I want to take a look at what it means when the bible says that all things were made In (or Through) Christ, made By Him or made For Him. The two passages in the bible I want to focus on are:
Colossians 1:15-17 NIV84
“15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 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 have been created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
John 1:1-5 NIV84
“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”
Now I am using the NIV84 translation as I feel the new NIV2011 has watered down the importance of these versus in understanding the power, person and deity of Jesus and His role in not only our relationship with God (salvation) but His role in creation and His authority over everything in creation. This study and subsequent posting of my opinions was sparked by a weekly verse and this watering down.
6 or 7 years ago I was part of a small group discussion with our then youth pastor and he presented to us the idea that Jesus was the action or force in creation when the bible speaks of “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth” and “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” Gen 1:1 & 3. Chuck Smith, Pastor and founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, refers to Jesus as the “active agent in creation.” Then last week the weekly verse I was study, Colossians 1:15-17, caused me to be again reminded of this discussion because the text I was looking at and the verse on YouVersion were different than I remembered. They were indeed different and the resulting changes from NIV84 to 2011 made the verse feel less…dominant? or impactful? to me. The change that caught me was “For IN him all things were created” from “For BY him all things were created”. So I decided to do a little studying and what follows are what my understanding of these passages mean in their relation to Jesus and creation and how it’s not only important to remember Jesus’ authority in our lives, this world and the universe, as well as what happens when we begin to dilute scripture to make it “easier” for new or non-believers to understand.
“In the beginning”…
All four Gospels start in different timeframes. Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus going back to Abraham. Mark begins his Gospel telling with Jesus’ baptism by John. Luke chose to begin with the angel’s announcement to Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth would give birth to a son who he is to name John (who we will read begins to baptize the people of Israel and announce the coming of Jesus. But when John begins his gospel he goes back to the beginning of time, which really has no beginning, to a time BEFORE Genesis to the time at which God (Elohiym, Hebrew/Plural) created our known universe. The reason John started here is speculated by some to be a “correction” of a gospel that was spreading in the early church, originated by the Gnostics. Gnosticism was a heretical belief that the world was created by an emanation from a pure holy God that went out and became so far from God that he no longer knew God. Gnostics believe this emanation or “evil force” created an “evil world” and that as a result a Holy and Righteous Jesus could not be real. These beliefs permeated the first century church and so John decided to start his Gospel writing by going back to the creation to give Jesus His rightful power and authority. I believe we are again becoming somewhat Gnostic in our church culture and are close to once again removing Jesus’ divinity and authority not just in our world but in our own lives. This is pushed further by removing the emphasis in the bible that Jesus was THE source of creation and the “active agent in creation” as mentioned by Chuck Smith.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
John uses the Greek word Logos in this passage to demonstrate a few things. To the Greeks, who believed that everything in the created universe began as a thought, he proposed a Thinker. Logos to the Greeks would have included the collection of thoughts that creations sprang from. So he spoke to them of Jesus in terms of the “thinker” who turned thoughts into existence. At the same time the Jews could have seen the “Word” as the writings handed down to them from Moses and those who followed, the spoken word of God throughout history.
“After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”” Genesus 15:1
Some may have been curious as John began to speak of the “Word” and others perhaps concerned. John presented to his audience, both Greeks and Jews, the message that the Word was with God before the creation of the world and that he, the Word WAS God. Some of those listening were likely intrigued by this and began following the new Way they were teaching. Obviously others became concerned as proven by the fact they demanded the followers stop teaching this Gospel. Their concerns likely grew when their biggest champion stops persecuting believers and he himself begins to teach with words like those to the church at Colossae: “For by Him all things were created”. Declaring that Jesus was the source of action for God (El Hebrew/Singular) in creation Gen 1:1. To the Jews this might be alarming that the man they crucified was being called the Christ, the Messiah, the King they had been waiting for. However if we water down verses in the bible to convey that Jesus was merely a bystander and that the world was created for Him, we could even begin to think that He lacked the power to do it at all. We then read about His miracles and wonders as things done merely through Him like God wants to do works through us. His deity becomes murky and His power to restore us to a right relationship with God comes to question. Now I know this is a major leap but it was a leap made by those in the Gnostic movement and it concerned John enough to start his gospel with a statement that Jesus, the earthly man, was also the almighty God.
