In Colossians 1:15, the apostle refers to Christ as “the firstborn of all creation.” The word “firstborn” is used in the common biblical sense of rank and sovereignty. In Near Eastern culture, the oldest son received the birthright, which entitled him to certain privileges, as well as the sovereign leadership of the family upon the death of the father (Robert Gromacki). “Firstborn” was more than an acknowledgement of birth order (the first baby to come out of the womb), but was a title of rank, of highest position. For example, in Exodus 4:22, God instructs Moses to tell the pharaoh “Israel is my firstborn son.” Israel stood in the highest position because God chose to elevate her above the other nations of the earth. Another example of this elevation of rank and position is found in Psalm 89:20-27 concerning the Messiah, the descendant of David who will sit on the throne forever.
It is unfortunate that the devil has distorted the meaning of the word “firstborn” in Colossians 1:15 to serve his diabolical purpose of blinding the hearts of unbelievers from seeing Christ and being saved (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). In the 4th century, a major doctrinal controversy occurred in the church. A teacher from Alexandria named Arius believed and taught that the three persons of the trinity were not equally God, and that the Son of God was a created being. This resulted in a major council of church leaders, which became known as the Council of Nicea. Here the doctrine of Christ was hashed out. The fruit of this council is the Nicene Creed, which clearly states that Christ is of the same substance of the Father; He is “very God of very God.”
Tragically, the heretical teaching of Arius did not die off after the council, but continues today. The most prominent false religion spreading the idea that Jesus Christ is a created being is the Jehovah’s Witnesses. But the context of the word “firstborn” could not be clearer. Christ is not a creature; He is the Creator. The powers that be in the Jehovah’s Witnesses know the context refutes their silly notion. So they added the word “other” in their New World Translation to read: “For by him all other things were created.” In other words, first the son was created and then he created all other things. But this is nothing less than a lie from the pit of hell. It is merely one of many ways Satan continues to blind unbelievers from seeing the reality of who Christ is. You see, the devil knows his future. He knows he is will one-day be cast into the Lake of Fire. His goal, therefore, is to take as many people to hell with him as he can. But Jesus Christ is not a creature. He is the Creator. He is the firstborn of creation; that is, He is lord of creation. He is superior over creation; He is the sovereign one.
This is demonstrated in the next two verses (Colossians 1:16-17), where we see 5 truths concerning Christ’s relationship to His creation:
He is the Architect (v. 16a).
For by him all things were created. “By him” can also be translated “in him.” Christ is the sphere in which creation took place. It refers to the domain in which all things were made. In other words, the Son of God is the mastermind behind the universe and everything in it. He is its designer; He is the architect. “All things” is all-encompassing. The master plan was His; He laid it out. And every detail within the master plan was His. This includes each and every one of us. Collectively, we were all created by Him and, individually, we were designed by Him according to His plan. Christ is the architect of creation.
He is the Builder (v. 16b).
All things were created through him… Christ is not only the designer, but He is also the builder. He created all things:
- “both in heaven and on earth” = everything in every sphere of the universe
- “visible and invisible” = the things that can be seen by human observation, and the things that man cannot see or will ever be able to see
- “thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities” = all ranks of created beings, including angels. The church at Colossae was being affected by angel worship. Therefore, what Paul has written here was intended to correct the false teaching that was damaging the church. Paul made it clear that no angel is worthy of worship, but only Christ is worthy. Why? Because He created the angels!
Hebrews 11:3 explains how creation took place: By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. The universe was created by the Word of God. Who is the Word of God? Christ is the eternal word of God (John 1:1-3).
He is the Goal (v. 16c).
All things were created by Him and for him [or “unto him”]. Creation was not only made by Jesus Christ, but it was made for Him. All of creation, all of earth history, is moving toward one final goal: the glory of Jesus Christ. Everything is moving toward His ultimate exaltation as Lord of all. Jewish rabbis taught that the world was created for the Messiah. And they were right. Everything is moving toward the consummation of the glory of Jesus Christ. Every time man observes the intricacies and complexities of creation, it should cause him to look to Christ and praise Him. When he gives glory to impersonal forces or credits the silly notion of Mother Nature, the glory of Jesus Christ is diminished and hidden from the sight of those who should fall down and worship.
Everything has been created for Him. That includes you and me. We were created by Him and for Him. Do you believe this? Do you believe you were created by God? Do you believe you were created for Him, His purposes, and His glory? Are you living for Him? Are you pursuing the purpose for which He made you? Christ is the goal. Is He your goal?
He is the Preexistent One (v. 17).
He is before all things… The Son of God eternally existed before all things were created. This is another affirmation of His deity. He is emphatic, meaning He Himself, He and no other. Jesus Christ is eternal God; He is the preexistent one. When Jesus made this known, it almost got Him stoned. Jesus said to the Jews, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple” (John 8:58-59). The post-resurrection, post-ascension Jesus said to John, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8). In Psalm 102, the songwriter praised God for His eternal nature (Psalm 102:25-27). Jesus Christ the Son of God is the preexistent one who is worthy of our worship.
He is the Sustainer (v. 17).
The text goes on…and in him all things hold together. That is, they cohere; they stick together. The universe continues to exist because of the sustaining power of Christ. Hebrews 1:3 says Christ upholds the universe by the word of his power. It’s been said that gravity holds everything together; it is gravity that keeps our world from exploding into pieces. Well, if gravity holds the world together then Jesus Christ holds gravity together. Christ will continue to preserve the created universe as we know it until it has served His purposes. The same person who created the world will one day destroy it and make a whole new heaven and earth (2 Peter 3:5-7).