Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Firstborn Over All Creation

"He is the Image of the invisible God, the Firstborn over all creation" (Colossians 1:15)

Certain groups have latched onto Colossians 1:15 with a vengeance. Arians, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unitarians, and many others have insisted that this verse shows that the Son of God is but a creature like all the rest of us. First of all, they point out that all of us are created in the image of God, according to Genesis 1:26, so that when Paul says Christ is the “image of the invisible God,” he is saying no more than that Christ is an excellent man. Second, they insist that the phrase “firstborn of all creation” implies that the Son is a creature—the first and most excellent of creatures, but a creature all the same.

The underlying heresy here is to read the New Testament without reference to the Old. What we call the Old Testament (the Bible never divides itself up this way) is the foundation of the revelation in what we call the New Testament. The term firstborn does not mean that Christ is the first thing God made. Rather, the firstborn is the ruler over all the other sons. In fact, we see repeatedly in Genesis that the natural firstborn son is set aside and the privilege of being counted as firstborn is given to a younger brother (Cain and Seth, Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, Reuben and Joseph, Adam and Jesus). Thus, when Paul says Jesus is “firstborn of all creation” he is saying Jesus is the preeminent ruler over all the universe.”

It is true that Genesis I calls all human beings the images of God, but it is also true that Hebrews 1:3 calls Christ “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.” This tells us that God is invisible (John 1:18) and that the Son of God reflects and reveals Him. John 1:1 tells us that the Word is God, as well as being with God, and clearly establishes the deity of Christ.

Paul says in Colossians 1:16 that Jesus created all things and that all things were made for Him. Verse 17 says that in Him all things hold together. Statements like these can only apply to God the Creator. Anybody who reads the Old Testament first, and then comes to the New Testament will see this clearly. It is only because of their Greek and Gnostic assumptions that the heretics misinterpret these verses.

Colossians 1:13–14 set up what Paul writes in the following verses. Read these, and consider the practical import of the fact that Jesus is the image of God, the ruler of creation, the Creator, and the One in whom all things cohere. Consider how this ensures your redemption and the forgiveness of your sins.