholic creeds is a Clark Kent Superman, a science fiction, a fairy tale, a fantasy. If Yahushua is Yahuwah who took on flesh, he is not a human person, and we don't have a sin offering (Romans 5:15, 17; 1 Tim. 2:5; 2 Cor. 5:21).

The Scriptures never come close to saying something like "that's the human Yahushua,” but “that's the divine Yahushua." A dual-natured Yahushua is a philosophical speculation, a fantasy. The death of the man (not dual-natured) Yahushua on the cross, the resurrection of the man Yahushua from the dead, and the exaltation of the man Yahushua to the right hand of Almighty Yahuwah in heaven is not a fantasy.


This is a non-WLC article by Bill Schlegel.

We have taken out from the original article all pagan names and titles of the Father and Son, and have replaced them with the original given names. Furthermore, we have restored in the Scriptures quoted the names of the Father and Son, as they were originally written by the inspired authors of the Bible. -WLC Team