It is a good place to test our own understanding:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross (Colossians 1:15-20).
Paul’s understanding of Christ agrees with the whole Bible. As do all scriptures.
He is the image of the invisible God
The significant truth in Bible is that Christ is “THE IMAGE” of the invisible God.
God is Spirit (John 4:24). He is invisible, and is not presented with any image of Himself, other than Christ.
The word translated as “image” is εἰκὼν. We find this word in the answer of Jesus, “whose image and inscription is this” (Mark 12:16). This word is also used to describe “the image of the beast” (Revelation 13:14).
Adam was made “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). “Adam begot a son in his likeness, after His image, and named him Seth” (Genesis 5:3). In the Book of Genesis, God introduced the vocabulary and meaning of the words “likeness” and “image.” The word “likeness” implies only resemblance. Adam’s son Seth was only in the likeness of Adam. Christ is never said to be in the “likeness” of God, because He is “the express image” (Hebrews 1:3) of the invisible God.
Of course, no one is the image of oneself, which is proof in itself that Christ is not the invisible God. After Christ appeared on the earth, John said, “no one has seen God at any time” (1 John 4:12; John 1:18).
The firstborn over all creation (Greek text: The firstborn every creature/all creation)
We’ve quoted from the New King James, which is a modern version of Paul’s text. The Greek text does not include the word “over,” ἐπὶ, as it does in Romans 9:5: “who is over all,” Matthew 24:47 etc. The Greek simply says πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως, firstborn “every creature,” or “all creation.”
The King James Version reads “firstborn of every creature.” The Pulpit Commentary suggests “firstborn of all creation” as the most correct translation.
The change of this text in the New James Version is related to the refinement and defense of the Trinity doctrine. The translators are playing with words to convince us that Christ always existed and can therefore be equal to God. This is a sad, but unfortunate, reality of Bible translation. Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes (the Bible copiers and translators) and the Pharisees (the Bible teachers), you will by no means enter the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 5:20).
The translators made this change, because:
- They want to assert that Christ was not created. The Nicene Creed puts forward the distinction that Christ was “begotten, and not created.” To human beings, this makes a difference. But to God there is no difference. We beget children, but we do not create them. God is both the Father and Creator of all. As the Psalmist said, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:13-14 NASB).
- They want to say that Christ was never really begotten. As we mentioned in Chapter 2, the Nicene Creed of 381 was traditionally translated as “(Christ was) begotten of the Father before all worlds (æons)”1. However, the Nicene Creed has been retranslated in recent years as “(Christ was) eternally begotten.” The idea is to support the eternal existence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, making them all equal. Therefore, the expression “firstborn OVER creation” has replaced “firstborn of creation/all creatures.” This makes firstborn only a matter of “rank” or status, rather than sequence, and who came first, Christ or God.
From the inception of the Trinity doctrine at the Council of Nicea, Athanasius and supporters of the Trinity attacked the idea that there was ever a time that Christ “was not” or that He came into existence “by the will” of the Father. But the bottom line is that Christ did not come into being because of His own will. How can one who is not yet born have a will to bring himself into existence? This contradicts the very meaning and definition of birth, especially as it refers to a spiritual being. Christ is not self-existing. He is not equal to God.
Paul understood God to be the “Father of all,” beginning with Christ.
John explained this more directly, calling Christ “the beginning of the creation of God.” This is the message of several scriptures we have already mentioned:
- “I came out of the Father ἐξῆλθον ἐκ τοῦ” (John 16:28)
- The only begotten God (John 1:18)
- These things says . . . the beginning of the creation of God (Revelation 3:14)
- Father of all (including Christ) (Ephesians 4:6)
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers
All things were created by Him in the beginning of creation. All things include principalities and powers, described in Genesis 2:1; these include the heavenly hosts. All spiritual beings, including the Angels, were created for the purpose of God’s salvation plan (Hebrews 1:14). Even the Devil and His Angels are used by God in His salvation plan, to bring into judgment those who do not receive the love of the truth. Paul said, “the coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan with all power, signs, and lying signs and wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9). God allowed Satan to bring a strong delusion to those who did not receive the love of the truth.
All things were created through Him and for Him
The statement that all things were made for Christ might be surprising, but Jesus also said that all things were made for Him, because the Father loves the Son:
- “all things are delivered unto Me of My Father,” (Matthew 11:27 ).
- “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand,” (John 3:35) and
- “All things that the Father has are mine” (John 16:15).
He is before all things, and in Him all things consist
John said, “all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3).
Micah told us, “His going forth are from the days of perpetuity or antiquity,” (Micah 5:2) which some translate as everlasting, but in fact this word means “day of old.”
The Bible says that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” “In the beginning, the Word was with God, and God was the Word.” Christ existed before time and space were created, before the stars were put in place to measure time.
He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence
The Psalmist wrote, “Also I will make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth.”
We understand Christ as the head of the Church. He “is the beginning,” the Male Child who was the first of the kingdom of heaven (Revelation 12:5,17), the “only begotten Son,” being the firstborn from the dead; see also Revelation 1:5, Acts 13:33–34, and Psalm 2:7–9.
For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell
Christ was filled with the divine nature; see Colossians 2:9.
By Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross
The meaning of “reconcile all…through the blood of His cross” is explained in Philippians 2:8-11. Because He “became obedient to death, even death on the cross. Therefore, God highly exalted Him…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…” Of course, not every knee will be saved, but every knee must recognize Jesus Christ as the Lord – “to the glory of God, the Father.” When all things are made subject to Christ, then God will be “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:25-28, Ephesians 1:10).
- Wikipedia – Nicene Creed ↩