HOUSMAIL HM#126 – GLORIFY ME (John 17:5 ) 16 March 2007
glorify thou me in thy own presence with the
glory which I had with thee before the world was made . "
This verse is commonly used by both Trinitarians and Arians to support their claim that Jesus existed as a personal being, in heaven , before he was born. Trinitarians of course say that He must have existed eternally because they think he is God . Arians say that he was not God , and not eternal, but a "spirit being" who came into existence when He was created by God at some point before the world was made.
Of course these claims CANNOT be true.
The Bible says clearly that Jesus is NOT God; (John 17:3) that God is NOT a man ; (Num 23:19) and that Jesus IS both a man , and distinct from God . (1 Tim 2:5) God is immortal and cannot die. ( 1 Tim 6:16) Jesus died. God CANNOT be tempted to sin. (James 1:13) Jesus WAS tempted in every way that other men are. (Heb 4:15).
It is obvious that n o other man has ever existed as an immortal being before he was born , and then "lost" his immortality when he was born ! And in any case, that would be a complete denial of the meaning of " immortality "! No other man has ever had a pre-existent mind, or pre-existent personality ! A man is more than just the body he wears. It is the other " conscious bits " inside the body which define him as a real man. Simple logic tells us that if Jesus did pre-exist , and brought those pre-existing things with him into a " human look-alike " body, He would not be a REAL man , but a counterfeit!
All of this means that we must read John 17:5 from a perspective which does NOT presuppose pre-existence .
HAS GOD EVER SPOKEN IN SIMILAR TERMS ABOUT OTHER MEN?
Yes! See Jeremiah 1:5.
" Before I formed you in the
womb I knew you, and before you were born
I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet t o the nations ." (RSV)
When God says He "knew" Jeremiah before he was born, t hat doesn't mean Jeremiah pre-existed his birth! All it means is that God knew in advance what He planned for Jeremiah to do.
The words spoken by Jesus in John 17:5, do not imply pre-existence for Him , any more than they do for Jeremiah. It is simply a statement that even before the foundation of the world, it was God's plan to glorify Jesus. It does not mean that Jesus was present when the plan was made.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE GLORY "BEFORE THE WORLD WAS MADE" ?
Jesus is using a Hebrew figure of speech called "PROLEPSIS".
You never heard of "prolepsis"? Don't worry! You are not alone! There are lots of others like you. That is a BIG word theologians love to use , when th e rest of us would say something like: " God speaks in advance of future things as though they had already happened ". (Read Romans 4:17 KJV, NIV , NEB)
God's plan to have a SON and glorify him, was made, and as good as done, BEFORE the world was created .
WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN JESUS SAID HE HAD GLORY " WITH GOD "?
Since Jesus is a REAL MAN, it cannot mean that J ESUS was actually present with God before the world was made. What it does mean is that the GLORY itself was "with God" before the world was made . We use similar language when we say things like "you have a good reputation WITH ME". We do not mean that the person who has the reputation has to be literally in our presence, when we think that way about them. All it means is that we KNOW something ABOUT the person.
In the same way, God knew "before the world was made", what would be accomplished through Jesus that would give him a GLORIOUS REPUTATION.
WHAT DID JESUS MEAN BY "GLORY "?
This is the real crux of the matter.
Is it the sort of " radiant glory" that the disciples saw at the Transfiguration? (Matt17:2; 2 Pet 1:17) Or is it perhaps the "glory" which he now has in Heaven, seated at the right hand of God? Or is it so m ething else?
We are not left in any doubt. John speaks about this same "glory" elsewhere in his Gospel.
" These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when ( after NIV , NEB ) Jesus was glorified , then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him . (John 12:16)
" Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again . " (John 12:27-28)
Clearly the " glory " Jesus has in mind in John 12, is to do with his imminent crucifixion . But his disciples did not understand that until it was revealed to them after it had happened. ( And in passing, it seems that many in our own time, still do not understand! )
WHEN DID THE DISCIPLES UNDERSTAND?
Luke has the answer.
Speaking to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus , Jesus said :
" O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory ? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further . " (Luke 24:25-28)
And to the eleven in the upper room later that same day:
" And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem . " (Luke 24:44-47)
I t was only after Jesus was crucified and risen from the dead , that the eyes of the disciples were opened to understand that Jesus had already been "glor if ied" by what had happened on the Cross, making it possible to preach the Good News about " repentance and remission of sins ".
That was when he was LIFTED UP :
1. so that he could be recognised for who he is – Son of God and Messiah. (John 8:28)2. so that those who see it might be drawn to him. (John 12:32 )3. so that " whoever believes on him may have eternal life ". (John 3:14-15)
Jesus was about to be GLORIFIED . It happened when he was crucified.
The GLORY which God planned for Jesus BEFORE THE WORLD WAS MADE, was not about an event before Creation ! Nor was it primarily about something which happened after he ascended to heaven. Rather it was about what he has achieved on the CROSS!
Through this Jesus won the right to forgive those who turn to him in repentance. He has won the right to give them ETERNAL LIFE. This is his GLORY for ever !