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According to the Bible do we exist as spirits before we are born?

Some believe that humans exist as spirits before they are born.  They use Jer 1:5 to defend their viewpoint.  Is what they propose biblical or not?

Let us see what God’s Word has to say about this.  We will start with the proposed text:

Jer 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” NIV

Does this Bible text mean that we as humans existed as spirits in heaven before we were born?

Let us examine this text closely.

* “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”.

How can God know someone before he/she is born?  There are only two possibilities:

a. We existed in another dimension before we are born


b. God’s foreknowledge makes it possible for Him to know us before we are born.

Which one does the prophet mean, and is this confirmed elsewhere in God’s Word?

Notice that this verse uses the following words: “Before I formed you in the womb”. In other words before I created you, before you came into being.  The text itself leans towards interpretation b: God’s foreknowledge makes it possible for Him to know us before we are born.  Foreknowledge does not mean pre-existence of the beings foreknown.

Does this concur with the rest of God’s Word?


1. Nowhere in the Bible is there a mention of spirits existing before they are or were born. 

2. God foreknew the events of this planet and revealed future events to His prophets: Heb 1:1 “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways.” NIV

However this foreknowledge of events doesn’t mean these events existed before they happened!  That wouldn’t make sense. A teacher’s foreknowledge that one of his/her students will be cheating on a test (another student made him/her aware of this) does not make that student a cheater until he/she has done it!

3. Genesis, being the book of the Bible concentrating on creation, reveals to us how man was created:  Gen 2:7 “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” NIV

Nowhere is it mentioned in Genesis that God called for a spirit to descend from heaven to enter a body to make it alive.  All life was created by God Himself!

4. The prophet Isaiah prophesied 150 years before the event the following prophesy concerning Cyrus: Isa 45:1-3 “Thus says the LORD to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held — To subdue nations before him And loose the armor of kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut: ‘I will go before you And make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze And cut the bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the LORD, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant’s sake, And Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name;  I have named you, though you have not known Me.” NKJV

Notice that God calls Cyrus by name 150 years before he was born!  He calls him also “His anointed” as God had great plans for him.  Now, if Cyrus existed as a spirit before he was born, wouldn’t he have known the Lord personally?  How else would God call him by name? However the text is quite implicit: “though you have not known Me.” 

This is confirmed again in Isa 45:5 “I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me.” NIV

This text clearly indicates that Cyrus did not exist as a spirit before he was born.  Otherwise he would have no choice but to acknowledge God, as he would be in His presence.

God foreknew what Cyrus would do in his short existence.  He also foreknew that Cyrus would be an unbeliever.  Although he never acknowledged God, God was able to use him to carry out His plans.

5. A great definition of God’s foreknowledge is given in Rom 4:17:

“As it is written, I have made you the father of many nations. [He was appointed our father] in the sight of God in Whom he believed, Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they [already] existed.” AMP

God, in His foreknowledge “speaks of the nonexistent things” ”as if they already existed.”  This does not make these nonexistent things existent before their time.  As God can read into the future as if it was a history book, He sees what is going to happen.  His foreknowledge is the basis of all prophecies.  He is far beyond our limitations.  He is God!

This is confirmed by the promise mentioned in Rom 4:17.  God made the promise to Abraham of becoming a “father of many nations” (see Gen 17:5) before he even had Ishmael.  He had no children at that time and wouldn’t have any until he was over eighty years old!

With a God like this, you know that all your problems can be resolved.  Jesus promised: Matt 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  NIV  Would you like to experience that promised rest?  Are you tired of struggling with problems beyond your understanding?  Come to Jesus and accept Him as your Saviour.  Do so now by accepting His call at

Rob Chaffart  


Actually, this is the teaching of the Mormons or the New Age religions. This is NOT a true Christian view.

The Bible teaches us that a person comes into existence at the very moment of physical conception, not a moment before (Ps. 139:13-16; Zech. 12:1). Several passages speak of God knowing people before they were born (Isa. 49:1; Jer. 1:5), but they do not refer to any kind of a spiritual existence before a persons physical birth.

Instead they indicate that God knows His plans that He has for a person even before that person exists, in comparison to how an architect would know the building he has designed before the foundation has ever been set. Only Jesus Christ spiritually existed before His physical incarnation (John 1:1-3, 14).



To my knowledge there are no Biblical references of existing as spirits prior to birth. That has a smattering of reincarnation. God knew we would be, Acts 15:18. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.”

Yours, because of Calvary,

Delmer G. Lawson


Man becomes a living and spiritual being from the moment of conception and not before.  In Genesis 2:7 it states, “the LORD, God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (NIV).  Some have taken Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” and claimed that this is an indicator that we existed spiritually before we we conceived.  This however is a misinterpretation of the text.  God is omniscient, i.e. all knowing, and therefore you and I were as well known to God an eon ago as we are now.  The Hebrew word, yada, used in the Jeremiah text for ‘knew’ means simply a special relationship of commitment or ordainment.  For instance I ‘knew’ that God had called me into full time ministry, but at the time I came to realization of this I was not in the ministry full time.  Knowing and being are not necessarily the same things.

We were a reality to Him, because He knew that we would exist in His plan.  The idea of preexistence of mankind flies counter to what the Scriptures, especially Genesis, states about the creation of man.  Still others have pointed out that according to Scripture Christ existed prior too His birth and that therefore means that we must have too.  This could not be further from the truth.  God is the only Being Who’s entire Person has been eternal, meaning that not only does He not have a beginning, but no end as well.  All created things, by nature, have a beginning and such is the case for mankind.  We are eternal in nature only after our creation, with us either being in God’s presence for all eternity or apart from Him in hell for all eternity. Christ, however, being the Second Person in the Trinity was not created and by very definition must be eternal.  We are not divine and therefore cannot claim that which Christ can.

James Gillespie


My answer to this question would be no. We are flesh, and have the spirit in us when we become Christians. Using the same verse you have which is Col:1-26,27.