Interesting side thought: You may have noticed that I noted the Hebrew name for God used in the creation story. El, the singular word in Hebrew for God is used when God speaks as the Father, but in the creation story the word for God is Elohiym, the plural name for God in Hebrew. When God said “Let us create man in our image, in our likeness”, He is again referred to in the plural as in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He did not say I will make man in MY own image. This is of course the triune nature of God. So in Colossians 1:1 when we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We should be taken back to Genesis 1:1 where we read “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” And understand that God in this verse is plural or Elohiym. There is also an in between, dual, tense of the Hebrew word for God and it’s only used once in the bible and both times in the same quotation of Jesus but in two different gospels. In Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:46 Jesus is quoted as saying, while on the cross, ““Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).”. In this it is my belief that Jesus was calling out not just to His Father but also to the Holy Spirit. At that moment on the cross, Jesus’ humanity shows through as God (Eloi Hebrew/Dual Tense) looked away, leaving Him alone, separated from the Trinity, to die the death we deserved so that we may be made right again with God, Elohiym, the Trinity. Elohiym is also the name used for God in the garden when Adam and Eve eat the apple and hide from God because they are afraid of being found nekkid, but that is a story for another blog.
Now back to my original study.
Colossians 1:15-17 and John 1:1-5 both present us with a Jesus who is in charge yet at the same time equal to God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the account of Creation. While it’s easy to read that God created the heavens and earth and ascribe to Him the power that event took, it takes some actual understanding of who is talking and who is active when it comes to giving Jesus credit where credit is due. It is my understanding from what I have been taught, what I have recently studied and what others have said from their own study that Jesus was the “active agent in creation”. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one determined to create a universe and a habitable planet with life, but Jesus was the one who fulfilled the action of creating. This is not to say that God the Father could not do it, but the working of the Trinity to me seems to focus on Jesus as the action the resulted from the thoughts of all 3. To me this helps to put Jesus in His proper prospective as an equal part of our triune Godhead, with all of the power and abilities of each, yet when sent to earth as a baby he took on the full measure of a human. He was therefore capable of commanding His power in all aspects while choosing to remain humbled as a man. This means that even though Jesus had the power of turning water to wine, he was also capable of committing sin (even though he didn’t). Jesus had the ability to command legions of angels, but he was able to be tempted by Satan to give up His mission for comfort, power and dominion (but he didn’t). It is my belief that when we frame Jesus in this perspective we are more capable of understanding why and how he is able to bring us into that right relationship with God, Himself and the Holy Spirit. Jesus, the “active agent in creation”, created the universe and has authority over all of it and because it is his, so are we. So the next logical question is, are YOU living your life as if Jesus is the active agent in your life? If he commanding the same respect you give to the pastors you follow? Or is he placed above them as he should be? When the Holy Spirit prompts you with a new set of facts about a long standing belief you have held, are you yielding to it? Or are you ignoring it because it means changing something about you, within you or surrounding you. Are you living a life that places others before you? Or are you too busy to notice the hurting within your own family because it means setting aside your desires, your needs, or your comfort.
