Colossians 1:15 (other translations here) refers to Jesus as the firstborn of all creation. I was curious how those believing in the Trinity explained that verse. One such explanation is here. First, I noted that the article was written with the unproven assumption that Jesus is God, therefore any explanation of the verse would be slanted to conform to that belief.
One of the worst cases of reasoning in that article was stating that “Christ’s relationship to His Father begins with the phrase 'the image of the invisible God.' The word 'image,' meaning copy or likeness, expresses Christ's deity. This word involves more than a resemblance, more than a representation. He is God!”
Whoa, there! Back that train up. First Jesus is the “image” then, all of a sudden he is not the image, but instead he is actually God. In which alternate universe is this possible? How can an image of someone be the person itself? Even if twins stood next to each other and someone remarked that they are “the spitting image of each other,” does that mean that they are each other? No, it doesn't. Similarly, Jesus is either a copy/likeness or he is the original, he can’t be both. Further, to claim that “The word 'image,' ... expresses Christ’s deity” is completely ludicrous. Or maybe the article just (conveniently) forgot that humans are also spoken of as being made in God’s “image and likeness.” Are we, then, also God himself? You can see how ridiculous such reasoning is. (See more on “image” here.)
Another point in that original quote is his opening, “Christ’s relationship to His Father….” is that Christ is God. If he is God, then there is no relationship. Don’t understand? Let me ask you--what is your relationship to yourself? Even if you have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), there is no relationship. You are you. At times you may argue with yourself and at times you may need to make peace with yourself, but neither of those are statements of being more than one person. So is Christ a separate person or is he God? Those advancing the Trinity belief cannot seem to make up their minds. On the other hand, scripture is very plain on the subject. There is one God, the Father; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ.
There were so many derailments in this article’s reasoning. If I were to provide an explanation and rebuttal for each one, my post would be too long. So here is a short list:
- The article states that believing that Jesus was actually a creation of the Father “conflicts with the rest of the Bible.” There were no links provided to which scriptures were involved “in the rest of the Bible.” In contrast, consider this long list of scriptures that prove Jesus and God are separate entities.
- The article stated: “Christ could not be both Creator and created.” Why not? So just because my parents made me means I cannot also make other humans? That is essentially what the article implies. And yet, guess what, I also am a father! So yes, Jesus can be (and was) created and is also himself a creator, by drawing on his Father’s power. One thought-stimulating passage is found in the creation account--where God says “let US make man in our image.” In order for there to be an “us” there has to be more than one. If, as the Trinitarians believe, Jesus is God, then there is no “us.” There would be just one--which just happens to be the belief of Trinitarians. Yet, the scripture says very plainly “let us make….”
- The article states: “The word 'firstborn' (Greek word 'prototokos') signifies priority.” It can, but it also indicates the person born first. Trying to dilute that fact only beclouds the plain and simple reasoning the scriptures put forth.
- The article states: “In the culture of the Ancient Near East, the firstborn was not necessarily the oldest child. Firstborn referred not to birth order but to rank. The firstborn possessed the inheritance and leadership.” Once again an unsubstantiated claim. But lets stick with scripture, not general “culture of the Ancient Near East.” There were two scripture-based incidents where the natural firstborn lost the rights. One was Esau, the other was Reuben. Using just two famous incidents in the Bible to base an assertion that “firstborn referred not to birth order but to rank” is just plain wrong. In fact, both those instances recognized that the natural firstborn rights were Esau’s and Reuben’s but they forfeited those rights.
Everything considered, the evidence from scripture is that Jesus is the “son of God,” not God himself. He is firstborn in that he was God's first creation of a living sentient being. After that, all things came into existence through Jesus. Really, if Colossians 1:15-20 is taken at face value, without trying to run it through the meat grinder of Trinitarian beliefs, it is very straightforward, clear and easy to understand. Verse 15 states that Christ was the first creation. Verse 16 states states that after he was created, he worked side-by-side with his Father creating the rest of everything, both seen and unseen.Verses 17 and 18 (not verse 15) address the preeminence of Jesus over everything else--which would make sense seeing as he took part in creating it. Verse 19 says that God was/is pleased to bestow honor on his son. Finally verse 20 recaps how the ransom sacrifice of Jesus was/is designed to restore peace and unity in all creation, thus further driving home the preeminent position of Jesus. Through all this, Paul builds his reasoning in each verse like we would stack blocks one on top of the other to make a tower of evidence. Christ was the first created, Christ was the first permanently resurrected, Christ is second in command to Jehovah God, and without Jesus, we wouldn't have the hope of ransom from sin and death.
(Please don’t send me this link. I am aware of it. To me it seems the article doesn't really explain the passage in Colossians 1. Its real intent is to discredit, through shallow misrepresentation, the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses.)
Addendum: New article on Colossians 1:16 added April, 2017