Jehovah`s Witness/What are your reasons? FU1
QUESTION: There are three main scriptures Jehovah’s Witnesses use when trying to show that Jesus was created, Revelation 3:14, Colossians 1:15 and Proverbs 8:22. What is your exegesis of these verses in relation to them not showing Jesus was created?
ANSWER: Good afternoon, Kay. Thank you for writing with your question.
You are correct, that these are the 3 main Scriptures used by Jehovah's Witnesses, in order to support their belief that Jesus is a created Being. And as your question indicates, I would disagree with their understanding of these passages, and I do not believe that the Bible teaches that Jesus is created.
Let's look at all 3 of them....
Revelation 3:14- "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God"
At first glace, I can see how someone might arrive at the conclusion that this verse is stating that Jesus is the first thing created by God. But when we look at the meaning of the word "beginning" here, we begin to see a different picture.
A good rule to remember, is that a correct interpretation of a verse of Scripture, will not be contradictory to another verse of Scripture...because the Bible doesn't contradict itself. If there is an apparent contradiction, there are a couple of possible reasons:
1. A faulty understanding on the part of the reader
2. Failing to take into account the context....when something was written, and to whom it was written
Since the Bible clearly shows Jesus to be eternal in several passages, we can safely conclude from that fact alone, that Rev. 3:14 is not teaching that Jesus was created. Some passages which show Jesus' eternal nature, are....
Micah 5:2- "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."
Isaiah 9:6- "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
Hebrews 7:3- "Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually."
Rev. 1:17- "And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:"
Colossians 1:16-17- "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:
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist."
John 1:1-2- "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God."
As we can see from the above verses, most notably the last one from the Gospel of John, Jesus was in the beginning with God, and Himself possesses the nature of God. It does not say He was the first thing God created...it says He was there with God, in the beginning.
In short, there is no Scripture that states that Jesus was created. There are the 3 passages that you listed, which are often used to support this view, by those who hold to it.
In Rev. 3:14, something important needs to be noted. The phrase "the beginning", is from the word "arche", which is also where we get our word "architect". Jesus can rightly be said to be the "Architect" of God's creation. Another usage of this word "arche", is "origin". Jesus can be said to be the Origin of God's creation, which would make Him the CREATOR, and not a creation.
According to Strong's Concordance, this word can carry a variety of meanings. Such as:
the person or thing that commences, the first person or thing in a series, the leader
(This would be the usage that the JWs would adhere to)
"that by which anything begins to be, the origin, the active cause"
(This is the view that Trinitarian Christians such as myself, adhere to)
Both are possible uses of the phrase "arche", but as stated above, the correct rendering would be determined in large part, by the teaching of the Bible as a whole. And the clear Biblical teaching, is that Jesus is the Creator, and not a creation. Therefore, this verse should not be used to contradict the clear Bible teaching, when it can so easily be harmonized with it.
On to the next Scripture....
Colossians 1:15- "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:"
Unfortunately, this is one passage where the JW's NEW WORLD TRANSLATION
, has overstepped its authority. In its zeal to make Jesus a created Being, they have added the word "other" exactly 4 times in verses 16-17, with no warrant whatsoever. In older editions of the NWT, the word "other" was placed in brackets (indicating it was an addition, not found in the manuscripts), but in the newest edition, the brackets have been removed, giving the false impression that the word "other" belongs there. It does not. It is an addition by the translators, in order to give the passage a doctrinal slant.
This passage, reading all the way to verse 18, is very clear that Jesus is the Creator, not a creation. In fact, the entire passage CONTRASTS Him with creation...not make Him a part of it. It shows His superiority over creation.
That is one of the reasons I quoted verses 16-17, in my discussion on the passage in Revelation. Those verses eliminate any and all possibility, of Jesus merely being a creation. If all you had was this passage of Scripture, and had never read any Watchtower explanation, and no Trinitarian explanation, would you come away thinking that Jesus was the Creator of everything, or Himself a creation? The passage speaks for itself.
Now, the confusion comes in, with the phrase in v. 15, "firstborn of every creature
It is important to remember that the word "Firstborn", does not always carry the same meaning in every passage. In other words, it does not always mean "first one born", as would seem at first glance. It actually sometimes refers to a position of pre-eminence...see verse 18.
Sometimes the word "firstborn" does mean "first one born"....such as, "Firstborn of Pharaoh" In this example, the "firstborn of Pharaoh", is Pharaoh's first son. If you use the phrase "firstborn" in this same exact parallel manner, it would be saying that Jesus was the "first son" or "offspring" of creation. But this is the exact opposite of what the entire passage is saying. Creation didn't "parent" Christ. Christ parented creation, according to the verses that follow verse 15. To understand "firstborn of every creature" to mean that Christ was the "first child of", or a product of creation, simply contradicts the rest of the passage, and is clearly not the intended usage.
Another usage of "firstborn", is "Ruler" or "Heir". It is a designation of pre-eminence. This is clearly the meaning in this context.
