Jeremiah 1:5—Does Jeremiah teach reincarnation in this verse?

Problem: God told Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; and ordained you a prophet to the nations.” But if God knew Jeremiah before he was formed in the womb, then He must have preexisted as a soul before he was incarnated into a body, which is what reincarnation teaches.

Solution: These verses do not speak of the soul preexisting before birth, but of God calling and setting apart people for the ministry long before they are born. “I knew you” does not refer to a preexistent soul, but to the prenatal person. They were known by God “in the womb” (Jer. 1:5; cf. Ps. 51:6; 139:13–16). The word “know” (yada) implies a special relationship of commitment (cf. Amos 3:2). It is supported by words like “sanctified” (set apart) and “ordained,” which reveal that God had a special assignment for Jeremiah (and Paul, Gal. 1:15–16), even before birth. Therefore, these passages do not imply preexistence of a soul; rather, they affirm preordination of an individual to a special ministry.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.