I recently had a Jehovah’s Witness try to “witness” to me. When I told him that I could not be a Jehovah’s Witness because this false religion refused to acknowledge Christ in His rightful deity, he immediately cited Colossians 1:15.
It starts off sounding a little promising for heretics who try to argue that Jesus was merely a created being, rather than the Son of God as the Scriptures, the early Church, the Church Fathers and the Seven Historic Universal Councils of the Church all state to the contrary.
Colossians 1:15 says:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Let’s not ignore the little phrase, “He is the image of the invisible God,” which of course means that Jesus too is likewise “the invisible God.” If you look in the mirror, is that image of you or is it somehow of a lesser being? Or an even more literal analogy in terms of what the Greek word “image” means, if you were perfectly cloned, would your identical twin having your identical DNA be human, or would it somehow be less than human? Hebrews 1:3 allows us to understand this term “image” better: “Christ is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature.” But probably most informative of all is the exchange between Philip and Jesus in the Gospel of John. In John 14:8, Philip says, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” And how does Jesus respond? He says, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.”
Whoever has seen Jesus has seen the Father. How could that in any way be true if Jesus is not Himself God? What does the Father look like? Aside from the fact that Christ added to His divine nature a human nature so that He could live a perfect life on earth for us and then die in our place, The Father looks exactly like Jesus. In His character, in His goodness, in His glory, the Father looks just like Jesus. When the Father looks in the mirror in this sense, He sees His Son. And when the Son looks in a mirror, He sees His Father.
But if you simply ignore that first problematic phrase, as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons invariably do in their rush to get to Christ as “firstborn of all creation,” that means Christ must have been a created being, rather than God, right?
Wrong. Let’s read that passage in its full context. Let’s read the whole paragraph and trace the argument that St. Paul is making in this passage:
He is the image of jthe invisible God, kthe firstborn of all creation. 16 For by6 him all things were created, lin heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether mthrones or ndominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created othrough him and for him. 17 And phe is before all things, and in him all things qhold together. 18 And rhe is the head of the body, the church. He is sthe beginning, tthe firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For uin him all the vfullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and wthrough him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, xmaking peace yby the blood of his cross.
I left the links – awkward as they make the passage appear – for good reason: they provide the scriptural context in which each phrase is used. As you click on each link, what you find is, wow, each verse that St. Paul alludes to is a direct reference to GOD. That is not an accident.
Let me simply say it right at the outset: I can EXPLAIN the “firstborn of all creation” phrase completely logically and rationally in terms of Trinitarian orthodoxy. However, there is no possible way that Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons or any other pseudo-Christian heretics can explain the rest of the paragraph and make any kind of logical sense.
I argue as ALL true Christians have argued since Thomas first said, “My Lord and my God!” after Jesus revealed that He had just bodily risen from the dead proving all of His claims to be the divine Messiah in complete fulfillment of the Old Testament.
So what does “firstborn of all creation” mean?
Well, part of the answer is revealed as Paul develops his argument in the very next verse. “For by Him [Jesus Christ] all things were created.” If Jesus created all things, as Paul categorically states in the very next verse that Jehovah’s Witnesses love to cite as their proof text, then it most certainly means that Jesus was NOT CREATED.
If “all things were created” by Jesus Christ, then how could Jesus Christ have been created??? You have two categories: God and creation. And since Jesus created all things, Paul is clearly stating that Jesus is God rather than a created thing. That is simple logic. There is no escaping that logic.
Even on the Jehovah’s Witnesses incredibly flawed and demonic theology of Christ, Jesus Christ existed prior to when He appeared in Mary’s womb and was “born.”
I cite what they argue:
He was created whenever Jehovah the Almighty God began to create, he was the first to be created, he’s OF CREATION. Jehovah is not OF CREATION, because Jehovah was NOT created and did not have a BEGINNING.
Notice again that this false understanding of Christ is utterly refuted in Colossians 1:16, that “by him [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” If by Christ all things were created – and Paul then produces an exhaustive list of all the things that Christ created – and then we are told that “all things were created through him and for him,” then why are we not to believe that Christ is “of creation” rather than “NOT of creation”???? How is it that Jesus is “before all things”??? How is it that in Jesus “ all things hold together”???
