by Jeff Hagan
(Tacoma, WA, USA)
Scripture: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him” (Colossians 1:15-16, NIV, 1984).
As we see above, in Paul's letter to the church in Collose he refers to Jesus Christ as the “firstborn” over all creation. At first glimpse this may appear troublesome to some. In fact, it often leads to the question of how can Jesus Christ be “firstborn” when He's suppose to be the eternal Creator of all things? This question is asked by new believers, Oneness groups, and Jehovah's Witnesses just to name a few.
Well, to start, in referring to Christ as firstborn what Paul had in mind was the idea of preeminence. We see the use of the word in this manner throughout the Old Testament. In Jeremiah 31:9 Ephraim is referred to as the Lord's “firstborn” although we see in Genesis 41:51 that Manessah was actually born first. In the same way we see in Psalm 89:27 David being appointed as the Lord's “firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth” regardless of the fact that David was actually the youngest of all his brothers. Neither one of them, Ephraim or David, were the firstborn. The term was being used for both in the sense of preeminence (“the fact of surpassing all others; superiority” - Oxford Dictionaries online).
Another thing to take note of is that Paul referred to Christ as the firstborn OVER all creation, not the firstborn IN creation. To this end, in verse 17 of the same passage, Paul goes on to explain, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Paul's use of language here is actually so clear and forceful that groups such as the Jehovah's Witnesses are forced to enter the word “other” into their so-called translations of the “Bible” so they can “demote Christ to the status of a created being.”* You will see their versions saying “He is before all other things...” which is a clear distortion of Scripture.
As all of Scripture makes plainly clear, Jesus Christ is indeed the eternal Creator who sovereignly spoke and the “limitless galaxies leaped into existence.”** In John 1:1 he is explicitly called God, and in Hebrews 1:10 he is called the One who “laid the foundations of the earth.” We also find in Revelation 22:13, the final chapter of the Bible by the way, Christ referring to himself as “the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” So, as we have seen in just this brief time, the entirety of Scripture simply does not allow the possibility for Jesus Christ to be anything other than the eternal and sovereign Creator of the entire universe.
*Hanegraaff, Hank. “How Can the Eternal Son of God Be the 'Firstborn Over all Creation'?”
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