Jeremiah 1:5 Meaning of Before I Formed You in the Womb I Knew You

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.”

Explanation and Commentary of Jeremiah 1:5

The first half of this verse applies to all humans. The second part applies specifically to the prophet Jeremiah but has implications for all God’s people. In the first part, God reveals that when he creates a person, it is from a plan that he has developed before he began forming them “in the womb.” He not only knows what he is going to make, he actually knows the person as though they have already been made.

He is sovereign over our makeup and wiring, our personality, our gifts, our talents, our height, and all the rest of our physical attributes. He plans us according to his purposes for us and his plans to glorify himself by our lives. When we come to know him, it is comforting to understand this great truth more and more. We are not to look at other people and ask God, “Why did you make me thus” (Ro 9:20)? Rather, we must learn to trust him for who he has made us to be by searching out his purposes for us and being about his business, which has become our business. We are his workmanship (Eph 2:10).

He sets us apart for the unique life he’s called us to live. For Jeremiah, it meant an appointment as a prophet to the nations. For all Christians, there is a call to witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the ways in which God has moved and worked in our lives and our own salvation. But he has also called us to certain vocations, the discovery of which will allow us to flourish in his Kingdom, for his purposes, and for his glory.

Breaking Down the Key Parts of Jeremiah 1:5

#1 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,”
By this, we know that God knows someone as a being, an entity before he forms them in the womb. This is one way we know that a person still in the womb is, in fact, an entity with a right to life. Beyond that, we know that God is not only aware of that person but intimately acquainted with them. If you wonder if God knows you now, you don’t need to wonder. He’s known you for your whole existence and before.

#2 “before you were born I set you apart;”
For Christians, our name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before we are even born (Rev 21:27). It is true that we must choose to follow God sometime in our life, but it is astonishing that God has not only given us volition but that he has “set us apart” to be chosen by him as objects of his mercy and for salvation in Christ (Ro 9:23).

#3 “I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah was set apart to be a prophet to the nations. That was his unique calling. Everyone, especially every believer, has a unique calling for which they have been “set apart.” On rare occasions, God will miraculously call his man for the work for which he has been set apart (burning bush, visitation from an angel). But generally, as one prayerfully pursues a vocational interest that serves others and provides subsistence, one is likely to find one’s vocational calling.

Expert Overview of Jeremiah

Biblical Translations of Jeremiah 1:5

NIV
“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.”

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.”

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.”

KJV
“Before 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.”

NKJV
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah 1:5 Meaning and Commentary

Author Bio
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.