The Meaning Of Jeremiah 1:5 (before you were born I knew you)

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 

“Before you were born I knew you.” This powerful statement comes from this verse and holds deep meaning and significance for many. It’s a reminder of plan and purpose for our lives. The meaning of Jeremiah 1:5 emphasizes the intimate relationship that God has with his people and challenges us to embrace the calling he has placed on our lives.

In this article, we are going look at what Jeremiah 1:5 means in context and see how it applies to our lives today. 

The Context Of Jeremiah 1:5

When we read the Bible it’s important to understand the context of the words we read. To fully understand the Jeremiah 1:5 meaning, we have to know to whom these words were originally written. If we ignore this context we run the risk of misapplying this verse. 

As the book of Jeremiah opens we see a conversation between God and Jeremiah. In these opening verses, we see the calling of Jeremiah to be a prophet. Jeremiah was young and lacked confidence. But we see God encourage him: “Before you were born I knew you” and later “Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you.” (Jeremiah 1:8) 

From before he was born Jeremiah was set apart for a special task. The rest of the book details Jeremiah’s life as a prophet. We see him faithfully prophesy God’s words to the people. He fulfilled the purpose to which God had given him. 

It’s important that we don’t lose sight of this context as we look at how Jeremiah 1:5 applies to our lives today. This verse speaks directly to the plan that God had for Jeremiah before he was even conceived. This verse is not written to us today; it is a conversation between Jeremiah and God. 

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any application for us today. Rather, we must view this verse through this lens. 

The Meaning Of Jeremiah 1:5

As we look at the meaning of Jeremiah 1:5, don’t lose site of the context. 

Before I Formed You In The Womb I Knew You

The Hebrew word for “formed (yatsar)” is a verb that means to form or fashion. It’s often used to describe how a potter forms a ball of clay. It’s also the same word used in Genesis 2:7 to describe how God created Adam. This word shows that God intentionally planned Jeremiah before he even started shaping him in his mother’s womb. 

Not only did he form Jeremiah, he knew him. This word in Hebrew is yada and it literally means to know. But this isn’t just surface-level knowledge, but rather an intimate relationship that’s being described. God knew Jeremiah before he was formed and had set him apart for a specific purpose. 

“Before you were born I knew you” shows both the divine power of God and the special purpose for which Jeremiah was created. 

Before You Were Born I Set You Apart

Here we see that God created Jeremiah on purpose and for a purpose. Before he was even born he was created for a special purpose. 

To be “set apart” means he was sanctified, and made holy for a purpose. This shows that Jeremiah was dedicated for a specific role. This is common throughout the Bible that people, or things, are set apart for God. For Jeremiah, that meant that God had formed him for the specialized task of a prophet. 

People who are sanctified are born again and therefore part of God’s family (Hebrews 2:11). They are set apart for God’s use.

I Appointed You As A Prophet To The Nations 

Here we see the 30,000-foot view of Jeremiah’s mission; he is to be a prophet to the nations. 

Dr Tom Constable shows how Jeremiah 1:5 gives an overview of Jeremiah’s life: “God identified Himself to be sovereign over Jeremiah in that He (1) foreknew Jeremiah before he was born, (2) had caused him to be born, and (3) had separated him for a holy service. On this basis, He also had the sovereign prerogative to appoint Jeremiah to be a prophet.”

Jeremiah 1:5 speaks to the calling on Jeremiah’s life, but it also proclaims his sovereignty over all things. Just as God formed and directed Jeremiah’s life, he has the power to do the same in ours today. 

How Jeremiah 1:5 Applies To Your Life Today 

The meaning of Jeremiah 1:5 emphasizes God’s pre-knowledge, intentional design, and purposeful appointment of his people. While this verse is specially addressed to Jeremiah, it speaks to God’s omnipotence. It shows us that God knew each of us before we were born and created us with a purpose in mind. 

Here’s what Jeremiah 1:5 teaches us today: 

1. God Made Me
2. God Knows Me
3. God Created Me For A Purpose

These should be foundational in how we live our lives and what we base our faith on. Write these down and remind yourself of these truths. Don’t lose sight of who you are; step into the purpose that God has for you. 

Now check out: The Meaning Of John 15:5 (I Am The Vine…)

Jeffery Curtis Poor
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