Was Jesus Created? (A Look at Colossians 1:15)

Category: Bible/Christian Worldview 84 0

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” Colossians 1:15

This is one of those verses in Scripture that can cause confusion. This verse seems to be teaching that Jesus was a created being (the first one that is). In fact, this is a verse that has been used by Jehovah’s Witnesses and others to teach that Jesus was created by God in the beginning. This is a direct contradiction to Orthodox Christianity which has taught for two thousand years that Jesus is God. If Christ was created then he could not be God, who is eternal (i.e., not created).

I’ll say flat out now that this is not what this verse is teaching. The first thing to notice is that the word firstborn can mean more than one thing in different contexts. It can refer to the firstborn child or something else that is first in chronological order. But it can also have a meaning concerning position, prominence, and rank.

This is the meaning in Psalm 89:27 which says that King David was “the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.” In Exodus 4:22 God says that Israel is his firstborn son. “In other words, Israel held pride of place as the people whom God had chosen to receive prominence and the inheritance of the Promised Land, and thus ‘heirs.’”[1]

Quite simply, chronology is not always what the word firstborn is referring to. This becomes apparent when we actually look at the context of Colossians 1:15. Look at the first part of this very verse. What do you see? “He is the image of the invisible God” (emphasis added). Jesus is the very likeness of God. Hebrews 1:3 says that he is “the exact representation of his being.”[2]

And we shouldn’t forget about the next two verses (16-17): “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him things hold together.”

How can Jesus be a created being when Paul specifically says that everything in both heaven and earth was created (and is sustained) by Jesus? Paul even says that Jesus was “before all things.” This means that Jesus existed before the creation of the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). “Quite the contrary, Paul is arguing that Jesus is the God who created all things.”[3]

Notice what John 1:1-3 say: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

Jesus could not be something that was made since everything was made by him. This verse is a prime example of how readers can misinterpret the Bible. We must seek to understand every single verse in their context. Once we remove the passage from its context we can come up with almost anything we want to.

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[1] Eric Bargerhuff. The Most Misused Verses in the Bible (Minneapolis: Bethany, 2012).  83.

[2] “’I have installed my king on Zion, my holy hill.’ I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, ‘You are my Son, today I have become your Father.” (Psalm 2:6-7) Hebrews 1:5-6 quotes this verse about Jesus. These verses, based on the context, are referring to the incarnation 2,000 years ago. Bodie Hodge. “The Firstborn Creator” in Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions. Ken Ham ed. (Green Forest: Master Books, 2010). 128.

[3] Bargerhuff, 84.

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