Jehovah`s Witness/More Clarification Please

Advertisement


Question
Hi Brent


(Colossians 1:15)

New International Version (©2011)
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

New Living Translation (©2007)
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,

English Standard Version (©2001)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

International Standard Version (©2012)
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
--------------------

It says that JESUS was the FIRSTBORN over all creation
The implication was not that JESUS was the FIRST of the creation, or the first creature God made.  For all things in Colossians 1:16 are said to be created by him(Jesus), and therefore he himself can never be a creature ; nor is he the first in the new creation, for the apostle in the context is speaking of the old creation, and not the new: but the sense either is, that he was begotten of the Father in a manner inconceivable and inexpressible by men, before any creatures were in being; or that he is the "first Parent", or bringer forth of every creature into being, --- Gill's Exposition
--------------------

The image (εἰκών)

See on Revelation 13:14. For the Logos (Word) underlying the passage, see on John 1:1. Image is more than likeness which may be superficial and incidental. It implies a prototype, and embodies the essential verity of its prototype. Compare in the form of God, Philippians 2:6 (note), and the effulgence of the Father's glory, Hebrews 1:3. Also 1 John 1:1.

Of the invisible God (τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου)

Literally: of the God, the invisible. Thus is brought out the idea of manifestation which lies in image . See on Revelation 13:14.

The first born of every creature (πρωτότοκος πασῆς κτίσεως)

Rev., the first-born of all creation. For first-born, see on Revelation 1:5; for creation, see on 2 Corinthians 5:17. As image points to revelation, so first-born points to eternal preexistence. Even the Rev. is a little ambiguous, for we must carefully avoid any suggestion that Christ was the first of created things, which is contradicted by the following words: in Him were all things created. The true sense is, born before the creation. Compare before all things, Colossians 1:17. This fact of priority implies sovereignty. He is exalted above all thrones, etc., and all things are unto (εἰς) Him, as they are elsewhere declared to be unto God. Compare Psalm 89:27; Hebrews 1:2. --- Vincent's Word Studies
--------------------


The first-born of every creature - I suppose this phrase to mean the same as that, Philippians 2:9 : God hath given him a name which is above every name; he is as man at the head of all the creation of God; nor can he with any propriety be considered as a creature, having himself created all things, and existed before any thing was made. If it be said that God created him first, and that he, by a delegated power from God, created all things, this is most flatly contradicted by the apostle's reasoning in the 16th and 17th verses. As the Jews term Jehovah בכורו של עולם becoro shel olam, the first-born of all the world, or of all the creation, to signify his having created or produced all things; (see Wolfius in loc.) so Christ is here termed, and the words which follow in the 16th and 17th verses are the proof of this. The phraseology is Jewish; and as they apply it to the supreme Being merely to denote his eternal pre-existence, and to point him out as the cause of all things; it is most evident that St. Paul uses it in the same way, and illustrates his meaning in the following words, which would be absolutely absurd if we could suppose that by the former he intended to convey any idea of the inferiority of Jesus Christ.--- Clarke's Commentary On The Bible
--------------------

Can you please explain your side? (Again??)



Thank you in adv

Answer
Hello Dave,

First, am I correct in assuming you are the person that has in the past signed his name as. ^_^ .  I am writing that as if that is the case, If not I apologise . I refer to previous correspondences, so If you are not  ^_^  please ask me to explain some things that I miss out here.

Second, I apologise for the delay, I have had several other answers to attend to, and I thought I would try something different by being brief. Nothing I wrote seemed to make sense to me without greater explanation. So I have been working on this for parts of 3 days.

Nice to see you doing research. I see you down loaded that program I suggested. It is beneficial  to look at the commentaries of other people, The WTS often  quote from other commentaries in their publications.  We can learn a lot from the experience of other people. What is more important is looking at the use of the words in a text, and the way they were used by other Bible writers as well as the meanings that are associated with a particular word.  Some of the commentaries you site fail to look at word meanings, or they give their view of what a word might mean. It is important to remember the context of the whole Bible.  I understand, from the writings of those commentators, that they use the wording as it appears in their English translation. I  tend to look deeper than the English wordings.  I  pick on the wordings of all Bible translations and that includes the NWT.  I can  see where the NWT could be improved to come closer to the original thoughts of the writers.

