The Preeminent Christ

[Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
— Colossians 1:15

Not everyone who believes in the virgin birth account is committed to the essential that Jesus was conceived as God incarnate. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, hold that Jesus was created by God as the archangel Michael, during His earthly sojourn became merely human, and after His crucifixion was re-created as an immaterial spirit creature. Moreover, the Witnesses use Colossians 1:15 as a pretext for the notion that Jesus was the first and greatest creation of Jehovah prior to the creation of the world. All of this begs the question, was Jesus conceived by the Virgin Mary as God in human flesh? And, how can Christ be both the eternal Creator of all things and yet Himself be firstborn?

First, in referring to Christ as the firstborn, Paul has in mind preeminence. 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 in his family, both were firstborn in the sense of preeminence or prime position.

Furthermore, Paul refers 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, emphasis added). The force of Paul’s language is such that the cult of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who subscribe to the ancient Arian heresy that the Son is not preexistent and co-eternal with the Father, have been forced to insert the word other (e.g., “all other things”) in their deeply flawed New World Translation of the Bible in order to demote Christ to the status of a created being.

Finally, as the panoply of Scripture makes plain, Jesus is the eternal Creator who spoke and the limitless galaxies leapt 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; cf. Isaiah 44:6; 48:12). Indeed, the whole of Scripture precludes the possibility that the Christ born of a virgin could be anything other than the preexistent Sovereign of the universe.

Reading

For [ Jesus Christ] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

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. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:13–20)

Questions

What is the biblical meaning of the word firstborn?

Why is it so crucial to read Scripture in its context as opposed to using isolated texts as pretexts for pet theories or theologies?

Christmas Carol

All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
— Edward Perronet

All hail the power of Jesus’ name! Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.

Let highborn seraphs tune the lyre, and as they tune it, fall
Before His face who tunes their choir, and crown Him Lord of all.
Before His face who tunes their choir, and crown Him Lord of all.

Crown Him, ye morning stars of light, who fixed this floating ball;
Now hail the strength of Israel’s might, and crown Him Lord of all.
Now hail the strength of Israel’s might, and crown Him Lord of all.

Crown Him, ye martyrs of your God, who from His altar call;
Extol the Stem of Jesse’s Rod, and crown Him Lord of all.
Extol the Stem of Jesse’s Rod, and crown Him Lord of all.

Ye seed of Israel’s chosen race, ye ransomed from the fall,
Hail Him who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all.
Hail Him who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all.

Hail Him, ye heirs of David’s line, whom David Lord did call,
The God incarnate, Man divine, and crown Him Lord of all,
The God incarnate, Man divine, and crown Him Lord of all.

Sinners, whose love can ne’er forget the wormwood and the gall,
Go spread your trophies at His feet, and crown Him Lord of all.
Go spread your trophies at His feet, and crown Him Lord of all.

Let every tribe and every tongue before Him prostrate fall
And shout in universal song the crownéd Lord of all.
And shout in universal song the crownèd Lord of all.