Jesus is literally the force that prevents every single atom from flying apart, according to this passage. Christ is literally the power holding the universe together. That sounds like a job for God to me.
But let me get back to the point I was beginning to make, namely, if Jesus existed prior to when He was “born” – as Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves do - then there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to take “firstborn” in the sense that they demand it be taken in. Because Jesus PRE-EXISTED His birth even on their own account!!!
The Person of Christ did not begin to exist in Mary’s womb; He pre-existed His birth by at least thousands of years. Which means that “firstborn” means something very different from what they want it to mean as heretics who deny the deity of Christ.
So we literally all agree that “firstborn” is NOT to be intended in the literal sense. Because Jesus was only literally, physically “born” one time – out of Mary’s womb – and even Jehovah’s Witnesses acknowledge that that birth is very clearly not what is being described. Which means that “firstborn” is clearly intended to be a figurative statement in St. Paul’s argument.
What we are talking about here is a term used to describe supremacy or priority of rank – and very clearly NOT a statement or description of when or even IF Jesus was ever “born.” Rather, Paul begins by basically stating in His “firstborn of all creation” metaphor that Jesus is supreme over creation, and then proceeds to describe Christ as Creator of and over all creation.
P.T. O’Brien in The Dictionary of Paul and His Letters has a fascinating and conclusive article on this subject of “firstborn.” I shall summarize his findings in a few paragraphs.
The term “firstborn” is used in the plural in the New Testament twice:
By faith he [Moses] left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. — Hebrews 11:28
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. — Hebrews 12:23
Note first of all that “firstborn” in the plural sense in the only two occasions the term is used in the plural sense is used to apply NOT TO BIRTH OR TO CREATION, but to BELIEVERS. And then note that Christ is then mentioned separate and distinct from “the firstborn” in Hebrews 12:24.
That stated, the term “firstborn” is used three times in the New Testament – and in each use it applies to Christ who is:
1. Firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15)
2. Firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18)
3. Firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:29)
Now, again, think of this term “firstborn” in terms of supremacy or priority of rank and it very easily fits: who is Jesus? He is supreme over all creation by virtue of the fact that HE IS THE CREATOR. He is supreme over the dead by virtue of the fact that HE OVERCAME DEATH by the power of His Resurrection from the dead. And He is supreme among the many who would believe in Him by virtue of the fact that HE IS THEIR LORD AND SAVIOR. And everything that these Christian brothers and sisters will share in they will share with Jesus Christ and BECAUSE of Jesus Christ.
You see how easy it is to sensibly understand the term “firstborn” in terms of Trinitarian orthodoxy? You know, the theology that dominated the early Church, and which was repeatedly and conclusively stated in every single one of the first SEVEN universal councils of the Christian Church as they expressed their understanding of Christ and the one true Faith delivered once and for all to the saints that is in Him???
“Christ is firstborn of all creation” expresses Christ’s relationship to creation. Because, as Paul IMMEDIATELY proceeds to argue in his very next words, “all things” were created by the very Christ who is “firstborn of all creation.”
Again, I demand that Jehovah’s Witnesses answer their OWN problem with the passage that they often cite: just how can Christ “create all things” and yet Himself have been created??? He would – unless He is truly God and truly pre-existent as God is truly pre-existent – have had to have created Himself. Which is philosophically and metaphysically utterly absurd.
So what does a good Jehovah’s Witness have to do? He has to throw down the Bible and start adding stuff. He has to start adding words that are very definitely NOT in the Bible and therefore change and pervert both the Word of God and the argument from St. Paul that they themselves love to cite. They have to say that “Christ created all other things after He was Himself created.
But that is very definitely NOT what the Bible teaches. Which is to say that it is IMPOSSIBLE for Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons to understand the “firstborn of all creation” passage without perverting it to fit their deeply flawed theology.
Rather, the Bible, the Word of God, declares that Jesus Christ created ALL things. And St. Paul goes on to categorically state how exhaustive that is: Jesus Christ created everything in heaven. Jesus Christ created everything on earth. Jesus Christ created everything that is visible. Jesus Christ created everything that is invisible. And whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, it was Jesus Christ who created them all.
