A Question I Was Asked:

Did Our Souls Pre-Exist?

Recently, well, maybe during the last 15 odd years, some writers have speculated that our souls pre-existed before our human births. My question is: Did our souls come into existence in our mother's wombs? Or, if we had some existence even before that, would that amount to the plain error of Reincarnation? A few verses in the Bible do seem to hint that God already knew us. What are your thoughts?

UK Apologetics Reply:

A very deeply fascinating and intriguing question!

First of all, if God already knew our souls (or, 'spirit essences', whatever you want to call it), because He 'knew' them in Heaven, that would still not be reincarnation which teaches a long cycle of human, or non-human, physical births upon this earth. In Indian religion this is about 'karma' - accumulating too much 'bad karma' might mean being reborn as an earthworm, or something similar. The Bible certainly does not teach any such thing! The Bible teaches one physical birth for every human being made in His image. With regard to the animal kingdom, however, Scripture never discusses how God handles this. A few have wondered whether He allows some form of re-birth in differing animal bodies - but only within the creature kingdom; we simply don't know at the present time. But this does not apply to human beings made in His image:

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

Where did our souls come from? What was their actual point of beginning? The Bible never tells us. This could be a divine gift at the very moment of conception but, it is true, some Scriptures seem to hint it goes back even before that. We know that God knew us - and constructed our bodies - in our mother's wombs, but, as I say, some verses seem to say that God knew us before then, so we need to address these. First, let us consider how God constructed us in the womb:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139: 13-16).

But now look at some Bible verses which show that God knew us even before then:

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. (Jeremiah 1:5).

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30).

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will. (Ephesians 1:4-5).

So, even if we were not born until the 20th century, God evidently 'knew us' - yes, even before 'the foundation of the world.' Can I explain that? No, and neither can you, yet it is true and we have to accept it as Bible truth.

So, without question, God 'knew us' before our human births, yes, maybe thousands or even millions of years before then. But was this 'knowing us' simply because God knows the end from the beginning? Or, in some way we cannot presently understand nor comprehend, did God already 'know' our souls because He could view them in Heaven, or even had them 'stored' in some part of His Heavenly realm? That we don't know. We certainly know that we were not chosen because God could see we would be 'good,' that is unbiblical, yet God could have equipped us (in some way we do not understand at present) to respond positively to Him when the earthly time or opportunity came along for us - but that too according to His ordained path.

However, with talk of "pre-exisence of souls" we need to be a bit careful. Some such ideas are to be found in other religions and have gone into some New Age religion. The Bible student will seek to carefully outline things only according to scriptural guidelines and will not go further than that. The explanation outlined above fully conforms to Bible teaching.

Robin A. Brace. October 17th, 2015.