I do not know if it is a good thing or a bad thing, but part of my personality (evidently a common trait of being aspergers)  is I have to pull every thing apart   and examine it. I do not take things a face value. So, I do tend to be long winded in my explanations and I apologise for that, but, please be patient as I pull apart those quotes. I will pose a series of questions for you to consider.

Lets start with John Gills explanation. In the opening paragraph of his writings on Colossians 1:15 did you notice is strong trimitarian bias.  (I suggest that all the commentaries that you site start from the theological idea of the trinity) He spends some time defining the meaning of the word God where the text reads “ The Son is the image of the invisible God ”  (New International Version (©2011) )

John Gill sets that stage for his explanation in a very round about way - “Not of deity, though the fulness of it dwells in him; nor of himself, though he is the true God, and eternal life; nor of the Spirit, who also is God, and the Spirit of the Son; but the Father, called "God,"  (Bold mine)    So he acknowledges it is referring to the Father in this instance. He then goes on to confuse matters and bring in the trinity theology by saying that the word God here does not exclude the other members of the trinity  - “  not to the exclusion of the Son or Spirit, who are with him the one God: "and he is invisible"; not to the Son who lay in his bosom,” -

The Jews believed (and still believe ) that there is only one God and his (singular) name is YHWH  (In English Jehovah).

So I  ask myself, when a Jewish Christian  in the first century was reading that, as well as other references to “God”, what would they naturally understand by that?  I asked several ministers  on one of the other forums here who is meant when we read the word God in the Bible. I was told it depends on context as to if it refers to the Father, Son of Holy Ghost (spirit).

Now when a Jewish reader back there and people like me read the word God, we see only the father.  When we understand the God refers to only the Father there is no ambiguity in a text. Does the context back that up?

John Gill then says of Jesus - “the firstborn of every creature;  not the first of the creation, or the first creature God made; for all things”. -  What explanation does he give for that? He continues  -“ in Col 1:16 are said to be created by him, and therefore he himself can never be a creature;” - So his understanding is circular, Because it is said Jesus created all things he can not be a creation.? Is that really so?  Remember the discussion about the word all? If ALL ” means every single thing “the visible and the invisible,” then “ALL ” must include the other 2 members of the trinity.  

Now if Jesus was Gods  “master worker” (Proverbs 8:30 ) is it not reasonable then that he created.  Also remember our discussion on John 1:3 and the word used there “All things were made by him;” (KJV). [dia ; a primary preposition denoting the channel of an act ; through”]  This verse is saying that all things were created “through” Jesus “as Gods agent” .   

Lets see what John Gill says about Jesus being begotten  “ that he was begotten of the Father in a manner inconceivable and inexpressible by men, “.  Where is is proof that is so?  He has to assume that, and there is nothing wrong with coming to an assumed conclusions about a text, as long as it fits with the context .  In this case the key word is “first-born”

The Greek word here is “prototokos”  The New American Greek Lexicon gives this word the meaning “childbirth, offspring;”  Strongs Lexicon says  “ from 4413 [first, chief)  and the alternate of 5088 [bring forth]  ; first-born (usually as noun, literally or figuratively):— firstbegotten(-born).”  The word literally means as it says the First-born.  However, it can figuratively have another meaning that of being the pre-eminent one.  

With the Hebrews and a lot of other cultures, the first-born child (especially a son) had a natural birth right. They were the prominent ones of the family, usually had the biggest inheritance.   However this birth right could be passed onto a younger sibling.  A case in hand was Esau.  He sold his birth right to Jacob and Jacob got the blessing from his father.   King David was the youngest in his family, yet he is refereed to as the firstborn.  So it is argued by those that believe the trinity that in “Colossians 1:15 ”  the term first-born must mean that Jesus was the pre-eminent one of creation.

