Isaiah 43:10 (KJV): Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

In light of the fact that YHWH is eternally existing, having no beginning and no end, what do the words in this verse mean?

What does “before me” mean since God has no beginning?

What does “after me” mean since God has no end?

  • When God created the universe, He created it a closed system. That is, He was to be the only God. There will never be another god in this universe.
    – Steve
    Dec 28, 2020 at 21:16
  • Theogony is a common feature of polytheistic systems; Judaism, however, is monotheistic.
    – Lucian
    Aug 10, 2021 at 2:58

11 Answers 11


In this passage God states his own choosing of his own witnesses. And to his own chosen witnesses he reveals himself.

And to no other.

This revelation is spiritual. The Spirit of God reveals God to the spirit of the chosen.

And within this revelation is the fact that before God there was no God formed. Nor could there be. For, in the nature of Deity, there is one Deity. There cannot be another. And in the nature of God, God is eternal. There is no 'before'. And there can be no 'other'.

And within this revelation is the fact that after God there shall be no God. Nor can there be. For, in the nature of Deity, there is one Deity. There cannot be another. And in the nature of God, God is eternal. There is no 'after'. And there can be no 'other'.

The chosen witnesses perceive this, for God has chosen them that they may know and believe him, and that they may understand that 'I am he'.

This is a matter of revelation to the chosen. It is a matter of God-given faith. For this revelation is received by faith.

It is a God-given, spiritual, revelation.


You don't understand what the verse tells you to understand, "understand that I am he." "I am he" translates אֲנִ֣י ה֔וּא and means he already is. It indicates no beginning. It is similar to when Jesus said:

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58, ESV)

Before me לְפָנַי֙ means literally "in my face." And can mean in my presence or superior to me, not necessarily before in time. Thus, "no god superior to me and no god exist below me."

Most translations don't show the significance of the Greek verbs in John 1.

In the beginning was ἦν the Word, and the Word was ἦν with God, and the Word was ἦν God. 2 He was ἦν in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made ἐγένετο through him, and without him was not any thing made ἐγένετο that was made ἐγένετο. 4 In him was ἦν life, and the life was ἦν the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was Ἐγένετο a man sent from God, whose name was [not in Greek] John. (John 1:1–6, ESV with Greek added)

Note the contrast between ἦν and ἐγένετο. ἐγένετο means became (had a beginning). The implication is ἦν means no beginning because everything that became (had a beginning) became through the Word.

There is also the matter of physics matter and time are interdependent. Thus, when God created matter, he created time. To say God had a beginning is to say God did not create matter.

Note: light and life here is used metamorphically and signified their eternity within God's intentions.


In the quoted text, God is expressing his unique Deity to men who are bound by time, who know only time, who can understand only time and whose brains can only process time.

In terms of humans, who begin and live and die, God expresses that there was no god before him and there will be no god after him.

None other deity exists than He.

Of course God has no beginning. How can He ? He alone is. All things came from Him. Out of His existence became all things that came into being.

Nor can He have any ending. In the nature of Deity, his eternal being can have no end.

God speaks in this place in hyperbole and speaks within the compass of what mortal men can grasp.

But faith sees His true being. Faith understands his Eternity. Those who hearken to His words, who ponder them and respond to them, shall perceive, by faith, his eternal Being.


Regarding Isaiah 43:10 I believe that context is important to show why God said this part of the verse, "Before Me there was not God formed, And there will be none after Me."

The following is a summary of what Albert Barns says on the subject.

I. In the previous chapter he had severely rebuked the Jews, as being deaf, and blind, and had showed them that it was on account of their sins that these calamities had come upon them. Yet he now turns and says, that they are the people whom he had redeemed, and whom it was his purpose to deliver, and repeats the solemn assurance that they would be rescued Isaiah 43:1-7. This assurance consists of many items, or considerations, showing that they would be recovered, however far they were driven from their own land.

  1. God had formed and redeemed them Isaiah 43:1. It followed from this that a God of covenant faithfulness would be with them in their trials Isaiah 43:2.

  2. They had been so precious to him and valuable, that he had given entire nations for their ransom Isaiah 43:3. It followed from this, that he would continue to give more, if necessary, for their ransom Isaiah 43:4.

  3. It was rite fixed purpose of God to gather them again, wherever they might be scattered, and they had, therefore, nothing to fear Isaiah 43:5-7.

