Who [ie. Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature for by Him were all things created that are in heaven , and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him: and He is before all things, and by 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 might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all the fullness dwells.
D2.1 The Firstborn of all creation
This title of the Lord given here is that He is the firstborn of all creation. This word ‘firstborn’ can cause some misunderstanding, some think it means that Jesus was the first created! This cannot be so because it says in a later verse that all things were created by Him. And obviously Jesus could not have created Himself! So, what does firstborn of all creation actually mean?
An equivalent word used in the Bible would be first-begotten. In Jewish life the firstborn son was very important. He was the heir, and when the father died, he had the responsibility for being the head of the family. Hence a double portion was given to him so that he, as the first born, could carry out his responsibilities to the family.
The title firstborn does not necessarily mean the one born first; we can see this from three examples in the OT. Firstly, Jacob and Esau. Esau was born first. Esau despised his birth right and sold it to Jacob, who received the firstborn inheritance (Gen.27). In I Chr.5:1 we have the record that the first-born son Reuben defiled his father’s bed. As a result of his sin the birth right was given to the sons of Joseph.
The final example is found in Ex.4:22 where Israel is called God’s firstborn. Clearly this does not mean Israel was the first nation to exist, since the Bible records other nations existing before Israel (e.g., Egypt). Rather it shows Israel’s position in rank among the nations in God’s eyes.
So, the title first born does not necessarily refer to the one who was born first. Rather it refers to position or rank. In the context of the Colossian description of Christ it means, the one who is pre-eminent, the first in rank, the heir. The Lord Jesus Christ is the first born of all creation, He is supreme over it and is the heir and also has the responsibility for it.
D2.2 The Creator
We then have the statement that: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
By Christ all things were created. It is worth restating the obvious conclusion at this point. If Christ created all things, then He cannot be a created being. The word ‘all’ means without exception. This declaration that Christ, who is not created, is the first born of all creation, demolishes the foundations of Gnosticism.
Gnosticism teaches that matter is evil, and spirit is good, so that the true God is not the creator God of the OT. However, the NT teaches emphatically that Christ is the Creator and is part of the Godhead. The assumption that matter is in itself is evil is thus found false.
There are other passages in the NT that clearly declare Jesus as equal with God and the Creator, Jn.1:1-3; Heb1:1-2. One scripture should be sufficient to remove all doubt, but with the clear testimony of these three scriptures, the matter is established.
D2.3 Principalities and powers
Paul makes a list of the things that were created. It is fairly comprehensive: in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers
The physical universe is mentioned. Then Paul includes thrones, dominions, principalities and powers. So, these principalities and powers are created beings, they are not self-existent ones. Only God is self-existent (See also Gen.1; Ps.8, Heb.11:3; Rom.1:20).
let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Paul here makes it quite clear that all authority is ultimately derived from God Himself.
So, we conclude that these principalities and powers were created by God in Christ. But they are the powers against which we fight! We have concluded that they are evil powers etc. but then that raises the question: did God create them evil?
The answer is, of course, in the negative. Space does not permit a full analysis of this but from other scriptures we know that Satan was originally an angelic being. Pride was found in his heart, and he wanted to be as God. He was cast out and became the devil. It would also appear that when he fell other beings, angels, or whatever fell with him. These fallen beings became the whole host of evil spirits, demons, principalities and powers. Isa.14:12-15; Ezk.28:12-16; Lk.10:18; Rev.12: 7-8. (If the latter scripture is a reference to the initial fall of Satan)
Another error that arises, from time to time, is that God and the devil are equal and opposite forces, this is simply not true. The devil and his cohorts are created beings and therefore cannot be equal to the triune God. The fact that he wanted to be as God shows that he is not equal to God at all.
D2.4 Created for Him
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
The revelation of scripture is that creation was no accident, and neither was it purposeless. Rather, creation was designed and created by the triune God. The purpose for its creation is for the pleasure of God.
There are many things in creation about which we know nothing. Without doubt there are many things we are yet to discover, and some things we will never find out. Yet since creation they have always been there. For what purpose? The pleasure of the one who created it all, and they were all for Him.
This includes even those beings who eventually rebelled against God! He created them to take pleasure in them, but they would have nothing of it. Instead, they rebelled becoming enemies not only of God, but also of God’s creation, and especially of mankind.
D2.5 Before all things.
The next description of the Christ the creator is that He was before all things. We have already noted that because He created all things Christ could not be a created being. Here His eternal pre-existence is stated more clearly leaving no room for doubt.
This is not the only place where Christ’s eternal pre-existence is stated. For example:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which (always*) is, and which (ever*) was, and which always (is the coming one*) is to come, the Almighty.
* Newberry footnote
The Testimony of scripture is clear, The Lord Jesus Christ is NOT a created being, He is and always has been a member of the eternal triune God.
D2.6 He sustains all things
There is yet one further truth concerning Christ the creator: by Him all things consist. Christ hasn’t just created all things and then leaves it alone; He is active in sustaining the creation.
There are those who say that God just created the universe then left it to run on its own. This scripture dismantles that notion fully. God is a God who is separate from the creation yes, but yet He upholds it.
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Again, dismantling the false ideas that were circulating at the time Paul was writing.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
This care of God is especially true of us in the matter of salvation. He doesn’t just save us and leave us alone but sustains and keeps us.
Jesus is the great Creator. He created all things, even these principalities and powers. Originally, they were not evil, but they decided to follow Satan in his rebellion. Thus, they became enemies of God and of His people.
God in Christ came to redeem us and defeated these powers and principalities. The great Creator indeed became our Saviour.