Did Jesus exist before His earthly birth? The Bible affirms YES!
Let us begin by examining John 1:15, which reads, “John bore witness of him and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.” John 1:15 ASV reads, “This was he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me for he was before me.” I quote from brother Roy Lanier, Sr., “There are two Greek words in this statement which are translated by our one word before. When John said he ‘has come before me,’ He used emprosthen, which gives the sense of priority of rank or position or dignity… and when he said, ‘for he was before me,’ he used the protos a word meaning ‘in order of time.’ So although, Jesus was born after John, He existed before John was born” (The Timeless Trinity, p. 158). W.E. Vines Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words agrees saying, “‘Protos’ signifies first, or at the first… in order of time,’ ” while saying, “‘emprosthen’ is used of place or position only.” McCord’s translated it this way, “The one who comes after me is my superior, for he existed before me.” Estes’ Better Version renders it, “He who comes after me, ranks before me for he was before me.” The RSV* reads, “He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.” The NASB reads, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.” So the Logos predates John.
But not only so, He also predates Abraham. In John 8:58 Jesus said, “Verily, verily I say unto you, before Abraham was (born – ASV) I am.” The word “before” is the word which has reference to time. More significant here though are the tenses. Listen to the words of brother Guy N. Woods, “The verbs here are quite significant. That with reference to Abraham signifies to begin, to come to be; that of Christ to be evermore existing. There was a point in history when Abraham came into existence; before this, he was not; but of Christ it is affirmed that he always existed. The tense is timeless present and conveys the same notion as… (Exodus 3:14).” (A Commentary on John, p. 181). Robert Taylor Jr., “The Lord did not say, ‘I was before Abraham.’ He employed language that only deity can use accurately – I AM” (Studies in the Gospel of John, p. 130-131). Lenski wrote, “As the aorist sets the point of beginning for existence of Abraham, so the present tense ‘I AM’ predicates absolute existence for the person of Jesus with no point of beginning at all” (The Interpretation of St. John, p. 670).
The Biblical evidence is abundant and clear. Jesus’ birth wasn’t His beginning (except in the sense of His earthly existence). He existed in glory before the world was even made (John 17:5). He took part in the creationary week (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2). John 3:13, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven.” His home before coming to earth was heaven. His going forth hs been from “everlasting” (eternity – NASB) Micah 5:2.
*While this is not an endorsement of the RSV, I do believe that this particular scripture in the RSV was done correctly.