II. God asserts his superiority to all idol-gods. He makes a solemn appeal, as he had done in Isaiah 41, to show that the idols had no power; and refers to all that he had predicted and to its fulfillment in proof that he was the only true God, and had been faithful to his people Isaiah 43:8-13. In doing this, he says:

  1. That none of the idols had been able to predict future events Isaiah 43:8-9.

  2. That the Jewish people were his witnesses that he was the true God, and the only Saviour Isaiah 43:10-12.

  3. That he had existed forever, and that none could thwart his designs Isaiah 43:13.

Isaiah 43:10, the first part is explained. Ye are my witnesses - They were his witnesses, because, first, he had given in them predictions of future events which had been literally fulfilled: secondly, by his power of delivering them so often manifested, he had shown that he was a God able to save. Neither of these had been done by the idol-gods (compare Isaiah 44:8).

Isaiah 44:8, "Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My Witnesses, Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none."

Now, it is a fact that has been established there is only one God and there are no gods formed before Jehovah and none are formed after Him. Yet the JW's insist that Jesus Christ is "a god" according to the NWT's rendering of John 1:1.

Moreover, at Philippians 2:6-7 the Apostle Paul says the following: "who (referring to Jesus Christ), although he was existing in God's form, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped."

That word "although" means, "in spite of the fact or granting that." This verse makes it clear that even though Jesus Christ possessed equality with the Father, Jesus did not cling to it. Cling to what exactly? He did not cling to His prerogatives as God's equal.

Verse 7, "but emptied Himself (of His divine prerogatives, not His attributes) taking the form of a bond-servant (by consenting to be a slave) and being made in the likeness of men" John 1:14, "And the Logos/Word became flesh, and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

The Apostle Paul is "NOT" advocating that God is designating Jesus as His representative or spokesman in these verses. This is the position the JW's are taking.

So in conclusion, we know from Isaiah 43:10 that God said, "Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me." Yet you have the Apostle Paul saying Jesus Christ always existed in the form of God, (not "a god") and Jesus took on another form, that of a human being. For the JW's, if according to you Jesus is "a god," is He a true God or false God?

  • 1
    The rant against Jehovah’s witnesses beliefs is out of place here on this question and on this site.
    – Kris
    Nov 11, 2020 at 0:00
  • 3
    @Kris There is no rant. I quoted Barns commentary. I quoted the Bible and I quoted what you guys said. In fact at Philippians 2:6 I quoted the NWT. Your the ones that used the words, "who, although he was existing in God's form." So why are you complaining? I address and answer as honestly as I can your post. Why can't you extend to me the same courtersy.
    – Mr. Bond
    Nov 11, 2020 at 0:24
  • 1
    The question is not about Jesus being a god not about jws beliefs just asks about the meaning of before me and after me meaning being spoken by the Almighty who has no beginning and no end.. your answer about the context is very good btw.
    – Kris
    Nov 11, 2020 at 0:58
  • @Kris. Well, what prompted you to ask the question? If you go to chat and read the last four comments by 4castle and you it has everything to do with the "form" of God as it pertains to Jesus Christ. chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/116017/… In fact, you even posted the JW.org sight that 4castle posted first. This is what I'm responding to. Why else would you want to know about Isaiah 43:10? Were talking about the form of God.
    – Mr. Bond
    Nov 11, 2020 at 1:30
  • 1
    This is not the Christianity site.
    – Kris
    Nov 11, 2020 at 1:35

We have in places like Neh 9:5, Ps 90:2, 48, 103:17 (and many others) the fact that God is truly eternal, without beginning and without end.

Isa 43:10 emphasises several facts:

  • God is eternal without beginning and without end.
  • YHWH is God
  • YHWH is the ONLY God
  • YHWH was NOT created but always existed; and further, all other gods are false because they were formed or created (ie, which YHWH was NOT).
  • YHWH is the great "I AM" (See LXX especially)
  • God's people are to witness to these facts

Thus, the fact that God is eternal means that no god could be formed before Him because He always existed (as the OP has correctly pointed out). Thus, the idea of no god being formed before the eternal YHWH is a quintessential Hebraism for effect.

There is another logical gem here: All other false gods are false precisely because they are "formed" or created in some sense are not eternal and so, by definition, cannot be the true eternal God of YHWH.

