Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Firstborn Over All Creation

So I had some Jehovah's Witnesses visit me again this month. We had a great conversation and exchanged books. They gave me the latest watchtower revision of Jesus and I gave them a book by John Piper. It was a pretty unfair deal, but that's what makes it so good.

Just a little background first; i've been receiving the JW's for months now whenever they happen to stop on by. Usually it's a few women who are always very cordial, patient, and smiling. They always have a different on ramp into a discussion about Jesus, whom I'm happy to discuss.

This time it was, "Many people are wondering about who Jesus was this time of year. Who do you think he is?" So I launched into a short description of Jesus as the Divine, only-and-eternally begotten Son, who became and remains to be human. I gave a short explanation that the atonement or "propitiation" can't happen if Jesus is not divine, because only God could actually swallow hell for another soul.

Well, they weren't buying it, so they gave me a proof text for Jesus "created" status by quoting Colossians 1:15 which reads, "He is the image of the invisible God, firstborn over all creation." A strange pick indeed. The argument goes like this, firstborn means Jesus was born at a point in time and since He is the firstborn over all creation, he too was created. I know Athenasius has already been over this (see On the Incarnation), but let me just take a crack at it.

The word "firstborn" usually refers to the actual male who is the first to be brought into the world through his mother. These are obviously all created beings. Additionally, it may be said the Jesus' body was created and physically, though supernaturally, born. As Galatians 4:4 says, "When the fulness of time had come, God sent out His Son, born to a woman, born under the law." However, firstborn is also a title of status connoting preeminence. And if I might point out the obvious- whatever "firstborn" means in this context, it also means that Jesus is "the image of the invisible God (v.15)", that all things were created by Him and for Him (v.16), he's also the "firstborn from among the dead" (does that mean he was the first to die or even resurrect? No), and the fullness of God dwelled in Him (v.19).

Whatever you want to say about the truth of Jesus' "firstborn" nature, you can't say that He wasn't the unique, one-and-only just as divine as God the Father- Son. You can't say that he's like any created thing, because all things whether in heaven or on earth were created by Him and for Him. And you can't ever put him in a line up with any other human being or angel and say He's just a little bit higher and more special. Jesus is infinitely higher. He is the Son of the Most High God, who IS THE MOST HIGH GOD in the flesh. He is the Eternally Son. The context of Colossians 1 alone eliminates any category of created things to put Jesus in. He's outside of the "created" box. And so outside of it- he's actually THE CREATOR. Oddly enough this tends to jive with John 1 and the rest of scripture. And that's all I've got today. I love that Jesus is God and Man, my only hope in life and in death.

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