Monday, May 15, 2017

Colossians 1:16 -- Is Jesus Designated the Originator of Creation?

Colossians 1:16
hoti en autw ektisthee ta panta en tois
3754 1722 0846_5 2936 3588 3956 1722 3588
ouranois kai epi tees gees ta horata kai
3772 2532 1909 3588 1093 3588 3707 2532
ta aorata eite thronoi eite kurioteetes eite
3588 0517 1535 2362 1535 2963 1535
archai eite exousiai ta panta di autou
0746 1535 1849 3588 3956 1223 0846_3
kai eis auton ektistai
2532 1519 0846_7 2936
Westcott & Hort Interlinear
As obtained from The Bible Student's Library CD-ROM

Colossians 1:16 - 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: -- King James Version
Colossians 1:16 - For by Him all things were created, {both} in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. -- New American Standard
Colossians 1:16 - because in him were the all things created, those in the heavens, and those upon the earth, those visible, and those invisible, whether thrones, whether lordships, whether principalities, whether authorities; all things through him, and for him, have been created, -- Young's Literal Translation.
Many read into this verse several things that are not there. It is thought by many that this verse shows that Jesus is the originator or source of the creation, and thus that Jesus is God Almighty. On the surface, and with a preconceived philosophy in mind, it would appear to be so. Indeed, if were not for the added philosophy that is often read into and influences the translation of Colossians 1:16, the understanding of the verse could be easily understood, but it is made complicated because of what has been added to and read into the verse (as well as the context), so that one has to untwist the twists that have been laid upon the verse to see the simplicity that is there. (Indeed this is true of all the scriptures that have been twisted to teach the trinity and oneness doctrines.) So let us search deeper than that which is offered to us by human tradition.
If is often argued that the scripture directly attributes creation to Jesus, when it says: "For by him were all things created. On the surface, and with such a thought in mind, as well as how this appears in most translations, it does seem to say that Jesus is the Source of the Creation. However, the scripture does not directly attribute this creation to Jesus, but rather *through* or *in* him. Green's interlinear reads: "in [Greek *en*, Strong's #1722] him were all things created." The Greek word *en* does not always correspond with our English word "in". The Greek word *en* is an intermediary preposition showing location in relationship, and is used to denote many different kinds of locative relationships, thus it is often translated many different ways into English, depending on the translator's understanding of the relationship being spoken of. The King James Version translates the word *en* by about 40 different English words (often combined with another word), among which are: about, afterward, among, at, as, because of, by, for, in, into, on, through, throughout, to, toward, under, was, when, wherewith, with, within, while. The word, however, has the basic meaning of location and instrumentality. Thus Crosswalk's online lexicon says: "a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively), i.e. a relation of rest (intermediate between ([Strong's #]1519) and ([Strong's #]1537))."*
Thayer and Smith. "Greek Lexicon entry for En". "The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon".
Someone has objected that the word "en" (Strong's #1722) also means "with", and therefore the usage of this word only indicates that God the Father was with God the Son as equal partners in creation. This evidently would assume the meaning of "alongside of" as the meaning of the word "with". As far as we have been able to determine, this Greek word is never used in the Bible in the sense of being along side, as "I was with John when he saw the accident."
In English, the word "with" has quite a few variations of meaning, one of them being "a function word to indicate combination, accompaniment, presence, or addition b : inclusive of ."* But does the Hebrew word *en* (Strong's #1722) carry this meaning of "with"? No, as we have stated, we haven't seen any evidence that the Greek word *en* (Strong's #1722) is ever used to mean "alongside of" or "accompaniment". The Greek word "en" is always used in some sense of instrumentality. Thus, the correct meaning of "with" as a translation of the "en" in English would be: "a function word to indicate the means, cause, agent, or instrumentality."* Matthew 3:11; 5:13; 7:2,3; Mark 1:8; Luke 4:32,36 are few examples of this usage.
*Definitions obtained from Meriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, definitions for "with":
The Greek word "en", like the English word "in", often denotes location of an object, as "The book is in my bag," or a location in time, etc. However, the English word "in" can also carry other shades of meaning, one of which is "by means of" as in instrumentality. For instance, "That research paper was written in ink"; "You must put your words in writing", etc. Synomyns in this instance would be "with" or "by means of". Likewise the Greek word *en* can be used in the sense of "with" as meaning "by means of". (Matthew 3:11; 5:13; 7:2,3; Mark 1:8; Luke 4:32,36 are few examples*.)
The King James translators chose the word "by" in Colossians 2:16: "By him", possibly because of the usage of the word *di* later on in the verse. Again, the word "by" is often used to translate the word "en" in the sense of "by means of", or "by the manner of" (Matthew 22:20,21,22; Mark 4:2; 5:21; 8:3; 9:29; 11:28,29,33; 12:1,36; 14:1; Luke 1:77; 2:27; 4:1), but, as far as we have been able to determine, the word is not used in the sense of "alongside of", as in: "I was sitting *by* the tree." However, it is translated by the word "on" in the KJV: "a young man sitting on the right side." (Mark 16:5) However, this simply denotes location, not that the word *en* itself means "alongside of". The word *en* is also translated "through" in Matthew 3:35.
