Summary: Merry Christmas and beyond.
A Christmas Message that keeps on Giving - Pre-existence.
1. It is not possible to stress the importance of knowing who Jesus Christ is too much. He is the basis of our faith. I thought it would be good to go beyond a little baby Jesus sermon and in the coming messages give you the truth about just who Jesus Christ really is.
2. A Prolonged Christmas Message - Pre-existence.
I. The PASSAGES:
"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.'" John 1:15
The only reasonable explanation for this passage is that Christ was "before" John in priority of existence.
"They only sense which these words will bear is because He was before me, ie, He existed, was in being, before me" [Alford].
As a man, Jesus was born 6 months after, John the Baptist - yet he existed before John.
B. Jn. 8:58
"57 So the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" 58 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." John 8:57-58
Here the Lord affirms His pre-existence not only in relation to John, but also to Abraham. And uses the divine name in the process!
"14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" Exodus 3:14
Note: The distinction in the verbs - "Before Abraham WAS, I AM." It is even more forceful in the Greek text, "Before Abraham came into existence, I am [the always existing One]."
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1
In this passage we see that Christ existed not only before John and Abraham but in the beginning! Compare Jn.1:3,14/ Gen.1:1/Heb.1:2
Side note for the cults:
"You are correct in saying that in John 1:1 the Greek word for God is not preceded by a definite article. However, good Greek scholarship agrees that this does not mean the word should be translated "god" with a small "g".
The definite article is omitted because of a somewhat technical rule of Greek grammar. A definite predicate nominative which precedes a verb does not have the Greek article. The order of the Greek words in the last clause of John 1:1 is "God was the Word" (theos en ho logos). The subject of the sentence is "the Word", the verb is "was", and the predicate nominative is "God".
Usually the predicate nominative follows the verb, but in this case it precedes it; and since it precedes the verb no article is necessary. When a Greek writer wanted to stress the quality of a person or thing which was in the predicate nominative case, he would put it before the verb rather than after it. This is what John did to stress the fact that the Word (Christ) possesses the qualities of Godhood. This fundamental principle of Greek grammar thus supports the deity of Christ and gives no support whatsoever to the translation, "The Word was a god". The intent of John
could be rendered in English, "The Word was fully God".
May I point out, too, that even your New World Translation does not always follow it's "no article - small 'g' rule. For example, in John 1:6, 12, 13, the word "God" does not have the article in the Greek, but it does have a capital "G" in the New World Translation. It is correct to use the capital in those verses but it is inconsistent with the New World Translation of John 1:1.
You might also be interested in noting that in John 13:3 the word "God" occurs twice, each time with a capital "G". But in the Greek the first occurrence of the word does not have the definite article and the second occurrence does. Since both obviously refer to the same person - God the Father - it would again be wrong to assume that the alleged "no article - small 'g'" rule has any validity in Greek grammar.
Another observation is that without the article, theos signifies divine essence, while with the article theos suggests divine personality (see Dana and Mantley, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p. 139).
Also theos is a definite noun and therefore cannot have the indefinite article "a".
It is important to keep in mind that when John 1:1 states that "the Word was God", it does not mean Jesus is God the Father, nor "Jesus is the Trinity". The Jehovah's Witnesses' booklet, "The Word", Who is He?