Also read John 1:1-3 to see the same line of argument:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Note again: ALL things were created through Jesus, the Word. And in fact nothing was created that ever WAS created. Which is to say that John 1:1 plays on Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Only now we learn that it was God the Second Person, a.k.a. Christ, who was the Creator.
There’s a poem that says, “He came to die on a cross of wood, yet made the hill on which it stood” that beautifully and simply sums up that incredibly powerful truth. Christ created man in His own image so that one day He could assume that image – and thus sacrificially offer Himself for the sins of a lost world that would have perished without Him. That is the beauty of Christ that Jehovah’s Witnesses want to pervert.
What do Jehovah’s Witnesses do here to pervert the Gospel of John literally from the very first verse? They decide that “God” is an anarthrous noun, which means that there is no article preceding the noun. And so they declare “the Word” – Jesus Christ – to be “a god” rather than “God.” But their rule here is so idiotic that they break it themselves even before they can get to it in the first verse of John’s Gospel. Because, you see, “beginning” is also anarthrous, meaning there is no article there, either. And so if their “rule” had any merit, they would have translated the verse, “In A beginning…” And of course that is merely one of the numerous times they break the rule they created in order to pervert Jesus from God to merely “a god.” Because you have this exact same situation 282 times, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses “translators” only follow their own “rule” on sixteen occasions – just SIX PERCENT of the time.
Consider that if the Jehovah’s Witnesses consistently followed their own rule just in the opening verses of the Book of John:
- “beginning” in verses 1 and 2 would have been translated “a beginning.”
- “life” in verse 4 would have been translated as “a life.”
- “from God” in verse 6 would have been translated as “from a god.”
- “John” in verse 6 would have been translated as “a John.”
“God” in verse 18 would have been translated as “a God.”
And yet the Jehovah’s Witnesses break their own “rule” in every single one of these instances. The “rule” was created for one ideological purpose only: to blaspheme Jesus Christ and deny Him His rightful deity. Which is why no baptized in good standing Jehovah’s Witness has ever been shown to have been granted a post-graduate degree in biblical Greek. EVER.
The beauty of these three opening verses in the Book of John is enhanced by a theological understanding of what John succeeded in accomplishing. In declaring that “The Word was with God, and the Word was God,” John’s use of the anarthrous “God” is exactly correct; because had he written “the Word was [the] God,” he would have been fomenting the heresy of Sabelianism or modalism- which held that Jesus WAS a “mode” of God, or that “God” was one Person wearing three hats: the hat of the Father, the hat of the Son and the hat of the Holy Spirit. Which is to say that John HAD to translate “the Word was with God, and the Word was God” exactly as he did.
There is absolutely no escaping the logic of the passages that Jehovah’s Witnesses love to cite so they can fundamentally pervert and misrepresent them.
I think of the warning that St. John provides in the Book of Revelation:
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. – Revelation 22:18-19
Jehovah’s Witnesses are routinely forced to “add to the words” over and over again as they deny the reality of the deity of Jesus Christ as Lord, Savior and God. And they are routinely forced to take away from the Book as they repeatedly take away clear ascriptions affirming the deity of Jesus Christ. And they will one day burn in hell for their sin, just as John warned them.
You might want to view Jehovah’s Witnesses as well-meaning people, good people, decent people. But they go door-to-door trying to lead lost soul after lost soul to the very same hell that they themselves will surely burn in. Which makes them terrible agents of demonic wickedness.
Let me ask a question: who purchased the Church with His own Blood? Acts 20:28 tells you if you didn’t know:
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
Who purchased the church of God? God did. That shouldn’t be all that hard to figure out.
Christ is one Person with two natures: one human, one divine. He had to be human, and fully human in absolutely every way that it is essential to be human, in order to represent the human race. He had to be God because as the Scriptures conclusively state:
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. — Isaiah 64:6
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. — Psalm 51:5
No one is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. — Romans 3:10
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God — Romans 3:23
For the wages of sin is death — Romans 6:23
First of all, Christ had to be completely and fully divine, God in every meaningful way, because all humanity was trapped in sin and sinful man could not save sinful man.