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary observes:

formed—before I existed none of the false gods were formed. "Formed" applies to the idols, not to God. Re 1:11 uses the same language to prove the Godhead of Jesus, as Isaiah here to prove the Godhead of Jehovah.

Poole also observes:

Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me; the gods of the heathens neither had a being before me, nor shall continue after me: wherein more is understood than is expressed, that whereas the Lord is God from everlasting to everlasting, these false pretenders to the Deity are but of yesterday, and shall shortly be abolished. And withal he calleth them formed gods, in way of contempt, and to show the ridiculousness of their pretence to the Divinity, which are formed by the hands of men.

Gill has something similar with a slight twist:

before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me; intimating that idols were formed by the hands of men, and yet none of these were formed before him, and therefore could make no pretensions to deity, or to an equality with him; nor should any be formed afterwards, that could be put in competition with him. In short, the sense is, there is no other god beside him; as the Targum, Septuagint, and Arabic versions render it.


What does “before Me” & “after Me” no god was or will be formed in Isaiah 43:10?

We are told in Devarim / Deuteronomy 6:4 that there is 1 God, YHVH : “Hear, Yisrael! YHVH [is] our-God | YHVH [is] One.” ( שְׁמַ֖ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ | יְהֹוָ֥ה אֶחָֽד )

// "אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ" is 1.

  • If our God = 1, the expression is true.

//What comes before 1?

  • If our God < 1, the expression is false.

//What comes after 1?

  • If our God > 1, the expression is false.

The same proof statement is applied in Isaiah - Chapter 43 : verse [10] "You are My witnesses," says YHVH, "and My servant whom I chose, in order that you know and believe to-Me, and understand that I am He; before Me no god was formed and after Me none shall be.” ( אַתֶּ֚ם עֵדַי֙ נְאֻם־יְהֹוָ֔ה וְעַבְדִּ֖י אֲשֶׁ֣ר בָּחָ֑רְתִּי לְמַ֣עַן תֵּ֠דְעוּ וְתַֽאֲמִ֨ינוּ לִ֚י וְתָבִ֙ינוּ֙ כִּֽי־אֲנִ֣י ה֔וּא לְפָנַי֙ לֹֽא־נ֣וֹצַר אֵ֔ל וְאַֽחֲרַ֖י לֹ֥א יִֽהְיֶֽה )

//Ta-aminu Li (תַֽאֲמִ֨ינוּ לִי), “You will believe to-Me” :

  • If a Witness says YHVH is the first and only living God, then the Witness speaks the truth.

//Lefanay (לְפָנַי֙), “Before-Me” no god was formed :

  • If a Witness says another god lived before YHVH, then the Witness speaks falsely.

//Acharay (אַחֲרַ֖י), “After-Me” none shall be :

  • If a Witness says another god lived after YHVH, then the Witness speaks falsely.

I'm sorry as I don't have a written source to support my view.

I think it's something like a "type" of god. Say for example "The Most High" and need to be viewed in the point of view of the observer.

So, if there was no "The Most High" formed before the existence of the speaker (YHWH in this case) and there will be no "The Most High" formed after the existence of the speaker (YHWH in this case), then YHWH is the first Most High and the last Most High.

To us, "the first Most High" and the sentence "before the existence of YHWH (the Most High) there was no other Most High formed" has the same sense which : in the beginning there is no the Most High - later on for the very first time there is the Most High.

That if we see it in a linear scale. If we see it in a circular scale then "the first and the last" is simultaneous, so there is no beginning there is no end.


I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me

become something like this :
"I am He: The Most High who has no beginning and no end".

Based on the italic sentence, from the pov of the observer, then the observer can say : There is no The Most High before YHWH and there is no The Most High after YHWH.


The most common word for God is Elohim, אֱלֹהִים which is the plural of Elowah, אֱלוֹהַּ. Elohim is used just once in Chapter 43 of Isaiah:

For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. (Isaiah 43:3) [KJV]
כי אני יהוה אלהיך קדוש ישראל מושיעך נתתי כפרך מצרים כוש וסבא תחתיך

As the italicization shows, "am" is a translation addition. In addition, ה֔וּא, "He" is absent, and so the verse contains four "I" statements:

  1. "I" יהוה, YHVH
  2. "I" אלהיך, your Elohim [God(s)]
  3. "I" קדוש ישראל, the Holy One Israel
  4. "I" מושיעך, your Savior

The first three, YHVH, ’ĕ·lō·he·ḵā, and Holy One Israel are nouns. The fourth, תחתיך, your Savior is a verb and this exact term is a hapax legomenon. Thus, the nature of Elohim described here has multiple attributes and a singular action, יָשַׁע "to deliver" by "your Deliverer." The unique nature of your Deliverer is not a Name or attribute; rather it is in the action, to deliver.

