John 13:3 (NIV)- Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.
When we take off our inherited interpretive lenses and simply allow for Lord Jesus to speak through the New Testament, we begin to realize that much of the mysteries of the Apostolic Faith are actually not taught in your average “orthodox” church.
Passages such as John 13:3 are usually glossed over with all sorts of grammatical gymnastics in order to safeguard denominational distinctives while hiding in plain view the transparency and simplicity of Christ’s message. For an example of Christian commentaries trying to explain away the obvious visit here.
The Biblical fact is that when Christ came to this world from the Father, he emptied himself (Philippians 2:6-8) of his divine splendor in order to fully participate in the process of learning, growth and maturation.
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.-Luke 2:52
If Lord Jesus condescended to us in order to participate in our spiritual processes, then obviously there was a time after his incarnation in which Lord Jesus did not know that he had come from The Father nor that he was returning to Him. These revelations came to him some time during his lifetime before the night in which he was betrayed.
This is an important point since most Christians today believe that their spirit-souls came into existence at the moment of conception. But this was not always the case. In fact, some of the disciples of the Apostles and their disciples believed in the pre-existence of the spirit-soul. Some of these foundational Church Teachers were persons such as St. Ireneaus, Origen and Tertullian.
In his treatise called Recapitulation: Definition of the Soul, Tertullian (the same theologian from whom the Church received the foundational term Trinitas for the doctrine of the Holy Trinity) unabashedly believed in the immortality of the soul.
The soul, then, we define to be sprung from the breath of God, immortal, possessing body, having form, simple in its substance, intelligent in its own nature, developing its power in various ways, free in its determinations, subject to changes of accident, in its faculties mutable, rational, supreme, endued with an instinct of presentiment, evolved out of one (archetypal soul).
The phobia of pre-existence has always been due to its connection with the Pythagorean and Platonic idea of Metempsychosis (μετεμψύχωσις) or transmigration (reincarnation) of the human soul. But this is an unnecessary phobia.
Although there is no place for the philosophical doctrine of reincarnation in the received teachings of Lord Jesus (ie. Hebrews 9:27-28; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 John 4:17; et. al.) there are plenty of Scripture texts that indicate the fact of the immortality of the soul. (ie. Jeremiah 1:5; Ecclesiastes 4:2-3; 12:7; Job 32:8; 38:36; Romans 8:29-30; 1 Peter 1:2; et. al.)
The parable of the Prodigal Son is a perfect example of the pre-existent spirit-soul that departs from the heavenly realm, and after experiencing the vanity of this world, yearns to return to his Father.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my Father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my Father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you…'” Luke 15:17-18
The Bible teaches in Genesis 2:7 that when God created the primordial man’s body from the dust of the ground, that He breathed into the image He had created the breath of life, which turned the clay image into a living soul. (Hebrew נָ֫פֶשׁ=nephesh) The Bible teaches that God’s “breath of life” is essentially associated with consciousness. (see Job 32:8)
It takes much mental speculation to deny the fact that if the human soul is made up of God’s immortal breath of life (His Spirit), that its consciousness is not pre-existent and immortal. In fact, it is contrary to the revelation of Lord Jesus Christ and Apostolic Teaching to believe that the human soul did not pre-exist, given the fact of its pre-incarnational election and foreknowledge of God.
The Bible teaches that Lord Jesus Christ was “chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.“ He was chosen before the creation of the world because Christ is eternal. Like Christ, you too were chosen in Christ before the creation of the world, because your spirit-soul is also eternal.
Ephesians 1:4 (NIV) For He chose us in Him (Christ) before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.
On the night Lord Jesus Christ was to be betrayed by those he loved most, he made the promise to his disciples that if he returned to his Father’s house, that he would make a dwelling place for us, so that where he is, we also might be. (John 14:1-4)
So let us give up this world…the things of this world…even this tent we live in and go back to Godhead. (2 Cor. 5:1-5) Nothing should be more important to the Christian disciple than to desire to go with Lord Jesus BACK TO GODHEAD.
In fact, if you have been baptized into Christ and clothed with him (Galatians 3:27), becoming part and parcel of Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:27); then why resist RETURNING WITH CHRIST BACK TO GODHEAD?
If you are part and parcel of Christ, and He returned, did you not also return? Yes, even to the point that in our true reality, those of us who have been initiated into the Faith of Lord Jesus, are potentially seated with him at the right hand of God the Father.
Ephesians 2:6 (NIV) And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.