*The King James Version also translated the word *en* with the word *with* in the sense of possession, another usage of relationship: Matthew 1:18,23; Mark 9:1.
The apostle Paul is not saying that the things created were created in --located inside of, close to, or around -- Jesus, but rather that, the one spoken of earlier, "God, the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ", created all these things by means [instrumentality] of Jesus.
In Colossians 1:16, therefore, we believe the usage is similar to the expression "in you" in Romans 9:17: For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth." -- NASV Green's Interlinear: "For this very thing I raised up you, so as I may show forth in you the power of me." Also in Galatians 3:8: The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "All nations will be blessed in you." Green's Interlinear: "that will be blessed in you all the nations."
Another example in the KJV is Luke 4:14: "And Jesus returned in [en] the power of the Spirit." Here the word in is used in the sense of "by means of". This can be seen by Luke 4:1, where the KJV renders *en* by the word "by": "And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by [en] the Spirit into the wilderness."
Also in the KJV is Luke 8:10: "And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in [en] parables." Here *in* is used in the KVJ to denote "by means of". Let us compare this with Matthew 22:1; Mark 4:2; and Mark 12:1, where the KJV renders *en* as "by". "Jesus answered and spake unto them again by [en] parables." "He taught them many things by [en] parables." "He began to speak unto them by [en] parables."
See also the usage of this word in Mark 9:34; Luke 11:15,18; John 20:31; Acts 4:2; Romans 1:24; 6:11; 15:13,19; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 2:7,22; Titus 1:3; 1 Peter 1:2,6; 2:20. /grk.cgi?number=1722
More instances could be cited, but this makes the point. And the point is that the Greek word is used in this way as meaning "by means of" or "through". If the creation is done "by means of" Jesus, who is the One who would be creating "by means" of him? The context indicates that it is God the Father of Jesus. -- Colossians 1:3,12,15.
Thus it was "God, who created all things through [Greek, dia] Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 3:9, World English Bible, as based on the Textus Receptus*) This God is the One introduced as "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 1:3; See also 1 Corinthians 8:6, where we read that all things are of God, through Jesus.) It is this God who is the same "only true God" who sent Jesus. (John 17:1,3) This is the same God of which Moses said: "Jehovah your God will raise up to you a prophet from the midst of you, of your brothers, like me; to him you shall listen." (Deuteronomy 18:15) Then Moses states: "Jehovah said to me, They have well said that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a prophet from among their brothers, like you; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I shall command him. It shall happen, that whoever will not listen to my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. Thus God creates these things by means of his firstborn Son, Jesus." (Deuteronomy 18:17-19) Thus the One whom Jesus calls his God and Father, and the one whom Paul refers to as the God and Father of Jesus, is none other than the God of Moses, of Abraham, of Isaac, that is, Jehovah, the one in whose name Jesus came and for whom he spoke. -- Matthew 23:39; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 13:35; John 3:2,17; 5:19,43; 6:57; 7:16,28; 8:26,28,38; 10:25; 12:49,50; 14:10; 15:15; 17:8,26; Acts 3:22,26; Hebrews 1:1,2; Revelation 1:1.
*Earlier manuscripts do not mention Jesus at all here. Thus the NAS reads: "and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things."
In the latter part of the verse (Colossians 1:16) Paul tells that all these things have been created through [Greek, di, Strong's Greek #1223*, basically means "through"] Jesus and for [Greek, *eis*, Strong's #1519] him. The usage of the Greek word *di* here further confirms that the word *en* is being used as a synonym for *di*. It is Jehovah who is the Creator and it is Jesus who is used by Jehovah as the executor of the commands of Jehovah in creation. Jesus acknowledges his God as the Creator in Mark 13:19.
Some have noted that one of the meanings of the Greek word di is "on account of", thus they render the latter part of the verse as "all things were created on account of him, and for him."
In view of the context, this is probably not the idea that the apostle Paul had in mind. Regardless, Jehovah alone is the Orignator of Creation -- since he is the One who is the designer; yet as the Most High he creates all these things through (or on account of) Jesus and for Jesus. -- Genesis 1:1; 2:4.
Now let us discuss what exactly Paul said was created by means of Jesus: "For by him were all things [Greek, panta] created, in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers."
The phrase "all things" is translated from Greek "ta panta", literally meaning "the all". As we have discussed before, all inflections of pas (Strong's #3956) look to the context as well as common understanding for evident inclusion or exclusion. It rarely, if ever, actually means absolutely and totally everything in the universe, and often qualifiers should be added in English so that this can be seen. Let us look at a few scriptures to demonstrate what this principle of evident inclusion and exclusion.
"There went out to him all the country of Judea, and all those [Strong's 3956] of Jerusalem. They were baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins." (Mark 1:5) Does this mean that absolutely every person who lived in the country of Judea and in Jerusalem came to John and was baptized by him? Absolutely not.

