Dialogue 6: Was Jesus created as God’s “firstborn son?”

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bullets CHRISTIAN CONVERSATIONS WITH JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES—Biblical Answers To Questions Jehovah’s Witnesses Ask

(WDGR Lesson 3: “Who Is Jesus Christ?”)

In what way is Jesus the “firstborn over all creation”? Does Proverbs 8:22-23 prove that Jesus was created? If Jesus was not created, why does the Bible say that Jesus is “the beginning of the creation of God” at Revelation 3:14?

KAREN: Hello Cindy!

CINDY: Oh, Hi Karen! I was thinking about our study last week in the Watchtower brochure, What Does God Require of Us? We had talked about how there is only one true God and you had said that you believe that Jesus is the true God along with the Father. But I have a question: If Jesus is God, why do you think “Jesus is called God’s ‘firstborn’ Son?”1.

KAREN: That’s a good question, Cindy, and I’m glad we are studying who Jesus Christ is; for if we do not know who He is, how can we trust Him for our salvation?

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CINDY: Very well then, Karen, why don’t we start by reading Colossians 1:15-19. Would you like to read this passage in your Bible?

KAREN: Sure, Cindy! “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in him.”2.

CINDY: Wow! Karen, your Bible reads differently than mine. My New World Translation says that Christ created “all [other] things” — not that He created “all things” —like yours reads. In fact, it puts the word “other” in this passage four times, and I’m also noticing that the word “other” is in brackets. I wonder why.

KAREN: Does your Bible have an appendix that might tell us why it adds the word “other” to “all things” in this passage?

CINDY: Well, let me see…“Table of the Books of the Bible” … no … that’s not it.… Oh, here’s something! “Brackets enclose words inserted to complete the sense in the English text; [[ ]] suggest interpolations in original text.”3. What do they mean by that?

KAREN: Do you think the Watchtower is saying that their Bible added the words “other” to the text because they believe that this is the best way to translate the passage to fit their doctrine, even though the word “other” is not in the original Greek manuscripts of this passage?

CINDY: I guess that’s what they’re saying, Karen. Here, I have a Greek/English Interlinear Translation of this passage that the Watchtower Society published. Let me look this passage up in it and find out.… Colossians 1:16: “because in him it was created the all (things) in the heavens and upon the earth. . .”—and 17—“and he is before all (things) and the all (things) in him it has stood together.” 4.

KAREN: Cindy, since this passage is teaching that Jesus created everything—not just all “other” things—but everything that was ever created, wouldn’t this prove that Jesus Himself couldn’t be created? Otherwise, if He is created and He created everything, then He’d have to have created Himself, wouldn’t He?

CINDY: I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion just yet, Karen. Let’s look at some other verses. Verse 15 of this passage says that Jesus is the “firstborn.” What do you think “firstborn” means?

KAREN: Cindy, my New American Standard Bible has a footnote on verse 15. Let me read what it says: “Here Jesus Christ is presented as the image of God, the invisible One.…The other word to which we must turn our attention and which is used twice in this context is the word prototokos, translated as ‘first born’ or ‘first begotten.’…What it means here is that Christ…is above all creation. It does not mean that He is part of the creation made by God, but that the relation of the whole creation to Him was determined by the fact that He is the cause of the creation of all things…and that without Him there could be no creation.”5.

CINDY: That’s interesting, Karen, but I’d have to disagree with that footnote in your Bible. “Firstborn” means “first created” because “Jesus is the only Son that God created by himself.”6.  

KAREN: But Cindy, Look! The footnote in my Bible goes on to state that there is a Greek word that the apostle Paul could have used which means “first created.” Let me read this: “It is not said of Christ that He was ktistheis, “created,” from [the Greek word] ktizo “to create,”.…We never find this verb ktizo as referring to Jesus Christ as having been created.”7. Cindy, if Jesus was created as the Watchtower Society teaches, and not merely the “firstborn” in the sense of His preeminence over the creation, why didn’t the apostle Paul use the word that would have clearly communicated this idea of creation?

CINDY: I don’t know, Karen, but doesn’t the Bible say at Revelation 3:14 that Christ is “the beginning of the creation of God”?

KAREN: Yes it does, Cindy, but this doesn’t prove that Jesus is created. The Greek word for “beginning”, Arche, is often used in Scripture to mean the “cause” or “source” of something.8. It is in this sense as an originator, that Jesus is called the “beginning of the creation of God”—because all of creation began with Christ.

CINDY: Well, Karen, if those verses don’t prove that Jesus is created, how do you explain Proverbs 8:22-23? Here we see that as wisdom personified, “Jehovah used the prehuman Jesus as his ‘master worker’ in creating all other things in heaven and on earth.”9.  Let me read it in my Bible, The New World Translation: “Jehovah himself produced me as the beginning of his way, the earliest of his achievements of long ago. From time indefinite I was installed, from the start, from times earlier than the earth.” Can you see, Karen, how Jesus as “wisdom” was “produced” by Jehovah in order to create the earth?

KAREN: Cindy, if Jehovah had to “produce” or “create” wisdom, does this mean that there was a point in time that Jehovah had no wisdom—that is—until He created it?

CINDY: I never thought of it that way before. You’re right, Karen! How could Jehovah have ever been without wisdom? That doesn’t make any sense!

KAREN: Can you see why my Bible translates Proverbs 8:22 as “The LORD possessed me,”10. rather than your Bible which states that He “produced” wisdom? Which fits the context better? My Bible goes on to translate verse 23 as “From everlasting I was established.” Can you see how wisdom is just as eternal as Jehovah Himself is? And if Jesus is wisdom personified, as the Watchtower argues, wouldn’t we have to argue that He is as eternal as wisdom is and therefore could not possibly be created?

CINDY: Karen, that’s a good question.

KAREN: Cindy, we’ve looked at all of the verses the Society gives in this brochure to try to prove that Jesus is created, and none of them stand up under examination. I’d like to share with you a passage that I believe proves that Jesus could not possibly be created. It’s Isaiah 44:24. Would you like to read it in your Bible, Cindy?

CINDY: Sure! “This is what Jehovah has said,… ‘I, Jehovah, am doing everything, stretching out the heavens by myself, laying out the earth. Who was with me?’ ”11.

KAREN: Cindy, if Jehovah created Jesus and Jesus created everything else as the Watchtower teaches, how can Jehovah say that He created “everything” by Himself and that no one was “with Him”?

COMMENTS:
Friends, John 1:3 says of Christ: “All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.”12. Jesus cannot be part of the creation made by Jehovah, for no one was with Him when Jehovah-Jesus created the universe all alone.

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1. What Does God Require of Us?, 1996, p. 6
2. New International Version
3. New World Translation, 1984, p. 1547
4. The Kingdom Interlinear Translation, 1985ed, p. 880
5. New American Standard Bible, The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, compiled and edited by Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1990), p. 1579
6. What Does God Require of Us?, p. 6:1
7. New American Standard Bible, The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, p. 1579E
8. New American Standard Bible, The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, p. 1579; The New Englishman’s Greek Concordance and Lexicon, by Jay P. Green, Sr. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1982),
p. 94
9. What Does God Require of Us?, p. 6:1
10. New American Standard Bible
11. New World Translation
12. New World Translation

 

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