Today I was having an amazing day. I ate lunch from my favorite place. I listened to worship music for hours. I studied God’s word and the opinions of several others on this topic. My wife picked up two shirts that I had bought months ago, but had yet to make the time myself to get them. I even gave her my advice on handling a problem she was having with the cell phone of the lady she cares for when she asked me to “Google” something for her. And everything was great…until she came home and had to deal with our daughter and I not liking the dinner that was made, our daughter’s loud music coming from the bathroom as she showered, her mother’s complaining about said music and probably a host of other things I was blissfully unaware of as I sat eating my Quarter Pounder that she had picked up on the way home for me. Sadly I had forgotten the order in which I am supposed to place people. I was informed of this by way of my wife’s “FYI, I looked up what I asked YOU to look up and found right away how to fix the problem.” Of course I immediately said “That’s great!” Yeah…I wish. No, instead, I began to defend what I had done by pointing out she had asked me to look it up when I had a chance and I did after we hung up and that the advice I had given was MORE than valid. And by pointing out I mean I yelled at her. All of this as she was leaving to again take something to the lady with the phone issue after having been there only an hour before. Yep… I had put myself ahead of her. And in doing so I had placed myself ahead of God…indeed ahead of all 3 in the Almighty. Of course it didn’t end there as I had to inform our daughter that she was no longer allowed to have music in the shower because we had discussed this too many times. I was pretty mellow in that conversation put I did tell her ahead of time that I didn’t want any “whys or buts, candy or nuts.” This was her fault and that was the end of it. Great job dad! Well, after a few minutes complaining to myself and thinking how unreasonable my wife was being I realized that all of this, the stuff that ruined my most excellent of days, all boiled down to an issue with a phone and my desire to express my knowledge rather than just looking something up and sending her a link to what she asked for. Now was I wrong in trying to help? I don’t think so, but it was not what she asked me to do. Was it wrong to remove my daughter’s showering music privileges? Not necessarily but were there infinitely more reasonable ways of handling it? Duh! So after a few minutes of breathing I decided that I needed to get back to working on this and at the same time change the atmosphere for everyone. So, I asked my daughter if she would sit outside with my and help me start a fire in the firepit. Now if you know her you will probably agree that firepit is one of her love languages. So it was a somber okay but an okay none the less. She perked up more as the fire that took forever to get going had turned into a really cool column of flame out the top of the firepit. My wife got home and after sitting inside for a bit mulling over the fact I had asked her if our daughter could stay up a little late to enjoy the fire. And after a couple of requests that she come join us, we all sat relaxing around the fire as ash rained down on us and my laptop. I continued to write, my daughter stared at the fire, thankful that she had been allowed to stay up to enjoy it, and my wife sat silently, probably thinking I was a jerk for making our daughter happy after crapping all over her already stressful day. After a while we came in, she put our daughter to bed, I took a shower to remove the campfire smell and then as we lay in bed and after she had finished playing her nightly game on her phone, I apologized. Not because I was wrong, but because she was right. She asked me to do something and instead of just doing it I had to put in my $.25 cents. I told her I would do my best next time to try and just do what she asked and if she asks for my advise I will gladly give it as well. I ended the night trying my best to put everyone I had offended above myself and in doing so I hope to have put Jesus back on top where he belongs. At least until someone questions my opinion of who has the best pastrami sandwich and then I will likely fall short again. We all know it’s The Hat anyway….lol.
So if you have read this far, I thank you. Not only for pushing through my meandering opinion but for allowing me to be honest and confess my shortcomings. It’s through openness and honesty that we find forgiveness, redemption and freedom in Christ. I also encourage you to comment below if you have a differing opinion or if you just find what I have said to be helpful. Unlike many who form their opinions in quick setting cement, I am opening to enhancing, expanding or even changing my opinion if the facts, and/or information given, are legit. Feel free to poke holes in my theology, challenge my conclusions or, if you feel so inclined, offer a word of praise for something I have said that has helped you with your own views on these passages or on how NOT to help your wife. I am open to anything but an opinion on anywhere but The Hat having the best pastrami sandwich around.
From the smallest mollecular parts of our body. Laminin which are the glue that holds our cells together.
To the furthest viewable reaches of our universe.
All things were created In Him, By Him, and For Him. He is within all things and above all things and because of Him, all things are held together.