Micah 5 and the Pre-Existence of Christ


Doesn't Micah 5:2 tell us that Jesus pre-existed?

Micah 5:2 - 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.


When reading the KJV we find that the phrasing is somewhat unclear and has led many to believe this. I believe a more modern translation will help us in this matter. The NET translates Micah 5:2 this way:

As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, seemingly insignificant among the clans of Judah - from you a king will emerge who will rule over Israel on my behalf, one whose origins are in the distant past.

Here are the Translation Notes (tn) and the Study Notes (sn) found in the NET (also note that the translators are themselves Trinitarian and hence believers in the pre-existence of Christ):

tn Heb "from the past, from the days of antiquity." Elsewhere both phrases refer to the early periods in the history of the world or of the nation of Israel. For miqqedem, ("from the past") see Nehemiah 12:46; Psalm 74:12; Psalm 77:11; Isaiah 45:21; Isaiah 46:10. For mime 'olam, ("from the days of antiquity") see Isaiah 63:9; Isaiah 63:11; Amos 9:11; Micah 7:14; Malachi 3:4. In Nehemiah 12:46 and Amos 9:11 the Davidic era is in view.

sn In riddle-like fashion this verse alludes to David, as the references to Bethlehem and to his ancient origins/activities indicate. The passage anticipates the second coming of the great king to usher in a new era of national glory for Israel. Other prophets are more direct and name this coming ideal ruler "David" (Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23-24; Ezekiel 37:24-25; Hosea 3:5). Of course, this prophecy of "David's" second coming is actually fulfilled through his descendant, the Messiah, who will rule in the spirit and power of his famous ancestor and bring to realization the Davidic royal ideal in an even greater way than the historical David (see Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 11:10; Jeremiah 33:15).

As we see in these notes, we not looking at Christ being existent in David's day, we are seeing a prophecy of the greater David to come who "of the fruit of his (David's) loins, according to the flesh ... God would raise up Christ to sit on his (David's) throne", reigning "over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Acts 2:30; Luke 1:33 cp. 2 Samuel 7:12-16).

Written by Matthew Smith