But once again, the first clue that the JW understanding of this passage is incorrect, should be in the fact that they had to add the word "other" 4 separate times in 2 verses, in order to make those verses teach that Jesus was a creation, in order to harmonize the rest of the passage with their viewpoint. If they had not added "other" those 4 times, then verses 16-17 show Jesus being the Creator of ALL things, which would contradict their understanding of verse 15.
Proverbs 8:22- "The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old."
This is a passage of Scripture that should never be used to prove Jesus was created, because this passage is not even speaking of Jesus. I realize the JWs (and even some Christian theologians) have a tendency to try and make this verse about Jesus Christ, but it simply isn't. And there is no good reason to try and make it such.
First of all, we are clearly told in the chapter itself, what it is about....Wisdom. In fact, one should not just read Proverbs chapter 8 alone, but the first 9 chapters of the Book, because the entire discourse is Wisdom PERSONIFIED...giving something that is non-human (wisdom), a description and qualities, as if it were human.
There is absolutely nothing to indicate that the "wisdom" in chapter 8, is a different "wisdom" than the "wisdom" spoken of in the other chapters. In fact, if one reads the first 9 chapters of Proverbs, the entire discourse has a consistent flow. Its all talking about the same quality...Wisdom. Wisdom is given personal qualities.
Wisdom is also spoken of with FEMALE pronouns (hardly applicable to a male Messiah).
If we are to take the "wisdom" spoken of in Proverbs chapter 8 to be a description of Jesus Christ, then we would have a huge problem, because this "wisdom" is also described as female, and dwells with someone named "prudence".
Proverbs 8:1-3- "Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?
She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.
She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors."
Proverbs 8:12- "I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions."
I think it should be plain to see, that this is simply a passage, 9 chapters to be exact, of giving human attributes to the quality of wisdom. There is simply no reason at all, to connect this passage with Jesus Christ being a created Being.
And even if someone wants to insist that it is referring to Jesus, in the absence of any such evidence, it still would not teach that Jesus is created.
The NWT rendering of the word "qanah", as "produced", is unfortunate. The KJB rendering is better, as it says "possessed".
I make this point, because after showing that the entire passage is speaking specifically of "WISDOM", some JWs might try to say that "Jesus is the wisdom of God".
But that is also problematic, because that would imply that there was a time when Jehovah was WITHOUT wisdom. Obviously, that is not the case. Wisdom is not something created by God...It is an eternal attribute of God. It is something He has always possessed...not something He later on created.
For those reason, I would say that Proverbs 8:22 should not, and cannot be used to support the idea that Jesus is a created Being.
I hope this answer has helped, and please let me know if I need to clarify anything I have said.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Firstly, thank you for your response.
I wouldn’t take Micah 5:2, Isaiah 9:6, Hebrews 7:3, Rev 1:17, Colossians 1:16-17 or John 1:1-2 as examples of Jesus being eternal in the sense of him always existing. For starters none of the verses directly state Jesus has always been eternal but merely state that he has existed for a long time, is eternal (these verses should be viewed in the context of what sense Jesus is eternal), and was before all things along with other things which aren’t related to your point. As you alluded to, we must take context of scripture into account, thus Jesus, who “lives because of the father” and gives life to his followers “in the same way” as the Father gave life to Jesus, cannot also be said to always had life, as scripture makes it clear he was given it and lived because of someone else (John 6:57, 5:26). Followers of Christ can “become” eternal (see romans 6:23), thus it must be proven rather than assumed that Jesus has always been eternal rather than acquiring it.
In regards to what you said about Rev 3:14. From my understanding of what you wrote regarding arche and your interpretation of col 1:16,17, you understand Jesus to be the (the/a?) creator and thus understand Rev 3:14 to be saying that Jesus is the “beginner/source of creation/cause of the creation of God”.
Here lies my problem with this, scripture makes it clear that it was the Father who was the beginner of creation, Hebrews 1:1,2 with 1 Cor 8:6 allude to this.
(Hebrews 1:1,2) “..[God] in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe..”
(1 Cor 8:6) “..yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live..”
Both of these scriptures say that all things came from the Father but through Jesus, thus any scriptures such as Rev 3:14 along with other verses such as Col 1:15 and John 1:3 which seem to show Jesus as the main character in creation should be taken in context of Hebrews 1:1,2 which shows who the actual originator/cause of creation is, the Father.
Furthermore, John the writer of Revelation never uses the Greek word arche to mean "that by which anything begins to be, the origin [or the] active cause" but always uses it to mean ‘beginning’ in the sense of “the first person or thing in a series”. Other bible writers use arche broadly but never John, thus we must be consistent and view the usage of arche in Rev 3:14 the same way John always uses it, wouldn’t you agree? Moreover, even if we were to take other bible writers usages of the word arche into consideration in reference to its meaning we come out with the same result. This is because in every instance where arche is followed by a genitive expression in the NT it always denotes a beginning or first part of something, Rev 3:14 is a prime example of this and thus again consistency must be applied (ask for the said example and I will show it).