Mark 1:5

kai exeporeueto pros auton pasa hee ioudaia
2532 1607 4314 0846_7 3956 3588 2449
chwra kai hoi ierosolumeitai pantes kai
5561 2532 3588 2415 3956 2532
ebaptizonto hup autou en tw iordanee potamw
0907 5259 0846_3 1722 3588 2446 4215
exomologoumenoi tas hamartias autwn
1843 3588 0266 0846_92
Westcott & Hort Interlinear, as obtained from the Bible Students Library DVD.
To make greater sense in English, this would be better rendered: "And there went to him those of all the land of Judea, and Jerusalemites. All these were baptized by him in the Jordan River, openly confessing their sins." In this the Good News Translation, although it is paraphrased, captures the sense by expressing it: "Many people from the province of Judea and the city of Jerusalem went out to hear John. They confessed their sins, and he baptized them in the Jordan River."
"And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables." Here in the KJV, the phrase "ta panta" is shown as "all these things". (Mark 4:11) This is a good example of how qualifiers will help the reader understand the usage of the word "all". Not only did the KJV translators add the word "things", but they also added the word "these".
"With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all [Strong's 3956] things which are done here." (Colossians 4:9) Here it is evident from the context that "all" is limited the things "which are done here." The word "things" in English is added by the KJV translators.
And then we have the example of the usuage of ta panta in Hebrews 2:8, where Paul quotes Psalm 8 regarding mankind: "'You have put all things in subjection under his feet.' For in that he subjected all things to him [man], he left nothing that is not subject to him [man]. But now we don't see all things subjected to him, yet." What are the "all things" -- ta panta: the all -- that was subjected to mankind? Psalm 8:7 answers: "All sheep and oxen, Yes, and the animals of the field, The birds of the sky, the fish of the sea, And whatever passes through the paths of the seas." (See Genesis 1:26,28) It is evident that pas is subject to inclusion or exclusion according the context.
Even in Colossians 1:20 we read that through Jesus, God is reconciling "all things" [ta panta] to himself, "whether things on earth or things in heaven." Does this mean that absolutely everything in the universe is out of harmony with God, and thus through Jesus absolutely everything in the universe needs to be reconciled to God? Does this mean that the obedient angels need to be reconciled with God? Does this mean that Satan himself will be reconciled with God? The things that come to peace with God directly through the blood of Jesus is man, first of all the seed of Abraham, and then those take of the waters of life in the millennium. (Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22) However, Jesus and his joint-heirs especially, will not only rule over mankind, but also over the angels -- over all dominions, so that eventually all who are out of harmony with God must either repent and come into harmony with God, or else be eternally destroyed. The end result is that all creation then remaining both in heaven and earth that had been out of harmony with God will be reconciled to God, but the point is that the term "all things" does not totally refer to absolutely everything in the universe, since not all things in the universe are out of harmony with God so that they would need to be reconciled.