I Am He
Throughout the remainder of the chapter (43:10, 12) the singular el, אֵל (god) is used:

Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. (Isaiah 43:10)
אתם עדי נאם-יהוה ועבדי אשר בחרתי למען תדעו ותאמינו לי ותבינו כי-אני הוא לפני לא-נוצר אל ואחרי לא יהיה

In contrast to 43:3 there two distinct singular entities:

  1. אני הוא - "I He"
  2. אל - el, which could be God or god

By comparison with אֲנִי֙, ("I") from 43:3, י הוּא, "I Am He," is unambiguously singular and אל el (not Elowah, the singular of Elohim) must be "god," not "God" as in the King James.

The identity of "I Am He" is given in the next verse:

I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. (Isaiah 43:11)
אנכי אנכי יהוה ואין מבלעדי מושיע

I Am He is the singular מוֹשִׁיעֶ֑ךָ, your Deliverer. Therefore, "before Me there was no אל el (god) formed..." means "Your Deliverer" is eternal and so is God. The unique Savior described in 43:3 is God, not "not a god formed" (i.e. created).

The best way to describe what Isaiah says is I Am He will be the only Saviour who performs a single work of salvation. I Am He is God and He did not form (i.e. create) some other god to perform this work. Simply put: Your Deliverer is God, not a god and, once accomplished no god will come after "I Am He."

The precise meaning of "come after" is more fully revealed in the New Testament. The Saviour is Jesus Christ who must be God, not a god. Once the work of salvation is accomplished and no other god will come after Him because He, Himself will return.

  • There are a few issues, the first is that the word for savior is not תחתיך but מושיעך. I assume this is a typo. The main issue is that מושיעך is a noun. Its etymology is from a verb, but it is still a noun.
    – aefrrs
    Nov 15, 2020 at 19:55
  • Also Elohim is a singular word.
    – aefrrs
    Nov 15, 2020 at 20:01
  • @aefrrs Elohim is plural. If you don't know the Hebrew language you should not be making these claims en.wiktionary.org/wiki/… Nov 16, 2020 at 3:04
  • Elohim is a singular word. It sounds plural but is singular. Why else would it say ברא אלהים instead of בראו אלהים. Also, the website you sent agrees with me. Look at the second definition.
    – aefrrs
    Nov 16, 2020 at 23:24
  • The most common word for God is not Elohim. God is (an) Elohim. But, Elohim is not a personal pronoun. Elohim refers to a ‘spiritual entity’.
    – Dave
    Feb 11, 2021 at 0:18

“Before” and “after” are words that describe the position of something relative to a point in space or time. In this verse from Isaiah, the implication is that there is no other God but the one God, whether we search the dimensions of space or we probe the dimensions of time.

In which ever dimension of space that we look – whether length, breadth, or width – there is only one God and no other.

  • “So acknowledge today and take to heart that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.” (Dt 4:39).

In terms of time, I understand these words to reference God’s eternal existence in the present. If we look “before,” God is not in the past. If we look “after,” He is not in the future. We can only encounter God in the present moment.

  • “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Is 43:18-19)

Furthermore, the words “before” and “after” lead us to consider the point of reference. If we try to visualize these words as though we are looking at their definition in a picture dictionary, we would see that “before” and “after” have no meaning on their own; that is, something can only be positioned before or after something else. “Before” and “after” require a point of reference. “Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me” (Is 43:10). God is saying that He is or should be that point of reference in our lives.


I don’t think the fundamental purpose of this passage is a discussion of chronology.

I see it as a call to repent and obey the first commandment.

I readily concede that more than one meaning may be intended by this passage—this is a common feature of Isaiah (see “Isaiah Prophet, Seer, and Poet” pp. 53-54)—and there have been a number of thoughtful explanations here. But the principal interpretation I get out of this passage hasn’t been mentioned, so I’ll throw in two cents.


Before me (לְפָנַי֙ “lepanay”)

לְפָנַי֙ is used dozens of times in the Old Testament to mean “before me” in the sense of “in my presence” (see here). A few examples include Genesis 40:9 & Nehemiah 6:19. There need not be any chronology explicit in the term.