Look at the versions you quoted.  One  says  “ supreme over all creation “ teo say “firstborn over”  These imply a superior rank OVER creation. Now  three say “ firstborn of”.  Can you determine the difference in meaning?  3 of them suggest that Jesus is not a part of creation and 3 of them suggest Jesus is a part of creation. Which renderings are correct?

The Greek reads “THE UN-SEEN BEFORE-most-BROUGHT-FORTH (firstborn) OF-EVERY CREATION” (Capitals and – original).    So, ask your self, are the renderings that say “over”  theologically induced renderings, suggested by the trinity idea? Or are the renderings that say “of” keeping in line with the normal usage of the term first-born and the literal Greek to English rendering?

Now in ALL cases in the Bible where the first born is spoken of, if it be the literal first born or the younger son that inherits the “pre-eminent” position, the first born is ALWAYS a part of the group that they are firstborn or pre-eminent of.

So when we are told the Jesus is the firstborn of creation, are we being told, in light of the Biblical use of the term firstborn, that Jesus is part of the group known as creation, or ...  OR is he the pre-eminent one whose “begetting” is “inconceivable and inexpressible by men” who does not belong to creation but is  put over creation?  That is for you to decide.  

I have had problems with my installed program  (I updated it today) in trying to follow Vincent’s comments. I only could get his comments on Colossians 1:15  and not on any of the texts he suggest we look, so I do not know exactly what his line of reasoning’s were.  I will comment on his meaning of the word image.  He says

“Image is more than likeness which may be superficial and incidental. It implies a prototype, and embodies the essential verity of its prototype.”

Vincent does not explain his use of prototype, or why he chose that word, so we have to assume what he might mean  -  “A prototype is an early sample or model built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from. It is a term used in a variety of contexts, …  A prototype is designed to test and trial a new design to enhance precision by system analysts and users. Prototyping serves to provide specifications for a real, working system rather than a theoretical one.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prototype   - Would you call Jesus   a prototype?.

The word rendered as image in English is the Greek word “eikon” - From that we have the English word “icon” The modern meaning is “icon is also used, particularly in modern culture, in the general sense of symbol” (bold and italic original) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icon

What about the Biblical meaning. It appears 23 times in the KJV and every time is is rendered as Image. In the New American Standard Bible it appears once as form 19 times as image and 3 times as likeness.  Strongs Lexicon give the meaning “a likeness, i.e. (literally) statue, profile, or (figuratively) representation, resemblance: —  image.”  

Vincent goes on to say  “Compare in the form of God, Philippians 2:6 (note), and the effulgence of the Father's glory, Hebrews 1:3. Also 1 John 1:1.”  

I can not see the note he reefers to in  Philippians 2:6   or his understandings of Hebrews 1:3. Also 1 John 1:1.”    Reading those texts and examining the words  used reinforced in my mind the idea that Jesus is a separate individual to the Father.  So I do not know what his point is in showing that Jesus created “ALL ” things. If you want them discussed please let me know.

He does mention Revelation 3:14 indirectly where Jesus, we are told is the “beginning of the creation of God;” and we have discussed the meaning of the word  “arche” (beginning) and the way it is used in the Bible. It shows just as it says Jesus was the “beginning” - the very first one – that God created.  Colossians 1:15 must fit with Revelation, and it does when we understand the Biblical use of first-born.

Clarke's Commentary was interesting. He is not real sure as the meaning of firstborn - “ The first-born of every creature - I suppose this phrase to mean the same as that, Philippians 2:9 : God hath given him a name which is above every name; he is as man at the head of all the creation of God;”  (bold mime) -

He supposes that it refers to God giving him a name above every name.  Why was Jesus given a name above all others Verse 8 tells us Jesus  “became obedient unto death,” That privileged was bestowed on Jesus because he was obedient. What does the word obedient tell you? Does it suggest someone doing what a superior tells them to do?  Also note the word God in Philippians 2:9 . Just what is the identity of God there? Is it the Father and the Father alone as the Jews understood? Or, is it the trinity God, that Jesus is supposed to be a part of, exulting one third of the godhead (Jesus) to a higher position. How much higher that being part of God can one be exulted to?  Was Jesus exulted above the other 2 persons of the trinity? Or was Jesus as the firstborn son of God exulted above all the other sons of God because he proved himself worthy?