See also:

Therefore, The word *panta* (as well as all the variations of the Greek *pas* -- Strong's Greek #3956) is used in connection with what is spoken of, thus all the things of which we are speaking. It does not necessarily mean absolutely everything that exists, else God himself would have to be included.

In Colossians 1:15 it is plainly written that Jesus is the first to receive life from Jehovah, thus his life -- his being -- was created before the "all" that is being referred to here, and thus would not be included in "all" of verse 16. An example of such an exception is given in 1 Corinthians 15:27.



Did Jesus Have a Beginning?

Jehovah *through* Jesus created all things (spoken of in context); thus it is said that in him all [the] things were created -- the things being spoken of, which of, course, would not include Jesus himself as he was given life as the firstborn earlier than "the all created" being spoken of. Thus it would be understood that the reference is speaking of all the other things being spoken of. As noted before, in many places qualifiers are added by translators which endeavor to identify what the Greek word Pas is referring to. (See the KJV in Matthew 1:10; 12:31; 26:31,70; Mark 1:37; 7:14; 13:13; Luke 11:43; John 1:7; 2:24; 3:26; 5:23; 11:48; 12:32; 13:35; 15:2; Acts 1:24; 4:21; 21:28; many more could be cited)
In Matthew 13:32, we read frm the New American Standard Version: "this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES." Here the word *pantwn*, an inflection of pas, has the word "other" added as a qualifier.
Likewise in Luke 13:2:
And Jesus said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other [pantas, another inflection of "pas"] Galileans because they suffered this fate?"
The New King James does similarly in Luke 13:2,4. See also Luke 13:2 in the New Revised Standard, Good News and Luke 13:4 in the The Third Millennium Bible translation.
The Good News translation adds the word "other" also in Revelation 6:15.
Other translations also at times add the word "other" in translating various forms of the word *pas* at various places in order to qualify what is being said. Thus some have suggested putting the word "other" as a qualifier of the Greek word panta so that is would read "by means of him all other things were created." Although many have sought to contest this use of a qualifier here, in view of the context, such a qualifier would indeed be appropriate, since it is obvious from the context that the firstborn creature was created before the "all" being spoken of.
We received one objection that if God created everything through Jesus, then this proves that Jesus is Jehovah. As yet we have not seen an explanation as to how this is supposed to prove that Jesus is Jehovah. Nevertheless, Jehovah did many things "through" various ones:

  • Jehovah had spoken through Moses. -- Exodus 9:35
  • Jehovah commanded by Moses. -- Leviticus 8:36;
  • You are to teach the children of Israel all the statutes which Jehovah has spoken to them by Moses. -- Leviticus 10:11;
  • according to the commandment of Jehovah by Moses. -- Numbers 4:37,45;
  • the commandment of Jehovah by Moses. -- Numbers 9:23; Joshua 22:9;
  • Jehovah has commanded you by Moses. -- Numbers 15:23;
  • Jehovah spoke to him by Moses. -- Numbers 16:40;
  • Jehovah spoke by Moses. -- Numbers 27:23;
  • Jehovah commanded by Moses to the children of Israel. -- Numbers 36:13;
  • Jehovah commanded by Moses. -- Joshua 14:2; 21:8;
  • the commandments of Jehovah, which he commanded their fathers by Moses. -- Judges 3:4.
According to the reasoning that if Jehovah does something through another, that this means that the second person must be Jehovah, then Moses must be Jehovah, since Jehovah spoke through Moses.
Someone objects that the above presents a totally different situation, that the creating through Jesus and putting words in Moses' head to speak are not the same thing. It is further claimed that Moses did not say anything for himself, leaving the insinuation that Jesus did. They are different situations, that is true, but an analogy is the likening of different situations. If by God's speaking concerning the creation (Genesis 1:6,9,11,14,20,24) means that God spoke through the Logos in creation as shown in other scriptures (John 1:1,3;  Colossians 1:15), then the analogy does hold.
However, we have both Jehovah's and Jesus' words as well as those of Paul that Jehovah spoke through Jesus, in words similar to those that are written concerning Jehovah's speaking through Moses. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; John 5:30; 12:49,50; 14:20; Hebrews 1:2; Revelation 1:1) Thus if by Jehovah's speaking through Jesus is meant that Jesus is Jehovah, the only logical conclusion would be to conclude that Moses is also Jehovah, since Moses spoke through him, even calling him Elohim. (Exodus 7:1) Additionally, we note that Jesus himself said: "I do nothing of myself, but as my Father taught me, I say these things. ." (John 8:28) Thus, if Moses did not say anything for himself, it also true of Jesus. Regardless, there is nothing in the thought that since Jehovah created through, or by means of, his Son, Jesus, that this means the Jesus is his God Jehovah.
Some have objected that Revelation 4:11 states that all things were created for God's pleasure, and thus by combining this with what Paul said, that all things were created through Jesus and for him, they claim that this proves that Jesus is Jehovah. Actually in creating all these things through and for Jesus, it is still also for God's pleasure that he does so. There is no reason to assume that this would make Jesus the same being as Jehovah except to satisfy the extra-Biblical added philosophy of the trinity or some other doctrine that teaches that Jesus is Jehovah. Some have gone so far as to say that it is Jesus who is being spoken of in Revelation 4:11, but we note that the One seated on the throne, Jehovah, is not Jesus, for Jesus is spoken of separately in Revelation 5:6-8 as the Lamb who had been slaughtered and who took the scroll from the One seated on the throne. This is in harmony with Revelation 1:1, which shows that Jesus receives the revelation from his God and transmits it to John by means of the angel.
Thus there is nothing in Colossians 1:16 that proves that Jesus is Jehovah, as many assume. As far as the trinity is concerned, one has to add its philosophy and then view the scripture through its philosophy in order to "see" three persons in one God anywhere in Colossians 1, for such a thought is no where given there, or anywhere else in the Bible.
See also our study on: Beginnings
Can Creation Be Through God?
One could say that creation is “through” God, but not as a agent of another person, since He is the Creator. Regarding Jesus, however, it is used in the sense of an agent.
The Greek word rendered “through” or “by” in Colossians 1:16 is usually transliterated as “di”, a form of “dia”. In Colossians 1:16 it is used in the sense of agent, with the unipersonal God of Colossians 1:15 as the One who did the creating through the agent, the one designated as the possessing “image of God”. The word “God” in that phrase speaks of only one person, that is, the God and Father of Jesus.
Most trinitarian scholars recognize this usage of “dia” in Colossians 1:16, even though they still considered the agent of God to be a person of God. Robertson, for instance states concernning the usage “di’ in Colossians 1:16:

Through him (di autou). As the intermediate and sustaining agent. He had already used en autwi (in him) as the sphere of activity. And unto him (kai ei auton). This is the only remaining step to take and Paul takes it ( 1 Corinthians 15:28 ) See Ephesians 1:10 for similar use of en autwi of Christ and in Colossians 1:19 ; Colossians 20 again we have en autwi, di autou, ei auton used of Christ. See Hebrews 2:10 for di on (because of whom) and di ou (by means of whom) applied to God concerning the universe (ta panta). In Romans 11:35 we find ex autou kai di autou kai ei auton ta panta referring to God. But Paul does not use ex in this connection of Christ, but only en, dia, and ei. See the same distinction preserved in 1 Corinthians 8:6 (ex of God, dia, of Christ).

Thus, if a genitive form of dia should be used of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as related to creation, it would be in the sense of the originator through whom creation came into being, not the agent of another in creation. In Romans 11:35, the all being referred to, however, appears to “the all” spoken of in context, not necessarily of original creation. In Hebrews 2:10, forms of dia are used twice, both times of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who, in this age, has spoken to us through [DIA] his Son, Jesus. (Hebrews 1:1,2) The second form is genitive, designating the God of Jesus as the means by which ta panta exists.

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