King James Bible and the Eternal Pre-existence of Christ

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). 

One of the worst changes to the text which affects the deity of Jesus Christ is found in the book of the prophet Micah.  The Catholic NABRE has: “….whose origin is from of old, from ancient times;the RSV, NRSV, and NIV among others, have: “….whose origin is from of old, from ancient days”.  Whereas the corrupt Watch Tower translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses has: “whose origin is from early times, from the days of time indefinite” (NWT 1984).  In fact, the NWT can be regarded as more orthodox than the modern Catholic and Protestant versions because its reading “the days of time indefinite”, despite its vagueness or perhaps because of it, can be understood to mean eternity; whereas these modern versions absolutely preclude eternity and limit Jesus to time only.

However, the newest version of the NWT obviously recognised this so their revision of the NWT now reads: “Whose origin is from ancient times, from the days of long ago” (Mic 5:2 NWT 2013).  This is an improvement in clarity, making it clearer still that the passage limits Jesus to a created being, just as do the modern versions.  But the King James Version (KJV) makes it clear that Jesus has existed from eternity, so we don’t have to juggle verses from other parts of scripture to “explain” this verse, which we have to do with every other version.

What a gift the modern and corrupt reading of Micah 5:2 is to the Watch Tower Society!  Indeed, a gift to all the enemies of the Gospel!  In one of their publications, under the heading “Where Did Jesus come from?”, the Watch Tower Society writes, “The Bible teaches that Jesus lived in heaven for a long time before he came to earth.  Micah said that the Messiah was ‘from ancient times’ (Micah 5:2)…..Some people believe that Jesus and God are the same person.  But that’s not what the Bible teaches.  The Bible says that Jesus was created, which means that Jesus had a beginning.  But Jehovah, who created all things, had no beginning” (“What Can the Bible Teach Us?” p 44).  (Emphasis mine). 

Before I get to the main issue here, I would correct an error in this statement from the Watch Tower where they say: “Some people believe that Jesus and God are the same person”.  Orthodox Christians do not say that Jesus and God are the same Person; we say that Jesus and God are two of the separate and distinct Persons within the Godhead, which consists of three Persons; it is the Sabellians and Modalists and Oneness Pentecostals who say that Jesus and God are the same Person.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are correct in deducing that Jesus was created, according to the reading in Micah 5:2 in all the modern bible versions.  How could they come to any other conclusion?  But the big question and more important issue is: how can both Catholic and Protestant Christians accept that this is the true and correct reading?  Can they not smell a rat?  Can they not see the implications for the doctrine if the modern reading is true?  It totally undermines and opposes every other passage which teaches the deity of Jesus Christ.  It clearly and specifically declares that Jesus had a very ancient origin.  So, no matter how far back in “ancient times” one likes to go, Jesus had a beginning; therefore he was created.  No matter how glorious a Being he might be, he is still a creature, and thus falls infinitely short of deity.  Such a conclusion cannot be avoided if the reading in the modern bible versions is accepted. 

But the writer of Hebrews had no illusions or doubts as to the deity of Jesus.  He writes: “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever……And thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth” (Heb 1:8, 10 KJV).  And Moses says of God, “Before the mountains were made, or the earth and the world was formed, from eternity to eternity thou art God” (Ps 90:2; 89:2 in KJV; cf Jn 1:1-3, 10).  This is Jesus, our God and Saviour; the One of whom the prophet Micah speaks, “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting (Mic 5:2 KJV).

The English Puritan commentator, Matthew Henry, says, “Going forth is used (Deut 8:3) for a word which proceeds out of the mouth, and is therefore very fitly used to signify the eternal generation of Him who is called the Word of God, that was in the beginning with God, John 1:1-2” (Comment on Mic 5:2 in the Matthew Henry Study Bible).

Only the KJV preserves and protects this doctrine of the deity, and consequently the eternal pre-existence, of Jesus Christ.  If it wasn’t for the correct reading of this verse in the KJV, it could well be that Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals and other Unitarians and deniers of the deity of Jesus would have legitimacy.  And if the readings in the modern English versions were genuine, even those other verses in the bible which testify to the deity of Jesus could be legitimately understood or reinterpreted to mean that Jesus had a beginning and therefore has not always existed.  And verses such as Genesis 1:1, for example, would have to be interpreted as God having a beginning, an origin, and that there was a time when he was not; likewise, the Word, who is stated to be God in John 1:1-2, would also have a beginning.  In Colossians 1:15, Jesus is called “the firstborn of every creature”, and is a favourite proof text of the Watch Tower that Jesus was created.  However, Matthew Henry gives the correct understanding of it when he writes: “Not that he is a creature, for the word is “born or begotten before all creation, or before any creature was made, which is the scriptural way of representing eternity.  It signifies his dominion over all things” (Matthew Henry Study Bible Col 1:15).

So we can see the absolute necessity of a correct reading of this verse so that we can have a correct understanding of it; and we only find the correct reading of it in the KJV).  It is a doctrine, belief in which is essential to salvation, as the apostle John tells us when he writes, “Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book.  But these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing, you may have life in his name” (Jn 20:30-31).

Other References

Henry, M. “The Matthew Henry Study Bible: King James Version”, ed. A. Kenneth Abraham, copyright 1994, 1997 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.  Publisher Hendrickson Bibles

“What Can the Bible Teach Us?” Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 2015