“He is the image of jthe invisible God, kthe firstborn of all creation. 16 For by6 him all things were created, lin heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether mthrones or ndominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created othrough him and for him. 17 And phe is before all things, and in him all things qhold together. 18 And rhe is the head of the body, the church. He is sthe beginning, tthe firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” Colossians 1:15-18 ESV
JW’s and Mormons use this passage to teach that Jesus was a created being who was given a position over other created beings (JW), or that Jesus was the firstborn son of Heavenly Father and a goddess wife (Mormonism) What evidence do Evangelicals have to disprove these ideas, and show that Jesus was in fact God, especially in light of this passage from Colossians? When we examine this term “firstborn”, we dare not approach it lightly, for a close study of the word prōtotokos  in the original language may not help us to show the preeminence of Christ as much as we would like to lead on. According to the Strong s concordance of the bible, prōtotokia would be a better word to describe the rights of the firstborn, or as we would like to say, preeminence . Therefore, a word-study alone is not sufficient in finalizing this discussion, because both words derive from the same origin, and carry similar, yet different meanings. Truly, we must allow the context to interpret the meaning. Seeing as this very phrase “the firstborn of all creation” is preceeded by the statement, “He is the image of the invisible God,” and indeed these two statements are united together in the same sentence, immediately we can see that the use of firstborn here is not being used as a term to describe a birth, but rather a relation to the nature of God as the eternal being, and thus Christ as preexistent with God the Father (John 1:1-2). It is also important to note here that the same Greek word, prōtotokos, is used in Hebrews 1:6 , in reference to the incarnation, giving us evidence that this word is used elsewhere to explain Christ’s eternal existence with the Father in relation to His incarnation as a man. Returning to the context, we find that Paul further relates to Christ as the One who created all things, in heaven and on Earth. If Christ was a created being Himself, how could He have created all things? This is more contextual evidence that Paul’s intention is not to communicate the Christ was created. Paul continues and explains that Christ did not only create all things, but that all things were created for Him. Based upon Paul’s theology about the glory of God in Romans 1, we know that the glory only belongs to the Creator, and if Jesus was in fact a created being then it would be contradictory for Paul to say all things were created for Him (Isaiah 42:8, Rev 4:11). Finally, I notice in vs 18 that Paul speaks of Christ as the ” the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent.” This verse in crucial to the evangelical understand of Paul’s use of “firstborn” and the doctrine of Christological preeminence. The word for beginning is the Greek word, archē , which comes from the root, archō , and carries the meaning of rule, and origin. It is the same word used for beginning in John 1:1, and shows us that Paul’s intention is to show that Christ has superiority over all creation, because He is from the beginning, preexistent, and also because He rose from the dead. He preexistence appropriates His superiority, and His resurrection confirms His superiority. The word used here for “preeminence” is the word, prōteuō, and it means to be first in rank or influence . When we understand that the point of what Paul is saying is partially lead to a conclusion in his statement “so that” in verse 18, and that poing is the preeminence of Christ, the context shows the meaning of firstborn. Thus, taking this whole passage contextually, we see that the use of “firstborn” is meant to communicate a position of superiority over creation, and confirm Christ’s deity, rather than being understood as being a created being who gained a position over all other created beings.
1. The Strongest Nasb Exhaustive Concordance (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 1563.
3. Hebrew – Greek Keyword Study Bible: English Standard Version (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2013), 1368.
4. The Strongest Nasb Exhaustive Concordance (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 1563
5. The Strongest Nasb Exhaustive Concordance (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 1513.
7. Hebrew – Greek Keyword Study Bible: English Standard Version (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2013), 2265.