In regards to Proverbs 8:22. You made a few points regarding this verse, you said:
“The NWT rendering of the word "qanah", as "produced", is unfortunate. The KJB rendering is better, as it says "possessed". I make this point, because after showing that the entire passage is speaking specifically of "WISDOM", some JWs might try to say that "Jesus is the wisdom of God". But that is also problematic, because that would imply that there was a time when Jehovah was WITHOUT wisdom.”
Firstly you state that a better translation in Prov 8:22 is that wisdom was possessed rather than produced, but do not give a reason based on grammar but on context. To say that Jesus is “wisdom is the wisdom of God” doesn’t imply God was without wisdom at some state, this is merely your assumption. The expression in Prov 8:22, if talking about Jesus as wisdom, is symbolic, much like people uses symbolic language regarding their spouse and them being their “love”. If I were to say “I found love the day I met my wife” does that imply that I had no love prior to meeting my wife or would that simply be a false assumption? Likewise for Jehovah to produce/possess Jesus, with him being Gods wisdom personified, in no way contradicts the notion that God as always been wise. The statement is simply God making a symbolic personified reference to the day he created Jesus his son.
You mention that wisdom has feminine pronouns applied to it, this though should have no bearing on identify whatsoever, in 1 John 4:8 agape (love) has a feminine pronoun that is applied to the Father.
You stated in reference to your understand of who/what wisdom is in reference to “I think it should be plain to see, that this is simply a passage, 9 chapters to be exact, of giving human attributes to the quality of wisdom”, could you expand on what you mean by this?
In regards to what you wrote about Colossians 1:15. Something I would like to point out is that yes firstborn can mean a few things, just as you said, it can mean firstborn in a temporal sense and firstborn in pre-eminence sense, however, for the purpose of any readers, a point not to forget is that firstborn will always mean firstborn, regardless if it’s in reference temporally or authoritatively.
You said “Sometimes the word ‘firstborn’ does mean ‘first one born’....such as, ‘Firstborn of Pharaoh’ In this example, the ‘firstborn of Pharaoh’, is Pharaoh's first son. If you use the phrase ‘firstborn’ in this same exact parallel manner, it would be saying that Jesus was the "first son" or ‘offspring’ of creation. But this is the exact opposite of what the entire passage is saying. Creation didn't "parent" Christ.”
Of course creation didn’t parent Jesus like Pharaoh and his firstborn, what you said above is your error. The error you made was comparing a person (singular) to a group (plural). A person is not a group, nor a group a person. Thus to compare the two on the merits of similarity of position is absurd. If however we were to take the example found in Exodus 11:5 –where you no doubt go your example- where it states “Every firstborn son in Egypt will die” and compare it to Jesus, it makes perfect sense and negates your reasoning that Jesus being the firstborn of creation in a temporal sense would mean creation parented Jesus. This is because we’re comparing a group, namely Egypt, to another group, namely creation. The statement “Every firstborn son in Egypt will die” doesn’t imply in any way, shape or form that every firstborn son in Egypt parent was Egypt itself, likewise Jesus being the firstborn of all creation doesn’t imply he was parented by creation.
What lots of people don’t realize is that Jesus being the “Firstborn of all creation” REGARDLESS of the sense, whether temporal or in pre-emenince, he is still “of” creation and thus a created being. By definition to be firstborn of a group/person you by default have to be in/from that group/person. Take Col 1:18 as an example of this, it reads “[Jesus is] the firstborn from among the dead”.
A question I typically pose is “if Jesus didn’t die could he be called firstborn form/of the dead as Col 1:18 states?”
, the typical answer is of course “No”
, since for Jesus to be labelled in the group of the dead he of course had to be dead or at some point been dead. Likewise for Jesus to be of creation he by default has to be in the group of creation he’s firstborn of, regardless if the word firstborn is regarding him in a temporal or authoritative sense. Thus if Jesus is part of creation he was created, there is no way around this.
Could you show me a single example in the bible where someone is the firstborn of a group and they’re not part of the group they’re firstborn in/of? Your example can be in reference to either meaning of firstborn, be it temporal or authoritative it has no effect on my question.
You stated regarding the NWT use of “other” in Col 1:15 “Unfortunately, this is one passage where the JW's NEW WORLD TRANSLATION , has overstepped its authority” and gave your reasons.”
I’m sure if I were to ask if Jesus created the Father, Holy Spirit or himself your answer would be no, and yet this is what the insertion of the word “other” is meant to prevent from being thought. Jesus, the Father and HS are “things”, thus if Jesus created “all things” then it would imply that he created the Father and HS and himself, inserting the word other prevents this. I don’t know of a widely used bible In use today that doesn’t add words for clarity, all bibles do it, lots without any indication when doing so.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Hello, Kay. Thank you for following up.
I want to let you know that my answer will be delayed, because I am preparing to go out of town for the upcoming long week-end. I was actually going to place myself "On Vacation" tomorrow, anyway, but your question came in today. Unfortunately, I will not be able to take the time and sit down to reply to it this week, as it is quite lengthy, and I have about a hundred more things I have to do before leaving.
When I get back, I will get my reply typed up, and I will re-post your question. There are several points that I am looking forward to making with you. Thank you for your understanding.