Clark uses the same circular reasoning as Gill Jesus could not be a creature because he created creatures. Clark goes on - “ If it be said that God created him first, and that he, by a delegated power from God, created all things, this is most flatly contradicted by the apostle's reasoning in the 16th and 17th verses”  - So Clark’s defence against Jesus being Gods agent is verse 16 and 17 “by him were all things created,...And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (KJV).  Again this brings us to the use if the word “all” as we have looked at, in that it rarely means universal – every single thing -.  To take the word all things including the “visible and invisible ,” to mean - universal – every single thing – Then Jesus created the other 2 individuals of the trinity for they would be included in the “all things”


If you are the firstborn of all your fathers children, are you a part of your fathers children or are you a pre-eminent one over your fathers children but not one of them.

John Gill, because of his trinity theology has to explain it differently. He goes outside of the Bible writers and relies on an ancient Greek poet, Homer for an explanation of the word . πρωτότοκος or first-born. He writes

“that the word is used in this sense by Homer, and is the same as πρωτογονος, "first Parent," and πρωτοκτιστης, "first Creator"; and the rather this may be done, seeing the accents were all added since the apostle’s days, and especially seeing it makes his reasoning, in the following verses, appear with much more beauty, strength, and force: he is the first Parent of every creature, "for by him were all things created,"

John Gill comes up with another meaning for first-born. He says it means  “the first Parent”. And he uses the ideas of a “pagan” poet to come to that conclusion.  Is he letting his previously held trinity theology govern his thinking in order to explain words that go against his theology?  

He fails to take into account the wording “ for by him” which we discussed previously.

A quick summary,

The word God When speaking of “THE” God –  Always refers only to the Father

First born – shows Jesus is a part of the group called creation

Image – or icon shows the distinction between Jesus and the Father (God)

The word “all” - rarely means universal – every single thing – context determines the meaning. Here it has to mean all Other creation otherwise Jesus created the Father if it meant - universal – every single thing

If I have missed anything out, or not explained clearly, please ask

Jehovah`s Witness

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Brenton Hepburn

Expertise

I AM one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I am always learning. I am NOT an expert in the full sense of the word but I can answer questions on the reliability of the NWT - the so called mind control problems-so called prophecies - how being a JW affects the individual and relatives and general practices and history of Jehovah’s Witnesses. >>WARNING<< Please be aware that there are people here who ARE NOT practicing JWs. By all means ask these ones questions. Depending on the question you will get an honest answer, but, generally the answer you get, will mislead you as to what we believe, often because, they do not give ALL the relevant details. These ones will, have an agenda against JWs., and will at times give answers that are not correct in regard to JW teachings and practices. If you are after a answer from one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, please read some of the answers that the various experts have published before choosing someone. If you want to ask one of the NON JWs a question, that is fine, BUT if you want a balancing view after asking one of the NON JWs, ask a JW the same question. PLEASE ALSO NOTE: There(have been)and are, some "experts" here who are NOT always the most courteous and polite, at times are actually quite rude, that applies to both JW's and non JW's and their answers may offend, especially when they get personal and attack the character of the person and not the message. Unfortunately some here that have done that. So it IS IMPORTANT to chose an "expert" that YOU feel will best suit YOU by reading some of their past answers . . . . .

Experience

I have been a publisher since 1964. When I first went on the internet I found a lot of negative information dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses covering prophecy, mind control and what many said was a very bad translation of the Bible known as the NWT. It shook my faith. After may hours researching these topics I could see why some felt that way, but, I was also able to explain why there were these misleading views. I can now set matters straight for anyone that has negative information about Jehovah’s Witness to show them that such information is at best misleading and at worst dangerous lies.

Education/Credentials
I have been a student of the Bible for many years, am trying to teach myself Biblical Greek. Was a public tax accountant for many years untill SEP 2009 when I gave it up due to health problems.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.