I Knew You Before You Were Born: What Does Jeremiah 1:5 Mean?


Jeremiah 1:5, “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.” (NIV)

TranslationJeremiah 1:5
ESV“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
NASB“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
KJVBefore I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
NLT“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

Also see the meaning of When the Enemy Comes in Like a Flood

I Knew You Before You Were Born: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

1:1-10 Jeremiah’s early call to the work and office of a prophet is stated. He was to be a prophet, not to the Jews only, but to the neighbouring nations. He is still a prophet to the whole world, and it would be well if they would attend to these warnings.

The Lord who formed us, knows for what particular services and purposes he intended us.

But unless he sanctify us by his new-creating Spirit, we shall neither be fit for his holy service on earth, nor his holy happiness in heaven. It becomes us to have low thoughts of ourselves.

Those who are young, should consider that they are so, and not venture beyond their powers. But though a sense of our own weakness and insufficiency should make us go humbly about our work, it should not make us draw back when God calls us.

Those who have messages to deliver from God, must not fear the face of man. The Lord, by a sign, gave Jeremiah such a gift as was necessary. God’s message should be delivered in his own words.

Whatever wordly wise men or politicians may think, the safety of kingdoms is decided according to the purpose and word of God.

Also see the meaning of The Blessing of the Lord Maketh Rich

Jeremiah 1:5 | Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

5. knew—approved of thee as My chosen instrument (Ex 33:12, 17; compare Isa 49:1, 5; Ro 8:29).

sanctified—rather, “separated.” The primary meaning is, “to set apart” from a common to a special use; hence arose the secondary sense, “to sanctify,” ceremonially and morally.

It is not here meant that Jehovah cleansed Jeremiah from original sin or regenerated him by His Spirit; but separated him to his peculiar prophetical office, including in its range, not merely the Hebrews, but also the nations hostile to them (Jer 25:12-38; 27:1-21; 46:1-51:64), [Henderson].

Not the effect, but the predestination in Jehovah’s secret counsel, is meant by the sanctification here (compare Lu 1:15, 41; Ac 15:18; Ga 1:15; Eph 1:11).

Also see the meaning of Seek Peace and Pursue It

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