Could Jesus have been an angel? Not according to the Bible, He couldn’t.
Consider the crystal clear argument of Hebrews chapter one that clearly reveals that Jesus was NOT an angel:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son, today I have begotten you”?
“I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”?
6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.”
7 Of the angels he says,
“He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.”
8 But of the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”
“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed.[a] But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”
13 And to which of the angels has he ever said,
“Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?
14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
Based on this passage, what heretic, what FOOL would dare to claim that the Bible teaches that Jesus is merely an angel?
Let me also ask the question, where in Scripture does God give man over to any angel? Where is it that God tells the angels that they – and not God – are Savior to mankind??? Where does the Word of God tell us that the blood of an angel delivers sinful man from his sin? Where does it teach us that any angel has the power to save us from the wrath of God and from hell? Nowhere, that’s where.
What in fact does God say? This:
“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. — Isaiah 43:10-11
And just to add insult to injury, who is declared to BE that “Savior” in the New Testament?
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. — Luke 2:11
If Jesus is NOT “God,” and every bit God, then Jehovah is refuted. Because in Isaiah He boasts that there is no other Savior when in fact He was wrong and Jesus would ALSO be Savior. ONLY if Jesus is God, as orthodox Trinitarian theology upholds, and is literally the fulfillment of this passage, is that not the case.
Well, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons claim that the Father is God (in the case of J.W.s, “Jehovah”) and that Jesus is “a god.” Could that be (apart from the fact that that has already been refuted above?). No. What does God’s Word say?
Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. — Isaiah 45:21
But I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.
There is no other God besides the Triune Lord God. And God’s Word assures us that Jesus is either a member of the Trinity or that He is neither “god” NOR “savior.” And yet God’s Word assures us that He is in fact both God AND Savior.
… waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ — Titus 2:13
Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ — 2 Peter 1:1
In the Person of Christ, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, God purchased the Church with His own blood. God assumed a human nature so that He could experience death through that human nature. But being God, He couldn’t remain dead. And so our God and Savior Jesus Christ saved us.
Let’s keep in mind that both Mormons (who assert Jesus is the “spirit-brother” of Lucifer) and Jehovah’s Witnesses (who assert that Jesus is Michael the archangel) believe that Jesus is a merely an angel. And with that in mind, read Galatians 1:6-8:
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”
It’s interesting that Paul refers to people who are turning others to “a different gospel” and who “distort the gospel of Christ.” And then Paul says, “Even if an angel from heaven should preach such a gospel to you, let him be accursed.”
I ask you, “What if JESUS preached a different gospel?” Because since Jesus is merely an angel according to both Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness theology, that has to be an obvious logical possibility on their view. Notice Paul clearly does not say, “an angel from heaven other than Christ.” Paul doesn’t do that because there is simply no question that JESUS IS NOT AN ANGEL as Hebrews chapter one (quoted above) clearly states.
Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are accursed according to the Word of God. They are deceived and they seek to deceive as many others as they possibly can.
The Jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormonism is a lie. And it is a lie that has no power to save. Because only GOD has the power to save. And Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons explicitly deny that Jesus has such power.
Furthermore, if Jesus is NOT God, Scripture tells us that He is also not Savior. And those who do not believe in Jesus Christ as God and Savior are still in their sins.
Please don’t allow these agents of Satan – no matter how polite they are when they come to your door – to lie to you about the true nature of the only Savior of the world. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons are false, blasphemous cults whom St. Paul described by saying ”they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach” and “ a different kind of gospel” from the Gospel which saves – the Gospel of the True Jesus Christ, the divine King of kings and the divine Lord of lords.
The doctrine of the Trinity is NOT a “problem.” It is merely the solution to the clear data provided by Scripture which reveals that while God is ontologically one in being, that there are three distinct divine Persons who are all very clearly called “God”: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father, Son and Spirit are not “three gods” because they co-inhabit ONE and THE SAME divine nature or essence. No human being this side of eternity can fully understand that, because God is ontologically superior to us in every imaginable way. But suffice it to say that “fellowship” is at the heart of God because it is literally part of the essence of being God: the Father, the Son and the Spirit are and always have been in a state of ultimate and eternal fellowship with one another within the divine nature.