After (וְאַחֲרַ֖י “weaharay”)

This comes from the word אַחַר “achar”, forms of which are used for “after”, “followed”, “succeeded” (as in one king succeeded another see 1 Chronicles 27:34), and notably, in Jeremiah 7:6 “neither walk after other gods”. (see here)


The 1st commandment

Isaiah 43:10 contains an echo of the first commandment.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)

A literal rendering of the Hebrew in Exodus 20:3 would be

(see Sola Gratia’s explanation on this site here)

Thus Isaiah appears to be echoing God’s command in Exodus “don’t have any other gods in my presence.” The context of the surrounding verses further suggest that the first commandment is the central focus here.


Context from Chapter 42—who is worshipped?

In the previous chapter we are reminded to give the glory to the God of Israel:

Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare his praise in the islands. (Isaiah 42:12)

And not to worship false gods:

They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods. (Isaiah 42:10)


Context from Chapter 43—The God of Israel presents His resume

In the early portion of chapter 43 God speaks of what He done for His people.

Immediately after the verse in question further context is given—the God of Israel is presenting his resume and commanding them to worship Him and nobody else:

11 I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.

12 I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God.

15 I am the Lord, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King.

25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.


What is the point?
The point made in the subsequent verses is to call His people to repentance so He can justly forgive:

22 But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel.

23 Thou hast not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt offerings; neither hast thou honoured me with thy sacrifices. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with incense.

24 Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.

25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.

26 Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.



The context suggests to me that the purpose of this passage is not a lesson in chronology, but a call to repentance. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” is as much about leaving behind competing priorities (you can’t bring them into His presence) as bowing down to idols.


“Before me there was no God formed”

The God of Israel commands that He is to be the number one priority in their lives, and that certainly nothing made by human hands should displace devotion to God. Not only does He pre-exist any human invention, but He should occupy a place in their hearts that nothing formed by human hands can.


“Neither shall there be after me”

Nothing devised by humans will ever change the above, and it isn’t enough to worship the God of Israel and something else. His people are to worship the God of Israel and none other. While the Savior can justify people and enable them to enter God’s presence (compare Isaiah 6:1-8), people can never justify their own creations and bring those creations into God’s presence.

As clever as people are, they will never create something that replaces their need for their God, nor will they find an alternate route into His presence.


When God communicates with mortal humans, He has no choice but to use human language and idiom - we could not understand things via any other medium.

Thus, the Bible was inspired in "simple" human language.

The Text in Isa 43:10 uses a very simple device - a quintessential Hebrew idiom to say that God is both unique and eternal. It also contains a very simple logical flow, namely:

  • There was no god before or after YHWH. If there were an earlier God, then that would be God
  • YHWH is eternal
  • Therefore, YHWH is the only God.

This is not the only place where such a linguistic/logic device is used. Here are a few more:

  • Deut 4:35 - You were shown these things so that you would know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides Him.
  • Deut 32:39 - See now that I am He; there is no God besides Me.
  • Isa 41:4 - I, the LORD—the first and the last— I am He.”
  • Isa 44:8 - You are My witnesses! Is there any God but Me? There is no other Rock; I know not one.”
  • Isa 44:24 - Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer who formed you from the womb: “I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who by Myself spread out the earth,
  • Isa 45:18 - For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens—He is God; He formed the earth and fashioned it; He established it; He did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited: “I am the LORD, and there is no other.
  • Isa 45:21 - Speak up and present your case— yes, let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago? Who announced it from ancient times? Was it not I, the LORD? There is no other God but Me, a righteous God and Savior; there is none but Me.

The eternal nature and eternity of God is expressed directly in the Hebrew in several places:

  • Ps 90:2 - Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God.
  • Hab 1:12 - Are You not from everlasting, O LORD, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. O LORD, You have appointed them to execute judgment; O Rock, You have established them for correction.
  • 1 Chron 29:10 - Then David blessed the LORD in the sight of all the assembly and said: “May You be blessed, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.
  • Ps 106:48 - Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, “Amen!” Hallelujah!
  • Ps 41:13 - Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.
  • Neh 9:5 - Then the Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah—said, “Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting: Blessed be Your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.

Thus, the LORD YHWH is eternal and had no beginning and will have no end.

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