Adapted from Complete Bible Answer Book by Hank Hanegraaff. 

In his letter to the Colossians, the apostle Paul called Jesus Christ the “firstborn over all creation” (1:15). But how can Christ be both the eternal Creator of all things yet himself be the firstborn?

First, in referring to Christ as the firstborn, Paul had in mind preeminence or “prime position.” This usage is firmly established in the Old Testament. For example, Ephraim is referred to as the Lord’s “firstborn” (Jeremiah 31:9) even though Manasseh was born first (Genesis 41:51). Likewise, David is appointed the Lord’s “firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth” (Psalm 89:27) despite being the youngest of Jesse’s sons (1 Samuel 16:10–13). While neither Ephraim nor David was the first one born, they were firstborn in the sense of preeminence.

Furthermore, Paul referred to Jesus as the firstborn over all creation, not the firstborn in creation. As such, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). The force of Paul’s language is such that Arians like the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been forced to insert the word other (“he is before all [other] things”) in their New World Translation of the Bible in order to demote Christ to the status of a created being.

Finally, as the entirety of Scripture makes plain, Jesus is the eternal Creator who spoke and the limitless galaxies leaped into existence. In John 1, he is overtly called “God” (v. 1), and in Hebrews 1, he is said to be the One who “laid the foundations of the earth” (v. 10). And in the very last chapter of the Bible, Christ refers to himself as “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:13). Indeed, the whole of Scripture precludes the possibility that Christ could be anything other than the preexistent Sovereign of the universe.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all
creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and
on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers
or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

Colossians 1:15–16


For further study, see Robert L. Reymond, Jesus, Divine Messiah: The New Testament Witness (Tain, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2003).